Down by the River – Exploring the Vltava

The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic, stretching for a total distance of 430 kilometres during which it is crossed by 18 bridges. It’s impressive and beautiful – and it can also be a great place to hang out.

Náplavka

As the weather starts to brighten up and the days become longer, there’s only one place for the people of Prague to go.

Down by the banks of the Vltava River lies a popular little spot known as Náplavka, which opens in spring and remains a lively hub of activity until autumn.

It’s a stretch of riverbank, only a few minutes’ walk away from the Smíchov area and the city centre. Generally, if you come down here on any summer evening you’ll find it swarming with people drinking, eating, and having a good time.

It’s easy to spend a fun few hours just sitting around here, but for those who like to be more active there’s also a range of activities available. We’ll go through a few of them here.

Drinking

One activity that tends to rapidly gain popularity in hot weather is, unsurprisingly, outdoor drinking.

Naplavka is full of bars, most of which take the form of small stalls that decorate the riverside. Prices for beer are pretty much the same as other tourist spots, and vary depending on where you go.

There are also several boats moored along the banks of the river. Some of these, like the Captain Morgan boat, are themed around specific drinks and offer events and drink deals.

It’s undeniably pleasant to sit on the deck of a boat and look out across the shimmering waters of the Vltava, however you should expect to pay a little more on some of the fancier vessels.

Eating

Sitting by the river all day is hungry work, and fortunately several vendors have sprung up to provide street food like burgers and fries. There are also occasional food festivals along the river, and of course the famous Náplavka farmers market, which takes place every Saturday from 8:00 – 14:00.

Food prices here may be a little more expensive than similar places in less touristy areas, so if you’re really strapped for cash it might be wise to take a walk away from the river to somewhere slightly off the beaten track.

If you’re in the mood for a luxury sit-down meal, there are some high-end markets located along the river, many of which are located on board boats. One example is the Marina Restaurant, which offers Italian food, although it is rather expensive. You can check out the website here http://www.grosseto.cz/.

Despite the fancy restaurants, Náplavka is more of a relaxed and laid-back atmosphere. There are plenty of other areas in Prague which offer pricy and up-market places to eat, but for a fun and informal vibe the riverside is almost unbeatable.

Take a Boat Trip

There’s no denying that boat trips are great fun. In Prague, there are lots of companies happy to let you on board their boats for a few hours in exchange for a small fee. Check out http://www.prague-boats.cz/ for options ranging from small boats to luxury cruises.

If you’re feeling crazy, there’s always the option to join a boat party. There are several opportunities to do so in Prague, and tickets can be purchased for around 1000CZK. Many of the parties include an hour of free drinks and the opportunity to attend an after-party. One popular provider of this service is https://boatpartyprague.com/.

Get Active

The more crowded stretch of Náplavka may not be the ideal place to start doing physical exercise, but fortunately there is plenty more riverbank which is empty enough to go jogging, cycling, or roller skating. In fact, many people do exactly this during the warmer months. There are few better places to work out than on a sunny riverbank with the fresh breeze cooling you down.

There are also, of course, plenty of chances to take part in water sports. Stand-up paddle boarding is one increasingly popular way to spend time on the river, and involves standing up on a narrow board and using oars to push yourself along. It costs 250CZK for one hour of board rental and 500CZK for a lesson.

During the summer, a less strenuous but even more popular activity is provided by the pedal boats. These accommodate up to four people and cost only around 70CZK for one hour. They’re restricted to a stretch of the river where there is no danger of drifting into larger vessels – so make sure to stay within the boundaries…

Fun in the Sun at Žluté lázně

Žluté lázně is a leisure park situated a little further out of town than Náplavka. It opens this year on 1 May, and offers a packed programme of events until the end of summer. Visitors can enjoy activities such as beach volleyball, table tennis, and slacklining to name only a few.

The area is also full of bars and spots to relax and enjoy a few hours by the river. What’s more, it’s a popular venue for large events that take place regularly here. It’s rare to find a weekend where there isn’t something lively and fun going on.

Prague doesn’t have a real beach, of course (it’s a tough life, being landlocked), but these areas definitely go a long way to making up for it. Both can become rather crowded during nice weather, as you might expect, but are both excellent ways of spending a day by the water.

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