One of the most enjoyable things to do in Prague during the spring and summer is to take a walk through one of the city’s parks. Prague boasts some large and impressive parks, and a stroll through one or more of them is a great way to reconnect with nature, as well as to view the city from a green, calm space.
Prague’s Letná Park has a view over Old Town and far beyond. The park is extensive and accessible from all directions (though if you’re approaching from below, be prepared to climb quite a few stairs). You can walk there easily from tram stop Sparta (lines 1, 8, 12, 25, and 26) and tram stop Chotkovy sady (lines 2, 12, and 18). One of the delights of this park is a restaurant called Hanavský Pavilon, located in a beautiful domed building and offering an international menu. Letná Park is one of the places where you can ride a Segway (they have been banned in the city center), as well as rollerblade and just plain walk. History buffs will want to see the famous metronome, visible for some distance around the park. The metronome is located on the site where the world’s largest statue of Stalin once stood. The statue was completed in 1955, then – no doubt with great enthusiasm – dynamited into oblivion in 1962. The metronome has occupied the site since 1991.
Tip: Every year, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, a massive display of fireworks is set off at Letná. You can watch from across the river, or you can get right into the thick of the action at Letná itself. The display on New Year’s Day takes place at 6:00 p.m.
Not far from Letná is Petřin. This large park boasts a funicular, making it easy to visit. You can take the funicular from Malá Strana near the Újezd tram stop to the top of the hill, with one stop along the way, then wander around until you feel like descending – on foot or using the funicular again. The top of Petřin hill is a delight of roses and other blooming plants, an observatory, a mirror maze, and a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. As you slowly descend the hill on foot, you will come across a gorgeous restaurant. Farther down the hill, you will see a statue of famous Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha. Every year on May 1, lovers kiss under his statue, hoping that they will remain together for life. Petřin is bounded on one side by the Hunger Wall, so named because (so it is said) Emperor Charles IV had it built in order to give work to masons at a time when work was scarce.
As you stand at the top of the hill, you will see an entirely different view of Prague Castle. This view is particularly attractive in spring, when the trees are in bloom, and in the autumn, when the leaves are turning. You can always walk over to the castle area and look around, perhaps dropping by a restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Below Petřin, down the street and towards the river, you’ll have to keep your eyes open to find Vojanovy sady. This park is enclosed by walls on all sides, and the doors aren’t always easy to spot. It’s worth it; though. The park contains several different types of trees, and the resident peacocks create added color. Originally the garden attached to a monastery, it now provides a much-needed oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of tourist-laden Malá Strana. The park is filled with benches, giving you the perfect place to rest your weary feet.
Also not far from Letná, but in the other direction, is Stromovka Park. This is a big one, covering around 100 hectares (250 acres). It’s also a park with a long history, founded as a hunting ground in the 13th century by King Ottokar II. In some areas of Stromovka, you can see the original walls put up all those centuries ago. This one is a sheer delight, with meandering paths, bridges over small streams, ponds, and cattails growing in still water. And given its size, you can easily walk all day and still not cover all the ground. One side of the park borders the Exhibition Grounds (Výstaviště). This is an excellent place to access the park, as trams 5, 6, 12, and 17 all stop at the Výstaviště tram stop. Not only can you see what’s happening at Výstaviště, you can visit the planetarium in Stromovka.
Tip: To experience both parks easily, you can stay at the Hotel Belvedere, which is on a major thoroughfare between Letná and Stromovka.
Farther out is Hvĕzda Park, a former game reserve established in the 16th century. It is popular, yet peaceful. Even better, our Hotel Marketa is located nearby!
Across the river is Riegrovy sady, which was created between 1904 and 1908 by joining together several gardens. The park is 11 hectares (about 27 acres) in size, and commands a view of Prague Castle and Malá Strana. A statue of František Ladislav Rieger, for whom the park is named, stands here. If you’re in need of refreshment, the beer garden offers several alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and basic food. The park is easily accessible from metro stations Náměstí Míru and Jiřího z Poděbrad and from tram stop Italská (line 11).
An even larger park is Průhonice, located outside, but convenient to, Prague. It has the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it covers a staggering 250 hectares (approximately 617 acres). Unlike the other parks in this list, Průhonice charges an admission fee; for details, click here. Guided tours are available in this enormous area, and the website lists popular tour routes. The castle is another wonderful attraction, particularly if the weather should turn rainy during your visit. The castle café is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. year-round (depending on the weather). If you have romance in mind, the park or castle can be rented for weddings!