Finally! Spring is back! I took advantage of the warm temperatures to walk along the Vltava and I noted there are a lot of activities for visitors of Prague, as well as guides to relate history of Prague with the river view. This got me curious to learn more about the Vltava, the national river of Czech Republic.
First of all, where does the name come from? So difficult to read it for non-Czech speaking people (you have to pronounce “Vletava”). By etymology, this word comes from old Germanic “Wilt Ahwa” meaning “wild water”. With its 430km, Vltava is the longest river in Czech Republic. The throughput is 150m3/ sec, twice more than Tames river in London.
The spring of Vltava is in the Bohavia forest, at 1315m of altitude, then flow in the Elbe, in Melnik about 40 km from north of Prague, and empties into the North Sea.
Naturally, it flow pass by Prague, especially under the famous Charles Bridge. The capital was built on one of its numerous bends. Vltava divides the city 2 main parts, the old town (right side) and Mala Strana and the Castle (left side).
Its represents one of the charming qualities of Prague, and you could see the Vltava in many touristic pictures. We can find several elegant bridges and some islands just as lovely.
About the wildlife on the Vltava, you can feed the swans and they will usually show their appreciation with a performance.
History and Legends
Formerly, it was an important artery of transport and commerce for Prague.
It was an inspiration for many artists like the compositor Bedrich Smetana, who composed the symphony “Vltava”, of which the melody evokes the water flow and the river transformation.
The legend relates that Vltava housed “Water Sprites”, which you could find in Slavic legends. These sprites collected the spirites of drunken men who fall down the river, and kept it for themselves. The first sprites of Prague lived under the Castle of Vyserhad. The second one lived under the Charles Bridge and the last one nearby Cerchov Bridge.
Today, Vltava is home to a lot of hydroelectric plants, and has kept international waterway characteristics. But it is also valued by tourism and used for visitor’s entertainment.
Activities on Vltava
You can opportunities to cross, ride along, and even cruise during the day. In a first part, it is possible to cross the river on little ‘ferries’ just with a transport ticket like metro, tramway, or bus. You could leave from the right side, just under the Charles Bridge, to the left side, nearby the Kafka Museum for a cheap price.
You could also give priority to a small hour on a “Vodouch boat” to discover the town with the Vltava view, and observe facades and buildings that you couldn’t see from other views. Place of departures is at Point Judita, just nearby the Charles Bridge. The price for this getaway is 290 CZK for the normal tariff and the half for children. You can enjoy it in year-round. Some snacks are served during the travel.
For a more luxurious budget, you can book a luxury cruise for a half-day. 3 hours on a steamboat, a gastronomic meal, and a romantic atmosphere with a piano music. The price: 1690 CZK per person.
If you don’t wish to take the boat, quays and pathways are converted for you to enjoy a pleasant walk. You can find several restaurants and bars and a not ordinary place: a bicycle store named “Bajkazyl”, where bike fans meet, and find recycled and customized bicycles. With a bar and a terrace, this store is not banal because each exchange is outside, at the water’s edge, sometimes with a beer. The main founder’s idea being to promote the bicycle moving in Prague.
For sun lovers and Prague’s bathers can enjoy also of a 150 meters beach on the Vltava during the summer. You will find:
- Ponds and Showers
- Bar and refreshment
- Sport activities (beach volley, climbing wall, boules)
- Chaise-longue and parasols
- Coordinators for children
- Night club
Farmers market, shows, concerts and other artistic events are also on the Vltava bank during the summer, and the town becomes livelier than in the fall and winter months.
Finally, if you move away from Prague, and you go to the Bohavia forest, you could visit the nice town of Cesky Krumlov, 170km in the south of Prague. You could try the rafting on the Vltava for a few days and nights, it is truly an unique sportive and cultural experience.