Flowing through 435 kilometers, the Vltava River is the longest river in the Czech Republic. It flows through the city of Prague and plays a fundamental role in its history. For centuries, it has served as the main route for traders and travelers from Southern and Northern Europe. It was also the main source of water for drinking and irrigation for the early settlers of Prague.
Today, it’s a central element in tourism. Aside from the wonderful views of Prague through its glistening corridors, Vltava offers a variety of activities that both locals and tourists enjoy.
Magnificent Views of Prague from Vltava
The path of Vltava through Prague begins near the Nature Park Draháň-Troja and flows south towards Zvolská homole of the Central Bohemian Region. It separates Old Town and New Town in the east from Lesser Town and the Prague Castle in the west. You can enjoy breathtaking views of nature, historic buildings, and ancient architecture as you sail along its waters or walk along its banks.
At the heart of Prague is Charles Bridge. This popular tourist attraction connects Old Town and New Town to Lesser Town. You’d often see tourists strolling across the bridge and enjoying the panoramic view over the Vltava.
Just a few kilometers north of Charles Bridge is the Alšovo Embankment where one of the oldest concert halls in Europe was built in 1884. You’ll see the neo-renaissance Rudolfinum that houses an auditorium and art gallery today. Aside from this majestic building, the embankment also offers a beautiful view of Hradčany.
Somewhere between Manes Bridge and Charles Bridge is an entry to a manmade stream that flows parallel to Vltava and ends right before Legion Bridge. Known as the Devil’s Stream, this waterway was dug to power watermills in medieval times. Take a boat ride through it to enjoy the sights of Kampa Island, Liechtenstein Palace, and the huge mill wheel of the Grand Priory.
Adjacent to Legion Bridge is the home of Czech performing arts, the National Theater. It has been a popular venue for opera, ballet, and theater performances since 1881. The imposing structure can be seen from the Vltava during the day and becomes a stunning illuminated display at night.
One of the liveliest embankments in the Vltava, Náplavka offers something for everyone. The riverbank is lined with boat bars, cafés, and clubs for those who love the nightlife. Swans and water taxis delight kids and the young-at-heart. There’s also a farmers market on weekends for foodies and bargain hunters. For sightseers, there are the historical landmarks of a statue on the wall by Rašínovým nábřežím and the Limnigraf na Výtoni. However, the best view is at its north end, where the modern Dancing House of Milunić and Gehry create a stark contrast amidst the Baroque and Gothic cityscape.
A rocky promontory above the Vltava River, the Vyšehrad takes you back in time with its historical landmarks. Considered the oldest seat of Czech princes, it houses the Vyšehrad fortress, Gothic Cellar, Staré Purkrabství, and the Vyšehrad cemetery. From the Vltava, you might see parts of the Ruins of Libuse’s Bath and the medieval watchtower that houses the Vysehrad Gallery.
This small embankment in the Vltava is best enjoyed on foot than on a cruise. Grassy areas and sandy beaches make it perfect for picnics and outdoor fun. There’s a children’s playground and multifunctional sports courts for a variety of activities for the whole family. Water activities, such as rowboats and paddleboards, are also available.
Take a River Cruise for a Different Perspective of Prague
There are so many other sites to be enjoyed from the Vltava. So, taking a cruise has become a must-do experience for any tourist in Prague. These cruises are available throughout the year and some have hourly runs from morning to night. Here are some cruises worth considering:
A luxury cruise that takes in only a maximum of 10 people per trip. It’s a great choice for intimate weddings, special occasions, and business meetings.
Join a basic cruise, schedule a private one, or rent one of their boats.
Experience Prague on a 19th century Vodouch boat. It’s a truly unique sightseeing tour around Charles Bridge.
Join any cruise you want with the vast offerings of the oldest and largest boat company in Czech. They offer one-hour cruises, cruises to the Prague Zoo, and trips to Melnik on modern air-conditioned boats or on rustic steamboats.
No trip to Prague would ever be complete without strolling along the Vltava or taking a cruise on it. Make sure to include these activities in your itinerary to see Prague from different perspectives.