Prague's Best Parks and Gardens

By Viator, January 2015

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Prague has few green spaces in its Old Town (Staré Mésto) except the delightful Franciscan Gardens, which are tucked behind Wenceslas Square and provide a respite from the busy city streets. Some of the city’s largest parks are within an easy metro ride of here, including Riegrovy and Havlíčkovy, both on opposite sides of the elegant Art Nouveau residential district of Vinohrady.

However, Prague’s best parks for visitors are on the west side of the Vltava River. The charming 18th-century Vrtba Gardens sit below Petřín Hill in Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and are full of bizarre Baroque statuary; they originally surrounded the palace of Jan Josef, Count of Vrtba, and are now open in the summer for a small entry fee.

Petřín Hill itself was once the vineyard of King Charles IV and is best accessed by the funicular between Charles and Legii bridges, off Karmelitská. Once there you’ll find pretty rose gardens, a funfair, observation tower and the Mirror Maze; there are pony rides for kids in the summer and the park is a great spot for sublime views over Prague Old Town (Staré Město) and the meanders of the river. It’s a scenic 20-minute stroll through the gardens to the Strahov Monastery and Prague Castle.

The formal Palace and Ledebour Gardens lie just beneath the castle to the north, with the Stag Moat sandwiched between the two; they comprise five landscaped areas dating as far back as the 16th century although they fell into disrepair before being brought back to life in the 1990s. Accessible from Prague Castle, their viewing terraces run the length of the southern façade of the castle with panoramas over the Staré Město and Vltava River.

Nearby Letná Park is one of the biggest free green spaces in central Prague and heaves with skateboarders, cyclists and joggers; it’s worth a visit to check out the views over the Vltava River and its seven bridges.

Stromovka Gardens date back to the 12th century and were once the hunting grounds of Czech King Premysl Otakar II. These days however the planetarium, ice-cream stands, manmade lake and serried rows of flowers make it the perfect escape from the hum of the city center.

Contributed by Sasha Heseltine

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