Hills and spires; towers and overlooks. Prague has enough peaks and valleys to be able to get up high and look down on the red roofs, curving streets and winding river. Jacy Meyer shares some tips on where to go to get the best view from the top.
If the weather is right, there’s no better place to experience Prague scenes then from one of her many parks. We’ll start in the centre with Petrín Hill. This is a lovely park, the bottom of which is in Malá Strana while the top borders Prague Castle. You can leisurely wind your way up the side of the hill, or take the faster, easier way on the funicular. The Újezd tram stop is the easiest way to reach the park on public transport. If the hill isn’t high enough for you, you can climb the Observation Tower. It probably looks vaguely familiar – this mini-Eiffel tower is exactly one-fifth the size of Paris’ version and made from recycled railroad tracks. The view is unique because besides the Castle, the Vltava River and Old Town, you also see the backside of Prague on the other side of Petrín.
Along the same side of the river; best accessed from Old Town Square via Parížská Street, is a Prague favourite, Letná Park. Cross the bridge and climb the steps up towards the giant metronome. Turn right or left at your whim and enjoy the wide paths and beautiful views over the river mainly of Old Town. Sunny weekends see the park full of families, dogs, strollers and in-line skaters. There are a couple of playgrounds and refreshment spots so an enjoyable afternoon can be lost to Letná.
For a view from ‘outside’ looking in – outside of town that is – head to Vyšehrad via the Metro C (red) line to the Vyšehrad stop. Follow the pavement (and signs) to Na Bucance, which leads to the park entrance. Once in, casually wander along the wall, stopping frequently for a look back towards Prague and the Castle, as well as look forward down the river and away from the city.
For a different side of Prague, head up to Vítkov Hill. This requires some effort, both public transport-wise, and feet-wise. Take the Metro C (red) to Florenc and then take bus 175 or 133 to the stop U památníku. Walk up the hill, past the Army Museum to the national memorial on top. Along the way, you’ll see views of Prague suburbs and way off in the distance the unique housing blocks called panelák. The view down the opposite side of the hill is to the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Žižkov. You probably won’t be able to miss the TV Tower in the distance. Keep reading if you think you’d like to give that a climb.
If you make it up to Prague Castle (which offers great views while walking both up to it and down away from it) you can also buy a ticket to climb the roughly 300 steps to the top of the tower in St. Vitus Cathedral. This hike rewards you with a bird’s eye view of the Castle grounds. For a similar look at Old Town Square, climb the Old Town Hall Tower. This is a nice change from other Prague towers as the stairs are wider and not so winding. Up top you have an excellent look at your immediate surroundings and how they fit into the surrounding landscape. Leaving Old Town Square and walking down Celetná Street towards Námestí Republiky you’ll come to the Power Tower. An intriguing exhibition of weapons is in the tower, a little something extra as you marvel over the busyness of this Prague quarter.
If you are on Charles Bridge, the towers standing guard at either end can both be climbed. While they aren’t so tall, nor located on high ground; they both provide surprisingly nice views. It’s nice to be able to gaze down on Charles Bridge without fighting the masses. The Old Town tower gives a lovely view across the river to the Castle, while the Malá Strana side one offers a higher look at the Old Town. As a bonus, both of these towers also contain exhibitions. In the Malá Strana tower you can learn more about alchemy in the Rudolphine Period while the Old Town Tower, appropriately enough, has an exhibition on Charles IV.
Back out of the centre, the promised TV Tower (official name Tower Park Praha) offers a much more wide-ranging view of the city. Not only will you see the Castle and the mini-Eiffel, you’ll also see all the way out to the outskirts of Prague. You can walk there from the Jirího z Podebrad (A or green line) metro station. The best part though? The TV Tower has a lift so a good place to end your “Day of Views.”