It would not be Prague without the river. The Vltava (Moldau) river is the longest river in the Czech Republic, and it converges with the largest Czech river, the Labe (Elbe), a couple of kilometers south of Prague. What should certainly be on your to do list for your trip to Prague is an evening walk along the river, but if you will have more time, try enjoying the river further by taking a cruise, or renting a paddle boat. This year the oldest Prague boat company celebrates a big Birthday! Ahoj!
This year, the Prague Steamboat Company (Pražská paroplavební společnost) celebrates 150 years of business. Back in the day, cruise ships served as an important public transport for people living up and down the river. They used boats to get to work and to take goods to the city markets. The prime time of cruise ships was during the first years of the first republic (time between the World Wars). Today they have almost the same amount of boats as back in the beginning of the 20th century. There are two particular gems of their fleet – the steamboat Vyšehrad (the oldest cruise steamboat in the Czech Republic, built in 1938, you can take this boat to the Prague zoo, for a day trip to Mělník, or hydroelectric dam at Slapy) and the second oldest restaurant steamboat Vltava, which was built in 1940, and in it you can find a restaurant, coffee place and wine salon.
You can celebrate this big anniversary with them on one of their cruise ships, or by visiting an exhibition at the National Technical Museum (Nárdoní technické museum). In addition to the exciting regular exhibition, you can see many models of the original boats, historical videos and old boat equipment there. For art lovers, the exhibition also shows some masterpieces of Czech art with river themes from Josef Šíma, Bohumil Kubišta, or Jakub Schikaneder.
But it is, of course, not the only company you can take a cruise with. Another, bigger company is the Prague Boats Company, which has six cruise ships in its fleet, and their tours leave from the harbor U Františku. They do shorter (one hour) and longer trips up and down the river.
Something new to the „boat market“ has been brought by the Prague Venice Company. They have several smaller, wooden boats, and a romantic harbor underneath the first pillar of the Charles Bridge coming from the Old Town side. The price of the ticket also includes the entrance to the Charles Bridge museum, and you will get a free drink and some nibbles on board! They also have one salon-like speed boat for „high class“ clients and a couple of gondolas. These traditional Italian boats can be hired in Prague’s little Venice – Čertovka (Devil stream) in the Lesser Town. It is not so easy to maneuver with a gondola, so our Czech sailors are learning from the Italian experts. Čertovka is a man-made channel which floats around man-made island Kampa and the bank of Lesser Town. Today it is a beautiful and expensive part of Prague, but back in the day, it was a bit of a stinky corner of the city, as the main purpose of the channel was for sewage and held a morgue. The original house of the morgue is still there! But the smell is a bit different today as it is now a restaurant. Bon appetite!:)…we do not recommend going there to eat, though, their Tripadvisor reviews are not very good ☹.
But you do not have to do a cruise to enjoy the river. There are many places around the river, where you can rent a small boat, or paddle boat and enjoy the hot day or romantic evening on the river. Popular renting places are located on the island by the National Theater.
So have fun sailing and let us know how you like it!
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