Are you planning to visit Prague? Do you like hiking or would you like to spend some time in the Czech countryside?
As a local, I would like to share a few tips on interesting hikes around Prague, countryside walks and backpacking opportunities, as well as some useful information about our public transport, footpath markings and some other topics.
Where to go – a little bit of geography
Prague is situated on the Vltava river, in the middle of the historical kingdom of Bohemia and the city roughly divides the surrounding landscape into two different parts. To the north of Prague lies the Elbe river lowland (Polabí) with flat and mostly agricultural land and with only a few hiking opportunities. But to the south the landscape starts to become more rough and with its forests, hills, rocks and beautiful river valleys, it is the perfect place for hiking and countryside walking.
The landscape to the south of Prague can be again divided into several slightly different parts:
- Bohemian Karst (Český kras) in the south-west, a protected landscape area around the Berounka river valley (between the town of Beroun and Prague-Radotín). This is one of the most beautiful parts of our country and also the place where the famous gothic castle Karlštejn is located.
- Brdy Ridge (Brdské Hřebeny) in the south, a narrow forested ridge beginning between the Berounka and the Vltava rivers and continuing to the south to the towns of Dobříš and Hořovice. Not so popular among local people, but especially good for long and tough hikes and backpacking.
- Sázava Region (Posázaví) in the south-east, a beautiful area around the romantic Sázava river valley stretching from the town Davle (where the Sázava river meets the Vltava) far away to Moravia.
In the north, there is one nice place I will mention later – Czech Middle Mountains (České středohoří), a mountain region famous for its picturesque extinct volcanoes.
There are also some really nice valleys and parks directly in Prague itself which are worth of visiting, notably Prokopské údolí and Divoká Šárka.
Before you’ll go on a hike near Prague, you should know two things: how to use our public transport system and how not to get lost in the woods.
Getting there – public transport
Prague public transport (PID) consists of the underground railway called Metro, trams, buses, commuter trains, one cable car and some ferries – but only the buses and trains will take you to the countryside.
The trains depart from the Main Station (Hlavní nádraží) or the Masaryk Station (Masarykovo nádraží) and they are marked with the letter “S” and a number (e.g. S2 or S80) for better orientation. They usually depart every 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the time of the day or whether it’s a weekend or not. There are also some other types of trains (express, international), but stick to the commuter trains if you don’t want to end somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
The railway network around Prague is quite dense, but there are a few interesting places you can reach only by a bus (or where the bus service is just faster). The buses usually depart from the Metro (underground) stations on the city outskirts and understanding their timetables and routes can be sometimes challenging, even for local people – so when it’s possible, I will suggest you to use a train.
You can find the routes and timetables at jizdnirady.idnes.cz/pid/spojeni, the fares at www.dpp.cz/en/fares-in-the-periphery-areas. The prices for the public transport are a bargain compared to western cities. Also, there is almost no need to buy return train tickets to save money (a return is only 5% cheaper than two singles), but it is advisable to buy group tickets (you will save at least 25%).
Walking around – hiking trails and tourist markings
There’s one other thing you should be familiar with before you set out on a hike: Czech hiking trails and their markings. We have really dense network of hiking trails (“public footpaths”) maintained by the Czech Tourist Club (KČT). The trails are marked with four different colours – red (long distance routes), green, blue and yellow – in the form of a coloured horizontal stripe between two white stripes. These symbols are usually found on trees, fences or lamp posts.
The navigation is very simple – you just follow the colour you have chosen and if you watch for the markings carefully, you can’t get lost. Besides that, every few kilometers you will find a signpost where you can check your direction and the distance to the place you are walking to, or switch to a different trail.
There are also other types of markings – a diagonal green stripe in a white square means an “educational trail”, coloured stripes between two yellow stripes are for cyclists, coloured dots in a white square are bridleways, etc.
It’s always good to have a map. The best hiking maps (with scale 1:50 000, the green ones) are published by the Czech Tourist Club and you can buy them in every bigger bookstore. Neo Palladium at the Main Station or Neo Luxor on the Wenceslaus Square, for example. (This is how the maps look like: [link]).
You can the find the hiking maps online – mapy.cz (just click on “Změnit mapu” and “Turistická” in the upper left corner and then zoom in to see the hiking trails).
Recommended walking routes
1. The best choice – Karlštejn and the Bohemian Karst
Believe me: this is the best one-day hike you can ever do near Prague. There are so many interesting things you can see there and the landscape is just beautiful and changing every mile – you cannot find anything better. And it’s not tough at all, you can even go with children and have a great time.
Take a train to the Karlštejn station and follow the yellow hiking route to the east and across the Berounka river until you enter a small village and spot the famous gothic castle. Go up the street with shops and restaurants, change to the red trail at the signpost (go left) and climp up to the Karlštejn Castle, built in the 14th century. It’s huge and magnificient – you just have to see it. You can even choose from a few different guided tours a spend a lot of time in the castle itself.
After you take a look at the castle, follow the red trail to the north until it joins a narrow asphalt road. Pass through a settlement called V Hlubokém and turn left to the forest (still following the red trail) until you reach a signpost called Dub Sedmi bratří (Seven Brothers’ Oak). Turn left and stick to the red trail. Walk along a field edge and through a nice forest and just after you ford a shallow stream, you will find another signpost – Kubrychtova bouda (Kubrycht’s hut). Turn right (still the red trail).
The next section is especially beautiful. After you pass a narrow meadow with Kubrycht’s hut on your right side, the path will take you to a forest ravine with some lovely waterfalls (called Bubovické vodopády – Bubovice waterfalls) and fords. You will love this place! Take your time to enjoy it and then continue up to the hill, turn left (leaving the stream on your right side) and follow the red trail through a deep forest to a signpost at a road crossing. Cross the road, climb down a steep slope, turn left once again and follow the trail to a signpost named Propadlé vody (Caved in water).
Now turn right and follow an educational trail called Svatojánský okruh, marked with a diagonal green stripe in a white square. You will eventually reach a railway crossing – an old mine railway! Follow the railway to the right to see Solvayovy lomy (Solvay’s quarry), a limestone mining museum, and then return back, join the educational trail again and walk along the railway to its other end. There are some nice views to abandoned quarries.
After a half a mile, you will meet the red trail again. Go straight ahead up the hill until you reach a rock cliff with a cross, with some magnificient views to the surrounding landscape! The village with a monastery, six hundred feet below the cliff, is called Svatý Jan pod Skalou – St. John under the Rock. Enjoy it here – you are at one of the most beautiful and peaceful places of our little country.
From the cliff top, follow the red trail down to the village – which is, by the way, a good place for a few beers.
Pass through the village and go to the south, following the yellow trail and the road to the Hostim village. Pass through Hostim and where the road enters a forest, turn right across a meadow and take a footpath to a stream. Walk along the stream to a settlement called V Kozle, turn left at the signpost and join the Berounka river. Then follow the river bank to Srbsko, where this walk ends. There are some pubs in Srbsko and the railway station is at the other side of the river, just by the footbridge.
Route: Karlštejn railway station → Karlštejn → Dub Sedmi bratří → Kubrychtova bouda → Bubovické vodopády (Bubovice waterfalls) → Propadlé vody → Solvayovy doly (Solvay’s quarry) → St. John cliff top → Svatý Jan pod Skalou (St. John under the Rock) → Hostim → V Kozle → Srbsko
Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8eti + KČT no. 36 – Okolí Prahy západ
Distance: 11 miles / 17 km
Ascent: 2600 feet / 800 m
Duration: 5 – 7 hours (without any guided tours)
Getting there: train S7 from the Main Station to Karlštejn, the same line back from Srbsko
Eating out: Karlštejn, Svatý Jan, Srbsko
2. The long walk – Štěchovice and the Vltava river valley
Have you ever heard Vltava (The Moldau), a symphonic poem written by Bedřich Smetana? This walk will let you see the landscape which inspired him to compose such an amazing piece of music. And although the landscape has changed a little bit from the Smetana times (he probably wouldn’t like the hydropower dams), it’s still beautiful. And in some parts, wild too.
But be aware: this walk is a longer one. You’ll need one whole day for it, as well as the map and some navigation skills as the trail markings are not perfect here. And when the weather is bad, this walk can be slippery and somewhat dangerous.
The walk starts in the small town of Štěchovice, lying on the Vltava river. From the bus stop by the river, follow the blue trail through the town until you see a dam. Enter the forest and after a few minutes, switch to the green trail at the signpost Pod Strání. Walk a few miles by the river (there are some nice views from the rocks) until you enter a village and see another dam – Slapy. Climb up the steps on your right side to the signpost in Třebenice.
Follow the blue trail again, cross the river on the dam and turn left to a short climb through a forest. Continue over a meadow, pass the Rabyně village and climb down a field to Pexův Luh. From this signpost, follow the yellow trail to the north along a stream with some fords and eventually turn right up to the hill. Then just go ahead through the forest to Teletín.
In Teletín, after you pass the village green with a pond, turn left, follow the road for a while and then turn left again to a meadow. Go straight ahead until you find yourself on a cliff 600 feet above the Vltava river. The view from this outlook (vyhlídka Máj) is simply amazing!
Return back to the yellow trail and continue to the north. The navigation can be a little bit tricky here, so use the map. Follow the trail and when you see some cottages, take a sharp turn to the right and after a few hundred feet, turn left and climb down a ravine with a stream. Cross the stream and climb up the hill to a cottage settlement. Then follow the arrows pointing to Smetanova vyhlídka (Smetana’s outlook), another place with beautiful views to the Vltava river.
Return back to the cottages and take a narrow lane to the north. Cross a wider road and continue to the Třebšín village. From Třebšín, follow the blue trail through some small villages back to Štěchovice.
Route: Štěchovice → Pod Strání → Třebenice → Rabyně → Pexův Luh → Teletín → Máj outlook → Smetana’s outlook → Třebšín → Štěchovice
Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8etr + KČT no. 38 – Hřebeny a Slapská přehrada or KČT no. 40 – Benešovsko a Dolní Posázaví
Distance: 17 miles / 28 km
Ascent: 3600 feet / 1100 m
Duration: 8 – 10 hours
Getting there: go to the Smíchovské nádraží Metro station and take bus 361, 338 or 390 to Štěchovice
Eating out: only in Štěchovice, rather take your own food
3. The flat walk – the baroque landscape by the Elbe river
If you don’t like hills and want to see a typical Czech countryside of the Elbe lowland, this is the walk for you. It will lead you along the Elbe river (Labe) and through a nice forest to an 18th century village Byšičky and a nice town Lysá nad Labem with a French-style park.
Take a train to Čelákovice, a small commuter town 15 miles from Prague, and follow the yellow-blue trail through the town to the north, down to the Elbe river. Take the blue trail at a signpost called Čelákovice – jez, turn left and follow the trail (shortly along the river) to a place where a narrow panel road diverts from the street. Go ahead on the panel road (don’t use the blue trail as it’s usually flooded), pass a sewage treatment plant and join the Elbe river again. Walk along the river to the west and cross it on a footbridge (or you can continue a few more yards to see a spa village Lázně Toušeň).
Beyond the bridge, turn right and follow the yellow trail to Káraný – there are water works which look like a 19th century factory. Turn right and follow the red trail for a while, but stick to the main road when the trail diverges. The road will turn left and you will end up at a crossroad, so go straight ahead trough the village – it’s very nice. Meet the red trail again and go to the east through a beautiful riverside forest until you reach the railway line from Čelákovice to Lysá nad Labem.
Next to the railway crossing in the woods, there are some baroque statues and a sculpture symbolising the murder of St. Wenceslaus, the 10th century Duke of Bohemia, that happend in the nearby town of Stará Boleslav (also a nice place to visit).
Cross the railway tracks and follow an educational trail called NS Krajinou Rudolfa II to the south and then to the east. You will eventually reach a beautiful village with a rounded village green and some lovely old houses – Byšičky. Destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War and founded again in 1717, it is said to be one of the the most well-preserved baroque villages in the Czech Republic.
Go ahead on the road through the village, continue to the east and when you reach a T-junction, turn left to the railway and cross it again. Join the red trail again and follow it along the tracks, with a horse racecourse on your left side, to Lysá nad Labem. After a mile, cross another railway line and enter the town.
There is a nice Augustinian monastery and a baroque palace (“stately home”). It now serves as a nursing home for the elderly people, but with its French-style garden full of baroque statues, it is definitely worth of seeing.
After you take a look at the garden, go to the town square (there are some restaurants and cafés) and then to the south to the railway station and take a train back to Prague.
Route: Čelákovice → footbridge in Lázně Toušeň → Káraný → Svatý Václav (St. Wenceslaus) → Byšičky → Byšičky railway crossing → Lysá nad Labem
Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8eQW + KČT no. 17 – Dolní Pojizeří, Mladoboleslavsko a Nymbursko
Distance: 10 miles / 16 km
Ascent: 300 feet / 100 m
Duration: 4 – 5 hours
Getting there: train S2 or S20 from the Masaryk railway station to Čelákovice, the same line back from Lysá nad Labem
Eating out: Čelákovice, Lysá nad Labem
4. Up to the mountains – Lovoš and Milešovka
Unfortunately, there are no real mountains anywhere near Prague. But if you are a keen hiker and want something a little bit tougher, you can go to the region called Czech Middle Mountains (České středohoří, sometimes translated as Central Bohemian Uplands). It’s actually closer to Germany than to Prague, but there is a good rail connection to this hike. So if you like hills and nice views, you won’t regret this choice.
Take an express (!) train to Lovosice, which departs every two hours from the Main Station. The journey takes approximately one hour. From the railway station in Lovosice, follow the blue trail through the city (which is unfortunately quite ugly) and after you pass through a subway under a big roundabout, take the green trail and follow it to the north to a railway crossing. Cross the railway, then another one and start ascending a road between some gardens and cottages. You will see a pointed mountain in front of you – Lovoš – an extinct volcano. You will eventually leave the city behind you and enter the forest on the mountain slope.
Go ahead through the forest. At one point, the footpath will start to be pretty steep and tough. But after a few sharp turns, you will meet the blue trail following a wider and a much better road. Take the road to the summit of Lovoš. If you don’t make the same mistake like me and don’t go on this hike in rainy weather, you will enjoy some nice views from the summit.
From Lovoš, follow the blue trail through a nice birch forest down to the village of Oparno. Go through the village and just before a railway bridge, turn left up to the hill to see some castle ruins. Follow the blue trail back to the valley and then to Velemín, a village on a busy road heading to Germany. Go north along the road and turn left with the blue trail by the end of the village. You will see another cone shaped mountain, another extinct volcano – Milešovka. With its elevation of 837 m / 2746 feet, it is the highest peak of the Czech Middle Mountains. You will have to climb up over 1600 feet to reach the summit!
Continue through a field until you reach another forest. At a signpost called Nad Velemínem turn left and enjoy your climb. It’s a little bit tough but definitely rewarding. At the summit, there is a weather observatory with a lookout tower and one 19th century Prussian geographer actually claimed that the view from Milešovka was the third best in the world!
From Milešovka, take the red trail down to a village called Bílka. Then cross the busy road again and follow the trail to Žim and to the railway station, where this hike ends. Take a local train to Lovosice (the last one usually departs by 7 PM!) and then an express train back to Prague.
Route: Lovosice railway station → Lovosice signpost → Lovoš → Oparno žst. → Velemín → Nad Velemínem → Milešovka → Bílka → Žim
Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8f6C + KČT no. 10 – České středohoří – západ
Distance: 14 miles / 23 km
Ascent: 4000 feet / 1200 m
Duration: 7 – 9 hours
Getting there: express train to Lovosice from the Main Station (ends in Děčín), back from Žim with a change in Lovosice (the last train from Žim departs at 7 PM!)
Eating out: Lovosice, Velemín, Milešovka (beer only), rather take your own food
5. The tough challenge – Brdy Ridge
Ok, so you want something really tough. Something extreme and crazy. Or just two or three day backpacking trip in the deep woods? Anyway, this is the hike for you. The famous Brdy Ridge, Hřebeny.
Buy the maps, pack up your gear and take an express train to Hořovice. Find the red trail on the town square and then just – wait for it – just go back to Prague. After 35 miles of walking through the woods, following the red trail all the time, take a bus from Báně to Smíchovské nádraží Metro station. It was a nice walk, wasn’t it? :)
There are a few interesting places on this hike. One of them is Plešivec (roughly translated as the Bare hill) with a very nice view to the landscape. Then there is Studený vrch with a lookout tower you can visit and an abandoned military base near a hill called Stožec. Another interesting place is Skalka (Rock), a monastery with a Via Crucis. And the forest between Jíloviště and Baně is especially beautiful.
However, the best thing about this walk is that you will meet almost no one there. On weekdays or in bad weather – literally no one.
Regarding the wild camping in the forest which is the only type of overnight accommodation available here – it’s not legal, but it’s tolerated in this area, just follow your common sense. And don’t light a fire.
Don’t try to complete the walk in one day – it would be a madness :)
Route: Hořovice railway station → Hořovice → Rpety → Na Bělidle → Lhotka rozc. → Plešivec → Křižatky → Kuchyňka → Jelení palouky → Stožec → Na Soudném → Skalka → U Šraňku → Černolické skály → Jíloviště → Báně
Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8f8x + KČT no. 34 – Brdy a Rokycansko + KČT no. 38 – Hřebeny a Slapská přehrada + KČT no. 36 – Okolí Prahy-západ (only a very short section)
Distance: 35 miles / 57 km
Ascent: 5000 feet / 1400 m
Duration: two or three days unless you are extremely fit
Toughness: extreme for one day
Getting there: express train from the Main Station to Hořovice, back from the bus stop Báně to Smíchovské nádraží Metro station
Eating out: nowhere
Just one afternoon? Prokopské údolí or Divoká Šárka
Prague is full of hidden and lovely valleys which foreign visitors hardly ever see. The two most beautiful of them are probably Prokopské údolí and Divoká Šárka. Both of them are good places to spend an afternoon when you are sick of sightseeing and the crowds in the Old Town.
Prokopské údolí: take a tram to the Zlíchov stop, pass under a railway bridge and follow the blue hiking trail up to the hill. Then go down to the valley and walk along the railway to Řeporyje. Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8f9U – 5 miles / 9 km.
Divoká Šárka: you might have seen it from the airport express, those fantastic rocks behind a McDonnald’s restaurant, just after the bus entered the city. Take a tram to the Evropská station, go down to the valley and just enjoy it. Or you can take the red trail (a circular one) which will lead you to the rock cliff in Baba, with some nice views of the Vltava river. Map: http://mapy.cz/s/8fab.
Other walking routes
There are many other beautiful places near Prague which are good for hiking. Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I visited them or I’ve been there only on my bicycle, so I can’t describe the walking routes in enough detail (but I might do this in the future). Here are some tips:
- From Davle to Kamenný Přívoz by the Sázava river
- From Mníšek pod Brdy to the Skalka monastery and then to Řevnice
- Mount Říp
- From Srbsko through the Koda forest to Tetín and Beroun
- From Beroun to the Křivoklát castle
- Klánovický les, a forest between Klánovice and Úvaly
- From Čerčany to Ondřejov, Hrusice and Mnichovice
- Voděradské bučiny, a beautiful beechwood forest near Kostelec nad Černými lesy
- From Roztoky to the Okoř castle, Budeč and Zákolany
Prague has a humid continental climate, which means that the winters are usually quite cold and the summers sometimes really hot. The best time of the year to visit Prague, if you want to do some hiking, is probably June, late August and early September.
- From January to March, it’s usually cold (below 0°C) and some higher-lying parts of the countryside are more suitable for cross-country skiing than hiking.
- April and May are beautiful, but the weather is pretty much unpredictable. Be prepared for some showers.
- June is probably the best time of the year, with the most daylight and usually nice and predictable weather and moderate temperatures (up to 25°C).
- July and early August tend to be sunny, very hot (35°C is not an exception) and with heavy thunderstorms in the evenings.
- Late August and September have moderate temperatures (around 20°C) again and early autumn is especially beautiful in the countryside.
- From October to December, it starts to be quite cold with only a few sunshine hours. It can snow sometimes and these months are a bit depressive.
Backpacking in the Czech Republic
If you are more interested in multi-day backpacking trips in the Czech Republic, you might also find this information useful:
- The closest place to Prague which is good for backpacking is the Brdy Ridge, already mentioned. Then there are mountain ranges on the country borders – Šumava, Krkonoše and Hrubý Jeseník are the most beautiful ones. Some other nice places not far away from Prague are České Švýcarsko (Czech Switzerland), Kokořínsko and Český Ráj (Czech Paradise).
- Wild camping: it’s not legal. Bivouacking is legal, but no one actually knows what that means in the terms of law. However, wild camping is highly tolerated if nobody knows about you :) So – be silent, don’t start a fire, don’t leave any traces and only one night at one place. There is one big no: don’t camp above the treeline in national parks and stay out of natural reserves.
- Right of way: you can walk almost everywhere unless there is a restriction (Czech: “Zákaz vstupu” or “Vstup zakázán”). But it’s always better to stick to the official marked trails.
- If you need to buy some outdoor gear in Prague, try these shops – Hanibal or Hudy Sport.
I hope you will enjoy your visit to the Czech Republic and Prague and hiking here as well! Please share your experiences in the comments – and don’t be afraid to ask anything you’d like to know, of course.