Bike Hire in Prague
We like to explore unknown places by bike, this fact is probably no news to you if you are a regular reader. Whenever we get a chance we either take our bikes with us abroad or hire them at our destination. Prague at first did not seem like an easy town to cycle around with all the hills and cobbled streets in the centre, however, we stumbled onto I Like Ebike on our walk back to the hotel one evening and it felt like the most obvious solution to the problem. While the little rental shop also offers a variety of guided cycle tours, including some child friendly ones, they also rent bikes, child seats, helmets, and trailers for the younger ones. We chose to just hire bikes and decide on a route ourselves. We took some tips and advice on where the best cycle routes and paths in and around Prague were by the friendly guy in the shop and set off on our electric bikes heading south towards Prokop Valley.
The first part of the ride was along the cobbled streets and it felt like we were shaken through like a milk shake by the time we got to the smooth bike/pedestrian path along the west bank of the Vlatava river. The first part was a little busy, and we had to take care of the traffic, but once we reached the riverside away from the trams it was much easier. Despite stopping at traffic lights every now and then we made good progress and left the rows of beautiful, traditional apartment blocks behind.
We followed the cycle path and side roads close to the riverside and not long after we reached the outskirts of Prague main town. We cycled past beer breweries with large quantities of silver barrels and brick chimneys, after all Prague is famous for its cheap beer. We past other industrial buildings but that made the ride interesting and different.
At some point the path turned away from the main road and we rode along the actual riverbank. There were kids out feeding swans and others tried their luck at fishing in the murky river water. Across the river we spotted the ruins of the old castle, Vysehrad, and the spires of its church. Shortly after, the river divides around a small island and the inlet is home to many houseboats. We took a detour along the road on the island past the campsites for a better look at the river and houseboats.
Up the Hill
Returning to the end of the inlet we crossed the road and tramlines to our right and cycled off the main road, uphill through a residential area with posh villas and apartment blocks set in large, walled gardens. We were glad to have the power of the electric bike to help us up the steep hill otherwise we would have needed to push them the whole way.
We were lucky to have good data on our phones to use Google maps to find the best route and paths. Half way up on our ascent we noticed an old London double decker bus, still with its destination and number at the top, above the back entrance. It was a rather strange sight to have stumbled upon in the outskirts of Prague, Jerome was especially excited as he has always had a soft spot for the old red buses. Once we arrived at the top of the hill, taking some interesting routes behind the houses and though some woodland and we turned left onto a proper bike path, A122.
View over Prague
After a short cycle though the shaded forest we came out onto an open field where Jerome discovered a man with his remote controlled plane. We stopped to watch him fly the plane across the clear blue sky and the view of Prague’s suburbs with its green hills behind. The view was beautiful and was definitely worth the strenuous ride.
Village of Hlubocepy
After moving on we pedalled along the ridge of the hill and into another forest, where we turned left to Hlubocepy. Jerome enjoyed a fast run downhill and waited at the village edge for us. Hlubocepy was a small but pretty village with a brick, arched railway bridge passing overhead. Cycling through the village we were joined by other bikers, including other children, we took this as a sign that the route was a popular one for locals. We stopped at one of the old manor houses for a drink and a hot dog. Sitting on the beautiful terrace we enjoyed our break and Jerome yet again made friends with the owners cat, called Garfield.
Across the River Vlatava
Back on the saddle we cycled the short distance down to the river on the sign posted bike route under the motorway flyover, and turned right up onto the motorway bridge that would take us across the river Vlatava. The narrow bike lane is well protected from the cars on the bridge and wide enough to let other bikes ride past while stopping to take in the view.
Park along the River
Once we had left the bridge behind we cycled through an underpass that was entirely covered in multi coloured graffiti, which made up for not making a detour via the famous John Lennon Wall. Leaving the street art behind we arrived at the pleasant riverside. The shaded grass was filled with sun worshippers, some of them even naked (just in case this might make you feel uncomfortable) and others with family parties and barbequing.
We still had time before our bike hire expired and turned left instead of heading straight back into Prague town. The bike path ran among an alley of large trees to either side and the edge was covered in white pollen, making it look like snow. Further on we passed restaurants and beer gardens. There was a huge adventure playground with a massive climbing net and slides that tempted Jerome, but we kept cycling and eventually ended up outside a football golf course. This seemed to be the latest addition in the fun sports world, a new one for us to discover… Football golf is played with a football instead of a golf club and ball. You have a small football and try to shoot it into each of the 18 holes on the course. It sounded like quite a bit of fun but it would have taken too long to play and to get back into town in time to return our bikes.
Time for an Ice Cream
We turned around and cycled back along the river, all the way on the bike path, with many other cyclists and a few inline scaters. The Podoli outdoor pool and river swimming area at Kublov was heaving with people in the heat, looking for a refreshing swim. While I really like the idea of a river or lake swim and the water in the river Vlatava is meant to of be of drink water quality, in places it was stagnant and was rather murky. I surely would not put my foot into the water, even on the hottest of days. A few minutes later we spotted the old castle ruins at the top of Vysehrad, another sight we missed out on our visit this time. Jerome liked the arched tunnel over the road and cycled through.
Back near the centre and under the railway bridge we stopped for an ice cream and joined the crowd at the river edge. Right next to us was a ferry stop for the smallest ferry we have ever seen. It connects East and West side of the Vlatava river and while you could just as well walk across the railway bridge it looked like a lot of fun, to take a seat on the wooden benches and glide across to the other side. Children surely would love to go for a ride or two. They are part of the public transport system and run a frequent schedule daily from 8:00 until 21:00.
The Dancing House
Everyone in Prague was out to enjoy the lovely weather. We loved that there were plenty of opportunities to sit by the river, either in the parks or in cafes and restaurants. I really wish London would have more opportunities to enjoy sunny weather.
A few blocks further North, we halted at the Dancing House, one of the absolute highlights of modern architecture in Prague. It is also called Fred and Ginger, Fred Astaire is represented by the concrete part and Ginger Rogers symbolised by the warped glass tower. Frank O Gehry designed the building in partnership with a Czech architect. It houses a hotel and a roof terrace with vistas of the city and was awarded a prize for its design by Time magazine. I think it is a great example of architecture that will appeal to the curious and creative minds of children.
Crossing the bridge at the Dancing House we rode back to the bike hire shop. The last part of our route went through Kampa Park, past a little stream with an old, still working wooden watermill. After dropping off the bikes, we returned to our Hotel and played cards again on the terrace outside with cool fresh lemonade before going out for dinner.
Dinner at Restaurant Rainer Maria Rilke
The restaurant Rainer Maria Rilke was located very conveniently, a short walk uphill from the hotel. The small Czech restaurant was charming with its traditional wooden tables and chairs and real lit candles. We enjoyed our delicious dinner of Czech specialities, including dumplings and goulash – Chris had the most amazing grilled duck ever. Without any doubt, we are able to say that we ate the best food there during our stay in Prague. There are plenty of food options that kids will enjoy, I would advise to reserve a table to avoid disappointment.
For our last day we went to the old town Jewish quarter and for a ride on the pedaloes, all in my next post.