Main image: “Prague” by Jaroslav Kviz
Jenny Day, co-author of Prague Green City Guide – the first sustainable travel guide to Prague, shares her secrets of the city with Eco Traveller readers.
Sometimes called the Golden City, Prague practically glows with nostalgia. The famous medieval Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and Old Town Square attract millions of visitors every year, seeking a glimpse into the past. But how green is Prague, and what does its future hold?
Prague’s greener side is slowly but surely emerging from the bottom up, thanks to its local businesses, artists and active citizens. For eco-travellers, there has never been a better time to visit. From vegetarian restaurants to sustainable design shops, Prague has no shortage of sustainable alternatives, proving the city has come a long way since the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
So if being one of the best preserved cities in Europe wasn’t good enough cause to visit, here are seven more (and greener) reasons to go to Prague in this mini Prague travel guide.
Prague’s eco-tourism industry is just beginning to bud. One of the most eco-friendly options for accommodation in the city is Mosaic House, a modern and stylish hostel-cum-hotel that also sets the bar high as far as sustainability. Its eco-merits include the Czech Republic’s first grey-water recycling system, automated blinds to optimize heating and cooling, and water-saving appliances in rooms. Another good option for saving on both costs and natural resources are shared accommodations such as hostels, Couchsurfing and Airbnb, which are plentiful in Prague.
The Vltava River
Aside from being the lifeblood of the city, the Vltava River also lends Prague an irresistible romance and is becoming something of a cultural hotspot. In particular, the Náplavka River embankment, Náplavka for short, has in recent years become a favorite hangout in warmer months. At night, the line of bars on the waterfront come to life with people seeking open-air entertainment. During the days, the same spots host a range of public events from flea markets and food festivals to exhibitions and performances. There’s also a farmer’s market every Saturday where you can pick up a range of local and organic produce.
Czech food—the vegetarian way
Meat, dumplings and beer are central aspects of Czech cuisine, but these culinary specialties can now also be enjoyed in vegetarian and vegan versions. Restaurants such as Maitrea and Plevel offer meat-free versions of local favorites like goulash and svíčková, a dish usually featuring beef sirloin with cream sauce, cranberries and dumplings.
Local beer, straight from the tank
The Czech Republic produces a range of world class brews, from the famous Pilsner Urquell to lesser known but equally delicious varieties. Local breweries can be visited for a fun afternoon trip, including the Únětice brewery, located close to Prague. The preferred way to drink beer in the Czech Republic is on tap and straight from the tank, which can be done in pubs such as Lokal, a highly popular chain also serving wholesome Czech food. Note that pubs tend to be meat-heavy, but Smažený sýr (fried cheese) or nakládaný hermelín (pickled hermelin) are worth a try for a filling vegetarian “beer snack”.
Beautiful parks and gardens
Anyone arriving in Prague in the spring or summer will see immediately how green the city is. Prague offers dozens of parks and gardens, including several right around the main tourist drag, adding bursts of bright green color to the already scenic views of the Charles Bridge and Castle. Kampa park, the Vojan gardens and Letna park are a few centrally located parks worth a visit. They are a great place to exercise, have a picnic, taste a local beer or two or, if you get the timing right, catch some live music. If you have a bit more time, Prague’s botanical gardens, easily reached by public transport from the city center, are well-cultivated and make for a nice afternoon excursion.
Local art & design
Reflecting the forward-looking, and often rebellious spirit of emerging new side is a thriving local art scene. Prague’s 7th district is emerging as the city’s so-called “art district”, offering a number of interesting galleries and cultural spaces, including DOX, The Chemistry Gallery, and Trafo Gallery. A bit further along the river is Meet Factory, an industrial space that is now used as a gallery and events space for both local and international artists. For street art, don’t miss the bizarre installations by Czech sculptor David Černý, including the dynamic statue of Kafka’s head, the yellow penguins by Kampa park, and the giant babies crawling up Prague’s unmissable Žižkov Tower. To pick up some authentic souvenirs with an eco-friendly approach, including fashion, jewelry and decor, check out the small but well-curated local design shops Hnst.ly or Kurator.
Cities with streets full of people are healthy cities. And one thing is for sure: the people of Prague love street festivals. Throughout the year, there are festivals organized to celebrate just about everything, from ice cream to vegan food. In summer, these festivals usually take place in parks, or even in the streets, attracting thousands of people and providing rich programs of food, drink and entertainment. A favorite yearly street festival taking place every September is Zažít město jinak, which translates to “a different city experience.” On this all-day festival, streets across Prague come alive with the offerings and activities of local businesses and organizations.
For 167 more tips on eco-conscious things to do and see in Prague, pick up a copy of Prague Green City Guide here and use the code “ecotraveller” to receive a 10% discount.
Jenny Day is an Austrian-American writer and entrepreneur who was born in Germany, raised in Switzerland and now lives in the Czech Republic’s golden capital, Prague. She is co-founder of Greenglasses.cz, a Prague-based sustainable lifestyle initiative, and co-author of Prague Green City Guide, the first sustainable travel guide to Prague. When not documenting the greener side of Prague on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, she enjoys good books, cuddling with animals and Thai food.