I can’t believe I’ve been living in Prague for 9 months already. Time flies so fast, I still feel like I don’t know much about the city. But from the many weekends I spent wandering around the city, I may have picked a few favorite spots. I have a penchant for panoramic views so all of the places here do have a bit of elevation offering sights of the city skyline adorned with its signature thousand spires.
Letná Beer Garden
When I arrived in Prague, my friend took me here to sort of “welcome” me to the city. And from then on, I have never doubted I made the right decision of moving in. Not only was it a gentle introduction to Czech beer culture but also it gave me an iconic view of the city I never once thought I’d call home. Several tables lined perfectly under the shade of trees, perfect for groups and hangouts, especially in warm weather. It’s also right in the middle of a beautiful park which you can also walk around if you become guilty about chugging a few calories off of glasses of cheap but quality pilsner.
Hiking is undoubtedly a Czech pastime and to someone not used to it, climbing this hill could be your Hiking 101. It’s not hard, actually. The path is paved, not too steep, and with stunning views on every level, it will actually make you forget the workout. Although, there’s also the famous scenic funicular that will take you up and down for the cheap price of your usual transport ticket so you could also take this route if you’re in a rush. Atop is a complex of flower gardens and touristic pleasantries such as the mini-Eiffel that also gives you a magnificent view for only a few bucks.
Vrtbovska Zahrada (Vrtba Gardens)
This pocket garden offers one of the best views in Prague. There’s a small fee to enter but it was worth it. It is classified as a high Baroque garden so it has several levels with well-trimmed mini-gardens reminiscent of Western European palace jardins with sculptured terraces and grandiose stairways. But more importantly, the panoramic view is quite epic. The topmost portion is just in the right level relative to the skyline; not too high to see everything too far and too small, and not too low to be obstructed by the buildings in the foreground. Honestly, I was surprised how they made such a narrow block look so much spacious than it is.
Havlickovy Sady (Havlicek Gardens)
This is another garden that surprised me. It is located in the trendy Prague 10 district a little bit farther from the city center but just a quick tram ride away. It has an ideal green area for picnics surrounding a small vineyard with a mansion and pavilion perched on top where a different, more modern panoramic view of the city can be seen. It seems like a piece of the countryside transported to an open space in an urban jungle. In one of the pocket gardens is an artificial cave with Renaissance sculptures and fountains with views of surrounding colorful apartments adding as a picturesque backdrop.
These four places kind of encapsulate what I love about Prague, that in the middle of the historic and tourist-plagued town center are green spaces for relaxation. These spaces are often elevated platforms that give you a sense of distance while at the same time adoring the expanse of the dynamic busy city in the comfort of carpets of grass and shade of trees. No wonder this city had inspired generations of thinkers and artists.