Chicken biryani in Pakistan
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You will walk a lot in Prague. It’s the only way to really explore a city like this—to wander aimlessly under the glowing lanterns, crisscross the grand squares, marvel over the ever-changing architecture, poke into shops and pubs. But off the cobblestones, Prague has some wonderful walking paths through beautiful, rolling parkland, and you’d do well to incorporate them into your sightseeing.
Planning to see the famous 9th-century Prague Castle up close? Of course you are! So take the scenic route: From Čechův most, climb the stairs to reach peaceful Letenské sady (Letná Park, pictured above; map)—on the far side of which hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered during 1989’s Velvet Revolution—take in some fabulous city views, turn left (if thirsty, you can detour right to a popular beer garden in warm weather), and keep walking west, past the grassy fields, till you exit the park’s western end. Continue straight toward Chotkovy sady and Královská zahrada, the Royal Garden, where a perfect cityscape backdrops beautifully sculpted lawns and flowers (not to mention the elegant Královský letohrádek, or Royal Summer Palace, famously built in the Italian Renaissance style during the 16th century). Bear to the left when you reach the main road to reach the castle. (Afterward, you can continue west to recharge with some microbrews from Klášterní Pivovar Strahov, the brewery at Strahov monastery. Or walk down Petřín Hill, facing expansive city views, to return to the Old Town area.) Note: An alternative way to reach the castle and get a workout is to climb right up Petřín Hill.
Also around the castle area, be sure to walk through pretty Kampa Park (approx. map), just below the most celebrated of Prague’s bridges, Karlův most (Charles Bridge), on the Malá Strana side (take a left right before the bridge ends when coming from Old Town). Continue straight for some lovely water views amid leafy greenery, and then look for the small bridge that leads to a peaceful little annex to the park. It’s a quiet escape from the tourist-filled madness just a stone’s throw away.
Elsewhere, we love low-key Riegrovy sady (pictured below; map), established in the early 1900s as an English-style garden in Vinohrady (Praha 2). It feels like a locals’ park, all dog walkers, joggers, and stroller pushers, and because it’s also set up on a hill, the views looking west toward Old Town are stunning. Bonus: There’s another great (seasonal) beer garden here, in the northeast area of the park.
A popular climb is up Petřín Hill (318 m/1,043 ft.) to the Eiffel Tower-inspired observation tower, built in 1891. To reach the viewing platform it’ll cost you 105 CZK and 299 steps. You’re rewarded with some marvelous views, reportedly extending, on the clearest of days, as far as Sněžka, the Czech Republic’s highest point roughly 150 km away. There’s a popular funicular that saves you the work of hiking up the hill, but we encourage you to go on foot.
(As for the eyesore Žižkov TV tower, which one Prague friend says is “among the reasons Czechs will never stop hating Communism,” you can’t climb it, but you can, for a fee, take an elevator up to the top for some even better views.)
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