Biking in Prague
To see more of the city, and see it the way it was meant to be seen, Steve Smith advises you to get in the saddle
You won't see swarms of bikes on the streets in Prague. You won't see thickets of bikes locked to massive racks outside every apartment building, market and metro station. You won't instinctively long for a bike while slogging through an endless and boring gray blandscape. Prague has none of that stuff.
Why ride here, in a city built a thousand years before automobiles?
Well, Prague is bigger than you think and you don't have long enough to do it all on foot.
The typical pedestrian tourist route will only take you from the National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square down through Old Town Square, across the Charles Bridge, and through Malá Strana up to Prague Castle.
Think of a barbell with Wenceslas Square on one end and the Castle on the other end -- that's what we have here.
You'll do it in three days, you'll take pictures of everything you read about in the guidebook, and you'll go home thinking you "saw it all."
If that happens, be sure you've missed most of it.
I can do no better here than get you started off on the right foot.
Begin with a bike tour when you arrive, the very first day.
Go to either Praha Bike or City Bike, take the two-hour tour, and let them sketch out a plan for your expeditions. It's the best thing you can do to get a feel for the scale and scope of the city, which was laid out in the time of horses rather than automobiles.
Remember that fact -- on foot you will be experiencing Prague as a peasant would, while on a bicycle you will be moving with the speed and stature of a mounted rider. It makes a difference. One look at the height of every doorway in town will explain what I mean. It's a city for kings, choose ye well!
Make sure to ask your guide plenty of questions, be specific about what you like, and open up your ears! After the tour, grab your complimentary map, rent a bike (at discount price) and dig in.
There is a fantastic arrangement of parks, pubs, clubs, restaurants, paths, trails, gardens and monuments to visit, all within 30 minutes easy pedaling of the bike shops.
Know where you'll get in 30 minutes on foot? Sardined into a tourist lunch spot paying three times what you should for beer and goulash, that's where.
So kick it off with these:
The Hunger Wall
Žižkov TV Tower
Jan Zižka Statue
Any of these spots will make for a great afternoon of riding and relaxing. Try these combinations:
• Vyšehrad beer garden and a riverside jaunt over to Kampa park
• Stromovka park and the Letná beer garden
• Troja Chateau and the zoo via the Karlín bike path
FOR PRAGUE RESIDENTS
For locals, there's much more to the biking scene here than you may realize:
Double-suspension dive-bomb mountain bikers and trails; bicycle taxis; the wonderful semi-illicit world of messengers.
Freestyle urban obstacle-course bikers who bunny-hop off stone fountains; the Štvanice bike/skate park; the monthly Critical Mass bike ride, and of course, Grant's Prague Bike Blog.
Grant has been documenting his excursions into the countryside for years now, with the devotion of an orchid farmer.
His blog is stacked full of photo-documented routes you can follow when you need some nature and solace.
Forget about the city. Here's a man who knows how to sniff out amazing spots way in the muddy deeps of farmland.
Trust me, you'll be in good hands. Or good quadriceps, as the case may be. Check it out.
To sum up this ridiculously abbreviated biking guide: coming to Prague without biking would be like visiting Europe without eating Nutella straight from the jar. Would you ever consider such a thing? Good, I didn't think so.
Now go have some fun on your bike!
Cycling in Prague
Ave Bicycle Tours
Friends of Czech Greenways
Bicyclists and Prague Integrated Transport
Video on YouTube
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