Žofín Rowboat Rentals

Riverside relaxation on Slovanský ostrov

Messing about on the river's a fine way to spend a summer's day.

As well as providing a welcome break from city hassles, renting a rowboat for an hour or two also offers some unique "swan's eye" views of Prague's riverside sights.

Because of its central location, Slovanský ostrov - also known as Žofín - is the ideal place to get started.

Offering impressive views of Prague Castle, and - beyond Most Legií - Charles Bridge, this small river island, near the National Theatre, has three competing boat-rental facilities.

The first of the three is closest to the bridge connecting Slovanský ostrov to the eastern half of the city.

The attendant here refused to even talk to PTV's intrepid reporter, and wouldn't divulge his rental rates. One of his competitors told us, however, that they charge 80 CZK per hour for a rowboat and 120 CZK per hour for a paddleboat.

Look for the "Boat Rental" sign, in Czech and English, and pray that you get to deal with someone in a better mood than we did.

Next up is SPLAV. Prices here are reasonable: rowboats rent for 80 CZK per hour while paddleboats go for 150 CZK per hour.

There is, however, a long list of fines should anything go wrong.

Breaking an oar will set you back 350 CZK, general damage will cost you 700 CZK and you'll be fined at least 1,500 CZK if you sail beyond the yellow signs marking the limits of the permitted area. (Anyone drifting past the Charles Bridge would presumably face a lengthy prison term.)

More encouragingly, there's an excellent café nearby, the Kavárna SPLAV, which serves up alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on a pontoon floating in the river.

The third of the three rental facilities is Slovanka, on the western side of Slovanský ostrov.

More upmarket (and more expensive) than its rivals, Slovanka not only charges per hour but also per person. Renting a rowboat costs 60 CZK per hour per person and a paddleboat costs 80 CZK per hour per person.

Slovanka also offers motorboats (150 CZK per half-hour per person) and a distinctive swan-shaped boat (100 CZK per hour per person) that's certain to make you the center of attention.

There's also a bar where you can have a drink while you wait for a boat to become available.

During the summer months, all three facilities are open from around 10am until around 10pm, depending on how busy they are.

Žofín Rowboats Image Gallery

HN, SB

Video on YouTube

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