The green guide to visiting Prague
Plans is set to launch a new sleeper train service from Brussels to Prague later this year, providing an additional option for travelers wanting to visit the Czech capital while keeping their carbon footprint light. But what about when you arrive? Prague’s rundown streets may be full of beautiful buildings and vistas, but they’ve also earned a reputation for crowds of tour groups, bachelor parties and stalls selling mass-produced tattoos.
The pandemic has encouraged a reset, however, with many city residents and politicians now wanting Prague to turn away from its past excesses and opt for a new, sustainable future. And thanks to more businesses finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment, and the city’s already excellent public transport system – as well as swaths of green space – Prague can be a mini – surprisingly green break.
In a country best known for its hearty meat-based cuisine, visiting vegetarians once had to rely almost entirely on plates of smažený sýr (fried cheese). Vegans, on the other hand, would need to pack a picnic. But times have changed and Prague now has a glut of restaurants serving plant-based dishes. Social enterprises Bistro Střecha and Jídelna Kuchařek bez domova employ homeless workers and offer short daily menus that focus on generous vegan plates. For meatless burgers and stunning views of the castle, look for a table on the terrace at Vegan’s Prague.
On Saturday mornings, the Farmer’s Market on Náplavka Embankment offers a chance to awaken your senses and cut your food miles with its bountiful local produce and street food. From there, walk the five minutes to LAb, a minimalist cafe-slash-bar that spills out onto the embankment from a renovated ice vault. It’s not just the interiors that are pared-down here; waste and packaging are reduced by composting coffee residues and concocting flavored soft drinks made from seasonal herbs, fruits and flowers.
Across the Vltava (and a short jaunt from Náplavka via the public ferry) is Manifesto Market Anděl. Attracting a young and eco-conscious crowd, this cashless food market serves up international plates, including vegetarian ramen and loaded cactus tacos, all on china dishes and with no plastic forks in sight. The kitchens also use vegetables grown on site, and smart calculation of numbers to predict attendance reduces food waste.
Prague has a small but growing number of hotels with green credentials. One of the first and best is the Mosaic House Design Hotel in the new city: one of the first to have integrated gray water and heat capture systems to produce its own energy. In fact, repurposing is second nature here, with leftovers from the high-ceilinged cafe turned into compost for the courtyard garden and living roof. Sleek Double Rooms on the upper floors also feature outdoor space, plus Czech artist Michal Trpák’s large-scale mushroom sculptures that grow on the planted terraces and provide a whimsical oasis from which to admire the storybook spiers. town fairies.
For those seeking a more secluded sanctuary, Hotel Adalbert is housed in a 17th-century convent within the verdant grounds of the 1,000-year-old Břevnov Monastery. 15 minutes by tram from the Old Town and close to the Divoká Šárka nature reserve and the mature park of Obora Hvězda, the hotel is committed to saving energy, reducing waste and offering environmentally friendly products. of the environment. Its cozy on-site tavern serves lagers and IPAs made at the monastery brewery alongside dangerously drinkable Czech wines.
Stroll north from the vast Letná Park to the bohemian quarter and discover a host of independent shops selling goods from Czech designers and artists. Behind her functionalist facade on Milady Horákové, Nila has created a charming retreat filled with ethical fashion and homewares. Then across the street is Papelote: a store selling coveted handcrafted stationery made from sustainable materials.
Vintage enthusiasts will also enjoy browsing Letná’s thrift stores, with Aristokrat Vintage and Malé černé particularly worthy of snooping around. Then, enjoy lunch at Forky’s plant-based bistro or take a tram across the river to sample seasonal Asian dishes made with local produce and quality meats at Sansho.
With an impressive 56% of Prague covered in trees or grass, it would seem rude not to spend at least some time basking in its greenery. Look for fresh fruit using the map on the Na ovoce website to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, spend a day strolling the tree-lined paths of Prague’s largest and most beautiful park, Stromovka.
The historic 41 streetcar line operates from outside the park’s planetarium during weekends and holidays, taking you around the city in retro style. Stay on board until the last stop and pay homage to the Museum’s affordable and integrated system of public transport.
While the central knotted lanes are fun to explore on foot, Prague also has a network of cycle paths and places offering bike rentals and tours. Among them is Praha Bike, whose experienced guides will show you the best route to Vyšehrad: a 10th century fort that is arguably as beautiful as the other more famous and visited castle in Prague.
Until the launch of the new Brussels-Prague sleeper service in the summer of 2022, the fastest rail route from London passes through Paris and Zurich, then transfers to the Czech Railways sleeper service from the.
Mosaic House Design Hotel offers double rooms from £85, B&B; Adalbert Hotel has double rooms from £57, B&B and twin apartments from £75, B&B.