Exploring Prague, Czech Republic: A Day in Divoká Šárka
January 1, 1970
After five weeks spent solely in the city, it wasn’t surprising to find that I had a strong urge to see some green. Prague’s public transport is extensive and easy to navigate. Finding your way to a destination on the outskirts of Prague, or anywhere beyond, shouldn’t be too difficult. This particular weekend, my only trip standards were green, more green and a few walking trails.
Despite plenty of options to explore hikes nearby to Prague the one seeming easiest to get to was a preserve called Divoká Šárka. From my Air Bnb in Prague Two, we took the A line metro to Borislavka, then transferred to the 26 tram which dropped us directly outside the entrance of Divoká Šárka. Immediately after exiting the tram, a large McDonalds can be spotted among the rolling fields and trees I had so missed seeing. A grim reminder that civilization is never too far away. There are plenty of entrances to Divoká Šárka depending on your starting point. The 26 tram drops you off directly in front of a path leading into the preserve. It leads you down a few sets of stairs ending at the main path. This path takes you a more ‘round about’ way and tacks on a couple of extra kilometers before you make it into the nature preserve. For the future, we’ll know that after exiting the tram you should take a right and walk about fifty meters to a different entrance. The entrance comes up on your left, and goes downhill for a bit of time before reaching the infamous gorge which can be known to draw in tourists in in the first place. Had we known to reach the gorge right off the bat, the entirety of our hike may have taken a different turn.
Leading down the stairs directly off the tram you’ll find a flat winding path with aerial views of jutting rock formations, luscious trees and on a clear day- endless blue skies. The walk itself is easy, with very few hills or obstacles to cut through. Throughout we saw many children, dogs and parents with strollers all having no issue at all. After about fifteen minutes on the main path we reached a sports club. Baffled as to what would make some people venture this far into the wilderness to get their fitness kick, we took a look in at the swimming pool and sunbathers then continued along. Directly following the sports club is a not-so-obviously marked fork in the path- depending on your intended destination its moderately important to know which direction you’ll take.
Finding your way
At the fork, taking a right will be lead you almost immediately to the main restaurant in the preserve, U Veseliku. From there, you can continue along the river to the marked trails to finish the hike. Following a trusty coin flip, the group and I decided to face the uphill trail by taking a left- believing this would take us to the cliff overlooks. This hill was the most difficult section of the hike, yet only lasted ten minutes or so, and to our disappointment led only to more trails hidden deep within the preserve, we had lost the river, rock formations and most importantly; the pub only a few hundred meters from us prior to embarking up the hill. Yet, when you find yourself on the unmarked trails, in the woods of the Czech Republic, there really is only one options; to explore. Luckily, coming to Prague with fellow English teachers has allowed me to meet like-minded people and the detour we found was met with necessary optimism.
All of the trails along Divoká Šárka were equally beautiful, and for the most part shaded. The route that we took led us to a pizzeria sitting right on the border of the preserve, and suburban outskirts. The suburbs of Prague are as beautiful as the main city itself. If you’re looking for a taste of how the permanent residents live, then take the detour outside of the preserve. You’ll see rolling hills of colorful houses, overlooking uninhabited land. Eventually, after five kilometers of walking the roads will lead you to a little main street, full restaurants and bed and breakfasts. It was after this main street we were able to connect back, and reach the ‘castle’ said to be in the preserve. Castle, must have a loose interpretation because what we actually found was a renovated building called “Hotel Jeanne.” Nevertheless, Jeanne being my Mother’s name, I found some comfort in knowing that once again, home was never too far away.
U Veseliku and the trek back
The return trip back to our tram stop followed a river throughout the entire preserve, friendly tourists, and some cave and small rock formations to climb on. Throughout the hike, there were paths leading up to the top of the tall cliffs, which would have offered gorgeous aerial views, but the few trail snacks we packed for the day weren’t holding us over enough to climb any. The trails were marked much easier than at the start of our hike, and it took us about 40 minutes walking along the river to land at U Veseliku.
After thirteen kilometers of walking, reaching that restaurant was like striking gold and my legs nearly gave out after sitting in one of the chairs on their massive patios. You order food in snack bar fashion, and on a hot day like the one we visited the line reached out the door. Unfortunately for me, there weren’t many vegetarian options to pick from. However, the pickled cheese plates served with bread slices were a popular pick and the classic burger comes highly recommended. No matter the choice, pairing any meal with an ice cold Pilsner will be sure to leave you pleased.
The outdoor patio at U Veseliku could leave any visitor satisfied for hours on a warm day, but we decided to make the trip back through the trail, this time passing the gorge on the way out. For the more ambitious, during the summer months the gorge has a swimming area and beach to cool off in the heat. However, by the time we reached the gorge I could hear the 26 tram calling my name to take me back into the new city I call home…