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Travel: Going green in Prague and Central Bohemia – Scottish Field



Travel: Going green in Prague and Central Bohemia – Scottish Field

Living just outside Edinburgh, I’m all too aware that the effects of tourism on some of the world’s most visited cities can be negative as well as positive. And that’s at the front of my mind as I fly into another of the world’s most beautiful and historic cities – Prague.

I enjoy travel but am becoming increasingly aware that there are many ways that I can tread more lightly as I go. Thankfully on my visit to Czechia, its capital city and the beautiful area of Central Bohemia in which it sits, this turns out to be easier (and more fun) than you might imagine.

The city is incredibly well-served by public transport, and there are lots of ways to get around. Trams, the metro and buses can be accessed by buying a travel pass ticket which costs around £3.80 for 24 hours, but bikes and even kayaks are also a great alternative to shanks’s pony if you’d like to see the city from another angle.

Another great way to travel sustainably and to delve deeper into the places you visit is to support small local businesses. And Prague is certainly a hotbed of creative talent. Meeting the people who own these businesses was a real highlight of this trip for me, sharing in their passion for the place they live and getting hands on to learn about the products that they lovingly create.

One such business is VOALA, a graphic design, book-binding and paper-crafting studio in the city centre where Blanka and her team sustainably produce beautifully designed and crafted paper notebooks that make excellent and ethical souvenirs for those who already have one too many fridge magnets.

Creating sustainable souvenirs at Voala

Another is SLAVA!, a fashion concept store and creative hub near Old Town Square. Here visitors can browse the jewellery and clothing of a range of local designers or even take part in creative workshops. We enjoyed learning how to screen print a tote bag, between trying on some beautiful pieces.

The next morning sees me swept off my feet and onto a rented Rekola bicycle for a guided ride through the lush parklands of Stromkova, which once served as a hunting park for Czechia’s kings and their esteemed guests. Today there’s no risk of being mistaken for a deer in Prague’s largest park and a gentle cycle leads us to the Baroque architecture and pristine gardens of Troy Castle. Troy was built in the 17th century on the site of an older estate and now serves as an art gallery to the city. Surrounding the main entrance statues of Greek gods and giants are locked in an eternal battle and the artworks continue inside with an exhibition of contemporary work that is juxtaposed against Troy’s stunning decorative frescos.

Troy Castle

By afternoon its time to take to the water. The river Vltava is ever present on a trip to Prague and renting kayaks is a great way to see some of the city’s more iconic landmarks, like Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, without getting caught up in the crowds. Paddling up and down the river is a truly serene way to travel and I feel happily detached from the bustling bars that line the banks and the tourist boats that chug up and down the waterway.

Kayaking on the Vltava

If, like me, there’s only so much of the city that you can take then heading out to explore some more of Central Bohemia can be easily done by train. Our first stop is Klucov, around 30km east of Prague, where the lovely Pavel shows us around his small family winery. Most of Czechia’s wine is produced in the Moravia region, so the six hectares of vineyards here are somewhat of a rarity. All of the grapes are grown without pesticides and the majority of the 40,000 bottles of wine produced here are enjoyed locally. Even the beautiful hand-drawn labels are designed by an artist and family-friend who lives in Klucov. We enjoyed our wine-tasting here immensely, partly due to the very fine wines, but also because Pavel is a wonderful host and a passionate wine-maker. There’s also accommodation on site for anyone who wants to spend more than an hour or so sampling his wares.

Back on the train, we’re heading to the spa town of Podebrady. Here, the thermal and mineral springs are used extensively to treat a variety of ailments. We wander through parks and the town’s many green spaces taking in the historical buildings and tentatively sampling the water from the mineral springs that punctuate the town’s streets. We’re staying at Hotel & Spa Chariclea, which has an impressive spa facility with saunas and a pool in which to relax. But we’re keen to try out the healing effects of a mineral spa bath. There are a warren of treatment rooms attached to the spa and as I lower myself into the stainless steel bath tub filled with murky, fizzing water I’m hoping that the very special waters will prepare my old muscles for our next adventure.

Because we’re back on our bikes for a 9km ride along the river to Nymburk to enjoy a local delicacy. Be warned, if you’re on a diet look away now. We stop off to undo all of the good of that exercise with Czech speciality fried cheese in a bun at Rybarna street food and delicious artisanal ice cream from the vast selection of flavours at Zmrzlinarna.


The Botanicus Craft Centre in Ostra is our next port of call and here you can take part in workshops in traditional crafts like basket-weaving, pottery and wood carving. Or if you prefer to stop and smell the roses you can do just that in the glorious gardens, which are filled with the plants and herbs which they use to create a range of natural skincare.

City bound once more we’re preparing to explore one of Prague’s farmer’s markets, the perfect place to sample some local produce, before a tour of The Rudolfinium, the home of the Czech Philharmonic orchestra. We’re lucky enough that our tour of this cultural landmark is sound tracked by the orchestra rehearsing in the main concert hall, providing goose bumps all round. Our tour guide Jan is a font of knowledge and shows us the stunning building including the bee hives on the roof which have some of the best views across this beautiful city.

The Rudolfinium

Travelling responsibly around Prague and Czechia has shown me things that I would never have discovered if I’d stuck to the traditional tourist trail. It’s allowed me to meet more people and find out more about this country, as well as seeing some of the sights from a whole new perspective. And not for a second did it feel as if I was compromising on comfort or the joy of travel.


The Eatery, Prague

Modern restaurant with an open kitchen focussing on local and seasonal produce. The menu changes regularly, but if you can, try the trout croquettes!

Bistro Karel, Prague

A charming bistro set in the walled garden at Troy Castle. The perfect place for a refreshing fermented lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

Manifesto Market Anděl

Lively street food market with summer outdoor dining and live music. With 15 restaurants to choose from and some fabulous cocktails this is the prefect place to dine with friends.

Štangl, Prague

An impressive fine-dining restaurant. Sit near the open kitchen and marvel at how happy this young team of chefs and front of house staff are in their work. And enjoy how their happiness shines through in the wonderful food. Think locally sourced, wild and fermented ingredients.

Monkey Bar, Prague

A fun spot for casual dining or cocktails with friends. There’s a beautiful terrace adorned with fairy lights and live music to be enjoyed.


Botanique Hotel, Prague

This modern hotel in the heart of Prague boasts lovely big rooms with the comfiest beds and an impressive breakfast spread, as well as excellent green credentials.

Hotel Occidental Praha Wilson

Situated right by the Metro station and Wenceslas Square, my huge room had fabulous views of the National Museum.

Hotel Charliclea, Podebrady

Luxurious hotel with modern rooms and a stunning spa and attached wellness centre, set in beautiful parkland.

You can find out more about a sustainable visit to Czechia at and there’s lots of inspiration and information about sustainable travel in Prague at


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