The Vltava – A River Full of Adventures
The Czech Republic is interwoven with dozens of rivers and almost every historical town was founded near a river. The Vltava is the longest river that flows through the Czech Republic. From the spring to the confluence with the Elbe, it is about 430 kilometres long. You can hike along the river or hop on a boat or raft and sail through the historic towns in South Bohemia. We have some tips on how to explore the landscape around the Vltava to the maximum.

Water sport – a popular pastime activity

The Czechs are known for their love of water sport. They rent canoes or rafts with their family or friends, pack up their sleeping bags and tents, and go down the river, most frequently the Vltava. The river flows nicely through the countryside and tests the skills of the steersmen in frequent rapids, which are not very difficult to pass. There are raft sluices on the dams that ensure that the river is passable and liven up sailing. The Vltava flows through the Šumava National Park where various restrictions apply (minimum water flow, registration of watercrafts, time limit), but sailing is not limited after you pass Nová Pec. The most popular part is the navigable section below Lipno from Vyšší Brod to Boršov nad Vltavou where water flows all year round, even during summer droughts. The section is suitable both for beginners and experienced water athletes. There are numerous rapids and dams along the way, beautiful scenery along the river and an abundance of sights.

Do you like boats?

Well, you don’t need to sail down the Vltava in a small and quite unstable canoe or raft. Without getting your feet wet, you can get on a cruise ship in Prague and enjoy the view of the city panorama from a completely different side. Sail through the centre of the Czech capital! You will see Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge and Vyšehrad, whether during the day or in the evening. Cruises on steamships where they play jazz music you can listen or dance to are also popular. And if you don’t feel like getting on a boat, but still want to enjoy the pleasant and easy-going atmosphere, take a stroll to the Prague riverside. Sit on the deck of one of the anchored boats and have a refreshing drink with a view of the river and the city.

Prague is not the only place where you can get on a boat. There are also cruises on the Vltava water reservoirs, or the Vltava Cascade. The reservoirs of Lipno, Slapy and Orlík offer scenic cruises. For example, the pleasure cruise around the Zvíkov Castle on the Orlík reservoir is very popular. The dock is located right at the castle in Zvíkov and you can look forward to some beautiful panoramas of the river and the gothic castle.

Cycling through the countryside

Cycling along the Vltava River? No problem! The cycling trails lead from the Vltava spring near Kvilda in Šumava through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice, the Orlík water reservoir to Prague and then they continue to Mělník. You can look forward to enjoying scenic countryside and undulating terrain. The trails are mostly covered with asphalt, but there is also gravel and travelled forest paths. The trail is suitable for trekking or mountain biking. Leave your road bike at home… The cycling trail is 456 kilometres long and it is a part of the international EuroVelo 7 trail. And which sections are the most beautiful? Definitely in Šumava, before you get to the Lipno reservoir. You should try at least a part of the Šumava trail.

Castles and chateaus along the Vltava River

Not only the Loire in France is surrounded with castles and chateaus. The Vltava also offers some ancient sites and settlements that are worth seeing. The river always attracted people to settle there and so castles, monasteries and chateaus were erected along the Vltava over the centuries. Some have been preserved, others are now just romantic ruins. The first one along the river is the Vyšší Brod Monastery. The tour of the place where a monk community still lives includes a visit to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, a rococo library and several other interiors with valuable art and historic collections. A few kilometres along the river, on a point of land above the river, the massive medieval castle of Rožmberk towers up. You can also tour the interiors of the castle and see how people used to live there. The Vltava then flows through the centre of Český Krumlov, the pearl of renaissance architecture. The chateau, monasteries, gardens, town centre and museums welcome visitors. During the day, the town is busy with tourists but when the coaches leave, everything calms down and the town radiates ease. You should aim to spend at least one night there! But the Vltava River is already galloping to the medieval Zlatá Koruna Monastery, one of the most valuable compounds of gothic architecture in Central Europe. The monastery was abolished more than 200 years ago but its impressive atmosphere has been preserved to this day. The river will then take you to the romantic ruins of the Dívčí kámen castle. The castle was abandoned in the 16th century and today only its foundations are left… The Vltava will take you through the fairy-tale chateau in Hluboká, around the castles of Zvíkov and Orlík, and its more than 400-kilometre-long journey almost ends in Prague, then it joins the Elbe River at the chateau in Mělník. The Vltava is simply a river full of adventures!