Five great urban forests to explore during lockdown

Prague has an abundance of urban forests where you can connect with nature and walk amongst the trees.

Marcus Bradshaw

Written by Marcus Bradshaw
Published on 30.10.2020 14:38 (updated on 30.10.2020)

Disclaimer: please be mindful of current anti-COVID-19 restrictions. Current lockdown restrictions in the Czech Republic do allow daytime walks in nature and parks. However, going out between 9 p.m. and 4:59 a.m. is not allowed, except for essential purposes. For a full list of the up-to-date regulations here.

A walk in the woods is a restorative act. Trees have a calming quality: they are the lungs of our city, cleaning our air and giving us space to clear our heads.

Luckily, Prague has an abundance of urban forests and wooded spaces where you can connect with nature and walk amongst the trees -- all within easy reach of public transport.

Hvězda Game Reserve

Obora hvězda/ photo via Prague.eu
Obora hvězda/ photo via Prague.eu

This forest was established as a royal game reserve in the early 16th century by the Bohemian king Ferdinand I. The forest is composed mainly of winter oak, beech and hornbeam and it covers an area of 85 hectares. The trees here are mature and magnificent, befitting their royal provenance.

The focal point of the woodland is an unusual Renaissance hunting lodge in the shape of a six-pointed star, built in 1555 by the king’s nephew, Ferdinand of Tyrol. This star-shaped building that gives the area its name (hvězda is the Czech word for star). As well as the hunting lodge, you can expect to find designated picnic areas, two children’s playgrounds and outdoor fitness machines.

Getting there: Take the 22 or 25 to Vypich; coordinates: 50.081091,14.3398633

Cibulka

Na Cibulce/ photo via praha-priroda.cz
Na Cibulce/ photo via praha-priroda.cz

The Cibulka forest was first recorded as part of a medieval farmstead, but it owes much of its modern appearance to a nineteenth-century Bishop of Passau, who transformed it into an English-style garden park. After the bishop’s death, the park began to deteriorate, and eventually the land was purchased by the City of Prague, which embarked on a programme of restoration and reforestation.

Visitors to Cibulka today can now explore a young forest of 66 hectares, including limes, and winter and summer oaks. There are plenty of objects of interest to find amongst the trees, including a restored Chinese pavilion, a hidden hermitage and a 13- metre-tall lookout tower.

Getting there: Take the tram 9, 10 or 16 to Poštovka; coordinates: 50°04'05.2"N 14°21'26.8"E

Ďáblický Háj

Dáblický háj / photo via Facebook
Dáblický háj / photo via Facebook

The Ďáblický Háj or “devil’s grove” was once the property of an ancient order of crusading knights called the Knights of the Red Star. They received this land on the Ládví hill from the Bohemian queen in the early 13th century, and the profits from the timber grown here were an important source of revenue for the knights throughout the centuries.

Although the woodland has diminished over time, there remains 81 hectares of forest which can be explored on two hiking paths. Visitors can expect to find oak, larch, and lime trees, as well as children’s playgrounds and public fire pits. For an excellent view, follow the yellow hiking trail to the hilltop observatory. It’s one of the best viewpoints in Prague, and on clear days, you can see as far as the Krkonoše mountains.

Getting there: Take the tram 10 to Sídliště Ďáblice and follow the green hiking trail; coordinates: 50°08'18.1"N 14°28'17.7"E

Prokopske Valley

Prokopské Údolí/ photo via Facebook
Prokopské Údolí/ photo via Facebook

Prokopské údolí is a special place. It’s a steep and wooded valley that has been carved through soft limestone rock by the erosive action of the Prokopský stream. The area is a mosaic of forests, rocky outcrops and karst steppes that has attracted people to it since time immemorial. Archeologists even believe that our Paleolithic hunter ancestors used the caves in the valley as shelters, some 30,000 years ago!

Follow the stream through the valley and you’ll encounter a myriad of different species -- oaks, hornbeams, limes, maples, birches and pines -- and at the bottom of the valley, you’ll have the chance to admire the magnificent viaducts of the Prague Semmering railway as it sweeps high above the trees below.

Getting there: Take a train to Praha-Řeporyje and follow the green hiking trail. It is an 8.5km gentle descent through the valley, which will eventually bring you to the Hlupočepy tram stop; coordinates: 50°02'24.0"N 14°22'04.2"E

Kunratice Forest

Kunratice Forest/ photo via Prague.eu
Kunratice Forest/ photo via Prague.eu

This densely wooded forest was once a favourite hunting ground of King Wenceslas IV. At over 270 hectares, it’s the largest forest in Prague’s urban area and it’s composed largely of mature oaks, spruces and Scot’s pines. The woodland is traversed by various hiking and bicycle trails, and visitors will also find several restaurants offering refreshments. There are no fewer than six different children’s playgrounds to keep younger visitors amused, and if you’re lucky you might even spot a member fallow and roe deer herds that still roam the park to this day.

Getting there: Take the Metro C to Roztyly; coordinates 50°02'08.3"N 14°28'09.1"E

What's your favorite spot for enjoying urban greenery?