CANOEING IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
Canoeing, rafting, and kayaking are some of this country’s most popular summer pass-times. Given the vast and beautiful network of rivers and streams that thread their way through the Bohemian landscape, it’s easy to see why. The waterways here are numerous and varied enough to provide whatever level of challenge the sports enthusiast is seeking, be it a family outing with the kids and grandparents along, or a whitewater thrill-seeking expedition, or a gentle sightseeing cruise with a few friends and a case of beer on board.From Prague, it’s easy enough for travelers to undertake single-day trips, or the more adventurous can set out on multi-day excursions with tent-site camping along the way. Because of the widespread popularity of the sport, rentals are numerous and easy to obtain, and general amenities are everywhere.
The following are a few of the most well-known and popular canoeing areas with hopefully helpful links inserted into the descriptions. And there are many more than what are listed here that are waiting out there for you discover and explore.
THE RIVER VLTAVA
Way south of Prague in the southernmost tip of Bohemia is one of the most-frequented destinations for canoers, the stretch of the river Vltava that runs from Vyšší Brod to České Budějovice, and especially the section that passes through the breathtaking medieval town of Český Krumlov. The river is easygoing and fit for all skill levels, and you can choose routes that let you enjoy a trip of several hours or several days. Here are some links to some popular rental companies, all in English, all of whom can set you up not only with the craft and equipment you need, but will also give you suggested itineraries and even book your campsites or pensions along the way.
THE RIVER LUŽNICE
This waterway begins in Austria and flows 208 km through southern Bohemia passing through the towns of Suchdol nad Lužnici, Třebon, and Tabor on its way north before curving back south to empty into the Vltava at Týn nad Vltavou. The suggested starting point is Suchdol. The rental websites are usually in Czech, but if you email them in English, as with the suggestions in the regions that follow, you will normally receive an answer in English.
THE RIVER SÁZAVA
This Sázava begins at the lake Velké Dářko and winds through the countryside for 218 km before emptying into the Vltava. On its bank lies the beautiful castle Český Šternberk, and one of its primary points of interest is the Stvořidla rapids, one of the most difficult sections of rapids in the Czech Republic.
THE RIVER OTAVA
The River Otava runs through the Šumava region of southern Bohemia for 112 km, and is comprised of three separate sections with three distinctly different levels of difficulty. The upper section which runs from Čeňkova Pila to Sušice is the wildest, dropping 48 meters over it’s first six kilometers, and is suggested for experienced canoers only. The next section which runs to Písek is somewhat calmer, but broken up by a large number of weirs which make for some fun rapids, and then the final section flows calmly into the lake where lies the 12-century gothic Castle Zvikov.
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, these are just a few of the most popular places for canoeing and rafting, but there are many more to be found. For those with a serious taste for water sports, do a little research and you can come up with enough information to keep you going all summer. For a start, get your Google on and look up the following rivers: Metuje, Ploučnice, and Ohře. Have fun!
Very interesting and comprehensive guide, really appreciate your trouble writing it. Do you happen to know if within Prague independent kayaking is permitted? I’m planning a road trip through the Czech Republic in a couple of weeks and intend on bringing my own kayak along (Lipno nad Vltavou lake is also on the wishlist). Hope to hear from you soon!
PS: I’m from Romania, we also have a few nice kayaking spots on mountain lakes, not to mention the Danube and its delta.
Hi Paul, to be honest, I’ve never seen anyone canoying under the Charles Bridge. I guess that it would be very difficult due to many locks, which mainly serve to big boats. Too danderous for a small canoe. You could do good canoyeing around Zlute Lazne or Troja. In Troja or Stvanice Island there are artificial wild water canals for training. Try to google it.
Not sure if it is still relevant but it is permitted, but is quite dangerous because of the huge boat traffic. I usually rent a kayak a bit further off the center and then kayak my way outwards. Best is to go towards the direction where the Vltava meets Berounka. Podoli, Branik etc.
But if you are OK with the boats, feel free to paddle under Charles Bridge.