Little Venice in Prague
When you look at your tourist map of the city then find where the Charles Bridge crosses the river. On the Lesser Town side of the Charles Bridge you’ll find what seems to be a smaller river called the Čertovka Inlet (Devil’s Inlet). Where this inlet goes under Charles Bridge now goes by the popular name of Little Venice.
Why Visit Little Venice?
Not many people come straight here. It’s more likely that you’ve been walking through Kampa Island and you’ve come under the Charles Bridge. Alternatively you might be coming from the Castle along the riverside to get to Charles Bridge. Either way, the Čertovka canal in this part is quite wide so they’ll be turning boats here and your view will be drawn to a water wheel in the distance (cross the little bridge by the water wheel and that takes you to the John Lennon Wall). In general it’s a very picturesque area. But if you have come here specifically then it’s for a boat tour.
Tour Tip: Any cruise service 1 hour or less does not serve lunch or dinner but may include a drink and snack. Little Venice is also called “Historical River Cruise” below. If you want space to move around then choose one of the bigger boat options.
The Little Venice Boat Tours
There are two methods to explore the river and both take a similar route but that’s where the similarity ends. The main boat tour is the flat single deck covered cruiser (top left in the picture above). If you are going on one of these then it’s bench seating on the inside and you get a drink or a snack depending on the time of year. The other less well known option is a Gondola so if you are wondering where you hire a Gondola in Prague then head for Little Venice. Both tours are around 50 minutes and you’ll spend the time around Charles Bridge and the next two bridges downstream (not quite as far if you take the Gondola). See my three recommended short cruises further up this post.
Where Does the Name Come From?
Well, you’d take one look at the area i.e. a bridge going over what looks like a canal with taller buildings on both sides and Little Venice looks like a good fit but consider that the “canal” is basically an inlet from the larger river and previously had an industrial function in that it had several mills to grind wheat and corn. Believe me that if you lived in this area post WW2 you certainly did not think it looked like Venice.
Late 18th Century and early 19th Century Czech maps often gave the name Male Benátky (Little Venice) to an area of an island in the river that Czechs now call Strelecky Ostrov but tourists will know it as Shooters Island which is at the opposite end of Kampa Island. So if you are wondering if there was a “Big Venice” as well then yes there was. On todays maps it’s Stvanice Ostrov and if you drive across the Hlavkuv Most (takes you across the river between the New Town and Holešovice), that was Big Venice.