River Vltava

Prague River Vltava

It’s a common misconception that somehow the River Danube and the River Vltava are connected. That may have been true several million years ago but not now. So if you are on a Danube river cruise and you are taking Prague as an Extension then you’ll have a couple of hours on a bus to get here.

Down at River Vltava level looking under the arch of a bridge down river to Prague Castle
Down at River Vltava level looking down river to Prague Castle

Some Facts and Figures about the river Vltava

The river runs south to north.
It’s approximately 433km or 270 miles long.
The average flow rate where the Vltava meets the Elbe is 151 cubic metres/sec.
31Km or 19 miles of the river Vltava are inside the Prague city boundary.
18 bridges cross the river in Prague including the famous Charles Bridge.
It joins with the River Elbe north of Prague where it flows into Germany.
The River Vltava does not provide drinking water to the city of Prague but can if required.
In 1973 an Asteroid was named “2123 Vltava” after the river.

The Source of the River Vltava

Sunset over the River Vltava Looking back up river from Cechuv Most
Sunset over the River Vltava Looking back up river from Cechuv Most

Officially the source is the Black Brook or what Czechs call Tepla Vltava (Hot Vltava) on the border with Bavaria. As it winds through the Bohemian Forest it’s joined by the smaller “cold vltava” river and starts to journey north. As it travels it’s joined by several other rivers. In the Czech city of Melnik it feeds into the Elbe and finally through Germany before emerging into the North Sea.

The Name

It’s had many names in the last thousand years. Historical documents refer to it as the “Fulda” or the “Wultha” but from the year 1125 it acquires the name “Wiltaua or Wiltahwa” which mean “Wild River”. On German maps it’s most probably called the Moldau.

Who Uses The River Vltava Today?

an adult swan swimming towards the photographer on the river vltava with a stone bridge in the background
An adult swan on the River Vltava

If you used Prague as a reference then the river Vltava north of Prague is a mix of pleasure and industrial transport. There are no dams and few locks so barge transport up to 1000 tons displacement is quite regular.

The further south you go from Prague the river Vltava will pass through two dams and the associated locks can only take smaller craft (specific measurements but approximately 3.5 tons). So it becomes (with a few exceptions) mostly for pleasure cruisers, boats and river sports clubs.

In Prague itself the traffic will be tour boats, river cruises and other pleasure craft including pedalos, paddleboards, row boats and kayaks. Check the Prague River Cruise Review for my favourites. You can swim in the river Vltava especially up towards Vyšehrad but it’s considered dangerous as the centre channel of the river is fast moving and cold (people drown every year). On the quaysides it’s popular to feed the swans and Shooters Island is a great place to find an animal called a Nutria (looks like a cross between a beaver and a rat – take a carrot for them). Fun Fact – Prague Public Transport operates 8 Ferries and here’s a Video of the P1 Ferry Crossing between Zámky and Sedlec.

Something Related or a Few Minutes Away

Attraction – Shooters Island

Attraction – Slavonic Island and Sophies Palace

Attraction – Dancing House

Attraction – Charles Bridge

Attraction/Legend – Water Wheel and the Demon

Art/Culture – Manes Exhibition Hall

History – The Prague Fords

Streets – The Iron Footbridge

Activities – Hiring a Pedalo

Activities – Paddleboarding

Activities – Prague Bike Hire

Activities – River Cruise Review

Activities – Zluté Lázně Recreation Area

My Own Guided Tours – Cheaper Than You Think!

prague tour guide jason next to the vltava river
“Like being shown around by a knowledgeable friend” – Trip Advisor Review

Some Random Things to Do and See in Prague