Kampa Island – One of Prague’s most idyllic areas

by Czech Republic

Kampa Island, the ‘little Venice” is one of Prague’s most romantic areas

Most people walk above Kampa Island Prague without setting foot on it or realizing it.  The Charles Bridge passes over it just before it reaches its end in Mala Strana, the wondrous Prague Lesser Town. It’s one of the quieter areas in Prague city centre, and it’s somewhere we’ve strolled through many a time – so often that it’s become one of our favourite places to go in Prague.

Kampa Island is the most built-up – and also the most beautiful – of the Prague islands along the River Vltava. It’s also very small – you could easily walk its length in ten minutes or so. Yet it’s packed with some of the most fascinating and fun sights in Prague, not to mention some of the prettiest Prague streets and one of the best parks in Prague.  

Its riverside position also means it has some of the best viewpoints in Prague, with outstanding outlooks onto the river, and especially Charles Bridge. Kampa Island very much reminds us of the Ile St-Louis in Paris – it may not have the big-ticket attractions of Prague, but it’s one of the most charming places in Prague to just wander. And if you’re wondering where to stay in Prague, there are some great Prague hotel options there too.

Where is Kampa Island ?

Image of Certovka canal on Kampa Island Prague
Certovka canal on Kampa Island

Kampa Island – Ostrov Kampa in Czech – is located on the left bank – or west side – of the Vltava river in Prague.  It’s located between two of the most beautiful bridges in Prague, Legion Bridge (Legii most) to the south and Charles Bridge (Karluv most). A tiny part of the island is to the north of the Charles Bridge.

How To Get To Kampa Island?

 of tourist signs on Kampa Island Prague
Kampa – it’s just there on the right

No Prague public transport routes pass through Kampa Island itself, but several run close by. On the Mala Strana side of the river, the 12, 15, 20 and 22 trams call at (from south to north) Újezd, Hellichova and Malostranské náměstí. The nearest Metro station, Malostranská, on the green line A, is a seven-minute walk away from the Charles Bridge and the northern end of Kampa Island.

Lesser Town Bridge Tower

Image of Kampa Island from the Lesser Town Bridge Tower Prague
Kampa from the Lesser Town Bridge Tower

The Lesser Town Bridge Tower – Malostranské mostecka věž – stands guard at the Mala Strana end of the Charles Bridge. It’s a short distance – 50 metres or so – from Kampa Island, but it’s a great place to get your bearings. 

As well as being one of the city’s most striking buildings, the views from there are among the best from the numerous towers in Prague. The view over the red rooftops of Kampa Island is magnificent, as is the outlook back across the Charles Bridge to Prague Old Town.

You can read our full guide to Prague Towers here or find our guide to the best viewpoints in Prague here

Na Kampe

Image of Na Kampe square on Kampa Island ioin Prague
Na Kampe, Kampa Island’s square, from the Charles Bridge

Na Kampe is the main square – for that matter the only square – on Kampa Island. In keeping with the rest of the island, it’s fairly quiet, especially compared with the hubbub of Charles Bridge a few metres above. The pretty painted houses make it one of the most beautiful streets in Prague, and it’s home to a few restaurants and bars which have tables outside in summer, when the trees provide welcome shade. Further along there are also some Mala Strana hotels which provide an ideal base if you’re looking for somewhere peaceful to base yourself in Prague.

Kampa Park

Image of the Reva Statue in Kampa Park Prague
The Reva statue in Kampa Park

Kampa Park is one of the most pleasant Prague parks, with a great deal to see. It came into being in the 19th century, and was modelled along the lines of an English park. The Park makes up roughly two-thirds of Kampa Island, and has several great statues and sculptures (more on these in a moment), some lovely cafes and jaw-dropping river views.  One of our favourite ways to explore Kampa Park in Prague is to start at the Legion Bridge (southern) end, meandering up from there.

Yellow Penguins

Image of the Kampa Park Yellow Penguins in Prague
The yellow penguins of Kampa Park

The Prague yellow penguins are a highly visible installation by the Italian-based Cracking Art Group, atop a metal bar above the river a few metres from Kampa Island. The 34 penguins are made from recycled plastic, and the point being made is a serious one – wildlife suffers immensely because of plastic waste that humanity generates.  They are also illuminated at night.

David Černy Babies

Image of the David Cerny Babies sculptures in Kampa PArk Prague
Our Little Man reclining on one of David Cerny’s Babies

You’ll almost certainly come across at least one statue or sculpture by Czech artist David Černy when you visit Prague. He is responsible for the revolving head of Franz Kafka, the Piss sculpture outside the nearby Franz Kafka Museum and the climbing babies on the Žižkov TV Tower.

You’ll find three slightly creepy crawling cousins of these little ones a few metres from the Yellow Penguins. The three metal babies are a popular Prague photo spot, and kids, my son included, love clambering on them. The babies don’t look quite so cute when you see their faces, which are replaced by vertical bar codes. Nonetheless, don’t miss Kampa Park Prague if you’re visiting the city with kids.

Čertovka Canal

Image of the Certovka canal Kampa Island Prague
The Certovka Canal

The Čertovka canal runs the length of Kampa Island, and contributes greatly to it being one of the most attractive areas of Prague. The Canal was created to provide water for several mills, of which the water wheels remain.

Image of the Kampa Island devil Prague
The aforementioned hobgoblin!

It’s also known as the Devil’s Stream, and there’s a hobgoblin-like figure next to one of the water wheels. There’s a lovely view of Čertovka from Charles Bridge.

Kampa Museum

Image of the courtyard of Museum Kampa Prague
The Museum Kampa courtyard

Museum Kampa is one of the best contemporary art galleries in Prague, and the Černy Babies are actually one of its exhibits. It’s housed in a beautiful converted riverside mill, with recent glass roof sections giving it a more contemporary gallery feel.

The permanent collection focuses on 20th century European art primarily from the Czech Republic, and there are always a number of visiting exhibitions -current examples include Prague Art Nouveau master Alfons Mucha and a display dedicated to Milada Horáková, who was murdered after a Communist show trial in 1950.

Charles Bridge

Image of the Charles Bridge Prague from Kampa Island
The Charles Bridge from Kampa Island on a fantastic winter afternoon

Visiting Prague without crossing the Charles Bridge is akin to going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. It’s so heavily over-touristed, yet is one of the two or three best things to do in Prague. In case you’ve never encountered it before, the Charles Bridge Prague is the longest bridge over the River Vltava, built in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. It’s a stone arched bridge lined with Baroque-era statues. The views to either end of the Bridge are awe-inspiring, one of the few sights I’ve ever seen that has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Read our complete guide to Prague bridges here

Image of the view through an arch of Charles Bridge to the National Theatre Prague
Narodni divadlo – the National Theatre – through an arch of Charles Bridge

Of course, every person and their dog converges on it, not to mention painters, caricaturists and the occasional jazz band. Avoid the melee and get there an hour before dawn and you’ll appreciate just how compellingly beautiful and utterly unmissable it can be. 

Charles Bridge Children’s Playground

Image of the playground next to Charles Bridge Prague
The Charles Bridge playground

This playground is immediately to the north of Charles Bridge, and my son and I have come to love it. Surely it’s one of the best playgrounds in Prague for the view alone, along the Bridge to the dome of St Francis of Assisi Church, the spires of the Klementinum and the grand Gothic Old Town Bridge Tower.

It’s a fairly small playground with swings, slides and a sandpit. It’s also great for hide-and-seek, with the tall hedge at the end a great place to conceal yourself.

Kampa Park Restaurant

Kampa Park Restaurant is immediately behind the playground, and it’s one of the best places for fine dining in Prague. Forget the gallery of celebrities outside who have dined there – the menu is fantastic and the views of Prague from the river terrace are unsurpassable.

John Lennon Pub

The John Lennon Pub is located on Hroznova, another picturesque Kampa street, overlooking the Čertovka canal. It’s about 50 metres from the famous John Lennon Wall on ‘mainland’ Mala Strana. This started out as a wall where people left protest messages against the Czechoslovak Communist regime, and this gained impetus in the early 1980s after the murder of the former Beatle, whose portrait usually adorns it. It’s now one of the best-known landmarks of Prague, with a steady stream of visitors throughout the day and night.

Image of Hrozovna Street Prague
Hrozovna – the John Lennon Pub is around the corner on the left

The John Lennon Pub is as much about Big Ben as the Beatles, its walls chock-full of British paraphernalia as well as Lennon portraits. I’ve only stopped by for a beer – a glass of the highly recommended Kozel Černy – but they also serve food, a mixture of pub classics like fish and chips and a few Mexican dishes.

Kampa Island Boat Trips

Image of a boat trip on the River Vltava in Prague
The Elbis boat departs from Kampa Island

Another way to see Kampa Island is from the water. You often see boats passing along the Čertovka canal as part of a longer Prague boat trip – Kampa is touted as the Prague Venice, which, with one canal,is stretching it somewhat!

Prague Boats depart from several places along the river, and their smaller boats include the Kampa run as part of their itinerary. A small, quaint paddleboat, the Elbis, also departs regularly from behind the Archibald at the Charles Bridge Hotel on Na Kampe.   

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DAVID ANGEL

DAVID ANGEL

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David Angel is a British writer, historian and photographer. He has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 20 years and his work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the Guardian, BBC, Times and Sunday Times.

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