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Bicycling

Much of the Czech Republic is a cyclist's dream of gently sloping tracks for pedalers. The capital, however, can be unkind to bicyclers. Prague’s ubiquitous tram tracks and cobblestones make for hazardous conditions—as do the legions of tourist groups clogging the streets. Nevertheless, cycling is increasingly popular, and there are now several adequate yellow-marked cycling trails that crisscross the city. From April to October two bike-rental companies provide decent bikes—as well as locks, helmets, and maps.

City Bike. City Bike runs guided tours leaving at 10:30, 1:30, and 4:30. Your English-speaking guides offer fun tidbits of history and point out architecture, but do not offer a full tour. The ride's pace is comfortable for those who haven't taken a spin in a while. Be warned, Prague is not a bike-friendly city. Králodvorská 5, Staré Město, Prague, Praha. 776–180–284. www.citybike-prague.com pragueonline.cz/citybike. Line B: Nám. Republiky.

Praha Bike. One of the multicultural teams from Praha Bike can casually guide you around several routes. The "classic" and "panoramic" are the most popular. There are also beer garden and pub tours, a ride out of Prague to Karlštejn, and night tours. Dlouhá 24, Staré Město, Prague, Praha. 732–388–880. www.prahabike.cz. Line B: Nám. Republiky.

Hockey

A feverish national fixation, ice hockey becomes a full-blown obsession during the World Championships (held every year in late spring) and the Winter Olympics.

The Czech national hockey league, Extraliga, is one of the most competitive in the world, and the best players regularly move on to the North American National Hockey League. Slavia Praha and Sparta are the two best teams, both in Prague. Hockey season runs from September to March. Tickets cost between 130 Kč and 550 Kč and are reasonably easy to get.

HC Slavia Praha. Although a relative giant in the Czech Republic, HC Slavia Praha usually finds itself chasing the leaders of the pack in international matches. O2 Arena, Ocelářská 460/2, Vysočany, Prague, Praha. 266–771–000. www.hc-slavia.cz. Line B: Českomoravská.

HC Sparta Praha. HC Sparta Praha was the national champion at this writing, and is routinely regarded as the premier team in an excellent local league—until players are lured across the Atlantic. Come to spot the next Jágr or Hašek. Tipsport Arena, Za Elektrárnou 419, Holešovice, Prague, Praha. 266–727–443. www.hcsparta.cz. Line C: Nádraží Holešovice.

Parks and Playgrounds

Praguers are gluttons for a sunny day in the park. A pleasant weekend afternoon brings out plenty of sun-worshippers and Frisbee-tossers, with their blankets, books, and dogs. Two of the city's best beer gardens can be found at Letná and Riegrovy Sady.

Kampa. Under the noses of the throng on Charles Bridge: take the steps off the bridge onto Na Kampě and follow the wide cobbled street to the end; Kampa is a diminutive gem hidden in the heart of Malá Strana. It's a location for lazing in the sunshine and resting your eyes from all the busy baroque architecture, with a playground for when the kids grow restless from the endless palaces and churches. Malá Strana, Prague, Praha. Tram to Malostranské nám.

Letná. With killer views of the city across the river, this park is eternally busy. It has a huge restaurant and beer garden, to chill out in like a local, located around Letenský zámeček, near the intersection of Kostelní and Muzejní. The large grassy northern plateau is also a great place to throw a Frisbee or kick a soccer ball. An excellent playground sits in the center near the tennis courts, just to the west of Letenský zámeček. Long-term construction projects in the area often hinder the tram routes. Holešovice, Prague, Praha. Tram to Sparta.

Riegrovy Sady. This lush park climbs sharply up the slopes of Vinohrady. On the east side of the park, lovely landscaping surrounds a large beer garden and playground. A smaller and cozier beer stand with rooftop seating is in the center. It offers lavish views of Prague Castle on the distant horizon. It has become popular with exchange students and other English-speaking people. Vinohrady, Prague, Praha. Line A: Jiřího z Poděbrad.

Stromovka. King of all Prague parks, these lands were formerly royal hunting grounds. Today the deer have been usurped by horse riders and dog lovers. Remarkably rustic for a city-based park, it's primarily a place for walking rather than loafing about. The racket from the ramshackle amusements at Výstaviště exhibition grounds (found at the park's eastern entrance where Dukelských hrdinů meets U Výstaviště) stresses the fact that you remain city-bound. Holešovice, Prague, Praha. Tram to Výstaviště.

Skiing

Czechs are enthusiastic and gifted skiers, and the country's northern border regions with Germany and Poland hold many small ski resorts. Czechs generally acknowledge the Krkonoše Mountains, which straddle a border with Poland, to be the best. Experienced skiers may find the hills here a little small and the facilities not quite up to international standards. (Hard-core Czech skiers usually head to Austria or France.) Nevertheless, if you're here in midwinter and you get a good snowfall, the Czech resorts can make for a fun overnight trip from the capital. All the area ski resorts are regularly served by buses leaving from Florenc.

Černá Hora. Černá Hora is 180 km (112 mi, about a four-hour drive) east of Prague. The resort has a cable car, one chairlift, and a couple of drag lifts. The "Black Mountain" is not the biggest of ski resorts, but is often fairly quiet, meaning less waiting and a nice unofficial run, with plenty of forest to explore, directly under the cable car. Cernohorská 265, Janské Lázně, Královéhradecký. 777–071–065. www.cerna-hora.cz.

Harrachov. On weekends, when you want to take in some crisp mountain air and clap on a pair of skis, head for Harrachov. In the west of the Krkonoše, around 120 km (74 mi, a three-hour drive) from the capital, the resort offers red and blue runs served by two chairlifts and 11 rope tows. This small and friendly resort is ideal for beginners and intermediates. Harrachov, Liberecký. 481–529–600. www.harrachov.cz.

Skiareal Špindlerův Mlýn. The biggest and most popular ski resort in the Czech Republic is Skiareal Špindlerův Mlýn, which is 160 km (99 mi, about a 3½-hour drive) from Prague. The twin slopes, Svatý Petr and Medvedín, gaze at each other over the small village and offer blue, red, and black runs served by four chairlifts and numerous rope tows. Weekends here are mobbed to a point well past frustration. Špindlerův Mlýn, Královéhradecký. 499–467–102. www.skiarealspindl.cz.

Soccer

Games for the domestic Czech league, the Gambrinus liga, run from August to May with a break in December and January. The games and the fans tend to be somewhat lackluster. Tickets are plentiful enough on match days (except for tournaments). International matches are hosted at Sparta's stadium.

AC Sparta Praha. AC Sparta Praha has an enthusiastic fan base, with the stadium roar to match. Although Sparta has seen its fortunes dip a little recently, the team remains a domestic Goliath and a stone-slinging David in European competition. Long-term construction projects often reroute trams in the area, so check before the game. Generali Arena, Milady Horákové 98, Letná, Prague, Praha. 296–111–400. www.sparta.cz. Line A: Sparta.

FC Bohemians Praha. Reduced in the early 21st century to bringing up the rear in the capital are second-division FC Bohemians Praha. Fans are highly enthusiastic. Doliček stadion, Vršovická 31, Vršovice, Prague, Praha. 245–005–014. www.bohemians.cz. Tram to Vršovice Nám.

SK Slavia Praha. Sparta's success is much to the chagrin of its bitter rivals SK Slavia Praha, which now plays in the modern Eden Arena. Eden Stadium, 1460/10 Vladivostocká, Vršovice, Prague, Praha. 731–126–104. www.slavia.cz. Tram lines 4, 7, 22 or 24 to Slavia.

Tennis

Tennis is one of the favorite local sports, but the national passion remains at a simmer instead of a rolling boil. The best-known Czech players have been Ivan Lendl and, by ethnicity at least, Martina Navratilova. But there is a crop of younger players out there trying to crowd into the top 10. Prague is blessed with several public tennis courts. Most are cinder or clay surface.

SK Hradčany. At SK Hradčany outdoor courts 100 Kč to 200 Kč per hour. Diskařská 1, Hradčany, Prague, Praha. 603–509–950. Tram 22 or 25 to Malovanka.

Česky Lawn Tennis Klub. Some of the city's best tennis courts are found right next door to the tennis stadium, Česky Lawn Tennis Klub, which in its time has hosted ATP events. Open to the public for 310 Kč–660 Kč per hour are 10 outdoor courts and 6 indoor courts, all hard surface or clay, despite the name. Ostrov Štvanice 38, Holešovice, Prague, Praha. 222–316–317. Line C: Vltavská.