When it gets hot and steamy in Prague, then one of the best ways to cool down, especially if you have kids, is at one of the city’s several outdoor swimming pools (Venkovni Koupaliste).
Although Podoli Swimming centre has been around since time immortal and from the street, the building shielding all of the pools on the other side, looks like a communist monolith, don’t let that discourage you.
Once you get your ticket and pass through the (yet again), slighlty decrepid changing rooms and showers, then what awaits you on the other side is well worth it. Two large outdoor swimming pools (at 50m & 33m each), 1 indoor pool, (50m) a long water-slide, a small pool with paddle boats for the young ones, a waist-deep pool for the 0-5 year-olds and then a slighlty deeper pool section for children not yet profficient at swimming, who might not want to venture into the large pools quite yet.
The children’s pool section is directly next to the stands selling food, beverages and ice cream and there are lots of wooden tables with benches and sun umbrellas to shield you from the its direct rays.
You will also find a large grass section that runs along the side of the large swimming pool, and moves up into a small, natural rock hill. Lots of people were sunning themselves here, and it would be a lovely place where you could unfold a sun umbrella (you’d have to bring your own), an eski and enjoy a lovely picnic. You will also find several seesaws, a slide and a sandpit in this section.
Basically, there are 2 entrances where you can get tickets at but in the winter, you can only enter the pool area via the large, main building complex, whereas during the spring, summer and early autumnal months, you will need to enter through the smaller building to the right of the main complex, which has: „LETNI SATNY“ (SUMMER CHANGING ROOMS), written above the entrance door. All of the swimming pools are open during the warmer months (including the 50m indoor pool) and during the winter months, both the indoor pool as well as the oudoor pool with the high diving platform are open and heated. The water slide and the other small pools are not in use during the winter months.
So, once you get your tickets sorted for the outoor section, you will use your ticket to pass through a turnstile (Identical ticketing system to that used at Prague Zoo). Don’t forget to keep all your tickets, as you’ll need them in order to exit again!). Your ticket is vaild for the whole day, but once you leave the complex, you can’t re-enter on the same ticket and will need to purchase a new one.
For a 100 CZK, fully-refundable deposit, you can get yourself a lock with a key, which you can use one any one of the lockers in the changing rooms, that you may choose. You’ll walk up 2 sets of rather antiquated stairs and at the top, move to the corresponding changing room area: MUZY (men) are to the left and ZENY (women) to the right. As I said earlier, the changing rooms are quite old-fashioned as are the subsequent showers, where one is meant to clean oneself (but this is not policed), prior to entering the pool area. Also, you will need to leave a 200 CZK (refundable) deposit if you want to have a small safe locker (directly opposite the turnstiles on the ground floor) as well as a locker in the change room.
If your children are still young and you do not require to do any full-immersion swimming, then you might prefer to use the much shallower range of splash pools available at Zlute Lazne Complex (ideal for children from 0-4 years), which is literally across the road from Podoli swimming complex.
The one possible disadvantage of Podoli, might be the lack of trees to offer natural shade but conversely, the great sun exposure makes the water warmer and a lot more pleasant than it might be at other outdoor swimming pools. Parents will also welcome the sauna, massage centre (rehabilitace) and cosmetics salon that are available on the premises (I didn’t have a chance to test out any of these services). Finally, you will also find another restaurant (Czech buffet style) situated next to the indoor pool entrance.
OPEN: Open all year round except on 1.1, 24.12. and 31.12. From 6am-9.45pm. Sauna (male, female and unisex): Mon-Fri: 10am – 9.30pm; Sat-Sun: 9am-7.30pm. Massages (rehabilitace): Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm. NB. Bermuda shorts can’t be worn here.
COST: 1.5hrs: 95 CZK (A), 55 CZK (CH), 85 CZK (Students & Pensioners). 2hrs: 115 CZK (A), 70 CZK (CH), 105 CZK (Students & Pensioners). 3hrs: 140 CZK (A), 80 (CH), 130 (Students & Pensioners). Weekend Specials (for 1 ½ hrs): 1 (A) & 1 (CH): 135 CZK plus 40 CZK for each additional (CH). 2 (A) & 1 (CH): 230 CZK plus 40 CZK for each additional (CH). Additional Costs: 30 mins extra time = 30 CZK; above 30 mins = 60 CZK. SAUNA: 2 hrs incl. swimming: 160 CZK. 3 hrs incl. swimming: 230 CZK. 4 hrs incl. swimming: 260 CZK). The sauna is closed during July & August.
ADDRESS: Podolská 74, Prague 4 (Podoli)
DIRECTIONS: By Tram: no’s 21, 16, 17 or 3 to tram stop Dvorce or Kublov. By Car: Supervised parking is availabe right in front of the complex, or you can just park on the side of the road opposite.
FURTHER INFORMATION: http://www.pspodoli.cz (limited English, mainly in Czech)