Czech Republic Travel Guide
Spotted with charming cities, chateaux and castles (more per square mile than anywhere else), timeless villages and numerous spas, the Czech Republic offers eye-catching architecture which is not only restricted to the lively capital, Prague. And when leaving the towns, you will be attracted by mountainous landscapes where you are unlikely to bump into another soul.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Picturesque history and culture, unspoiled mountains, labyrinths of caves, water sports, cheap skiing (especially for beginners), fishing, horseback riding, clubbing in Prague, delicious food and world-famous Pilsner beer, comfy tourist infrastructure.
What’s Not: Petty thefts, street prostitutes, counterfeit money, bogus policemen, getting your drink spiked, seasonal flooding.
When to Go
Rainy weather in spring (March to May) can cause occasional flooding. In summer, the country experiences high temperatures and heavy rain (June to August). Winters are bitterly cold (December to February) with temperatures as low as 5°F or even -22°F in the mountains (around 130 days of snow per year).
Getting There & Away
Dozens of international carriers link Prague with the rest of the world. It is advisable to buy a round-trip or return ticket at home, as flights are no cheaper in the republic. The easiest way to come here from Western Europe is by train via some 18 rail crossings. At more than 30 points, visitors can also go by car into the Czech Republic, but keep in mind that statistically, Czech motorists enjoy one of the worst reputations in Europe and will cause your adrenaline level to rise when passing you on blind corners with excessive speed.
Health & Safety
Prague is the pickpocket capital of Europe! Never exchange currency with street vendors, because you might end up with staples of counterfeit money. Contact with women looking like street prostitutes should be avoided, because they often turn out to be pickpockets. Also be careful when using ATM machines. Do not loose consumption cards in night establishments before having paid your bill, as you will be charged drastic pecuniary fines. After having been outdoors, perform a systematic tick check on your body in order to prevent Lyme disease or tick-borne encephalitis, particularly in summer.
Food & Hospitality
Meat dishes are very common, while fish is rare. Pork, beef, chicken, duck, goose and rabbit are served. Something you should try at least once is svickova (sirloin with dumplings and sauerkraut). The mouthwatering Czech potato soup is also not to be missed. Unforgettable pastries and cakes, such as apple strudel, are definitely worth a sin. Beer (pivo) is the national beverage. In case you have exceeded your diet plan, spoil yourself in one of the Republic’s world-famous spas.
Two weeks is the minimum you can get away with to take pleasure in some of the country’s places of interest.
Four or five days to see the capital’s highlights.
Three daytrips from Prague to the Konopiště Chateau, Karlovy Vary (largest spa town) and the Renaissance castle in Nelahozeves.
Five or six days to visit the untouched national parks, the labyrinths of caves or the open-air museums.
A day touring the Moravian wine region by horseback
One day to go onboard a hot-air balloon.
Another week to do some water sports like yachting, windsurfing or fishing, or to go golfing, skiing or visit one of the popular puppet theaters.
Prague: guarded by an 1,100-year-old castle, this city is regarded as one of the most fascinating and most famous tourist destinations in the world. In the medieval center with its innumerable churches, visitors will find the most precious sections of Prague.
Prague Castle: qualified as the world’s biggest historic castle, this overwhelming 1,000-year-old building is larger than seven soccer fields and is Prague’s top attraction, famous for defenestrations (that’s ‘throwing heretics out top storey windows’ if you’re ill-informed!).
Moravské Slovácko region: colorful traditions are shown at various festivals, where visitors enjoy long-established folk culture through musical performances. Feel free to taste the plentiful local wines in this most charming place.
Bohemia: surrounded by mountains, Bohemia is situated in a huge basin. Sandstone rocks and romantic areas in the north; the mysterious labyrinth of the Teplice-Adršpach Rocks in the east; stunning villages with numerous fishing ponds in the south; Czech spas and the famous Plzen brewery in the west; and ancient castles, forests and rivers in the center make this region a fascinating travel destination.
Šumava: alongside the frontier with Germany and Austria, the Šumava Mountains with elevated plains and moors in between are perfect for hiking or trekking enthusiasts. The endless well-preserved and unpolluted forests have certainly not seen any acid rain yet.
Karlstejn: this is the number-one castle of the Czech Republic and exceeds tourists’ highest anticipations.
Koněprusy Caves: located nearly four miles south of Beroun, these imposing 1,969 foot-deep limestone caves display some oddities such as human bones and the remainders of a woolly rhino. With chilly temperatures of 50°F, it is not advisable to don your beach-wear.
Cultural sightseeing: is a must, with all the overwhelming castles, churches and landmarks, stunning landscape and captivating 1,000-year-old culture.
Trekking and cycling: are most popular among the locals and never lose their fascination in the unique mountainous environment.
Skiing and snowboarding: numerous ski centers offer slopes which suit every winter sports fan.
Golf: various top-quality golf courses await aspirants to step into Tiger Wood’s footpaths.
Water sports: countless water dams and lakes offer outstanding conditions for windsurfing and yachting.
Aviation sports: the magnificence of the Czech Republic’s scenery can be admired from a hot-air balloon or tourist plane.
Festivals & Events
Public holidays and festivals are broadly approved by the Czechs. Some of the top ones to take part in are:
April: Walpurgisnacht (burning of the witches) is celebrated on the 30th in order to fight off evil.
Easter Monday: also known as Pomlázka, this is when the men smack their desired ladies on the legs using ornamented willow switches.
May: Prague International Book Fair attracts book worms from around the country.
May and June: Prazske Jaro, the Prague Spring International Music Festival sees concerts by some big names.
August: International Music Festival in the spectacular river town of Český Krumlov.
September: Mozart Festival in Prague, starring famous orchestras from all over the world.