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Czech Republic

Czech-Republic

Great Destination:

5

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

9.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

Centric-Venturers and Mid-Venturers appreciate it most, followed by Centric-Authentics

Did You Know…?

  • If all Czech hiking trails were laid end to end, they’d encircle the globe at the Equator.
  • Kutna Hora, an old silver mining town near Prague, was once larger than London.
  • Religious pilgrimage sites include upwards of 300 dedicated to the Marian cult.
  • The Pravcice Gate is the largest rock bridge in Europe.
  • King Jiri of Bohemia was the first Protestant king in Europe (1458).

Spa towns, UNESCO sites

The Czech Republic, although small, is varied enough to offer much that is alluring about the whole European continent: architecture from many periods, a rich and lively history, once-fashionable spa towns, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Mother Nature has done her part, too, with a good mix of rolling hills, mountains, rivers and lakes.

When the communists were ousted from the region, venturesome travelers relocated to newly open cities, but Prague was especially popular. Vaclav Havel, already a much-admired playwright who had been jailed by the communists, added to favorable publicity for his homeland by becoming its political leader.  The former Soviet-bloc country has blossomed into one of central Europe’s success stories, and tourism is one of the reasons.

Tourism succeeds in large part because the country is a sightseer’s paradise with border-to-border photo ops in countless charming, well-maintained historic towns. In addition, the country is comfortable for tourists (good hotels, train services, food and wine).

A visit to the Czech Republic centers around Prague, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities whose well-preserved architecture displays examples of all the great European building styles. When traveling about the country, visitors appreciate the sense of stepping back in time and experiencing a touch of that melancholy angst that is part of the central European psyche. In the countryside, medieval castles and numerous picturesque villages appear amidst rolling hills and dark pine forests.

The Czechs love music and Prague abounds with classical and semiclassical offerings during high season. Festivals are staged outside the capital, too. Mozart lived in the Czech Republic for part of his life. Anton Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana were born there.

As North Americans come to perceive the Czech Republic as part of mainstream Europe (now in the European Union), its ratings will rise among all types of travelers.

Fortunately, joining Europe for certain financial and political benefits does not mean the country will be a cookie-cutter version of neighbors to the west.

April through October is the desirable time for visiting the Czech Republic. Winters are cold and bitter, and many attractions are closed.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go rock climbing among the Czech Republic’s sandstone “rock towns,” a collection of rock towers and deep valleys found mostly on the Bohemian Plateau. They attract cyclers and hikers, as well.
  • For a sobering reminder of World War II, visit the Lidice Museum and Monument commemorating the razing of the entire town by Nazis in 1942; also, see the Theresienstadt concentration camp at the town of Terezin.
  • Take a hike. The Czech Republic cares for a vast system of marked tourist trails.
  • Sample Olomouc cheese, described locally as the world’s smelliest. It must be stored outdoors and tourists cannot take this home.
  • Go cycling in the Sumava mountains, a forested area in Bohemia.
  • Fish, surf or go yachting on local fish ponds and reservoirs such as Lipno, Nove Mlyny and Orlik. Rivers are suitable for boating and rafting trips, too.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Rent a bicycle at one railway station and return it at another. The Czech Republic has 18,560 miles of cycling routes.
  • Sip the curative waters at Karlovy Vary (formerly Carlsbad), an old and well-loved spa town. Even if the waters don’t appeal, buy a sipping cup to take home as a souvenir.
  • Choose a folk festival. Options include one of the largest and oldest in Europe, the international folklore event in Straznice. Also, there are the Roznovska Valaska International Festival, the Roznovske Slavnosti Festival and a bagpipe festival in Strakonice.
  • Drink the original Budweiser beer. Visit Ceske Budejovice, where it is made, and tour the brewery. Or drink Pilsner Urquell beer in the town where it is made — Plzen — and tour the brewery. Some beer aficionados consider it the finest lager in the world.
  • Pursue examples of a unique artful way to decorate buildings: sgraffito designs, which are created by scratching a smooth surface of a dark color, getting the design by scratching down to a surface of another lighter color. Look for incredibly detailed illustrations in the little Bohemian towns of Slavonice and Prachatice; inside the castle in Litomysl, plus a modern rendition of sgraffito at Litomysl’s town square, a piece of art that is astonishing for its world of demons; and on the walls on Prague’s Castle Hill.
  • In a land with more than 200 crystal works, tour a glass factory. Then, buy some crystal to carry home (carefully).

Things to do for Authentics

  • In autumn, attend a wine festival. The largest annual events are held in the historic South Moravian towns of Mikulov and Znojmo as well as at the Czech castle, Karlstejn.
  • Attend a music festival. There are plenty to choose from including multiple choices that honor Dvorak, plus the open-air Smetana’s Litomysl International Opera Festival.
  • Commit to a few days at a spa resort in a Czech spa town; the best-known of the towns are Frantiskovy Lazne, Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, where the springs have been tapped since the Middle Ages. Spas in this part of the world are more focused on medical matters than on pampering and relaxation.
  • Play golf.
  • Visit any of a host of charming and beautifully preserved towns: Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumlov, Holasovice, Jindrichuv Hradec and Trebon; also, Hluboka Chateau, Rozmberk Castle and the monasteries in Vyssi Brod and Zlata Koruna.
  • Make your own religious pilgrimage to one of the Czech Republic’s numerous such sites.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult CzechTourism at www.czechtourism.com