From historic architecture and spa towns to breathtaking national parks and mountains, the Czech Republic has something for everyone. While Prague is a must-visit, there are many other places that visitors won’t want to miss. The country is well connected by bus and train, so there are plenty of opportunities to explore the very best that the Czech Republic has to offer.
No trip to the Czech Republic would be complete without visiting its capital city. Located in the heart of Bohemia, Prague is known worldwide for its stunning Gothic spires and wild nightlife, but the city has so much more to offer than that. While Prague Castle and Old Town Square are must-sees, get out of the city center, and explore some other parts of town. Be sure to check out the Letná beer garden for panoramic views of the city and the trendy Vinohrady neighborhood for some of the best restaurants and cafes in Prague.
Český ráj (Bohemian Paradise)
Nature lovers visiting the Czech Republic should plan to spend some time exploring Český ráj. This Protected Landscape Area was the first nature reserve in Czechoslovakia and covers an area of more than 180 square meters in North Bohemia. The majestic landscape is peppered with historic, natural landmarks such as the impressive sandstone structures known as the Prachovské skály (Prachov Rocks) and the Podtrosecká údolí (Podtrosecká Valleys) with eight picturesque lakes. Clearly marked tourist trails weave through the park and between the nearby towns and villages, making the area easy to navigate.
Brno is the Czech Republic’s second city with a vibe all its own and some of the most unique cocktail bars in the country. Just over an hour by train from Vienna or Bratislava, this quirky city is home to an imposing medieval cathedral, architectural masterpiece Villa Tugendhat, and a questionably shaped astronomical clock in the city center that draws a crowd every day at 11 a.m. (There’s a historical reason for this—during the Thirty Years War, the city had been invaded by Swedish troops for months, and the Swedish general declared that if he didn’t defeat Brno by noon on a particular day, he would retreat. Locals got word, and tricked the general by ringing the bell one hour early.) However, some of the best-kept secrets are hidden underground: 13th-century Špilberk Castle has one of the harshest Hapspurg prisons beneath it, and the city is home to the second-largest ossuary in Europe.
Located in South Bohemia, this picturesque town’s city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also home to the second largest castle complex in the Czech Republic, and the oldest monastery in Bohemia is located nearby. Thanks to its beauty and easy access from Prague, it’s become a popular destination for visitors. If possible, try to visit in the off-season to avoid the crowds. While there may not be as many shops or restaurants open during the winter months, a dusting of snow makes Český Krumlov feel even more magical.
Moravian Wine Regions
Wine lovers should head to the South Moravian Region, where 96 percent of the country’s vineyards are located. The villages of Mikulov, Znojmo, Velké Pavlovice, and the region of Slovácko each play a key role in the country’s wine production, and there are plenty of small vineyards and wine cellars to visit there. Additionally, the National Wine Salon is located in the Valtice Chateau and gives visitors the opportunity to sample more than 100 bottles of the country’s finest wine. These are all easy to visit as day trips from Brno, the Czech Republic’s second city.
Liberec is the fifth-largest city in the Czech Republic, but it’s very popular among skiers thanks to its location in the Jizera Mountains. One of the most unusual sights is perhaps the 94-meter-tall television tower perched atop the majestic Ještěd mountain. There is a restaurant and hotel inside where people can unwind after a day of skiing or hiking. Liberec also has a charming town square and a 16th-century castle that are worth a visit. The city’s zoo was the first in Czechoslovakia and is home to famous white tigers, which is the namesake of the local hockey team.
České Švýcarsko (Bohemian Switzerland)
Bohemian Switzerland is a national park located in the northwestern part of the Czech Republic. It is adjacent to the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany, combining to create a cross-border nature reserve. This mountainous region has many natural wonders to visit including Pravčická brána, which is Europe’s largest natural sandstone arch, rock castles, gorges, and Děčínský Sněžník, which is the highest mountain in the park. There are also a number of castles and villages in the area, making it easy to enjoy both nature and man-made comforts.
Olomouc is located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic and is easily accessible from Brno by bus or train. This small city is the sixth-biggest in the country and has a history that dates back to Roman times. Visitors may not have ever heard of Olomouc, but they’re sure to be delighted by what they find there. The Holy Trinity Column in the main square is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the church of Saint Wenceslas Cathedral is a stunning piece of architecture built in the neo-Gothic style.
Located in western Bohemia, Karlovy Vary is the Czech Republic’s most visited spa town and is easily accessible from Prague. Take a dip in one of the 13 main hot springs, or spend your time wandering through the winding streets admiring the colorful, historic buildings. Popular Czech herbal digestive Becherovka is produced here, so be sure to pop into the Becherovka Visitor Center to try a sip. The town hosts one of Europe’s major film festivals each year and has also been featured as the backdrop for several films including “Casino Royale” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Kutná Hora is one of the most popular day trips from Prague, with many local tour companies offering excursions to this small town in the Central Bohemian Region. The town center, along with the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec and the Church of St. Barbara, is another one of the Czech Republic’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The ossuary at Sedlec Abbey houses the remains of more than 40,000 people and is world-famous thanks to its impressive chandelier and coat of arms made from human bones. The chandelier itself contains at least one of every bone in the human body.