Most people know something about Prague, and it is a truly fascinating city, but there are many other wonderful places to visit in this friendly and diverse country. Below are 3 of the best, that combined could make a wonderful week’s holiday in Bohemia.
Still an unbeatable mix of beauty, historic sights and cheap beer and food, Prague remains one of Europe’s must-see cities.
The narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town, the magnificent architecture and views from the castle and the Old Town Square with its astronomical clock and mix of gothic and baroque churches are just the beginning. The castle of Vyšehrad is just 5 minutes away by metro and the nearby suburbs of Žižkov and Vinohrady hold their own fascination and an array of sights.
Over 13 breweries and thousands of pubs vie for your attention with the best beer in Europe, particularly when the average beer costs just over a Euro! Hearty, filling food is never far away and the transport system is cheap and second to none in Europe. Accommodation is easy to find and ranges from super luxury hotels to cheap beds in a hostel.
Whatever your tastes, whether it be classical music and opera or flashy nightclubs and bars, Prague is highly unlikely to disappoint.
2. Ceský Krumlov
No longer playing second fiddle to Prague, the UNESCO-approved town of Ceský Krumlov has emerged as a great destination in its own right.
Probably no town in Central Europe encapsulates the image and spirit of Bohemia like Krumlov. It’s the quintessential sleepy town, with just 10,000 inhabitants but a huge castle, second only to Prague’s in size. The castle dating back to the 13th century contains many palaces, a gothic church, castle gardens and even a historic theatre with a rotating stage. Just watch out for the brown bears patrolling the entrance!
Wander around the mazy streets, over the rapidly flowing river. Gaze at cute, pastel-colored houses or wander into an old inn for a filling lunch and a tasty beer. Try the Eggenberg brewery for fresh-from-the-tank beer and mix with the locals, who tend to be even more Bohemian than the architecture.
Even better in summer is to try rafting on the river from the nearby town of Ceská Koruna, stopping along the way for beers and snacks at the riverside or hire a rubber tire and ride the rapids around the old town.
People tend to come back to Ceský Krumlov again and again. There’s definitely something magic there. You just need to get on the train or bus from Prague for 3 hours and you will see for yourself.
3. Karlovy Vary
Surrounded by pristine forests and hills, this medium-sized spa town in West Bohemia used to be known as Carlsbad and has been attracting famous people as well as tourists for over 200 years.
Founded by the Czech ruler of the Holy Roman Empire Charles IV in the 14th century and gaining a following for the healing powers of its thermal springs, its real claim to fame started with the introduction of the railway line to Prague and the visits of such prominent figures as Goethe, Beethoven, Chopin and various members of the European aristocracy. After WW2, the town’s mainly German-speaking population was expelled and the town remained fairly obscure until 1989.
Today, the mix of gorgeous baroque architecture and the beautiful spa buildings have attracted a new wave of admirers. You can enjoy the waters in the spectacular Grand Hotel Pupp, of Casino Royale fame, or simply wander with a ceramic mug and drink from one of the many spas down the boulevard. Don’t forget to sample the Carlsbad wafers or the famous Becherovka liquor, made from herbs and with a 38% kick. Try it direct at the Becherovka museum in Old Town.
Just 2 hours from Prague on train or bus, Karlovy Vary is well worth a weekend visit or a day trip.