Let’s begin with a fast recreation. Palms up everybody who’s been to the Czech Republic! OK, nice. Now… hold your fingers up in case you went to actually wherever apart from Prague. Wow. That’s a lotta fingers that simply dropped down.
Yep, Czech Republic (formally referred to as Czechia, however often known as Cesko at dwelling and Czech Republic almost in all places else) is an odd one. Its capital, Prague, is without doubt one of the most visited cities on Earth, logging extra vacationers in 2016 than Miami. But the remainder of it stays shamefully underexplored. And whereas its teeny tiny dimension of 78,866 km² – smaller than South Carolina – means there ain’t a lot that house for off-trail wandering, what’s there manages to pack as a lot of a punch as nations 5 occasions its dimension. Assume Czech Republic is simply Prague and beer? After visiting these locations, you might have to suppose once more.
10. Karlštejn Citadel
Castles! The Czech Republic has them in spades, after which some. First because the impartial kingdom of Bohemia (the Western a part of Czech Republic), then as an outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, after which as a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czech Republic noticed a spree of chateau constructing even different European nations take into account extreme. It’s a truth* which you could climb any hill within the nation, look in any route, and see at the very least half a dozen spectacular examples of defensive structure (* truth could not really be true).
Essentially the most spectacular of all this multitude of castles? Karlštejn.
Based by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1365, Karlštejn is barely a stone’s throw from Prague – assuming that your common stone throwing vary is round 30 kilometers. However, hey! By no means thoughts that, try this unimaginable citadel! Some of the fairy story like buildings ever constructed, Karlštejn is each lovely and genuine. Surrounded by thick forest, it rises unstoppably above the cover, a set of turrets and towers that would act because the setting for any Disney movie. Although, given how unbelievably chilly the realm will get in winter, you’ll in all probability really feel like that movie is Frozen 2.
9. The Metropolis of Olomouc
OK, it’s time to go away Prague’s orbit and strike out east, for the nation’s lesser visited facet. Czech Republic is comprised of two distinct areas: Bohemia within the West, and Moravia within the East. Classically, Moravia is the lesser visited of the 2. Regardless of its fame for high quality wines and finer strolling, it’s lengthy been seen because the ugly stepsister to Bohemia’s Cinderella.
But Moravia has at the very least one jewel in its crown that would give even Bohemia a run for its cash: the baroque metropolis of Olomouc.
Lonely Planet has referred to as Olomouc the Czech Republic’s best kept secret, and it’s straightforward to see why. A vibrantly coloured outdated city surrounding an unlimited cathedral, and topped off by not one however two meandering, cobblestoned city squares, Olomouc is the type of metropolis visitors to Europe at all times dream of seeing. Plus, it’s nonetheless undiscovered sufficient that you simply gained’t must struggle jerkbag vacationers clutching selfie sticks for the most effective view!
The centerpiece is the Holy Trinity Column, an 18th Century stone marvel that tops out at 35 meters (114 ft, in actual measurements) and is listed by UNESCO.
eight. Sedlec Ossuary
An hour exterior of Prague, Sedlec Ossuary first shot to fame within the 14th Century, when an area Abbot scattered soil from the Holy Land throughout the cemetery. 30,000 folks clamored to be buried there in consequence and, over the next centuries, Sedlec turned the hippest burial place in Central Europe.
This led to what we’re gonna euphemistically name “overcrowding,” and the monks finally determined one thing wanted to be completed with all the surplus bones. So, in 1870, they employed a man named František Rint and requested him to work his magic. In Rint’s case, that evidently meant black magic, as a result of he took one have a look at the overcrowded ossuary and determined to show it right into a house made of human bones.
In the present day, Sedlec is a macabre masterpiece made out of 40,000 skeletons, all organized into decorations which can be both fascinating or horrifying, relying on how extremely you rank on the Goth scale. There are bone chandeliers, bone cabinets, bone candle holders, and a skeleton of a crow, made out of the skeletons of people. Brrr!
7. Loket Outdated City
If the tiny city of Loket in Bohemia appears acquainted to you, don’t fear: you’re not by accident regressing to a previous life as a Czech villager. Loket is the placement the place On line casino Royale was filmed, together with close by Karlovy Fluctuate (the film is about in Montenegro, however no matter, proper?). Meaning you’ll be able to sit out on the primary sq., by the fountain, and be quietly smug within the information that Daniel Craig’s buttocks as soon as shared that very house.
“However wait!” You may be saying, “I didn’t watch On line casino Royale!” Effectively, concern not, hypothetical interrupter, as a result of there’s extra going for Loket than simply no matter traces of Daniel Craig’s DNA may be mendacity round, simply ready for some enterprising record author to make a clone out of them. The outdated city is knock out attractive, what with its winding cobblestone streets and chateau perched above a sinuously curving river. Plus, there’s an annual motocross race and opera competition – not on the identical time, sadly.
The entire shebang lies on the most excessive western level of Czech Republic, 140 kilometers from Prague and virtually hugging the German border. Its historical past is so clearly Teutonic that it was even used as a location in All Quiet on the Western Entrance.
6. Hruboskalsko Rock Towers
Proper, we’ve lined cities, cities, and boneyards, however to this point we’re lacking one thing kinda essential. Ask most Czechs what they’re most pleased with of their adorably tiny nation, they usually’ll seemingly reply “the character.” The Czech countryside is the kind of place Goldilocks would go nuts for. It’s not too mountainous, not too flat; not too wild, not too tamed; not too forested and never too agrarian. In different phrases, it’s good.
All of which makes our process of selecting only one place from this mild, rolling, image good panorama considerably troublesome. We’ll spare you the agonies that went into our choice. Suffice to say, there was merely nowhere that would evaluate to the unpronounceable Hruboskalsko Rock Towers.
To seek out this unusual wilderness of rock skyscrapers, you’ll first must go to Ceský ráj, the primary nationwide park within the Czech Republic. Based within the 1950s, it’s small even in comparison with such parks in Britain. However once you’ve acquired these nice rock monsters to marvel over, who’s measuring? As a bonus, in case you stroll there, you get to expertise all that countryside we have been waxing lyrical over earlier.
Proper down on the backside of Moravia, so southerly that it’s actually bumping up towards the Austrian border, sits a city designed to present your optic nerves quivers of pleasure. Mikulov is the kind of historical hill city different historical hill cities wished they appeared like; the Chris Pratt of the traditional hill city world, if you’ll. Perched excessive above the most effective vineyards in the whole nation (did we point out it’s on a hill?), this baroque delight is like all the most effective bits of the Czech Republic rolled into one.
For one factor, it’s lovely, with a mix of Italian and native structure that’s earned it the nickname “the Italian pearl of Moravia.” For an additional, its environment are second to none. In a single bike journey, you’ll be able to cycle over the protected limestone plateau of Palava, chill in certainly one of Pavlov’s historic wine cellars, go to the grand chateaux of Lednice and Valtice, and cross the UNESCO protected park linking them, a carefully sculpted panorama often known as “the Garden of Europe” (the system “it’s the X of Y!” positive is in style with Czech Republic’s vacationer board). What else can we are saying? Besides, maybe, go to Mikulov!
four. Ostrava’s Industrial Ruins
Regardless of its worldwide fame as a spot of castles, beer, and fairly outdated cities (see mainly every part above), it’s price remembering not all of Czech Republic comes from the Disney information to quaint. It’s a working nation, with a big working class, and a historical past of heavy trade. Within the far-eastern metropolis of Ostrava – proper on the Polish border – these unlikely traits handle to mix into one thing that’s all types of spectacular.
Vítkovice is out of a dystopian sci-fi movie. A metropolis of metal girders, decaying ironworks, large blast furnaces, and industrial equipment that’s been left to rot, it’s the kind of place you would think about the following Blade Runner sequel being filmed. Attempt strolling by right here on a winter weekday, when there’s nobody else round, and also you’ll in all probability really feel such as you’ve by accident walked into the aftermath of Armageddon. It ought to be ugly, however the entire mixture is so overwhelming and distinctive that it goes all the way in which round into being lovely once more.
One of the best time to go is when the Colours of Ostrava competition is on in July, a large music competition that takes place completely within the metal metropolis’s ghostly ruins.
three. Ceský Krumlov
Ceský Krumlov is the rationale Bohemia will get all of the love, whereas poor outdated Moravia is left sobbing on the sidelines. If there’s one factor to enterprise exterior Prague for in the entire of Czech Republic, it’s this little city situated in South Bohemia, by the Vltava river. A group of low-lying, pink roofed Renaissance homes surrounding a very large – and actually pink – citadel, it’s the kind of city bucket lists have been invented for.
For actual, you must hear the way Lonely Planet raves about this place. Or, y’know, some other guidebook. There are museums galore, winding streets, historical homes, eating places the place you’ll be able to eat meals modeled on the meals of medieval the Aristocracy, shaded parks to sit down in beside the river… the record goes on. It’s like somebody distilled the whole essence of the nation’s finest bits right into a single city three hours exterior Prague.
Nonetheless, it’s not all sweetness and lightweight. Ceský Krumlov is the epicenter of vacationer chaos in Czech Republic, which suggests visiting typically feels much less like a nice life expertise, and extra like battling your method by a Thunderdome filled with dingbats clutching digital cameras.
2. Prague’s Outdated City
Look, we hate to do that. We actually do. After that opening about how there’s extra to Czech Republic than simply Prague? But, right here we’re, discussing the Czech capital like we’re working for the Prague vacationer board. Awkward.
However what else might we do? For all it could rankle Czechs that their capital will get all the eye, for all it could be swarming with waves of vacationers decided to make your journey as hellish as doable, for all it could be an absolute cliché, there’s no avoiding one salient truth. Prague is an exquisite metropolis. Greater than that, it’s vibrant, thrilling, steeped in historical past, and overwhelmingly grand. A lot as we hate to say it, in case you’re visiting Czech Republic, you actually, actually need to visit Prague.
The place can we even begin? We might let you know in regards to the hundreds of spires that make the town appear to be it’s reaching to heaven. Or possibly we might let you know in regards to the cobblestone squares with their brightly lit Christmas markets. Or possibly… you realize what? Simply take our recommendation. In the event you’re ever visiting Europe, make sure that Prague is in your record.
1. Brno’s Nightlife
Effectively, that is gonna ruffle some feathers.
Brno is Czech Republic’s second metropolis, a sleepy metropolis of 400,000 that doubles as the middle of Moravia. Ask anybody from Prague, they usually’ll let you know that it’s a pretty-ish place let down by being terminally boring. To which you must in all probability reply by telling them their info is like 5 years outdated. Whereas Prague’s smugly been climbing its method up probably the most visited cities rank, Brno has quietly been turning itself into the highest Czech place for anybody who likes beer, meals, espresso, or partying.
We ain’t joking. Brno is dwelling to the official winner of the most effective bar in Czech Republic awards. It’s dwelling to the most effective cocktail bar within the nation, plus two different runners-up within the official prime 5. The espresso there wins worldwide awards. Heck, the New York Occasions wrote Brno’s food and drink scene up in an article that in all probability brought on a lot wailing in Prague.
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Effectively, wail all you want, denizens of Prague, as a result of Brno is now formally the place Czech good occasions are had. From the retro Bar Který Neexistuje (‘the bar that doesn’t exist’), to uber-cool Tremendous Panda Circus, to the award profitable Zelená Kocka (‘inexperienced cat’) beer corridor, Brno has all of it. We guess we’ll see you there.