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Planning a trip to the Czech Republic? You’ve chosen well – there’s much to see and do here, whether you’re looking for history, natural beauty or fantastic architecture. From the capital Prague through to lesser-known hidden spots, here’s our pick of the best things to see and do when in the Czech Republic.
Prague is the Czech Republic’s most visited city, and with good reason. The city is full of historical sights – from the 16th-century stone Charles Bridge to the 9th-century Prague Castle (the largest castle complex in the world according to Guinness World Records) to the many cobbled alleyways and countless spires. Prague’s historic center – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is home to one of the city’s most visited sights, the Astronomical Clock. The city also offers many unique sights, including the Estate Theatre (where Mozart’s Don Giovanni premiered), the Old Jewish cemetery, and the Strahov Monastery, home to one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
The Bohemian Switzerland National Park is a 181 km² protected area in the north of the country. Well known for its great hiking, magnificent canyons and sandstone rock formations, Bohemian Paradise (as it’s also known) is also home to several castles and chateaux – some still standing in their full glory while others just ruins. Trosky castle on top of a cliff is especially popular, but you can also visit the gorgeous Neo-Gothic Sychrov Castle and the ruins of 14th-century Frýdštejn Castle. The Bozkov dolomite caves, which contain the Czech Republic’s largest underground lake, are also located here.
Český Krumlov is a city in Southern Bohemia that dates back to the 13th century. Famous for its architecture (which has earned the Old Town area a UNESCO World Heritage Site seal of approval), the city is also home to the famous Baroque court theatre, one of few that remain intact in the world. Visitors to Český Krumlov often come here for the white water rafting, though. The best rafting is upstream, near the town of Vyšší Brod, where shallow rapids are the standard. Lower on the river, the current gets softer and paddling and canoeing are the preferred sports.
The Czech Republic has a long tradition of beer brewing – the first batches were produced by monks in Břevnov Monastery in the 10th century. Today, the country is well known for its beer gardens and for producing world-known brands such as Pilsner Urquell, the first pilsner in the world, and Budweiser Budvar.
There are hundreds of castles in Prague – some in ruins, some in pristine condition. Most are open to the public in one form or another. The ones that are currently occupied might only allow limited tours, while others have been converted into museums. Prague Castle and Karlštejn castle are perhaps the two best known and better preserved, but visitors also love the ruins of Hazmburk Castle, the Gothic Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle and the majestic Lednice Chateau. Olomouc Castle, in the city of the same name, is one of the oldest in the country and was a temporary residence for Mozart when he visited Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic has a number of slightly strange, rather spooky or just plain weird places you can visit. Kutná Hora‘s Sedlec Ossuary – a church decorated with the bones of thousands of people who died during the Hussite Wars – is a good example. Then there’s St. George’s Church, which was recently decorated with ‘ghosts’, and the Museum of Torture Instruments in Prague.
The Czech Republic was under Communist rule for many years, and there are many monuments and museums that still stand as a reminder of those times. Prague’s memorial to the victims of Communism (in the form of disappearing statues) is a good example, but there’s also the Museum of Communism in Prague, as well as the Terezin/Theresienstadt concentration camp not far from the Capital.