The Czech Republic (Czechia) is a country in Central Europe whose history and natural beauty far exceeds its size. All these forces have shaped the rich architecture and customs of Czechia, complemented by the great forests of the Bohemia.
What to see and do
Since the fall of Communism, there’s no reason to just stay in Prague. Then again, there are plenty of reasons to stay as well. As the Czech writer Franz Kafka says, ‘Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws’. The historic centre is a classy walk- Take a tour of the Prague Castle, the seat of both old and new rulers of the state. Along Charles Bridge, learn about the history of the oldest preserved connecting line between the Prague embankments.
The Vltava divides Prague in two. The Church of Our Lady before Týn, House at the Stone Bell, Kinský Palace, St Nicholas Church the Jan Hus Memorial are all found within the Old Town Square and worth a visit each. Climb up the Town Hall Tower for a bird’s eye view of Prague and take an evening walk to the top of Petřín hill. From here, there is a walking tour that leads to Strahov Monastery, which houses a magnificent library containing around 200, 00 volumes of old manuscripts, including numerous versions of the Bible.
Venture into the surrounding Bohemia. The term ‘Bohemian’ traces its roots back to the name of a Celtic tribe called Boii; it does not refer to the artistic ‘Boho’ community much used in western societies today! Sink into spa in the western town of Karlovy Vary, also decidedly posh due to its popularity with the Russian nouveau riche.
South of Prague is none other than the birthplace of Budweiser, České Budějovice. Book ahead for the one-hour tour at Budvar Brewery or simply enjoy one from one of the many pubs on its winding streets. Not far off is Český Krumlov, a small city named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its elegant Castle district. Indeed, the large grounds of Český Krumlov Castle seem almost disproportionate to the size of the town. It houses the Český Krumlov Baroque Theatre, a stunningly preserved Baroque building.
For more low-key, authentic experience, explore Moravia. The Olomouc and Telč stand out as especially pretty towns. The latter is host to the Prázdniny v Telči folk music festival every July/August, a smashing end (or start) to any Czech experience!
Buses are the way to go; being faster and cheaper than most train equivalents. They are operated by IDOS, which has all timetables on its website. If you prefer the train, consider getting the Czech Flexipass, which gives you a choice between 3, 4, 5 and 8 day rail passes. Car rentals are also available via Secco Car, Vecar and West Car Praha.
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