Introducing Czech Republic
Czech Republic © Paulius Malinovskis
Czech Republic Travel Guide
The Czech Republic has become one of Europe's tourist gems, welcoming millions of eager visitors each year. The country abounds with interesting cultural sights and attractions, lays claim to a spectacular countryside, boasts an unusually rowdy nightlife, and has one of the most beautiful capital cities in the world.
The historic city centre of Prague, amazingly untouched by the brutalities of war, is a remarkably well-preserved record of more than 600 years of leading European architecture. Tourists going to Prague are encouraged to explore the UNESCO-listed historic district on foot, in order to get a full sense of the overwhelming majesty of the place. The view in every direction in downtown Prague counts as a cultural sight, but stand-out tourist attractions include Frank Gehry's Dancing House and Old Town Square, linked by the Charles Bridge which is the most-photographed landmark in the city.
Less than 10 percent of people who holiday in the Czech Republic venture out of Prague, which is a mistake as much of the countryside - mountainous and forested and quilted in farmland - is stunning, and is dotted with gorgeous historical towns and villages that make for excellent daytrips and overnight stops. It is also a country extremely rich in castles, promising endless entertainment for aspiring knights and princesses. Roughly divided between the regions of Bohemia in the west and Moravia in the east, there is a wealth of interesting things to see and do outside of Prague, including visiting the impossibly picturesque medieval towns of Holasovice and Cesky Krumlov.
A thrilling place to visit for culture-lovers and party animals alike, the Czech Republic is a sure bet for those looking for an unforgettable Eastern European holiday destination.
Best time to visit
A good time to visit the Czech Republic is in May or September, when the weather is mild and Prague is not too crowded. The country is wonderfully warm in July and August and this is the peak tourism season. Although a little chillier, April and October are also good months to visit the Czech Republic, as they fall outside the regular tourist seasons and accommodation is generally cheaper and more plentiful. Read more about the Czech Republic's Climate and Weather.
What to see in the Czech Republic
-Prague's Old Town is an architectural wonderland, brimming with medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings.
-Located within Prague's Castle District (Hradeany), the Gothic spires and gleaming exterior of the St Vitus Cathedral are matched by the finery of its richly-gilded interior.
-Check out the surreal statue of Kafka located close to the Spanish Synagogue, and the Franz Kafka Museum in the Malá Strana area.
-Sedlec's Kostnice Ossuary, a medieval Gothic chapel decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons, is certainly a unique sight, and not one travellers to the Czech Republic will forget in a hurry. Read more about Czech Republic Attractions.
What to do in the Czech Republic
-Head east of Prague to the Bohemian village of Cesky Krumlov, a wonderfully preserved, traffic-free medieval village that just begs to be photographed.
-Relax in Karlovy Vary (also known as Karlsbad), the biggest and most developed of the Czech Republic's spa resort towns.
-Go out on the town and sample the legendary Prague nightlife.
-Take a trip to Brno, the largest city in Moravia, where fine local wine and a great selection of museums and other cultural sights (including the Museum of Gypsy Culture) await.
Getting to the Czech Republic
There are direct cheap flights to the Czech Republic available from both the UK and the USA. Most tourists book flights to Prague-Ruzyne International Airport, located just 10 miles (16km) northwest of the capital city. Get more information on Czech Republic Airports.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Frank Kafka, Despair by Valdimir Nabokov, and The Prague Orgy by Philip Roth.
Lucie, Sto Zvirat, Cechomor, and Poutnici.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), Closely Watched Trains (1966), Amadeus (1984), and Der Golem (1915).
Local Czech beer (pivo). For teetotallers, the national soft drink is kofola - almost like cola.
Local Czech pub food: favourite dishes include smoked mackerel, raw beef on deep fried toast and 'head cheese' (bits of meat suspended in aspic).
What to buy
Crystal and glass products (Moser Glass is a quality manufacturer), Czech porcelain (look for the distinctive 'blue onion' pattern), Bohemian garnet jewellery (ideally set in silver or pewter) and Czech marionettes.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes, as not only is Prague best explored on foot, but there are some wonderful hiking opportunities in the Czech countryside.
What's on in the Czech Republic
Prague hosts one of the biggest New Year's Eve parties in Europe. The Prague Spring (May/June) is simply one of the world's greatest classical music festivals. Forget Oktoberfest, the Czech Republic's Pilsner Fest (August) is the place to go for beer connoisseurs. The Prague Writers' Festival (May/June) is an excellent festival, attended by leading members of Europe's literati. More information on Czech Republic Events.
Did you know?
-Per capita, the Czechs are the world's heaviest beer-drinkers.
-The sugar cube was invented in the Czech Republic in 1843.
-There are more than 2,000 castles, keeps and castle ruins in the Czech Republic, giving the country the third highest density of castles in the world.
A final word
Whether you're seeking high culture, in search of castles, or after some quality time in the great outdoors, the Czech Republic is a sure-fire winner for those on holiday in Europe.