Introducing Czech Republic
Czech Republic © Paulius Malinovskis
Czech Republic Travel Guide
Located in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic is renowned as one of the continent's most striking destinations. Seamlessly blending dramatic architecture with rolling hills and ancient forests, the country effortlessly transports visitors to a fairy-tale setting. In essence, the Czech Republic's spellbinding beauty and vibrant nightlife allow travellers to truly live their own adventures.
The historic city centre of Prague is amazingly untouched by the brutalities of war. Indeed, it is a well-preserved record of more than 600 years of leading European architecture, featuring lofty Gothic spires, Baroque opulence and the symmetry of the Renaissance. To get a full sense of the overwhelming majesty of this place, tourists should try exploring the UNESCO-listed historic district on foot. Prominent attractions include acclaimed architect, Frank Gehry's, Dancing House and Old Town Square. They're linked by the Charles Bridge, which is the most-photographed landmark in the city. Surprisingly, many visitors don't leave Prague and consequently miss out on a stunning countryside full of majestic mountains, lush forests, historic castles and villages. Any itinerary should include the impossibly picturesque medieval towns of Holasovice and Cesky Krumlov, both of which will instantly transport travellers to Europe's past.
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. For those who don't mind travelling during peak season, the country is wonderfully warm in July and August. April and October are also good months to visit the Czech Republic. Although a little chillier, 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 only 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 Ossuary (called Sedlec's Kostnice in the Czech language), is a medieval Gothic chapel decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons. It 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 Vaclav Havel 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 Prague best explored on foot, and 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. Find 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.