7 Places You Can’t Miss in the Czech Republic (that are not in Prague!)
It would be tough to dislike a country that’s as well-rounded as the Czech Republic. It is a place where a high-income economy supports the high standards of living, giving the country a modest right to boast the lowest unemployment rate in Europe. The crime rate is so low, that the Czech Republic ranks as the sixth safest place to live in the world! Beer is cheaper than water, hence why Czech people have the highest beer consumption per capita in the world (not Ireland!) The biggest water park in Central Europe is in the Czech Republic, the largest castle in Europe and one of the highest internet speeds in the world … you guessed it: Czech Republic! I will admit that even as a seasoned traveler, I believed the ubiquitous notion that the most worthwhile place to visit in the Czech Republic is Prague. While Prague is stunning indeed, tucked away in the compass point pockets of the country are some architectural gems and extraordinary landscapes. Here is a list of 7 places you can’t miss in the Czech Republic, although admittedly there are many more.
Like a pink starburst, the Mitrowicz Castle secretes its rosy tone on a large green field just north of Ceske Budejovice. The history of the castle dates back to the 1500’s but its baroque look comes from the design ideas of Count František Karel Wratislav of Mitrowicz and his wife Marie Anna née Kinská. The castle is open to the general public for tours and weddings and visitors even have the ability to stay at the castle if it is rented in entirety: 18 original castle rooms for just ~$700 (that’s less than $40 per room!) Inside the castle is The Chapel of Saint Anna, boasting a opulent ceiling with a painting of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. One of the apartments in the castle has a private balcony leading jaw dropping views the Saint Anna. This is likely the only time you will ever get to “live” inside a chapel which is an interesting juxtaposition of a unique and bizarre experience.
The Orlik Chateau is located in an area known as South Bohemia. A quick history lesson is in order: the area is in the southern part of the historical land called Bohemia. Bohemia, historically, is the westernmost and largest region of Czech territory. The castle, which dates back to the 1200’s has been home to many Bohemian kings. It was initially built as a wooden for which was converted to a Gothic castle. During the Renaissance Era it converted again into a Renaissance style and finally in the 19th century it was renovated to a Neogothic style. The Orlik Castle is nestled in a quiet and secluded area over the Vltava river and on its grounds are friendly peacocks that love to get their photos taken.
It’s petite, its colorful, its a hybrid of Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic elements, it’s lively, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site: it’s Český Krumlov! The small architectural masterpiece in Southern Bohemia is considered to be one of the prettiest cities in Europe, so it comes as no surprise that Český Krumlov is the second most popular city to visit in the Czech Republic after Prague. Český Krumlov is the town of medieval festivals, beer tastings, and wooden rafting down the Vlatava River. It is the town that’s home to over 300 historical buildings protected and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the oldest Baroque theatre in the world and the second largest castle in the Czech Republic (which is protected by a bear!) Cobble stone streets, small restaurants, inns, shops, museums and galleries, Český Krumlov can’t to be missed despite the fact that it’s streets are bustling with tourists.
Kratochvíle State Chateau
Although many call it a castle, the Kratochvíle State Chateau feels more like a picturesque [Italian] Renaissance style residence (constructed by Italian architect Baltazar Maggi of Arogn in 1583. ). It is encompassed by a waterway where swan and ducks appear and albino peacocks strut around the property. It’s worth the visit because it is very different from what you would expect from a typical castle and it has a unique beauty of its own. Inside there is only Renaissance art which serves as a time machine back to the period.
You have to see it to believe. Hluboká Castle is easily one of, if not the most, stunning castle’s I have seen! In fact, many call it the most beautiful castle in the Czech Republic. There are 140 rooms (!) and 11 towers filled with a plethora of luxury furniture, hand carved wooden interiors, chandeliers, paintings, and porcelain. Even if you are not a fan of tours – a tour of Hluboká is guaranteed to change your mind and is critical to feeling the opulence of this Neogothic jewel! From first glance Hluboká Castle doesn’t look real – it resembles a Hollywood set or a Disneyworld prop. However don’t let its appearance fool you, inside the attention to detail is unparalleled with and you’ll be left mesmerized! Hluboká Castle also made an appearance in the movie Shanghai Knights and Underworld: Blood Wars.
Lipno nad Vltavou is a village in the Český Krumlov region. Although relatively small, Lipno is home to one of the most incredible structures I’ve ever seen: The Treetop Walkway! The walkway is a unique educational walking experience and it’s perched above a ski resort overlooking the Vlatva River. It is certainly worth the visit if you are in the area. If the weather is good you can even slide down from the top of the walkway!
Nestled in the eastern most pocket of the Czech Republic is the third largest city of the country: Ostrava. I stopped in Ostrava during a road trip from Slovakia to Poland (Ostrava is only about 15km away from the border of Poland), and was amazed by its industrial culture. In fact, Ostrava was at the heart of a major coalfield. Ostrava, the steel heart of the Czech Republic, has a rich history of the steel industry and is home to an industrial heritage site turned museum (and warehouse for large concerts and festivals). Fun fact: olympic star Usain Bolt calls Ostrava his “second home” and there is a café named after him: The Bolt Tower (which also has his autograph on the wall!)