Sandwiched between Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia, the Czech Republic (or Czechia) often does not get a lot of attention, even from avid travelers. With its location in the middle of Central Europe, Czechia offers neither access to the sea nor high and impressive alpine mountain ranges like its neighbors.
So many people just decide to skip it in favor of its neighbors. Don't make that mistake!
Having lived in Prague for 1 year, I can assure you that the Czech Republic boasts fantastic landscapes, beautiful towns, and delicious cuisine—not to mention the countless UNESCO world heritage sites you can visit!
So without further ado, let's dive into all the best places to visit in Czech Republic, ordered alphabetically.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook.
I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress.
- Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket.
- Do your best to learn a few local phrases in their language. No, I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary.
- Book any popular tours you want to do in advance. I’m really not a great planner and I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count. I plan a trip to a destination knowing that I want to do a sailboat trip or food tour and wait until the day before to book only to realize it’s not available the day I’m in town. Don’t make that mistake - if there is something you know you want to do - book your tour in advance.
- Same thing goes for rental cars. If you want to rent a car to cover more ground in a country, do it in advance. Prices will be more affordable and that way you’re guaranteed to have your wheels waiting for you.
- Last tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful. Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
Bohemian Switzerland National Park
Bohemian Switzerland National Park is a must-visit if you're in the Czech Republic – or Germany, where you'll find Saxon Switzerland National Park, the other half of the same park. The national park's lush green forests are a sharp contrast to its impressive sandstone mountain formations and natural arcs and bridges.
Made famous by artists and poets of the Romantic Era, it became a tourist hotspot in the 19th century and tourists have been flocking to the area ever since. The national park is perfect for hiking, and you can find routes for all fitness levels.
When in Bohemian Switzerland National Park, visit:
- The largest natural sandstone rock arch in Europe: Pravčická brána
- The up to 30 meters high Tisa Rocks labyrinth
- The ruins of the Šaunštejn and Falkenštejn rock castles
The country's second-largest city, Brno, is a bustling student hub with affordable eateries, countless bars, and alternative culture. Inhabited since the 1200s, Brno is sometimes also called the "Capital of Moravia" and you'll find a lot of history and culture here.
The best way to explore Brno, however, is by just wandering the streets of the picturesque historical city center.
When in Brno, make sure to:
- Visit Špilberk castle
- Enjoy the market day on Brno's main square, Náměstí Svobody, during Easter and Christmas
- Listen to the chime of the 11 o'clock bells of Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and learn about the legend how they saved the city during the Thirty-Years War
- Be surprised be the phallic (yes, really!) astronomical clock on the old town square
České Budějovice (Budweis)
Generally, České Budějovice is not a place tourists flock to, it's always in the shadow of other destinations like its beautiful little sister, the fairytale village Český Krumlov. It is, however, worth a stopover.
After all, Budweis hosts the world-renowned Budweiser Budvar brewery and offers visitors a sleepy town with one of the largest town squares in Europe, beautiful green spots along the two rivers, Vltava and Malše, and countless pubs and restaurants.
When in České Budějovice:
- Do a beer tour and learn about the iconic Czech beverage
- Visit the Přemysl Otakar II. town square, named after Budweis' founder
- Relax along the rivers with the locals – and maybe a can of cold beer
- Rent a boat to see the city from another angle
If you're looking for a place that makes you believe in magic and fairies, look no further: Český Krumlov is straight out of a fairytale world. This medieval town has been inhabited since the year 900 and its stunning renaissance buildings have been very well-preserved. This is definitely one of my favorite places to visit in the Czech Republic.
I would highly recommend, however, that you visit Český Krumlov in the off-season. 1.5 million tourists visit the UNESCO world heritage town every year and the crowds can be really overwhelming.
When in Český Krumlov:
- Visit the castle complex and the surrounding gardens
- Look up – the frescos and details on the buildings are very beautifully preserved
- Have goulash at the Krumlovsky mlÿn, an old mill right on the river Vltava
- Leave the old town to explore the quieter part of town on the other side of the river
With all the great UNESCO sites to visit, mountains to hike, and beers to drink in the Czech Republic, you might need a little break halfway through your trip. Look no further than Karlovy Vary, the most visited spa city in the Czech Republic! It has existed since the 16th century when noble families would enjoy baths in the mineral streams and springs of the city.
If you are a film lover, plan your trip around the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the oldest film festivals in the world.
When in Karlovy Vary:
- Stroll along the promenades on the banks of river Eger and admire the colorful buildings lining the riverbank
- Walk through the Mill colonnade and marveling at the art deco fountains
- Marvel at the up to 12-meter high Geysir Pramen Vrídlo in the Virdelni colonnade
- Soak in the thermal water in one of the spas or public baths
Krkonose National Park
Krkonose National Park hosts the Czech Republic's highest mountain – Sněžka, the snow-covered one. So of course the area is a great place for winter sport lovers, with multiple ski resorts to choose from. But not only that: Krkonose is also one of the most valuable and vital landscapes in all of Europe, with unique ecosystems dating back to the Ice Ages.
This area, bordering Poland, is the perfect mountain and nature getaway for all outdoor enthusiasts, whether you like hiking, cycling, skiing or just enjoying magnificent mountain views and untouched nature.
When in Krkonoše National Park, don't miss:
- Enjoying the view from the Czech Republic's highest mountain peak at 1.603 meters
- Hiking along the Czech-Polish Friendship Trail crisscrossing the borders of both countries
- Visiting the Pančavský vodopád waterfall, Czech Republic's highest waterfall
- Standing at the source of river Elbe, Europe's fourth longest river
Looking for a smaller, more quiet alternative to the famous Karlovy Vary? Mariánské Lázně is another beautiful little spa town with a historic UNESCO protected town center. During the 19th century, nobility, celebrities, and European rulers flocked there to benefit from the healing properties of the more than 100 mineral springs. Many of the town's impressive historical buildings from this Golden Era are still intact today.
When in Mariánské Lázně:
- Climb up Hamelia Lookout Tower to enjoy a view over the town
- Stroll along the beautiful pavilions and impressive colonnades and visit the "singing fountain"
- Drink bottled water from one of the famous mineral streams
- Make a day trip to the Teplá monastery with its unique historical library
Northern Bohemia is a true paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The area bordering Poland boasts national parks, mountains, and unique landscapes – so make sure to put it on your list when you visit the Czech Republic! Here are some places to visit when you are in the area:
- Jizera Mountains: The Jizera Mountains are known for their ancient and primeval beech trees – a stunning piece of ecological history and a wonderful place for nature lovers. And the best: This UNESCO world heritage site is only a bit more than an hour from Prague by public transportation! The National Park offers great hiking trails and biking trails and is one of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic for snowhoe hiking and cross country skiing sports – with up to 4 meters of snow in the winters!
- Bohemian Paradise: While you are visiting Northern Bohemia, don't forget to also visit the Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj), Czech Republic's first ever natural reserve! You can discover the most amazing rock formations in the area.
- Liberec: The country's fifth largest city is worth a day trip. Spend an afternoon in Liberec visiting the historic center with the Saint Wenceslas Cathedral and neo renaissance town hall.
- Jablonec: The gateway to the Jizera Mountains is especially known for the art of glass making. You can disover this old craft by visting several workshops or the Museum of Glass and Jewellry.
Olomouc is a true paradise for history buffs – Romans, Slavs, Bohemian Kings, Swedes, and Germans left their marks on the area and shaped Olomouc into the city it is today. The city is home to the country's second-oldest university and around 20,000 students live here, making it a vibrant place with countless student bars and coffee shops. Its many baroque style buildings earned the university city a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List is a real feast for the eyes.
When in Olomouc:
- Marvel at the Holy Trinity Column in the sprawling central square of the old town
- Visit the six baroque fountains with their mythological decorations.
- Have a picnic in one of the countless parks or at the banks of Morava river
- Try Olomoucke tvaruzky, a cheese specific for the region
Ostrava is not an obvious choice when you plan your trip to the Czech Republic. It is, however, an exciting addition to your round trip, mainly because its industrial past makes it look different from Czech Republic's classical gems with their baroque buildings. The "steel heart of the republic" is a mining town with old factories, halls, and towers turned into national museums, art galleries, and cultural venues.
In addition, Moravia's second largest city hosts the two music festivals, the "Colours of Ostrava" and the "Beats of Love" festival which attract artists and visitors worldwide.
When in Ostrava:
- Visit the Michal mine and experience how the working life of the miners used to be
- Take a tour through Silesian Ostrava Castle
- Do a rafting tour down the Ostravice river
- Hike up Ostrava's "volcano," a little hill built from the mining debris
Plzeň or Pilsen, the hometown of the Pilsner Urquell, the most famous beer of Czech Republic is a place where you can experience authentic Czech hospitality so make sure to have lunch in one of the many traditional Czech taverns around the city.
And the best part: This picturesque town just an hour from Prague and easily accessible by train. So if you love history, architecture and great food, make sure to add it to your list.
When in Pilsen:
- Visit the town hall, a unique renaissance-age gem
- Pay the Great Synagogue a visit – if you're lucky they might have a concert there while you visit
- Take a brewery tour in the iconic Pilsen brewery and try their beer
- Climb the tower of the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew for the best view
Of course, the Czech capital city must be on the list of best places to visit in Czech Republic. And rightfully so: the whole historical center of Prague is a UNESCO world heritage site and looks like straight out of a fairy tale! It is said that not even the Germans dared to bomb the city during WWII because it's just to beautiful to be destroyed.
Lucky for you, if you fall in love with this country like I did, it's possible to move here to teach English.
Prague is a vibrant city with many things to discover, so just follow the cobblestone streets of the old town down to the banks of Vltava river and see where they take you. And be prepared to take tons of pictures of the red roofs and beautiful facades of the central European baroque style buildings around the city
When in Prague, visit:
- Staroměstské námesti, the old town square with the famous astronomical clock
- Wenceslas Square with its beautiful view of the National Museum
- Letná park for a beer at sunset
- Prague Castle and Charles Bridge
- Náplavka promande for a stroll along Vltava River
You'll Love Your Trip to the Czech Republic
As you can see, there are many amazing places to visit in the Czech Republic! It doesn't matter if you are a lover of history and culture, culinary delights or nature – Czechia does not disappoint.
And with many amazing cities to visit and outdoor activities for all seasons, the country is really a great destination all year round. So make sure to add the Czech Republic to your Europe travel bucket list.
Hero Photo by Denis Poltoradnev.