Formerly known as Czechoslovakia, this land locked country in central Europe is a great place for culture, walking and city breaks. The hills and valleys are dotted with pretty villages, agrotourism style accommodations (farm stays), authentic bars, trekking and cycling trails. Surprisingly, Czech Republic is also a great place for a variety of spa and wellness programmes with 37 spa towns and some of the oldest natural spas in Europe. One of these, Karlovy Vary can be visited as a day trip from Prague and was the film set for the James Bond film, Casino Royale.
The culture of the country can be best enjoyed by including one of the many music festivals into your holiday, in the summer the open air concerts are particularly enjoyable. There are more than 2000 castles and chateaus here and several open air musuems to learn about the history of the Bohemian and Moravian lands.
Czech Republic is bordered by Germany to the west and northwest, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south and Poland to the northeast. A quick look at the country’s history shows that in the late 9th century it was known as Bohemia. The biggest territory was extended in 13th and 14th centure and later was integrated with Austria and Hungary into the Habsburg monarchy. In 1918 the Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed at the end of the first world war when the Austro-Hungarian empire collapsed. There were many years of communist rule and then in 1993 Czechoslovakia dissolved into Slovakia and Czech Republic.
Food in the Czech Republic is an important part of culture. Traditional sweet wafers with fillings date back to 16th century and are specialities produced in the spas. Potato pancakes are popular as are Czech dumplings. There are plenty of medieval taverns to enjoy an evening of plentiful food, drink and entertainment. If you would like to try cookery courses and sample authentic Czech cuisine, head for the countryside and spend a few days with a family on a farm.
The Czechs love their beer and there are more than 450 brands marketed here with many small local breweries. Budweiser and Pilsner Urquell are known around the world. Moravian wines (mainly white) are grown here and tours of the pretty rural vineyards can be included in a holiday here.
The capital Prague is a fabulous place an a great city break option. Some of the things to see here include Prague Castle and huge Gothic facade of St Vitus Cathedral with its famous stained glass. The cultural centre of Prague is full of museums, monasteries, churches and art galleries and the castle gardens are lovely. Following the procession route of Bohemian Kings is the Charles Bridge which is a focal point of the city day and night. A maze of narrow streets surround the Old Town Square which is full of Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The National Museum dominates the Czech Champs-Elysees at Wenceslas Square, a busy shopping plaza and where the Christmas Markets take place. Some of the most popular products here include Bohemian crystal and glassware and Czech garnet and amber jewellery. Take time to climb Petrin Hill by funicular railway or on foot – there is a 62m model of the Eiffel Tower on top of this 318m hill, covered with eight parks and having fabulous views of the city.
Just outside the city, visit the ‘fairytale’ town of Cesky Krumlov and UNESCO site for culture and natural heritage which sits on a horseshoe bend in the Vtava River. It is a medieval city renowned for its fabulous Gothic castle dating back to the 13th century. A tour here usually included visiting inside the castle and lunch in a traditional tavern.
Take a trip to Karlovy Vary in the West Bohemian countryside where you will find medicinal mineral springs in this world famous spa town. Stroll through the streets and shop for porcelain, locally made glass and crystal products and the famous Czech liquer, Bederovka, produced from an age old secret herb recipe!
Whether you want an escorted tour, city break, weekend away or a tailor made longer trip, get in touch for your bespoke holiday to Czech Republic and Prague.