The Czech Republic is (the better) half of the former Czechoslovakia and it’s formally known “among friends” as Czechia. What is very special about this tiny and landlocked country from Central Europe is its beautiful scenery but also its hugely interesting and filled with memorable events (even recent) history.
The Czech Republic is located south east of Germany and it is neighbored by Austria in the south, Slovakia in the south east and Poland on the northern border.
With a population of ten and a half million people and a land surface of 78,886 square kilometers, the Czech Republic is a beautiful small country, filled with medieval castles and monasteries, lots of mansions owned by the state and home for many architectural treasures, awesome natural parks, medieval towns and chic spa resorts. On top of all these things, Czechia’s people are composed of a mélange of races and nationalities, among them French, Italians, Jews and even ancient Celtic tribes.
The country’s biggest city is Prague, also the capital (1.3 million residents live here), a place bursting with culture and the birthplace of some of the finest beers on the face of this planet. Beer is traditionally a significant part of the Czech culture and way of life; hence if you’re a beer lover, you’ll feel like in paradise while visiting Czechia.
Prague is also known as the city of a thousand spires, thanks to its numerous churches, fairytale castles and medieval bridges that make this place a truly wonderful spot for an architecture buff, like yours truly. If you add into the mix Prague’s breweries, cafes, jazz clubs, luxurious dining places and its crowded markets, you can safely presume that while you’re in here you’ll never encounter a dull moment.
If you’re not the city slicker kind of person, rest assured because just a short trip from Prague’s boundaries you’ll find some truly extraordinary hot springs in Karlovy Vary or the huge gothic castle in Karlstejn. Kutna Hora is a pretty scary place, where you can find a monastery built of human bones while in Plzen you can enjoy visiting the birthplace of pilsner beer.
If you’re a hardcore rock climber, look no further than Adršpach-Teplice Rocks, an unusual place filled with sandstone formations that form all sorts of contorted canyons in the northern part of Czechia. This is a place for outdoors enthusiasts and home of wildlife rich forests, offering mind blowing climbing opportunities if you’re into dangerous sports.
Borova Lada is the Mecca of water sport buffs, especially for canoeing lovers.
Cesky Krumlov makes for the most picturesque town in Czechia and it’s also part of UNESCO World Heritage site. The main points of attraction while in here are the fairytale looking castle, the banks of Vltava River (here you can rent yourself a canoe for example and go for a water stroll along the river) or take a long walk on the medieval streets of the city.
Hluboká and Vranov are two more medieval castles on your to-do/see list while visiting Czechia. These beautiful architectural marvels are built in very different styles yet they’re equally impressive: the first one is a romantic castle built in the baroque style while the second is a great Moravian chateau that overlooks the town underneath.
If you want to kick back for a while and relax in a hot tub, Karlovy Vary is the next place to enjoy during your Czech adventure. This is a world renowned spa resort that offers its visitors hot mineral springs and some of the world’s finest baroque and gothic architecture, a rich cultural scene and a picturesque castle near the river Ohre, in Loket, a nearby town.
If you’re beginning to think that Czechia is the land of fairytale castles, you’re not far from the truth, because Karlštejn and Konopiště. I mean, if you want to take a peek at two of the finest castles in Czechia, very close to Prague, these are it. Konopiste was the last residence of the archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria while Karlstejn is a Disney-esque fairytale castle that looks just like the ones on postcards, dating back to the 14th century.
Prague, the capital, is a place that you must not miss while visiting Czechia, being one of the top EU cities in terms of cultural spots and nightlife. Let me mention just the Old Town (on UNESCO’s heritage site), the medieval-gothic Charles Bridge and Mala Strana that makes for the biggest castle in the world.
Food and Drink in Czechia
Czech cuisine is heavily influenced by Russia, Germany and Poland and it’s dominated by carnivores, I mean meat eaters. Czechs love meat, served with potatoes, bread and slathered in the finest sauces, along with a pint of probably the best beer in the world. Specialties include roasted pork with sauerkraut and dumplings, goulash (a type of beef stew with lots of onions), a mix of pot roasted beef tenderloin and veggies, sweet and sour, deep fried cheese covered in breadcrumbs, garlic soup with melted cheese and croutons, pancakes made of grated potato, eggs and garlic. Off course, everything enjoyed with large quantities of beer, Moravian wines, herbal bitter spirits and plum brandy.
Czech Republic is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence if you’re an EU citizen, you’ll not require a passport, just an ID (if anything). For USA/Canadian tourists, a passport is required (no Visa though).