A few fun facts about the Czech Republic:
Prague is by far the main reason people come to the Czech Republic. The City of a Hundred Spires truly lives up to this name, and is best known for its historical Old Town Square, baroque buildings, the oldest operating Astronomical Clock in the world, Prague Castle and of course the Charles Bridge.
As hectic as it was, I thoroughly enjoyed my 40 hours visit to the city. I do recommend more time though to take in as many of the highlights the city has to offer.
That said, despite being late October, Prague was exceptionally crowded. The Town Square, Charles Bridge, the Castle district - almost suffocating. It was a weekend, which likely contributed to the masses. Prague has definitely been discovered.
Fortunately, the Czech Republic has much more beyond Prague - 11 UNESCO world heritage sites, picturesque towns and scenic of southern Bohemia, the spas of western Bohemia, wine country in southern Moravia. My top picks:
The Czech Republic 's second most popular attraction is the fairytale, medieval town of Cesky Krumlov. Situated about 2 hours south of Prague near the Austrian border, Cesky Krumlov is often described as a miniature version of Prague. A charming Old Town, cobblestone streets and a beautiful castle pull people in from all over the world.
Not a big city, it only takes about 20 minutes to walk from one end of Old Town to the other. But there is plenty of charm as witnessed by plenty of day trips from Prague (and Danube river cruises). To escape the crowds and for the best experience, stay 2-3 days. The discover the beautiful nearby Bohemian nature during the day, lively Bohemian Gypsy music at night, and so much more.
Located near České Budějovice on the route to Cesky Krumlov (from Prague), Hluboka Castle is considered to be the Czech Republic's most beautiful castle. It dates back to the 13th century and the design was influenced by English Windsor Gothic. For a special treat, stay overnight in the section that has been turned into a luxury hotel.
The town of Lednice is in southern Moravia, about 3 hours from Prague, and a little over an hour from Vienna. The Lednice Castle (chateaux) was built in the mid 1800's, but the land had been owned by the Liechtensteins since the end of the 13th century. In addition to the castle (chateaux), the surrounding gardens are spectacular.
Telc and Trebic
Telc and Trebic are located in southern Moravia, about 2 -2.5 hours from Prague (in between Brno and České Budějovice if you are looking at the map). Despite being small towns, they are both UNESCO world heritage sites worth seeing. Telc, a town of 6000 residents, is known for its well preserved Renaissance period homes and underground tunnels. Be aware that much of the town is closed on Mondays (and closes early on Sundays). Trebic offers interesting architecture, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, a fascinating Jewish quarter and Jewish cemetery.
About an hour southeast of Prague, the town of Kutna Hora dates back to the 1100's. The discovery of silver made it a wealthy royal city and the second most important city in the Kingdom of Bohemia back in the 1300's. The impressive UNESCO sites Church of St. Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, plus the nearby Ossuary of Sedlac are the top draws, however with a history in mining, a tour of Hradek, the Czech Museum of Silver and a medieval silver mine shouldn't be overlooked.
Kutna Hora can get a bit crowded as well, especially with half day tours coming from Prague. Discover the charm of the city after all the tours have left by overnighting here instead of Prague. Get an early start before the buses arrive to avoid crowds later in the day.
When is the best time to visit? Per the Czech Tourism board: off season (mid October - March) and shoulder season (July and August). April - June and September has the best weather and the crowds along with it.
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