15 attractions You Must See in Czech Republic
Check out the top destinations in this beautiful Eastern European country
Even though the Czech Republic is one of the smaller countries in Europe, there’s plenty to keep you busy for weeks on end. The natural beauty, bustling cities, remote towns, tourist attractions, and ample traditional restaurants make for endless possibilities or vacation itineraries. The public transportation system makes it fairly easy to explore this country, especially if you stay somewhat around the nation’s capital – Prague. If you have a car at your leisure, you can explore some of the more remote areas of the country, boasting beautiful nature and charming mountain towns. The limitless number of attractions in the Czech Republic is hard to condense into one list, but we have discovered our top 15 must-see attractions in this Eastern European gem.
The Prague Castle complex
First up, we stay inside the nation’s capital for a popular spot most people will find in all the tourist guides – the Prague Castle complex. This gorgeous castle is surrounded by high castle walls and a hill leading to the entrance, which features panoramic views over the city, the famous Charles Bridge, and the Vltava river bisecting the city. This castle has housed royalty over the years, providing a home for Roman Emperors and the Czech Republic’s President, showing the opulence and upscale decor of the castle. This structure is the largest castle in the world – a feat you’ll have to see to truly appreciate. One can easily spend a whole day wandering inside the castle walls, exploring what is basically a town on a hill, protected from the outside world. Inside the complex, there are other historical buildings that complete the miraculous ancient society that once existed. St. Vitus Cathedral started as a 10th-century chapel, and just never stopped growing. The change from a basic chapel to a Gothic cathedral occurred in the 14th century, making way for the breathtaking architecture you’ll see today. Inside the cathedral, stained-glass windows, high ceilings, and artistically-made sculptures create a special ambiance that reflects the time and effort many people sacrifice to build such a place. Leaving the cathedral and the castle, you can walk along the Golden Lane, a row of historic cottages that once housed goldsmiths centuries ago. The pastel-colored homes are more Scandanavian than Czech, but the juxtaposition between the bright buildings and the dark castle make for a great photo opportunity and a unique street to walk down in the city.
Second, on our list, we have the Bohemian Paradise. A city-break can take you to this Protected Landscape Area, with rules and regulations in place to keep the wildlife safe. Located north-east from Prague, this area is famous for its sandstone rock formations. These massive structures are millions of years old and jut into the sky, creating an interesting landscape. If you’re a keen walker you can hike up Kozakov, the highest hill in the area. Climb the lookout tower for a 360-view of paradise and see just how far you’ve come. Another attraction here is the Trosky Castle, formed of 14th-century ruins atop a hill, providing history with a view. If you want to stay nearby, Turnov is one of the closest towns and is the heart of the Bohemian Paradise – it has museums, churches, large parks, and is known for being a great base point for summer residents, visitors, and nature enthusiasts.
Next up, we have Kutna Hora, a UNESCO site that is protected – and for good reason. This gem is a beautiful, and somewhat morbid, Central Bohemian town. The uniqueness of this spot is what makes it so famous, boasting some unusual attractions. The Sedlec Ossuary is a chapel comprised entirely of human bones – now you see our point. Tens of thousands of skeletal remains are held here, adding to the sinister feel in the air. If you don’t want to see this ‘bare bones’ structure, you can check out St. Barbara’s Church, a beautiful Gothic church that features glass windows, choir stalls, and vaulted ceilings. If you want to enjoy a traditional Czech meal, head to V Ruthardce in the middle of town for some pulled duck or pork neck.
For number four, we begin our castle obsession – first up, we recommend visiting Hluboka Castle. Formed on the site of an ancient fortress, this 17th-century castle is somewhat reminiscent of Windsor Castle in England. The Gothic Tudor style is different from many of the other castles in the country, showing the influence of the UK’s royalty. The beautiful gardens, immaculately trimmed hedges, and collection of Czech artwork makes this a popular spot.
Continuing our castle theme, we love Karlstejn Castle. Built in the 14th century, this expansive castle was built for Charles IV, the Czech king and Holy Roman emperor. You can see the interior of the castle via guided tour, wandering through the Imperial Palace, Marian Tower, and the Well Tower, seeing realistic furniture and Czech crown jewels replicas. This Gothic castle is about 20 miles southwest of Prague, right above the village of Karlstejn. This market town in Central Bohemia is tiny but full of charm. After the castle visit, you can see the Clock Museum, the Museum of Nativity Scenes, or book an e-bike tour around the countryside.
Cesky Krumlov Castle & town
Last on our list of castles, we have both a magnificent castle and one of the most popular towns in South Bohemia – Cesky Krumlov and the Cesky Krumlov Castle. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the Renaissance Hall and Chapel of St. George. This 13th-century castle also houses a 17th-century Baroque theater, which is still used today. This castle is reminiscent of the one in Prague, with the castle not being just a singular building, but rather a complex of multiple ancient buildings that are all impressive in their own right. Leaving the castle, you can wander around the charming town, with red-roofed houses, a river running through the city, museums everywhere you turn, and traditional restaurants. If you’re looking for all of the charms of the Czech Republic diluted into one spot, then this is your winner. For this reason, the town gets very busy during the tourist season, so we recommend checking out this part of Bohemia in the off-season.
Diverging from our castle list, number seven brings us Mikulov in the region of Moravia. Nearby to Austria, this town is set on a hillside, overlooking the fields and hills in the surrounding areas. Not to mention, this town is above a vineyard – and one of the best ones in the Czech Republic may we add. The Italian-influenced architecture provides a different vibe, and the location is second to none. The geographical location makes it ideal for winemaking, with the varied soil and the limestone slopes, providing interesting notes and character to the wine. A town on a hill, with wine, with views – what else could you ask for?
Hruboskalsko Rock Towers
Staying out in the countryside, we have the Hruboskalsko Rock Towers – try saying that five times fast. Even though the Czech Republic may not have world-renowned mountains or forests, it does have a combination of both. The great thing for nature-enthusiasts here is a mixture of everything into one small country – such as huge rock towers. These structures reach up to 55 meters, comprised of sandstone and terrain that is loved by rock climbers. Head here if you have a knack for adventure.
Heading back into civilization, we chose Loket for our next attraction to see. This Bohemian town is as west in the Czech Republic as you can get, pressed right up against Germany. Housing only 3,000 inhabitants, this town is surrounded by the Ohre River and boasts a 12th-century Gothic castle. With a bridge running over the river into the town, the skyline is reason enough to visit, with the castle looming from the hill, houses scattered along the small hillside, and the mountains in the background. When you visit, wander around the old town on the cobblestone streets, and enjoy sitting outside by the fountain in the main square, taking in the beautiful surroundings.
For a bigger town/city to spend some time in, head to Olomouc. This Moravian city has the advantage of being, well, in the east. Moravia is the less-visited half of the country, while Bohemia seems to boast all of the more famous tourist attractions. No problem for Olomouc. This baroque city is the country’s ‘best-kept secret’ according to Lonely Planet, and we totally understand. The cathedral, two town squares, and lack of selfie-taking tourists make this a desirable spot to check out before it becomes discovered. If you want to take a half-day trip just outside the city, you can head to Litomysl and see the UNESCO renaissance castle.
Another beautiful small town on this list, we chose Telc. Think Golden Lane in Prague, but on a much larger scale. The buildings here along the main square are all pastel-colored and architecturally-similar, creating a picturesque and aesthetic town center. This UNESCO-protected town is surrounded by bodies of water and city gates, showing signs of the royal water-fort it used to be. Featuring a Gothic castle and a church, you will easily be able to spend a whole day walking around this beautiful town. For another adventure, head to the equally beautiful town of Trebic, with a famous Jewish Quarter and Basilica.
If you’re on vacation to relax, head to Karlovy Vary. This town is easily one of the most beautiful spa towns in Europe – if not the whole world. The colorful architecture here is similar to that of Telc, but just on more grandiose buildings of multiple floors, boasting balconies and pillared entrances. The multiple spas to choose from are sure to calm your stress levels, and you can reward yourself further with trying the Karlovarske platky – a Czech wafer made from the famous water from the springs here. The 13 springs here are evident in town life, with multiple drinking and bathing fountains scattered around the area. Good luck trying to choose which spa to visit – and good luck trying to convince yourself to leave.
Prague isn’t the only city in the Czech Republic that deserves a mention – Brno is the second biggest city, and has somehow avoided becoming swarmed with tourists. The population here has made it into a haven for hipsters and the younger generation, with numerous restaurants, bars, and clubs to keep you happy until the early hours of the morning. The combination of old architecture, with Gothic and baroque buildings, cathedrals, and St. James Square, all juxtaposed with the modern lifestyle and Millenials makes this a fun and high-energy city to visit. The St. Peter and Paul Cathedral is a 12th-century chapel that transformed into a Gothic cathedral that stands tall above the red-roofed houses. After checking out the ancient architecture, now is where the fun really begins. This city is home to the winner of the best bar in the country, the best cocktail bar, and multiple others in the running. We recommend checking out Bar Který Neexistuje – and seeing for yourself if this bar really exists.
Our last town on this list is Plzen. Now, this might not sound familiar to you. But have you heard of Pilsner? Yeah, we thought so. This town introduced this pale-lager to the world 175 years ago – and we’ve been thankful ever since. The beer capital of the country, there’s also a beautiful cathedral, synagogue, and beautiful baroque houses around the main square. If you want to learn about how your favorite beverage is made, you can visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery Museum – and end your day heading to one of the best pubs, Comix Excellent Urban Pub for a few ‘samples’ of Pilsner.
Last on our list of the top attractions, we chose the city of Kromeriz. Located in the less-visited East, this UNESCO destination features one of the best-preserved Baroque gardens in the world. The statues, thousands of flowers, high hedges, and geometrically-perfect shapes throughout the garden all speak to the time and effort it took to create something so methodical. After visiting the Flower Garden of Libosad, you can see the castle or palace, complete with royal gardens and ponds. The architectural beauty of this city is some of the best in the country, and shouldn’t be overlooked – plus, Velo Cafe has some of the best cheesecake we’ve ever tasted. That’s it, our top 15 must-see attractions in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is an Eastern European gem, featuring tranquil nature, geographical formations, historical castles, exquisite architecture, lively cities, sleepy towns, and tasty food and beer. It’s impossible to narrow down the attractions of the country into a small list, but we’ve tried to choose the highlights of our experiences. The combination of city activities with some off-the-beaten-path attractions will provide a good mixture of touristy locations with a more local feel. These 15 attractions are must-sees when visiting the country, giving a sense of the Czech traditional ways with the modern lifestyles of the city, showing the diversity and beauty of this popular country.