For most people, the Czech Republic is synonymous to its capital city, Prague. But we think that the whole country in its entirety has a lot more up its sleeve beyond its famous capital. Trips to the countryside, old villages and towns, national parks, ancient rock formations, and old castles are just some things that could make you stay a while – or maybe even forever. So to help you make the most of your visit to this rich and beautiful country, we’re giving you a list of off-the-beaten path destinations and alternative activities when in you’re in Czech Republic.
1. Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
Built in 1777 as a Romanesque basilica, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul was later rebuilt in the Gothic style. It is located on top of Petrov Hill in the center of the city of Brno, and is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions. It suffered serious damage during the 30 Years War with Sweden, but has since maintained a tradition that sets it apart to this day: the cathedral bells are rung at 11 o’clock instead of noon, a tactic used during the war which saved the city from a siege. Inside the Cathedral there’s an exhibit of vestments, monstrances, other liturgical articles, and an interesting portrait of Vita Christi.
2. Loket Town
If you ever feel like being James Bond for a day, you can take a Vesper and Aston Martin and tour this rustic medieval town, one of Czech Republic’s best kept secrets. At the center is the 12th Century Loket Castle, done in the Gothic Movement, where the Roman Emperor Charles IV used to rest and hunt. The town center itself is considered a national monument, making it beautifully preserved and protected from modern-day developments.
3. Český Krumlov Castle
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the second largest castle and chateau complex in all of Czech Republic. The original complex consists of 40 buildings, including fine old palaces, castle courts, and gardens. Once you’re inside the castle, its fairy-tale ambiance will awaken the prince or princess inside you. Not to miss in your tour here is the well-preserved Baroque Chateau Theater, with stage equipment and props dating from the 18th century that are still operating to this day.
4. Park Colonnade in Karlovy Vary
Designed by Viennese architects Fellner and Helme in the 19th century, the park served as the mall of Blanensky Pavilion. The pavilion however was demolished in the 60’s and only the cast-iron colonnade remained. Despite being only a fraction of its original building, the cast-iron colonnade is a great example of 19th Century architecture and remains a feast for the eyes. Also in the vicinity of the park are three therapeutic springs where you can enjoy an authentic spa experience.
5. Kutná Hora
When the Kutná Hora silver mines prospered in the 14th and 15th Centuries, the city became one of the richest places in Europe. One of the unique must-see sights here is the St. Barbara’s Cathedral, which was built in 1338 in the Baroque style. It is famous for a large mural from the Gothic period called The Vision of St. Ignatius. Other places to visit are the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec, which is a Baroque restoration from the early 18th century; the mysterious underworld of Ossuary (hint: human bones); and the many traditional wine-making establishments.
6. Bohemian Paradise
Do you ever get the urge to be wowed, just floored, by the majesty of nature? The rock formations in Prachovské Rocks and Hrubá Skála of the Bohemian Paradise will give you just that. As a protected area and UNESCO Geo-park, it has an outstanding combination of natural beauty for its bizarre rock formations, pine forests, majestic castles and sublime villages of timber cottages.
7. Holy Trinity Column
A Baroque gallery in an open area with a height of 35 meters, the Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is one of the most exceptional examples of the apogee of central European Baroque artistry. It houses a small chapel on its base, the column is dominated by gilded copper sculptures of the Holy Trinity, accompanied by Archangel Gabriel on the top and the Assumption of the Virgin beneath it.
8. Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora
Five gates, five chapels, five altars, five stars and fifty-five windows: this is the masterpiece of a transitional architectural style between the Gothic and Baroque traditions. The church was inspired by the story of Czech saint, John of Nepomuk, who was killed after refusing to divulge the queen’s secrets to the king. Legend has it that five stars appeared above his head at that moment, making stars and the number five regarded as his symbols.
9. The Jewish Quarter and St. Procopius Basilica of Třebíč
One of the most important and well-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe, generations of Jews and Christians lived side by side in Třebíč for hundreds of years. In this quarter, there are narrow lanes, public passages, verandas and also one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Europe – which holds a magical atmosphere because of over two thousand overlapping gravestones covered in moss. The Christian basilica on the other hand, is covered with paintings and ornaments. And the best part of the church? The crypt – the burial place of monks and the founders of the monastery.
10. Hluboká Castle
This is easily the most beautiful and enchanting castle in Czech Republic, even castles from fairy-tales are no competition. This white Neo-Gothic style, Windsor Castle-inspired chateau was owned by the Schwarzenberg family, who also own the Česky Krumlov castle. You can walk in the gardens or take a look inside its 140 rooms and 11 towers. Tapestries, weapons, ornate furnishings, technological advancements, impressive kitchens and an extensive collection of art should also keep you enthralled while exploring.