5 Fantastic Czech Cities That Aren’t Prague
The Czech Republic, or Czechia as a so far unsuccessful rebranding campaign wants the country to be known, is an ideal destination for a European city break full of history, culture and a few obligatory pints of the local beer. However, whilst many travellers head straight for the capital Prague, there are so many other great cities that are also worth a mention. Here’s a look at five that are definitely worth your consideration when you’re next looking for hotels in the Czech Republic.
Often marketed as ‘Prague in miniature’, Český Krumlov has the same medieval feel to it and is also characterised by the Vltava River running through its heart. Its beautiful, UNESCO-listed Old Town is easily explored on foot and features a 13th-century castle, Gothic church and a number of charming bridges. The surrounding area is a popular spot for activities such as biking and walking and the summer calendar is full of events that highlight the culture of Southern Bohemia.
Spelt ‘Plzen’ in the Czech language, this city is the home of Pilsner and the birthplace of all lager. Created here in 1842, tourists come from far and wide to taste the local brew at the source and the Pilsner Urquell Brewery is a major attraction in the area. It’s not all about the beer, though, as Bohemia’s second-largest city has plenty more to offer – highlighted by the fact that it was chosen as Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2015. The quaint town centre is home to a maze of underground tunnels built as early as the 14th century and used to store beer, water and, later, waste. Other popular attractions include the zoo, Techmania Science Centre and a museum dedicated to the region’s love of marionette puppets.
Karlštejn itself in a small town amongst a quaint setting of rolling hills and peaceful rivers. However, visitors rarely come for the town itself, as the main attraction is the 14th-century Karlštejn Castle located in the hills outside of the town centre. Easily reached from Prague on a day trip (if you choose not to stay in the other places on this list), it has been meticulously recreated in Gothic and Renaissance style after parts began to crumble. It was originally built by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and its main purpose was to hold his treasures and the relics attained by the Holy Roman Empire. Today, the Imperial Palace, Chapel of the Holy Cross and private quarters of King Charles IV can be viewed on guided tours.
You may have never heard of Kutná Hora but it was once deemed to be as important as Prague. This was at the height of the city’s wealth, brought about by mining silver ore from the nearby hills which was then turned into currency. Things may have changed quite a bit from its peak at the start of the 14th century, but there are still many reasons to visit Kutná Hora and it was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Places such as Hrádek mining museum and the Italian Court, which used to house the royal mint, showcase the fascinating history here, whilst the cobblestone streets of the Old Town are home to beautiful buildings and bedecked with colourful blooms.
Perhaps the jewel in Kutná Hora’s crown is St. Barbara’s Cathedral, though. Dedicated to the patron saint of miners, it was originally supposed to be much larger but the silver ore started to dry up. Finally, the nearby town of Sedlec attracts many visitors who come to see its unique ‘bone church’. Sedlec Ossuary is adorned with human skeletons, arranged into artistic sculptures and garlands by woodcarver František Rint.
Anyone who has been to Baden-Baden in Germany may already be familiar with what they will find in Karlovy Vary – a once flourishing spa town that attracted the rich and famous, has since seen a slight decline but maintains its splendour in the form of grand buildings. The warming waters that once brought the nobility to town still flow to this day and are said to have wonderful healing powers.
Besides the spas, the town has a charming centre that features beautiful churches and grandiose colonnades. Museums tell stories of the past production of glass and a herbal liqueur by the name of Becherovka, whilst the butterfly house and House of Wax offer some fun for all the family.
If you would like to extend your knowledge of the Czech Republic beyond Prague and visit any of the places listed above, we can tailor-make a holiday to suit you. Call us on 0800 988 3369 or click here to submit your enquiry online.