Country guides Europe
Czech Republic Travel Guide
Located in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic is renowned as one of the continent's most striking destinations. Seamlessly blending dramatic architecture with rolling hills and ancient forests, the country transports visitors to a fairytale setting, where they can live out their own grand adventures.
The historic city centre of Prague is a well-preserved record of more than 600 years of leading European architecture, featuring lofty Gothic spires, Baroque opulence and the symmetry of the Renaissance. To get a full sense of the capital's overwhelming majesty, tourists should try exploring the UNESCO-listed historic district, visit acclaimed architect Frank Gehry's Dancing House, tour Old Town Square, and stroll over the Charles Bridge, which is the most-photographed landmark in the city.
Surprisingly, many visitors don't leave Prague and miss out on a stunning countryside full of majestic mountains, lush forests, historic castles and villages. Any itinerary should include the impossibly picturesque medieval towns of Holasovice and Cesky Krumlov.
Best time to visit
A good time to visit the Czech Republic is in May or September, when the weather is mild and Prague is not too crowded. For those who don't mind travelling during peak season, the country is wonderfully warm in July and August. April and October are a little chillier but they fall outside the regular tourist seasons, and accommodation is generally cheaper and more plentiful.
What to see in the Czech Republic
-Visit Prague's Old Town, an architectural wonderland brimming with medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings.
-Venture to Prague's Castle District (Hradeany) and see the Gothic spires of St Vitus Cathedral.
-Check out the surreal statue of Kafka located close to the Spanish Synagogue and the Franz Kafka Museum in the Malá Strana area.
-Take a trip to Sedlec's Ossuary, a medieval Gothic chapel decorated with the remains of 40,000 human skeletons.
What to do in the Czech Republic
-Head east of Prague to the Bohemian village of Cesky Krumlov, a wonderfully preserved, traffic-free medieval village that just begs to be photographed.
-Relax in Karlovy Vary (also known as Karlsbad), the biggest and most developed of the Czech Republic's spa resort towns.
-Go out on the town and sample the legendary Prague nightlife.
-Take a trip to Brno, the largest city in Moravia, where fine local wine and a great selection of museums and other cultural sights (including the Museum of Romani Culture) await.
Getting to the Czech Republic
There are direct cheap flights to the Czech Republic available from both the UK and the US. Most tourists book flights to Vaclav Havel International Airport, located just 10 miles (16km) northwest of the capital city.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Frank Kafka, Despair by Valdimir Nabokov, and The Prague Orgy by Philip Roth.
Lucie, Sto Zvirat, Cechomor, and Poutnici.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), Closely Watched Trains (1966), Amadeus (1984), and Der Golem (1915).
Local Czech beer (pivo). For teetotallers, the national soft drink is kofola - almost like cola.
Local Czech pub food. Favourite dishes include smoked mackerel, raw beef on deep fried toast and 'head cheese' (bits of meat suspended in aspic).
What to buy
Crystal and glass products (Moser Glass is a quality manufacturer), Czech porcelain (look for the distinctive 'blue onion' pattern), Bohemian garnet jewellery (ideally set in silver or pewter) and Czech marionettes.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes, as Prague best explored on foot and there are some wonderful hiking opportunities in the Czech countryside.
What's on in the Czech Republic
Prague hosts one of the biggest New Year's Eve parties in Europe, and the Prague Spring (May/June) is simply one of the world's greatest classical music festivals. Forget Oktoberfest, the Czech Republic's Pilsner Fest (August) is the place to go for beer connoisseurs. The Prague Writers' Festival (May/June) is excellent, attended by leading members of Europe's literati.
Did you know?
-Per capita, the Czechs are the world's heaviest beer drinkers.
-The sugar cube was invented in the Czech Republic in 1843.
-There are more than 2,000 castles, keeps and castle ruins in the Czech Republic, giving the country the third highest density of castles in the world.
A final word
Whether travellers are seeking high culture, castles, or are after some quality time in the great outdoors, the Czech Republic is a European holiday destination to savour.