Long gone are the days when the Czech Republic was a lesser-known outpost on the fringes of Central Europe. These days, it’s become one of Europe’s most popular destinations, driven mostly by the beauty and grace of its stunning capital, Prague.
For many travellers, Czechia has become almost too popular lately. Admittedly, travelling here is no longer the quiet escape it once was: To catch a glimpse of all its glory, you’ll need to prepare to battle for elbow room amongst some of the continent’s fiercest crowds.
Truthfully, even with the crowds, it’s hard not to marvel at the beauty of this country. Even if the sexiness of Prague becomes lost on you thanks to its popularity, within a short trip of the capital, the crowds start to thin, leaving the country’s true gems—from quaint medieval towns to blissful outdoor adventures—at your fingertips.
Not sure where to begin? Start planning your trip with this Czech Republic Travel Guide!
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Where to go in the Czech Republic
By now, nearly every traveller on the planet has dreamt of visiting the insanely-popular Czech capital of Prague. Unfortunately, many never move past it, relegating their visit to the Czech Republic to a small checkbox on their country bucket list.
It’s truly a shame. As picture-perfect as Prague’s medieval streets are it’s just a drop in the hat compared to what else awaits in this fascinating country. Czechia is jam-packed with incredible sights and things to do from sublime castles and towns hiding their own ancient charms to rocky hiking trails and atmospheric pubs clinging onto age-old brewing traditions.
Need some quick ideas on where to go? Check out these Czech Republic trip planning resources!
Nearly every Czech Republic itinerary starts with a romp in the capital city of Prague. Unabashedly, it’s become one of Europe’s most popular city breaks—and with good reason.
Even if the thickening tourist crowds don’t appeal to you, it’s hard to leave Prague unimpressed. The perfectly preserved medieval architecture ringing the cobblestoned streets of Old Town is certainly a sight to behold.
With all its Disneyland-esque seeming perfection, it’s sometimes hard to remember that Prague is more than just a pretty face. This is not just the cultural hub of the Czech nation; Prague’s a happenin’ modern European city par excellence with a whole lotta spunk and attitude.
Whether you’re looking to dig into the burgeoning food scene, experience some of Europe’s wildest nightlife, or simply relax in a shady beer garden with a pint of some of the world’s best brews, everything’s there for the taking in Prague.
Not sure how to start planning your trip to Prague? Here are a few resources:
- 24 Hours in Prague: A Complete Itinerary
- Best Things to Do in Prague: Top Attractions & Places to Visit
- Where to Stay in Prague: The Best Hotels & Areas for Travellers
- Best Day Trips from Prague
Hugging a snaky bend in the Vltava, Cesky Krumlov is not just one of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic, but quite possibly one of Europe’s finest small towns. This UNESCO World Heritage Site centres upon the town’s mammoth castle, keeping watch on this quaint town from high above.
As you walk through the town (it only takes about 20 minutes!), you’ll catch a glimpse of some of the country’s most preserved specimens of Renaissance and Baroque architecture including the splendid Old Town Square.
Even with Cesky Krumlov’s small stature, it’s best appreciated at a slower pace. Skip the urge to experience it on a whirlwind day trip from Prague. Stay a couple days to take in the town’s sights & sounds slowly and leave room for dabbling in some of the outdoor adventures that await in the surrounding area.
If you’re in need of a little rest after dealing with the crowds of Prague, scoot over to the Czech spa capital of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). The mineral-rich waters bubbling under the town put Karlovy Vary on the map among aristocrats in centuries past as one of the best places to seek out natural healing.
All of that fame has left Karlovy Vary with a stunning 18th- and 19th-century architectural legacy that’s immediately evident from the moment you start strolling the streets. Even if you decide not to partake in one of the town’s famous high-end spa treatments, weaving through the dramatic colonnades while sipping from the town’s natural springs is an experience worth having while visiting Czechia.
Located slightly northwest of Brno, Olomouc is one of Czech Republic’s biggest surprises—especially if Prague’s dense crowds came as a bit of a shock. This picturesque city is, surprisingly, relatively little-known outside the country, giving you a little more breathing room to explore without the hordes of tourists you’ll encounter elsewhere in Europe.
From its UNESCO-listed Holy Trinity Column to its Socialist-Realist-style astronomical clock to its handsome churches & monasteries, Olomouc delivers a surprisingly varied palette of things to see & do.
Even if exploring Olomouc’s typical tourist sites doesn’t appeal to you, this is one of the best places in the country to try out unique Czech food including the city’s famous namesake (and extremely pungent!) soft-ripened cheese and its room-clearing garlic soup.
…more great Czech destinations & guides to come!
What to eat in Czech Republic
Okay, so it’s clear that the food scene in the Czech Republic isn’t quite one of the most famous in Europe. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll go hungry in while visiting this small Central European nation!
Czech food draws influences from all over Europe, most notably from other Slavic countries like Russia, Ukraine, and Poland as well as Hungary. Best described as hearty comfort food, Many of the most famous traditional Czech dishes are “heavier,” featuring plenty of meat, starches, and high-fat garnishes like sour cream. It all makes for a sublime (if not exactly ultra-healthy) eating experience!
Here are a few of the must-try dishes in the Czech Republic:
- Svíčková: A famous Czech dish consisting of beef in a vegetable cream sauce and dumplings topped with whipped cream and cranberry sauce. As you’d expect, this dish is both flavourful and filling!
- Kulajda: A warming sour cream soup from south Bohemia containing mushrooms and potatoes topped with a sprigs of fresh dill.
- Goulash: A savoury stew, borrowed from Hungarian cuisine, featuring beef cubes and potato dumplings in a paprika-infused sauce.
- Bramboráčky: Hearty potato pancakes served either as a side dish or as a main with various meat & vegetables thrown into the mix.
- Koláče: Delicious pastries filled with poppy seeds or various fruit jams.
When to visit Czech Republic
Like much of Central Europe, weather isn’t exactly one of the Czech Republic’s best selling points. The country sports a typical continental European climate with conditions ranging between cold & cloudy winters to warm & excessively hot & humid summer—and everything in between.
Overall, the best time to visit Czech Republic is in late spring and early fall, particularly in May or September. Although visiting during these months won’t allow you to completely leave the crowds behind, they are nowhere near as intense as in the height of the summer season.
The weather in May and September is also quite a bit more pleasant than in the summer tourist high season. Temperatures in both months are still pleasantly warm & mild without the humidity you’ll experience in the summer months. The possibility of rainfall is also quite a bit lower in May or September than between June and August.
Transportation in Czech Republic
By air: The main gateway into the Czech Republic is Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG). Several major airlines and low-cost carriers fly to PRG from international and European destinations including Czech Airlines, easyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair, and Smartwings.
By train: If you’re already in Central Europe, the Czech Republic has frequent & convenient train connections with its neighbours. Some of the most popular routes to/from Prague include Krakow (7h23m), Berlin (4h27m), Bratislava (4h11m), Budapest (6h56m), and Vienna (4h10m).
By train: As with most other destinations in Europe, the most comfortable way to travel around the Czech Republic is by train. Longer distance routes like Prague to Brno (2h29m) or Prague to Olomouc (2h28m) are particularly well-suited for train travel. For travel to and from smaller cities, train routes can, however, often be limited and slow.
By bus: Since the Czech rail system isn’t as extensive as other European countries, buses are often the quickest way to travel between smaller destinations. Popular routes include Prague to Karlovy Vary (1h50m), Prague to Cesky Krumlov (2h55m), and Prague to Ceske Budejovice (2h5m).