Beginner’s guide to hiking in the Czech Republic
Caption: Pančavský waterfall in the Czech Republic’s stunning Krkonoše mountains
Most visitors to the Czech Republic want to book into a city-centre hostel in Prague and explore the country’s buzzing, historic capital. And hey, we’re on board with that. But don’t forget that this is one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, and its famously cheap hostels also make a great way of exploring picturesque rural areas. So as well as visiting Prague, head into the Czech Republic’s countryside for trails through famous vineyards and walks along snaking mountain paths. Whether you’re a novice or hardened hiker, you’ll discover some fantastic places and plenty of traditional taverns, where you can recharge your batteries with a plate piled high with hearty Czech cuisine.
From the city of Brno, it’s easy to get in a day hike in South Moravia. Famous for its many wineries and vineyards, the region has 1,200 kilometres of hiking and cycling paths, known as The Moravian Wine Trails. These trails wander through an area rich in history, passing by medieval castles, former monasteries, and amazing little spots for a refreshing glass of wine. The best bit is that you can dip in and out of each path to get the perfect trek for you, whether you’re a seasoned rambler, or a complete beginner.
Ohře River Valley
In the north-east corner of the Czech Republic, the Ohře River Valley stretches between the towns of Karlovy Vary and Loket. The path through the valley may only be eight kilometres long, but it manages to pack a lot in. Natural granite walls and large rock pillars line the route, but the highlight is the famous set of Svatoš Rocks. Legend has it that this formation of petrified stones was once a wedding procession, transformed to stone by a nymph. From the Svatoš Rocks, it’s easy to take in the 13th-century Loket Castle, once home to the Czech royal family. If castles and nymphs appeal, find yourself a room or dorm in the colourful, fairytale town of Karlovy Vary.
A hostel in Jindrichuv Hradec or Ceske Budejovice will get you up close and personal with the lake-heavy Třeboň region. With more lakes, wetlands and marshes than you’ll know what to do with, Třeboň is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. It’s laden with all the flora and fauna your geography books told you about. Renaissance towns and medieval strongholds across the landscape add to the magic you’ll lap up when you stay.
The Krkonoše mountains
Hit the slopes summer and winter from Rokytnice nad Jizerou or Jablonec nad Nisounear the Krkonoše mountain range, right on the Polish border. The Czech Republic’s highest peak, Mount Sněžka, is sitting there waiting for you. Walking trails wind around the base of the mountain, and a chairlift takes you all the way to the summit. Popular with hikers, the small town of Pec pod Sněžkou, at the base of the mountain, turns into a popular ski resort over winter.