Czech Republic Tours
Custom Czech Republic Tours
The vibrant Czech Republic brings history to life; its architectural wonderland complimented by the endearing enthusiasm and irrepressible cultural tradition. Nestled between the classic castles and stylized chateaus, you'll find eponymous Bohemia, an ode to the country's commitment to inimitability. And while Prague grabs the attention, it's merely a metaphor for the country’s omnipresent enchantment.
Church of our lady in the Czech Republic.
Churches crafted from ancient bones; golden beer in the land of Bohemia; cobbled bridges leading to remote spa towns...the Czech Republic is full of mystery, taking you on a journey that goes beyond the postcards. Many people do not make it past Prague, an alluring and atmospheric capital of culture, worthy of its status as one of Europe’s ultimate city destinations. Travel a little further, and you will find Prague is merely the famous centerpiece of a country that can keep you captivated for weeks.
It is not easy to leave Prague. Even after four days there, is something more to find. At first, it’s castles and churches, river journeys and roving down the narrow lanes of the old city. Then come the craft breweries, foodie tours, a superb collection of museums and the local parts of the city. Straddling Western and Eastern Europe, Prague slots neatly into most itineraries. From here it is easy to travel onwards to the continent’s other great cities and destinations that include Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, and more.
Picturesque houses decorate Krumlov Crumlaw Vltava River.
If you stay in the country longer to explore further, you will find a grand chateau on rolling fields, picturesque towns doused in history, frescoed palaces, and architecture as surreal as it is sublime. This is a country brimming with attractions, a destination rich in culture and history. Stray away from Prague, and the decrease in tourist numbers can be striking, leading to authentic experiences when you spend the night in lesser-known destinations. This is the land of Bohemia after all, unconventional and artistic, and proud to be different.
Prague is far from the only place with magnificent cathedrals, famous breweries, and riverside charm, however, it is an unmissable destination. With the country’s relatively compact size and modern transport connections, the capital is also a jumping off point for more detailed discovery. A church of bones and a silver mine in the medieval town of Kutna Hora; spa indulgence in the hills at Karlovy Vary; the Renaissance beauty of Krumlov; Plzen, the home of Pilsner style beer; then out into the countryside to find castles atop karst landscapes, serene Bohemian countryside and forests that rise towards ski hills.
This impressive array of destinations is complemented by the warming Czech atmosphere. Summer evenings are long and balmy, usually augmented by heavy beer glasses stacking up on an outdoor terrace. Cold winter evenings are made warm by taverns and restaurants, where even modern establishments can feel old-world and medieval. Wherever you go, there’s the sense of a country on a fast upward spiral, the zest, and vitality a contrast to the old Czech stereotypes. While the cities and landscapes point to past glories, the Czech Republic is forging its own path into the future. Now is the time to take advantage of its offer.
Prague provides endless opportunity for exploration in the Czech Republic.
Ramshackle streets are dotted with antique stores and faded facades. Cathedrals and castles drape above the curves of the Vltava River. Journeys are always part of the experience in Prague, whether it’s cruising on the water or traveling through the mazy web of Staré Mesto, the Old Town. While the towers and turrets of postcard attractions dominate the cityscape, down at street level, there’s something captivating at every turn. Fashion boutiques inside the old Jewish quarter, wrought-iron lanterns illuminating a web of passageways, snippets of history carved into doorways and shop windows.
This is a city that encourages the explorer in everyone and not just when in the Old Town. Venture onwards to Nové Mesto (New Town) to discover the juxtaposition of old and new Prague, part decaying Communist capital, part modern Bohemian metropolis. Take a stroll over Charles Bridge and keep walking, to neighborhoods like Malá Strana (Little Quarter) and the superlative inducing St Vitus Cathedral. River cruises are a serene way to sightsee, especially in the evening, as well as transport to islands and unusual industrial suburbs. Everywhere you go in Prague there’s a story to tell, and regardless of how long you stay, there’s unlikely to be a moment without something new to admire.
Charles bridge in old town Prague.
The rolling countryside sets the scene for a journey into Bohemia, a region that incorporates Prague and the entire west of the country. As the etymology of Bohemia suggests, this picturesque land likes to do things a little differently. It’s here that Pilsner was born, in the town of Plzen to be precise, where the brewery stands amid photogenic industrial buildings. In Kutná Hora, they built a church from human bones, tens of thousands of femurs and skulls used as support beams and altar. Farmland gives way to thick forests when you travel further west, Karlovy Vary just one of the iconic spa towns (Mariánské Lázne and Frantiskovy Lazne are others).
Experiences are close together when you journey through Bohemia: a hike to the ruined towers of Trosky Castle; the superb village castle of Karlstejn; a day wandering Renaissance architecture in Litomysl. Old stories must be narrated by local guides because there is a contradiction in the tales, like in Terezín, a baroque fortress turned WWII concentration camp. It can seem like every town on the map has a cute old square and an abundance of medieval decadence to accompany the communist-era exterior. The question is not whether you should go, but how much time you have to discover the sights and secrets of a region that dates back to before the Romans and Celts.
Movaria Sosuvska cave is a great activity for those visiting Movaria.
Throughout history, Movaria has been known as the poorer relation to neighboring Bohemia, certainly without the pomp and elegance found in Prague or Crumlaw. Even today this is off the beaten track Czech Republic, a land that’s remembered more for its atmosphere than any specific sights. It’s a great region to visit in summer when energy sweeps through the land and the towns come alive with a festive exuberance. Tourists will begin swarming around Prague and Bohemia throughout July and August, but Movaria remains somewhat forgotten.
Stately boulevards and a grand cathedrals mark the center of Brno, the Czech Republic’s second largest city. It may be a little rough around the edges in comparison to Prague, but the warm local welcome and excellent mix of museums make it one of the country’s understated highlights. Travel a little further to Olomouc, and you uncover one of Europe’s real hidden gems. More than a millennium of history has been preserved in the enormous old town, most of it enlivened by a large student population.
A copper distillery in the Czech Republic.
Nothing in the Czech Republic is more iconic than a heavy glass of beer in a small tavern. Beer lovers have a lot to thank the Czechs for. Pilsner originates here – first brewed in the 19th century – as does the original Budweiser. Plzen and Ceské Budejovice are home to the two most famous breweries, making unmissable day trips for any visitors. Look a little further, and there’s a new school of beer, small breweries experimenting and opening their doors to anyone who wants a drink.
Prague and Brno have become hotbeds for new Czech styles. You could call them craft breweries, but then you would have to say that Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser were craft breweries in the 19th century. The Czech Republic loves its own beer. Experimentation has always been encouraged, and the results have intoxicated most visitors to the country. Not just through the alcohol, but through the local dedicated to quality. While the country went a little quiet as a socialist state, its slumbering decadence has been revived over the last two decades. This was the land of medieval excess, the land of Bohemia no less. Now it’s letting the good times roll once more.
UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kuntá Hora.
World Heritage Kuntá Hora symbolizes the artistic originality of Bohemia. The bones of 40,000 people make up Sedlec Ossuary; skulls gaze down from the ceiling, a coat of arms is constructed from femurs and the chandeliers are human in origin. After plague and war, the bones stood in mass pyramids for over 300 years, until artist Frantisek Rint weaved his eery creation. A 600-year-old labyrinthine silver mine runs under the city, explored on tours that are not suited for those who are claustrophobic. Vibrant frescoes and outrageous stained-glass windows immediately impress at Santa Barbara Cathedral, a sublime structure that gave rise to the Gothic Bohemian style.
The Renaissance architecture is prominent in Crumlaw.
Castle turrets are your compass points in Crumlaw, a small town packed full of baroque and Renaissance architecture. Pastel-colored townhouses stand above broad pedestrian lanes, 750 years of jumbled architecture, which can be explored on two feet. Rose-tinted churches lure you inwards while the town’s red roofs slope down towards Vltava River curves. Crumlaw is indelibly cute and charming for 20 hours of the day, just not when the Prague tour buses deposit throngs of day-trippers into the World Heritage center. You could explore on a visit from Prague, but it’s far more relaxed and authentic to spend the evening, relaxing on the old town square after almost everyone else has left.
Outdoor Adventures in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has many scenic places such as the Vltava River Maj lookout.
Czech landscapes roll past from the train or car window for most visitors. With all the history, and old towns the wilder side of the country is mostly forgotten. Which is all the better for those who like the outdoors. Alpine foothills rise to the south, blanketed in thick forests, and hiking trails. Stunning limestone karst dot Movaria easily visited on walks from the towns. Castles rise above rolling farmland, which is beautifully lush in spring. You can hike, bike, raft down the Vltava River, and spend many days getting lost in the forests. When your legs are tired there are a number of spa towns for some re-energizing bliss.
The Different Sides to Prague
Prague's astronomical clock is a great attraction for visitors.
It’s easy to visit Prague and tick off the postcards. Prague Castle with its palaces and St. Vitus Cathedral; the 14th-century Charles Bridge; a walk around the Old Town to Tyn Church and the astronomical clock; then the Jewish quarter and a cruise on the river. In two days you can cram in a lot of sights. Prague was founded in the 9th century and has been one of Europe’s great cities throughout its entire history. There are stories to uncover and secrets to find. Jazz music bars, island beaches, local markets, boutique art galleries and that’s before you even reach the new part of Prague, where Frank Gehry’s Dancing House is as striking as anything else in the city. The Czech can be a tick-list of sights, but it really is too unique, and diverse for that.
Castles and Chateaux
Trosky castle, Czech Republic.
A country in the heart of Europe was always going to see its fair share of battles. Castles cover the Czech landscape and are remnants of many different times and empires. Prague has the largest and most famous castles and is a great example of how the castles came to incorporate protective, religious and royal functions. Beyond the capital, lies Karlstejn Castle, Jaromerice Castle, the Renaissance castle of Litomysl and several others. Several castles are in ruins, others have been restored, certain castles seem to never have been damaged, and some have been converted to boutique hotels.
The Czech Republic is a great destination to visit any time of the year.
The Czech Republic is understandably popular and has evolved into Central Europe’s most popular destination. July and August are considered the busy season to visit. The weather is great at this time of year, but be mindful of the crowds. Consider staying overnight in popular day-trip destinations and incorporate some of the lesser known Bohemia and Movaria highlights.
April through June, and September through October are the best times to go. The weather is pleasant and the days are more than long enough. Landscapes come alive with blossoming flowers or fall foliage. The thick surge of summer visitors is yet to start or has already died down. During these months, you can explore everywhere in the Czech Republic, and really get to know the country. Easter is an interesting time as somewhat archaic local customs are followed, especially in Movaria.
Colorful hotels line the streets of Bohemia.
Bohemia has always put on a show for visitors. Old cities have always been proud of their grandeur and used to go out of their way to impress foreigners. After the decades of communism, this hospitality has been revived in the 21st century, creating a wonderful array of choice in the high-end market. Chateaux converted to decadent hotels; glamorous townhouses with spacious rooms overlooking narrow cobbled streets; historic buildings transformed with contemporary flair.
In most of the destinations, you can sleep amid the history, cathedral bells chiming in the distance, and cobblestone lanes extending from the front door. There are more unusual options as well, such as a houseboat on the Vltava River or a wooden chalet in the remote forest. For families, the most important consideration should be location. Large parts of old cities can only be accessed on foot; the more central you are, the less distance you have to cover in a day. Modern improvements mean that many of the top hotels now have inter-connecting rooms for family use.
The Czech Republic is a member of the Schengen Area.
The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area travel region. U.S. and Canadian citizens are given a visa-free 90-day stay upon arrival at any of the international airports or land borders. Technically you must register with the foreign police within three days of arriving, but this is taken care of by your tour guide or hotel.
The country’s central location means there are so many ways to turn. A key consideration before you go is how the Czech Republic will fit into your European vacation. Even with three weeks, there’s enough to keep you entertained just in Czech. Only with a week in Europe, the country may be combined with one or two others. There’s Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Austria to the south (Vienna is very close), then the whole of Eastern Europe beckoning as well. With its superb transport connections (mainly by air and rail through Prague), the Czech Republic is easy to incorporate into any European itinerary.
Prague and the Czech Republic is safe from most crime.
Tourists rarely run into problems in the Czech Republic. The country is as safe as any in Europe. For a city of its size and the number of visitors it receives, Prague is remarkably free of crime. Health facilities are generally of a good standard across Bohemia, just make sure you are properly insured and have copies of your policy in case of an emergency. In rural Movaria, and Bohemia, it is advised to take a guide with you to any hospital or clinic, as it’s unlikely that staff will speak English. Pharmacies may dispense certain medications over the counter, but you should still bring everything you may need with you. Tap water is classified, as safe to drink, but it is wise to exercise some caution in highly industrial areas.
Statues line Charles bridge in Prague.
It is easy to feel welcome in the Czech Republic. But there are two kinds of welcome. As tourism has grown, you will find whole streets overtaken by tourists and overpriced restaurants. These typically lead from the front door of a castle to the nearest bus stop, or along the most common route between major attractions. With their fridge magnets, silly t-shirts, and inflated beer prices, these places provide a less than genuine welcome to the country.
You only have to walk to the next street for a more authentic experience. That is magnified when you travel to destinations that are not so common on the tourist trail. The Czech greeting always starts slow and reserved; public shows of affection are not common, nor is smiling excessively in public, but you should not mistake this for a sour mood. Establishments may not seem warmly welcome at first, but again, they are. For example, some of the small taverns can look claustrophobic and intimidating, yet they are anything but and will be quick to welcome you inside. In a country that drinks more beer per capita than anywhere else on the planet, you should not expect anything to be too reserved.
The gorgeous castles are a great reason to visit the Czech Republic.
The Czechs are more complex than the stereotype of bearded beer guzzlers. As befitting a country of such grandeur, and history, there’s much to discover beyond the stereotypes. It’s certainly worth learning a handful of Czech words. While you can easily get by with English in all the places visited by tourists, a dobry den (good day) or dekuji (thank you) goes a long way.
Visa and Mastercard ATMs are found almost everywhere, and it’s rare to encounter challenges withdrawing Czech Koruna. Euros are accepted in some places, but should not be relied upon, and the exchange rate will be poor. Both dollars and euros are exchangeable at forex offices in towns and cities; the hotel or your guide can advise the best place. Tipping is now considered commonplace, and 10% is usual in most restaurants and bars. In tourist places, it is usually added to the bill.
You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who declares Czech food to be a highlight, especially in comparison to the rest of Europe. Goulash and dumping are favorite staples to try, along with traditional roast pork and apple strudel. It is not healthy, but it is very filling, and you need energy for long days exploring on foot. The highlight, of course, is the beer. There are dozens to try, from the famous to the up and coming. You will quickly recognize similarities with major international beer brands, and then come to realize why the original is always the best.
Traveling with Zicasso means a custom tour can be crafted with your interests in mind.
The majority of Czech Republic itineraries follow a typical pattern. With three days, you visit Prague, perhaps including a day trip. With a week you also explore Bohemia. If there is more time, itineraries typically go out to rural Movaria as well. But it does not need to be that way. In a country with such abundance of attractions and experiences, there is no need to follow a standard route. Even in a city like Prague, there are so many ways to explore in a way that suits you.
Zicasso tours are handcrafted to your interests and wishes. We connect you to two or three travel operators who specialize in Czech Republic vacations. They use their local knowledge to craft an itinerary just for you, with recommendations and experiences that will make your vacation.