Old and New: Traveling the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a land of complementary contradictions. It is a young country, only 17 years old, and yet it is steeped in history. Its cities feature an array of modern buildings standing among classical structures, and though Czech is a landlocked nation, the prominence of the Vltava River throughout the country will give visitors a sense that wherever you might be, water is rarely far off.
The Czech Republic is technically one of the younger nations in Europe, having been officially established in 1993. However, the Czech or Bohemian state emerged as early as the 9th century. Sharing borders with Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria, today’s Czech Republic abounds in a variety of historical and cultural influences, especially in its capital, Prague.
A walkable city, Prague boasts some of Europe’s most exciting architecture and is a virtual full-scale, living museum dedicated to the juxtaposition of a variety of architectural styles. Historic structures like the Charles Bridge and Prague castle work to complement very modern buildings like Tancici Dum. One of the most recognizable attractions in Prague, the Astronomical Clock, rests on the Town Hall Tower in the center of the city. The five hundred year old clock is most engaging at the turn of the hour when two doors above the clock open to reveal a brief procession of the 12 Apostles, accompanied by a ringing of bells. Though each hour generally draws an audience, the clock is high enough overhead that any vantage should grant a direct view.
Continuing through the city center, the Charles Bridge is the main thoroughfare leading up to Prague Castle. The bridge offers fantastic photo ops of the city from above the Vltava River. Your best bet is a scenic sunrise or sunset shot, and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or an afternoon beer while the path to the castle gets bit more crowded.
After taking a leisurely trek across the famed Czech bridge, you’ll meander along a cobblestone path to Prague Castle. The 9th century Castle offers outstanding views of the city, as well as another intriguing display of various types of architecture all in one building. Early visits will also grant a viewing of the changing of the castle’s guard.
Finally, if the bustle of the city has you after a change of pace, seek out one of Prague’s many public gardens. The Golden City features a myriad of relaxing spots to rest and enjoy the scenery. One of the best central escapes is Letná Gardens. Letná offers another tremendous panoramic view of the city, and even has an outdoor beer garden to enjoy in the summer months.
Once you’ve gotten a fair sampling of the Czech capital, continue south along the Vltava River and you’ll eventually come upon the historic city of Český Krumlov. With roots as far back as the 13th century, Český Krumlov is another architectural treasure and the small city retains an old-world feel through its ornate Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic style buildings. Included in VBT’s Czech Vacation, a guided tour of Krumlov Chateau is a must when visiting the scenic gem of the Southern Czech Republic. The Vltava River also offers a number of exciting and engaging activities like kayaking and canoeing. After seeing the sights of Český Krumlov, be sure to relax and enjoy the bohemian ambiance at one of the city’s inspired restaurants.
The Czech Republic has a number of natural wonders and an abundance of peaceful countryside, all best taken in by bicycle. Join VBT on one of our most popular Bike Tours in Europe: The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria. What’s your favorite spot in the Czech Republic, or where would you most like to visit?