There are many great Czech cities to visit. This beautiful country may be small, but it has a lot more to offer than it’s amazing capital city of Prague. Plus, because it’s so small, you can get to all of these places hassle-free. Rent a car or get a super affordable bus ticket and explore the Czech Republic.
1. Český Krumlov: Czech Cities to Visit
Český Krumlov is one of my favorite cities in the Czech Republic. Despite having lived in this wonderful country for 20 years, I have only visited once! Shame on me, but I hope to get a chance to make up for this by spending lots of time here. I am not the only one in love with the city. Its historic center, revolving around the Český Krumlov Castle, has been was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
It is a small city with a population of only 13,000 people as of 2019. It is an old city, first mentioned in 1254, and there are many historic structures to see when you visit. There is a lot to do here – visit the castle, have a cold draft beer overlooking the view below, drink brown absinthe and raft on the river! Fun fact: China has modeled a university campus based on Český Krumlov.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. This isn’t saying much because there are only 10.69 million living in the entire country. Founded in 1000, Brno is a historic city with a lot of great architecture – this is not unique to any Czech city, however this one is one of the oldest. The 10 CZK coin (worth about $0.50) has the Brno castle depicted on it.
Fun fact: Brno is the birthplace of Gregor Mendel, who discovered the fundamental laws of inheritance with his work on peas and bees. One of my middle school field trips was coming here from Prague for a few hours to learn about this fascinating scientist.
“The Brno basin has been inhabited since prehistoric times, but the town’s direct predecessor was a fortified settlement of the Great Moravian Empire known as Staré Zámky, which was inhabited from the Neolithic Age until the early 11th century.”Wikipedia
3. Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary is one of those beautiful places that locals like me just don’t appreciate. Growing up, I visited this place dozens of times. Why? Because of its spas and mineral water that is supposed to have all the health benefits. I am originally Ukrainian and have some Russian relatives. Karlovy Vary is known to draw an Eastern European crowd, so the city is geared towards Russian speakers. Every waiter speaks Russian, menus are available in Cyrillic and they serve Chicken Kiev in most restaurants.
There are many reasons to visit this city – you can read about it in detail here. Its numerous thermal springs have made it a popular resort since the 19th century. The riverside spa district is home to several colonnades with columned walkways. The modern Hot Spring Colonnade houses the Pramen Vřídlo geyser, which spouts up to 12 meters high. Many celebrities have been known to come here as well. Plus, it is known for its annual Film Festival.
4. Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is a really fun town to visit and it’s easily done as a day trip. I have gone there by train, bus and car from Prague and spent the day exploring. It is a really tiny town with one of the world’s most morbid buildings ever. But I’ll get to that in a little bit…
The town began in 1142 with the settlement of Sedlec Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260, German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property.
It is also home to what local expats call the Bone Church. Sedlec Ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people whose bones have, in many cases, been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel. The ossuary is among the most visited tourist attractions of the Czech Republic – attracting over 200,000 visitors annually. You can read more about it here.
Telč is well known for its town square, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the local legend, the town was founded in 1099, however the first recorded mention is from 1315. The town was founded in the 13th century as a royal water fort on the crossroads of busy merchant routes between Bohemia, Moravia and Austria. The Gothic castle was built in the second half of the 14th century.
The population of this tiny town is just 5,000! However, there is plenty to do, see and experience. Plus the town square is beautiful with unique colorful buildings. It is a little harder to get here from Prague so make sure to plan well and have backups in case you miss a train – like I did.
6. Liberec: Czech Cities to Visit
“Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the “Manchester of Bohemia”. For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the city’s dominant Ještěd Tower. Since the end of the 19th century, the city has been a conurbation with the suburb of Vratislavice and the neighboring town of Jablonec nad Nisou. Therefore, the total area with suburbs encompasses 150,000 inhabitants. Liberec itself has about 105,000 inhabitants. That makes Liberec the third-largest city in Bohemia after Prague and Plzeň.”Wikipedia
Ještěd Tower is a fascinating structure and it is one of the strangest hotels in the world. The history of the building as it stands now on the peak began in the year 1966 – three years after the first hotel on Ještěd had burnt down. The architectural tender originally required the construction of two buildings, “a television tower with a restaurant and a small hotel.”
Plzeň (Pilsen) is a city in western Czech Republic. It’s known for the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, specializing in bottom-fermented beer since 1842, with brewing cellars and a bottling plant. It has a population of 150,000 which makes it one of the biggest cities in the Czech Republic. The city if first mentioned in 976 and draws crowds of tourists who come for the history and the beer.
8. Ostrava, Czech Republic
Ostrava is a city in the north-east of the Czech Republic, and the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region. It is 15 km from the border with Poland, at the meeting point of four rivers: the Odra, Opava, Ostravice and Lučina. Ostrava has a little of everything and is known as “the steel heart of the Czech Republic.” You can read more about what to do in Ostrava here.
9. České Budějovice
České Budějovice is the capital city of South Bohemia in the southern Czech Republic. It is internationally famous for its beer, known in other countries as Budweiser, after the German name of the city: Budweis. The city also played a role in one of the greatest works of Czech literature: The Good Soldier Švejk (in the original: Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka za světové války).
Last (on this list) but not least, Karlštejn is one of the most popular Czech cities to visit, especially on a day trip from Prague. Many people will bike here or take the train and enjoy the day exploring this tiny gem. Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded in 1348 by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures.
Summary: Czech Cities to Visit
The Czech Republic is a small country with so much to offer. Many tourists only get to see Prague, the capital city. While Prague is probably the coolest city in the world (no, I’m not biased, shush), other cities in the country are worth a visit as well. These 10 cities are just the tip of the ice-burg of the wonders of the Czech Republic. Check out this list of all the cities – each with unique charm and things to see and do.
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