Reasons why the Czech Republic should be on your European travel bucket list.
After I booked my flight from Rome to the Czech Republic, I had no idea what to expect. I was meeting two friends there, one of whom was born and raised in a small town about 40km from Prague. We let him plan our whole week, and he did a fantastic job of introducing us to the culture and showing us some amazing places that most tourists probably don’t get to see.
After an unforgettable week driving around the countryside, hiking near the German border and exploring Prague, I have become fascinated with the Czech Republic and all it has to offer. So for anyone hunting down new travel destinations in Europe, here are six reasons to visit this small but spectacular Central European country.
1. Interesting Architecture
Of all Europe’s capital cities, Prague may have some of the most impressive architecture. The famous Old Town Square reminds me of a gothic Disneyland, where the magnificent buildings have the captivating fantasy element of a fairy tale land. All the surrounding streets in the Old Town amaze visitors with their pastel colors and intricate decorations. Even in villages outside the capital, I still found gorgeous castles and churches scattered amongst the adorable little villages.
2. Delicious Food
Food in the Czech Republic tends to fit the category of “comfort food”. From the sweet doughy cylinders called Trdelníks, to the hearty meat goulash and dumplings, to the delicious breads and cheeses, the food here is heavy and heartwarming. Soft serve ice cream is also very popular, and we got to try a homemade dessert of sweet dumplings in strawberry sauce. For healthier food, we hit the supermarkets for super cheap produce. There are also lots of wonderful fruit trees in the country; we spent an afternoon eating fresh cherries right off the tree until we were on the verge of exploding.
3. Cheap Drinks
Czechs tend to wash down their food with beer, since it’s usually cheaper than water. As someone who really does not like beer, some of the beer in the Czech Republic I actually enjoyed. We also tried Czech rum, a pear based alcohol served in a shot glass with a piece of pear, and a strong homemade spirit that tasted like cherries. In addition to alcoholic beverages, some other great Czech drinks include Kofola, a soda similar to Coca Cola but less sugary, and neon pink raspberry soda.
4. Vast Sense Of History
Located right in the center of Europe, this country has been caught at the crossroads of many historical events. Monuments and memorials highlighting the effect of both World Wars and the Communist Era on Czechoslovakia and eventually the Czech Republic exist all over the country. We spent an afternoon in Terezín, seeing the heartbreaking remains of the famous concentration camp that housed many minorities during the Holocaust. Terezín was also a military fortress hundreds of years ago, and many small villages around the country are thousands of years old.
5. Endless Natural Beauty
After venturing away from the cities and towns, we found so many incredible natural sights just waiting to be explored. We drove to Panská rock, a volcanic rock formation composed of hexagonal basalt columns which dates back to millions of years ago. We also hiked through the forest to Pravčická Brána, a natural stone archway that sits near some fantastic lookout spots. One thing that remained consistent throughout our journey was the rich green landscape. Every challenging hike or random stop on the side of the road allowed us to view the beautiful, seemingly untouched grandeur of the Czech countryside.
6. Opportunties For Adventure
With all of the natural beauty in Czech Republic, the best way to experience the land is through adventure activities. The countryside is full of mountains, hills, cliffs, rivers, lakes, and wide open fields, all of which are perfect for biking, running, cliff jumping, boating, swimming, climbing and hiking. The summer weather is ideal for frolicking outside, but skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating are also available in winter. I tried via-ferrata for the first time in a town called Děčín, which is a type of rock climbing where you clip your harness onto the secured cables as you climb up cliffs. It was slightly terrifying but thrilling and actually so much fun.