Located in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic has thousands of years of culture to offer. Ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain, tourists from all over the world have been flocking here to visit its thousands of castles, imbibe its world-class beer, walk its cobbled streets, and wander through its fairy tale glades and villages.
Many visitors spend most of their time in the capital city of Prague. With its unique historical sights and round-the-clock entertainment, it's easy to see why. However, a tour of the Czech Republic can take you to places far off the main tourist trail. Go beyond the cities to visit picturesque villages seemingly lost in time nestled in the unspoiled countryside to experience another side of Czech life.
Once you’re done, you’ll understand why nearly 30 million tourists flock to the Czech Republic yearly. Many of them return time and time again. As Czech author Franz Kafka wrote of his hometown, “Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.”
While wandering the old Jewish Quarter of Prague and the castles of Bohemia you’ll feel transported to another time. The Czechs are proud of their country’s storied history, and rightly so. For generations, the people of this land have left their own unique impression that can still be experienced today. Be it the (creepy) human-bone adorned cathedral Kutná Hora or the Soviet era architecture surrounding Prague, you’ll see how different eras of Czech history all left an indelible stamp on the country.
Sure, Prague has its big-city attractions, but if you spend all your time there, you’ll miss out on the pleasures that small Czech towns have to offer. From the monumental flower gardens of Kroměříž to the Renaissance homes of Český Krumlov and Litomyšl, this is what Czech living is all about. This may seem like the stuff of fairy tales and legends, but you can visit it yourself and meet the people who call these charming villages home when you take a tour of small-town Czech Republic.
With well-maintained country roads and trails and terrain of all kinds, a bike seat is one of the best places to experience the Czech Republic. You’ll peddle to big cities and pastoral villages, stopping for breaks at medieval castles and microbreweries before continuing on past lakes and farms and through primeval forests. End the day with a well-deserved pint (or two) of beer and klobása at your lodge.
Sure, Belgium and Germany are common destinations for beer lovers, though it’s a shame that the Czech Republic is often overlooked. This is a country that knows and loves its pivo (beer). In fact, the Czechs consume the most beer per capita in the world, so you know they understand a good brew. Brewery tours will take you to hip new operations in the cities and cozy little brewpubs out in the country. You can even take a soak in a tub of pilsner in Pilsen. Na zdraví!
Planning Your Trip
Best Time to Visit the Czech Republic
The summer months are a fine time to visit the Czech Republic if you want to take advantage of the long days and warm weather. However, it is also high tourist season, so you’ll have to contend with larger crowds and higher prices.
Winters are dark and dreary, but you’ll likely have major attractions all to yourself. You can also take advantage of lower winter rates, but be aware that many sites and hotels are closed during the winter low-season. This is also a great time to visit the Christmas markets, but those do come with increased rates and busier attractions.
The spring and fall shoulder seasons offer the best of all worlds. The summer crowds are pleasantly absent but the weather is comfortable enough to take part in outdoor activities. With spring wildflowers and fall foliage, these are beautiful times to be in the Czech Republic.
What to Look for in a Tour to the Czech Republic
Being a relatively small country, many Czech Republic tours will also take you to neighboring countries. You should decide if you’d like to focus on just the Czech Republic, its geography, culture, and landscapes, or make it part of a larger multi-country experience.
Be sure that the tour you choose is upfront about what is included and what isn’t in the overall price. You’ll also want to consider the size of your tour group. Smaller groups will allow more intimate access to sites but often come at a higher price point than the larger group tours.
Typical Tour Cost
The cost of your tour will vary depending on its length, activities, size, and level of comfort. You can expect to pay between $150-$350 per day. This usually includes accommodations, ground transportation, attraction fees, and several meals a day, though you should make sure to double check what's included in the price before committing to a tour provider.
Packing Tips and Gear Rental
Urban Czechs tend to dress smart casual, but they’re used to tourists from all over, so your regular outfits from home should be just fine. Just dress modestly if you’ll be visiting any religious sites. Remember that cobblestone streets can be killer for your feet after a long day of touring, so comfortable walking shoes will serve you well. You’ll also want to pack an umbrella or raincoat as there is a possibility of showers any time of the year.
Other Tips for Travel in the Czech Republic
In Prague and other large Czech cities, nightlife starts late. If you’re heading out for the evening, you’ll be unfashionably early if you arrive anytime before 10pm. The action usually continues well past 3am.
If you take a taxi, make sure that it is an official taxi with a company name and phone number prominently displayed on the outside. Ask the driver to use the meter or negotiate a reasonable price before the ride. If in doubt, have your hotel or restaurant call a cab for you.
Younger Czechs will likely know some English since it is taught in school. That said, don’t expect to be able to use English everywhere. Even if someone does speak English they’ll appreciate an ahoj (hello) and hezký den (have a good day). Studying the Czech alphabet and accent marks will at least allow you to recognize place names on signs. You’ll also impress the Czechs you meet as few foreign visitors make the effort.
Health & Safety
The level of medical care in the Czech Republic is very high. Hopefully, you’ll never see the inside of a hospital, but should you find yourself in one you can expect knowledgeable doctors and a reasonable bill.
While they might look straight out of a fairy tale, the forests and fields in this country are the home to disease-carrying ticks. If you head into these areas, it's recommended that you wear long pants, use bug repellent, and check your body for the tiny parasites afterward.
Violent crime is incredibly rare in the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, pickpockets are more common. Be very aware of your possessions when in crowded places and popular tourist sites. With Prague’s active nightlife, you should feel safe when out after dark, just practice the same common-sense precautions you would at home.