Famous for its castles, the Czech Republic has blossomed to become one of Europe’s up-and-coming tourist destinations. Although a smaller country, it has left a long-lasting impression on the travelers who visit its borders.
Not always stable, as the land has long been fought over by early tribes, large armies, and powerful monarchies, the country’s long history has left the land with many historic sites. A fairytale land that will make you feel transported to the past, the Czech Republic is a stunning country worth visiting.
Vítejte – Welcome to the Czech Republic!
The Czech Republic has become rather well-known for its various castles, all of which are constructed in various architectural styles to reflect the time period and the invaders. With plenty of fortresses to explore, almost every town has its own castle. And while some are in ruins, others have been preserved or restored to their former glory.
Welcoming almost 8 million tourists annually, Prague, the nation’s capital, is the most visited city in the Czech Republic. What has made it so popular is that it’s the perfect city to explore and is often called an Urban Playground.
With a landscape that rivals Paris in terms of beauty, Prague is a place where you can hop in with the tourist crowds to travel out to the quiet streets to explore local cafes. With a magnificent palace and plenty of galleries, it is also the place to go to see Czech culture at its prime.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
Czech Republic History
While the Czech Republic is in Europe, its central location between Germany, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia means that it has always been an important area in human history. Groups of people like the Celt and Slavs have all had control over the Czech Republic in ancient times. Meanwhile, the Moravian and Roman Empires took control by the 1300s.
More modern rulers that invaded the Czech Republic include the Habsburgs, who were Bohemian royalty and a powerful monarchy, as well as Hitler and Stalin. Between all of these rulers, the Czech Republic had had short stretches of time when they were free before being invaded again. It wasn’t until the Velvet Revolution.
The Velvet Revolution saw, what was once Czechoslovakia, turned into two independent nations, with each holding its own independence. With the Czech Republic and Slovakia finally separated, each country become more stable.
Now, the Czech Republic is considered a leader in Europe, joining NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004.
With so many influences from other European nations, the Czech Republic has come to develop its own unique culture and identity. Many customs and traditions are still celebrated from the past centuries. However, most people will know Czech culture as Bohemian.
Bohemian culture now is often aligned with hippies, however, it’s not quite the same. Bohemian culture is known for being nomadic and people in the Czech Republic are still very tied to pursuing art, literary, and spiritual interests.
Another big part of the culture and identity of the Czech Republic is the Czech language. Czech is the official language that is spoken throughout the country, and about 96% of the 10.7 million population (as of 2021) use it as their main language.
While there are not any other official languages, the ones you will commonly hear include German, Polish, Slovak, and Romany. English is also spoken in the Czech Republic, though it seems to be divided by age and location.
Older Czech citizens are unlikely to speak any, however, younger generations may be able to hold a conversation. You are also more likely to find English-speaking Czech locals in big urban areas like Prague.
Unlike many European countries that are often expensive to visit, the Czech Republic is more affordable than most, even with its central location within the continent. With that being said, the most expensive area, by far, is Prague.
While you won’t need to shell out a fortune, you will need to make a plan to maintain your spending to a minimum. The most important parts of your budget that you can plan for and outline include your airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation.
One of the parts of your budget, that can be harder to save money on, is your flight. On average, the cost of a ticket to the Czech Republic from the US is around one thousand dollars, but there are certain times or deals that can lower the price. However, a big factor that determines the price of your ticket is the time of the year that you visit.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit the Czech Republic, which makes the months of March, April, and May more expensive. In the fall, expensive prices will begin in September and go until November.
The absolute highest tourist peak and most expensive months are June, July, and August. These are the summer months when the temperatures are warm and the weather is clear.
These are also the dates when things tend to get booked quickly, so you will want to start looking at making accommodation arrangements shortly before or after you book your airline ticket. Like many other countries, the Czech Republic offers tourists plenty of accommodation options like hostels, hotels, and private rentals.
Hostels are very popular in the Czech Republic because they are very affordable. In smaller towns, a hostel dorm room may cost a few dollars per night, while in big cities like Prague, you should expect the price to rise. Some hostels may have private rooms, but most people who want to share a double room will turn to budget hotels.
Budget hotels are another great option that gives you a little more privacy and required less shared space between guests. Most budget hotels will be a moderate price, however, don’t expect this to include meals. Some hostels do have breakfast service for an additional fee.
Airbnb is another option if you want to secure a private rental for your time in the Czech Republic. Travelers should be aware that the vast majority of Airbnb listings are only located in Prague. Other listings may be available for other large cities, but you should expect fewer options.
Czech Republic Food
While some people want Airbnb to be able to cook their own food, it’s a safe assumption that you need to still budget food and drink for the duration of your trip. One way of exploring the local culture is by trying their cuisine. Czech cuisine is very traditional and centered around hearty meals consisting of meat and vegetables.
One popular dish in the Czech Republic is a marinated sirloin steak, which the locals call svíčková na smetane. This dish is served with a side of carrots, cranberries, and whipped cream. Another favorite meat is vepro knedlo zelo, which is roasted pork with dumplings and cabbage.
A minced combination of beef and pork is another dish, which is called sekaná pečene. Goulash or guláš in Czech is another staple dish, which is more often found during the winter months. Soups also take the spotlight in the colder months, and Czech cuisine packs them full of delicious meats and fresh vegetables.
While the meals are not very fancy, they are still packed with flavor. You can buy an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant for a few dollars, though most travelers will choose to go dine at a mid-range establishment. Mid-range restaurants will be fairly priced, while nicer establishments can be very expensive, especially in big cities like Prague.
Besides dining options, you’ll need to also consider how often you would like to drink as that can drastically affect your budget.
While some options may be cheaper, such as beer, cocktails can be more costly. Alcohol is not overly expensive though, so don’t expect to pay too much for a drink. Local products will also be a better choice to avoid paying for imported items.
How to Get Around
While Prague is the most visited place in the Czech Republic, that doesn’t mean that travelers aren’t interested in traveling around the country. The final part of your budget will be the cost of transportation if you choose to adventure throughout more of the Czech Republic. The most popular ways to get around include trains, buses, and local transportation.
While trains and buses are functional and reliable in the Czech Republic, they aren’t always the most modern in terms of the vehicles and cars used to transport passengers. Trains and buses are easy to use and affordable. Longer rides in local areas are very cheap for a one-way ticket. Shorter rides are even less and there are options to purchase an unlimited pass that’s valid for 23 hours.
However, if you are traveling between cities, you should expect to pay more. Still, most train tickets between cities will be fairly cheap. You can also save money by buying your train ticket in advance online.
Buses are another transportation option in the Czech Republic, and like trains, their local fares will often cost minimal for a single ride. Longer bus rides are still affordable, and there are bus routes where trains may not go.
Buses also give you the option of traveling across borders. Traveling from Prague to both Vienna or Berlin by bus is very affordable.
Top Cities to Visit
When most people think of cities in the Czech Republic, their mind immediately goes to Prague. While Prague is more than worthy of a visit, there are other cities to visit too. Boasting gorgeous architecture, you should try to visit as many areas as possible during your vacation. Here are the top cities to explore in the Czech Republic.
Prague is by far the most visited place in the Czech Republic, and once you touchdown in the city, it’s easy to see why. The magical appearance of the streets and buildings almost puts you in a trance with its beauty. You can explore Prague Castle and Charles Bridge to get a taste of the city and the country’s culture.
The Old Town Square is another hotspot, which has always been the center of historical events in the country. Today, its still booming in popularity and has become a mega tourist area. Appearance isn’t everything, and stepping off the streets and into cafes or restaurants is another great way to explore Prague.
With cobblestone streets and 18th-century buildings, Cesky Krumlov brings Czech history to life. The timeless appeal of this little town makes it very popular with visitors.
Absolutely bursting with color, the Karlovy Vary has its own hot spring, which is said to contain special healing powers. The town has now become somewhat of a spa resort after nobles in the 13th century began to take vacations to the area.
The rich architecture reflects the taste of the nobles, though most have been rebuilt and few original locations remain due to numerous natural disasters. Yet, people chose to build again, and this is still a hotspot even after so many centuries have passed.
Kutna Hora is a place in the Czech Republic that has had a strong influence from Germany, which is reflected in its Gothic architecture. The town was originally centered around the monastery; however, a boom in silver in the 12th century helped the area grow and develop.
Now, some of the most visited places include the Cathedral and Ossuary, which are filled with human bones.
Plzen has made itself famous because it is where the Pilsner beer was invented. While the name is not spelled the same, the beer is named after the town, which is known for its impressive architecture, cathedral, synagogue, and town hall. With the original Pilsner Urquell Brewery still standing, many people come to visit Plzen.
Points of Interest
Nestled throughout the country’s cities and towns are points of interest that eagerly await tourists. Home to world heritage sites, stunning castles, and the literal remains of those who have died in the past, there are plenty of destinations to explore.
Here are the Czech Republic’s most visited and must-see tourist hotspots.
Once the home of Charles IV, who was a Holy Roman Emperor, Castle Karlstejn is located just a little way outside of Prague. The castle has become a popular day trip for tourists from Prague because of its beauty.
With three terraced levels, the castle includes a storehouse, home, and exterior fortress. The three different towers housed different people, with the Big Tower reserved for God and a chapel.
While Paris is famous for its catacombs, the Czech Republic has a very different way of displaying the bones of those from past centuries who died from plague or war. The Sedlec Ossuary is filled with human bones, which have been arranged into chandeliers and bells or even used as chalices.
Most of the bones are dated back to the 14th and 16th centuries, so no one has recently been put on permanent display. The Ossuary is open to the public, and many dark tourists find themselves attracted to Sedlec.
Recently made into a UNESCO Geopark, the Bohemian Paradise is an area in Eastern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, which is famous for its beauty. Inside the park, there are large rock formations that take the shape of pillars, which were formed thousands of years ago.
Visitors can now explore the region and access areas by bridges, trails, and paved roads. Also included in the area are a few castles and small towns.
With a huge remodel and renovation project having been recently completed, the Hluboká Castle is one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful sites. The castle’s mostly white exterior was modeled off of Windsor Castle, and the Gothic Tudor style is absolutely stunning.
Inside the castle, there is a collection of art, and outside, the gardens are a popular spot due to the hedge maze.
“Lands of the Bohemian Crown”
Although small in size, it’s well worth a visit to explore this Bohemian playground. With plenty to explore, The Czech Republic has mostly stayed true to its past. Instead of modern metropolises, you can explore past centuries by visiting any of the numerous Czech castles.
While tourism is still growing, you can experience the Czech Republic without the hordes of people and relax in the calm atmosphere of a Medieval town. A great destination while spending time in Europe, if you want to feel transported to a fairytale, this country is meant for you.
Visit the Czech Republic’s official tourism website.