Czech Republic

Czech Republic

For most visitors to the Czech Republic, all roads lead no farther than Prague—the country’s most westernized, cosmopolitan city, known for its wondrous charm and stunning beauty. Less than 10% of tourists to the Czech Republic explore the country outside of the capital.

But if you really wish to discover the richness of this immensely cultured nation, venture beyond Prague. The magnificent, undulating landscape consists of mountains, upland plains, forests and farmland. Thanks to the fact that the country was spared widespread destruction during World War II, many of its cities and towns are a visual feast of medieval, baroque and art-nouveau architecture and sculpture. Bohemian spa towns and sleepy Moravian wine villages have a historical integrity and welcoming atmosphere that give visitors the feeling of being immersed in an open-air museum. The country also boasts more than 100 castles—from craggy fortresses to more refined, aristocratic chateaus.

Venturing off the beaten path doesn’t mean leaving comfort and service behind. The number and quality of restaurants and hotels throughout the country is very good. And with the help of local tourist offices, the task of arranging accommodations or gathering information about local sites is easy to accomplish.

Geography

The Czech Republic is internally divided into two geographic and cultural areas called Bohemia, whose capital is Prague, and Moravia, whose capital is Brno.

Bordered by Poland, Germany and Austria, Bohemia lies to the west and is split by the province’s primary river, the Vltava. Bohemia is characterized by low, rolling hills and farmland, but on its foreign borders it is almost entirely surrounded by mountain ranges. The rolling hills and thick forests in southern Bohemia, dotted with fairy-tale castles, typify the bucolic charm visitors imagine when they think of the area, and natural hot springs have made western Bohemia an internationally known spa destination. Northern Bohemia’s mountains are studded by dramatic sandstone rock formations, canyons and caves.

Moravia, situated to the east, is bordered by Poland, Austria and Slovakia. Split by the Morava River, it is known for its highland areas and lower mountains. The fertile hillsides in southern Moravia are covered with orchards and the vineyards that have made this region synonymous with wine-making. The limestone caves of the area are spectacular.