Nothing in the Czech Republic is very big. The cities, doused in incredible history, are all pretty close together and not large, even by European standards. The nation that was formerly a region of Europe known as Bohemia (when a neighborhood around the world is described as Bohemian, the origins of this term come from the Czech Republic), has recently changed its official name to Czechia. Providing the gateway to Eastern Europe, although with all the perks of the EU, Czechia is an underrated part of Europe and definitely worth a few days on your Schengen Visa.
The Crown Jewel – Prague
Of course, every backpacker knows about Prague. It is a must stop for anyone working their way through northern Europe. There are hostel options a plenty and pretty much all of them will be party hostels where fellow travelers will tell stories about their homelands and where else they have been in Europe. The Charles Bridge, cathedral across the Vltava River, dancing houses, Jewish quarter, Prague Castle, the Old Town Square, and of course the astronomical clock are all amazing. You will need 3-4 days to see all of Prague. Oh, and the nightlife is fantastic with beers costing no more than $3 when I was last there.
Underrated – Karlovy Vary
An absolute gem in the western hills of the Czech Republic, and quite close to Germany. I was intrigued in researching this little town because of its amazing architecture and history as a Russian outpost for vacationers. I ended up spending three nights there; played golf, got a massage at a thermal bath house, hiked up the surrounding hills, and got drunk one night with local youths at the only brewery in town. I loved KV and would highly recommend it, unfortunately it does not have any hostels so it will cost you a $60+ hotel. Check out our full article on Karlovy Vary here.
Overrated – Brno
This was kind of a dud for me. I was excited, thinking that the second largest city in Czechia would be similar to its neighbor an hour away in Prague. I was disappointed. The city has a cool all black cathedral that was fun to see from the town hall museum. The castle on the hill seemed to be too expensive to explore so I passed. My hostel was cool and I got the typical Czech goulash at a restaurant. Overall, don’t bother with Brno.
Places I have not visited:
- České Budějovice
Pilsen is the birthplace of pilsner beer. I was supposed to go in 2016 but missed out. It looks like a pretty cool place and similar to all Czech cities there is a main square with a non distinct statue in muted, dark colors. It appears to be a colorful place although not very big. Honestly, it’s probably similar to Brno and Brasov in Romania, hopefully more like Brasov than Brno. České Budějovice looks very similar to Pilsen and Brno: a main square, probably cool Christmas markets, I’m gonna say that it’s skippable as no backpackers go there (although, as described above, that’s is not the worst thing ever because Karlovy Vary was a blast). Finally, Liberec is a cool looking city in the north of the country. I met a girl on the plane who was from there and spoke very highly of it. She peaked my interest as there are mountains and hikes so maybe I’ll head there one day.
"Harvey Falcon" is the the senior adventure corespondant for Ski Bum Van Life. From Europe to Asia to South America and beyond Harvey offers an exciting take on adventure travel. Read all his stories here.
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