Every summer the last few years my wife and I have regularly planned vacations around the Czech Republic and areas we've travelled through have included southern Bohemia, the Moravian wine region in the southeast of the country, and the Czech-Moravian highlands. Each year we take mountain bikes as our main means of transport and combined with the railways the match-up usually works great: many trains offer special cars for bikes now and the system works fairly well, as long as you remember a few important things.
Anyone longing to escape the Czech capital in the stifling summer months would do well to visit the nearby Kokorin region - only around 40 kilometres or so northeast of Prague. Kokorin - with deep forests, valleys, as well as characteristic sandstone cliffs and unique architecture, is remarkable. You'll feel you've travelled more than one short train or bus ride away. It's an escape back to nature, with numerous spots for swimming and excellent trails for hiking, all in quiet and peace.
In an extended special edition of Czechs in History we visit the town of Trebon, some 150 kilometres south of Prague. This is where the Schwarzenberg nobility resided until the Second World War. A dominant building in Trebon is the Schwarzenberg tomb. Join me as I take a tour with my guide Paul Stasek.
The countryside you'll see on a drive down to Cesky Krumlov makes the trip worth the gas money. Roll over the hillsides along the E-55 highway - some are bright green with grass, others are golden canola fields that stretch for miles. The views make the three hour trip pass quickly, and give you high expectations when you pull into the old South Bohemian town. Expectations that the town exceeds.
The small, picturesque town of Ceska Kamenice is situated in northern Bohemia, about 105 km away from Prague. It is a late gothic town on the river Kamenice, where three protected landscapes - the Lusatian Mountains, Czech Switzerland and the Bohemian Central Highlands - meet. Despite its modest population of 5,500, the town has 34 monuments, the care of which earned it the title "Historic Town of the Year" for 2005.
The North Bohemian town of Litomerice has long enjoyed the reputation of being one of the Czech Republic's most beautiful sites. Founded roughly 1,000 years ago, Litomerice lies in one of the Czech Republic's hilliest ranges on the confluence of the Elbe and Ohre Rivers. The town's beginnings were originally a Slavonic fort overseeing a number of small municipalities, later replaced by a castle and emerging town in the 11th century.
It's that time of year again. When the first sunrays glisten off the small plastic replicas of the Petrin Tower being sold on Charles Bridge and the evening chorus of flocks of stag parties can be heard across the Old Town. The tourist season is upon us; another wave of the estimated 6 million people who visit the city each year. And it's no wonder. Prague has a lot to offer as a tourist destination: stunning architecture, cultural heritage and of course you can't leave out the national drink. But I can never help but wonder how many visitors are
Every year the Association of Historic Towns and Villages in the Czech Republic holds a competition, to award the town it feels has done most to preserve its architectural heritage. Dozens of towns traditionally take part but only one can win the prize which includes a cheque for 1,000, 000 crowns (around 43,000 US dollars). This year the award went to north Bohemia's Ceska Kamenice.