The Czech Republic is a great country to enjoy the outdoors and explore nature. The varied landscape offers something for everyone and makes a walking or cycling trip even more attractive. Explore caves and rock cities, climb to the tops of mountains and observation points! These 5 national parks will enchant you.
1. Giant Mountains
The Giant Mountains, also known as Krkonoše Mountains, are the highest Czech mountain range. From every perspective the panorama of Giant Mountains is magnificent and each mountain peak has its own characteristic face. The border mountain range with Poland has a unique mosaic of ecosystems which have remained here as a reminder of the ancient glacial past. There are high mountain slopes, flat ridges alpine meadows and mysterious moorland all presided by the highest Czech mountain Sněžka. There are perfectly marked hiking trails of all difficulty levels, and you can make a trip to the waterfalls Mumlava and Pančavský or regularly cross the border while walking the Polish–Czech Friendship Trail. The views into the depths of the Obří důl Valley and the mysterious peat moor Červenohorské are also impressive. Beer lovers can enjoy themselves too as in the Giant Mountains there is a beer trail that leads past the highest breweries in the country. For a unique viewing point you must climb the treetop walkaway in Janské Lázně.
2. Bohemian Switzerland
The fairy-tale landscape of Bohemian Switzerland is a place you cannot miss. The area near the German border and the Elbe river has a mystical landscape of pine forests and deep valleys, with majestic rock towers, gates, walls and labyrinths rising up from them. The national park was named after the Alpine country, because Swiss artists thought it resembled their homeland. Bohemian Switzerland sprawls across Germany, where the area is known as Saxon Switzerland. One of the gateways to this unique landscape is Hřensko, from which several nature trails lead into the surrounding gorges, with some of the way intertwined with a labyrinth of rocks, tunnels and footbridges. Some stretches can only be travelled on small boats with a gondolier. The romance of the local gorges with their crystal clear water and high walls of sandstone rocks covered in moss and ferns will seem absolutely irresistible to you. The symbol of the park is Pravčická brána, a monumental rock arch, the largest in the whole of Europe, which is markedly reminiscent of a formation in the famous American park Arches.
3. Bohemian Forest
The deep forests on the Czech-Bavarian border are so vast that they form the largest forested area on the continent. The Bavarian and Bohemian Forest are therefore also known as the “green roof of Europe”. Bohemian Forest (Czech: Šumava) has mysterious moors, beautiful glacial lakes, deep forests and distant views. An impressive number of both natural and historical monuments are connected by a dense network of cycle paths. At the time of the Iron Curtain, a network of paths was established for the purpose of border protection and was accessible only to military vehicles, however now the paths are open to cyclists, and the national park is also a paradise for hikers. There are some amazing trails heading across wilderness, rivers and rolling wetlands, with one of the newest routes being Goldsteig, which is connected to the German hiking network.
The Podyjí National Park is located right on the border with Austria, where it becomes the Thayatal National Park. Even though it is the smallest Czech national park, the Podyjí National Park is among the most important natural sites in Central Europe. Here you will find an exceptionally well-preserved river valley in the richly forested landscape of southwestern Moravia between the cities Vranov nad Dyjí and Znojmo. The river Dyje (Thaya) has created a valley with meanders, rocky seas, extensive rubble fields, floodplain meadows and forest-steppes along its course. The Podyjí National Park offers a wide variety of ways to discover the natural beauty of the park. You can just stroll around all day and enjoy the lovely local landscape, or you can set off on one of the many nature trails and climb the popular Vraní skála (Crow Rock). Don’t neglect a trip to the Šobes Vineyard, which, thanks to its sunny south-facing slope sheltered from the wind, ranks among the top 10 wine regions in Europe. In warm weather you can ride here along marked cycling trails to taste the delicious local white wine.
5. Bohemian Paradise
Bohemian Paradise (Czech: Český ráj) is a UNESCO-listed Geopark which lies between Prague and Giant Mountains and consists of several ‘rock towns’ between the cities Jičín and Železný Brod. A million years ago this area was a sea and through the forces of nature the sandstone rocks was moulded into bizarre shapes. The rocks are a bliss for avid climbers, but also cyclists and hikers can enjoy the stunning landscape. The Prachov Rocks offer narrow crevices between rocks and you can walk up to enhanced views from the top. From Hrubá Skála chateau, which stands atop two sandstone towers, there is a pleasant track to some panoramic views. In Bohemian Paradise there is a dense network of hiking and cycling trails, such as the Golden Trail which crosses the whole area.
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