Czech Republic in Pictures: 17 Beautiful Places to Photograph
The Czech Republic is a country of contrasts and surprises. Home to more than 1,200 castles and chateaus, it also offers incredible natural and cultural sites that make for outstanding pictures. From ancient towns to rolling, forested hills to World Heritage-listed monuments and unusual rock labyrinths, there's a bit of everything for everybody within its borders, and many opportunities to capture eye-catching images.
If you're looking for the most photo-worthy destinations in the Czech Republic, be prepared to travel and explore. Not only are there many far apart, but reaching each one of these might require a romantic train ride through the Bohemian countryside and a good pair of boots for the trek of a lifetime.
Pedestrian Charles Bridge, originally built in the 15th century, is one of Prague's most photographed sights. Nicknamed "the City of a Hundred Spires," the capital city of Prague has a bohemian allure and a history that goes back a millennium–full of walled courtyards, Baroque buildings, and medieval cobblestone streets that writer Franz Kafka once walked on.
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Gothic Karlstejn Castle presides over the 14th-century town of the same name. Originally built to safeguard royal treasures (including the imperial crown jewels), this medieval fortress is one of the most stunning castles in the country, reigning serene on a hill surrounded by lush forest. A path behind the castle takes you to hiking trails and the famous Malá Amerika (Little America), a flooded abandoned quarry.
3. Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is worth a visit any time of the year but it's especially magical when it snows, and the red-roofed town becomes a winter wonderland. A 13th-century castle (for the best photos, climb to the top of the castle tower), a meandering river, and a stunning mix of Gothic and Baroque architecture add to the charm of one of the most visited cities in the country. The historic center of this Middle-Ages fairy tale town is a designated UNESCO World protected site.
4. Bohemian Switzerland National Park
The Pravcická Archway, on the rocks above the river Elbe, is Europe's largest sandstone arch. Despite its name, Bohemian Switzerland is on the Czech side of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. This picturesque region offers plenty of hiking trails, protected canyons and ravines, scenic gorges, and pine forests as far as the eye can see. It's also one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country during the fall, when the crowds have started to head home, the reds and yellows of the forested trails are at their best, and the crisp air invites birds and wildlife to come out.
The Baroque Archbishop's Palace is one of Kromeriz's most recognizable spots–scenes for both Amadeus and Immortal Beloved were filmed in these magnificent 17th-century formal gardens. The tiny town is also well-known for its golden-white townhouses and the amazing countryside view you can get from the 34-meter-high castle tower.
6. Jizera Mountains
Home to some of the best skiing and snowshoeing trails in the country, the Jizera Mountains sit right on the border between the Czech Republic and Poland. In summer, visitors come around for cycling and hiking but can also find places to learn about mountain folklore, enjoy the unique local gastronomy, or just embark on a photo-tour of the picture-perfect valleys and soft-forested peaks.
7. Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary's city center is a dreamy example of New Renaissance-style architecture in the heart of a forested valley. Famous as a spa town, Karlovy Vary is home to many thermal springs housed in imposing colonnades. The city is also known for being the home base of Moser Glass, a famous luxury glass manufacturer, as well as the host city for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the oldest film events in the world.
8. Ceske Budejovice
Dusk falls over the picturesque city of Ceske Budejovice, which sits at the confluence of the Vltava and the Malše rivers. The heart of the city is the square piazza, flanked by Baroque arcaded houses and a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets. From rowing on the Vltava river to climbing the 225 steps to the top Gothic-Renaissance Black Tower, there's much to see and do in the heart of South Bohemia.
9. Hluboka nad Vltavou
Right on the Vltava river, the Tudor-style Hluboká Castle is the town's main attraction. Considered one of the most beautiful castles in the country, Hluboka belonged to the Schwarzenberg family until the last owners abandoned it to flee from the Nazis. The historic château is surrounded by an expansive landscaped park and furnished with original pieces and art from the mid-19th century.
10. Sumava National Park
Home to many lakes and heavily forested mountains, Sumava (also known as the Bohemian Forest) sits on the border with Germany and Austria. Kašperk Castle–located at a record-breaking 886 meters above sea level–is within the park boundaries, and so is Certovo jezero (Black Lake), named so because its water appears to be black, an optical illusion caused by the dense forests around it.
11. Kutna Hora
The Church of Saint Barbara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, makes for a dreamy background to one of the most unique towns in the country. Kutna Hora was once a major silver mining center but it's now better known for its Sedlec Ossuary–a chapel decorated with the bones of up to 70,000 people who perished during the time of the Black Plague and the Hussite Wars.
12. Krkonose National Park
The Pancavsky waterfall, set on the wall of a glacial valley, is the highest one in the Czech Republic. Deep into the heart of Krkonose National Park, you'll also find a mix of unique ecosystems–from alpine meadows to high mountain peaks to icy moorlands. Famous for its miles and miles of never-ending hiking trails, the park is part of the exclusive UNESCO list of biosphere reserves.
13. Adrspach Rocks
The sandstone formations and stony pillars that make up the Adrspach-Teplice park were once at the bottom of the ocean. A magical connection of trails cut through the park, crossing over waterfalls, down into deep ravines and gorges, and up to the ruins of Strmen Castle. The nature reserve is a designated breeding site for peregrine falcons and a popular rock climbing destination.
14. Moravian Karst
The Macocha Abyss is the deepest sinkhole in Central Europe and one of the major attractions in the Moravian Karst cave system. There are two observation platforms here–one at the top of the chamber, and one 90 meters from the bottom of it. Visitors can join a guided tour of the nearby Punkva Caves, which ends at the base of the Macocha Abyss.
Once a busy 13th-century merchant route between Bohemia and Austria, Telc is now a sleepy town better known for its medieval square center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Telc's 17th-century Renaissance chateau and well-preserved Baroque houses and stone streets look straight out of a fairy tale and are best explored on foot.
16. Podyji National Park
Czech Republic's smallest national park knows how to pack a punch within its tiny 63 square kilometers. The park sits adjacent to Austria's Thayatal National Park, forming a natural border between the two countries and offering no end of great photo ops. Home to rocky amphitheaters and stone ruins of medieval castles, a thickly-forested valley, and vast meadows covered in wildflowers, the park also serves as a massive wildlife sanctuary where you can catch glimpses of black storks, Eurasian eagles, and the Syrian woodpecker.
17. Moravian Tuscany
The rolling hills in this very picturesque region in the southern part of the country offer photo-taking opportunities at every turn. With the village of Šardice as the starting point, you can explore an undulating landscape with strips of yellows, greens and bluish tones that seem to go on forever. Patterns and shadows line up on the horizon, with random chapels and sentinel trees standing in the distance.