From ancient cities and towns with winding streets, to stylish ski resorts and health spas, the Czech Republic really does have something for everyone. You can soak up the extraordinary atmosphere at no less than twelve UNESCO heritage sites and few people will forget their first taste of Czech beer. Why not try it for yourself?
About the Czech Republic
A landlocked country in the heart of central Europe, the Czech Republic shares its borders with Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. It is said that hills and mountains cover about 95% of the country, although it is the stunning towns and cities that visitors have come to know. The capital city is Prague and other major destinations include the second city Brno, the historic towns of Kutna Hora, Ceske Krumlov, Ceske Budejovic, Telc and the spa towns of Karlovy Vary and Marianska Lazne.
The Czech Republic, like so much of central Europe, has a long and fascinating history. Its more recent past (well, the last 60 years at least) includes nearly 42 years of Communist rule that ended in 1989. This was followed in 1993 by the dissolution of the two countries that made up the then Czechoslovakia to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It joined the EU in 2004.
The glittering Christmas markets in Prague and the fairytale town of Telč with its square straight from the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, have given the Czech Republic a reputation as a romantic destination.
When it comes to food, expect heavy, meat-based meals as the norm with plenty of dumplings, potatoes, or rice to soak things up. One traditional dish is ‘knedlíky’, a type of dumpling made from potatoes or bread.
Beer is part of the national heritage. In fact the first Czech brewery was built in 1118 and in the 13th century the king persuaded the Pope to permit the brewing of beer. And the king’s name? Good King Wenceslas of Christmas carol fame. The country’s famous Pilsner beer is exported all over the world. Wine too is very much a ‘national treasure’ so take the opportunity to try out some of the local Moravian vintages. There are even beer and wine spa resorts!
A word of warning about buying certain types of alcohol, however. The local authorities reported a number of cases where people were hospitalised in 2012 after drinking counterfeit brands of spirits. Yes, they’re cheap, but their ingredients are potentially lethal. Make sure you check that the bottle has an original, untouched seal around the cork or cap and only buy it from legitimate vendors such as supermarkets or bottle shops.
Two main sports in the Czech Republic are ice hockey and football – the Czech national ice hockey team are one of the best in the world and the Czech national football team has qualified for the Football World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Many other sports are played and enjoyed such as athletics, basketball and volleyball. The Czech Republic has produced some excellent tennis players including Martina Navratilova – she won the ladies final at Wimbledon a record nine times.
The Czech Republic has a parliamentary democracy. The President, on the Prime Minister’s recommendation, appoints the Cabinet. The President appoints the Prime Minister.
At a glance facts
- Official language: Czech
- Population: 10,625,250 (2018)
- International dialling code: 420
- Time: GMT +1 hour
Europe, member of the EU