Tourists love Prague for its unique architecture, rich history full of legends, tasty food, and great beer. But not everybody knows that outside Prague, in small Czech towns, you can find all this too. Besides, you’ll get it all with much fewer crowds and considerably cheaper. That’s why we’ve written a guide that will hopefully inspire you to explore the Czech Republic outside its capital!
Admittedly the above statement about fewer crowds is not applicable to Český Krumlov. It is by far the most popular smaller town in the Czech Republic. However, buses with noisy crowds usually come from Prague only at about 10 in the morning and leave in the late afternoon. This means that in the early mornings and in the evenings you can have the city all to yourself and the few tourist staying right in the town. The imposing castle towering above the meandering river is huge and breathtaking. A bridge connects it to the neighboring hill and provides great birds-eye views of the compact city center. This is the iconic avatar picture renewal place!
Apart from visiting the castle, just do what you should do in every decent old town. Get lost in it, wander the streets and find a perfect small home restaurant facing the river for your traditional Czech lunch. By the way, Czechs start having lunch already at 11! So you have an excuse to give rest to your feet early ;) If you’re visiting in summer and are not afraid to get a little wet, you can rent a raft on the river. Try exploring the city center in this adrenaline-producing fashion!
If you’ve had enough of Prague tourist crowds and want something really relaxing, the old town of Telč is your choice! It’s not a well-known destination at all, which is a shame because it’s simply charming. On the other hand, its unpopularity is an advantage for those seeking calm places. Here you can wander the beautiful old town streets accompanied only by an occasional dog walker and enjoy the sunset on the lake in total quietness.
You will hear a lot about Jewish history if you do a tour of Prague Jewish quarter. However, not that much is left there from the times the Jews were confined to separate city districts and prohibited to live anywhere else. Třebíč Jewish district, however, is preserved in its entirety. You can even take a guided tour of a typical Jewish house of 19th century. The space on which the Jews were allowed to live was puny, squeezed between the river and the cliffs, so the houses are toy-small. At that times, an average of 13 people used to live in a house that you can hardly imagine accommodating four. Jewish holidays are still celebrated here, so don’t hesitate to join if you are lucky enough to visit on a big day.
There is a walk along the river which then leads you to the top of the hill where the Jewish cemetery is. It’s also the best viewpoint to enjoy the quiet charm of a Czech town.
It’s a bit of a stretch to call Olomouc a small town. It’s actually the 6th largest city in the country. However, it’s fairly difficult to find a decent place to have a drink after midnight on a weekday here. This makes it provincial enough in my book. The main square in Olomouc is very spacious and serves as a place to numerous festivals and fairs throughout the year. If you’re lucky and get to Olomouc during advent, you won’t be able to leave the square before spending a considerable time there trying all the tasty foods and drinks.
The clock on the magistrate wall – orloj – is a famous sight. It’s a weird combination of 15th-century overall design and Soviet mosaics. I’d say it’s even more impressive than the famous Prague orloj. Saint Wenceslas Cathedral – a breathtakingly huge Gothic church – is another sight worth visiting. It’s best to admire it both in the light of day and after sunset when its towers are lit. Apart from being an administrative center, Olomouc has been an important defense point for a long time. A walk along the river will let you appreciate its huge walls and defense towers.
We’ll be glad if our recommendations help you choose what towns to visit in the Czech Republic besides Prague! But the truth is if you take a car, go in a random direction and stop at a first reasonably big Czech city, you’ll definitely find something beautiful to admire, something tasty to eat, and of course something to drink. It’s the Czech Republic, after all!Written by Kate
Photo credit: Nataliya Manukhina