Fairy-tale castles, colorful towns, epic viewpoints and more – this is East Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
“Have you been to the Czech Republic?”
“Oh yes, I have been to Prague.”
Yup – that’s the typical answer that you will get when you ask even the most well-traveled people about the Czech Republic. A majority of those who visit this lovely country in Central Europe, just end up visiting its capital city!
Like most of the European capital cities, the city of Prague is suffering from an over tourism problem. Yes, Prague is beautiful but it was too crowded for my liking. On the other hand, I had an amazing time in the nearby region – East Bohemia.
What is East Bohemia? (and Where?)
The Czech Republic or Czechia is divided into 14 regions but they are often grouped together in 8 broad regions:
- Central Bohemia (includes Prague)
- East Bohemia (towards the East of Prague and shares a border with Poland)
- West Bohemia
- North Bohemia
- South Bohemia
- Bohemian-Moravian Highlands
- North Moravia
- South Moravia
The East Bohemia part of Czech Republic has something for every kind of traveler – natural landscapes, arty towns, historical regions, many castles, highest Czech mountain Sněžka, giant mountains Krkonoše and even a historical walled city!
If you’re thinking of visiting the Czech Republic for a holiday, then you may not have to visit any other region because you can experience “the best of Czech” in just East Bohemia.
Here are 11 Magical Places to visit in East Bohemia, Czech Republic –
- What is East Bohemia? (and Where?)
- 1) Pardubice City
- 2) Seč
- 3) Litomyšl
- 4) Svojanov
- 5) Prachov Rocks, Jičín
- 6) Chrudim
- 7) Podhůra Recreational Forest
- 8) Nové Hrady
- 9) Polička walled city
- 10) Veselý Kopec, Hlinsko
- 11) Vysoké Mýto
1) Pardubice City
It is easy to reach Pardubice from Prague on a train, so it makes sense to start your East Bohemia trip from this town. Although there is an entire region called Pardubice in Czechia, but at this point, I’m talking about the Pardubice city, your gateway to East Bohemia.
The main town of Pardubice is adorable and has colorful streets, with cute pastel houses. In fact, it gets more magical than this because the specialty of this town is gingerbread and you will see gingerbread houses, figures, and even gingerbread horses!
The town logo is a “half horse” and Pardubice is also known for its stud farms. We visited one and also a racecourse, which is supposed to be one of the most famous racetracks in the world. Since 1874, every second Sunday of October there is a horse race in Velká pardubick.
My favorite spot in Pardubice was a little out of the city and on top of a hill. It is called Hrad Kunětická Hora. Hrad means a castle and Hora means hill, so it literally just means Kunětice Mountain or Kunětice hill castle. You can’t go inside the castle but can spend an amazing evening here to enjoy the sunset.
Apart from this, the main city of Pardubice has a few other Castles and Chateaus that you should definitely check out.
Where to stay in Pardubice:
We stayed in a place called Golf resort & Spa Kunětická Hora, which was a little outside the main city but close to the Kunětická Hora castle. Our rooms were very cute and had a red polka dotted floor.
The hotel also has an area for golfing and we received an hour-long golf lesson here, which was fun. The food was very good
Seč is a little paradise destination for nature lovers that’s super close to Pardubice city. It is also in the Pardubice Region of East Bohemia.
Most of the area in Seč is covered in forest. There is a lake called Seč that’s made by Seč dam. There is also a beach by the same name. Right next to this beach is a massive campground where I saw many tents and campervans.
Spend a day on Seč beach or rent a paddleboat and experience the beauty of the lake from the water. The best part is that there is a little island on the lake that you can reach by paddle boating.
I’m a sucker for viewpoints and my favorite spot in Seč was the abandoned Castle Oheb. You can climb on top for a spectacular view of the dam. There is not one but there are a few different viewpoints here and the view is, of course, a little different. The best time to come here is right before the sunset so that you can watch how the water changes colors.
Where to stay in Seč:
We stayed in Kongress Hotel Jezerka in Seč, which has a big spa area. There is an outdoor pool here as well. The time when I visited Seč, it was unbearably hot and unfortunately, our rooms did not have AC and I didn’t have the most comfortable night. If you’re visiting in summer then be sure to prebook one of their AC rooms. Nonetheless, it is a very good hotel and we had a very good dinner here.
Art lovers love Paris but Litomyšl in East Bohemia is a hidden gem that they will absolutely love. This town was the birthplace for many artists and it embraces a blend of old school art together with contemporary.
This town made me feel as if I have stepped into an old movie – the kind with flapper dresses, piano symphonies and an overdose of art. With random pianos on the street corner, art installations in unexpected places, and a castle complex town center – Litomyšl will make you enter the world of fantasy!
First, let me mention the Litomyšl Castle – it is no doubt lovely from the outside but is unexpectedly spectacular when you step in. The time we visited, each room was decorated as per the theme and mannequins were wearing old-time costumes that were borrowed from the theater.
The entire chateau type castle complex is a UNESCO world heritage site. We stayed in the complex right opposite the castle in Litomyšl Chateau Apartment where all of us had themed rooms. We had a contemporary art room, our friends had an old school room and another friend had a library or a book shop themed room.
Secondly, Litomyšl is super arty! It was so much fun discovering Litomyšl’s art scene. Bedřich Smetana – a famous Bohemian musician was born here in 1824 and we also visited his house, that’s turned into a little museum.
One thing that really stood out was the art exposition of Olbram Zoubek’s sculptures in a wine cellar! He was who was employed during the communist period to restore the painted decorations on the Litomysl castle and he later donated his sculptures here.
Where to stay in Litomyšl:
We stayed in the Litomysl castle complex in a lovely place called Litomyšl Chateau Apartments where all of us had themed rooms. Our room had an art gallery theme and it felt I was living with an artist in Paris – haha. I loved it!
The best part about staying in Litomyšl Chateau Apartments was that we were right next to everything. The famous church, castle, wine cellar, park – it was all just a few steps away.
Svojanov is a little town and the main feature is the castle by the same name. It is lovely and is on top of a hill but the best part is that Svojanov Castle is one of those places where you can actually stay inside!
The most interesting part of staying in Svojanov Castle was a “night tour”. The tour was pretty funny and the guy who was showing us around was in full costume. At the end of the tour, we got to eat some cinnamon pancakes.
Our night tour guide also lit small a cannon that was surprisingly loud. Oh but that wasn’t even the best part about the tour! I loved the part where he told us the stories.
Some believe that the castle is haunted and the night tour had hilarious stories about them. In fact, Svojanov Castle is popular amongst spirit chasers and there are some funny videos about it (in Czech) on the Internet.
I do not believe that the castle is haunted, but it seems to be a good marketing strategy – because all the rooms were full when we visited. It also made our stay a little more interesting and the castle tour.
There is a watchtower in Svojanov castle and you can go to the top. I highly recommend you to do so for the sunrise or sunset. The view of Svojanov town from up above is beautiful.
Where to stay in Svojanov:
Don’t even think of staying anywhere other than the Svojanov Castle. It will be one of a kind experience for you and you’re going to love the view from here. Tip: do a night castle tour like we did.
5) Prachov Rocks, Jičín
Although most of the places that are mentioned on this list are in the Pardubice region, Prachov Rocks Nature Reserve is in the Hradec Králové Region of East Bohemia.
Prachov Rocks are called Prachovske Skaly in Czech. This natural site is worth visiting to admire the beauty of the rocks that were formed 60 million years back and have been eroded over the years. As a result, they form unique shapes.
To visit Prachov Rocks Nature Reserve, it is recommended you find a place to stay in the nearby town Jičín that is just 5 KMs away. The best way to reach here is by car. Car rental rates in the Czech Republic aren’t very high and it is economical if you’re traveling in a pair or more so that the cost can be split. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Jičín to Holin.
Arrive here early in the morning to beat the crowds (or the new European heat wave). Wear comfortable shoes because Prachov Rocks Nature Reserve has a few marked hiking trails and some dramatic viewpoints.
There is a long hiking route, which is 3.5 KMs, and a short hiking route, which is 1.5 KMs long. The short route takes around 45 minutes and has two viewpoints. The long route takes 2 hours and has 8 viewpoints. If you’re traveling with a small baby, you will be happy to know that there is a special pram route also that’s marked on the map. There is only one toilet and that’s at the information center.
There are cafes where you can buy something to drink. These cafes are open only in the main visiting season and not during winters. To cool off after your hike, you can swim in the nearby Jinolice Ponds.
The entrance fee for visiting Prachov Rocks Nature Reserve is CZK 70 per person – which is around 3 euros. If you’re reaching by car, then keep in mind that the parking fee is CZK 80.
Where to stay in Jicin
Grand Hotel Praha is one of the highest rated hotels near Prachov Rocks because the location is excellent and it is affordable.
Did you know that Czech Puppetry is registered in the UNESCO world heritage list? You can get to experience the beauty of this art in this small town called Chrudim, which also hosts an annual puppetry festival called Loutkářská Chrudim.
You don’t really have to visit Chrudim during the puppet festival, but you can visit the Chrudim Puppetry Museum, which has many different types of puppets on display and depictions of many theatrical scenes. You can also get to see what it is like to operate your own puppet here!
In some ways, Chrudim reminded me of Pardubice town. They are not far from each other, but Chrudim is smaller. The streets of Chrudim are a little hilly, so the views are good. There is an old cathedral in Chrudim’s main square, which is called Assumption of the Virgin.
7) Podhůra Recreational Forest
There is more to East Bohemia than just castles and pretty towns. There are lovely nature reserves too. Not far from Churdim is a recreational forest area – Podhura, which has a number of attractions.
There is a climbing park inside Podhůra Recreational forest that’s made for both adults and children. It has cable paths and different obstacles. But hey, being 6 months pregnant at the time of visiting, I opted not to do this.
I’m a sucker for viewpoints and I was so happy to see an observation tower in Podhura forest. It is called Bára lookout tower and is a unique triangular shaped wooden structure.
Bara Tower has a spiral staircase inside that goes to the top. The view from up above is very interesting and major attractions are marked. Since we visited Podhura Forest at the beginning of our trip, I could only recognize Hrad Kunětická Hora – the medieval castle on a hill in Pardubice. You can also see the nearby Iron Mountains and the distant Giant Mountains and Eagle Mountains.
Literally, every Czech attraction has something to do with castles, so interestingly enough; there is a miniature castle inside Podhura. It is called Cat Castle and it was built in the 19th century by Vilemena Auerspergova.
Apart from this, there are many cycling trails inside Podhura Forest and also a café. Surprisingly enough there is a free WiFi network that actually works!
8) Nové Hrady
OMG, another castle? No, it is not a castle, it is a chateau that looks as majestic as a castle. How can I not include this and let you miss this lovely orange – peach fairy tale-ish chateau?
Nové Hrady Chateau was built in 1777 by Count Jean-Antoin Harbuval de Chamaré. The architecture is very French and because of which it is also called Czech Versailles.
Have you ever been inside a real-world maze? There is one right behind this castle chateau. Enter this labyrinth at your own risk because you can get lost! But don’t worry because there are a few places where you can climb and get a bird’s eye view.
Nové Hrady Chateau is owned privately but they let people visit it. There is a well-kept kitchen garden behind the chateau and I saw tomatoes, peppers, onions, radishes, pumpkins and many more things growing.
Nové Hrady is very close to Churdim city, so you can make a day trip here like I did. I did not get to spend time in Nové Hrady town but I heard it has a “Fairy Tale house” with elves, witches, and fairies that are mostly made of puppets.
9) Polička walled city
Ever visited a walled city? Dubrovnik in Croatia is one – but is super crowded thanks to Game of Thrones. But hey, there is a little walled city in East Bohemia and it is called Polička,
The old town of Polička has an ancient wall around it that has 19 towers. We went on top of one of them. There is a passage that connects some of the towers and it is possible to walk there with a guide. Our guide told me that this ring of the wall is one of the best-preserved one in Central Europe.
This historical walled city of Polička was founded in the Czech king Přemysl Otakar II. Back in those days, the town was known to be a prosperous one.
I really enjoyed walking in the garden that’s kind of outside the “walled city” and is next to the wall. There is a lake as well, where I saw some families that were boating with their children.
If you have enough time on your hand then go ahead and sleep here overnight. Else, you can visit Polička on a day trip. If you have more time on your hands, visit the small village – it is in Ústí nad Orlicí district of Pardubice region.
Where to stay in Polička
I did not stay overnight in Polička, but based on what I have heard, I suggest you check out Pension Otakar. It is an affordable hotel with very good rooms.
10) Veselý Kopec, Hlinsko
Veselý Kopec looks like an actual village but it is an open-air museum of folk architecture. There are timber houses, streets, a pub, little mills, small church and many older farming equipment.
You can actually go inside the many timber houses and get a sense of the farmers’ way of life in the early days. There are bedrooms, kitchens, eating areas and many other rooms that are carefully arranged with furniture that belongs to that era. The furniture depicts the farmers’ way of life.
Even though we visited Veselý Kopec on a hot day, the shade from the trees kept us cool. This place reminded me of Serbia’s wooden village that was actually built for a movie.
Veselý Kopec is usually closed on Mondays. You can visit this place on a day trip from Litomyšl. Here’s the official website of the museum that will help you plan your visit.
11) Vysoké Mýto
Vysoké Mýto is a town that lies on the river Loučná with many architectural monuments and old buildings. There is a Museum of Czech Car Bodywork where you can see many different types of vintage cars. This museum was a lot of fun to explore and I really enjoyed the stories about the cars.
After you have spent enough time in the museum, I recommend you walk around the town square. Our guides mentioned that it is one of the biggest town squares in the Czech Republic. For lunch, I recommend Mlýn Jangelec restaurant – I had a very good meal there.
A little history – Vysoké Mýto was founded in 1262 by a Bohemian king – Přemysl Otakar II. After that, it was a part of the Austrian monarchy until 1918.
Like most of the Czech towns, even Vysoké Mýto has a lookout tower and you can go on top and get a bird’s eye view of the town. It is called Prague Gate.
Guess what, there is a place that’s a little outside of Vysoké Mýto town where you can actually do go-karting. If you’re traveling in a group, then you should definitely do this.
Heading to the Czech Republic soon? Do something different and explore more than just Prague. Share this post with a friend who’s visiting Central Europe.
Disclosure: I was invited to East Bohemia by Visit Czech Republic team but all silliness and thoughts expressed in this article are totally our own.
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