A Bohemian Rail Expedition – Backpacking in the Czech Countryside

Experience authentic European backpacking in the Czech Republic on this thrilling 3-week group tour. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Prague and Karlstejn, and explore the rugged landscapes of Bohemian Paradise!

Discover sandstone rock phenomena, incredible gorges and ravines, and scenic view points. Be sure to visit Pravcicka Gate, Europe’s largest sandstone arch!


Prague lies at the heart of Europe and it took eleven centuries to develop its current form. It is a city of beautiful, cobblestone streets and a medieval castle. It’s a place that has witnessed many different cultural and economic changes, which are evident in its architecture.

Join a Local Specialist to explore Prague’s labyrinthine laneways and dazzling squares. Visit the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral set within the 1,000yearold Prague Castle, cross the Vltava River to Old Town Square and marvel at the 14thcentury Astronomical Clock that entertains passers-by with a mechanical show of saints, deadly sins and Jesus.

A river cruise along the Vltava is the best way to get a feel for the city’s enchanting architecture. The banks of the river are lined with breath-taking Gothic buildings and ornate bridges. The Riegrovy Sady park is a large open space with several beer gardens; it is a favourite spot for locals to gather and relax with friends. Then, select your perfect vantage point on ‘Sunset Hill’ to watch the sun sink slowly below Prague Castle and the rest of the city.

Prague’s rich architectural heritage reflects its uncertain history and urban life that extends back over more than 1,000 years. The Czech Republic is home to an incredible number of technical monuments that offer a fascinating look back at how our ancestors lived and worked. Among them, you’ll find the Prague underground spaces; the New Town Water Tower; the Pacold kiln; Vetrnik, a former windmill; and the exhibitions at the National Technical Museum.

Quaint, red-roofed Cesky Krumlov nestles amid the meanders of the sluggish River Vltava. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, it’s deservedly popular. To avoid the crowds, stay overnight to enjoy a more authentic experience. Unlike its better known counterparts, Holasovice is rustic and non-touristy, and it’s well worth visiting for the pretty pastel folk Baroque gabled buildings that line the village green. Other villages in the PodKlety region, such as Plastovice and Male Chrastany are equally charming and less visited.

Rough and ready Plzen (Pilsen) was built on beer and bombs, but it has a more gentle side. The UNESCO-listed historical centre is well preserved, and it hosts an annual Christmas market. In the brewery district at U Prazdroje, you can learn about brewing techniques at the original Pilsner Urquell brewery.


The UNESCO World Heritage site of Karlstejn is one of the highlights of this trip. The castle was built in 1348 by Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV to safeguard the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. It was a place of power, politics and culture. A statue of Protestant reformer Jan Hus stands in the town square that bears his name. It was also the scene of public executions and protests.

While much of the architecture is Gothic, other styles are present as well. For example, a 17th-century ornate wardrobe features stunning engravings of phoenixes and other mythological creatures. In another room, a large colorful map shows the territory that belonged to the Holy Roman Empire during Charles’s reign—including Luxembourg and Berlin!

It’s easy to reach Karlstejn from Prague by train. The ride takes about 30 minutes and trains run frequently throughout the day and on weekends. The main highlight of the visit is a walk up to the castle—it almost feels like a fairytale walking through the streets and paths that lead you to this enchanted fortress. Don’t forget to leave a moment for the views from the top of the Well Tower!

You can explore the castle on your own or with a guided tour. Several tours are available and while most focus on the main attractions, they all differ somewhat. The main differences are the emphasis placed on the collection of art and history in various rooms, and the number of people you’re expected to share a space with. Some tours are smaller and are thus more suited to people who have trouble with crowds or are traveling with children.

After visiting the castle you can continue to hike around the village and take in the sights. But don’t buy anything at the shops—they’re over inflated in price and mostly sell tasteless T-shirts and crystal! There is a good local-style grocery store about a third of the way up the hill that you can stop at.

Patti Morrow is an award-winning travel writer who founded the international Luggage and Lipstick blog and the Southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including CNN, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of two books: “The Road to Somewhere” and “A Woman’s Guide to South Bohemia.”

Bohemian Paradise

Bohemian Paradise is a unique landscape of sandstone rock formations and fairy-tale castles. It is a UNESCO Geopark and draws hikers and visitors from across Europe for its amazing natural scenery. Its sandstone towers, natural bridges and tall basalt columns defy the laws of gravity and make for an incredible sight. This region also offers great outdoor adventures, including a first-rate network of hiking trails, scenic drives and the ruins of many castles.

Your journey into the heart of Bohemian Paradise begins near the small town of Jicin. Here, a variety of hiking trails will take you through the sandstone rocks and to the best viewpoints in the park. The sandstone walls have been eroded by wind, frost and water over the years to create their unique look. They have become a favorite spot for tourists to visit and are an excellent example of geological evolution in the Czech Republic.

Hiking in the Bohemian Paradise region is a true delight and you can expect to find stunning rock formations, cliffs and caves that are just as beautiful as any national park in the world. You will also see many different plants and animal species that live in the area, such as wild rabbits, hares, squirrels and porcupines. You may even spot an eagle or two flying over the cliffs!

While you’re here, don’t miss out on visiting one of the most famous castle ruins in the country. Frydstejn Castle is one of the most impressive castles in the whole of Bohemian Paradise and was originally a Catholic fortress during the Hussite Wars. Then, after the battles ended, it was taken over by the Protestants and remained as a castle ruin until the 17th century.

In addition to all the castles and ruins, Bohemian Paradise is home to a number of other attractions that are worth checking out. For instance, you can explore the baroque chateau in Sychrov, which tells the story of a powerful French nobleman who settled here after the French Revolution, or you can visit the Felsenburg Vranov castle that’s perched on top of the rock formation of Mala Skala.

Svatos Rocks

The town of Loket lies in the heart of a picturesque valley of the Ohre River. Its rocky cliffs, which, according to legend, resemble a petrified wedding procession, have been declared national natural monuments and a popular tourist attraction.

Embark on a guided walk around the Svatos Rocks and learn about the region’s rich history from your guide. Then, take a scenic cruise along the Ohre River and see this beautiful part of the Czech Republic from a different perspective.

We journey west from the picture perfect city of Prague, crossing the border into cosmopolitan Frankfurt. Then, rewind to a simpler time in Vienna, where you’ll enjoy an included sightseeing tour with your Local Specialist. Admire the imperial elegance of this city as you discover the 13thcentury Hofburg Palace, State Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral on the walk with your guide.

Indulge in Austrian coffee culture and try a piece of the famous Sachertorte cake on an optional experience today. Your afternoon is free to explore Vienna on your own, perhaps visiting a nearby hostelry to taste traditional Austrian cuisine and hear live music from a local ensemble.

During this full-day excursion you’ll enjoy some of the best scenery in both Czechia and Germany. Visit the village of Hrensko, explore Pravcicka Gate – Europe’s biggest natural arch – and ride in a gondola-style boat through Kamenice Gorge. And, of course, you’ll visit a top natural wonder in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park – the Bastei Bridge, also known as “the petrified wedding procession”.

Note: This tour is well suited for guests with an average level of fitness. You will need to be able to climb stairs and walk for 15 kilometers (9 miles) on partially rough terrain at times. Due to the moderate amount of walking, this tour is not suitable for guests who are not used to active holidays and may be physically challenging for some people. Please consult with your physician before booking this tour. If you wish to cancel your tour, you must do so at least 24 hours before the activity start time to receive a refund.

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