Czech Republic © Paulius Malinovskis
During the past few decades the Czech Republic has slowly been emerging as a popular tourist destination, favoured particularly by the discerning traveller seeking culture and charm.
However, most visitors still tend to explore no farther than the capital, Prague: fewer than 10 percent of tourists venture into the countryside, which means they are missing out on a treat. Prague is a truly beautiful city of spires and a visual feast of medieval, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture; a city which richly deserves its reputation as a favourite European destination. But, if they leave the cosmopolitan city behind, travellers will find a magnificent undulating landscape of mountains and plains, forests and farmland, and a small-town Czech culture which seems untouched by time.
The Czech Republic is divided into two geographic and cultural sections, Bohemia and Moravia. Bohemian spa towns and laid-back Moravian wine villages seem to be in a time warp, welcoming visitors as though they are living museums enshrining a refined and relaxed rural lifestyle. There are also more than 100 castles dotted around the countryside, ranging from forbidding fortresses to elegant chateaux, all open to the public. The Czech countryside is also a major drawcard for hikers, cyclists and cross-country skiers, with hundreds of kilometres of marked trails crisscrossing the landscape.