If you like an active vacation that includes hiking, biking, and rafting you might want to consider a trip to Southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
I recently spent three days biking in the Cesky Krumlov area north of Linz, Austria and discovered the area a great place for nature lovers. By biking approximately 30 miles a day, you can included trips to Sumava National Park, Cesky Krumlov, and Cerske Budejovice. Most of the bike trails were well groomed with limited traffic.
Cesky Krumlov was the base camp of my visit and my first trip was to a small town called Horni Plana located on Lake Lipno. The trip had some 12 degree climbs which tested my legs for the first day.
At dinner, a Czech family asked to join me at my vacant dinner table. When I informed the family that I was an American and spoke only a little Czech, the father quickly explained that “You only need to know one word and you won’t have any problems. That word is ‘Pivo'” he said with a smile.
On my second day, a five minute ferry trip for the small price of 25 krone (1 Euro) got me across Lake Lipno and into Sumava National Park. Trips run every 30 minutes during the season. During the communist rule, this was a closed area and a slab of the former Iron Curtain interlaced with electrified barbed wire and watchtowers.
Depending on the route you decide to take, you can bike back into Austria. My trail ran parallel to the lake, toward Lipno Dam. The area provides crisp, fresh air and was 80% through forest in dense woodlands thru unpopulated areas.
When I got close to the Lipno Dam, a new trail with inline skaters, bikers, and walkers throughout the area. This was easiest part of my journey as I stayed close to the lakeshore. If you feel adventurous, veer away from the lake trail to increase your incline to approximately 200 meters.
The National Geographic Traveler’s Survey, conducted by its Society Center, ranked Cesky Krumlov 16th for historical city destinations. The city sits in a valley with a castle watching over it and a river with several bridges where people gather to watch the rafters. The Vltava River, which originates in the Sumava National Park, winds through Cesky Krumlov and then 250 kilometers north into Prague. It is a gathering point for tourists.
Official records date the city back to 1253, but my evening tour guide assured me that it is older than that. Walking through the main square, you can see gothic, renaissance, and rococo style buildings.
My third day of biking was to Ceske Budejovice, a city of 96,000 and home of the Czech Budweiser beer. My bike climb took me out of the city past the train station over rolling hills and forest for 35 kilometers with the last five kilometers following city streets.
The tourist office provides a free walking tour map which takes about 90 minutes to complete. With the map, you can find the Ceske Budejovice train station, a main hub in southern Bohemia to get to your next destination or catch a train back to Cesky Krumlov.
I had very little problems getting around only speaking English, food was relatively inexpensive and always well presented on your plate. All in all, Southern Bohemia is a great place to bike, hike, and sightsee in Europe!
The trip in photos:
Bike, Walk and In Line Skating Trail near Frymburk. This trail is near the Lipno Lake. The trail had many shady trails around the Lake.
The Lady of Lipno Lake. A shady resting place with bench to help you enjoy a bike break.
Camping area along bike Path #12 near the River Vltava at Zlata, Koruna. There are shops to rent canoes to use of the Vltava in addition to camping equipment.
Neptune’s fountain located in Ceske Budejovice. The Czech Budweiser beer factory is located in Ceseke Budejovice. The information center, located at the city center, provides free self guided city tour maps.
Looking for biking a little closer to home? Check out our article on biking in and around Kaiserslautern and Ramstein.