Water sports and tourism
There are numerous places in the Czech Republic (such as water dams, artificial water reservoirs and lakes) that offer excellent conditions for various water sports. Water sports equipment can be rented from local sport clubs and at campsites.
The most popular water areas are:
- Lipno: Lipno is located in south Bohemia on the Vltava River. This valley dam reservoir offers excellent conditions for water sports, camping and sports fishing.
- Orlík: This lake is surrounded by the picturesque serene landscape of the central Povltaví area. It provides excellent conditions for bathing, windsurfing, yachting, rowing and sports angling.
- Slapy: This valley dam reservoir on the Vltava River, located 18 kilometres west of Benešov, offers many opportunities for bathing, yachting, rowing, water skiing and windsurfing.
Sailing on Czech rivers means floating by beautiful natural scenery and landscapes, which are rich in cultural and historical significance.
The most popular routes are:
- Vltava: Lenora – Nová Pec, Vyšší Brod – České Budějovice. The Vltava River is easy to sail on thanks to its water level. Boaters can enjoy sailing from the beautiful virgin landscape of Šumava to the plain region of the Třeboň fishpond.
- Lužnice: Suchdol – Veselí nad Lužnicí, Tábor – Bechyně. Sailing down this typical lowland river with wooded banks, you will float through the peaceful colourful landscape of south Bohemia.
- Otava: Sušice – Písek. The most demanding but romantic route leads through the deep wooded valley cut into the Táborská Highland (Táborská pahorkatina). Traces of gold panning are still noticeable on the banks of this river, which once produced gold.
- Sázava: Vilémovice – Pikovice. Nearly all of the Sázava River flows through romantic narrow curves alternating with wide, open valleys. The length of the river offers a number of colourful and dramatic experiences.
Breeding fish has a long and rich history in the Czech Republic. Excellent conditions for fishing are offered, especially in many places along south Bohemian rivers, ponds and reservoir dams. The most famous are in Třeboňsko, dominated by Rožmberk – the largest fishing pond in the Czech Republic. Great conditions are provided as well in the ponds around České Budějovice, Hluboká nad Vltavou, Protivín and Blatná.
There are plenty of interesting localities (sandstone, limestone, crystalline rocks – granite, gneiss) with rock walls and towers where climbing at various grades of difficulty is possible. Popular tourist routes for mountain tourism can be found in the regions of the Krkonoše Mountains, the Šumava Mountains, the Jizerské Hory Mountains, the Jeseníky Mountains, the Beskydy Mountains and other mountainous areas encircling the territory of the Czech Republic. The majority of the rocks suitable for climbing are located in protected landscape areas. Only registered mountain climbers are permitted to climb in these areas independently. Beginners must be accompanied by an instructor.
The most popular climbing places are:
- Labské Pískovce (Labe sandstones): location - Ústí nad Labem region
- Český Ráj (Czech Paradise): location - North-east Bohemia
- Adršpašsko-teplické skály (Adršpašsko-teplické rocks): location - Broumovsko area, Hradec Králové region
- Moravský kras (Moravian Karst): location - Blanensko area, South Moravian region
- Český kras (Czech Karst): location - Berounsko area, central Bohemian region
- Křivoklátsko: location - Rakovnicko area, central Bohemian region
The Czech Republic offers ideal conditions for walking tours. An unusually rich network of well-marked footpaths evenly covers the entire territory. This makes it possible to find one's way even in remote areas of the country. Hiking trails are marked with signs consisting of three horizontal stripes. The middle stripe indicates the trail colour, which can be red, blue, green or yellow. The colour indicates the level of difficulty of the trail. Both the upper and the lower stripes are white to make the sign more visible.
The most popular tourist regions include the Krkonoše National Park and the Šumava National Park. Walking enthusiasts should not miss the romantic sandstone ''rock towns'' in Český ráj (Bohemian Paradise), or some of the wild river valleys such as the valley of the Dyje River in Moravia, the Vydra River in Šumava or the Střela River in west Bohemia.
If you plan to travel around the Czech Republic by bicycle, you are legally required to have a properly equipped bicycle (functioning brakes, a red rear reflector, a white front reflector, a red rear light, a white front light as well as front and rear fenders). Bicycle helmets are compulsory for cyclists younger than 18, but are recommended for everyone. Riding a bike while under the influence of alcohol can lead to a fine.
Biking trails are divided into road trails and off-road trails. Signs indicating a biking trail have a yellow background. Road trails are on roads or well-paved paths, and they are marked with signs similar to road signs for motor vehicles. All signs show a bicycle symbol and trail number, and sign posts also show distances in kilometres to other places along the trail. Off-road trails are those that depart from roads with motor traffic and lead through the countryside and terrain, mostly on paths through fields or forest. These trails are marked with striped signs and with guideposts.
The wine trails of southern Moravia make up a unique network of regional bicycle trails connecting the most interesting wineries with historical monuments. The main Moravian Wine Trail connects Znojmo with Uherské Hradiště and travels through ten winemaking regions. Some 1,000 kilometres of trails pass through the beautiful vineyards and gardens of southern Moravia.
The underground world of the Czech Republic includes such unique places as labyrinths of caves connected by underground rivers, large caverns with unique stalagmites and stalactites, extensive halls with historic traces, and a river with a depth of 100 meters that forges its way through the largest Czech gorge.
- Koněpruské Caves: The Koněpruské Caves are situated in central Bohemia, seven kilometres south of Beroun, in the middle of the Bohemian Karst nature reserve, not far from the Křivoklát and Karlštejn castles.
- Punkva Caves: The Punkva Caves can be found in Pustý Žleb, about one kilometre from the Skalní Mlýn information centre. Visitors walk through mighty underground spaces and corridors, as far as the bottom of the world-famous Macocha Abyss. The abyss is 138.7 meters deep, with awe-inspiring dimensions of 174 x 76 meters. The walking tour is followed by a motorboat ride along the Punkva underground river.
Good winter conditions allow for winter sports to be enjoyed for several months. One can take advantage of hundreds of kilometres of well-kept cross-country trails, which are very well marked and regularly maintained, as well as of downhill runs of varying difficulty, snow parks, and skating and sledding facilities. Most winter resorts in the Czech Republic are situated in national parks or in protected areas.
Ski areas also provide a variety of services, including mountain pubs and restaurants. Newcomers to the winter sports scene are also looked after in the Czech mountains, as rental shops provide both ski equipment and experienced instructors to help first-time skiers.
The most popular places are:
- Krkonoše Mountains: The country's best-known ski areas are in this mountain range, including Špindlerův Mlýn, Pec pod Sněžkou, Harrachov and Rokytnice nad Jizerou. Excellent conditions ensure that even the most demanding skier or snowboarder will have something to choose from. The Krkonoše cross-country track is something of a novelty in Europe, as it comprises 520 km of maintained trails. 69 km are used for regular competitions.
- Jizerské Mountains: This is a favourite destination for cross-country skiers. It has some 130 km of well-kept trails.
- Šumava: Zadov, Špičák and Kramolín make up the ski areas of Šumava. Snowboarders have their own area within the confines of Zadov, while cross-country enthusiasts have more than 150 kilometres of trails to choose from.
- Beskydy: Cross-country skiers travel to Beskydy to take advantage of more than 100 kilometres of trails. The Lysohorská trail, the Těšínské Beskydy trail and the Pustevny trail are just a few of the famous routes in the area.