Cesky Raj is the first Nature Reserve in the Czech Republic. Two hours North of Prague by train, it’s a great day trip to get out of Prague. You’ll find towering sandstone rock gardens, ancient castles built atop weathered outcroppings, swimming holes at every other turn and Czech locals out enjoying the warm weather.
I spent an entire day in the Bohemian Paradise, taking the train to Turnov in the morning and returning in the evening. You can walk to the major sites, espicially if you take bus back to the train station. However, any path walked is much better biked! After a little trouble and miscommunication finding the shop, I rented a bike for the day and was cruising down the cycle tracks. An early stop at the inforamtion center gave me a map of all the roads, hiking paths and cycling routes that was invaluable for the trip.
Here are some photos of what I saw over the course of the day.
Start of the tour. Cycle tracks and maps are easily found.
Warm water and willow trees!
Rock garden outlook
Looking over the rock garden
Valdštejn Castle. A nice stop with a pub!
Another swimming hole
A nice water supply coming out of the rocks?
Guess not. I think this means it's bad...
You just come across this in the woods!
One of many village churches
I don’t think I heard another lick of English after the information center – most people were visiting from other parts of the Czech Republic. For a good part of the trip I played leapfrog with a couple: her on a mountain bike and him in a tricked-out handcycle. Carbon frame, a huge climbing gear and fat mountain wheels. Watching him climb the steep roads to the castles was impressive and inspiring. We passed each other stopping for sights, snacks and swimming holes.
The route took me through some of the major sites: Var castle, Hubra Skala, Vysker. Some of the marked cycle routes were winding dirt roads through the forest, others were long and steep switch backed climbs. A bike gives you so much freedom in where you can go – so much quicker than walking, easy to conquer rough terrain and no problem to park against a signpost for a visit to castle or for an afternoon beer! I recommend Cesky Raj to anyone visiting Prague with a day to kill and a desire to get outside the city.