Czeching out Czechland: five less obvious day trips from Prague

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All together now - "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaytripper!"

Hurray for the recent sunshine!

Sunshine plus spring plus a desire to escape Prague (or at least explore its edges) can only mean one thing: it’s daytrip time.

If you have been here in Czechland for a while, you’ve probably done the obvious choices. Karlštejn? Check (if you’ll excuse the pun). Křivoklát? Yes, it’s another castle and you may remember that I’ve been there too.

Now I’ve nothing against castles but there are only so many tours of long corridors lined with the heads of dead animals I can take.So in an attempt to help out those of you who’d like to explore Bohemia but a) don’t have a car b) are a bit sick of chateaux c) want an adventure but one that doesn’t involve wandering too far beyond Prague.

Yes, Pruhonice has a chateau but we're here to eat our sandwiches in the park

1. Count Arnošt’s Country Park: Pruhonice

It’s Saturday morning around 11am. Two English ladies are sedately strolling around the grounds of Pruhonice Park.

Czechman was sceptical about our ability to locate Pruhonice without male assistance. Despite the fact that getting there requires nothing more complicated than getting on metro line C to Opatov then a 15 minute bus ride. “Just don’t call me and tell me you’ve both ended up in Kladno,” I’m told by Pan Skeptik as I head off in the morning.

Czechman is also unimpressed with our start time. You see Czechs would have already arrived at their day trip destination ready for action while my English companion and I were still at home buttering our sandwiches.

“We’re having a picnic instead of going somewhere for lunch! We’re economising!” I declare as I fill up yet another pitta bread with a mansized portion of leftover roast chicken and salad.

Again, Czechman is underwhelmed. “So that means you were planning to spend thirty minutes actually in the park then leave to head off to a restaurant?”

“Umm, possibly.”

Wrong answer. And apparently taking a picnic blanket to sit on is deeply un-Czech also. It suggests you are not truly at one in nature.

Anyway, Pruhonice is so close to Prague that it is practically a suburb of the city but the UNESCO protected park has such impressive, well-kept, spacious grounds it’s easy to lose the crowds and feel like you’ve left the city well behind. This is perfect spoilt and western English lady terrain: beautiful trees, lakes and general greenery with well-maintained paths and not too many hills to climb up. Founded by Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca in 1885, Pruhonice Park is still fit for royalty and boasts eighty hectares of greenery to get lost in. Well worth the 50kc entrance fee.

We didn’t get lost. But we did stop for coffee. I think Count Arnost would approve of such indulgence.

2. The Girly Option: Glass and Jewellery Museum, Jablonec nad Nisou

Perhaps you’d like a daytrip destination which is indisputably beyond Prague’s city limits but which is a) weatherproof b) doesn’t involve castles c) has a girly theme.

Jablonec nad Nisou isn’t famous for much. When I told Czechman of my plan to head there with the Czech Wives’ Club he taught me this phrase: “tam dávají lišky dobrou noc” which roughly translates as “it’s the arse end of nowhere”.

However, it does have a glass and jewellery museum which makes it the perfect destination if you’re female and you want to be sure you’ll actually feel tempted to buy something more than a postcard in the shop. It received EU money at some point which means that unlike many museums in Czech small towns, it is bright and modern and the exhibits are well displayed with explanations in English.

Getting there from Prague involves stopping at Liberec, which has a pretty square and is worth taking in, especially since it has more to offer in the way of lunch options. Assuming you didn’t bring your own sandwiches of course.

3. “So what’s a skanzen?” Přerov nad Labem

One of the things I love about life in Czechland is the way you end up being exposed to new things. For example, it was not one of my ambitions in life to visit an open air museum of folk architecture. Perhaps the whole thing might sound slightlz sexier if I use its Czech name – skanzen.

The Wikipedia definition of a skanzen says something about  it giving a spatial, temporal, social and natural context to folk culture. More simply put, it is a sort of reconstruction of the way a village used to be back in ye olden days. You get to wander around the collection of cottages and outhouses, some of which are original and some of which are reconstructions, and go inside to peer at mannequins doing rustic poses around the fireside or baking bread or some other activity countryfolk once did.

The one at Přerov nad Labem is a decent example and all you need to do to get there is hop on a bus from Smichov. I thought it was charming and fun. But then again, I do have a bit of a thing about mannequins.

4. Where the Labe and the Vltava meet: Mělník

Confluence isn’t a word I get to drop into everyday conversation much but as Mělník  is located where the River Labe and the Vltava meet I can slip it into this sentence.

Mělník has all the elements required for the perfect Girl in Czechland daytrip. It’s easily accessible from Prague. It has a photogenic main square. There’s a Renaissance chateau – yawn – but wait! They make their own wine! And they have decent cakes on sale in the cukrana!

Also for the morbid among you or for those who haven’t yet made it to the bone church at Kutna Hora, there’s an ossuary. If walking around a cellar filled with human remains wasn’t creepy enough, during my last visit a recording of gothic organ music played in the background. Spooky.

Melnik: pretty, easy to get to from Prague and there's a confluence. What more do you want?

5. The Chapel and the bramboráčky: Mnišek pod Brdy

So we come now to recommendation number five – Mnišek pod Brdy – which I visited in one of the final sunny days of  the autumn.

The town itself is easy on the eye but head up the hill behind it and you’ll find the Mary Magdalene chapel, a hermitage and a former monastery turned museum.  Just behind where the monks once observed holy orders, there’s a mountain chalet style hut serving bramboráčky: the perfect high calorie reward for having made it up the steep incline.

Here it is! The highlight of my Mnisek trip - the source of the tasty bramboračky

I’d be very interested to hear your own quirky day trip ideas and also about your own experiences in any of these destinations. Happy tripping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 Comments

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23 Responses to Czeching out Czechland: five less obvious day trips from Prague

  1. Naďa W. Stanková via Facebook

    And one more: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001141654411 Really cool place if one is into bio meat.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Nada,
      Thanks for the link. I prefer to eat organic meat given the choice so there’s a very good chance Czechman and I will ‘czech’ this place out in the not too distant future.
      GIC

  2. Kate Burley via Facebook

    Dayytripper. Live the Beatles photo. Ringing’s nose looking particularly impressive there 🙂

  3. MRAK

    Dear GIC, you better come up with idea of at least one-day trip out of czechland … the quirkiest holidays is coming – czech Easter 🙂

    • girlinczechland

      Hello MRAK,
      Worry not – my plane tickets back to England are in fact already booked! But seriously, I’m actually a little sad to be missing out on all the arse-whacking fun and I’m considering writing a post about English vs Czech Easter to compensate…
      GIC

      • MRAK

        Oh please, write a post about Easter differences! … Although I used to hate running around with stick while chasing girls since I was a shy boy, it was (almost) compulsory so I had to do it.

  4. Gormie

    Mníšek pod Brdy is also the birthplace of Felix Háj (which is the pseudonym of Marie Wágnerová-Černá), the author of popular childern books about Kája Mařík. The story of the book also takes place in Mníšek, but its name was changed to “Lážov” in the book.

  5. Great tips. I haven’t even been to half of those! Shame on me. I think I will link to this post very soon.

  6. Richardinprague

    Hi, Girl!

    You’ve listed some super trips – Pruhonice is lovely. You can wander through the park for miles. It is also possible to get married there (hint hint!) There’s a great place for the pictures from the patio of the Zamek 🙂

    One you could think about is to take the bus or train to Roztoky (down the river beyond Prague 6), then walk through the valley past some pretty classy buildings from another era to “Maxmilianka”, where there used to be a pretty wild club in previous years (ask Czechman – he will probably know). You can continue the walk through the valley, following the course of a small steam to Unetice where there is a recently reopened brewery (http://unetickypivovar.cz/) where you can refresh yourself before catching a bus back to Dejvice for the A-line.

    Rather further out is the hill at Rip (reachable by 1 hour train journey from Maserykovo station to Kleneč), which is alleged to have been founded by “forefather Czech” (http://mountain-rip.czech-mountains.eu/).

    Even further are the Kounov Rady (Kounov Rows). You’ve seen Stonehenge, and maybe you’ve seend the stone rows at Carnac in Brittany. Kounov has the Czech versions. They are nowhere near as large, but there are 300 or so stones laid out in mysterious straight lines (http://eldar.cz/archeoas/kounov/kounov_en.html). Catch the train from Masrykovo to Mutějovice, and walk up the hill. I always feel it has a spooky atmosphere up there!

    Lost of other crazy places, too – many reachable by trains, which have not (yet) suffered from the Czech equivalent of Dr Beeching’s cuts in the UK!

    Enjoy your day trips to what I call “Secret Czech”!

    • Richardinprague

      Sorry for the typos in the previous posting – I’m using a laptop, and it sometimes gets carried away!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Richard,

      Thanks a lot for all your tips! Czechman and I will definitely be ‘czeching out’ some of your suggestions – just as soon as the weather improves again. Until then, I think Czechman and I will be dedicating our weekends to some much needed D.I.Y – I’d much rather be in the great outdoors but needs must and all that.

      GIC

  7. Martina

    Hello GIC,
    Ive recently found your blog and I really felt in love!!! 🙂

    Anyway – if you prefer nature to castles, I definitely recommend you “Drabske svetnicky”. Its a very nice walk. Unfortunately not accessible without a car.

    “Rip” has already been mentioned by Richardinprague, I am used to walk there from Roudnice nad Labem and not from Klenec. (Just FYI there is another possibility 🙂

    Another nice place to see is “Ostra” – a small village near Prague (heading east) where Botanicus has its gardens and a small medieval village. http://www.botanicus.cz/en/historic-village-and-gardens. Walking in the lavender gardens is very relaxing!

    Cheers
    Martina

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Martina,
      Sorry it’s taken me a while to respond. I’m not completely against castles so once Czechman and I finally invest in a car I’ll definitely check out the one you mention. BTW, how is the Botanicus village? I’m considering going there but I’m worried it might be a bit Disneyfied…

      GIC

      • I’ve never been there, but my sister has, and was taken. And I don’t thing she’d be taken by Disneyland, so I’d pronounce it safe. More of a skanzen, with a hands-on approach, from what I heard. 😉

  8. Kutna Hora is a nice town. I think the bone church is strangely beautiful.

  9. Have you been to Cesky Krumlov? I imagine you must have. I know it is not so close to Prague but it is positively heavenly. I absolutely love it.

  10. Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov are both fantastic. I can’t help finding it ironic that the bone church is smack bang next to a tobacco factory!

  11. Ha, never noticed that, brilliant.

  12. I’ve been to Prague ten times now, will look back at some of your five suggestions, for when I next visit. Been to Jablonec for football, which is why I visit your adopted country, but it was a Bank Holiday, so the town seemed closed, but there you go, hit & miss with towns I visit. I think the most depressing place I’ve been stuck in for a few hours was Kladno! went there for football, a few seasons later went back for hockey, but didn’t get there early that time!

  13. Nicole

    I have been a quiet lurker, reading your blog posts without ever commenting, for about a year now, so I figured it’s about time to change that. I am an American who fell in love with a Czech man and I’ll be spending this summer with him in Prague. I will have a lot of free time, so I appreciate the daytrip suggestions given by you and by others in the comments! It looks like you’ve done an admirable job learning Czech – are there any language schools or specific books that you’d recommend?

  14. Hana

    Hi, as for some previously mentioned tips, the Botanicus village in Ostra is actually really nice and not hyped too much, and besides there is the Lhota pond nearby and that’s one of the best & biggest places near Prague to go swimming outdoors. And I can’t help it but recommend my hometown Veltrusy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veltrusy_Mansion – yes, it’s a chateau, but with a vast and beautiful park. And also peacocks and fallow deer.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Hana,

      More daytrip suggestions are most welcome, especially given that the weather finally seems to be behaving as it should at this time of year. I’m very glad to hear that Botanicus is not too tacky and disneyfied (some ladies from my knitting circle – I know, rock and roll eh?) said the same recently as I would really like to ‘czech’ it out.

      GIC

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