Caving is one of the last hobbies and professions in which it’s just possible to discover a new part of the planet where a human foot has never trodden. That seldom happens here in the Czech Republic as our caves are well mapped out – but you never know. Underground labyrinths are huge in size and no one is ever sure what they might find beyond the narrowest crack in the rock.
The unknown, not knowing what’s hiding in the dark, the mysterious nature of the these places about which we know very little – this is what makes caves worthwhile and popular attractions for families with children and young people. A cave has a certain romance about it, even though these are dark, dank places. Our ancestors lived in caves and caves are hiding places for natural beauty and loot of all kinds. Something attracts us to caves, so let yourself be drawn, at our invitation, to some of the most beautiful examples in the country.
1. Caves and trilobites in the Czech karst area
The Czech karst is the largest explored underground labyrinth in the country. And it’s a mere 20km from Prague, which makes its Koněpruské caves the ideal tip for a trip for the good folk of Prague and others of course. The caves were formed in the Devonian period from one of the highest quality limestones in the world. In addition to its dripstone decoration, the caves boast a truly rare sight – a coiner’s workshop dating from the 15th century, which the guides describe in detail. Around the caves there are various fossil deposits; a special trail leads to one of these direct from the cave entrance.
2. The deepest abyss in the Olomouc District
The Zbrašov aragonite caves are a unique site in Europe, and if you’re in the Olomouc area you shouldn’t miss them. The caves are rich in mineral water and at a stable 14 °C, they’re the warmest caves in the Czech lands. Nearby is the Hranice Abyss, said to be 285.5m deep. The bottom has never been fully explored.
3. Výstupek Cave’s military past
In medieval times quacks and snake doctors set up shop in Výstupek, it housed a aircraft engine factory during WWII and after the war it was taken over by the Czechoslovak army, which used it as a command centre with a chemical laboratory attached. It’s the last chapter in the cave’s history that interests visitors most as the army has since abandoned the site, and its former premises are now part of the tour. A must-see.
4. Balcarka reopened
Balcarka boasts the richest dripstone decoration in the Moravian karst area (at least of the caves open to the public) and it has just opened again after renovation. The cave is now in tip-top condition with new illumination using more eco-friendly LED lights, and there a new exhibition on reindeer hunters. But all these features fade into the background as you gaze in awe at the stalactites and stalagmites on display.
5. Boat trips along the subterranean Punkva River
The best know cave in the land must be Punkevní in the Moravian karst area, which lies near the legendary 138m-deep Macocha Abyss. If you’ve not been here yet, you should definitely make the time to take a subterranean boat trip, a unique experience indeed and one you’ll remember for years to come.
6. Dissolved marble at Na Pomezí
Another fascinating set of caves is Na Pomezí in North Moravia. These caves were created when marble was dissolved by underground water flow and they are the largest of this kind in the country. A typical feature of this type of cave is cascading dripstone, which forms huge walls of limestone. As in other caves, rare species of bat like to hibernate here and you may spot a few if you’re lucky.
7. No stalagmites – just coloured walls
Chýnov Cave was the first cave of its kind to be opened up to the paying public. There’s no dripstone decoration, but it does have so-called ‘eyes’ formed by two types of stone – a weird and wonderful sight indeed. This cave is one of the coldest in the land, with the temperature sinking as low as 5 °C – so be sure to take a sweater.
8. Wine and caves
If you head for the wine cellars around Mikulov, don’t forget that even here you can visit a cave. On Turold Hill, on the outskirts of Mikulov, you’ll discover an accessible and truly unique cave in Jurassic limestone. We guarantee you won’t find such fine dripstone decoration in any wine cellar!
9. Lakes under the ground
The largest dolomite lakes in the country are situated underground. The temperature of the water is 8 °C and air humidity around 100 %. You can only experience this unusual climate at the Bozkovské Caves, which form two separate systems linked by a manmade tunnel.
10. Litovel – two caves for the price of one!
The Javoříčské and Mladečské caves are located near the town of Litovel. One of them is full of underground boulders and abysses, the other is known for its dripstone adornment. If you plan things right, you can visit both in one day.