The Šumava is not just a large chunk of the country, a 120km-long range of mountains stretching along the southwest border with Germany and Austria, or the largest national park in the country with beat bogs, glacial lakes and the remnants of virgin forest, but it’s also about the area around, a landscape of undulating hills reaching up to the highest peaks.
Man has performed miracles here in the shape of beefy medieval border castles and pieces of the country’s industrial heritage such as the Schwarzenberg Canal and the region’s glassworks, which once exported to the whole world and whose glass you can still see in museum in Klatovy, Sušice, Kašperské Hory, Vimperk and Prachatice. Vista-junkies can get their fix at many locations around the Šumava, so why not join them at viewing towers atop hills with names such as Sedlo, Boubín, Kleť, Poledník, Svatobor and Bolfánek u Chudenic. If you’re a skier, you may already know the area’s famous winter sports resorts such as Železná Ruda, Špičák and Churáňov, while canoeists just adore the Vltava and Otava rivers.
If you head for Lipno in the winter months, you’re sure of a cracking good time. Willing to put down the skis for a moment? It’s worth it to try out the local bobsleigh, take a stroll on snow shoes, enjoy a dogsledding excursion or a bit of R&R as you are pulled along in a horse-drawn sleigh.
If life is dull without skis, then head for the Lipno Ski Centre, a modern resort catering for families with children, beginners and school groups. In addition to several downhill slopes the centre also has an 800m-long snowcross course, a snowpark, evening skiing and a 40km-long, well-maintained cross-country skiing trail. Another huge attraction is the 11km-long skating course, which appears when the conditions are right on the frozen reservoir. If you prefer more challenging terrain, try the Špičák Ski Centre near Železná Ruda, which boasts the best skiing facilities on the Czech side of the Šumava. Five downhill slopes sit alongside two children’s ski areas, a snowpark and a four-seater cable car.
You’ll find countless superb cross-country skiing trails in the Šumava, with the most popular location lying between the villages of Churáňov – Zhůří – Filipova Huť – Bučina – Kvilda – Nové Hutě. Downhill skiing cognoscenti will love Špičák ski resort near Železná Ruda and others at Zadov-Churáň, Kašperské Hory and Lipno.
Highlighted from the region:
Šumava National park
The most attractive places for tourists are around Železná Ruda, Prášily, Srní, Modrava, Kvilda and Borová Lada, the Vydra River, the source of the River Vltava and the area’s nature reserves such as those at, Jezerní slať, Laka, Plešné, Černé and Čertovo lakes, the Boubínský Forest, Bílá strž waterfall and many other locations.
This Gothic castle was founded by Czech King Charles IV to protect an important trade route and local gold mines. Contained within a narrow rectangle of defensive walls, the castle is made up of a burgrave’s house and the remains of a two-storey palace boasting two towers.
This noble residence has a clever system of moats, dating from the turn of the 15th century, which has survived in its original state. The castle was built by Půta Švihovský of Rýzmberk, who called on the help of the leading architect of the day, Benedikt Rejt.
This one-time Renaissance summer hunting lodge in the style of an Italian villa has a moat and a geometrically laid-out garden. This all dates from the end of the 16th century and was built for Vilém of Rožmberk.
The king of all Czech Castles, this is the largest set of ruins in the Czech lands. The tour takes in the 26m-high tower, an exhibition of medieval tiles and the cells in the dungeon. There are also theatre performances, the theme of which is ‘the life of bees’.
Some 48km long and up to 10km wide, this reservoir is a popular place of recreation.
There is a year-round bobsleigh run and in summer you can take a sightseeing cruise, play a round of golf and swing around a rope centre. In winter head for the ski resorts and the Foxpark Captain Lipánek where children can learn to ski. The 11km-long skating track between Lipno nad Vltavou and Frymburk, maintained with the use of special machines, is also a great experience.