When most people think of winter activities in the Czech Republic, they think of skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and other snow-coated sports. But the Czech Republic is gifted with a dense network of hiking trails that are just as beautiful in winter as they are in the warmer seasons, says Augustine de la Cruz of Rohlìk s Paštikou Adventures.
“I think winter gives you a new perspective of the area. These [destinations] are less crowded and it kind of makes you feel closer to nature. The view is amazing especially if there is snow.”
De la Cruz is a hiking enthusiast who was born in Peru and came to Prague fifteen years ago from Florida where he was raised. Thanks to his then girlfriend he quickly developed a love of the Czech national pastime:
“She introduced me to the Czech way of travel,” he says, one that included packing “rohlik (bread rolls), pastika (pâté), and šťávu (water mixed with home-made flavored syrup),” and hitting small towns, villages, castles, forests, lakes, and mountains.
He began inviting visitors on privately guided hikes with the aim of introducing them to a similar side of Czech culture. These walks morphed into a tour service that now leads hikes to some of the Czech Republic’s most breath-taking locations, from Koněprusy Caves to Bohemian Switzerland.
De la Cruz recently shared his favorite winter hikes with us, each of them offering breathtaking views and, if you’re lucky, snow-blanketed surrounds.
To join a Rohlìk s Paštikou trek, follow their Facebook page or grab your bread rolls and pâté and go it on your own with these tips:
Adršpach-Teplice Rocks (Adršpašské skalní město)
This stunning area of sandstone rocks in Northern Bohemia, not far from the Polish border and close to the towns of Trutnov, Teplice nad Metují, and Nachod has been a national park since 1933. About half a kilometer from the park’s Křížový vrch is an easily navigable educational trail for walkers of all ages. Another more challenging trail meanders along the Stations of the Cross, cast-iron reliefs dating from the 17th century. A 3-km hike from the parking area will take you to Starozámecký vrch for a panoramic view encompassing the rock town, Křížový vrch, and most of Dolní Adršpach. For an English-friendly guide to the area that works offline, see here.
Czech Switzerland (České Švycarsko)
A popular winter hike in this area is Tiské stěny, which contains two routes – Malý and Velký. Malý is a maze, with caves and rock windows. Velký will take you along the edge of a rock cliff. The Děčínský Sněžník view tower, the highest peak in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, is another winter attraction (open 10:00 to 16:00 weekends only during this season). Climb to the top of the tower for a sweeping view that encompasses Ještěd, Sněžka, Říp, and even the churches of Dresden. See this website for information on the park’s winter attractions.
Šumava National Park
Located along the German border (and even extending partially into Germany), this park is crisscrossed by eight trails. It is famed for its unspoiled nature and clear water. You can camp in the park – even during the winter seaon. The 13-meter-high Bílá strž waterfall makes for excellent viewing, as does the glacial Černé jezero (one of eight glacial lakes in the park). Another trail takes you from the village of Nová Pec to Plechý, the highest peak in the national park, with a sweeping view. This one is a strenuous hike, covering 20.5 km. www.npsumava.cz
Karlovy Vary to Loket
If you’re hiking with the kids, this may be the choice for you. Marked tourist routes through the surrounding wooded hills start in Loket, Doubí near Karlovy Vary, and in Cihelny. It’s mostly flat, and about 3 km from the trailhead in Karlovy Vary, you will come to a restaurant to fuel up for the rest of the walk. Upon arrival in Loket, you can visit the castle. The trail is approximately 10 km in length. Tip: Access the Karlovy Vary-Loket trail by taking the funicular from Karlovy Vary to the Diana view tower above the city. www.karlovyvary.cz
The Golden Trail
For lovers of both long hikes and history, there is this famous path which received its name centuries ago, due to the wealth that was transported along it. The trail, which runs from the German border to the Austrian border, is actually a network of three trails, with a total length of 631 km. Highlights of the trip include Husinec, the birthplace of Jan Hus; Kašperské Hory, with its castle and museum; the 17th-century Stožec Chapel; the synagogue and Jewish cemetery in Čkyně; and the town monument reserve of Domažlice. Several sections of the trail can be done as shorter hikes. For information see zlatoustezkou.cz.
What’s your favorite winter walk in Prague and beyond?