With summer fast approaching and the days becoming longer, why not swap climbing the walls for something a bit more adventurous? The Czech Republic provides the backdrop to some of the most impressive outdoor climbing locations in Europe. So even if you don’t know your ‘bucket box’ from your ‘chicken head’, there are plenty of options for beginners and the more experienced alike.
As with most things in life, safety is paramount. It’s important to get acquainted with the rules and grading system used for climbing in the Czech Republic, not to mention some of the unique climbing styles. The Czech Climbing website offers a good introduction for novices and an array of interesting climbing articles. The content is user-generated, and it’s an ideal place to find a climbing partner.
The next step on your way to the summit is to get kitted out. Most indoor climbing centers offer equipment for rent, as do companies who offer outdoor climbing excursions. One of the best one stop shops for climbing is located in Holešovice in Prague 7: the Boulder Bar is a Mecca for climbing enthusiasts, with an indoor climbing wall, bouldering gym, and funnily enough, a bar which often hosts climbing-related lectures and screenings. It’s also a good place to meet fellow climbers and buy the essentials. Hudy is also a good place to buy what you need to get started. However, if buying all of your own kit is not an option, there are many places to rent equipment. Try indoorclimbing.com, which lists rental companies across the Czech Republic.
The Great Outdoors
Once you’re fully equipped, it’s time to decide where to begin your outdoor adventure. One of the most interesting challenges in the Czech Republic is climbing on soft sandstone, a.k.a. becoming a ‘sander’. As many of these climbs are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, there are some special rules such as, little or no use of bold rings, and a complete ban on chalk. Masters of this climbing style have been compared to looking as if they are homeless! Appearances can be deceptive, however, as climbing on sandstone takes a mixture of skill, strength, and nerves of steel. Sanding is specific to the Czech Republic and the Saxon region of Germany. Climbing paradise offers experienced instructors and unparalleled access to some of the best climbing locations.
For many, the Mecca of outdoor climbing in the Czech Republic can be found in Hřensko, in the České Švýcarsko national park. Situated in the north of the Czech Republic, the wind-and-rain-battered sandstone has created dramatic rock formations which punch through the underlying greenery and offer excellent views across the national park. This area is also home to Europe’s largest natural bridge, Pravčická brána, which is worth a visit in between climbs. Visit NaKovárně.com for more information on planning your own climbs in the national park, and detailed information on the difficulty levels of some of the most popular climbing spots.
Prachovské Skály, located just under 100km Northeast of Prague, is another popular climbing location. Over 200 sandstone rock towers, combined with a rich climbing history, means that there are plenty of well-maintained routes for all levels. The unique sandstone rock formations are breathtaking even from ground level. The reward for climbing is worth every bead of sweat. For more information about the area and the climbing history, visit the Jičín tourist portal.
If you would like to experience climbing on something other than sandstone then one of the nicest climbing areas in the Czech Republic is in Srbsko, 40km southwest of Prague. Situated alongside the Berounka River, climbs here offer fantastic views and routes for all skill levels. The rock here is Limestone (natural and quarried); this is a popular destination for Praguers, and can get busy during the summer. There are camping facilities close by, so it’s possible to stay for the weekend; however, due its popularity, you might want to book in advance. Czech Camping offers a good list of campsites in the area.
Considering the natural beauty of the Czech countryside, you could easily be forgiven for overlooking Prague as an outdoor climbing location. However, the biggest outdoor climbing wall in the Czech Republic is located in Strašnice at Gutovka, close to the Strašnická metro station on line A. It has fantastic facilities in a central location, and offers a good place to climb for those getting to know the ropes or for those who are pushed for time.
When it’s impossible (or suicidal) to climb outdoors, there are many indoor locations to keep you busy throughout the colder months. Many climbing centers offer courses for beginners.
Climbing Centre Ruzyně
Drnovská 19, Prague 6
The cost of a single entry is 95 CZK; a climbing pass for 10 entries is 850 CZK. If you pay for entry to the climbing wall, access to the boldering wall and gym is included. There is also a cheaper rate for those who are able to climb during the day: 65 CZK before 15:00. There are no time limits for climbing, and it is possible to rent equipment.
Bubenská 43, Prague 7
The cost of a single entry on weekdays between 07:00 and 17:00 is 85 CZK. From 17:00 until 23:00, and on weekends, the admisson is 125 CZK. The entrance fee also includes access to the bouldering wall, and it is possible to rent equipment.
Křížová 6, Prague 5
This is one of the biggest climbing centers in Prague; it’s hard to find on a first visit, but can be easily reached by bus 104, 120, 121 or 231 from Na Knížecí to Správa sociálního zabezpečení. Entry depends on the time of the day; check the rates here.
Climbing offers the complete package: a physical and mental challenge, a chance to meet a diverse mix of people, and the ultimate reward of seeing this fantastic country from a new perspective.
Considering the wealth of locations available, it is impossible to list all of the amazing places to climb; we’d love to hear about your experiences of climbing in the Czech Republic in the comment section below!