Whilst we have a wide range of city tours and day trips from Prague, some of our guests prefer to go it alone and explore the countryside independently.
My trip to the Krkonoše (the Czechs translate this as Giant Mountains, which is a little hopeful, compared to the Alps) earlier this month may give you some inspiration to do some hiking, Czech style.
We stayed in a hotel in Spindleruv Mlyn, the ski capital of the Czech Republic, booking would be recommended for peak summer. We chose Spindl (the locals’ short name for it) as I have stayed there plenty of times before during ski seasons so wanted to see what it was like without a covering of snow. Plus it’s very easy to get to.
By Bus from Prague
Direct buses from Prague run frequently, usually from Cerny Most, the eastern-most end of the B metro line. You can usually buy a ticket from the driver, but it is also possible (and advisable if you want a seat, it can be standing room only) to book ahead for the peak times of day. The bus journey takes between 2 and half and 3 hours, depending on which bus you take.
What to do there?
Spindl is an all-year-round active holiday destination, with plenty of activities on offer, such as tandem paragliding, quad biking, horse riding and more.
Let’s hit the hut!
Our main reason for the trip was to go hiking and climb Sněžka (Snowy Mountain), the tallest peak in the Czech Republic, at 1602m above sea level. We started at the Svaty Petr ski area, cheating somewhat by taking the chair lift up to 1200m. From there we followed signs first to Klinove Boudy, then Chata na Rozcesti, then on to Luční Bouda, literally ‘Meadow Hut’, a surprisingly large hill-top hotel & restaurant. The route has fairly few ups and downs and no steep climbs. We stopped there for a hearty plate of deer goulash with bacon dumplings washed down with a beer. There’s free wifi there, if you feel the need to check in on Foursquare or post a Facebook status update.
The mostly flat path from Luční Bouda to Sněžka runs along the Czech-Polish border, marked with nothing but stone markers (with C on one side and P on the other). Sněžka itself is also split between the two countries.
Snowy Mountain Hop
You’re starting quite a way up Sněžka (there’s a funicular on the other side, from much lower down, near the town of Pec Pod Sněžkou) and you have a choice of two routes, the easy way and the hard way. The hard way involves lots of steps and zig zags mostly straight up. The easy way is a more gentle path that spirals around, reaching the summit from the opposite side. There was still plenty of snow on both routes when we were there. There is a collection of buildings at the summit, the Polish side contains a disc-shaped observatory whilst the Czech side has a post office, so you can send a postcard to the folks back home, or have a hot drink. Looking out over Poland you can see for miles, as it is much flatter than the peaks and rolling hills you can see on the Czech side.
Eastern Europe’s Fuji?
In summer I’m told it gets very busy, with Czechs and Poles and tourists from other countries, such as nearby Germany, making the ascent, much in the same way the Japanese climb Mt. Fuji.
And back down again
We went up the hard way and came down the easy way – pick what works for you, both seemed to take about the same time. We headed back to Luční Bouda, and from there took a different route back down to Spindl (the shorter, 7.5km route) via Úbočí Kozích hřbetů. All in, around a 30km (18.6 miles) hike, that took around 8 and a half hours, with breaks.
After the exertions of the day before, Sunday was a day for leisurely walking, stopping off at the summer bob-sled track on a stroll along the Elbe. Buses back to Prague are quite frequent, so just grab one that is at a convenient time.
Sturdy walking shoes (preferably ones with some waterproofing, if it has rained). Several layers of clothing – temperature changes mean you’ll need to add and remove layers. Bottled water and some muesli bars. A camera. Oh, and a map!