Czech Republic (Czechia)

While many people these days have heard of (or possibly even visited) Prague, the Czech Republic is a country with many interesting towns and cities to visit. Divided into Moravia in the east and Bohemia in the west, you can take your time roaming from region to region, visiting classic spa towns, fairy tale Renaissance chateaux, or checking out seasonal events like music festivals in the summer or Christmas markets in the winter. And of course, there’s the beer – in fact, it’s often cheaper than water, literally. Na zdraví!

I’ve actually STILL got a bit of unfinished business with Prague. I visited for exactly one night in the summer of 1998 and now (exactly 20 years later!) I came back for a 24-hour wander before heading east to the TBEX conference in Ostrava. Here are some of the highlights from my two weeks in Czechia. I’ll just have to come back for you, Prague! 😉

>> There are general tips below, but for WHERE to eat and drink in with a handy map view, check out Foursquare lists for Ostrava and Prague that I created based your recommendations and places I’ve visited. There’s also a Twitter feed embedded if you scroll to the bottom of this post, which is helpful for the absolute latest news.

Map of the Czech Republic

What to Eat in the Czech Republic

Czech food can be a bit heavy, especially if you are visiting in the summer. You’ll see a lot of stews or roast meats with rich sauces and dumplings to soak it all up. One thing I love though is how something like a little lemon or dill added to a cream sauce can brighten up a dish or how tart fruits like cranberry and plums are used with savory dishes. River fishes like trout and carp are also popular if you’ve had enough meat and game. Don’t neglect the sweets and pastries either!

Most Czech locals will order from the denni menu (daily menu) at a restaurant, this usually consists of a handful of daily specials that will be ready quickly and at a lower price than if you order off the regular menu, usually 2 or 3 courses but not including a drink. You may not find English translations for them though, so go with your gut or trust your server. Here’s a really great guide to understanding a Czech menu if you’re up to trying to eat like a local!

  • Svičkova na Smetaně – beef tenderloin with root vegetable sauce, usually garnished with a lemon slice, cream and cranberry sauce and served with sliced bread dumplings
  • Goulash – made with beef or pork
  • Dumplings – dumplings come in many types, including Karlovarsky (Herb dumplings) or Bramborovy (potato dumplings) or Bramboračky (potato pancakes)
  • Vepřove Koleno – pork knuckle (also Vepřo-knedlo-zelo, roast pork, dumplings and stewed cabbage, like sauerkraut)
  • Uzená – smoked Pork ribs, usually served with spinach
  • Tatarák – beef tartare, often served as an appetizer
  • Smažený Sýr – fried cheese
  • Olomouc tvarůžky – a special (and stinky!) cheese from the region of Olomouc (see below)
  • Grilované Klobásy – grilled sausages
  • Bramboráčky – potato pancakes
  • Chlebicek – open sandwiches, usually spread with egg salad, deli meats, crab sticks
  • Kulajda – a mushroom-potato soup with dill and topped with a poached or boiled egg
  • Perníky – gingerbread
  • Palačinky – Czech crepes
  • Trdlo or Trdelník– a sweet treat, a cylinder shaped tube of cake/pastry with sugar and cinnamon outside. You can find it filled with ice cream, nuttella, etc. (Note: These are not actually traditional, so they are a bit of a tourist thing. I’m including them here since you’re bound to run into them in the touristic areas, but you’ve been warned!)

What to Drink in the Czech Republic

  • beer (pivo) – it probably goes without saying, but the beer in Czechia is delicious. It’s also literally cheaper than water, most of the time.
  • wine (vino) – it’s less commonly known that there are also some amazing wines in the Czech Republic, particularly from the Moravian region in the east.
  • spirits – herbal liquers and digestifs like Becherovka
  • coffee

Making your way around the Czech Republic

There’s so much more to the Czech Republic than just Prague! Nothing against Prague of course, as it’s a beautiful city too. But it’s great that people are starting to explore the many regions outside of the capital. (If you need a little inspiration, check out my Czech Republic photo galleries.)

  • Prague
  • Pilsen
  • Ostrava
  • South Bohemia
  • Olomouc – I didn’t get to stop in Olomouc, the 6th largest city in the Czech Republic, but it’s on my list for my next visit for sure! The first draw for me was the famous Olomouc tvarůžky cheese, which is so famous it even has it’s own festival, a museum and a special designation of origin from the EU. There’s even an Olomouc half marathon in June. Tempting!

Czech Republic Resources

Before you get to Czechia, you may want to brush up on your Czech! (It’s quite difficult for English-speakers!) Fortunately, the guys from the Honest Guide put together this handy tutorial for you. Watch through the end, it’s hilarious. 😉