If you know where the Czech Republic is (think directly in the center of Europe), you probably only think of Prague or perhaps Cesky Krumlov as the place to visit. But there are some amazing places in the Eastern Czech Republic which should not be missed. Whether you like beer, mountains, spas or alpine sleds, there will be something for you.
It might not be as famous as Prague, Cesky Krumlov and Brno, but Ostrava is the third-largest city in the Czech Republic and it has a lot to offer. The historic city center is full of museums, beautiful coffee houses and a lively nightlife street. The Lower Vitkovice mines are the site of the annual Colours of Ostrava music festival and are on the list of tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you want to get to the highest place in town, head for the Halda Ema slag heap, an artificial mountain made from slag (waste) out of the mines. From there you can see all around Ostrava and even as far as Poland. That’s also where you want to head if you’re cold, as the interior of the mountain is burning at 2200 °F.
Southeast of Ostrava, near the borders of Poland and Slovakia, are the Beskydy Mountains. You can enjoy a treetop rope course, hike up to the Chata Maraton chateau on the highest mountain or practice your swings on the Celadna Golf Course (which has hosted the PGA twice). If you’re interested in fine dining, consider eating at the Miura Hotel on said golf course, which incidentally has the top chef in the Czech Republic.
Have you ever heard of kick scooters? I hadn’t until I arrived in the Czech Republic, but they’re really popular in this region. A kick scooter is basically a cross between a bicycle and a skateboard. Head to the Jeseniky mountains to climb up to the top of the highest mountain and get a great view from the radio tower, and then ride a kick scooter all the way back down. Afterwards, you can go boating on Slezská Harta Dam, the newest in the region.
If you want to get a taste of Polish cuisine, consider visiting the border town of Tesin, or Cieszyn in Polish. It straddles the border of both countries and has quintessential village squares, arts and crafts, and restaurants. A little section along a canal on the Polish side has been nicknamed Little Venice. Easy access across the border has only been available to the locals for the past few years, and the cultures are quickly mingling. They have a festival there where you can watch a movie across the river, sitting on the Czech bank with the screen on the Polish bank. This begs the question: are you watching the movie in the Czech Republic or Poland?
Finally, if you’re as much of a kid at heart as I am, consider spending the day at Heipark in the Kravařsko Region. Fifteen years ago, a guy built this adventure park for his two kids, and now it’s full of fun activities. You can ride a mechanical bull, go rock climbing or ziplining, try out the tube track, play disk golf or, my personal favorite, ride an alpine sled for the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Which place do you want to visit first?