Although the twisted inner-city roads often veer into a tangled mass of seemingly illogical intersections and crossroads, Prague really is a great walking city. It’s very easy and convenient to reach pretty much all of the attractions by foot, but the excellent public transit system is there to help you out if needed.
For those who want to take their walks beyond the city; the Czech Republic offers a very good system of marked hiking trails that usually wind through forest and small villages. The country is full of beautiful nature, mountains, and historic sites in every direction, and those who like a little adventure beyond the concrete jungle of the city will definitely want to get out there and experience it for themselves. If going alone seems a bit daunting then join a free MeetUp group or purchase a guided tour.
The trails will always offer long and short versions and it’s completely up to you to elongate or shorten the trip by switching trail colors as needed. Basic trail maps are available for free at the tourist information center but you may wish to invest a few crowns into buying a more detailed map, even if you’re just visiting for a few days you’ll get your money’s worth.
Praskolesy to Zdice
One such trip is the route between Praskolesy and Zdice, which lies just south of Beroun in the Central Bohemia Region, about 51 km southwest of Prague. The trail is roughly about 17-20 km, depending on chosen detours. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s also not extreme. There are some steep ups and downs, panormaic views, and a couple of castles along the way.
Along the route you’ll definitely want to have your camera at the ready to take shots of peaceful farms with grazing animals, as well as spectacular and far-reaching landscape views, and quaint villages that beckon back to storybook days of old. Perhaps the largest attractions are the neighboring Žebrák and Točník castles.
Žebrák and Točník
Žebrák, built in the Gothic style, is the older of the two castles and was built during the reign of King Karl IV in the 13th Century. It was rebuilt from 1383–1395 as the preferred home of then King Václav (Wenceslas) IV. However, the castle was later damaged by fire in 1395. It became evident that the position was neither safe nor strategic, so the castle Točník was built by King Václav from 1398–1401 on higher ground above the old castle. Intended to be more luxurious and comfortable, it boasts architecture from the Renaissance and Baroque styles. During the Hussite wars (mid-1400s), when Václav’s brother Sigismund was in power, Žebrák was besieged by the Hussite army for three days. Unable to make much headway, the army instead set the local towns on fire.
Through the centuries Žebrák went through a series of owners, none of which kept or maintained it for very long so it now lies in ruins. Točník on the other hand while originally deserted in the 17th century has gradually been renovated and is currently accessible to the public. The complex of the castle features unique preserved architectural elements, a castle museum, the Great Palace, the decorated western entrance gate, the Eastern gate with bridge over the moat, a prismatic tower, and of course excellent views. Curiously, it also counts a family of rescued circus bears as residents.
Other Things to See
Near Zdice is Vraní scaly, a Natural Heritage lookout point soaring 536 meters into the sky (above sea level), from which you can see what seems like the entire region. It’s a bit of a steep climb up carved stairs to the top but the views will be your reward for making the additional trek.
From Hlavni Nadraži, hop on the train to Hořovice. From there, change to the train that goes to Praskolesy. The first part of the trek will go along local roads and through part of the village before getting to the forest section. If you make it all the way to Zdice, just hop on the train back to Prague. Otherwise, you can catch a train back from any of the stations in-between.
- The ticket is good for 24 hours so you’re free to take any train available.
- If there are two or more people, ask for a group rate.
- If you or someone in your group happens to have an OpenCard, you can also get a discount on the portion of travel inside of Prague.
- Feel free to take your dog along for a reasonable extra fee.