South Bohemia is a region in the Czech Republic. It offers many picturesque towns with two of them on the UNESCO list, peaceful countryside filled with number of ponds, medieval castles, romantic chateaux and some hills at the south. While the region is often unknown to foreign tourists (except Český Krumlov and few other castles), it is quite popular between local tourists and definitely has something to offer for everyone. For local tourists, a popular way to discover this region is by bike - with nice, often relatively flat countryside and good biking infrastructure, this is a fun and relaxing way to discover South Bohemia.
- 1 České Budějovice. Attractive large city in South Bohemia best known for the original Budweiser beer
- 2 Český Krumlov. Beautiful old town with the country's second biggest chateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 3 Třeboň. A spa town located in the lake area Třeboňsko
- 4 Slavonice. A small town with well-preserved renaissance historic centre
- 5 Písek. Old town with the oldest stone bridge in the Czech Republic
- 6 Jindřichův Hradec. historic town with the third largest castle in Czechia
- 7 Tábor. Historic town, centre of Hussite revolution
- 8 Holašovice. An example of village in South Bohemia Rural Baroque style in UNESCO.
- 9 Nové Hrady. A small town at the border to Austria, a gateway to Novohradske Mountains
- 2 Šumava (Bohemian Forest). A mountain range (including the Šumava National Park) stretching along the German and Austrian border.
- 3 Třeboňsko. A cultural landscape with lakes, watlands and mires.
- 4 Blanský les. A protected landscape area near Český Krumlov. There is a mountain Kleť with an astronomical observatory.
- 5 Novohradské hory. Extremely peaceful hills at the border with Austria.
The way South Bohemia looks today is to a large scale determined by the Rožemberk noble family, which ruled the area between the 14th and 17th centuries. They built most of the fish ponds, castles, canals, towns and cities which are today the main tourist attractions. Another thing which shapes the region is the River Vltava; the Czech Republic's main watercourse springs here. There two big water dams on the Vltava in South Bohemia, which somehow changed the way nature looks here. The last important thing which shaped this region is the former presence of German population. Ethnic Germans lived in today's South Bohemia from the 12th century until they were expelled to Austria and Germany following World War Two. Some of the homes they had to leave were resettled by people from central Czechia and Slovakia, but many other formerly German villages were destroyed during the communist era. You can still find ruins of villages in remote places like Novohradské hory. These places, being near the border with capitalist Western Europe, were off-limits during the communist era and are slowly being rediscovered today by both Czech people and descendants of expelled Germans.
While unknown in many other countries, there are many fishing ponds in South Bohemia (and Czechia in general on a smaller scale). These are of varying sizes, from small pools in the middle of a forest to large water dams navigable by boat. The biggest of these ponds is Rožumberk near Třeboň. While fish ponds are still used for fishing (common carp being the most common fish here), they have many more uses today such as swimming, boating and water sports. If you bike, hike, or drive in South Bohemia's forests, it is likely you will come across some ponds. For such occasions, it is always good to have your swimming gear ready! The water is usually warm enough to swim, just check if it is clear enough; sometimes fishermen put fish food into the water that makes it unsafe for humans to swim in. In late autumn, you can see the ponds being fished, whereby all the water is poured out, the carp are picked up and placed in large water tanks and then sold at Christmas markets in towns, often alive. Common carp meat is served as traditional dinner on Christmas Eve. You can also get it every day in Třeboň.
The main railway hub is České Budějovice. It lies on the main line between Prague and Linz, and as such, sees many trains from these cities. There are also many other secondary railways, which connect South Bohemia with all neighboring regions. You can even use historical narrow gauge train when going from Highlands region city Kamenice nad Lipou. All train timetables can be found on IDOS.
There are many buses going to numerous cities and towns in South Bohemia. Most of these buses originate in Prague, but there are also some from Brno and other Czech main cities. Use IDOS to find them.
A new highway is being build from Prague to Linz, but this highway is far from complete, leaving heavily congested two-lane roads I-3 and I-4 the main links with Central Bohemia.
As Czechia is not a very big country, it is possible to travel from one region to another by bike, if one has enough time and energy. There are many marked biking paths from Prague, Vienna and other places.
There are many railways in this region (as they are in Czechia in general), but some of them have only sporadic train service. Still, train is probably the most popular public transportation option, as it is comfortable and dependable. Use IDOS.to find the right train. Some years ago, all the trains were operated by Czech Railways, but today they are some new train operators, which requires checking for the train operator and buying the ticket at the right cash desk (this is an issue mainly for the trains from České Budějovice toward Český Krumlov and Šumava).
The bus network is very dense, but the bus service seems to be pretty chaotic and irregular. There are more buses on workdays than there are on weekends, with almost no buses on Saturdays. Again, use IDOSfor timetables.
The roads are in good condition, but often quite narrow. Driving in night is a bit dangerous and a bit scary, as there are many animals with seemingly shining eyes in the dense forests of South Bohemia. Hitting a rabbit is no issue, but hitting a deer or boar often results in destruction of the car.
Bike is the most popular way to travel the region among Czech tourists. The central part of the region around Třeboň is quite flat, the northern part around Jindřichův Hradec is a bit hilly and the southern part with Šumava and Novohradské Hory is mountainous. Either way, there are lots of marked biking paths and good biking infrastructure, with many bike repairs, rentals and hotels ready for bikers. Bikes can be often rented at railway stations from the Czech Railways company. See their website for all such places (the website is in Czech only but you can use Google Translate). For biking, you usually don't need a map, mapy.cz app in outdoor mode with downloaded offline maps should do.
There are many marked trekking trails in South Bohemia. Especially popular for hiking are the mountainous areas, such as Šumava.
- The historical village of Holašovice, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- 1 State chateau of Hluboká (Státního zámku Hluboká), Bezručova 142, Hluboká nad Vltavou. National cultural monument. Located in Hluboká nad Vltavou town
- 2 Zlatá Koruna monastery (Klášter Zlatá Koruna), Zlatá Koruna 1. National cultural monument.
- 1 Lipno dam. An artificial dam with many sport possibilities.
- Sail down Vltava river. The part of Vltava river under Lipno dam is extremely popular for canoeing. Usually, it is sailed from Vyšší Brod (under the dam) to Boršov (next to České Budějovice). It takes two to five days, depends how seriously you take it and how much you drink. The river passes through Český Krumlov and Rožumberk nad Vltavou, which makes it very scenic. There is a great amount of campsites to cater for the canoers and many companies renting canoes. The only disadvantage is the extreme number of people doing this, in July, the river looks like a highway.
- Biking. South Bohemia offers many opportunities for biking, with Třeboň being the main biking center as it lies in a flat, scenic region with many large ponds.
- Cross-country skiing. Šumava is not really mountainous enough to do real downhill skiing, but it usually sees enough snow to do some cross-country skiing.
The local cuisine is not very different from Czech cuisine in general. Most known local specialty is "Kaplická cmunda" or just "Cmunda", which is a potato cake with sauerkraut (sour cabbage) and smoked ham - very tasty. Another thing you might encounter here is fish meat, which is plentiful because of many fish ponds. Most common fish are carp, pike and perch - they can be fried, breaded and fried or baked with some spices.
This part of Czechia is definitely a beer part, as the attitude is too high to grow vine. The most famous beer from South Bohemia is definitely Budweiser Budvar, which is sold globaly, but made only in České Budějovice (and owned by the government). Other good brands include Regent from Třeboň, Eggenberg from Český Krumlov, Platan from Protivín, Dudák from Strakonice, Samson from České Budějovice and many others. There are also many microbreweries with good crafted beers. You can visit almost any working brewery to see how the beer is made. Breweries also often have their own restaurants nearby, a good example of this the Eggenberg brewery in touristy Český Krumlov with an excellent restaurant.
South Bohemia is a very safe region. Main danger are probably animals on the roads and being drunk while sailing down a river.