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Welcome to Czechia’s Bohemian Paradise

Everything you need to know about Czechia’s Bohemian Paradise

You can choose to either cycle or hike through Czechian paradise in the aptly named Bohemian Paradise UNESCO Global Geopark, but either way it will feel gloriously unreal. Known locally as Český ráj, these are epic landscapes of naturally eroded sandstone rock towers peeking up over forest canopies, with waterfalls tumbling into vertical cracks in the rock and trails through rock labyrinths or ancient rock ‘cities’ (of which there are twelve). All in all, it feels as if you are stepping into another world. It’s very much the real world, however, as you can see from our photos and guide below.

A view across Bohemian Paradise to Hrubá skála castle and Trosky castle ruins.

Where is Bohemian Paradise Global Geopark?

Just 90km north-east of Prague, the gateway town is Jičín which is accessible by public bus from the capital. It’s not to be confused with Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the north of Czechia, on the border with Germany. You can visit those on these German tours, one of which starts in Czechia. But, for the purposes of this blog we are focusing on the geo-rgeousness of Bohemian Paradise. 

 What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?

UNESCO has myriad designations, the most famous of which are their World Heritage Sites. With Geoparks, however, the clue is in the name, because it’s the geology of these landscapes, as opposed to wildlife habitats, cultural heritage or ecosystems that UNESCO has singled out as being worthy of protection. Of course, more often than not, all of these elements go hand in hand anyway, but with a Geopark, it’s multi-layered, literally. With ancient strata of geological formations, fossils and phenomena, landscapes and the local people who are their stewards, all playing their part. While also creating a destination for geotourism. Which may sound fancy, but with an area of 833km2, it’s far from fanciful. And the local population has risen to this challenge. As the area is managed by the non-profit company Geopark Český ráj o.p.s with ongoing research, preservation and sustainable tourism practices in place. The last bit is where our natural adventures step (or cycle) in.

Some places really do just feel like paradise.

Why Bohemian Paradise rocks

A Bohemian rock scene conjures up all sorts of images but the Czech ones are labyrinthine ones. This is a landscape of towering sandstone structures, eroded over the centuries into beguiling sculptures, some as high as 60m. They are scattered across the landscape in collections, a bit like an art gallery with different rooms, and each one is referred to as a rock city, often named according to its shape. There are twelve of these cities in all, and you explore many of them on our adventure holidays in paradise. You can walk through them, clamber into their hidden spaces, or follow trails up to elevations that have views across them. The landscape is also peppered with ancient castles, waterfalls and streams so all in all, Bohemia is like something out of a storybook.

A trekker’s dream! My husband and I trekked the trails of Bohemian Paradise in September and couldn’t be more delighted. The route had adventure, beautiful landscapes, fascinating history, local culture, and welcoming hospitality. The route ensured an easy to moderate trek along charming paths and through exceptional landmarks such as castles, rock formations, historic villages, and pastoral settings. We felt safe, welcomed, and enchanted throughout the journey.” – PNW trekkers, Seattle, WA 

Rock cities of Bohemian paradise

On our cycling holiday, you start with a visit to Prachovské skály Rocks, one of the most famous areas of the Geopark, and one that has been preserved by law since the 1930s. It’s a great introduction to this much-loved landscape, with some fantastic viewpoints accessible by staircases carved into the rocks and humongous boulders. Another favourite spot is Suché skály which is an expansive sandstone ridge with around 20 towers cut into it. It’s also called The Organ, as it wouldn’t look out of place in a cathedral booming out beautiful sounds. As you can imagine, this is also a climbers’ playground, with nooks, crannies and routes that are ever-changing. 

In Hrubá skála Rock City you can stay in a castle hotel that’s built into a cliff face, so that you can enjoy sunrise or sunset over the various rock features such as Mouse Hole Passage, Adam’s Bed Cave and Hlavatice Lookout – just a few stunners hiding amongst 400 sandstone towers. 

One of the most impressive expanses of rocks in Bohemian Paradise at Suché skály.

Castles and labyrinths

On our walking holiday in Bohemian Paradise, you have a few more rock cities to explore, in addition to the ones mentioned above. Drábovna, for example, which lies on the banks of the River Jizera, is a smaller city but it has some superb archaeological sites, including a settlement dating back to the Stone Age, and massive boulders that have been eroded into caves. This trail also takes you to the ruins of a medieval castle, Frýdštejn, as well as Vranov Rock Castle, the latter considered to be one of the most complex of its type in Bohemia. 

On the other side of the River Jizera is Besedické skály, a rock labyrinth where religious exiles from the 17th century hid and held services, protected by the maze of high rock faces. Some walls have sacred and poetic inscriptions dating back to that time.

Jičín, the gateway town to Bohemian Paradise

This elegant town is not only a gateway to paradise but also a door into an aristocratic and architectural storybook all of its own. Home to Albrecht von Valdštejn (von Wallenstein in German), a powerful man who made his millions in the military during the 30 Years War, protecting what was then known as the Holy Roman Empire. He wanted to leave his mark on the town he chose as his duchy, and built an array of monuments and buildings, leading with the Valdštejn Loggia. This is a collection of gardens and courtyards for the great and the good to wander and be admired, and includes a 2km path lined with linden trees that leads from the Old Town of Jičín to the Loggia. It wasn’t all fun and games for Wallenstein, however, who was assassinated in 1634. His legacy buildings also include Wallenstein Palace and Square, the latter home to and an iconic red Valdice Tower from an early period in the 16th century, with views out across Bohemian Paradise. 

Resplendent Renaissance houses in Wallenstein Square in Jičín.

Best time to go to Bohemian Paradise 

Our hiking and cycling tours operate between the beginning of April and the end of October, covering three sumptuous seasons. As many people like to combine this adventure with a city break in Prague, the capital does get very busy in July and August. The region is also very popular with both local people and visitors in summer months, so we recommend visiting in spring or autumn. Especially as you are going to immerse yourself for several days in this magical place, so you really want to try and have it as quiet as possible, although at the end of the day many of the day trippers will have disappeared anyway. 

The weather adds to the filmset vibe of Bohemia Paradise, with rain throughout the year, and an average of nine days per month even in the height of summer. Average daytime temperatures are 14C in April, 18C in May going up to the low to mid-twenties in the height of summer. Autumn brings a dip in temperatures of 20C and 14C in September and October respectively. However, the pine, spruce and beech forests also turn technicolour at this time of year just in time to roll credits on this fantastic fairytale season. 

For more adventures in extraordinary places, you may enjoy our blogs on World class adventures with UNESCO sites along the way, Hiking in the Rhodope Mountains, FInd freedom and fire hiking in Sicily and Mount Olympus is the ultimate Greek Odyssey. For more information on other Czechian adventures, see here or contact any of our adventure specialists.