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A Cycling Trip – South Bohemian Region Czech Republic

A Cycling Trip – South Bohemian Region Czech Republic

Three days of cycling in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic merely whet my appetite for what’s available in the country. Lots has been written about the Prague to Vienna bike ride, especially with so many outdoor-adventure companies offering the tour. But the lesser known parts of the Czech Republic like the South Bohemian region are not nearly so well represented online. 

Our group of cyclists, made up of five young males and myself enjoyed a three day tour with Lucas Svarovsky, the owner of Europe Bike Tours. He has been designing, organizing and leading bike tours for years all over the Czech Republic and into Poland, Austria, Hungry and Slovakia. I’d recommend his company in a heartbeat – for their knowledge of the area, the back stories we learned and because he’s just such a nice guy. Plus he speaks perfect English.

Cycling the Iron Curtain Trail and Šumava National Park

Our bike tour started with a shuttle to Šumava National Park from Prachatice, where we had done a culinary e-bike day tour the day before.

First we knocked off a short, easy section of the EuroVelo 13 – otherwise known as the Iron Curtain Trail. It was eye-opening to cycle to the border of Germany and the Czech Republic. You can’t help but reflect at the hardship and the lives lost when you look up to the guard tower – and literally at an iron curtain of barbed wire stretching along the length of the border.

This section of trail in the South Bohemia region is extremely well-signed as you can see in the photos below.

Well marked biking trails through the south Bohemia region

Well marked biking trails through the South Bohemian region

Superb signage cycling in the South Bohemian region

Some of the trails in the Czech Republic are part of the EuroVelo Route

On the border of Germany and the Czech Republic

On the Iron Curtain Trail at the border of Germany and the Czech Republic

Open fields on the Germany-Czech Republic border

Open fields on the Germany-Czech Republic border made for easier spotting of people trying to escape

After a return to the starting point it was time for a snack – because we’d just cycled all of about 12 kilometres – though we really did need the fuel for the climbs ahead.

Snack spread provided by Europe bike tours

Snack spread provided by Europe Bike Tours

The riding in Sumava National Park was primarily in the trees, sometimes on insanely bumpy roads as we would discover over the course of the day.

Our bikes – made by Specialized – are called gravel bikes in Europe. I was incredibly impressed at how they handled the bone-rattling sections of the day, and yet the tires weren’t fat like a traditional mountain bike.

Cycling through the woods in Sumava National Park, South Bohemian region

Cycling through the woods in Sumava National Park – on one of the smooth roads

Old tunnel in Sumava National Park, South Bohemian region

Old tunnel in Sumava National Park

By the time we stopped for lunch at the Wellness Hotel Marlin, everyone was legitimately famished. We dispatched with a couple of punchy climbs – my new term for a gnarlier than average climb – and were ready for a meal of fresh trout followed by a slice of apple strudel – and a beer of course.

After lunch we made one stop on the way to the Lipno Reservoir to photograph a beautiful old church filled with moss-covered headstones in what is now the defunct village of Zadní Zvonková.

Church and cemetery in the defunct village of Zadní Zvonková, South Bohemian region

Church and cemetery in the defunct village of Zadní Zvonková in the South Bohemian region

Continuing past the church, the road quality improved immeasurably. We descended on lovely, smooth asphalt roads to eventually reach the Lipno Reservoir. The cycling for the last 15 or so kilometres was fast and easy.

To finish our 73 kilometre cycling day we waited for a ferry to take us across the Lipno Reservoir to Frymburk and finally the Hotel Maxant our home for the next two nights. It was a mellow way to end what was a harder than expected day on the bike.

Waiting for the ferry to Frymburk

Waiting for the ferry to Frymburk with a fellow Canadian cyclist on our trip

A day of “punchy climbs” on route to Český Krumlov

Looking at the itinerary, I figured we were in for an easy bike ride from Frymburk to Český Krumlov. According to the notes we would cycle a mere 46 kilometres with two or three punchy climbs.

Scroll down to the map at the end of this section and you can see we were wildly misled (though trust me by the end of the day I was really happy at what we cycled.) I count five punchy climbs – primarily after lunch. Fortunately I didn’t see the map ahead of time.

The morning was a complete delight. We crossed the reservoir via a bike path and then rode along its length, admiring the woods and the views, on a smooth dedicated, multi-use trail to reach the Vyšší Brod Monastery, called the spiritual centre of the South Bohemian region. 

After a photo stop we did our only climb of note in the morning and in no time arrived via a lovely downhill ride into the beautiful riverside, thirteenth century town of Rožmberk nad Vltavou.

Lunch was eaten outdoors on a patio with views of the gorgeous Rozmberk Castle. By now we were into a routine too – with the guys all saying an enthusiastic yes to big mugs of beer to accompany lunch. 

Cycling beside the Lipno Reservoir in the South Bohemian region

Cycling beside the Lipno Reservoir

The easy part of the day's biking in the south bohemian region

Th easy part of the day’s biking along the Lipno Reservoir

Colourful backdrop for my bike

Colourful backdrop for my bike at the Vyšší Brod Monastery

This hill doesn't quite fit the punchy climb category in the South Bohemian region

This hill doesn’t quite fit the punchy climb category

Hanging out in Rozmberk nad Vltavou in the South Bohemian region

Just hanging out in Rožmberk nad Vltavou with a stunner of a view in the background

The climb to Český Krumlov

The fun started immediately after lunch. The road took us up towards the castle you can see high on the skyline in one of the photos. It was actually incredibly beautiful with massive trees lining much of the roadway.

Very hilly but gorgeous biking towards Cesky Krumlov

Very hilly but gorgeous biking towards Český Krumlov

After the first high point I figured, as did the others, that there was only one big climb to go. It wasn’t until Lucas recommended we each choose an energy gel and eat it before the next climb that I started to clue into what lay ahead.

At the end of our cycling day our host Jiří explained to us that we cycled over a few hills that were Category 3 and 4 climbs. What that means is that they were steep, long hills with over a 7% grade. He also told us we’d have to go to the Alps to get the HC (hardcore) category. No thanks.

Despite some moaning at times, I think all of us who did this bike ride felt an immense sense of satisfaction. Even better was the fact that we cycled right into the main square of Český Krumlov, a pretty a town as I’ve seen anywhere in Europe. 

We arrived with enough time to do a quick tour of the castle, followed up by a well-deserved beer and meal with a view at the DEPO Gastropub. The day ended with a shuttle back to our starting point.

Lucas showing us on a map where we'd cycled in the South Bohemian region

Lucas showing us on a map where we’d cycled

Hard cycling when you're in the old part of Cesky Krumlov

Hard cycling with so many people when you’re in the old part of Český Krumlov

Views from the castle in Cesky Krumlov

Off our bike enjoying views from the castle in Český Krumlov

Time for beer in the south bohemian region

Beer time in Český Krumlov

A well deserved beer after a hard bike ride in the south bohemian region

A well-deserved beer at the DEPO Gastropub

Location map for a bike ride in South Bohemia

Location map for the bike ride to Český Krumlov

The easiest part of our South Bohemian Region cycling trip

Our last day of cycling was extremely easy. It took us from one pretty town – Hluboká nad Vltavou to another, České Budějovice, along the Vltava River. We enjoyed both the picturesque countryside and cycling alongside the river – watching the houseboat until it moved out of sight. I doubt it took us more than an hour.

The night was spent in the lovely Hotel Budweis overlooking the river – with dinner just a few blocks walk away at Restaurant Solnice

Beautiful south Bohemian region cycling to Ceske Budejovice

Beautiful cycling to České Budějovice in the South Bohemian region

Cycling alongside the Vlatava River in the south bohemia region

Cycling alongside the Vlatava River – notice the houseboat you can rent

Gorgeous cycling along the river in Ceske Budejovice

Gorgeous cycling along the river in České Budějovice

The cycling in the Czech Republic is usually on either quiet roads or dedicated bike paths. I found the drivers to be very respectful of us. Although we had an English speaking guide with us at all times, Czech people are helpful so don’t let the language barrier stop you from traveling outside of Prague. 

Lucas and his bike company – Europe-Bike-Tours offer loads of bike trips, including guided, self-guided and custom tours. They would be an excellent choice if you’re planning to visit the Czech Republic.

Further reading on the South Bohemian region

Thank you to Czech Tourism for hosting my stay. Thoughts as always are mine alone.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A multi-day cycling trip in South Bohemia region of Czech Republic

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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