Monday, 29 March 2010

Top ten daytrips from Olomouc

The best daytrips from Olomouc include Litomysl, Sternberk, Bouzov castle, Stramberk, Kromeriz and Roznov pod radhostemA lot of visitors to the Czech Republic base themselves in Prague and do daytrips into the countryside from there. In many ways it's a good strategy; you get to see a lot of different places without needing to pack up and relocate every day or two, and you have the convenience of returning to a larger city where there is usually more to do in the evening than in the smaller towns and rural areas that make good daytrip destinations.

The only disadvantages I can see with using Prague as a base are that it's the most expensive and the least friendly place in the country.

Fortunately,
the Czech capital is not the only place that works well as base for daytrips. Plzeň, Hradec Králové, Brno and Olomouc all stand out to me as being good bases for as many or more interesting daytrips than from Prague.

This week, we'll cover the Top Ten Daytrips from Olomouc. I've deliberately listed the two best at numbers 1 and 10 to emphasize that they're in no particular order.

LMonastery gardens and Zoubek fountain at Litomyslitomyšl is possibly the prettiest small town in Bohemia. The world heritage listed renaissance chateau watches over the monastery gardens and the towers and spires of the colourful square. The art, music and sculpture of Váchal, Smetana and Zoubek are favourites with locals and visitors, and the town cemetery is also very interesting. Litomyšl is a simple and very rewarding daytrip from Olomouc via Česká Třebova. (99km one way, but well worthwhile).

Stramberk main square and Truba castle towerŠtramberk is the best place to see the traditional wooden architecture of Wallachia in its original environment. The town is also known for its ruined castle, distinctive local biscuits and increasingly for the microbrewery on the main square. Nearby are the Tatra Car and Truck museum at Kopřivnice, Sigmund Freud's birthplace at Příbor, Hukvaldy and Starý Jičín castles and the attractive town of Nový Jičín with its slightly bizarre but entertaining Hatmaking museum. (Štramberk is 74km by bus via Nový Jičín. The other towns are within 10km and are well connected by walking and cycling trails).

Bouzov castle outside Olomouc, Czech republicBouzov castle and Javoříčko caves are five kilometres apart and make a good daytrip when combined. Take the buses via Litovel and keep an eye out for the orthodox churches across the countryside on the way. If you don't want to do the full tour of the castle, it's also possible just to climb the tower or walk the trail around the perimeter for the best photo opportunities. (35km by bus via Litovel to 'Luká, Javoříčko jeskyně' then walk to Bouzov and catch the bus home again via Litovel from there).

Baroque pleasure gardens at Kromeriz near Olomouc, Czech republicKroměříž is another of Moravia's seven world heritage locations. The big attraction is the baroque pleasure garden, which is one of only a few surviving in central Europe. The archbishop's chateau is also worth a visit to see where the ballroom scenes from Amadeus were filmed or for some of the best artworks in the Czech lands, including Titian's 'Apollo and the Flaying of Marsyas'. (38km by direct bus or on the train via Hulín).

The Litovel Morava natural park is best seen from the seat of a bicycle. It's also possible to walk, but the cycle trails are so smooth and wide it would be a pity not to make use of them. Bikes can be hired in Olomouc from as little as 4 Euros a day. Swimming at Poděbrady, lunch at the old hunting lodge and afternoon tea on the main square of Litovel round out the daytrip. (The near edge is less than 5km from central Olomouc and the forest reserve stretches along the river well past Litovel - 40km round trip).

Sternberk castle near Olomouc, Czech RepublicFor proper hiking, the lower Jeseník mountains are the place to go. Starting just outside Šternberk (18km from Olomouc), the highlights of the lower Jeseníky are Sovinec castle, Rešov waterfalls and the eerie Hill of Crosses. The further north, the steeper the mountains get and if you have time, Karlova Studánka and the highest peak in the land; Praděd are within a daytrip's reach of Olomouc. (Bus or train via Šternberk to Dlouhá Loučka, Břevenec or Ruda, depending on which trail you choose. Sovinec is about 30km from Olomouc and the Rešov waterfalls are 45).

Unicov near Olomouc, Czech RepublicŠternberk, Uničov and Litovel are three historic towns within 20km of Olomouc that, when combined, make a lovely flat loop of cycle trails. Šternberk was voted the Czech Republic's historic town of the year for 2008, Uničov has a gorgeous square and old town and they call Litovel the Venice of Haná because there are so many canals and rivers cutting through. Litovel's stone bridge is roughly the same age as Prague's Charles' bridge. (55km round trip, cycle hire 100-350Kč per day).

Helfstyn Castle near Olomouc, Czech RepublicHelfštýn castle has guarded the Moravian gate since the 13th century. Today it's partly ruined and partly restored, which means that a) you can you scramble around the ruins at your own pace without a tour-guide-babysitter, but b) you can still make use of the facilities such as the restaurant in the striking dining hall of the lower palace. (30km to Lipník or Týn nad Bečvou and an uphill hike from there).

Moravian folk dancers at Roznov pod radhostemRožnov pod Radhoštěm is best known to foreign visitors for its outdoor museum of wooden architecture. In the early 20th century there were two brothers who, in dismay at the destruction of traditional architecture, began buying old buildings that were slated for demolition and relocating them piece by piece to the Rožnov town park. A church, several pubs, working mills and dozens of farm buildings recreate the atmosphere of a Wallachian hill town and there's an exhaustive program of cultural events, including the famous Easter festival, the festival of Gypsy Song and Dance and Mikulaš. (98km by direct bus twice a day or by train via ValMez anytime).

Velké Losiny nestles in the foothills of the Jeseník mountains and is home to a striking renaissance chateau, a fascinating hand-made-paper mill and several working spas. Unlike the bigger and more famous spa towns, it seems to be possible to get massages, mud baths, pedicures and so on at Velké Losiny with a minimum of advance notice or fuss. The paper mill is under consideration for UNESCO world heritage listing. (70km, by train or bus via Šumperk).

Related posts: Top 6 daytrips from Prague

3 comments:

Jenna Francisco said...

I'm so glad I came upon your site! I lived in Uh. Hradiste years ago and have gone back to visit a few times. I still love keeping in contact with the country any way I can. And I spent many fun days in Olomouc :-)
What a great place you live in!
I just posted about Kromeriz (sorry for the lack of correct letters) on my blog a couple days ago and have other posts about the Czech Rep.: http://travelfrancisco.wordpress.com
I look forward to following your posts and Where the Czech...?

Max said...

Hiya,

Interesting to read about the place I've called 'home' the past 11 years, despite being Danish; good day trip suggestions. I'd add the possibility to rent a horse from Staj Bouzov to cover the 3-4 km trip between Bouzov castle and Javoricko caves, and do enjoy the swimmming/fishing lakes on the way, tucked into the edge of the forest.

Some readers might want to spend longer time in the vicinity of the Bouzov castle? Our educational organic farm is 2 km away, and you may consider joining either our 2 month long internship in Natural Building/Permaculture/relief work during this summer, or perhaps our Permaculture design course during 14 days in July and August?

See www.permalot.org for details.

DavidAsherBrown said...

Thanks for the great information. I'm going to Olomouc soon for part of my honeymoon. Where can I get information about buses and trains on the ground? My Czech is very rusty.

Thanks!
-David