The Vltava River is the longest river in the Czech Republic, and a trip along it is an eye-opening experience. As the river meanders across the country, it passes through rich forests, quaint Czech villages and historical towns that sit in the shadow of grand palaces like Hluboká Castle and Chateau Mělník. Whether you’re sailing or driving, follow the natural flow of the water from the UNESCO World Heritage town of Český Krumlov to the capital of Prague, and look out for these waterside highlights as you go.
Located in the South Bohemian region on the banks of the Vltava River, Český Krumlov is one of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic. Dubbed ‘pocket-sized Prague’, the town has held a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list for over 30 years thanks to its historic and architectural value. Overlooking this characterful town is the magnificent fairy tale-esque 14th century State Castle of Český Krumlov – a highlight for passing visitors – and the distinctive St Vitus Church, which dates back to medieval times.
Just 25km down the river is the stunning riverside city of České Budějovice, which was founded as a royal city in the 13th century. There are a number of attractions in the town including the grand St Nicholas Cathedral, the colourful Baroque townhouses of Otakar II square and the 16th century Black Tower – climb it for incredible panoramic views over the town and river. České Budějovice is also the home of the Budějovický Budvar brewery, which produces the famous Czech beer Budweiser Budvar.
A little further along the Vltava River lies the captivating Hluboká Castle. After serving as a guard castle for 13th century royals, the chateau was passed between a number of aristocratic families who carried out a series of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-Gothic reconstructions. The current building was modelled on Windsor Castle (the weekend home of the Queen of England) but hints from its previous designs can still be seen. Visitors can explore the castle and its rooms, or climb the lookout tower for striking 360° vistas.
Flowing through the centre of the city, the Vltava River is the lifeline of Prague and has given rise to some of the city’s most important historical sights, including Charles Bridge. As the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is a hub of history, culture and leisure, and a trip the country isn’t complete without dedicating a couple of days to exploring the city’s many sights and attractions. A popular activity for visitors is a boat trip along the river, which flows past memorable sights such as the magnificent Prague Castle.
After passing through Prague, the Vltava River flows on to the quaint riverside town of Mělník, where it merges with the Labe River. The highlight of Mělník is Chateau Mělník, which was the chosen home of many former Queens and Princesses of the Czech Republic. Visitors can tour the Renaissance palace and explore its rich art collections and extensive 14th century cellars. A tasting session of wine that’s produced at the chateau’s seven vineyards is a great way to round off a sightseeing tour.