Cycling is a fantastic way to explore Telc in the Czech Republic | Els van Veelen
Last summer, Elisabeth realised one of her new year’s resolutions when she went cycling in the Czech Republic with UTracks. We caught up with her to find out what she loved most about the Cycle Prague to Vienna – Guided trip and what most surprised her.
Wanting to do something as a personal challenge without my usual travel companions, I decided last year to go on a cycling holiday. The criteria for me were that the trip should have some cultural and culinary interest and incorporate an activity that was a little out of my comfort zone while still being enjoyable. After comparing a number of walking and cycling holidays in countries in every pocket of Europe, I decided to join the guided version of the Prague to Vienna Cycle. I had the most fantastic week exploring the Czech Republic by bicycle and fell from one surprise into another, but never off my bike. Here are the seven biggest surprises I experienced.
#1 The local Czech wines
I didn’t realise beforehand that the cycling route would take me through some of the Czech Republic’s best wine growing areas, so I was pleasantly surprised by the stunning vineyards and opportunity to enjoy delicious (and cheap!) wine that perfectly complemented our meals each evening. Everyone in the group was amazed by the price and quality of the wine. My favourites were the Grüner Veltliners, Rieslings and Pinots from Moravia.
Enjoying local wine in Mikulov, Czech Republic
#2 The Czech countryside
Following the Greenway Trail, we were taken through some stunning and varied parts of the Czech Republic, including three protected areas (Podyji NP, Trebonsko, and Palava). Cycling through forests, past stunning lakes, vineyards, shrubland, stretches of flat countryside and farmland with orchards and fields overflowing with red and white poppies, I was constantly amazed by the changing landscapes and the natural beauty of the country.
Cycling through the Austrian Countryside on Guided Prague to Vienna Cycle
#3 The Czech towns
Cycling in the Czech Republic satisfied my appreciation for architecture. I expected to be amazed by famous towns like Czesky Krumlov, with its stunning castle dominating the town below, but I was blown away by the off-the-beaten-track hamlets we cycled through. The colourful residences in alternating pastels are a real pleasure for the eyes - it’s crazy to think that so many visitors to the Czech Republic would not get to see them on a standard Czech itinerary.
#4 The Czech castles and monasteries
Our route took us through a region that belonged to the Rosenberg dynasty, so we were rewarded with some of the best castles
and most well-preserved fortresses and monasteries in Europe – some over 800 years old. Whether dominating town squares or at seemingly random places, they were always a sight to behold and made for great pit stops to break up a long day’s cycling.
Visiting Mikulov Castle on Prague to Vienna Guided Cycle
#5 My own cycling ability
This was actually one of my biggest surprises - in the lead-up to the trip I was a bit nervous about the prospect of having to get up early every morning to cycle long distances every day. However, getting into that rhythm turned out to be a real pleasure. Waking up each morning and having a full day ahead with the promise of new discoveries, rich local food and a variety of landscapes to conquer was what these trips are all about for me, and it definitely won’t be the last cycling trip I undertake for this reason.
Elisabeth exploring Trebon in Czech Republic by bicycle
# 6 Our knowledgeable guides
It was fascinating cycling through the historic border area between Austria and the Czech Republic. Because I was on a guided tour, I was able to draw on my local guides' wealth of knowledge during the cycle and also at the end of the day when the group shared meals, local wine and stories. Our guides went out of their way to ensure that we left with a better understanding of the implications of World War II as they led us through rich forested former border control areas, parts of the iron curtain and hideouts of former armed forces.
# 7 The camaraderie of a small group holiday
The prospect of joining a group of cyclists from all over the world as a solo traveller was extremely daunting. What if I couldn’t keep up with them? What if they kept to themselves and weren’t sociable at breaks or during meals? I suppose these are pretty standard thoughts that single travellers have, and for good reason, as it’s generally the people you travel with or meet along the way that make your holiday unforgettable. The camaraderie I experienced turned out to be the best part of my experience. We were all in it to have a great time, which manifested when we cheered each other on the challenging parts of each day’s cycle, shared laughs while seeking shelter from sudden downpours, and tried to help each other out when communicating with the locals.
UTracks offers a range of guided and self-guided walking and cycling holidays in the Czech Republic.
More Cycling in Czech Republic
:: Bohemian Rhapsody
:: Cycle Prague to Dresden
:: Czech Castles Cycle
:: Cycle Prague to Vienna - Self-Guided