Bohemian Paradise – 5 nights (with Mala Skala circuit)
Countryside of the northern borderlandsBack to Routes
The Bohemian Paradise
A Bohemian lake
Suché Skály Rocks
View from Hrubá Skála
Enjoyable walking in excellent weather through the Rock Towns.
Outstanding was Hotel Hastal in Prague - what a gem. What fantastic service and friendliness. Spotlessly clean.
David Breen, Dumfries, Scotland - April 2022
Everything worked out so perfectly. I suppose we would say the hike was our favorite part, but Prague was so special too.
We enjoyed the rock formations and those days we spent navigating through them. The views were outstanding. We liked the farms we walked through and the small villages.
Barbara Haas, Edmonds, USA - September 2021
We absolutely loved the holiday! The countryside was exquisite and the routes did a bit of everything, each day was different and the mix of the terrain meant we exercised different bits on different days!
We loved the birds, beetles, bugs and the fresh air and fresh drinking water on route. The panoramic views were absolutely amazing and we felt like we saw a new side of the country that not everyone would be fortunate enough to experience. We hardly saw any people on some days so felt like we got away from everything with a fun night in Prague to end it.
Marsha Smith, Nottingham, UK - May 2019
The holiday was perfect in every way. Although uncharted territory for us, this was as good as Amalfi and Maggiore in its own way.
We loved the rock towns, castles and the peaceful tranquility of the walks through the most beautiful woodland, meadows and rocks.
Clinton Heseltine, Livinston, UK - May 2019
Fabulous holiday which we'd happily recommend.
Wonderful scenery - the sandstone rocks are magical, as are the castles carved into them. The woodlands in between are very peaceful.
Very little sign of tourism so the routes were all pleasantly quiet. Distances were enough to feel a challenge but not too far to be unpleasant. Staff at all hotels very friendly and helpful.
Paul Smith, Swindon, UK - May 2019
The scenery looked wonderful, and I liked the idea of walking somewhere less frequented by tourists. I like self-guided walking but it was reassuring to know that there was someone for back-up in the unlikely event of any major disasters.
The highlight was spotting a herd of moufflon near the start of our walk at Hruba Skala. Also the rock labyrinths on Mala Skala circuit. Exploring Prachov rock town was excellent.
Elena Bonetti, Hatfield, UK - April 2019
We enjoyed walking in an area we would never have known about, with all the research done for us.
It was great seeing such spectacular landscape and pretty villages, and scrumping apples and walnuts dropping everywhere by the roadside. We can't think of any improvements to the holiday.
Richard Tucker, Bakewell, UK - September 2018
We're currently chilling in Prague after our second On Foot Holidays adventure through the Bohemian Paradise.
As with our previous Catalonia trip, everything was perfectly arranged, the routes were just the right side of challenging, and the walking instructions were brilliant. Our local contact came through every time and answered questions by text quickly and efficiently. We have two student-age children who we sincerely expected to not want to holiday with us again after the age of 18, but they are always up for an On Foot challenge. We are already thinking about where to go next!
Kirstie Sobue, Grange Over Sands, UK - July 2017
At a glance
5-night version (4 days walking) with 2 nights in Turnov (for Mala Skala circuit) and 1 at Hruba Skala, (so missing Kost castle walk). Suggested add-on - nights in Prague. See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
How much walking?
Full days: 12-18 km per day, 4-5 hrs walking
Using shortening options: 10-18 km per day, 3½-5 hrs
Castles, rock labyrinths and fairytales
The ‘Bohemian Paradise’ is a landscape of meadows, pine forests and extraordinary sandstone rock formations – labyrinths of rock towers through which the walker will wind and clamber. Although an ‘easy-medium’ graded route, it is the odd short, sharp climb which tips it over into this category – most of the walking itself is easy. Situated at the northern edge of the Czech Republic, this historically rich area allows the walker a glimpse of rural middle Europe in microcosm. Fairytale castles, each with its own story, punctuate your journey. Moravian wines, local herbal liqueur and of course beer, for which the republic is famed, will, we guarantee, undo all the good work of the walking day. After a stay in the old town of Jicín, you should add a night or two in Prague (not included).
Walked by On Foot staff: Simon (with his chums), Harriet, Debbie (and Thomas
REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com.
ARTICLES: Read an article in The Guardian about On Foot’s Bohemian Paradise holiday here.
TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to the Czech Republic, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.
COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Please read our summary of current regulations.
- Mysterious rock labyrinths to explore
- Trosky castle, many smaller ones to visit
- Wooden cottages and baroque châteaux
- Pine forests, peaceful woodland glades and meadows
- Great value food, wine and beer
- A few nights in fabulous Prague at the end (supplement)
This route features the following characteristics and interests: Villages and farms, Woods, Drive to route, History
Extra nights in Prague to explore this fascinating city. Do also consider an extra night in Jicin, the 'gateway to the Bohemian Paradise' and discover the home town of Albrecht of Valdštejn...
How much Walking?
Using shortening options: 10-18 km per day, 3½-5 hrs
Generally walking on well-signed paths, with good maps and simple route directions. Short, steep sections in rock labyrinths. The CUSs (below) is higher than easy-medium, but easy navigation brings it down a grade. Highest point on route: 550m.
Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 482m per day (300m-600m), or 380m (100m-600m) using shortening options.
GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.
Important note: Times given for each day are walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.
When to go?
The best months to walk: April, May, June, July, September, October
Other possible months: August
A continental climate means that the early spring can be cold, but from late April the flowers will start to blossom and later spring and early summer is idyllic. The tree cover on approximately half the route means you are able to do the walking during most of the hot Czech summer (although August can be hot) and the autumn can be lovely with the leaves starting to turn, and some warm days.
IMPORTANT: many attractions are closed on a Monday, so choose your start day carefully if you want to see inside Kost and/or Trosky, in particular.
Temperature and rainfall chart for Turnov
Arrive at Turnov, settle in, perhaps have a stroll around the town to determine a suitable Czech hostelry for your hearty supper.
Day 2 - Turnov to Malá Skála
A pleasant day’s introduction to the Bohemian Paradise including a possible visit to a traditional farmstead just outside Turnov, then up above the Jizera river and through woods and fields before reaching your first ruined castle, Frydstejn, closely followed by the Gothic Vranov, just above Mala Skala. At the village itself you have a choice – either explore little Mala Skala and find the excellent pub, or after lunchtime refuelling, continue the walk to take in your first “rock town” at Besedice, with its fine viewpoints across the region, before returning to Mala Skala for an afternoon bus or train back to Turnov. (Medium: 5 hrs,13 km, CUSs 480m, excluding Besedice rock town excursion)
Day 3 - Turnov – Hrubá Skála
After climbing out of Turnov, you start with another castle (Valdstejn), then take in rock sculptures and a classic piece of Czech vernacular architecture at Kopicuv’s farm. To finish the afternoon, wind through the “rock town” past viewpoints and a spring, descending to a ravine before climbing back up to the promontory with your accommodation perched on top. (Medium: 4 hrs, 12 km, CUSs 300m)
Day 4 - Hruba Skala to Prachov via Trosky
An easy wander through the forests and meadows, past the lake at Vidlak before a climb up to iconic Trosky (the castle of two towers). Then to the eerie solitude of another quiet lake in a forest at Dolni Mlyn. Finally into the woods again around Prachov, and your hotel in the pines. (Medium: 5 hrs, 18 km, CUSs 600m)
Day 5 - Prachov – Jičín
Your final short (morning’s) walk through the forest, out into the open around Brada and perhaps a climb (for the young at heart) of Zebín; then to wander through the old town of Jičín, a look around its museum and a climb up the gate tower, before a hearty final supper in one of its many recommended restaurants and a good night’s sleep in our chosen town-centre hotel. (Medium: 5 hrs, 16 km, CUSs 300m). Shorter alternative missing out Zebin – Easy-medium: 3½ hrs, 11 km, CUSs 200m.
Departure day (or Prague)
Leave for home – or maybe spend a night or two in Prague at our centrally located family-run hotel.
ARRIVING BY AIR
The best airport is Prague.
Land by: 17:00 for bus/train connections to Turnov. Later arrivals are possible but are not recommended. No time limit if using taxi.
Return flight earliest (if leaving from Jicin) 14:00 (departing from Prague, no limit)
Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.
For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.
See “Getting to the start of the walk” below for transfer information.
ARRIVING BY RAIL
Nearest Railway Stations:
Typical rail journey from UK via Brussels, Cologne and Prague (c. 19 hours – www.seat61.com/Czech.htm ) – then train to Turnov, which can be the slow part of the journey! Alternatively www.bahn.de comes up with a multiplicity of possible ways from the north, bookable through them except for the final local train. Returning, Seat 61’s suggested routing (from Prague) looks lovely.
ARRIVING BY CAR
You can leave your car in the open air car park behind the Hotel Karel IV (own risk, no charge, leave keys at reception). Taxi back at end (supplement).
Getting to the start of the walk
The first hotel is in Turnov and the final hotel is in Jicin. Best airport is Prague. See below for suggested transfer methods.
Outward: by bus or train 3 hrs, OR Pre-booked taxi transfer from Prague airport to first hotel c. 1½ hrs.
Return: Bus and metro to Prague – onward shuttle bus transfer to airport.
Transfers from railway stations:
Outward: Hotel a walk or taxi ride from Turnov mesto station
Return: 15 min walk to train station
For prices of pre-booked taxis see “Prices”.
Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information.
Where You'll Stay
A wonderful variety of accommodation is offered on this route, from the simple but friendly, through the grander (and slightly pretentious) ‘chateau’ to a fine family run hotel in Jicin. Our choice in Prague is excellent value and well situated.
Hrubá Skála – Chateau Hruba Skala (B&B)
Baroque chateau with pretensions in spectacular position.Website
Hrubá Skála – Hotel Stekl (B&B)
Pleasant hotel with plain, but good sized, rooms and an excellent restaurant.Website
Prachov – Park Hotel Skalni Mesto (B&B)
Pleasant hotel in parkland setting. Small rooms, rather ordinary food but friendly service.Website
Jicin – Hotel ReStart (B&B)
A refreshingly up-to-date hotel with extensive facilities and modern furnishings. Hotel guests receive free entry to the hotel's 'Aquapark' (optional!).Website
Jicin – Hotel Rieger (accommodation only)
Traditional Czech hotel in the city centre with colourful rooms and warm hospitality.Website
Prague: Hotel Hastal (for nights in Prague at the beginning or end)
Attractive and friendly hotel in quiet area near Jewish quarter. See the Hotel Hastal website here.
Total 5 nights (miss one night in Hruba Skala and therefore Kost Castle) in double/twin room, 4 breakfasts (accommodation only in Jicin) and luggage transfers (Turnov to Jicin); full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.
All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.
Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £95
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £100
Large party saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £15 per person
Maximum party size: 10
Nights in Prague: From £45 per person per night – contact us for details
Taxi Prague airport to first hotel (c. 1.5 hrs): From £100 (1 person); £105 (2-8 people)
Taxi from Jicin hotel to Prague hotel: From £91 (1 person); £96 (2-8 people)
Taxi from Jicin hotel direct to Prague airport: From £96 (1 person); £100 (2-8 people)
Local bus/taxi/train as required: Arrange locally
Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK: £10-£40 (per pack, location dependent)
Our local team
Born in the region, Lubomir has his own travel agency and tour operator business and combines that with being a professional guide. Your local contact is Petr Hoska, who knows the area well.