A protected gem in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is a country that has wowed many. Continuously evolving into one of Europe’s most popular travel destinations, the Czech Republic is full of charming countryside, ornate castles, and beautifully diverse architecture with a long fascinating history. And yes, even though there are so many hugely interesting cities, towns & historic monuments, there are just as many beautiful spots in nature that are worth exploring. Topping that list is Sumava National Park.
In the South Bohemian regions of Czechia, you will find the most extensive forest landscape in Central Europe full of emerging peaks and canyons, and crystal-clear glacial lakes. Sumava is the Czech name for the Bohemian Forest. Sumava National Park is a UNESCO “Biosphere Reserve” and is 69,030 hectares which makes it the largest national park in the Czech Republic. It is, together with the Bavarian forest, part of the largest Central European forest area and is also known as the “green lung of Europe”.
Few places in Central Europe can meet such a harmonious region as the National Park of Sumava. The dense forests on the Czech-Bavarian border are so vast that together they create the largest single wooded area of the entire continent. This combination of centuries-old forests, mirror-clear lakes and mysterious peat bogs creates a unique poetic place for outdoor activities at any time of the year. For a long time, the entrance to Sumava National Park was forbidden. Therefore, the local nature has retained its unique beauty and purity which is such a rare thing to find these days.
How To Reach
The national park is around 150 km from Prague. You can rent a car and drive down yourself or you can also take a bus (which will be a cheaper option).
Best Time To Visit
This is a place to be for you in summer (June – August) when the park is covered with greenery, the rivers are flowing with delight and the lakes are shimmering under the beautiful sun. This is the time to go on numerous hikes and many expeditions. w
Things To Do
Go on a hike: The Park is a perfect destination for hikers. The highest mountain in Sumava is Plechý Mountain (4521 ft.), accessible from several directions. You can try the adventure route leading between standing dead trees. The surrounding area is dominated by the mountain Boubín that gave the name also to the forest around where you will feel like in the wilderness, surrounded by hundreds of years old trees.
You can also hike the Bear Trail. Sadly there are no bears in the park as the last bear was killed in 1856 and that’s how this trail got its name. The Bear trail is almost 14 km long and is the oldest instructional trail in the Sumava Mountains. The track itself is remarkably well marked because it is often used for cross-country skiing.
The Golden Trail consists of three major hiking trails. Throughout history, these trails were used to transport grain from Germany to Bohemia. Tradesman up until the 10th century, whilst using these trails, spent a lot of money in the villages along the way, thus bringing prosperity to these small communities. Hence the name Golden Trail! The last three remaining trails are the lower Prachatice route, the center Vimperk route, and the upper Kasperske Hory route. Apart from their historical significance, these trails are running through some of the most beautiful Bohemian forests as well as passing by some breathtaking castles.
Visit the stunning lakes: The most stupendous looking, natural, glacially originated lakes are to be found in the heart of Sumava. Granted, you would need to put some effort into reaching them because they are hidden deep in the thick of the forest over one thousand meters above sea level. Look at the pictures and you will kno0w the adventure is worth it.
Two of the most popular and biggest lakes are the Devil’s (Čertovo jezero) and the Black Lake (Černé jezero). The Black Lake is the largest glacial lake in Bohemia. It is 40 m deep and covers the area of 18,4 ha. The Devil’s lake is a bit smaller (10 ha) and shallower (37 m). Both the lakes are extremely beautiful and are truly glacially formed gems of the park.
Visit the Poledník Observation Tower (Vyhlídková věž Poledník): For the most beautiful views of the park’s landscape, you can see from the look-out tower on the top of the mountain Poledník (Meridian), which will show you the entire mountain range. The tower was originally a secret military installation. It is situated on top of Mt. Poledník, very close to the border with Germany. The tower served as a signals intelligence station during the Cold War. Since 1998 tourists have been able to visit the tower. It offers a great view of central Sumava and Bavarian Forest. The easiest way to get there is the red trail from Prášily.
Explore the quaint towns and villages: As mentioned before the park holds a lot of history within and there are few tales which you can listen in the bordering towns. Prášily is a well-kept archaeological village which gives you an insight into the lives of Bohemia’s original inhabitants, the Celts. The Black Lake is a part of the Klatovy municipality. Castle Velhartice is truly a sight to behold. Built in the 13th century, surrounded by and overlooking the Bohemian forest, Castle Velhartice is an enchanting place to visit. Other than this, Prachatice, Tachov, Český Krumlov, and many other small towns are basically the gatekeepers of Bohemian history.
Standing in the mountains looking out over the stunning roof of green, you can’t help but feel quite insignificant in this world yet immensely grateful that you’re a part of it at the same time. Experience the feeling for yourself the next time you are in the Czech Republic!
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