It may be the Czech Republic’s newest national park, but Bohemian Switzerland National Park (Ceske Svycarsko) has long been a popular destination for traders and artists. The park’s curious name was inspired by two 19th-century Swiss artists who settled in the region because it reminded them of their homeland. Today the park draws hikers, bikers, climbers, and nature lovers from around the world.
The most popular attraction in Bohemian Switzerland National Park is Pravcicka Brana (Pravcicka Gate), Europe’s largest sandstone arch, standing 52 feet (16 meters) high. Don’t miss the lookout points near Jetrichovice, including Mary’s Rock—which is more than 600 steps to the top. The main village in the park is the picturesque Hrensko, which is worth a visit in its own right. Located north of Prague along the German border, you can visit the park on a tour from either Prague or Dresden, perhaps including a stop at the Saxon Switzerland National Park in Germany as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Color-coded hiking trails depart from Hrensko and Jetrichovice.
- Pravcicka Brana is about an hour’s walk from Hrensko along Gabriel’s Trail.
- The park features an “upside-down” climate, which means that alpine and subalpine species are found thriving in river canyons and gorges, while higher slopes are home to species that are typically found in warmer climates.
- Pravcicka Brana and the park’s other main attractions are not accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get to There
Without your own transportation, the best way to reach Bohemian Switzerland National Park is by taking the train to Decin, and from there catching a bus to Hrensko or Jetrichovice. Another option is to take the train to the village of Schona and then catch a ferry to Hrensko.
When to Get There
Bohemian Switzerland National Park is open year-round, though crowds are sparser in the winter months, when the weather can be less predictable. Outdoor activities are especially popular in the spring, summer and fall, as are boat rides on the Kamenice River, which are not possible in the winter.
Rock Formations in Bohemian Switzerland National Park
In addition to the Pravcicka Brana, you’ll find fascinating sandstone rock formations throughout Bohemian Switzerland National Park—all of which are part of a larger geological formation known as the Elbe Sandstones. This makes the park especially popular with rock climbers. In fact the Fortress route, which was first climbed in 1888, was the first recreational rock climb in what is now the Czech Republic.