Karlštejn is famous for its castle but why not combine a visit to Karlštejn castle with a nice hike in the countryside? Here are the top five reasons why I think you should.
It would be unforgivable not to mention the castle itself. Founded in the 14th century by Charles IV, Karlštejn castle has its place among the jewels of gothic architecture in the Czech Republic. Its history is well known, documented and accessible in English as well, that is the reason I am not going into further historical details here. Maybe just one thing to mention – compared to other castles of that period, this one does not really dominate the landscape from a hilltop, but stays quite hidden in the landscape. From whatever direction you approach it, its monumentality and beauty always take you by surprise. So why not hike to it?
No big planning is needed to get to Karlštejn. If you are staying in Prague, trains from Praha Hlavní nádraží or Smíchovské nádraží leave regularly throughout most of the day. No matter where in Prague you are staying, public transport brings you to those train stations very comfortably. And no panic if you miss your train: you can always stop for a beer, coffee, tea or smoke to enjoy the wait before the next train. Just do not forget to get on the next train.
There is an abundance of well marked hiking trails around this area. Just pick one, and go explore. You can make a loop back to where you started, or walk to the next village and take public transport back to where you need to go. Hiking trails around this area vary from easy to moderate, even if climbs come with the territory. I promise to put up some tips about hiking in Czechia in my next blog post.
First thing to say, the nature around Karlštejn is beautiful. The vast surrounding area is a National Nature Reserve due to the landscape and wilderness variety. Well known Paleozoic geological profiles are present here, as well as paleontological localities. This area is rich in karst phenomena such as caves and rugged valleys. The ecosystems based mostly on limestone bedrock contain different types of forests as a result of natural and human processes. But of course, you do not need to be a natural scientist to pick Karlštejn as your destination. Hiking through the rolling hills around the village brings you enjoyment even without an in-depth scientific understanding of what you see around you.
It might be actually a reason NOT to hike around Karlštejn, especially if your starting point is in Karlštejn itself. The 30 minute marked trail from Karlštejn train station to the castle is paved with pubs. The food is affordable, although quality varies, but the beer is mostly beautiful. So if your well intended nature walk turns into pub crawl, it is not your fault!