UNESCO designations and awards and inviting festivals, there’s never been a better time to sell the Czech Republic, a.k.a. Czechia.
A UNESCO monument in its own right, Prague, Czechia’s beautiful capital, consistently earns it a place on top ten city lists. Here, as visitors stroll around Prague Castle, sip a coffee in its Old Town Square and pose for selfies on the Charles Bridge, there’s always something to catch their attention—a street musician, an ancient gargoyle or an exotic piece of jewelry in a shop window. A new plus for visitors: the Prague Visitors Pass launched last year features 57 of the most popular attractions.
Prague is also the gateway to off-the-beaten-track destinations where ancient castles guard its rivers and countryside from atop rocky cliffs, treasured art tucks into medieval cities and churches, and lovely lakes and mountains beckon with historic spa towns and sports. Its well-developed train network makes traveling easy.
Throughout the year, festivals provide a window into Czech culture. It’s not too late to hop over to Czechia’s renowned Christmas Markets (most open daily from Dec. 2 to Jan 6) for last minute shopping, spiced wine and yummy holiday treats. Easter also fills Czechia’s market squares with stands selling traditional decor and holiday foods and beverages.
The best-known markets are in Prague’s Old Town and Wenceslas Squares but seasonal markets are also a draw in smaller cities such as medieval Český Krumlov, where on Christmas Eve, families set out (food) presents for the resident bears who live in the Krumlov castle moat.
Festivals in 2024
Music is the focus of many festivals. Since 1924, the annual “Year of Czech Music” has celebrated major Czech composers. In 2024, the spotlight will shine on the “father of Czech music” Bedřich Smetana, on the 200th anniversary of his birth. His works will be performed at the prestigious Prague Spring International Music Festival in May and the Smetanova Litomyšl Music Festival, June 7 to July 7, will feature his operas and lesser-known compositions.
Other music events include the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival in September and Colours of Ostrava (July 16 to 19), a multi-genre event in a unique setting—a labyrinth of iron towers and pipes of a former mining area, now an industrial monument.
For film (and spa) buffs, the prestigious International Film Festival in the spa town of Karlovy Vary (June 27 to July 5, 2024) is a must, drawing celebrities and fans for parties, award ceremonies, and more. Also of note: Karlovy Vary is part of the West Bohemian Spa Triangle, added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021 along with two nearby Czechia spa towns: Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně. All feature treatments derived from natural mineral springs and peloid (mud suspension) amid elegant architecture and gardens.
World War II buffs will enjoy the annual May Liberation Festival in Pilsen, celebrating the city’s 1945 liberation by the American army with recreations of military camps and the everyday lives of civilians, a military vehicle convoy, and commemorations at the WWII memorials.
For the Beer Aficionados
Beer-buffs also will delight in Pilsen’s brew-producing history that dates back to1295. Beer aficionados should also plan to visit medieval Zatec, named a World Heritage Site in 2023 for its long history of hops production. Here, they can learn about its internationally acclaimed, aromatic hops at the Hop Museum and attend harvest and beer-themed festivals. In Prague, a must for beer-lovers is the new Pilsner Urquell Experience, a self-guided tour followed by tastings, and a beer hall serving Czech cuisine.
The Hotel Scene
New hotels and renovations also make this an exciting time for Prague. Recent additions include Andaz by Hyatt, The Julius Prague, Almanac X Prague (formerly Alcron Hotel) and The Manes Boutique Hotel. Coming in 2024, W Prague (formerly Grand Hotel Europe), the boutique Grande Amade Hotel, set in a 19th century palace, and the grand 297-room Fairmont Golden Prague (formerly the Intercontinental). Also of note: NH Collection Prague Carlo IV, a National Heritage property built in 1890s.
In other news, on March 25, 2024, the Brussels – Amsterdam – Berlin European Sleeper train will extend its route to Dresden and Prague. And just before press time, Prague was named a top 10 “valuable and sustainable” destination to visit in 2024 by Lonely Planet, which called it “a ‘pulsating capital cloaked in a Gothic cityscape.”
Its extensive calendar of events, brimming with festivals for all interests, new awards and infrastructure, and timeless allure are just some of the reasons that 2024 will be a great year to experience Czechia.