North Bohemia is a region in the Czech Republic and it consists of Ústí nad Labem Region and Liberec Region. This part of the country is not a popular travel destination due to lack of iconic and well-known sights. But North Bohemia offers breathtaking sceneries (Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Ceske Stredohori, Bohemian Paradise), where Elbe river flatland meets mountains and creates amazing rock structures, picturesque historic towns as well as some of the best castlesa ad cahteaus in the country.
North Bohemia, historically (for more information, see "Understand") heartland of Sudetenland, German area in Czech lands. Cruel and poignant 20th century is noticeable everywhere. From wealthy German villas (often abandoned now) and spas from prosperous pre-war era to Terezin concentration camp and devastated countryside because of communist-era coal mining and heavy industry.
- Liberec is with pop. 100 000 biggest city in North Bohemia and centre of Liberec Region nestled in the Jizerske Hory, at the foot of the Jested Mountain (1012 meters). In contrast with industrial Decin, Usti nad Labem, Most or Chomutov, Liberec is a lively and beautiful city with big zoo, botanic garden, some good restaurants and more attractions.
- Ústí nad Labem, the second biggest city and capital of Usti nad Labem Region is known for heavy industry and most important Czech river port on Elbe river. Except small Střekov castle has Usti not much to offer (historic center was destroyed during WW II and communism), however it is a good starting point for hikes in Bohemia Switzerland National Park and Central Bohemian Uplands (see "Other destinations")
- Most (pop. 70 000)- although old medieval centre was destroyed in favor of coal mining and heavy industry, castle Hnevin and gothic church (which was moved by train to the newly constructed town almost kilometer away; according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is heaviest building ever moved on wheels) still remain and remind the German past.
- Děčín - big city (pop. 50,000) on Elbe river with baroque chateau and synagogue in Art Noveau style.
- Chomutov - another big city with quite nice historic centre with one the oldest gothic churches in Europe.
- Teplice (pop. 50,000)— city known for its thermal spas.
- Litoměřice (pop. 24,000) - pretty historic town, seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Litoměřice. Dominant of the town is Cathedral of St. Stephen.
- Žatec is a small (pop. 19,000) historic located in hops producing area.
- Česká Lípa (40,000) - centre of Kokořínsko landscape protected area.
- Jičín is beautiful town and center of Bohemian Paradise.
- Bohemian Switzerland National Park (České Švýcarsko) Largest natural sandstone arch called "Pravcicka Brana," and other unique sandstone formation are part of the small and picturesque National Park, right on the borders with Germany.
- Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) Favorite summer destination for many Czechs, Bohemian Paradise is a Protected Landscape Area with sandstone rocks and plenty of picturesque castles and chateaux, just ideal for hiking.
- Jizera Mountains (Jizerské hory)
- Elbe Sandstone Mountains (Labské pískovce)
- Central Bohemian Uplands (České Středohoří) are different than rest of Czech mountains. The highest peak, Milesovka, is just 800 meters high. What makes this protected landscape area (second largest protected landscape area in the Czch Rep.) beautiful is combination of Elbe river flatland and cone-shape mountains of volcanic origin (difference between highest and lowest point is 700 meters!). You can reach the area easily, because highway connecting Prague and Berlin goes right through it.
- Kokořínsko Protected landscape area - another great landscape with amazing rocks, but Kokorisnko offers much more. For example "Czech sea" Macha's Lake (it is actually just a big pond) one of the biggest bodies of water in the Czech Republic, and Bezdez Castle from 13th century.
- Lusatian Mountains (Lužické hory)
Historically, this area was inhabited by Germans, who had been invited by Czech kings in the early Middle Ages. This area had a German majority and was called Sudety (Sudetenland). It was one of the wealthiest and most industrialized regions in Austria-Hungary and then Czechoslovakia. Before the beginning of World War II, in 1938, Sudetenland was annexed by Nazi Germany. After the war, the whole German population of 3 million people was deported to Germany, and the region was resettled by Czechs from outside the region.
Today, as a result of the expulsion of Germans and four decades of communism (during which part of the landscape was destroyed by coal mining), this region is one of the poorest parts of the Czech Republic, and it has a relatively high unemployment rate. Large German villas, these days often abandoned, are reminders of its wealthier past.
The North Bohemian landscape is stunning. On the borders with Germany and Poland are the Ore Mountains (Krusne hory), Lusatian Mountains (Luzicke hory) and Jizera Mountains (Jizerske hory). The Elbe valley, also located here, is the lowest point in the Czech Republic. The Central Bohemian Mountains (Ceske Stredohori) are of volcanic origin, and can be found with rock structures in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park.
Despite the German past, now more than 90 percent of people are Czechs. This is not Prague or Cesky Krumlov, so be prepared that people may not speak English. German and Russian are often spoken by older residents. For more information, see: information in the Czech republic guide
Bus is a good option to get to regional metropolises Liberec and Usti nad Labem and it takes one hour and couple of minutes.
Since Usti nad Labem is important railway junction between Prague and Berlin, train is best way how to get there and it takes just one hour from Prague hlavni nadrazi (main railway station). To Liberec, there is no direct train connection from Prague and bus is definitely better option.
Both Usti nad Labem and Liberec are well connected with Prague via highway (Usti - D8 motorway, Liberec - R10 expressway). It takes just about 1 hour driving.
Railway network is dense in North Bohemia. Using train, you can get to almost every town here. Buses are common too.
Great option how to explore many sights in this region is by walk. Lots of beatuful towns, castles ad chateau are located close to each other and are often set in beautiful landscape. Tourist trails are well marked and can be found in every corner of Nort Bohemia.
If you like landscape, go to Bohemian Paradise, České Středohoří or mountains on the borders (see other destinations). These areas are also great for people interested in architecture and history. One of the best and most famous Czech castles (Bezděz, Kost, Kokořín, Frýdlant, Trosky, Houska) and chateaux (Mnichovo Hradiště, Frýdlant, Jilemnice, Zákupy, Hrubá Skála and many, many more) can be found there. Although big North Bohemian cities can one called ugly, smaller towns are surprisingly beautiful. Jičín, Kadan, Louny, Žatec, Litoměřice, Roudnice nad Labem, Úštěk or Chomutov has well preserved gothic and baroque historic centres.
If you prefer modern architecture, you should not miss Jested Mountain with Jested Tower on the top of the mountain. This is one of the best Czech buildings built during Communism and is well known among foreign architects due its hyperboloid shape, which naturally extends the silhouette of the hill. Moreover, there are great views of Liberec city and whole Bohemia as well.
- Terezin is a small town and originally military fortress from Habsburg era, best known for Terezin concentration camp.
- Úštěk, small town locted few kilometres from Litomerice with well preserved gothic houses.
- Prachov Rocks - part of the Bohemian Paradise, beautiful sandstone rocks.
- Panská Skála - weird rock structure, which looks like an organ, is definitely worth a visit. There is nothing like that in the Czech Republic. It is located in the little town Kamenický Šenov, 17 kilometres from Česká Lípa.
- Říp Mountain is just 450 meters high solitary hill rising up from the central Bohemian flatland. It is place, according to legend, where the first Czech people settled. Old rotunda of Saint George can be found on the top.
Network of walking trails is dense and trails are well marked. Moreover, landscape is just beautiful, with sandstone rocks and many castles and chateaux (look at the See section above). Bohemian Paradise is most popular destination and there is plenty of places, where you can rest, eat, sleep or buy a souvenir. However, in summer could be a bit crowded.
Biking is also popular due to flatland located here. However, cykling some mountains in České Středohoří or Jizera Mouinains can be more challening.
You can swim and sunbathe on shores of Machovo jezero (Macha's Lake) in Kokořínsko landscape protected area.
Why go by foot, if you can borrow canoe, kayak or inflatable boat and follow many Czech tourists on Ohře and Jizera rivers.
Due to several mountains on borders with Germany and Poland, there are few small ski resorts.
- Krupka, near Usti nad Labem and Teplice
- Loucna, near Chomutov
- Jested in Liberec
- Bedrichov, Bila and Severak around Liberec.
In North Bohemia are several local breweries. Area around Žatec is well known for prodution of hops. In Žatec is museum about hops and breewing.
- Studánka in Liberec
- Frýdlant chateau brewery
- Restaurant with brewery in Děčín
- Křinice brewery in Krásná Lípa
- Klášter brewery in Mnichovo Hradiště
Among the most northerly in Europe, two only Bohemian wine subregions (the bigger wine area is in South Moravia) are located in North Bohemia, thanks to Elbe's rivers flatland. Wineyards are arond towns Mělník (officialy part of Central Bohemia Region) and Litoměřice
North Bohemia has an above average criminality than rest of the Czech Republic. In some bigger cities in Usti nad Labem Region, there are ghettos (for example Chanov quarter in Most) with population of gypsies. Avoid these places.