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The Bohemian Paradise is a beautiful protected area in the Czech Republic just a few hours east of Prague. It’s known for its sandstone rock formations and the twin towers of the Trosky Castle, perched dramatically up high on two basalt volcanic plugs. It’s a reasonably small area, but is filled with fun hikes and activities for the family.
Here is how we enjoyed our two days in Bohemian Paradise with our 2 year old son and 4 year old daughter:
After checking into our Airbnb in Lomnice nad Popelkou, we hopped back in the car and drove 20 minutes to the Prachov Rocks (Prachovske Skaly). This park is home to the towering sandstone rocks the area is known for.
The previous day we had an epic 12 miles (20km) hike in the Bohmian Switzerland, so our plan for this visit was to have a relaxing walk through the park with modest distance ambitions. It’s nice to have outings every now and then when we are not constantly telling our young and easily distracted kids to put down that stick and hurry up.
The park has two main walking loops – the yellow loop is 1 mile (1.5km), while the green loop is 2.2 miles (5km). Given our sore legs, we should have taken the shorter one, but we gave into our temptations (as always!) and started up the green path.
The walking distances shown are accurate, but they are a little misleading as there are lots of rock stairs to climb up and down, so a 2.2 mile (3.5km) hike here will take a lot longer than normal. The green route immediately starts to climb rock steps up, and up, and up. We got to the top and enjoyed the amazing views of the sandstone formations from this elevated vantage point, but we decided at this stage that we simply didn’t have the time to do the full green loop, so we backtracked and started the yellow loop.
The yellow loop also begins with a climb up a set of rock stairs where it transitions into an easy, level stroll through the forest. There are two additional viewpoints you can walk to before descending down the stairs to complete the walk back to the front gates.
All told, we walked 2.2 miles (3.5km) in just over 1.5 hours (including detours, chasing kids, etc). We’re glad we took the yellow route as it allowed the kids to walk at their own pace without being rushed. It’s a fun place for kids to run around and explore, so not being rushed means they get to properly enjoy this natural playground. It was a very pleasant afternoon in a beautiful natural setting.
The primary reason we came to Bohemian Paradise was to visit and hike around the Trosky Castle. This dramatic and imposing castle ruin has two towers, each one built on top of its own basaltic rock outcrop, with the main castle areas built in-between the two. The castle is built on the highest ground in the area and can be seen from great distances within the area.
You can drive nearly all the way up to the castle, but that’s not our style. We wanted to find a good hike up to the castle, hopefully with some interesting views. With the help of our favorite travel hiking app, we decided to park our car in Ktova. Using our hiking app we found a really nice trail which started on a dirt road leading through freshly planted mustard fields. There were hardly any trees on this stretch allowing some pretty nice views of the castle.
The trail then transitioned into a thick forest. We found a variety of wildlife including beautiful butterflies, large snails and even a small, dead snake (which the kids thought was pretty cool). We soon noticed a bunch of towering sandstone rock formations looming behind the canopy of trees. Our hiking app said that there was a trail leading up into them, so we decided to follow it. I’m so glad we did as it led us up to and through the rock formations, which really are quite dramatic and beautiful. We just kept following the trail higher and higher and were soon rewarded with an excellent close-up view of the Trosky Castle sitting behind a field filled with dandelions.
Once we got our fill of taking pictures, we kept following the trail towards the castle. We had to do a little bush-whacking at this stage, but nothing too bad. Once we got really close, the trail seemed to end at a fenced-in field, but given the fence here was already knocked over so we decided to hoof it across and hope we didn’t get in trouble. We were rewarded for our ‘bravery’ by coming out at the parking lot of the castle. From here, there was a dirt road leading northwest to another open field for some additional great picture opportunities.
Finally, we started walking from the parking lot to the front gate of the castle. This portion of the walk is uphill for about 5 minutes. Once inside the castle, it’s a fairly straightforward visit – pick a tower and climb it, enjoy the incredible views, then repeat with the other tower. You can climb to top of one tower, but only halfway on the other. There’s not much more to the castle than that. No fancy furniture or old, boring paintings – it’s our kind of castle!
After our reasonably quick castle visit, we took a different path back to the car. Starting back towards the parking lot, there is a trail which turns right (north), taking you back towards Ktova. The trail here is mostly along a very picturesque rural road, winding through local properties.
We are very glad we chose to hike up to the castle, as it made the visit much more special than simply driving up. The trails are not well marked and we would not have been able to do with without the help of our hiking app.
Hiking from Hruba Skala to Valdstejn Castle
The hike from Hruba Skala to Valdstejn Castle is a popular 8km trek which highlights the Bohemian Paradise’s natural beauty. It can be done in a loop by following the red marked trail to the castle and the yellow marked trail on the way back. The best place to park is here, where the two trails meet. Get there early though, or you may need to park down the road in the paid parking lot.
We started with the red trail, which is a mix of paved road, country road and hiking trail. The trail starts on a quiet paved road through a forest. Before long, the red trail markers direct you through a gate to lead you into the Arboretum, which was founded in 1860 as an area to experiment with planting foreign trees (which are all labelled). This is a nice little area to walk through and there are a few nice wooden sculptures to look at.
The next section of path is a very scenic stroll through a series of towering rock formations, which the area is known for. The path is pretty level and is easy enough for kids of all ages to walk. There are a series of lookouts. The first is Vyhlídka na Kapelu, which provides a view of a group of rocks called “The Band” and a solitary rock tower called “Kapelník” (Bandleader). There are several other lookouts along the path which are all worth a visit for their views of these special rocks. The ‘safety fences’ at the lookouts are not very safe for little ones, so keep them close if they don’t listen well.
Before long, you arrive at the Valdstejn Castle. To enter the castle, you cross a short, but elegant stone bridge lined with many sculptures. There is a viewing area on the other side of the bridge where you can see parts of the castle. We elected not to go in for two reasons: 1) it’s a finished castle so the tour is focused on the interiors – yawn… 2) we took too much time at the lookouts and needed to get back for our son’s nap.
The yellow path begins by looping down and under the dramatic castle bridge. The surface alternates between paved biking trails, roads and hiking trails. The first stretch is steeply downhill and follows a popular paved biking trail, so watch your kids don’t get in the way of the bikes flying past!
Thankfully the trail leaves the bike path and deviates into the forest and you follow a path along the bottom of the rock formations, giving a different perspective of these amazing structures. Watch for daring rock climbers on the sides or on top of these towers. The yellow path goes pretty much downhill for the first half, so make sure you enjoy it as the second half involves a lot of stairs.
Our visit to the Bohemian Paradise came at the end of three weeks in the Czech Republic. We did a lot of hiking in this time and to be honest, our legs were getting a bit grumpy with us. Typically, we always do an afternoon activity when we travel, but we elected to take it a bit slow, let the kids play with the toys left for them by our Airbnb host, so we’d all be recharged for Budapest – our next stop.
Here are the afternoon activities which we likely would have done, had we been here earlier in our trip:
This is an easy and beautiful 2.5 miles (4km) walk through a river gorge. Kids will love running alongside the river, especially on the parts where the walkway is actually over top the river!
Bozkovske Dolomitove Cave
What kid wouldn’t love a 45 minute tour of a cave? This cave is full of dramatic stalagmites and stalactites and is home to the Czech Republic’s largest underground lake.
Bohemian Paradise is quite spread out and lacks good public transit. If you want to do some hiking in the region, you’ll need a rental car.