A historic jewel hidden away at the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic packs a lot of punch for such a small country. No bigger than Scotland or South Carolina, it's crammed with fairytale castles, medieval towns, elegant spa resorts and scenic national parks. Almost everyone who visits the Czech Republic goes to Prague, with its imposing castle, great museums and galleries, jazz clubs and concerts and other attractions. Many day trips are possible from here, including the spa resort of Karlovy Vary, the historic towns of MÄ›lnÃk and KutnÃ¡ Hora, and castles like KarlÅ¡tejn and KonopiÅ¡tÄ›.
But the rest of the country has just as much to offer the independent traveller, with no fewer than 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites including the picture-postcard town of ÄŒeskÃ½ Krumlov, the chateaux and landscaped gardens of Lednice-Valtice, and the Renaissance architecture of TelÄ.
Among the most beautiful scenic areas are the Å umava National Park in the southwest, which takes in the forested mountains and lakes around the headwaters of the Vltava River, the wierd and wonderful rock pinnacles and gorges of the AdrÅ¡pach-Teplice Rocks in the northeast, and the spectacular caves and underground rivers of the Moravian Karst in the southeast.
The rich agricultural area of Moravia in the eastern half of the country offers rolling ranges of wooded hills, vineyards, folk art and yet more castles. Here wine is more popular than beer - a speciality of Bohemia - and life moves at an even more relaxed pace.
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