Formerly part of the Austro Hungarian Empire, the Czech Republic was first formed in 1918, only to be annexed by the Nazis from 1938. The communist government were actually voted in after an election in 1946, due mostly to disillusionment with the west, but came under pressure in the 1968 Prague Spring. The Warsaw pact troops remained in the Czech Republic until 1998 when communism and its ideology finally unravelled in the velvet revolution.
Tourism accounts for nearly 10% of the country’s economy but has suffered in recent years to due the floods in Prague in 2002 and a few lesser events since. Prague has also suffered from bad publicity about rip-off taxi drivers and a rise in petty crime, but the new leadership has addressed these problems of late. The Czech Republic is generally regarded as being a country of low crime.
Tourists to the Czech Republic mostly visit Prague but there are a number of other sites of major importance around the country. Firstly the spa towns of such as Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně and Františkovy Lázně attract many cross-border visitors, while the castles and chateaux attract visitors to Karlštejn Castle, Český Krumlov and the Lednice–Valtice area. Český Ráj, Šumava and the Krkonoše Mountains attract activity holidays.
Beer lovers are attracted to the Czech Republic for its Pilsner Beer, mainly to the Bohemian city of Pilzen, and Budweis, from which the brand “Budweiser” was formed. At the same time the country has a growing wine-making industry, which should be sampled.
When to visit
The tourism peak season is the Spring and Autumn, but visiting in the summer can be cheaper, as can the winter months if you can stand the cold and the shorter days.