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To begin, a few comments about driving a campervan and camping in the Czech Republic, based on my experience in 2006:

You must buy a 'vignette' at the border crossing! The tales about police with binoculars sitting in laybys a few hundred metres beyond the border are true. The vignettes are quite cheap and if you plan to be in the country for longer than 10 days the 3 month vignette is likely to be best value. At the time of my visit [May 2006] the commercial exchange rate was Kc.38=£1.00, increasing to Kc.41 towards the end of May. Please note in particular that many comments and example prices below may only apply to the off-season, in high season many more facilities and campsites may be open and prices higher. But I found May to be a particularly pleasant time to visit this country with fewer crowds and gorgeous cherry, apple and pear blossom.

Major roads are mostly well-maintained but beware straying too far over to the right of the tarmac - the edges can be rough and drop-offs can be perilous. Minor roads vary considerably, I found some newly-surfaced ones excellent but some rural roads are full of potholes and quite treacherous. It pays to drive slowly if the road does not seem to have been recently repaired. Fuel is readily available in larger towns and cities, in the more rural areas fuel stations seem to be located near to major road junctions rather than at the edge of towns or villages. I think it's wise to carry a full 10 litre jerrycan in case of problems and not let the tank fall below about one-third full capacity. Fuel prices for diesel on my visit [2006] ranged from Kc27.80 for bio-diesel (may be referred to as 'Natural' or 'Eko-Diesel') to Kc31.50 at some large edge-of-town fuel stations. Generally the unknown Czech-owned  brands were cheaper than international brands - look out for 'ONO' and 'ATP'. I did not find any problem with the fuel quality. Overall I found that 40-50mph was a suitable speed on most major roads: overtaking opportunities are few apart from dual-carriageway roads near major towns and cities and some native Czech vehicles are pretty slow.

Do not drink alcohol at lunchtime! However interesting it might be to sample the local brews of which there are many, it's not worth risking. Instead buy some bottles in a supermarket for the evening. There is a zero alcohol limit for drivers in the Czech Republic and it is evident that Czechs comply with this rigourously. All the drivers I saw were having soft drinks with their midday meals. In any case there does not seem to be a 'lunch culture' here, most working people have a single dish with a soft drink and are off back to work as quickly as possible. How different from France and Italy!

There are still issues about language: German speakers were thrown out in 1945 and most had their property confiscated then or in 1948. German is still widely understood and is spoken by some who have returned, but more recently 'new' Russian money has poured into certain areas and is affecting the languages used on menus.

I couldn't find any publication which listed All the campsites in the Czech Republic. Take a look at the websites www.camp.cz  and www.myczechrepublic.com  The Camping Cheques handbook has some but they are widely dispersed and not often near places we wished to visit. From my experience you do need to know where a site is located as it won't be signposted further than about 1 km away. I found a large scale map - at least 1:300,000 - indispensible, even then the campsite logos found on the map did not always closely correspond to where they were actually located. In some areas campsites are non-existent and the greatest concentration of them is around large artificial lakes and in some mountain areas. I think this is due to the nature of holidaying by Czechs before the country gained full independence in 1989. Many sites retain the very basic little wooden huts which families would take over - rather disparagingly but accurately named 'dog-kennels' by my Dutch friends!

Note: My keyboard does not have the Czech symbols with a 'tilda' above letters e.g. when 'C' is pronounced 'Sch.....', I have used a cedilla instead.

BEROUN    West Bohemian brewery

'Berounsky Medved', situated in a metal scrapyard near the railway station! Doesn't sound promising but we thought it a great place: a micro-brewery in the best tradition with a beer/food hall alongside the brewery. Inside is a typical beer hall [photo]. To find it:

If on the motorway which by-passes Beroun exit at J.18 and either (from the Prague direction) turn left under the motorway bridge, or (from the west) turn right at the end of the slip road. Look for SP 'Nadrazi CD', in fact the scrapyard can be seen from the motorway and the adjoining roads. Look for this sign:  [photo]. The road goes over the railway, you need to turn off before this and it's probably best to park adjacent to the railway station. The scrapyard is to the right of the station, under the road bridge. Suppress disbelief and walk through the scrapyard entrance, where the brewery is to your left - the only building which looks well-maintained [photo]. When we visited the scrapyard also contained quite an array of old military equipment, possibly awaiting dismantling but which would be of great interest to military vehicle enthusiasts.

Beroun itself doesn't have much to attract but there is a pedestrianised central area with shops. We actually parked on a supermarket car park about 500m. to the west of the centre and walked to the brewery; there is a choice of 'Delvita' (Belgian chain known elsewhere as 'Delhaize'); 'Kaufland' and 'PennyMarkt' (both German-owned) all together and close to the elevated motorway.

«ESKE BUDEJOVICE    South Bohemian brewery town

'Dhlouha Louka': Campsite

From North or East follow signs for «esky Krumlov and Linz (Austria), turn off ring road onto road no.3 (for «.Krumlov/Linz) then immediately right. Site is SP by the side of the road. It's run by 'CEDOK' which is the Czech govt. travel agency and is adequate but rather down-at-heel. Kc310/night excluding electricity (which is available). Excellent free hot showers but semi-communal, there are individual showers but dress/undress in communal area. Individual pitches with hardstanding to the right after the reception building, an open grass area to the left. There's a dump in the middle of the grassy area but it's too high for a campervan with holding tanks. There is also another campsite 'Stromovka' just beyond Dhlouka Louka on the same street.

It's possible to walk into the town, c.20 minutes. Best way I found was to head over the main road bridge and then take the underpass under the ring road, up and over the river and then left at the 'Koh-I-Noor'/Hardtmuth pencil factory - look for the tall chimney and if you are a keen artist you'll know the name (there is a pencil museum). I expect that there are other ways into the town but they all have to negotiate crossing the ring road. The Budvar brewery has a hotel 'Maly Pivovar' just off the main square: good bar/restaurant which fills up quickly after 6.00p.m. with, of course, excellent beer.

FRANTISKOVY LAZNE    West Bohemian Spa Town, known as Franzenbad in German

'Autokemp Jadran':    Campsite

Approach from main Cheb to Prague road no.6 to the south side of Frantiskovy and turn sharp Left where the green wooded area of the town opens out; follow signs and turn Right after about 300m. The parking 'Jih' at the southern end of Frantiskovy is very expensive and only suitable for an initial recce. The road to the campsite is narrow with only one suitable passing place at a restaurant (which looks very good but was shut when we visited!). The campsite is acceptable but greatly overpriced for the facilities - Kc480/night, about £12.60 without electricity. They do accept Camping Cheques in the low season, which would reduce the cost. There appear to be only 3 showers for each sex, although there are many more 'cubicles' which may be changing facilities for the swimming lake and the owners are busily installing self-contained 'static' cabins. The on-site restaurant was closed at the time of our visit. The site is flat, fine sand/gravel and grass, and surrounds a lake which is used for swimming. Some electricity bollards exist but not nearly enough for when the site is full. There are no marked pitches - I could pitch anywhere I wished but in high season units would probably be directed to a spot. The site does have a dump suitable for MHs with holding tanks: it's a large metal plate over an inspection chamber behind the cubicles, ask to use it. Best aspect of this site is its proximity to the town: a very pleasant 20 minute flat walk among birch trees brings you to the centre with the Spas, Casino and pedestrianised streets. In contrast to the campsite, coffee and cakes are good and cheap. I had the best 'Iced Coffee' in a long while at 'Cafe Kolonada' near the main Rotunda mineral source.

There are some other campsites in this area, in particular near Cheb at the artifical lake. Look for SP to 'Stein'. There is also a Tesco hypermarket at Cheb [photo], which is well signposted on the way into the town from the main road and has a cash machine inside.

KAPLICE - BOUBIN    West Bohemia: Stellplatz

An area for keen walkers in the Sumava National Park near the German border. At Kaplice there is an undulating grass area available for campers, with earth closets and fresh mountain water (tastes good!) but no other facilities except for a small bar which does drinks and snacks  [photo]. Cost Kc40/night for campervan and Kc15/night each for adults. There's no waste dump. I'd suggest care in pitching a campervan if it's been raining a lot - some areas of the grass look as if they would become very boggy. We found the bar owner and the man who collects campsite money very friendly; good walking maps for sale at the bar.

Access: from road no.39 going north-west from «erna towards Strazny turn off right at Lenora and past the station dir. Zaton; from road no.4 coming south or north from the German border turn off at Horni Vltavice  SP 'Boubin'. At Zaton village where the road makes a sharp turn (from Lenora: at the top of a hill after the flat plain; from Horni V.: at the end of the village where it turns down to the plain) turn off onto a rough narrow road with passing places - when we came this way there was No signpost here to Kaplice/Boubin. The surface improves after c.1km but it's still narrow, fork left at SP 'Boubinsky Prales' and after another 1km you will see the car park on your right over the little bridge, with campground beyond. N.B. The road no.39 from «erna to Lenora along the north shore of Lipno lake is very picturesque but very narrow and twisting in places.

The activities here are walking and mountain-biking, with well-signposted trails up to and around Boubin, claimed to be the highest peak in the Czech Republic at 1362m. At the top there's a viewing tower with panoramic views in good visibility. The peak is easily reachable in about 2-3 hours by the reasonably fit, very steep and rocky in places but well worth the effort. About the same time to get down again due to the rough terrain near the top.

KARLOVY VARY    West Bohemian Spa Town, known as Carlsbad in German

We searched for two campsites located on internet websites at Brezova to the south of Karlovy,  but found them both closed; not actually locked up but totally empty with no sign of human presence. Eventually and with some difficulty we found the Stellplatz listed in the Reisemobil International guide, which turned out to be far more convenient for visiting the town than any of the campsites. To reach it:

See [ MAP warning: this is a large Photoshop file ] : Head for a major roundabout in the centre of the town at the junction of 'Zapadni' and 'Vitezna', east of the lower railway station (Dolni Nadrazi). Take the road which goes over a bridge (slightly uphill and over the railway and through road) away from the centre and towards the wooded hill on the other side of the river where the upper railway station (Horni Nadrazi) is located. Follow this road round a sharp turn to the left and then in about 200m. there is an entrance on the left side with euroflags and wire-netting gates. That's it! - at the end of the red arrow on the map, not where the blue 'P' sign is just above it. The address is officially 'U Sporitelny 10' and the owner's name is Vladimir Korab - he speaks German. [Note for GPS users: the entrance is on 'Nakladni', entering 'U Sporitelny' may take you to a dead end] If coming on the dualled through road which by-passes the centre you should follow SP to 'Horni Nadrazi' but continue on 'Nakladni' instead of turning left under the railway. A town plan of Karlovy is really helpful! The stellplatz is really a private parking area with space for perhaps a dozen motorhomes. Electricity is available if you are trusting - it consists of a 4-gang extension lead hanging out of a ramshackle outbuilding. A ground-level dump is available for grey water, but only toilet cassettes can be emptied in a WC pan. Toilets and wash-basin are provided along with fresh water. A charge of Kc.380/night seems expensive but is outweighed by the closeness to the town centre.

Karlovy Vary is an eyeopener after the peace and relatively genteel atmosphere of Frantiskovy. It's very bustling, full of tourists and more expensive (though this is relative as it's still only moderate by UK standards). The spas are quite different in style [photo] and this was the destination of choice for Austro-Hungarian Habsburg royalty and nobility. It's the home of Becherovka, one of the Czech national drinks, and the Jan Becher museum is well worth visiting. There are many good quality cafťs and restaurants, some amazing architecture and extensive walks around the hill on which sits the 'Diana' tower. You can get to the top by funicular and walk back down.

On our way out towards Prague on R6 we came across a signpost to another campsite at Olsova Vrata, which is near the airport. This is a very long way out from the centre, far too far to walk and I wouldn't recommend trying to park in Karlovy centre. Karlovy also has a brand spanking new Tesco hypermarket (with fuel) on the western edge dir. Sokolov, near where the Moser Glass museum is located (free entry but you'll need a well-loaded credit card if you wish to buy!). This museum has a large car park with good toilets, if you appreciate 'art glass' Moser is a must-do visit. On weekdays factory visits may be available [ see Map showing arrows to Tesco and Moser ].

KRIVOKLAT    East Bohemian fortified town

According to the Rough Guide there are supposed to be campsites at Krivoklat but we couldn't find them. Instead we came upon 'Visnova II', a site beside the river about 2km. south-west of the town and a very pleasant place to spend a few days walking and exploring [photo]. Coming from the north go through the town and continue on the same side of the river past a river bridge at Roztoky (don't cross it), up quite a steep hill and then fork Left. There are some (faded/battered) signposts. Take it slowly when entering the belt of trees after open grassland as you suddenly come upon a narrow track on the left leading down to the campsite. Here are Visnova I and Visnova II, and a 'holiday-camp' beyond them. Only Visnova II was open and we may have been quite lucky in this as it was a Friday afternoon; by Monday morning it was again deserted. Cheap at Kc210/night but no electricity, rather basic facilities and no dump for either grey water or toilet waste. No bar or restaurant open when we stayed but we found the Hotel on the other side of the bridge at Roztoky did quite good food and was cheap.

LITOMYSL    Central Bohemian baroque town

A lovely small town very little altered from the late 18th. century [photo]. The only campsite in the vicinity is 'Autokemp Primator', an easy 10 minute walk to the town centre. Coming from a north-westerly direction the main road by-passes the centre, turn left when you see a building ahead with 'Sokolovna' in large letters on the front face [photo]. The site is SP on the opposite corner. The site itself is on the left in a wooded area after c.300m. along this side road. Kc215/night without electricity (which was said to be available). Most of the site is taken up with wooden huts varying from tiny to quite large, and in my mind exemplifies the way camping used to be in the communist era. The only area suitable for a campervan seemed to be on the parking area intended for the cars of those staying in the huts, most of the rest of the site had long grass and was quite sloping in places. Very clean showers and toilets but Kc10 in slot meter for hot showers. In spite of the relative inadequacy of the campsite, in my opinion Litomysl is a 'must-see' town and the site is well-placed to explore it.

The chateau ('zamek' in Czech) is a gem [photo] and is the birthplace of Smetana, one of the most famous Czech classical composers. The architect was Italian and the whole town could be a film set or a background in a painting by Canaletto. The wooden Theatre in the chateau is stunning and one of only 4 of its type in Europe (the best-known is that at Drottningholm in Sweden). The town also contains a jaw-dropping little house called the 'Portmoneum' [photo], decorated internally in a riot of colour and a bizarre style reminiscent of MAD Magazine covers.

We had lunch at 'Maly Svet', a small grill restaurant in a back street between the chateau and the main square, with excellent freshly prepared grills and other dishes. The 'Slunce' cafe/restaurant at the far end of the square had excellent 'Primo' ice-creams and good coffee. Cash machine under the arcades on the north side of the square.

PRAGUE    Principal City of Bohemia and CapitalCampsite

'Camping-Caravan Praha' on the island known as 'Cisarska Louka'. The most expensive site we stayed on at Kc.515/night including electricity. This is the first of two campsites on this island [photo], the other being 'International Yacht Club' campsite about 400m further on. The latter is the one which is most readily found from a web search, both claim 'A.D.A.C.' approval. I chose the Camping-Caravan site as it is nearer to the public transport system, about 10 mins. walk to bus or tram. The Yacht Club site is larger and more grassy, but at the time of my visit [May 2006] looked a bit forlorn and the restaurant very firmly shut. It claims to have a water taxi service to the city centre but the signs in place did not have a timetable and the price was shown as Kc50 p.p. for a minimum of 6 people - expensive for fewer people. These sites are to the south of the city centre near Smichov, several other sites are located to the north in the area known as 'Troja'. Here is my access route:

See  MAP   [warning: this is a large Photoshop file ] : From the west of Prague (Karlovy Vary) exit motorway R.6 south at J.1following a dualled 2-lane road SP 'Mlada Boleslav' and R.1/E48/E50. Continue on this road past Trebonice and Orech. There were extensive road works and alterations along this road in May 2006 so the route may change. Continue past exit SP 'Orech' until J.with R600 - signs read 'Barrandov' - and follow R600/E50 until you descend a long hill parallel with a new tram line which has hoops over the line (this is very striking). Look for SP 'Smichov' and move into the LEFT lane, then veer off left, over a road bridge and join another road which comes in from your right. Then move into the RIGHT lane and keep right. I have circled this complex interchange on the map. In c.500m you see a fuel station with a yellow fake Ferrari prancing horse on the left (opposite) side of the road just before a set of traffic lights, and with a modernist building - Prague Classic Car Centre [photo] - on your own (right) side and a small Shell fuel station just beyond  - SLOW DOWN at the lights (or stop!) and turn off right immediately in front of the Shell station, SP to campsites and a One-Way Street sign. You MUST stay on the left/west side of the river and ignore signs to 'Barrandov' at the big interchange. The campsite can ONLY be accessed from the south since the main road is 4-lane and has a barrier down the middle. If you do go past the Shell station, continue to the next set of traffic lights c. 500m and get into the Left lane to turn left there; continue to the end of that road (Smichov train/tram station is ahead of you) and turn left again (it's No Right Turn anyway). When you see the tram lines rising up a shallow hill after c.700m, bear Left and go through the Bus Station to the traffic lights, with the Classic Car Centre in front of you. Turn Left onto the opposite carriageway if this is possible, then immediately right in front of the Shell station. If you do happen to end up over the Barrandov Bridge on the other side of the river, it will be a long detour to get back. I've put in this much detail as the roads here are very busy most of the day and the traffic is quite fast.

The site: grassy, flat and with electricity bollards. No marked pitches, the person at reception will fit you in where possible (and much more closely than would be accepted in UK). There's a small bar open afternoon/early evening, the restaurant was closed in early May. Showers are large and free to use, fairly modern and communal (male and female separate but no cubicles nor other privacy). They reminded me of sports club showers in UK. If you pitch on the left there are good views over the river and of river traffic. There is a cover to an inspection chamber for dumping grey water and toilet waste, fresh water also available.

There is so much to see in Prague that I suggest buying a 7-day transport pass if you intend to explore the city for longer than a couple of days. Get a map of the system (free) and one of the City (the best I found cost about Kc.50). The campsite reception has 24 hour and 3-day passes but not necessarily 7-day ones. They can be bought at Smichov station from a vending machine or from an information kiosk in the Metro station there. The Prague public transport system is awesome and (usually) very efficient. We found trams to be the most congenial mode. If you are heading for a beer hall the Staropramen brewery has its 'tap' named 'Na Verandach' at the tram stop 'Za Knedlice', just after Smichov on the way in from this site to the city centre or just before Smichov on the way out [ see arrow on Map ]. Great beer with food and a great atmosphere - Staropramen brews many more styles of beer than are sold under their name in UK. Trams run until late at night and there is an all-night service on certain routes.

STRACHOTIN    South Moravian village

The campsite 'Autokamp Strachotin' is on the north side of the vast artifical lake named Novy Mlyny south of Brno. Access is either from Hustopece to the north-east or from the main road R52/E461between Brno and Vienna, turning left after the causeway over the same lake, in the direction of Dolni Vestonice and then back north over the lake. The campsite is fairly small, flat and grassy with electricity bollards (euroconnector) for all pitches [photo]. It nominally has 50 pitches but in my opinion would be very cramped if full with this number of units. We were the only people there! Kc200/night excluding electricity. The owner is undertaking major works for 2006, including a small swimming pool and bar. He was justly very proud of the new wooden cabins being installed, they looked comfortable. Sanitary facilities are contained in a series of portacabins, but are very clean and modern. Hot showers are Kc20 in a coin meter. The disabled facilities I thought first class, far better than on most UK sites [photo]. There are other sites in the area, but most appear to be for 'statics' and not for tourers.

There's not much to do in Strachotin unless you are a keen fisherman, but the bus runs several times a day to and from Mikulov, a pleasant small town near the Austrian border - Kc18 each way. While waiting for the bus in Strachotin we enjoyed good ice-cream or beer from the small bar attached to the town hall next to the bus stop. A better-looking eatery further up the village street 'Strachotin Duba' (with SP) was shut when we saw it: it appeared to open midday only. This is vineyard country, there is a winery 'P.P.S. Agro Vinteka' on a side street to the right where the road through the village does an S-bend, open Mon-Sat 0700-1500 with generous enough tasting. We found the white wine pleasant, some a bit soft for our liking but the dry 'Traminer' is good and the more expensive 'Palava' blend has character. More wineries are to be found in Horni Vestonice on the south shore of the lake, where there is also a small archaeological museum containing an exhibition and a copy of the 'Vestonice Venus', a small female figurine with very ample buttocks and thought to date from 10,000B.C.

TEL«    South Bohemian baroque town

A very pleasant town with chateau, wide square lined with pastel-coloured and gabled buildings, and a lake surrounding the south side of the town [photo]. No campsite listed but c.10km north-west is 'Rasna Camp', a large site with many wooden huts but also two flattish grassy areas suitable for camping. The road from TelÁ through Rasna village is narrow in places and the entrance to the campsite is very steep.  Electricity available but it did not look very safe. In spite of the information in the Bordatlas there was no ground level dump for toilet waste. A dump for grey water was pointed out to me but it was completely inaccessible to my campervan. This campsite has an adequate (and cheap) bar/restaurant. We noted another campsite at the nearby village of Lhotka and another sign at Jenikov a few km. before Jindricov Hradec.

TREBON    South Bohemian walled town

There appear to be several campsites in this area but we chose 'Domanin', SP from a roundabout on the main road which by-passes the town. When we visited there were diversions around the centre due to roadworks, which should not be followed if they are still in place: from the roundabout on the main road continue ahead until almost at the old town walls, then turn right and follow SP to the campsite. Once the roadworks are complete it should be fairly straightforward. The site is on the south side of the lake which has Trebon on its northern shore.

The site is sloping in parts but has flat areas as well. It borders another lake and there are waterfowl and herons to view [photo]. Best of all there is a ground-level dump for toilet waste and grey water - a white painted cover to an inspection chamber. Kc315/night including electricity. I thought this good value although hot showers are Kc10 coin and don't give enough time. Like many of the campsites we stayed at showers were semi-communal - no privacy for undressing/drying and a curtain for 3 showers. There's a good bar/restaurant on site although the town is only a c.15 minute flat walk. In my opinion it's worth staying more than one night here. There's lots to do: an extremely interesting 12km. Nature Trail around the lake 'Svet' with many 'interpretation boards', the Regent Brewery to visit (large beer hall and subterranean 'keller') [photo], an interesting town with more than just a 'square' and twin fish restaurants 'Supina' and 'Supinka' which are really worth booking a table at. They are opposite the brewery entrance. Lots of other restaurants do fish as well but these two are the tops. This area is famous for freshwater fish farming, the Carp (Karpr) is delicious and a revelation bearing in mind it's considered a coarse fish in UK. Some of the holding/feeding tanks can be seen on the walk into town.

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