Southern Bohemia calls itself the "pearl of the Czech Republic," and it’s not just a clever nickname. The richness and beauty of this corner of the country bordering Germany and Austria are undisputable.
The natural landscape is lovely—soft rolling hills crisscrossed with rivers and dotted with ponds mark most of the territory—and the Šumava Mountains to the southwest are a popular ski destination. Coming from Prague, you’ll cross the border somewhere north of Tábor, while heading east the indiscernible crossing to Moravia comes near to Telč. Forestry and fishing make up most of the area’s important industry, with tourism and beer brewing more fun runners-up.
The history of the cities is intertwined with many an aristocratic name. The Hapsburgs, Rosenbergs, and Schwarzenbergs all had a large influence on the region, and their nobility is reflected in the area’s many castles and beautifully preserved historic squares. The 15th century saw the territory wrapped up in the religious wars sparked by Jan Hus, whose reformist ways angered the Catholic Church and eventually led to his martyrdom. Evidence of the Hussite Wars in the mid-1400s is visible in Tábor.
Český Krumlov is the one must-see destination and often the only stop for visitors, which means huge crowds on summer weekends. The castle here rivals any monument in Prague.