Now that the temperatures have climbed back up and it is bearable to be outside once more, what better way to get the blood flowing than to go cross country skiing. Cross country skiing is a very popular winter activity in the Czech Republic with infinite trails around the country. It would be impossible to list all the trails so I will just highlight the popular regions to get you started.
Located at the Czech-Polish border near Germany (about 1-2 hours north of Prague) and ideal for all winter sports. Here you can pick a trail of any distance, ranging from beginner to advanced. If you are up for the challenge, and don’t mind the hills, Krkonoše is known for these type of trails.
Need a rest from all the hard work? Wellness centers can be found all around these mountains. For example, Hotel Aqua Park in Špindlerův Mlýn has great facilities including a pool, sauna, and water slides. Another good center is Komplex Loko in Trutnov.
We can’t forget fun for the kids. There are many great sledding slopes and even a small skiing slope with a lift. SKI PEC is ideal for the whole family.
Located 60km west of Krkonoše and an hour north of Prague (by Liberec). Very ideal for cross country skiing with many great and maintained trails. Want hills? No problem. Want long, straight trails? Check. Want both? Done.
Another great feature of these mountains is that you can even cross country ski at night. In Jablonec nad Nisou you can find a cross country arena Břízky where you can do a few laps.
You shouldn’t miss the stone observation tower Štepánka on top of the hill called Hvězda, in my favorite village of Příchovice. Breathtaking views await you there. If you want to check out what the current conditions are in Jizerské Hory before heading out there, you can do so online. Most cameras can be found here.
Mountains of Šumava
Another superb place for cross country skiing. It is located further southwest, by the German-Austrian border. The mountains here have a lower elevation but resorts are cheaper and less crowded. You can even find moderate hills but nothing too extreme.
For inspiration, visit the cottage of Kateřina Neumannová, a retired, cross country skiing Olympian, where she showcases her gold medals. You can even rent a room and stay a little longer.
If you are a complete newbie to cross country skiing and want to learn the right technique, which looks effortless on television, contact the experienced trainers at the Nordic Academy.
If cross country skiing is not your thing and downhill skiing is more your passion, no worries, many places around as well. I have been neglecting skiing for the past few years so I am not an expert on the best places but this interactive map shows all the slopes in the Czech Republic as well as neighboring countries.
Also, here is another link that lists specific cross country trails around the country. If and when Prague gets snow, you can find many people getting their cross country skis out and turning the many local parks to trails. Sometimes you can go straight from your front door :)
Few cross country skiing etiquette tips:
1. Always let faster skiers pass.
2. Most trails are two-way, stay on the right. Same as while driving.
3. Always say ‘thank you’ when someone lets you pass.
4. If you are passing, announce whether it is on the right or left.
5. If you have to stop, move to the side, off the trail.
We still have plenty of winter left, so get on those trails and slopes before it’s too late!