Day 1: Prague – Karlstejn Castle – Nova Zivohost

The route: 83.5km

elevation profile; cycling; czech republic; bike touring; europe

Elevation profile

From Prague – Karlstejn Castle 36km

  • A1/A2 cycle route out of Prague
  • Connect to the A12 cycle route 
  • 0013 cycle route to the Karlstejn Castle

From Karlstejn Castle – Nowe Zitvohost 47.5km

  • Leaving Karljstein, head east on Road 116 (through Rovina)//Junction with Road 115/116, towards Revnice
  • In Revnice,  Road 116 (climb, climb, climb, and then runs parallel to Highway 4)
  • In Novi Ves pod Plesi, take the unmarked roads (marked pink route on the ShoCart maps) through the towns of Velka Lecice-> Kramy-> Krizov->Korkyne
  • In Korkyne, continue along Road 102 towards Chotlisko, then  take Road 114 to Lipi;
  • At Lipi, take cycle route 301, east to Zivohost
  • Take the once an hour ferry (last one at 19:00, cost 10 Kč per person)  to Nova Zivohost

The ride:

We were supposed to take it easy.  It would be our first day with loaded touring bikes for quite some time.  Today, we were introduced to cycling in Czech Republic.  It even included a ferry ride.  It didn’t turn out as such an easy day—but we loved it anyway!

bike touring czech republic; prague to karlstejn

A view from the road

Our destination is south.  The goal for the day was to head to Karlstejn Castle, a bit out of our way to the west to see the magnificently cliff-side perched castle, and then cut back south-east to catch Cycle route 11 , AKA the Vienna-Prague Greenway.

-All Cycle route names and numbers refer to Czech National Bike route system.
-Map resources:  ShoCart’s Turistický Atlas Česko +Cyklotrasy  and/or Opencyclemap 

Cycling out of Prague and into the surrounding areas.

Despite its claim about being a great cyclist’s city, Prague is not an easy city to navigate by bike—at least for tourists.  The Prague cycle routes are not as well marked as expected although with some trial and error you should be able to find the correct route.

Use care when heading south from Staré Město (Old Town) on A2 as you will need to cross the river to access the A1 route and continue to Karlstejn.  The A1 route starts and stops without warning and continues unsigned for some distance.  We thought we were riding the A1 out of the city, only to come onto a highway onramp.  Luckily, we climbed down a small path to meet the real A1 to connect to the A12 and out of town.

From the A12 the route to Karlstejn is fairly well-marked.  Soon auto access is restricted, and the continuing paved surface is perfect for cyclists and pedestrians.  After about 5-7k the paved road turns to dirt, eventually changing to narrow, steep and rocky sections, meant for mountain bikes and may require dismounting with a loaded bike. Luckily, it is a very short stretch, and we could ride most of it.

On to Karlstejn

Czech Republic; Bike Touring; Prague to Karlstejn

On the road from Prague to Karlstejn

About 6km outside Prague the A12 climbs through some small hills into the countryside and through scenic villages, a world away from the capital city.  The A12 turns to a dirt track it runs through creekside forest eventually coming back to the paved road (overlapping with A50) and meeting up with the 0013 (not to confused with A13), which continues to the Karlstejn castle.  Be prepared  to climb and descend, climb and descend; slow climbs and screaming descents for the next 20km.    There isn’t a whole lot of easy coasting.  Most of 0013 is very well-marked – except about 1.5 km north of Chýnice, along a sustained descent, where the route turns West through a farm field– presumably a shortcut, that turned out to be a dirt road which ended abruptly and requires bushwhacking to continue.   Even if one could make it through, it wouldn’t save that much distance and its far easier to stay on the road and can catch up with the 0013 in a kilometer or so in the village of Chýnice.

Karlstejn Castle; bike touring czech republic; prague

Karlstejn Castle

Karlstejn castle is as impressive as the postcard pictures make it out to be.  If you want to tour the inside, keep in mind it’s closed on Mondays. (We visited on a Monday, but hey, there was virtually no one there for one of Czech’s most crowded sites.) There is a good walk uphill to get to the castle itself, as the road winds through the site of an old village with a stream running alongside it.  The whole feel of the place is rustic and quaint, even if the tourist traps, souvenir shops and restaurants now are housed within the village buildings.  A good imagination can certainly transport you back to another time.

Karlstejn-  Nova Zivohost:

Leaving the castle, we decided to cover more ground and connect with A11 / Vienna-Prague Greenway.   We needed to head south and east.  There isn’t an easy route or a direct cycle route marked on our maps.   The twisting roads and the closely placed elevation lines told us some steep climbing was in our future.

This is when I feel in love with the ShoCart Map.

Heading East from Karlstejn, Highway 116  crosses over the steepest terrain of the day.  From there, we followed the ‘pink’ routes on the ShoCart cycle map to Cycle route 301 and leading to the Vienna-Prague Greenway ( route 11).  These are not always marked on the road, but they are lower traffic rural roads that can be cycled safely.  Village after tiny and quiet village scattered around sweeping farmlands.  Some in the valleys.  Some on the ridges.  By August, many of the fields have been harvested, leaving behind a golden row of stubble, like the bristles of an old horse-hair brush.

After about 25k of ups and downs and one long descent down to the Vlatva River we rolled into Stare Zivohost.  It was marked with several auto camping spots and the tent camping was just on the other side of the river in Nova Zivohost .  Would we have to swim? Fortunately not.  Catching the last ferry of the day put us at the other side about 10 minutes later, ready to set camp.  No sooner were the tent stakes in the ground than the rain started to fall and the thunder began to rumble.  A hasty dinner of bread, cheese and surowka (coleslaw for the uninitiated) and day one was in the bag.

Bike Touring; Czech Republic; Prague; Vlatva River; Veinna-Pragur Greenway

Taking the ferry over to camp

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