Strap on those skis! You live in the Czech Republic and are happily surrounded by mountains. While the Alps are tantalizingly close, you can easily spend a spur of the moment weekend on the slopes right in your home country. Cross country fans may be more pleased than downhill skiers, but everyone should find some sort of winter pleasure in the snow. We’ll review the options, mountain by mountain.
The biggest and best known Czech mountains are the Krkonoše Mountains (www.ergis.cz.) These have the best downhill runs and are the favorite amongst the more experienced set. All the resorts here offer ski equipment rentals and ski schools. The most popular resort is that of Špindleruv Mlýn (www.skiareal.cz.) They boast 25 kilometers of downhill slopes, 90 kilometers of cross-country trails, 11 ski tows and five chair lifts. One of the most common complaints about Czech skiing is the amount of time one must spend in line. While this still can occur, most resorts are doing their best and fastest to improve conditions all the way around. Ski Areal manages this area and with one pre-paid ski pass you can hit the slopes of Svatý Petr, Horní Mísesky, Labská, Hromovka and Medvedín. True downhill fans will want to choose Svatý Petr for their slopes’ degree of incline. Svatý Petr is also popular with snowboarders. The snow park here has jumps, crossover lanes and a space for acrobatic skiing. Horní Mísesky also has a spot for snowboarders. If you are a beginner to the sport and want to go to the Krkonoše’s, you might want to come here rather than Svatý Petr. Cross country skiers will love the Krkonoše thanks to the more than 550 kilometers of well-marked trails. Ninety of these are linked via the Krkonoše cross-country highway.
Skiarena Krkonoše is a group effort of the resorts of Pec pod Snežkou (www.skipec.com), Cerná hora–Janské Lázne, and the Velká and Malá Úpa. Here you’ll find 31 ski lifts and 28 kilometers of downhill slopes. The Černá Hora ski resort (www.cerna-hora.cz) in Janské Lázne has some of the longest downhill slopes in the country.
Moving to the western edge of the Krkonoše Mountains, where they meet up with the Jizera Mountains, is where you’ll fine the country’s largest ski area; SKIREGION.CZ (www.skiregion.cz.) SKIREGION.CZ is comprised of five ski centers: Harrachov, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, Paseky nad Jizerou, Rejdice and Príchovice. These resorts together offer six cable cars, 36 ski lifts, 40 kilometers of ski slopes and 200 kilometers of cross-country trails. Fans of ski jumping should already be familiar with the Harrachov Ski Center (www.skiareal.com) as international competitions are often held here. If you are skiing with a group of mixed-ability skiers you may want to visit Rokytnice nad Jizerou (www.rokytnice.com) as they have a good mix of beginner and more experienced downhill slopes.
Ješted (www.snowhill.cz) is the most well-known ski spot in the Jizera Mountains. Liberec is the happening town here; and with lots of bus lines from Prague (and a resort that can be reached via tram) Ješted may be an excellent option for those bez auto. The Jizera Highway passes through with 115 kilometers of cross country trails and snowboarders should visit Tanvaldský Špicák. Two resorts in the Jizera’s, Bedrichov and Severák, are especially designated for families with children.
The largest ski center in the Krušné Mountains is the Klínovec Ski Resort (www.klinovec.cz). No snow needed for the slopes to be open here as everything is covered with artificial white stuff. There’s a snow park for snowboarders here too. The highest situated town in central Europe, Boží Dar (www.bozidar.cz) is here, offering slopes of easy to moderate difficulty. The real reason to ski here though is the mountains’ proximity to the spa towns of Karlovy Vary (www.karlovyvary.cz), Mariánské Lázne (www.marienbad.cz) and Františkovy Lázne (www.franzensbad.cz.)
Cross country fans will find their nirvana on the Jeseníky Mountains highway: Plains, forests, excellent views as well as nice descents and climbs. The highest ski center in the Czech Republic, the Praded–Ovrárna ski resort (www.figura.cz), is in the Jeseníky Mountains. Other resorts in the Jeseníky’s include Cervenohorské sedlo (www.skiklub-su.cz), Klepácov (www.klepacov.cz), and Ramzová (www.bonera.cz.) Spa fans can visit here too, thanks to the Jeseník spas (www.priessnitz.cz), which were the first hydropathic establishment in the world.
Šumava National Park is known as a quiet respite in the summer, and skiers will find much of the same peace here during the winter. There are many kilometres of well-maintained cross country trails, and for families, Šumava may be your best bet. Newly opened this year is the Lipno Ski Resort (www.lipno.info). An infusion of cash has transformed this ski center into what operators are calling the “most modern in the Czech Republic.” They’ll have three four-seater chair lifts and three moving walkways; the existing ski slopes will be extended and 100% snow cover will be guaranteed. Lipno is a good choice for families thanks to their family centre, with a training park, heated game room and familial discounts. The Špicák (www.spicak.cz) center here is another good choice; they have four children’s tow lifts. Špicak also has a snow park for snowboarders.
Other good mountains for families or beginners are the Orlické and Beskid Mountains. In the Orlické Mountains (www.orlickehory.cz) visit the resorts of Deštné and Cícky, and in the Moravian Beskid Mountains hit the slopes at Pustevny (www.skialpin.cz) or Bílá (www.skibila.cz). Also, in the Beskid Mountains there are more than 100 kilometers of trails for cross-country skiers, including the Lysá Mountains Highway, cross-country trails in the Pusteven area and routes traversing the mountains of the Tešín Beskids.
For those who prefer to sit while playing in the snow, Špindleruv Mlýn has a four kilometre sledge run (www.sankarska-draha.cz) and a bobsleigh track (www.bobovka.cz.) Cerná hora and Janské Lázne are linked by the more than three kilometre sleigh track Zvonková cesta (www.janskelazne.cz). Visit www.activeguide.cz for information on snowtubing, a snow trampoline, snow scooter and snowrafting.
For more information on skiing in the Czech Republic, see www.holidayinfo.cz, www.ceskehory.cz or www.czechtourism.com