Trip Number: 12590A
Staff: David Van Winkle
- Explore four UNESCO World Heritage sites and two Biosphere Reserves
- Hike the rolling hills of Moravia and Bohemia in the Czech Republic
- Visit stately Vienna and magical Prague on guided city tours
- Comfortable hotel lodging, most meals, and all gratuities, including
local guides and driver
- On-trip transportation and English-speaking guides
- Guest speakers in ornithology and botany, private guided tours and entrance
fees at chateaus, castles, and museums
The focus of this trip is the Czech Greenways, a network of more than 250 miles
of trails and country roads along centuries-old salt, silver, and amber trade
routes that were closed off for 40 years behind the Iron Curtain. On most days
we will hike through deciduous forest, over rolling hills, across meadows, and
through small towns to that evening's destination. Our luggage will be transported
by bus. We will learn about local history and culture by visiting many of the
well preserved chateaus and castles along the way, as well as an archaeology
museum, Valtice Wine Cellars, and the Bohemian Tapestry Center. We will hike
some days with an ornithologist and a botanist. We will spend our evenings enjoying
the local pubs and the fine Czech beer while talking about various aspects of
Czech history and culture with our local contacts.
Photo: David Van Winkle
Key for meals included in the trip price: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner
Day 1: (Vienna) Plan to arrive in Vienna by midafternoon.
We will provide instructions for getting from the airport to our Vienna hotel,
where your trip leader will be waiting to meet you. At 6 p.m. we will meet for
introductions and a brief overview of the trip. Dinner or music options will
be on your own. Overnight: Vienna.
Day 2: (Vienna) In the morning, we will meet our Czech guide
and together we will enjoy a city tour, taking in the impressive buildings of
the Ringstrasse: the State Opera, the Burgtheater, and the Hofburg, the imperial
palace of the Hapsburgs. In the afternoon, we will board the Ubahn (metro) for
the short trip to Schönbrunn Palace, the magnificent royal summer residence
of the Hapsburgs on the outskirts of Vienna. This palace of nearly 1,500 rooms
was completed in the early 18th century as a smaller model of Versailles, and
is surrounded by a zoological and botanical park. This evening we will have
a welcome dinner. Overnight: Vienna. (B, L, D)
Day 3: (Vienna-Mikulov) We will board our bus for the trip
from Vienna to the Czech Republic and spend the day in the Lednice-Valtice Area,
a UNESCO World Heritage site and the former estate of the Liechtenstein family.
We will tour the Gothic Revival Lednice Chateau and hike five miles through
the woods with a local ornithologist. We shall also see unique "follies,"
romantic structures such as a faux Arc de Triumphe or a Grecian Temple set harmoniously
into the surrounding landscape. We will then arrive at the Baroque Chateau of
Valtice to visit the Valtice Wine Cellars. Overnight: Mikulov. (B, L, D)
Day 4: We'll drive to a trailhead below the ruined castle
of Divci Hrady. From there we'll hike seven miles with an ornithologist through
the historic wine region of Pálava to Dolni Vestonice, home to a museum
of archaeology. The ancient Venus of Vestonice, estimated to be 26,000 years
old, was discovered near here. Upon our return to Mikulov, we will tour the
town. We'll also see the crypt of the Dietrichstein family, as well as a synagogue
and Jewish cemetery, where the oldest tombstones date to 1605. Dinner will be
served in a traditional wine cellar. Overnight: Mikulov. (B, L, D)
Day 5: (Vranov-Podyji National Park) Today we'll drive to
the village of Cizov to see the last remnants of the Iron Curtain, then go on
a seven-mile hike that includes an overlook of the Austrian town of Hardegg
with its ancient castle and a sweeping view of the River Dyje Valley. Afterward,
we'll continue on to Vranov. Overnight: Vranov nad Dyje. (B, L, D)
Photo: David Van Winkle
Day 6: (Telc) In the morning, we will tour the Baroque castle
perched on a rock 230 feet above the river Dyji in Vranov and then drive to
the Renaissance town of Telc, a UNESCO World Heritage site. After lunch, we
will meet with people from the Phoenix Society, the nonprofit organization that
protects the heritage of the Telc area. Later in the afternoon, we will walk
five miles, including the trail established as a memorial to Jewish painter
Frantisek Nagl. Overnight: Telc. (B, L, D)
Day 7: (Telc) This morning we'll tour the Telc Chateau and
the town of Telc. You will have the afternoon available to relax and enjoy the
Telc square, one of the largest in the Czech countryside. Overnight: Telc. (B,
Day 8: (Slavonice-Landstejn-Jindrichuv Hradec) We'll transfer
to the town of Slavonice, founded in the 12th century and famous for its sgraffito
facades and local pottery workshop. Sgraffito is a Renaissance technique that
uses two layers of plaster of contrasting color applied on the wall. While still
wet, the top layer is partially scraped off to create various designs. We'll
hike six miles from Slavonice to the ruins of Castle Landstejn. Our bus will
take us to Jindrichuv Hradec, home of the third-largest castle complex in the
Czech Republic. Overnight: Jindrichuv Hradec. (B, L, D)
Day 9: (Jindrichuv Hradec-Trebon) In the morning, we'll tour
the historic town and castle of Jindrichuv Hradec and visit the Regional Museum,
home of the largest mechanical crèche (nativity) in the world with several
thousand figures. It's quite spectacular and beautiful! Later in the morning,
we'll drive to Kojakovice, where we'll visit the Village Museum, which highlights
the history of common people in the area. We walk seven miles around the man-made
lake of Svet, an engineering wonder of the 16th century, to the town of Trebon,
a 13th-century medieval town with fortification walls. Trebon is a UNESCO Biosphere
Reserve. Overnight: Trebon. (B, L, D)
Day 10: (Cesky Krumlov) Our private bus takes us to Cesky
Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the "jewel of South Bohemia,"
with the second-largest castle complex in the Czech Republic. After a walk around
the town, we can enjoy an optional activity, an eight-mile rafting trip from
Cesky Krumlov to Zlata Koruna, or spend the afternoon on our own. Overnight:
Cesky Krumlov. (B, L, D)
Photo: David Van Winkle
Day 11: (Cesky Krumlov-Klet) We begin by touring the town,
then tour the unique Baroque Theater in the Castle in Cesky Krumlov. Then, our
bus takes us to the base of Klet, the tallest peak in the region (3,200 feet).
We'll take a ski-lift to the top of Klet, then enjoy a local lunch at the top
and take in the great vistas, before we take the hiking trail seven miles back
to Cesky Krumlov. Overnight: Cesky Krumlov. (B, L)
Day 12: (Kamenný-Privoz-Prague) Today we'll drive north
to Kamenný-Privoz and we'll hike seven miles through the Sazava River
Valley. After our hike, we will drive on to Prague. Overnight: Prague. (B, L)
Day 13: (Prague) We will begin the day with a city tour and
a walk through the historic center of Prague, known as the Old Town. We'll visit
the Prague Castle, Old Town Square, the Town Hall, and the Jewish Quarter. You
will have the afternoon available to see the many other sites of Prague. We
meet at the end of this day for a farewell dinner to celebrate the successful
completion of our journey. Overnight: Prague. (B, D)
Day 14: (Prague-Departure) Participants will depart individually.
The leader will provide instructions for getting from the hotel to the airport.
The trip begins in Vienna and ends in Prague. Many major international airlines
serve both cities, so it is possible to purchase an "open-jaw" ticket.
Or you may prefer to fly in and out of Vienna and take the train from Prague
back to Vienna at the end of the trip. Your leader will provide information
Accommodations and Food
We will be staying at small hotels, pensions, and country inns. All rooms will
have their own bathrooms, but may not have telephones, televisions, or air-conditioning.
Rooms are double-occupancy, with a roommate provided for those traveling alone.
The cuisines of Austria and the Czech Republic are heavy on meat and potatoes.
However, various types of dinner salads are available from every restaurant.
Vegans can also be accommodated. On several evenings, we will have opportunities
to engage in "beer meditations" -- evening discussions held at a local
pub on such topics as the Iron Curtain and the Cold War, fish ponds and fish
farming, and the Czech culture. Your participation in these evenings is entirely
voluntary, and you will be responsible for purchasing your own alcoholic beverages.
Photo: David Van Winkle
This trip is designed for hikers in good health who are used to walking five
to seven miles a day for several consecutive days. The terrain is moderately
difficult, with trails consisting mostly of well-groomed dirt tracks winding
through forests or open meadows, country roads, or occasionally on town streets.
Elevations are also moderate and changes in elevation are insignificant. The
highest peak in the area, Klet, rises 3,200 feet, and we will be taking a ski-lift
to the top and walking down. The support bus will be available in case of illness,
exhaustion, or injury. The length of any day's hike may vary from the itinerary,
depending on the route selected. May is usually temperate, but can also be very
hot. We will adjust the hikes as necessary, taking weather conditions into account.
Be prepared for rain during a hike. Austria and the Czech Republic are modern
countries, but they do some things differently than we do. Critical to your
enjoyment of this trip is a relaxed attitude and a willingness to accept the
inevitable surprises that travel usually has in store for us.
Equipment and Clothing
A valid passport is required for travel to Austria and the Czech Republic,
but U.S. citizens do not need visas. Citizens of other countries should check
with their embassies or consulates. Sturdy walking shoes and a day pack are
essential; otherwise, your normal travel gear will do. A complete list of equipment
will be provided prior to the trip.
- Steves, Rick, Rick Steves’ Vienna, 2009.
- Agnew, Hugh, The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, 2004.
- Capek, Karel, Tales from Two Pockets, The War with the Newts, Catbird
- Czech Phrasebook, Lonely Planet, 1st ed., 2001.
- Ash, Timothy Garton, We The People: The Revolution of '89, Granta/Penguin,
- Steves, Rick, Rick Steves' Prague and the Czech Republic, 2010.
The Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about
conservation and sustainability of resources both locally and globally. Our
work is accomplished by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, and encourages
grassroots involvement. Our outings seek to empower participants in understanding
the parallels between environmental concerns at home and abroad.
The modern Greenways were created by a group of preservation enthusiasts --
Czechs and Americans -- after the 1989 "Velvet Revolution," a quiet
revolution that saw the overthrow of the communist government. This Greenways
group realized that under the new free market economy -- with its rapid and
environmentally careless economic development -- architectural monuments and
the surrounding countryside of the region were in need of protection.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
David Van Winkle has led numerous national Sierra Club trips in western U.S. This trip will be his fourth visit to Vienna/Prague. David is currently the Chair of the Northern New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club. He is an active leader in conservation activities for the Club for the state of New Mexico, as the Communications Chair and the Energy Chair for the Rio Grande Chapter. He is also the Quality Officer for the Southwest Outings Sub-Committee. He is a Wilderness First Responder and has a Masters in Electrical Engineering. David resides in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Sheryl, plus one dog and one cat. He hikes frequently in the mountains and desert near his home. In addition to hiking, his interests include ornithology, gardening, photography, residential green building, solar energy, and communications.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips