South Bohemia lies inside the cradle of the Sumava mountains, a range of pristine forests and meadows bordering Austria and Germany that was once the five-mile wide swatch of the Iron Curtain. A breadbasket for the rest of the country, South Bohemia is also known for its extensive network of 500-year-old man-made ponds, trout rivers, and rolling fields of wheat, beets, and potatoes. Its towns boast some of the most magnificent examples of Renaissance and Baroque architecture in Central Europe, and Cesky Krumlov is considered by many the region's crown jewel, a village of 18,000 cited by UNESCO as an international historic landmark.
During the warmer months, the South Bohemian countryside is ideal for bicycling and hiking. A national system of marked trails that thread through fields and forests allow for hikers and bikers to plan trips of varying lengths and difficulty. These same trails transform into excellent cross-country skiing paths during the winter. Several Sumava towns boast moderate downhill ski slopes and decent lodges, particularly northeast of Cesky Krumlov near the German border.
During the summer, locals and neighboring Europeans frequently vacation on Lake Lipno, a reservoir about 20 miles from Cesky Krumlov that provides camping, sailing, and beaches for swimming.
Cesky Krumlov was founded in the 13th Century inside a protective bend in the Vltava River. UNESCO's World Heritage listed the village as an historic landmark in 1992, stating that it is "an outstanding example of a small central European medieval town whose architectural heritage has remained intact thanks to its peaceful evolution over more than five centuries." Read the full UNESCO listing (PDF)