We’ve collected some strange, interesting and lesser-known attractions from across the Czech Republic. Get off the beaten track and explore this wonderful country in-depth
Kiwi.com is proud of being from the Czech Republic, and we love showing off the most beautiful and well-known places. But for a quirky look at what makes the country really interesting, here’s our guide to some of the more unusual things you can see and do. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but we hope it gives you a flavor of what you can expect when you visit.
Weird museums — Prague
Prague in itself is not a weird place. Its glories are well-known: beautiful squares, glorious architecture, narrow cobbled streets, great food and drink. However, there are a bunch of really odd museums that you might like to consider should you visit.
Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets
“What a load of crap!” is what you might say upon finding the Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets, but since 2000 its owners have been seeking to reduce the taboo around how humans have dealt with… let’s call it “personal waste disposal”… throughout history. The collection is now over 2,700 different toilets and pots from as far back as the 15th century, and contains those used by Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, and examples from Chinese royalty and the Titanic. Pop in and have a wee… look around.
The Magical Cavern
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The Magical Cavern on Petřín Hill is a house that has been turned into the wondrous land of Argondia, the brainchild of artist Reon Argondian. Using plaster and paint, he’s created a weird and wonderful cave-like fantasy world covered with paintings and sculptures representing elements of his self-made fantasy land. Take the funicular railway one stop up the hill to Nebozízek, get off and look for the Magical Cavern posters. If the door’s shut, just ring the bell and someone will let you in.
Sex Machines Museum
For a different type of fantasy, how about the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to sex toys? Prague has that too. Every type of titillation from the last 600 years is explored here, from the comparatively tame (masks, shoes that marked you out as a prostitute, etc.) to terrifying-looking devices, chairs, mechanical stools and other mind-boggling machines people invented for what you’d think would be a comparatively simple task. If your machine needs a wax dummy to show visitors precisely what position the user needs to be in, it seems you might be overthinking it, but oh well — each to their own.
Prague does, of course, have scores of other museums we don’t have the space to go into now, but let’s just say if you’re interested in the postal service, the Prague sewage system, coffee, the police, communism, the KGB, aircraft, the films of Karel Zeman or many other things, you’ll find something to keep you occupied.
10-Z nuclear bunker — Brno
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Head to the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, to explore one of the more arresting reminders of what a tightrope the world was walking in the middle of the 20th century. Buried in the hill beneath the fortress of Špilberk is the 10-Z nuclear bunker, previously decommissioned and secret, but now open to the public.
It was supposed to be the place local bigwigs would come in the event of a nuclear attack. 500 people could survive three days — whether that would have been enough is a question that will hopefully never be answered — but it was also a communications post, allowing those inside to control the city and surrounding region remotely.
Today you can take an atmospheric tour of the facility, from the decontamination room at the entrance, through the noisy diesel generators and filtration units, to the conference room, living quarters, kitchen, and communication offices. There are video testimonies from people who kept the place ticking over when it wasn’t in use (including the telephone operator who used to grow prize-winning mushrooms in the dank conditions), as well as propaganda films to reassure the locals that post-attack, things should swiftly be back to normal… just in massive radiation suits.
Oh, and if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can book a night’s stay, sleeping in the original bunks and sharing a common room with other hardy souls.
Discover more things to do in Brno in this article.
Sleep in a wine barrel — Klentnice, South Moravia
Another odd overnighter is at Vinařství pod Hradem, around 50 kilometers south of Brno. The area between Brno and the Austrian border is wine country, with many of the country’s finest vintages coming from this area of gentle hills and pleasant ponds. With a clear appreciation of the sustainable nature of winemaking, the owners of this vineyard have gone one step further, offering you the chance to spend a night sleeping in one of two huge barrels.
The two barrels (one previously housing Sauvignon, the other the local Pálava variety; choose your favorite!) offer a double bed, power, light, heating and, naturally, a complimentary bottle of the corresponding wine. There are beautiful views over the vineyard and the surrounding area, and wooden loungers to lie on in the evening as you look up at the stars. Wonderful.
A mountain slide — Dolní Morava
On a peak in the Králický Sněžník mountains sits a huge structure that looks like some sort of steampunk roller coaster. It is, in fact, a massive slide that sends you hurtling down the equivalent of 18 storeys. Easily accessible by chair-lift and ramps, you head to the top of the Sky Walk, as it’s known, for spectacular views across the rolling countryside below.
The braver among you can also get the feeling of hovering in thin air, as there are a series of nets strung between points that you can climb out onto and lie down. When you’re done with the view, you can either walk back down, or take the more thrilling route: the 328-foot slide that returns you — with wild hair and a gasp — to the bottom.
Close to the bone — across the Czech Republic
The Czechs are known for their very particular sense of humor — a mix of the resigned, the ironic and the slightly macabre. How else would you explain the odd urge to collect human remains at sites across the country for hundreds of years?
The most famous of these sites is the ossuary in the town of Kutná Hora near Prague, where an entire church is given over to decorations, chandeliers and wall coverings made of the bones of (it’s said) between 40,000 and 70,000 people who made the ossuary their final resting place. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country and is widely written about, so where are some lesser-known examples of this “art”?
The town of Mělník, north of the capital, has an ossuary under the church of Saints Peter and Paul, and it’s here that you can find more bones from a period of around 150 years. The remains are now sorted into “images of anchors, crosses and hearts – symbols of hope, faith and love.”
There are even catacombs that contain bodies that are in the process of slow mummification. Below the Jesuit church in Klatovy near Plzeň, you’ll find remains from the 17th century that are displayed in glass-topped coffins. The same — but with even more bodies — can be found in the Capuchin Crypt in Brno: local worthies (mayors, architects, military leaders and the like) are slowly decomposing, still with their clothes and boots on, interred alongside monks, still clutching their rosaries over 300 years later. Creepy.
Vítkovice — Ostrava
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The industrial landscape of Dolní Vítkovice in the city of Ostrava was once known as “the Steel Heart of Czechoslovakia”, back when that was a thing to be awfully proud of. Under the communist regime, the city and surrounding region was a huge producer of coal and steel, its air so polluted that warning lights would have to come on to tell drivers to stop as no one could safely see where they were going through the smog.
Happily, those days are gone, and Ostrava is busy reinventing itself with the old steel works at the center. The vast industrial complex is now a home for music, art, science and technology, with the old buildings repurposed into performance spaces or exhibition halls. It still looks like a nightmarish hellscape from a distance, especially at night when it’s floodlit. But the power station is now an industrial museum, the huge gas container is a 1,500-seater auditorium, guided tours let you in on its history, and the site is also home to the wildly popular Colours of Ostrava music festival.
Sounds interesting? This way for our in-depth guide to Ostrava.
Weird bars — across the Czech Republic
Our final novelty is something the Czechs are rightly known for: beer, well-produced and plenty of it. From hip gastropubs to village taverns, a great deal of Czech life revolves around the national product, but there are some seriously odd places to enjoy it as well.
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Výtopna in Prague looks like a fairly ordinary gastropub, and ticks all the boxes: good food, a rotating selection of excellent beers, et cetera. It has one crucial difference, however, in that your food and drinks are brought to you by model trains. That’s right — 14 locomotives pulling pints and plates move around the bar on 900 meters of track that winds its way between the tables. Cute, eh?
Another unusual serving method can be found in Plzeň where the locals are rightly proud of being the inventors of the original pilsner, named after the city. The PUB (Pilsner Unique Bar) is where you can drink the beer straight from the source on tables with their own taps. No more waiting for service!
If you’d like a flavor of how Czech pubs used to be, head to Retro Pivnice in the student-heavy city of Olomouc. The decor is straight out of the 1950s, with vintage furniture and elegant lamps, radios, TVs and more from that period. The modern twist is that they serve a wide selection of excellent beers from local breweries, as well as some of the bigger, national brands. Na zdraví!
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