5 Family-Friendly Camping Spots
From camping on the shores of Mácháč to sleeping beneath “rock city” in Czech Paradise
For many families, a summer weekend in nature isn’t complete without sleeping out under the stars (or getting as close to the stars as your particular comfort level allows). Whether your style favors drifting off to sleep in a hammock hung between trees on the shore of Macha Lake or cozying up to watch the sunset from the porch of a cabin in Czech Paradise, camping opportunities abound in the Czech Republic.
In Czech culture, summertime fun often means getting out of the city. Don’t be afraid to add a camping weekend to your family’s must-do list, even if you don’t speak fluent Czech. Czech camping culture is laidback and friendly, attracting Czechs from around the country as well as visitors from Germany and the Netherlands. Many campgrounds use English as a common language, and even in those that don’t, I’ve always found a way to communicate.
Read on to discover where to find good fishing, a lakeside waterpark, forests for mushroom hunting, hiking trails or just a nice waterfront for relaxing. Family oriented evening programs, music and special events for children are also common at many Czech campgrounds.
If you want to make new friends fast, bring some marshmallows or sausages for roasting on a common campfire. And, of course, don’t forget your guitar.
Camp Borný at Macha Lake (or Mácháč to locals)
Macha Lake, just an hour’s drive from Prague, is an ideal spot to spend a summer weekend. The home of the Czech Republic’s largest open air music festival (Finlandia Open Air), Macha Lake is a hopping place during the summer months. Near the town of Doksy, there is a large beach area called Staré Splavy with its own water park, beach volleyball, children’s playgrounds and boat rental. A bit farther around the lake, there’s a nude beach and campground, for the naturalists in the group. In addition to its attractions, the shore and wooded areas around the Macha Lake are perfect for hiking along the shoreline, searching for wild blueberries or mushrooms in the woods and relaxing.
Camp Borný, located in Staré Splavy (but across the lake from the water park), is my family’s favorite place for tent camping in the Czech Republic. We usually camp there during August, after the crowds of high-season, but when the lake is still warm enough for swimming. In the camp, there is a restaurant serving Czech specialties, Pilsner beer on tap and warm breakfasts. Camp Borný offers bungalow accommodation and tent camping in the shaded waterfront area. The campground is favored by Czech windsurfers, and a rental place within the campground rents windsurfers and gives lessons. There is a high ropes course, a trampoline, bicycle and paddle boat rental, playgrounds and fire pits. Individual open fires are not permitted, though there are two large communal fire rings. Bathrooms and showers are clean and serviceable.
Distance from Prague: circa 90 km
Tip: Visit the information center in Doksy and ask for a map to the SWAMP walking tour
Sedmihorky in Cesky Raj (Bohemian Paradise)
What could be a bigger thrill than camping in Bohemian Paradise? If you’ve got young children and you’d like to ease into camping slowly, Sedmihorky is a safe bet. Annually rated as one of the best family campgrounds in the country, Sedmihorky offers plenty of hands-on activities for children and parents. From organizing a morning camp run, to holding nature talks and singalongs for kids before bed, offering goat petting sessions, yoga classes and arts-and-crafts, the Sedmihorky staff pull out all the stops to keep campers entertained. Small cabins, bungalows, tent camping, teepee rental and caravan sites are available. There is a miniature golf course on site, bicycle rental and several different playgrounds.
The campground is one of the most popular in the nation, so expect to be crowded into a meadow if you come at high season. Camping during June, August and early September is best if you’d like to avoid the crowds. Check out the Hruboskalsko “rock city” with its sandstone formations, visit a castle (Valdštejn, Hrubá Skála and Trojsky are all close by) or lounge on the sandy shore and watch your children play. The campground is monitored by security and usually quieter than others in the Bohemian Paradise area. There are several on-site restaurants offering live music during the high season as well as a canteen for supplies.
Distance from Prague: circa 95 km
Tip: Walk through the Hruboskalsko “rock city” with its towers reaching up to 55m and its steep ravines and canyons. Stop for an ice cream at the Hrubá Skála Castle and return to camp for a dip in the pond to cool off.
Autokemp OASA on Stankov Pond, Chlum v Třeboně
Located on the banks of the Stankov Pond in the lake region of South Bohemian, this family campground won regional camp of the year in the summer of 2015. For the past few summers, my family has visited the campground to relax, fish in the nearby ponds, bike along the flat, paved (i.e. super kid-friendly) trails and enjoy nature. One of the perks of the campground is its book ahead reservation system. If you’re driving from Prague, it feels better when you know you’ve got a guaranteed place to pitch your tent when you arrive. OASA’s tent and caravan campground areas are divided into 80 marked 8X8 meter lots. Along the bank of the pond, there are an additional 90 spots reserved for tent camping which are popular among the region’s fishermen.
If you are really against roughing, OASA also rent bungalows and cabins. For a real campground feel, OASA rents grills and sells firewood, so you can cook out and sit around a campfire right at your own tent. The campground has a nice playground with carved wooden structures, swings and slides for smaller children as well as ping pong tables, basketball and volleyball courts for older children. My children made fast friends on the playground and spent most of their time (when they weren’t fishing) hanging out with their new friends. Bathroom facilities are clean and adequate. Fishing permits are sold on site.
Distance from Prague: circa 160 km
Tip: For a tasty fish fry, head out of the campground and cut across the main road to an outdoor roadside stand. Eat outside at long picnic tables or under a covered patio. They serve fried fish (and not much else). If you want to taste the local catch, it’s the place to go.
Kemp Radava at Orlík Dam, Chrást u Kovářova
Orlík Dam is another popular site for water-related fun in the Czech Republic. My family discovered the dam and one of its adjoining campgrounds during the August heat wave last summer. Although Kemp Radava is more rustic than the other campgrounds on my list, the Orlík Dam setting with its sailboats, motor boats and yachts was so picturesque that I decided to include it.
Kemp Radava has a decent restaurant (Radava) with a large terrace overlooking the waterfront. The camp itself is in the woods on the edge of the dam as well as in a grassy field. We opted for the shade and enjoyed the view of the waterfront as we sat by the campfire at night. My children enjoyed swimming in the roped off swimming area, walking through the woods (too dry for mushrooming), sailing (and capsizing) their toy boats.
Just past the Radava terrace, there is another restaurant called Hospoda Radava. Connected to the hospoda is the Radava recreational area which rents wooden cottages and caravans. Although we enjoyed sleeping in our tent, Hospoda Radava had excellent food, fun live music, and I could imagine spending a week in one of their cottages.
Distance from Prague: circa 93 km
Website: Tent Camping - www.restauraceradava.cz
Website: For cottage or caravan rental - www.radava.com
Tip: Hop on a boat for a round-trip tour of the dam and its nearby attractions, including the Orlík Chateau (12 km) and the Zvíkov Castle (22 km). www.lodnidopravaorlikslapy.cz
Camp Olsina on Lipno Lake, Černá v Pošumaví
Lipno Lake is the largest dam in the Czech Republic and a year-round mecca for active sports enthusiasts. Although in the winter the big draw is skiing, summertime sports include cycling, inline skating, swimming, windsurfing and sailing (lessons in most disciplines available at Lipno Lake Marina). While Lipno has an array of apartments, hotels and other accommodations, it is also known for its picturesque lakeside camping.
If you’d like to camp on Lipno Lake, Camp Olsina comes highly recommended. Located directly on the lake, within walking distance of the village of Černá v Pošumaví and just 15 km from the UNESCO heritage site of Český Krumlov, Camp Olsina provides lakefront tent camping, cabins and six-person bungalows with private facilities. The campground has electrical hook-ups, top-rated bathroom and shower facilities, a camp store and plenty of green space for campers to relax and lounge. English is spoken at the reception. Buses run regularly from the village to Český Krumlov, Lipno nad Vltavou and other areas of local interest. If you’ve got kids, don’t miss the Treetop Walkway at the Lipno Ski Resort.
Distance from Prague: circa 190 km
Treetop Walkway Wood Celebration – June 11, 2016 www.stezkakorunamistromu.cz
Tip: Lipno Sports Fest – July 9 – 16, 2016, www.lipnosportfestival.cz
During the month of July, Lipno hosts a week-long Sports Fest where you and your children can try out a variety of different sports disciplines and relax with cultural programs, concerts and other special events. Yachting, dragon boat racing and swimming are just a few of the professional disciplines to watch out for.
Online resource in English for other campgrounds - www.czechcamping.com
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