The Majestic Krkonoše Mountains: A Lush Forest Haven

The Krkonoše Mountains are like a wall, yet they are a bridge linking Czechia and Poland. They consist of deep woods and crystal-clear rivers, yet they are very open to the public. This is the story of the wilderness haven.

Valley in czech national park Giant mountain- Krkonose
A valley in Czechia's Krkonose National Park. Photo: Jana / stock.adobe.com

The majestic Krkonoše Mountains are a natural border between the Czech Republic and Poland. Although we say border, we mean a kind of frontier that both separates and unites the Czech Republic and Poland. The Krkonoše are located at the northern edge of the Czech Republic and are the highest Czech mountain range. They are also home to the highest mountain in the Czech Republic: Sněžka (1603 m).

Welcoming wilderness opened to the people

The government of the Czech Republic is very serious about guarding the virgin nature in Krkonoše. That is why the government proclaimed the whole region a national park in 1963, making Krkonoše the oldest national park in Czechia. Not only the Czech government but also the Polish one takes the protection of the Krkonoše very seriously. The Polish Karkonosze National Park was declared a protected area in 1959, four years earlier than on the Czech side!

The mountains attract many visitors, 11 million per year to be exact. Generally speaking, there are two types of tourists visiting Krkonoše. Some are interested in enjoying the natural riches the mountains offer from a respectable and comfortable distance, while others are more into the region’s attractions and are willing to sweat for them. 

Sportswise, you can do almost any sport: skiing, snowboarding during the winter, hiking, cycling, and mountaineering in summer. The best part? You will never get lost thanks to the Czech Hiking Markers system.

Enjoying Krkonoše the Slow Way

The Krkonoše region is full of places where you can spend your free time in a very casual and relaxing way. Do you long for a traditional holiday in the mountains? No problem: dozens of old-timbered chalets are on the slopes, with hot tubs and saunas ready for you. Are you more of an urban animal? Then the town of Harrachov, with its historic center and several museums, is the best choice. Špindlerův Mlýn, a luxury mountain resort, could be proclaimed the capital of relaxation in the whole region, offering you everything a person seeking a peaceful holiday could wish for.

If Špidlerův Mlýn and Harrachov tempt you, be sure to cross the border to the Polish side afterward! History lovers will love the town of Karpacz, which boasts a beautiful wooden church. It is not just an ordinary church; this one was moved from Norway! It is a Protestant church that originally stood in the Norwegian village of Vang, after which it was named. It was moved to the northern slopes of the Krkonoše in the mid-19th century. Today, more than 200,000 tourists visit it every year. Szklarska Poręba will then become the home of the more active individuals, just like Špindlerův Mlýn on the Czech side.

Active Vacation: What not to miss in Krkonoše?

In winter, leisure time in the Mountains is more than apparent. Whether you ski, snowboard, or cross-country ski, the Krkonoše should be your destination! And in the Summer? You can walk along the ridges of the Krkonoše Mountains along the “Path of Czech-Polish Friendship,” a moderately tricky route that covers 26.8 kilometers and climbs 532 meters. Most people who live in the Krkonoše Mountains say that anyone who hasn’t taken this route is as if they haven’t even been to the mountains. The Czech-Polish Friendship Trail will take you to the beautiful lakes of glacial origin, Wielki Staw and Maly Staw. They are located on the northern side of the Krkonoše Mountains in the Polish Karkonosze National Park and are about half an hour’s walk apart. Both are beautifully visible from the main ridge of the mountains, but we recommend descending and taking a good look up close.

The Krkonoše Mountains are also home to one of Europe’s largest rivers: the Elbe. The Elbe rises in the northern part of the Mountains at an altitude of 1,387 meters. It rises from the ground very close to the border with Poland: it would only take less than 400 meters to make the Elbe a Polish river.

Krkonoše? Karkonosze!

It doesn’t matter if you go to Krkonoše or Karkonosze. The important thing is to enjoy the mountains, in any language. And what is the best thing to do in the Krkonoše? Climb Sněžka, of course! Either use the cable car or climb to the top of the Czech Republic on foot. And what to do when you get to the top? Visit the meteorological station, which looks more like a moon base. From its tower, you can watch both sides of this majestic natural border and have both republics in the palm of your hand. But above all, breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the pristine nature that is the hallmark of the Krkonoše Mountains.

Marek Koten

A Ph.D. student in economics, specializing in nuclear energy from the Czech Republic, he also serves as a political consultant to the Czech government and the U.S. Republican Party.

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