Krkonoše Mountains/Riesengebirge

Krkonoše Mountains National Park © Ricky Yates

On Monday 11th July, Sybille and I, along with Sam the dog, set out from Prague in the ‘Carly’, to spend the first week of our summer holidays exploring another part of the Czech Republic we had not previously visited. We’ve been to the Krkonoše Mountains, better known to Sybille by their German name of das Riesengebirge.

The Krkonoše Mountains are located about 160km north-east of Prague, adjacent to the Polish border. In fact they extend into Poland with the border between the two countries running along the main ridge. The highest mountain in the range is Snežka, which with an elevation of 1602 metres, is also the highest point in the Czech Republic.

We spent the week based in Pec pod Snežkou, the main mountain resort town in the eastern Krkonoše, staying in Penzion Nikola. The town’s mouthful of a name explains both the origin and location of the settlement. ‘Pec‘ means ‘furnace’, ‘pod‘ means ‘under’ and ‘Snežkou‘ is the mountain ‘Snežka‘ but with the ending changed because it is the instrumental case! In other words, the town began life as a mining settlement where a furnace was built under the mountain, in order to smelt locally mined silver and iron ore.

Mining has long ceased and today, Pec (pronounced ‘pets’) is a ski centre in winter and an ideal base for walking holidays in summer. It is a very picturesque little town provided you ignore the two remaining Communist era monstrosities – a small, stark, concrete shopping  complex where the town’s only supermarket is still located, together with the towering totally out-of-place Hotel Horizont.

Looking back down the valley towards Pec with Snežka beyond © Ricky Yates

After a good night’s sleep and an excellent breakfast, all three of us set out on Tuesday morning for our first walk in the Krkonoše Mountains. As Pec lies at the junction of two steep-sided river valleys, walking in any direction, except down the valley, involves a serious amount of uphill climbing. But the reward for doing so is ever increasing spectacular views as I hope this accompanying photograph illustrates. And once up and out of the valleys, the walking tends to be far easier with only fairy gentle accents and descents to tackle.

Lesní bouda © Ricky Yates

Having climbed south-westwards out of Pec to a height of around 1050 metres, we then headed north-west along an undulating ridge and reached Lesní bouda around midday. Bouda is the Czech word used to describe a mountain dwelling that offers accommodation, food and drink. It presumably derived from the similar German term Baude. Boudy/Bauden like this, are scattered right across the Krkonoše Mountains.

Snežka as seen from Lišcí hora © Ricky Yates

Having enjoyed a drink at Lesní bouda we climbed further along the ridge to the summit of Lišcí hora (1363 m) where we ate our picnic lunch whilst enjoying this amazing view across to Snežka. Shortly afterwards, as we slowly began our decent, both Sybille and I received text messages on our respective mobile phones that welcomed us to Poland even though we were still walking a couple of kilometres inside the Czech Republic!

All three of us thoroughly enjoyed our circular walk which I reckoned was about 17 km in total. We returned to Pec in the late afternoon quite tired but also invigorated.

Penzion Nikola in Pec pod Snežkou © Ricky Yates

17 comments to Krkonoše Mountains/Riesengebirge

  • Stunning scenery, Ricky. It sounds like you had a great holiday and probably came home fitter than you went. 🙂

    • Ricky

      Fitter & lighter Perpetua :-). More photos in forthcoming posts which I hope to publish during the next few days.

  • Hi Ricky,
    You sure took some beautiful pictures! That area is very soothing and calming to the soul.

    Looking forward to reading more posts about your trip, and will also be adding a post about the Krkonoše one of these days!

    Have a great day,
    Sher :0)

    • Ricky

      Hi Sher,
      Thanks for the compliments about my pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Krkonoše Mountains & certainly plan to return & explore the area some more in the future. And I look forward to your post on the subject in due course!

  • It looks gorgeous – do many foreigners get out there? From what I gather most foreigners only get to Prague and rarely venture out further – this looks like the Swiss Alps -without the Swiss prices – nice! We are on count down to Thailand next week – gotta go get warm again!

    • Ricky

      Hi Lis,
      The whole area is gorgeous – more posts & photos to come! Yes – foreigners do visit the Krkonoše Mountains. The ones that do are mainly Germans, re-visiting the ‘Heimat’, together with Dutch + Flemish-speaking Belgians, as they have no mountains! Menus in Bar-Restaurants were only in Czech & German. It is mainly English-speaking visitors + Japanese & Koreans who tend only to get to Prague & venture no further.

      It isn’t quite the Swiss Alps – the mountains aren’t as high – but certainly not Swiss prices. See Karen’s comment the cost of skiing there in winter.

      Enjoy the Thai sunshine!

  • What I could never get over about that area is how affordable it is to ski there. I haven’t been there either, but my Czech students would all go skiing there at least once every Winter. In America, it is no longer affordable for middle class families to go skiing. The Czechs should enjoy their special spot while it lasts!

    • Ricky

      Hi Karen,
      I don’t ski but I do know that the Krkonoše Mountains are a place where you can go skiing for very affordable prices. Many of the Penzions in Pec do charge slightly more per room during the winter months, presumably because there is greater demand for accommodation & to cover the cost of heating. But prices are still very reasonable – another reason why I like living in the Czech Republic!

  • bibax

    Little correction: ‘Snežkou’ is instrumental, the preposition ‘pod’ (= under) takes either accusative (direction) or instrumental (location). The Czech language has 7 cases, so blind guessing is seldom successful.

    BTW, the highest point of the Czech republic (not natural, of course) is the top of the television transmitter on Praded – 1,652 metres above sea level.

  • Ricky

    Hi Bibax,
    Thank you for correcting my cases – I knew somebody would! I am well aware that Czech has 7 cases & I wasn’t blind guessing either – just trying to work out which case it was and obviously in this case, (pun intended), I got it wrong. I’ve corrected the post now!

  • […] Krkonoše Mountains or das Riesengebirge, where we spent the first week of our recent holiday, was part of the Sudetenland. It is the area […]

  • […] les which is sometimes anglicised as ‘Bohemian Forest’. These hills are far lower than the Krkonoše Mountains, the highest point being Cerchov at 1042 metres. The border between the Czech Republic and Germany […]

  • Hi Ricky,

    Nice pictures and trip description.

    In one of your comments you say that the English, Japanese and Koreans don’t venture much outside of Prague.

    That may have been true years ago. I’ve seen Japanese tourists in places where even the Germans don’t usually go. The Japanese tourists usually go in groups but I’ve seen pairs of them travel on their own to remote towns and villages.

    The Americans get around too, not to mention the Dutch.

    While Prague is still dominant as far as tourist visits go it is getting less so by the year.


  • Ricky

    Hi Vance,

    I was inevitably generalising when I said that “It is mainly English-speaking visitors + Japanese & Koreans who tend only to get to Prague & venture no further”. There are of course, always exceptions to the rule.

    As you say, Japanese tourists (& also Koreans), tend to travel in large groups. You do sometimes see these groups elsewhere than in Prague. Last October, I saw two or three bus loads of Japanese/Koreans wandering around in Telc for an hour or so, breaking their bus journey between Vienna & Prague. But it is the Germans & the Dutch who are the most willing to explore the more ‘off the beaten track’ parts of the Czech Republic.

    The Americans who travel outside of Prague are usually ones with some form of Czech ancestry wanting to visit the village where great-grandfather was born. Or they want to visit places in West Bohemia that were liberated by General Patton’s Third US Army.

  • Who needs to visit Prague, I think you’ve found the real beauty in the Czech Republic. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos and adventures!

  • Hi Ricky,

    You are quite right, I just wanted to point out there are exceptions which are growing I think.

    A few years ago we met a young American in the small town of Trebon just exploring the country.

    She had no ancestry or relatives there, she was an English teacher.


  • Ricky

    Hi again Vance – Yes there are exceptions & they are growing but they are still relatively few & far between. However, during our time in the Krkonoše Mountains, we only heard English being spoken once in the bar-restaurant where we ate most evenings. The people doing so were an Indian family who were currently living in Denmark! As you say, there are exceptions!