Czechs are a nation of sightseers. We don't have high mountains or any other extremes of nature, but we like wandering the countryside with nice views. That is why there are so many artificial lookouts all around the Czech countryside. Wooden, steel, stone... old and new, classic and controversial.
Some of them fill travellers' instagram accounts. However, such popular places suffer over time from the amount of tourists and especially from what the less disciplined ones leave behind.
Hiking around the Czech republic border is one of our projects. Thanks to this, among the places that fill the photo galleries of enthusiastic tourists, we also get to the forgotten corners of our borderlands. From lookout towers and viewpoints you can see both czech and neighboring landscapes, sometimes even being alone. Eight tips for a trip to various corners of the country will satisfy the heart of every tourist seeking for some off the beaten track places.
Lookouts, viewpoints and ancient ruins on top of hills are popular places from where we can admire the beauty of our homeland.
Starý Herštejn ruin in Upper Palatine Forest
The reconstruction of the round tower in the middle of the deep forests of the Upper Palatine Forest was finished in 2020. On the red tourist trail, Baarova path, between Klenčí and Rybník, there are ruins of Starý Herštejn (Old Herštejn) castle. The nearest possible arrival is via Poběžovice, Pivoň and Vranov to Vranovské sedlo. Here you can leave your car and walk about 1.5 km. Take a stunning trip from Klenčí or Potřekov along the red touristic route through Haltrava and Škarmanka.
The origins of the castle date back to the 13th century. It was constructed to guard one of the branches of the so-called Regensburg Path. It was significantly rebuilt by Přemysl Otakar II. and has often changed owners throughout its history. It was seriously damaged during the Hussite wars.
During the period of the Iron Curtain, the castle served as an observation post for the border guards and tourists were not allowed to come here. Nowadays you are free to visit. The tower has been modified for a lookout recently. Take a look around Czech and neighboring Germany countryside. You can also see two towers on Čerchov, the highest point of the Bohemian Forest
Hainberg observation tower by the city of Aš
The four-story stone tower looks a bit like a rocket, starting from Háj/Hainberg hill (758 m). It is located above Aš, less than three kilometers from the railway station following the blue tourist trail. The nearest parking is at the sports center at the foot of the hill.
The historical lookout tower is one of the so-called Bismarck lookout towers. Three of them have been preserved in Bohemia and almost another hundred and fifty in neighboring Germany.
The intention to build an observation tower on the Hainberg hill was much older, but it was difficult to finance it. In 1895, the year of 80th birthday of the first German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, an association for the construction of an observation tower was founded. The winning project was chosen from a huge number of architectural designs.
The first visitors climbed up 122 stone steps at the beginning of the last century. The platform is at 25 m. In 2010, a sports complex was built in the vicinity, and the lookout tower has recently been renovated.
There are several monuments, picnic areas and a ski lift with a tourist hut in the vicinity.
Poacher’s rocks and other natural lookouts of the Jizera Mountains ridge
Main Jizera ridge is full of beautiful rocky lookouts. Poacher’s Rock was named after the famous Jizera poacher, who was shot here in 1813. Originally a soldier, fighting during the Napoleonic Wars, he hid here and poached in the local forests. Hennrich's cross, commemorating his death, stands about half a kilometer southwest of the summit. From the top here you can see the entire ridge of the Jizera Mountains, the lookout tower on Smrk, the transmitter on Stog Jizerski, the Gorzystów Hut on the Polish side in the meadows around the Jizera river, and even the transmitter building in Krkonoše (Giant mountains) ridge.
The easiest access is from Jizerka settlement, where you can also park your car. Follow the red marked trail, then in a northerly direction through the Jizerské meadows and to the border ridge, where there are some other viewpoints.
There are many refreshment options at the Jizerská Louka (meadow).
Třístoličník / Dreisesselberg
The 1,302-meter-high mountain on the border of Bohemia and Bavaria with granite cliffs on top is an ideal lookout point in the middle of the Šumava mountains. Hraniční hora (Border mountain) is located near the Czech-Austrian-German triple border.
The name comes from a legend, according to which the rulers of neighboring countries met on three stone stools (chairs). They must have been enjoying the beautiful circular view from the summit rock.
Few hundred meters across the border (in Germany), there is 1333 m high Hochstein mountain with another beautiful view from the summit rock. Below the rock there is the chapel of St. John of Nepomuk.
Get some refreshment at the Dreisesselhaus-Gastgartens. The best way to come from Czech side is from Nové údolí, where the local train ends. Pass a former water reservoir and a monument to Josef Rosenauer, famous for the construction of Šumava navigation canals. This is where the famous Schwarzenberg canal starts. Eastwards from Třístoličník, we can continue along the Šumava Ridge to the top of Plechý and to Lake Plešné.
Stratenec Lookout Tower, Javorníky
Stratenec (1055 m) is an inconspicuous peak on the Javorníky ridge trail between Velký (Big) and Malý (Small) Javorník. Long-distance red marked trail follows the ridge and can be approached by other hiking trails both from Czechia and Slovakia. You can also drive to the Kohútka pass and park at the ski area.
A small wooden lookout tower offers beautiful views of the Slovak side as well. Below the peak, at the Stratenec signpost, there are three large concrete crosses, a memorial to the liberation struggles of Velké Karlovice. Next to the observation tower there is a rest area withs some wooden tables.
Travičná - White Carpathians
A transmitter for mobile operators was originally built above the village of Tvarožná Lhota in 2000: Later it was adapted as the very first observation tower of the White Carpathians. The observation platform at 34 meters is accessible via 177 steps. Orientation signs with descriptions of the views are placed on each side. There is a ticket office, a kiosk and a small exhibition about the surroundings at the base of the tower.
Access is from Radějov or Tvarožná Lhota, the nearest train goes to Srážnice. The observation tower is accessible seasonally.
The view from the observation deck is absolutely amazing. You can see the surrounding White Carpathians, the transmitter on the Javořína mountain, Hodonín city towards the east.
Pfaffenstein in the Lusatian Mountains
Popova skála (Pfaffenstein) is a sandstone rock on top of the hill of the same name (565 m). From a distance, the peak looks like the ruins of a castle. As a result of weathering, the original rock has disintegrated into several turrets with some shallow caves underneath.
It was opened to tourists in 1907, and in 1934 the top rock was reinforced with paving. An iron staircase with a railing leads to the highest point.
From the train station in Hrádek nad Nisou it is about five kilometers along the blue and green marked trails. The nearest road is in Dolní sedlo. It is a good idea to include Pfaffenstein in the long hike traversing the Lusatian Mountains.
The circular view from the summit rock is worth it. Mountain called Hvozd with its stone lookout tower is well distinguishable. On the other side is Hrádek nad Nisou and polish Zitau. Between them, the smoldering chimneys of the Bogatynia power plant stand out.
Havran (Raven) observation tower in the Upper Palatine Forest
On the Havran (Raven) hill (894 m) there is a 24 m high lookout tower painted blue, with a simple wooden shelter nearby. You can also see remains of an iron curtain barricade. The huge steel structure originally served as a radio-technical survey station of the Czechoslovak People's Army during the Cold War. The tower used to be much higher, with complete facilities including a kitchen and heating. When it lost its use, it fell into disrepair for a long time and it was about to be demolished. Thanks to the Tachov Military History Club, it was reconstructed into a tourist lookout. You can admire a circular view of other hills and towers of the Czech Forest, such as Přimda, Čerchov, Velký Zvon and Dyleň.
Havran is located in a relatively remote part of the Upper Palatine Forest The closest approach by car is to Stará Knížecí Huť. The hike from here is more than six kilometers following the red and blue marked trails.