For some reason, when I was first offered a trip to the Beskid Mountains, I had the hardest time committing the name to memory. Now that I’ve visited, I’ll never forget it, nor how beautiful they were.
The Beskydy Mountains (as they’re called in the Czech Republic) start in the southeast corner of the Czech Republic and stretch nearly 400 miles along the borders of Poland and Slovakia until they end in Ukraine. They are part of the larger Carpathian Mountain Range of eastern Europe. For this article, I will focus on the portion of the range in the Silesian Region of the Czech Republic.
Arts and Crafts in Mosty u Jablunkova
I actually made two trips to the Beskid Mountains during my three weeks in the Czech Republic. On the first trip, we first went to the village of Mosty u Jablunkova to visit the local arts and crafts museum. I fell in love with the place as soon as I got off the bus and saw the hand-carved slide with a bear crawling underneath it. Then I tried to go down the slide and got my ass stuck, which really hurt!
Outside the museum were several booths and workstations where local crafters were demonstrating various skills associated with the region. The first we saw was a guy carving wooden bowls with a lathe. Next, there was a guy using handheld planes to make roof shingles the old-fashioned way. For the kids, there was a large tent with dozens of pails contain a pulp from which they could craft their own paper.
Small food stands were set up with some of the local products. One had several different kinds of cheese from the region, and another was serving homemade coffee. We also tried the potato pancakes, and a wafer-like cookie which was produced as we watched.
Inside the museum were more arts and crafts stations, including a man missing his legs who was crafting gorgeous walking sticks, all decorated with various animals on the handles. Upstairs was a room filled with all the herbs and flowers in the region, as well as a great testing station where you could try to guess over a dozen different smells.
There were dozens of hand-crafted, wooden sculptures and designs around the museum. It only took us about an hour to see everything, but I really liked getting a better understanding of the lifestyle of the locals there.
The Trójstyk Obelisks
Our next stop was the small village of Hrčava where the village mayor was waiting to meet us. At a little food hut, we were given more potato pancakes (which we could hardly eat as we were stuffed from the museum) and the local beer made by the mayor himself. He was also walking around with a big bottle of vodka, begging us to do shots with him.
Hrčava is the trójstyk, or tripoint, where the three countries of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia come together. There is a large stone obelisk to represent each of the three countries, as well as a small one at the bottom of a ravine to mark the actual meeting point of the borders. There used to be a bridge across the ravine, but it’s long since collapsed and it doesn’t seem to be getting repaired anytime soon. There’s also a noticeable difference between the Polish/Czech side of the ravine and the Slovakian side where the path is barely maintained.
Nový Jičín – The Town of Hats
During my second visit to the Beskid Mountains, the first village we visited was Nový Jičín, located at the base of the mountain range. The town had a beautiful historic city square dating back to the 14th century, although the town was partially damaged in World War II.
The town’s claim to fame is the hat museum on the town square. There is a full exhibit of how they made the hats from felt, which I found really informative. There was also a room where kids (and adults) could design their own small hats. Finally, there was an exhibition room with hundreds of different hat styles, all of which had been produced in Nový Jičín. We had fun trying on different shapes and sizes. I think I liked the fedora the most.
There isn’t a lot to see in town, and there were only a couple restaurants for us to choose from for lunch. We ended up at Colores Restaurant, barely locatable down a side street and with a nondescript entrance. While their location might not be great, the food was. I went with the bacon cheeseburger. If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know I fell in love with burgers in the Czech Republic. I still can’t get over how massive they were there!
Štramberk’s Bloody Ears
That evening, we ended up in Štramberk, the “Moravian Bethlehem” with a rather bloody history related to ears. As the legend goes, there was a Mongol invasion in 1241 in which the Mongols were taking ears of the Christians as trophies for their Khan. The locals managed to dig a trap for the Mongols during a storm and flooded the camp. When the water receded, they found bags of bloody, salted ears meant for their khan.
To commemorate the incident, the locals started baking sweet pastries in the vague shape of ears. The companies baking the ears have been around for centuries and export around the world, although the cookies are particularly popular in the Czech Republic. There is a secret formula which has a lot of cinnamon, and perhaps a touch of nutmeg and cardamom among other spices.
Štramberk is built around a tower fortification which provides an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. It’s only about 20 minutes to get to the top of the tower from the village square. There was a castle built in the late 13th century, but the tower and battlements are all that remain. Tickets to climb the tower are 40 Czech crowns (about $1.80).
For dinner, we went to Městský Pivovar Štramberk (Štramberk Municipal Brewery), again one of the only restaurants in town. The designs and furnishings inside were awesome, The wine cellar went back centuries, and there are even working wells in the basement.
After a beer flight of the local brews, I went with the sausage platter. They weren’t your average sausages you find at the supermarket, nor the thick Polish sausages from just over the border. They were tough, deliciously flavored and served with spicy mustard – one of the most popular dishes in the region. Some of the other bloggers went with the fried cheese and fries (another popular dish in the region) on my recommendation, while Mark got the pork knuckle. You should have seen it! I swear it was over half a foot high!
We spent the night at Hotel Stramberk, famous as the hotel where the first president of the Czech Republic stayed when he visited the town. The rooms were nice, clean and large. My only problem was the lack of air conditioning or even a fan, but that was because of unusual circumstances. First of all, the Czech Republic is very far north and the average temperature is quite cool. Second, Štramberk is up in the mountains and even cooler than the rest of the country. Lastly, I was there during a very unusual heatwave. Beyond that, the hotel was great and I’d love to stay there again someday.
Golf and a Spa at the Prosper Golf Resort in Čeladná
The Prosper Golf Resort was designed by the professional golfer Miguel Ángel Jiménez and built in 2001. It’s surrounded by the beautiful Beskid Mountains. There are two golf courses – the Old Course and the New Course. The PGA has been hosted there three times from 2009 to 2011, and the Czech Open in 2010 and 2011.
Aside from the two courses, there is also a driving range, and even a putting course (similar to miniature golf but for pros). Along with a group of other bloggers, I went through a couple baskets of balls on the driving range. We then moved to the putting range, learning how to play on the green. We then played a scrimmage to see which team to get the ball in the hole first. Finally, we had a chance to drive golf carts around the course to see its beauty. Basically, we spent the morning being big kids and having way too much fun.
We all went to the clubhouse for lunch. Don’t laugh, but I had the spaghetti carbonara. It’s not that I don’t like Czech food; I love it. If anything, I’d eaten too much and the pasta at the golf course just looked really good.
Our final activity in Čeladná was a trip to the spa at the Miura Hotel, located on the Prosper Golf Resort. This four-star hotel is a real work of art. More than that, it’s surrounded by rather interesting statues by the famous sculptor David Černý who also has several works of art throughout Prague, including the “Pissing Men.”
In the bottom floor of the hotel, there is a large wellness suite with a beautiful hot tub, several saunas, and even an ice chamber. While I would have loved a massage, I was more than happy to spend an hour moving between the different saunas and relaxing in the jacuzzi.
Perhaps the greatest claim to fame that the Miura Hotel bosts is they have the top chef in the Czech Republic! He’s trained all over the world, and his skill set is impressive. Our meal consisted of the following: soup – potato cream, egg 63 °C, dried mushrooms from Beskid; main course – regional chicken fillet with spinach spaetzle (a local tortellini-like pasta), cream and bone ham; dessert – orange creme brulee. As it happens, most of the main headline acts at the Colours of Ostrava music festival stay at the Miura Hotel, and the chef has had the likes of Alanis Morissette and Pharrell Williams raving about his dishes. Suffice to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Hiking to Lysá Hora
Of course, you can’t go to the Beskid Mountains and not go hiking. Well, I suppose you could but that would suck! There are hundreds of miles of trails within the mountains. What’s more, the conditions are excellent for marathon training, and there were quite a few runners on the trails while I was there. Even Usain Bolt comes to this region to train!
We were scheduled to sleep at a chateau on the summit of Lysá Hora, the “Queen of the Beskydy Mountains” and the highest peak in the region. While it would have been possible to drive to the hotel, where’s the fun in that? Instead, we were dropped off near the village of Ostravice and, while our baggage was shuttled up the mountain, we hiked up.
The 3-mile hike up the hill was both beautiful and fun, even though I did get ahead of most of the group. Monique of Wanderlust, My Way was the one who kept pace with me the entire way, despite never having done a hike like that before.
We got to the summit just before 6 p.m and checked into the Emil Zátopek-Maraton mountain cottage. Dinner was cafeteria-style in the lodge and nothing to write home about, but we weren’t there for the dinner. We all rushed through it, grabbed our tripods and went outside to get photos and time-lapses of the sunset. Alright, there wasn’t some epic cloud cover that I loved seeing in Sweden or a reflection on the sea, but it was still beautiful. Funny enough, we almost missed the sunset as we were so distracted by the ridiculously well-trained collie that two of the hikers had brought up with them.
Video Credit: Omo Osagiede of Hey! Dip Your Toes In
The hotel was really nice with well-decorated rooms and an epic view. The lack of an AC or fan wasn’t a problem as, with the altitude, it was quite cool at night. Usually the resort operates as a ski lodge, and I saw some amazing photos when it was covered in snow. I’d love to be back someday to see that for myself! But there was something else that the hotel had. Down on the ground floor, there was a bowling alley! Not full length and only two lanes, but you can bet we made good use of it, even though it was nearly midnight and we were planning for a very early start.
The next morning, we were up at 5 a.m. for the sunrise. It was just as good as sunset, and the dog was there and happy to perform more tricks. A bunch of hikers had bivouacked overnight outside the lodge just to see the sunrise with us. If you can make it up for sunrise or sunset, I’d definitely recommend it. If not, I’d still recommend an excursion from Ostrava to the Beskid Mountains to hike, golf, eat some ears or just enjoy nature.
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Are you visiting Ostrava and looking for other activities? Here are some other articles to help you out.
- A Traveler’s Guide of Things to Do and See in Ostrava, Czech Republic
- Excursions from Ostrava: Exploring the Jeseniky Mountains
- The Colours of Ostrava is So Much More than a Music Festival
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.