Mountains all around and a stunning town hall in the center of the city. Liberec is an interesting travel destination! Located in the north of Czech Republic, Liberec is the fifth biggest city in the country, yet unknown by international travelers. That’s the first reason why you should visit Liberec now: it’s still a hidden gem in Central Europe.
During our 14 days trip in the Czech Republic we were on a mission to visit some of the most visited places in the country like Prague, Cesky Krumlov, and Brno, but also to explore not so famous destinations as Liberec. And the result was: we fall in love with the Czech Republic! And although everybody kept asking us “why visit Liberec?”, the city didn’t disappoint us even under the heavy rain.
Liberec is famous for winter sports. Located at the foot of Ještěd Mountain range, it’s home of great ski slopes and cross-country ski trails. But there is much more in Liberec, things to do and places to visit for any type of traveler. What means that if like me, you suck at winter sports, you can still visit Liberec and have fun.
But why you should travel to Liberec now? Here is the answer:
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Outdoor adrenaline and sports in Liberec
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a super athlete to visit Liberec. Actually, you can be a total beginner and still have fun. The mountains around Liberec city are a paradise for winter sports as ski, snowboard and cross-country ski. When the snow melts it became home of mountain bike tracks, running and trekking trails. Doesn’t matter in which season you are traveling to Liberec, you can always move your body surrounded by nature.
Rob is the sports enthusiast in our relationship, so he was the one in charge to explore the Ještěd Ski Slopes. He went for some snowboarding fun and also tried for the first time the cross country ski. No one better than him to tell you all about winter sports in Liberec:
I always admired the cross country skiing but never have the chance to try it, until I visited Liberec. To add a bit more excitement, my first time doing cross country skiing was during night time. I’ve rented the ski equipment at the city center and my instructor drove us to the mountain, a 15 minutes drive. After some quick instructions, torches lighted up we were off to the tracks. Cross country skiing is easier than I thought and c’mon I’m Brazilian, winter sports are not natural to me. For sure I fell a couple of times, but I managed to complete 8 km around Bedrichov area. The tracks are very well maintained, a lot of green around and you can choose the level of difficulty.
Cross-country skiing is very popular in the Czech Republic, especially in Liberec. The city hosts a famous international competition, the Jizerska 50. Every year 5 thousand athletes face the challenge to complete 50 or 25km.
The following day was reserved for snowboarding at Ještěd mountain. You can easily reach Ještěd Ski Slopes using public transport, take the tram n.3 and drop at Horni-Hanychov station. Daily and season passes are available just beside the parking lot. There is a ski shop where you can rent ski, snowboard, boots and snow garments. In about 20 minutes I sorted out my pass, clothes and snowboard equipment.
You can choose from 12 tracks, a total of 9,2km, most of them are intermediary. I was impressed by the little kids rocking in red and even black slopes. For the ones still learning, ski and snowboard lessons can be booked on site. I “rode” all pistes, all of them were very enjoyable but my favorites were the number 8 and 3. Piste number 2 has amazing views of the city andJeštěd Tower.
Visit Liberec Botanic Garden
While Rob was having fun on the slopes, I was discovering the city. One of the Liberec top attractions is the Botanical Garden, a tropical oasis that will fill up your day with colors. The Liberec Botanical Garden is located a few kilometers from the old town, it’s a pleasant walk by one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city.
Visit Liberec Botanical Garden is a captivating activity. I didn’t expect to see so many Brazilian plants and fishes there. Yes, I almost forgot to tell you, inside the garden you can visit a small aquarium with unique species as the Brazilian Piranhas, a carnivorous fish. If you travel to Liberec in winter time [as we did] a visit to the Botanical Garden is a good way to warm up, as the temperature inside are much warmer than outside. And don’t worry about the coats and bags, there are lockers at the entrance.
Liberec Town Hall and historical buildings
The history of Liberec dates back to the 14 century. The city has a strategic location between Germany and Poland and it was an important route for merchants and travelers. Therefore the city grew fast and as consequence of the trade and the textile industry, Liberec built a beautiful and opulent town. In the heart of the city, the Town Hall stands majestically, like a fairytale building.
Built in 1893 and designed by F. Neumann, a Viennese architect, the beauty of Liberec Town Hall not only from the outside. A tour inside the building took us to the sumptuous Ceremonial Hall, the corridors and up to the tower, where we could see the city and the majestic Ještěd Mountain. To book a tour is easy, you just need to visit the Tourist Information Center beside the Town Hall and check the dates and time. The price for the big tour [Tower + Ceremonial Hall] was 3 usd per person.
There are other beautiful historical buildings in Liberec and the good thing is that many of them are within a walking distance from the Town Hall. During your visit to Liberec you must see the Hotel Praha [in Art Nouveau style beside the Town Hall], the Neptune’s Fountain in the main square, the City Theater in Neo-Renaissance style located behind the Town Hall and the Liberec Chateau built in Renaissance style [it’s closed, so you can only see the outside].
And don’t forget to visit the main square at night time, the Town Hall looks even more beautiful when it’s all lighted up.
Galleries and museums in Liberec
While you explore the city by foot, take time to visit some of the museums in Liberec. From fine art to technical and automobile expositions, the city has many options. Among Liberec top attractions are:
– Regional Art Gallery Liberec: French, German, Dutch and Austrian painting displayed in a Neo-Renaissance palace from 1873.
– Museum of North Bohemia: the collection is focused on arts, crafts and the industry of decorative arts. Also the natural history, archeology and history of North Bohemia.
– Technical Museum of Liberec: cars, motorbikes, engines, and everything that can move the world. It’s a unique museum, and a must visited place for those who love vintage cars.
– Ferdinand Porsche Birth House: this museum is a bit outside of town, but if you love cars you need to visit it. The exhibition shows the history of the Porsche family and the engineering art of Bohemia region.
Lovely cafes in Liberec
Here is another awesome reason to visit Liberec: FOOD! The Czech cuisine is delicious and in Liberec we found some nice cafes that serve the traditional food with a modern twist. While Rob was snowboarding, I lost myself in the old town contemplating the historical buildings and eating my way in some lovely cafes.
Among my favorites is the Kafe Kytka, a mix of coffee house and flower shop. The scents of coffee and flowers give to the place a unique atmosphere in the heart of the old town. For healthy food and delicious daily lunch menu go to Mikyna, a super cute cafe.
A bit far from the old town, the Kavárna Bez Konceptu is named one of the best cafes in Liberec. For delicious homemade desserts and lemonades, this is the perfect address to spend the afternoon. If you are looking for a proper restaurant that serves Czech food and international cuisine head to ZOO1320. The restaurant is near the North Bohemia Museum and a good option for lunch or dinner between all the things to do in Liberec.
Ještěd, the iconic hotel and restaurant
For me, this is one of the coolest places in the city and a top reason to visit Liberec. We already talked about the Ještěd Mountain as a sports wonderland, but this place has one more asset. At the top of the mountain [1012 meters above sea level] is the unique Ještěd TV Tower, that is also a hotel and a restaurant. The Ještěd Hotel is one of the most iconic buildings in the Czech Republic.
The 94 meters tall building was built from 1966 to 1973 and has a unique shape of a rotational hyperboloid [this is the technical name]. The cone shape building looks like a Jame Bond movie location, it’s modern with a vintage twist, it’s almost surreal. The hotel has 12 double rooms, 1 suite, and 1 family room. You can choose your accommodation by the style: a modern room or a retro room with the original design. It’s a trip to the past. If you want to spend a night at the top of Ještěd Mountain you can book your room here, but do it fast as the hotel is fully booked almost the whole year.
We didn’t stay in the Ještěd Hotel, but we went there for a romantic dinner above the clouds. From the restaurant, you can see the whole city and on a clear day, it’s possible to see as far as the borders of Poland and Germany. We weren’t that lucky, the night we booked our dinner the weather was awful, rainy and windy. We couldn’t see the view and almost couldn’t see the Ještěd Tower itself.
The cable car that runs from the foot of the mountain to the restaurant was closed due to the bad weather, so we went all the way up by car. Although the weather was bad, the food was delicious. Our romantic dinner had flowers, candles and the vibe in the restaurant was super cool. I felt like we were in a 007 movie! The rain and wind blowing into the windows made that huge metallic construction looks fragile under such storm. It was the perfect place for James Bond action scene.
My recommendation is to visit Ještěd Mountain during daytime and also for dinner. I didn’t go to the peak during day so I missed the beautiful view. One more reason to visit Liberec again.
Wellness spa and hotels in Liberec
This is one of my favorite reasons to travel to Liberec: relaxation! The city has many hotels and Bed & Breakfast that offer more than a comfy room. In Liberec, many of the hotels have wellness centers with baths, saunas, massage and relaxing treatments. It’s a perfect combination for sports enthusiasts, after a fun day on the slopes nothing better than a massage. For people like me, it’s the perfect excuse to stay in the hotel the whole afternoon, relaxing and pampering myself.
We stayed at the lovely Penzion U Muzea, in a cute studio with a balcony to the garden and a little kitchen. It was the perfect room for us. Comfortable and spacious, as it is a small hotel you have the feeling of staying with a family. The breakfast was great too and the wellness center a plus. The sauna and hydromassage were tested and approved by me. Plan your visit to Liberec and book your room at Penzion U Muzea here.
If you prefer a more luxurious hotel, the best bet is the Clarion Grandhotel Zlaty Lev just beside the Liberec Town Hall. It’s a 4-star hotel in a beautiful Art Nouveau building. If you are looking for a nice hotel close to the old town but don’t want to spend too much, the Pytloun City Boutique Hotel is a good option. In doubt about where to stay in Liberec? Hotel or Wellness Bed & Breakfast? Do your research via Agoda or Booking.com, these are the websites we use to book our accommodation.
Now you already have all the reasons to visit Liberec, it’s time to set the dates and book your tickets. Liberec is only 2:30 hours from Prague and you can travel by bus or train between the cities. Liberec was our second stop during our trip in the Czech Republic, we came all the way from Brno to Liberec by train [with a stop in Prague to change trains].
We were doing a 3 months train trip in Europe with Eurail Pass, a total of 10 countries with only one train pass. If you want to know more about Eurail Pass check out our blog post: how to travel with Eurail Pass. If your trip is in the northern Europe, then read the post about traveling in Scandinavia by train. Buy your Eurail Pass here!
If you are flying from another country, search for the best ticket at Skyscanner or Kiwi.com. These two websites will show you the best prices and connection. Apart from Prague, you can also fly to Dresden in Germany, the city is 2 hours aways from Liberec and you can take a direct train from there.
To get around in Liberec is easy. The city is well connected with trams and buses, and most of the attractions are close to each other. The trams line 2 and 3 passes by most of the museums, the Botanical Garden and will take you to the cable car station at Ještěd Mountain. If you need any help finding yourself or looking for more things to do in Liberec, stop by the Tourist Information Center, they will be ready to help you.
Visit Liberec on your next holiday, enjoy this interesting city while it still a hidden gem in Europe. If you’re touring around the Czech Republic read our guide to other amazing Czech destinations:
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PS: our trip to Liberec was organized in partnership with Liberec Tourism Department. But as usual, you always get our honest opinion and travel tips.