Set among the dramatic wilds of Bohemian Switzerland, there are few Czech cities as visually striking as Ústí nad Labem. Whether you’re exploring castles or admiring the view, it’s guaranteed to be a weekend well spent. 

If you’re partial to fairy tale castles, colourful historic buildings and panoramas of an epic nature, Ústí nad Labem is probably the perfect (and most affordable) weekend getaway going. 

Straddling the German border, and built where the Bílina and Elbe rivers converge, this less-than-typical Czech city sits at the heart of the stark, breath-taking České Švýcarsko (Bohemian Switzerland), framed by peaking snow-capped mountains, sprawling greenery and verdant forests. 

Litomerice cityscape with baroque St Stephens Cathedral and bell tower Litomerice Czech Republic View from fortification walls and baileys

Ideal for curious travellers looking to explore Europe’s lesser-known cities, Ústí has all the hallmarks of its great continental counterparts – a turbulent, 1,000-year-old history, a bustling market scene and vibrant café culture – but with far fewer elbow-jutting tourists.

For those with 48 hours to play with, you’ll be forced to prioritise with your activities. Here’s how to spend your weekend in Ústí nad Labem.

Elbe River in Hrensko Czech Republi

On arrival: Conquer the castle

Once you’ve checked in, the best way to get a feel for the city is with a leisurely stroll by the river. Grab a bite to eat in one of the many quaint cafés or quiet eateries overlooking the Elbe and meander up to the city’s most notable landmark: Střekov Castle. 

With impressive views over the rooftops of Ústí, encompassing the expansive pine forests beyond, it’s easy to see why the 14th-century castle has inspired writers and poets for generations. 

It’s also an unbeatable spot to capture some stellar city snaps and indulge in an obligatory selfie or two before heading to the museum for an impressive display of war weapons and armour.

Střekov Castle

Afternoon activities beyond the city

If you’re able to drag yourself from the beauty of the city centre, there’s plenty more to see and do on the fringes of Ústí. For a romantic afternoon, take the cable car up to Zamecek Vetruse and enjoy a spot of local food with incredible vistas and a glass of ice-cold Czech beer. 

Once you’ve had your fill, hop in your rental car – or hail a cab – and head to Chateau Ploskovice, a striking architectural masterpiece by 18th-century Baroque designer Dientzenhofer. 

Here, a guided tour showcases original furniture from the latter half of the 1800s, while the delicately manicured gardens make the perfect setting for a hand-in-hand wander.

Ploskovice Palace

Visit poignant memorial sites

Like much of Eastern Europe during the mid-20th century, the Czech Republic was under the occupation of the Nazis. This is a defining part of the region’s recent history, and it has not been forgotten. 

To honour loved ones lost during World War II, visit the Jewish Cemetery in Terezin. Take a guided tour and learn about the plight of Czechoslovakia’s Jewish community during the Holocaust. The sprawling cemeteries are a stark and poignant reminder of the inflicted atrocities. 

For a more in-depth understanding of how the Czech Republic was persecuted and victimised, spend a sobering afternoon at the Terezin Memorial museum.

Jewish symbol Star of David at memorial cemetery at Little Fortress of Terezin aka Theresienstadt Czech Republic

Get outdoorsy in Bohemian Switzerland

Ready to lace up your walking boots and venture into the wilderness? Ústí nad Labem is the perfect place to begin exploring spectacular Bohemian Switzerland. 

With countless hiking trails through breath-taking mountainscapes, České Švýcarsko National Park is the best place to start your off-the-beaten-track tramping, while other highlights include Lake Milada, Radobýl and Mount Lovoš.

If you’re trying to tackle the vast landscape with a limited timeframe, make sure you choose your route carefully and go prepared.

Bohemian switxerlland

There’s plenty to discover in the Czech Republic if you know where to look. Check out our travel guides to the Czech Republic to help you plan your break.

Choice Hotels in Ústí nad Labem