Sometimes it takes seeing just one picture and you’re hooked, and this was the case for me with Telc Czech Republic. The centre of this small Czech town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the highlight of which is one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, its exquisite houses straight out of a fairytale.
Telč (pronounced ‘tehlch’) was one of the first places to visit in the Czech Republic on my extensive wish list, so we headed south from Prague to Telč late in the summer for an overnight stay, which soon became a two-night stay, a trip that also took us to nearby Slavonice.
Telč Czech Republic has remained off the beaten path compared to the likes of Cesky Krumlov, which have more and better transport connections with Prague. In our guide to the town we’ll show you all the best things to do in Telč, the best hotels in Telc and where to eat in the town. Its relative isolation means it’s one of the hidden gems of Europe, so let’s head off the beaten path for a while.
Telc Czech Republic – Tips
Telč is a small town in the rural Vysočina region in the west of Moravia, in. the south of the Czech Republic
It’s 160 km (99 miles) from Prague – but the nature of public transport links between the two means a day trip from Prague can be a very long haul
The historic centre of Telč is one of 15 Czech Republic UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Telč Castle is one of the finest castles in the Czech Republic
Telč, Czech Republic was founded in the 14th century, and it was later planned and built by Zachariaš of Hradec to control the large surrounding forested area
The town is surrounded by artificial lakes, designed to augment its defences
The triangular town square – named after Zacharias – is lined with a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque houses, which are all linked by an arched walkway
Much of Telč closes down for the winter – this includes attractions, hotels and restaurants – things slowly start up again in March, then quietening down again by October
Best things to do in Telc, Czech Republic
1. Telč Town Square – Náměstí Zachariaše z Hradce
The main draw in Telč is its stunning Zacharias of Hradec Square. The only one to rival it in the Czech Republic is the magnificent Old Town Square Prague, but this has a very different feel.
Whereas the Prague main square is almost monumental in feel, the square in Telč is broad yet intimate, a place where locals park their cars and have a coffee. It’s the centrepiece of such a small country town, yet this could grace any city in the world.
The architecture of the houses is breathtaking. Their facades are decorated in different colours, and have three identical arches on the ground floor, and of similar height, so there’s a wonderful near-symmetry about it.
The houses date from the 16th century, and are strongly influenced by Renaissance architecture in Italy, where Zachariaš had travelled.
The houses in the main Square in Telč have been restored to their appearance around the time of the Renaissance, when the owners tried to out-do each other with the colour and decoration of the facades, in a sort of Moravian keeping up with the Joneses charade. At one point the houses were all painted white – they look far better now.
Náměstí Zachariase z Hradce is worth going well out of your way to see. Some places are worth travelling a long way just to photograph, and Telč is one of these. I was completely captivated by the place. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Czech Republic, and surely one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.
Visit Telč Castle
Accorded State Chateau and World heritage status, Telč Castle (Zamek Telč) is one of the most prestigious castles in Czech Republic. The original medieval Gothic castle was built over by Zacharias of Hradec after his Italian sojourn in 1550, with absolutely no expense spared.
When we visited, the entire Renaissance wing of the Castle, including the fabulous Golden Hall, was closed for restoration.
We did, however, join the tour covering the more recent parts of the Castle. Spoiler – expect lots of antlers, almost as many as at Blatna Castle in Bohemia.
Later owners included the Podstatky-Lichtenstein family, who held it from 1762 to 1945. Their quarters contain some amazing works of art including a 17th century jewel box.
If you have time for both tours – once the Renaissance one is up and running again – this second one is also well worth it.
We would have loved to see more of underground Telč. The Telčsky dum (see below) offers a glimpse of this but there’s considerably more to see, and presentations include projections, 3D animation and interactive displays delving deep into Telč history.
Sadly when we visited Covid-19 restrictions were in place, so it was closed. A pity as it sounds very intriguing. Further information can be found on their webpage here.
The ‘Telč House’ is the best place in Telč for kids. It’s a medieval house in a corner of the square, and much of the ground floor is a souvenir shop with many a marionette and more.
Before heading upstairs take a look in the cellar downstairs, which has been decorated with several folklore tale tableaus.
Upstairs you’ll find two floors packed with games for kids, including some great quirky model railways and by far the largest Scalextric track I’ve ever see. Our little fellow had a good hour on this, as did I, replacing crashed cars on the track. We could have easily spent a few hours in there.
Church of the Holy Spirit – Kostel Sv Ducha
This church is just off the east end of Zacharias of Hradec Square in Telč, and its tower commands a spectacular view over it, the town and surrounding countryside.
Morning is the best time to go, as the light is off to your left rather than shining straight at you. The square looks amazing from up there.
A Walk Around The Telč Fish Ponds
At the lovely green Renaissance house halfway down the Square, follow U Masnych Kramu street downhill. After a couple of minutes its name changes to Židovska – continue until you reach the bridge. Cross the lake and turn right- you’ll be treated to a gorgeous view of the town and Castle. This is less than five minutes from the Square.
Continue along the pathway until you reach Zamecky Zahrada – Castle Gardens – a wonderful peaceful spot with more lovely views. One of the paths leads towards the Castle entrance.
Hotels In Telč, Czech Republic
When we planned our Telč visit we were surprised at the relatively small number of Telč hotels to choose from.
It’s a World Heritage town, one of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic, yet there is only a small selection of Telč hotels. What’s more, they do tend to charge a higher rate than other towns in the surrounding region – around 15-20 euros a night more than Jihlava or Jindrichuv Hradec.
We opted for Hotel Celerin Telč, which is located on the corner of Zacharias of Hradec Square. It’s a very comfortable three-star hotel, and one of the rooms has an outstanding view over the Square. Our room was very spacious and airy, with a beautiful outlook over the large back garden. The breakfast was excellent too.
Hotel Telč is about thirty seconds’ walk from the Square, and it’s the one 4-star Telč hotel. It’s a little closer to the luxury end of the scale than the Celerin, and has the additional option of apartments. They also run a great little café next door.
Cafes and Restaurants In Telč
Telč is not exactly over-endowed with restaurants. The best Telč restaurant we found was – just about – Restaurant Svejk, on the corner of the Square next to the Castle Walls. This serves traditional Czech dishes like svičkova and roast duck with cabbage, and it was pretty good, but we have had better at several places elsewhere. At the other end of the Square, Pizzeria Telč delivered the goods really well, and the outdoor tables are a great spot to look out over the Square.
How Long Do You Need In Telč Czech Republic?
I suggest allowing time to see Telč Castle, which involves a guided tour you should book in advance to make the most of your time. I’d allow plenty of time to enjoy the square – it’s one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see, so allow yourself time to savour it. Walk around the arcades, look in a few of the shops, have a meal at one of the restaurants and a gelato at one of the cafes. Also allow time for a walk around the lake to the south of the town, for the view towards the Castle.
Five or six hours would be ample for this.
Getting To Telč
The likelihood is that you’ll be looking to visit Telč – one of the best places to visit in Czech Republic – from Prague, probably on a day trip. If you’re driving, this is perfectly doable – it’s a 160 km trip, so count on around two hours each way.
However, the nuances of the public transport system mean that relatively few people visit Telč on day trips from Prague. Firstly, there is just one direct bus between Prague and Telč each day. Secondly, the Prague to Telč train journey takes three and a half hours. It’s also worth bearing in mind that you only have four or five minutes to change trains at Havličkuv Brod – the trains are across the platform from each other, but if the train from Prague is anything more than 15 minutes late, you may end up having to wait, which messes everything up.
If you decide to stay in Telč overnight, it makes things considerably easier, and the train is the easiest way to get there. Plan your journey on the Czech Railways website, departing from Prague main train station, which is Praha hl n on the drop-down list.
So if you’re going there and back in a day, that’s seven hours on a train. This requires great dedication, and makes for a very tiring day. It’s that or an overnight stay. It’s a difficult one – I’d suggest Telč for any Czech itinerary, so I’d urge anyone to go out of their way to see it.
Telč Day Tours From Prague
Another option, of course, is to go on a day tour from Prague. This removes all of the hassle – and the seemingly interminable train journey. You normally get around three hours in Telč before heading onwards to Třebič, which itself is home to a World Heritage Site – the beautifully preserved Jewish Quarter and the Basilica of St Procopius. It’s a great way of seeing two of the most fascinating places to visit in Czech Republic, both of which are awkward to reach from Prague.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.
And explore some of the greatest Czech Castles in our guides:
Hluboká Castle – lavish white wedding cake Castle in South Bohemia
Konopiště Castle – home to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Karlštejn Castle – imposing behemoth of a Castle in countryside near Prague
Křivoklát Castle – early medieval royal Castle in remote forest west of Prague
Blatna Castle – fine Bohemian water castle with adjoining Deer Park
Kokořín Castle – awesome Castle in forest north of Prague
Troja Castle Prague – gorgeous Prague Baroque masterpiece with wonderful Garden