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Southern Bohemia, Czech Republic

Cesky Krumlov, a 14th-century town, was added to the United Nations World Heritage List in 1992.

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If you're looking for a spot in the great outdoors that has been relatively unexplored by most hikers, you should head to the southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. What was once closed off by the Iron Curtain is now a prime location for hiking.

Because the Czechoslovakian government had closed off this stretch of land between Austria and the Czech border, much of the land in this area has been left untouched by urban expansion. The hills full of trees that stretch across Southern Bohemia remain undisturbed, and the hiking and biking trails in the area present some of the most beautiful, undisturbed scenery in Europe. The topography of the area is truly storybook. You can hike through densely wooded forests that open into beautiful farmland and charming hillside villages. The Vltava River and its tributaries wind through these picturesque meadows and hills. But don't think you'll be completely isolated in the middle of nowhere. If you want to experience some of the best of European culture, Prague and Vienna are short train rides away.

Since tourists haven't quite discovered this beautiful area South of Prague, the cost of living is minimal compared to other areas in Europe. There are a number of small towns in this area of the Czech Republic that are ideal for hikers. Accessible by train, Slovenice is a quiet, small town near the castle of Landsteijn, where you can take a 15-mile (24-km) hike that ends in Nova Bystriice. Other beautiful, historic towns in the area include Jindrichuv Hradec, Trebo and Ceský Krumlov. Ceske Budejovice, along the Vltava River, is home to several trail-side restaurants where you can sample a variety of Czech fair, such as goulash, dumplings, pork and Czech beer. All of these towns are within a day's hike of each other.

If you're an avid hiker, you might want to consider making this area home. Hiking is one of the most popular activities for Czechs, and they have the trails to prove it. The Czech Republic boasts over 24,000 miles (38,624 km) of marked trails [source: Farley]. The Czech Hiking Club, founded in 1889, maintains many of these trails, installing color coded trail markers to guide hikers through this gorgeous landscape.­

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