Telc Czech Republic Image of houses on Zacharias of Hradec Square Telc

Telc, Czech Republic – One Of The Most Beautiful Medieval Towns In Europe

Telc – a Fairytale Medieval Town

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 Telc 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 Telc, 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

Image of a fountain the Square in Telc Czech Republic
Zacharias of Hradec Square at dusk
Image of painted houses on the main square in Telc, Czech Republic
The gorgeous townhouses of Telc, the inspiration. for this article

Telc 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 Telc is one of 15 Czech Republic UNESCO World Heritage SItes

Telc 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

Telč Town Square – Náměstí Zachariaše z Hradce

Image of houses on the Square in Telc
Beautiful Telc architecture
Image of houses reflected in a fountain in Telc
Telc looks pretty fine upside down too

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.

Image of one of the older Renaissance houses on the square in Telc Czech Republic
One of the older Renaissance houes on Zacharias of Hradec Square

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.

Image of houses on the square in Telc in the Czech Republic
The Square – a wonder of architectural harmony
Image of sgraffito decorfations on a house in Telc
Sgraffito decoration from the Renaissance period on one of the older houses in Telč

The houses in the main Square in Telc 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.

Image of houses on the square in Telč Czech Republic
The Square in dramatic evening light
Image of Telč square at dusk
Telč Square at dusk

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.

Telč Castle

Image of the courtyard in the State Chateau or Castle in Telc
Telc Castle Courtyard
Image of a family portrait in Telc Castle Czech Republic
A Lichtenstein-Podstatky family portrait

Accorded State Chateau and World heritage status, Telc 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.

Image of an ornate Baroque ceiling in Telc Castle
A Baroque ceiling from the second, more recent tour route in Telc Castle
Image of the 17th century jewel box in Telc Castle
The 17th century jewel box in Telc Castle

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.   

Telc Underground

Image of an arcade on the Square in Telc
There’s a network of tunnels below the arcade and houses in Telc

We would have loved to see more of underground Telc. 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 Telc 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.

Telčsky dum

Image of Telcsky Dum - Telc House - a family attraction in Telc
The exterior of Telcsky Dum (Telc House), a great place to take the kids when they’re Baroqued out

The ‘Telc House’ is the best place in Telc 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

Image of the Holy Spirit Church tower in Telc Moravia Czech Republic
Holy Spirit Church tower

This church is just off the east end of Zacharias of Hradec Square in Telc, 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.

Image of churches in Telc from Holy Spirit Church Tower
The Name of Jesus and Holy Name Churches and the forests around Telc

A Walk Around The Telč Fish Ponds

Image of the town and churches of Telc from across the lake
Telc from across one of its lakes

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 Telc

Image of a deluxe room in the Hotel Celerin Telc Czech Republic
A deluxe room in the 3-star Hotel Celerin where we stayed
Image of the view from a hotel room in Telc Czech Republic
Beat that for a view – from Hotel Celerin in Telc

When we planned our Telč visit we were surprised at the relatively small number of Telc 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 Telc 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.

Image of the front of a pension or guesthouse on the square in Telc
Several of the hgouses on the Square in Telc are used as hotels or guesthouses

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 Telc 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 Telc

Telč is not exactly over-endowed with restaurants. The best Telč restaurant we found was – just about – Restaurant S@vejk, 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 Telc?

Image of the square in Telc Czech Republic at night
Telc at night from the Hotel Celerin

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 Telc

Image of a family of cyclists on the Square in Telc Czech Republic
Cycling is a great way to see Telc and the surrounding countryside

The likelihood is that you’ll be looking to visit Telc – 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.

Image of a house on the square in telc
The house on the corner of the Square, next door to the Hotel Celerin

However, the nuances of the public transport system mean that 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 Hasvličkuv 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.

Image of Zacharias of Hradec Square in Telc at night
The Square at night

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 it for any Czech itinerary, so I’d urge anyone to go out of their way to see it.

Telc Day Tours From Prague

Image of houses on the Square in Telc Czech Republic
Gorgeous colourful houses on Telc main square in late light

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.

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David Angel
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.
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