A weekend getaway in Tábor combines medieval history with cozy charm

The South Bohemian city is a hidden gem and one of Czechia’s most intriguing tourist destinations for its fascinating history.

William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 12.10.2023 17:34:00 (updated on 12.10.2023) Reading time: 7 minutes

Czechia’s sheer variety of beautiful and historical destinations is often overlooked by holidaymakers. Aside from the big cities like Prague and tourist hotspots like Český Krumlov, you'll find a wealth of towns that are equally rich in history and charm.

Tábor, a city of around 35,000 people in South Bohemia, is a perfect example. Officially founded in 1420, the city has played an outsized role in the history of Czechia and of Europe as a whole. Today, its rich and at times bloody history remains at the forefront of the visitor experience. At the same time, Tábor is a thriving modern town in its own right, with an impressive array of restaurants, cafés, shops and hotels.

Revolution and resistance

Each of Czechia’s historic towns, castles and chateaus has its own story to tell. What sets Tábor apart is the pivotal role which the city played in the fate of the nation, of wider Europe, and even of the Christian world as a whole.

Tábor was the home of the Hussite movement, an early reformist Christian sect whose insistence on Communion of both kinds (the congregation taking both bread and wine) and other demands foreshadowed priorities of the later Protestant Reformation. Following the burning of the preacher Jan Hus in 1415, the Hussite movement became the subject of a crusade ordered by the Pope in 1420. The “Hussite Wars” lasted nearly 15 years with the Hussites led by the one-eyed Jan Žižka, whose statue also towers over Prague atop Vítkov Hill.

The full story of the Hussites – in particular their “Táborite” faction, an extreme wing of the movement associated with Tábor – is told to visitors in Tábor’s Hussite Museum, located in the striking Old Town Hall. This late gothic building holds a permanent exhibition on the Hussites spread over ten halls, including exhibits, pictures, and animated sequences as well as fun elements appealing to children. Visitors can also visit the impressive Gothic Hall, the second-largest non-religious gothic space in Czechia and a monument to Tábor’s storied past.

Where to stay in Tábor: Hotel Nautilus, set on the corner of Žižkovo náměstí – named for Jan Žižka, the famed military leader of the Hussites, the Christian movement who founded Tábor and used the city as their base in the 15th century – provides guests with stylish comfort in the city’s premier location. Combining gorgeous furnishings with modern amenities and a distinctive interior design, the hotel has something for every type of traveler.

The Old Town Hall is also the starting point for one of Tábor’s most unforgettable experiences. The Medieval Underground takes visitors on a guided walk through the labyrinthine tunnels built under the city center over the course of a century during Tábor’s era as a key rebel fortress. A 500-meter-long guided walk through the tunnels starts from the Old Town Hall and provides detailed insights into the role which the underground network played for local people.

Useful for everything from storage of goods to protection in case of an assault on the city and even as a prison for local miscreants, the tunnels are a stunning work of human ingenuity connecting many of the town’s oldest buildings. Entrances to the tunnels from buildings on Žižkovo náměstí exist to this day, including at Hotel Nautilus, where an entrance into the dimly lit tunnels beckons ominously from the cellar.

A ticket to the Hussite Museum will also get you into Kotnov Tower, the still-impressive remnant of a former castle destroyed by fire in 1532. Climb up 155 wooden stairs to a height of 25 meters for stunning views of the city and a reminder of why this was the ideal location for a fortress town.

The attached Bechyně Gate, the only preserved town gate from the gothic period, is home to fascinating exhibits on life in Tábor for people and craftsmen during the time of the Hussites, as well as on the administrative history of the town from the time of the Táborites to the Thirty Years’ War.

Those hungry for more education of a lighter flavor can then head to the Chocolate and Marzipan Museum. The museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of chocolate, from the times of Montezuma to the pralines and chocolate bars of today. It also presents some of Czechia’s most impressive chocolate sculptures, depicting a steam locomotive, Thor, and Pirates of the Caribbean villain Davy Jones to name just a few.

A city for strolling

Tábor is packed with activities but it’s also a great place for strolling and taking in the atmosphere. Starting out from center, visitors will immediately see the Jan Žižka Memorial on Žižkovo náměstí, one of Tábor’s most popular meeting spots. A few steps away is the Dean’s Church, whose 75-meter bell tower is open for energetic members of the public to climb up, including the need to stoop under the impressive 2.5-ton bell. Sweeping vistas of the town open up at the top, where there’s also a fascinating collection of historic coins, stamps, and bank notes from Czechia and around the world.

Leave the church and amble down Pražská Street to see some of Tábor’s most impressive historical houses, known as the Burgher Houses. These jaw-dropping examples of historic architecture with ornate wall decorations date from the 16th century.

Another must-see location is the Jordán Lake, the oldest valley reservoir in Central Europe, created in 1492 to solve the town’s insufficient supply of drinking water. Formed by the construction of a dam on a local brook, it’s thought the reservoir was named “Jordán” due to the Hussites’ fondness for Biblical tributes; Tábor itself is named after Mount Tabor in Israel.

Those coming by car can take day trips from Tábor to various castles and other historic towns in South Bohemia, as well as sites of historical interest such as Kozí Hrádek and the villa of Hana and Edvard Beneš. They can also discover the origins of the many other significant Czechs who called this region home, including Richard Lauda, Oskar Nedbal, and Josef Němec.

Hotel Nautilus: Start your explorations here

Thanks to its location in the heart of the town as well as its sensitive blending of historical and modern influences, Boutique Hotel Nautilus is the ideal starting point for exploring Tábor and the wider region.

Guests will be particularly struck by an unusual theme tying together the hotel’s interior design: geology. Geological elements recur throughout, with various precious stones and fossils on display. Even the hotel’s name, “Nautilus,” pays tribute to a marine mollusk, whose fossils feature prominently in the hotel’s public spaces. This focus on geology reflects the original profession and passion of the British couple who owns the property.

Hotel Nautilus provides a range of rooms including private suites, “comfort rooms” and standard rooms catering to travelers of all kinds and groups of all sizes. Family apartments can be created by joining rooms together and hotel staff pride themselves on their ability to meet individual requirements.

Though some of the rooms face onto the bustling square, luxurious beds and glazed windows throughout ensure peace and quiet for a good night’s sleep. Art Deco and Art Nouveau furniture lends a unique atmosphere and color to each and every room, while the entire property is tastefully maintained and continually renewed. The hotel’s wellness center is complete with a sauna and whirlpool bath, and offers a range of massages and therapies.

Hotel Nautilus is also an attractive location for corporate events, meetings and team-building trips. It includes spaces for socializing and relaxation such as the impressive Atrium, which used to be an outdoor yard, and the Gallery for corporate meetings. Guests of the hotel arriving by car benefit from stress-free parking thanks to a private car park in a closed courtyard.

Enjoy seasonal events in Tábor

Each year, Tábor hosts various popular events drawing in locals and tourists alike. The biggest annual festival is Tábor setkáni, which includes historically-inspired processions, period costumes, markets and music. Other popular events include a spring street food festival and a “Comedians in the streets” festival held every summer.

This autumn, Hotel Nautilus is putting on its own rich program of culinary events for visitors. Restaurant Goldie’s autumn menu brings guests a special taste of seasonal local produce, while one-off menus are in store for Halloween (Oct. 31–Nov. 1), St. Martin’s Goose (Nov. 8–12) Beaujolais Nouveau (Nov. 17–19), and the Christmas season (Dec. 1–23).

Later this year, the hotel also invites visitors for a special New Year experience. Hotel Nautilus’ New Year’s Eve package includes accommodation for two nights in a comfort room with breakfast included, as well as a six-course “Summer Revival” degustation menu crafted by Executive Chef Martin Košťál. Valid from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2, this package and all other accommodation options are available to book online.

Complete with a range of comfortable rooms, a top-class restaurant, a wellness center, and a unique physical connection to Tábor’s epic history, Hotel Nautilus is an excellent base for exploring this underappreciated gem of a destination.

This article was written in cooperation with Hotel Nautilus. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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