Cycling to "Budějovice" and back
That is, our way to České Budějovice. Or vice versa from Budějc. It doesn't matter, because thanks to the cycle paths on both banks of the Vltava we can make an imaginary circuit between the two charming towns. As a starting point for the Vltava cycle path No. 7 (EuroVelo 7) we can choose the natural crossroads of road, cycle and water routes at the České Budějovice Long Bridge. We are on the right bank of the Vltava under the Jirásek weir on the embankment, a short distance from the Vltava wharf. The city centre and the confluence of the Vltava and Malše rivers are behind us. We set off along the water along the much frequented cycle path of Josef Cepák, a high school professor from České Budějovice and a huge promoter of cycling. The asphalt trails run at the foot of the regulating embankment and higher up in its crown, but we prefer to leave the upper one to pedestrians and mothers with strollers. We pass the SKP stadium and after a few hundred metres we reach the first junction. If we had continued straight ahead, we would have taken the right bank route, but we cross the pedestrian and cyclist bridge and continue along the right bank. At this point we need to be careful as we are in a very busy stretch close to the Vltava housing estate and the shopping area. At the summer pub we have a sharp right turn and we are on the new asphalt of the left bank route. There is a lot of traffic here too, especially in summer, and the meadow between the cycle path and the river is full of blankets and Vltava residents come here to swim. But with every pedal we are getting further away from the town and there are beautiful flat kilometres ahead of us and the Vltava's surface is getting calmer and wider as we approach the dam in Český Vrbný and the famous canoeing spot: the Wild Water Channel, named after the famous Budějovice canoeist Lída Polesná. It also includes a marina and mooring for motor boats, a camp with a refreshment room, in short, a boater's paradise. In summer there is a lot of traffic until deep into the night, and to avoid getting hit by a paddle, we go around the paddling centre in an arc to the left and continue along the stream under the railway bridge towards Bavorovice. Just before Bavorovice, a second trap awaits us in the form of a sharp turn to the right. The trail is very narrow at this point and there is a very real risk of collision with an oncoming rider, be really careful. Between the farmhouses we enter Bavorovice and turn right. We pass through a beautiful painted village with several refreshment shops, decorated shields and horses grazing in the meadows. After the football field, we skip a bridge at pace and enter a tunnel of ancient oaks and other deciduous trees lining the banks of Hope Pond and our route to Hluboká. The real treat is to ride this section of the trail after dark, as you can see almost nothing in the oak tunnel with your headlamp. A beautiful flat passage will lead us to the southern edge of Hluboká, where there is a sports and recreation centre on the right with a baseball field where the Extraliga is played, several restaurants, and most importantly a plethora of sports facilities, beach volleyball courts, bouncy castles, climbing frames, a rope centre, a water world or sports equipment rental shops, bicycles, scooters, boats, pedal boats or ferrata sets. And to the left, an eighteen-hole golf course has replaced the former racecourse on Podskalská meadow. The safest way is to drive through the sports and leisure centre to the river and continue left along the water. We pass a football field, tennis courts, an ice rink built by Hluboká native and Motor hockey legend Miroslav Dvořák and the Vltava River wharf. Even in this section there is a huge concentration of people and cyclists and pedestrians, especially in summer and on weekends. The route leads us to Podskalí to the main road towards the centre or right to Zámostí. We turn right a few hundred metres to the bridge over the Vltava River and then right again and follow the right bank back to České Budějovice. We are at the place where, according to legend, they had Záviš of Falkenštejn beheaded with a plank, not a plank as it is wrongly and all the more persistently described.
The path along this bank follows the course of the Vltava River more closely, it is quieter, but it leads over a worse surface and is definitely not suitable for in-line. However, it is much freer here, even in peak months and at weekends. The silhouette of the castle soon disappears on our right and we pass the former fishing village of Opatovice on our left. If you like rustic Baroque, Opatovice is definitely worth a visit; the farmhouses in the village square and the forge are charming. The right bank path brings us back to a place we already know, the footbridge over the Vltava River by the towers on Plzeňská Street. We have thus completed our circuit along the left and right banks of the Vltava and are returning to the embankment under the Long Bridge along the familiar route.
The total length of the route is around 22 kilometres or more, if you are in the city centre to see other sights, it runs practically on a complete flat with no significant elevation changes, so it is also suitable for cyclists and family trips. Its left bank route is practically all suitable for in-line skates, but there are passages on the right bank trail where you won't be able to rollerblade. So have a great trip from town to town!