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Though Bohemia was never divided historically, there are clear-cut distinctions in the region's geography that make going from town to town easier if you "divide" it into sections. After exploring Prague and central Bohemia, decide which area you'd like to see first and then plan accordingly.

West Bohemia

Home to the country's spa towns, western Bohemia is one of the few places where a full-blown tourist infrastructure was already in place by the time of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Its main towns -- Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Mariánské Lázne (Marienbad), and to a lesser extent, Plzen -- offer a wide array of accommodations, restaurants, and services to meet every visitor's needs and means.

A relatively inexpensive network of trains and buses covers the region, allowing travel between towns and to and from Prague with a minimum of fuss. West Bohemia is generally rougher terrain, so only serious bikers should consider seeing the area on two wheels.

South Bohemia

Once the religious hotbed of the country, south Bohemia was a focal point of the Hussite wars that eventually ravaged many of its towns and villages. Though the days of war took their toll, the region still features fine examples of architecture from every era. Southern Bohemia is also home to the Czech Republic's second-largest castle at Ceský Krumlov, a UNESCO-protected site that dazzles with its Disney-like qualities no matter how many times you visit.

There are two good approaches for exploring south Bohemia. If you're traveling by train or bus from Prague, make Tábor your first stop. It's on a main route, so the arrangements are easy. Then continue heading south, hooking up with Trebon, Ceské Budejovice, and Ceský Krumlov. If time is of the essence, you may want to set up camp in the area's main city, Ceské Budejovice, and make several day trips, since nothing is that far away (Tábor, the farthest town, is 60km/37 miles away).

For those who have more time, consider a bike tour. These days, with the possibility of attack from Austria far diminished, south Bohemia is a much quieter setting with a less rugged terrain than west Bohemia. Biking here is much more feasible, and you'll find dozens of quaint towns dotting the countryside. Central European Adventures, Jáchymova 4, Prague 1 (tel. 222-328-879; http://cea51.tripod.com), can arrange superb tours that include bike rentals, guides (English-speaking), transportation, and even canoe trips through southern Bohemia at a fraction of what it would cost if you arranged the same trip from home. Another organizer, the Czech-based Greenways Travel Club (tel. 519-511-572; www.gtc.cz), organizes several Bohemian bike trips, including along the popular Prague-Vienna trail that runs straight through southern Bohemia

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.