Alister Henderson eats, drinks and explores his way around the Eastern Bohemian region of the Czech Republic

Despite the country being less then 30 years old, the Czech Republic has centuries worth of history to discover, not all gleaned from the touristy city of Prague.

As the capital of East Bohemia, Pardubice is the perfect base and with Ryanair’s brand-new flight from London Stansted makes even more sense. By ‘brand new’ I mean just that. As only the second flight ever from Stansted, the ground crew were taking pictures of the plane as I disembarked and the large glass-fronted terminal of the airport won’t be finished until the end of the year. In and out the other side in less than 10 minutes, a lack of any form of car hire meant I needed a taxi to get me to my hotel.

Hotel 100 was a pleasant affair with good views from the top floor and a hearty breakfast, situated a couple of minutes’ walk from the historic heart of the city where our tour started, taking in the Green Gate (what remains of the old city’s fortifications) and the beautiful town hall which looks out over the bars, restaurants and gingerbread shops which border the square (gingerbread making is a famous tradition in Pardubice). Then onwards through the castle quarter where peacocks roamed free and there were exhibitions aplenty (It is home to the museum of East Bohemia) to the castle, whose roots date back to the 13th century, until the powerful Pernstejn family rebuilt it as a chateau in the 1500s. It’s a particularly well-preserved example of renaissance architecture.

The country’s love of all things beer, begs a visit to the Pardubice Brewery which makes 14 varieties, new ones constantly being tried and tested at its on-site micro-brewery. Tour the brewery and see its huge fermenting vats, smell the hops and hear about the record for most amount of dark porter ever drunk – a hangover-inducing 10 litres.

Get out of the city and head to the UNESCO world heritage site of Litomysl, a drive of less than an hour away, where the Italian style castle, built again by the powerful Pernstejn family; (it seems one castle isn’t enough) boasts a white structure whose surface is made up of thousands of small white paintings – each one different to the next, covering every wall, gable and chimney. Inside is a seemingly never-ending supply of rooms and in-house theatre, a Renaissance wine cellar, Olbram Zoubek’s statues and the retired brewery where the Czech composer, Bedrich Smetana was born.

Visit the Regional Museum, the snappily named Cathedral of the Finding of the Holy Cross renovated by a healthy EU grant, the Piarist church has returned to its former glory with magnificent views over the city, although the tight narrow staircase makes you work for it.

If history, beer or gingerbread isn’t your thing (can’t be many of you left) then Pardubice is also revered for its horseplay. The national stud of Kladruby nad Labem, has been breeding the ‘Old Kladrubers’ since 1579 for the specific purposes of pulling ceremonial carriages for kings and emperors around Czechia and beyond. Set on a huge 3000 acre site, the stud has around 250 white horses and breeds about 40 foals a year which it sells off around the world. Tour the main stables or treat yourself to a tour of the estate aboard a carriage drawn by two of the fine animals.

Pardubice also has its very own racecourse, home of the famous Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase which draws spectators from around the world for its 6.9 km, 31-jump contest that’s been running, or cantering, since 1874, stopping only for the war, two severely bad weather events and the Prague Spring. There are many qualifying rounds throughout the summer and you can bet on who will rocket over the finish line first. Take a horse drawn carriage around the course and take time to view the infamous ‘taxi jump’ up close.

Eastern Bohemia also boasts fishing at one of the many fish ponds that cover the flat Elba region, relaxation at the Kuneticka Hora golf and spa resort, and superb food at the many wonderful restaurants. If you’re looking for a day trip from Prague you’d better be prepared to make some tough decisions.

* For more information on the region, head to

* For info about Pardubice and Pardubice region, see

* Getting there: fly on

*Where to stay: Hotel 100. See

* Where to eat:

* Drink: Beer from