I have spent the past weekend (+ Monday, which was a public holiday honoring Jan Hus) visiting the game area and other places in the vicinity. I didn't do any thorough "research", I was just enjoying free time and sight seeing. For anyone thinking about visiting the Czech Republic and/or the game area, here are some tips and ideas.
Places like Prague and Český Krumlov get shitload of tourists. One of the things I enjoyed very much was that there was not that many people visiting the sights mentioned below.
MINIMUM COSTS (convert it into your currency yourself).
CZK 1000 daily for car rental (make sure you have at least some damage insurance coverage, the cheapest international renting sites have 100% liability, I personally use http://www.rentplusprague.com/ , GPS costs extra)
CZK 1200 per night for hotel (2 beds)
CZK 2000 per day for food, entrance tickets, etc.
CZK 1500 for fuel (3 days/500kms)
I personally always carry a concealed firearm, but generally this whole area of country is very safe. Just make sure you don't leave any objects visibly in the car when you park (always put everything into the trunk). Unlike in Prague, you should not need to worry about pick pockets. Sometimes Romanian gypsy gangs are trying to scam/rob drivers (mostly by selling fake jewelery or faking car troubles), but Czech cops are usually quite fast in dealing with them so you would have to be really unlucky to become their victim.
We didn't go on the tour of interiors of most castles (except courtyards) so I can't comment on that.
From the Prague Airport, it will take you about 1 hour to reach castle Český Šternberk. It is conveniently close to the D1 highway, so reaching the game area is really easy. The local roads are aged and with quite a few potholes, but getting around will not be a problem either. Make sure to ALWAYS observe the speed limit within municipalities (50 kph) and don't go faster than 30 over limit outside of municipalities (<30 fine | 30< immediate ban on driving in the country for at least 6 months, up to CZK 50.000/€2.000 fine - cops may withhold anything you have on you in case you refuse to pay).
We were trying to plan the trip so that it would take 15-30 minutes between places maximum, spend as much time as we liked at the sites, and then just continue as we liked.
A nice castle offering superb views from its walls. Looks great from the opposite hill (road to Rataje). Make sure to visit the tower that is separate located about 300m on the hill top above the castle itself (hidden behind trees).
Rataje nad Sázavou
The upper castle is in quite a bad shape. But at least it has a new roof and works are undergoing as regards the rest. There are plans to have some municipal offices and museum inside. I guess that in 3-5 years it can be quite a nice place to visit.
The lower castle (Pirkštejn) is in quite a bad state. It is currently owned by the church and as most places owned by the church in the country, it is inaccessible to public. Thank you Jesus.
Rataje has a very nice pond in the town (as many municipalities in the area do). It may be of interest to sit on its banks for someone who sees the ponds within the villages in the game and has never seen it in the real life.
A village of no interest beside the one a KCD fans might have in it. The stone that is in the game really is there even today. The engraving in the ancient stone is not very much visible but it reminds me personally on some of old Slavic pagan jewelry figures (pic below):
Village of no interest beside the one a KCD fans might have in it.
Really fucking weak. The ruin is on top of a small hill in the village with houses and gardens covering the sides leading to it. There is one access road leading to the ruin of the castle's tower, and there are plenty of signs "Private property - do not trespass", so basically you can only walk straight on the path and can't really step outside it or go throughout the whole ruin (also private property apparently).
Nice place to see. The tour guide was some catholic fanatic I recommend avoiding, I suppose that English speaking tourists would get some written paper instead and should be grateful for it (my GF on the other hand enjoyed her "fairy tale"/catholic fanaticism talk about the monastery).
Compare it to the game:
The rough stones on the edge are not there because something would fall off, but intentionally so that the works can continue on the other side. As you can see, they did not continue in 1406 nor ever later.
Zruč nad Sázavou
This was quite a surprise. Nicely restored castle, beautiful gardens. I highly recommend visiting for a romantic evening.
Ledeč nad Sázavou
Nice little town overlooked by a nice castle, that is currently undergoing restoration. The church and synagogue in the town were closed, it seemed that there is not much else to do other than visiting the castle itself.
Lipnice nad Sázavou
Extremely nice castle on a hilltop surrounded by a nice little village. This time, we also toured the castle. It doesn't have much in the interiors, but quite a lot of information boards, which which were most interesting to read.
The castle burned down in 1869, part of it has been rebuilt, part remains as a ruin.
The castle chapel was actually the first place where reformed (hussite) priests were ordained. First ordinations took place on 6 March 1417.
The chapel is a must see place for any practicing reformed christian.
Place where Jan Žižka, the legendary Hussite leader died on 11 October 1424. It is in the middle of fields, not much to see around. If you don't know anything else, then you should be aware that Jan Žižka is the dude in front of whose statue WH always takes pics of the whole team.
Here is some more info: http://www.badassoftheweek.com/zizka.html
There is a UNESCO listed church on top of the mountain in Zelená Hora.
This castle kicks some fucking ass. It is like a set from a fucking fantasy movie.
Veselý kopec open air museum
Veselý kopec museum has old wooden houses (mills, etc.) from ca. 16th to 19th century. It is by far not as large as Wallachian Open Air museum which takes whole day to see, but that suited our road trip. Not from the game era but still gives some insight into how people lived a couple of hundred years ago.
Ležáky is a municipality that was raised to the ground by the Germans after Operation Anthropoid. Germans killed all adult inhabitants and took most children away and gassed them in a concentration camp. The municipality was never rebuilt and is only a memorial with "house graves" on the places of the houses torn down by the Germans.
Road from Ležáky to Prague takes about 2 hours.