When you take a turn to the valley of the Vsetínská Bečva River at the village of Ústí, near Vsetín, you might find yourselves in a completely different world just a few hundred metres along the valley road. And it does not matter if you are travelling by car, or cycling along the Bečva Cycling Trail, the queen of the Moravian cycling trails. The slopes of the Wallachian Mountains rise along both banks of the river – Vsetín Beskids on the right bank, and Javorníky on the left bank. The countryside is completed with grazing meadows with small herds of sheep, goats, cattle and horses, and villages seemingly strung along the river.
The landscape is intertwined with hundreds of kilometres of tourist trails and paths of various length and level, both for hikers and cyclists. There are tourist information centres in all the villages where you can get a map, some advice and friendly recommendations.
Nový HrozenkovStart exploring this part of Wallachia in Nový Hrozenkov. At one end of the village you will enter the Vranča valley to climb up the ridge of Javorníky, which forms most of the Czech and Slovak border. The valley ends below the hills of Stolečný (962 m above sea level) and Kohútka (913 m above sea level). The latter gave its name to the resort with ski slopes, mountain hotels and cottages. Kohútka is an ideal starting point for the Javorníky ridge trail. The section between Kohútka and the Kasárna area is 13 km long. Forest meadows alternating with mountain meadows offer views of the peaks of both the Beskids and the Slovak mountains. You can go there at almost any time during the year, with cross-country skis in winter, on foot or a mountain bike in summer or autumn. You can’t miss the large water area on the east edge of Nový Hrozenkov. The locals call it the Wallachian Balaton. Clean water heated by the summer sun to a pleasant temperature, grassy areas for sunbathing, facilities for visitors that include catering, refreshments, car parks and bathrooms, make Balaton a popular tourist destination. Moreover, it is situated right along the Bečva Cycling Trail.
KarolinkaThe town of Karolinka is within view from Nový Hrozenkov. Its history is linked to Salomon Reich, a businessman who founded the Karolina’s glassworks there in the 19th century, giving the town its name. Unfortunately, the glassmaking past is now only documented by the abandoned glassworks premises and the Museum of Glassmaking that you will find there. Karolinka is home to the Wallachian National Theatre, and the local modern Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel contains a wooden statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, registered in the Guinness Book of Records thanks to its size. Even though Karolinka is quite a young town, it is also home to a large group of protected folk buildings from the 18th century, standing in the Raťkov valley.
Velké KarloviceAt the end of the valley of the upper stream of the Vsetínská Bečva River, you will find Velké Karlovice. It is a village with remarkable natural wonders, landmarks and original timbered houses, as well as an extensive offer of services for tourists. The Church of Our Lady of the Snows is a unique entirely wooden church with an isosceles cross ground plan. Near the church, you will find the Karlovice Museum, as well as the Velké Karlovice train station. The valley comprises ski slopes, used as a bike arena in the summer, and popular hotels, guesthouses, cottages, restaurants and relaxation and sports facilities. The wooden sculptures by the Chapel of St. Hubert, or the Elingerka trail, should also not be overlooked. In the opposite direction, towards Soláň, you will get to the Karlovské Lake through the Jezerná valley. The trail, which is a comfortable, 4-kilometre-long walk along a safe cycling trail, or a local road, ideal for families with children in strollers, is marked from the train stop. Along the valley, there is a cycling trail to the ridge of the Vsetín Beskids and to the 24-metre-tall Miloňová Lookout Tower, from where you can see Velké Karlovice from above. Along the way, take a stop at the Razula primeval forest, one of the oldest nature reserves in the Czech Republic. Some trees are more than 300 years old. There are marked local hiking loop trails, the aforesaid Bečva Cycling Trail starts there, and the place is busy with skiers in winter and with cyclists and hikers in summer. Children will enjoy several playgrounds and the Kulíšek educational trail, while photographers will appreciate the photographic trail with instructions on how to take beautiful pictures. Some might simply enjoy the traditional Wallachian frgál pies. The famous Karlovice Gastrofestival is held here every autumn. Velké Karlovice is also known for the large number of small ecclesiastic structures including twenty-eight chapels, crosses and bell towers.
Wallachian OlympusSoláň is a mountain of painters and artists, called the Wallachian Olympus. It is situated on the ridge of the Vsetín Beskids, at the boundary of three villages – Hutisko-Solanec, Karolinka and Velké Karlovice. The Soláň countryside has charmed many an artist and today Zvonice Soláň, with its tourist information centre and gallery, is the unofficial centre. Visitors will find an intersection of hiking trails here, as well as places with beautiful views of the countryside and facilities for accommodation, catering, relaxation and sports.