Our first stop after leaving Poland was the city of Hradec Králové in Czechia. We spent two nights there and had a great time! I’m fairly new to this van life (unlike Kuba who spent a few weeks living in the van while I was in the States) so I’m still learning and adjusting, but it’s all good!
Here are some tips for boondocking aka stealth camping in Hradec Králové.
Driving in Czechia
In order to drive on roadways in Czechia, you must purchase a vignette/sticker for your vehicle. Otherwise, you’ll be penalised. This sticker is placed on the inside corner of your windscreen, on the passenger’s side. You can purchase stickers valid for 10 days, 1 month, or 1 year. We purchased a 1-month sticker for 310CZK (~$14.24) in an office adjacent to a petrol station in Poland, just before we crossed the border.
Crossing the border was easy; we simply kept driving. I would have missed it if Kuba hadn’t announced that we had just crossed into Czechia. Since we are travelling within the Schengen Area of Europe, there wasn’t an official border crossing with security checkpoints. Once inside the Schengen, you can travel freely from one country to the next without needing to go through passport control. Not all European countries are included in the Schengen, but most are.
Parking in Hradec Králové
Kuba found a 24/7 free parking area along the river thanks to the Park4Night app. We left the van there during the day as we explored the city centre. This parking area was very convenient since it only took us 20 minutes or so to walk into the city centre.
Parking in or around the city centre isn’t free during the day. You have to pay between the hours of 8:00-18:00. So as long as you park after 18:00 and leave by 8:00, you’re fine. For both nights, we parked in a lot along the river (closer to the centre) near a public toilet. We liked parking there for the night because the lot was practically empty in the evening. The only negative is that it isn’t completely quiet at night because people like to hang out along the river and drink. That didn’t bother us though. We still had restful sleep both nights.
Public Toilets in the City
We found two public toilets in the city centre (and saw signs for others) but because of their hours, they weren’t convenient for our overnight stays. I think they open right at 8:00 and close at 18:00 or even earlier.
Since we couldn’t rely on these public toilets late at night, we simply drove to the OC Futurum shopping mall (a short 7-minute drive) and used the toilets there. Even though the main shops in the mall close at 21:00, the Tesco inside the mall is open until midnight and so the toilets remain open until then. Our van is slightly too tall to park in the mall’s parking garage, so we had to park elsewhere. We ended up parking next to the Auto Kelly auto parts store or down the street while visiting the mall.
We also used the toilet in Kaufland (located on the left as you enter the shop) and the toilet in the Aupark shopping mall after visiting the Costa there. If you like Starbucks, you’ll find one in the OC Futurum shopping mall. 😉
We did laundry at Speed Queen. It was seriously the cleanest, fanciest laundromat I’ve ever used. We were the only ones using it at that time, which makes sense since laundromats aren’t too common in Europe. Most people have their own washing machine so laundromats seem to be primarily for tourists.
Speed Queen isn’t the cheapest place to do laundry since two washes and 30-minutes of drying cost us 340CZK (~$15.51) BUT the wi-fi there was super fast and they had plenty of tables and seating, perfect for working on my laptop while waiting. Also, the detergent is included in the wash price so you don’t need to worry about bringing your own. Luckily, Speed Queen is a chain with locations elsewhere in Europe. We’ll definitely continue to do laundry at Speed Queen as long as they offer fast wi-fi.
We bought most of our food from the Tesco in the OC Futurum shopping mall since we were there to use the toilets anyways.
We also bought some fruit from a fruit and veg shop located on V Kopečku as you walk into town. You’ll find two produce shops there, both brimming with delicious fruit and veg.
Coffee & Tea
Kuba discovered a cool tea room aptly named Dobrá čajovna when he was walking around one evening. We know next to nothing about tea, but we liked the atmosphere there (and chill music) so we decided to try some green tea while we worked on our laptops. (It’s conveniently located right around the corner from my next recommendation.)
We popped into Férová palačinkárna because it was listed on HappyCow for its vegan options. We never ate there because we were looking for something like a blended mocha and they didn’t have that, but their menu still looked good! They specialise in pancakes and can make them vegan or gluten-free, and they even have vegan Nutella! I’d definitely check this place out if you have a craving for something sweet.
To Sum it Up
This was basically our routine while in Hradec Králové: We’d drive to the OC Futurum mall late at night, use the toilets, pick up some food, and return to the parking lot by the river. We’d sleep until 7:30 in the morning, pack up and drive to the 24/7 free parking lot a little further away. Then we’d spend the day walking around the city centre.
Hradec Králové is walkable and bike-friendly with plenty of green spaces and parks in and around the centre. The pedestrian and bike path along the river makes it easy for us to get around without driving. That being said, driving around was still easy because of the ring road encircling the city centre. Traffic was never too bad either, even at typical peak hours, so driving through the city was never a hassle.
The city centre is quite small and there wasn’t much movement in the centre, especially since the main square is occupied by a car park. While we enjoyed our time in Hradec Králové, it didn’t seem like a good city for busking. We figured it was time for us to move on to a larger city.
Our next stop: Olomouc!
Don’t forget to check out our vlogs from Hradec Králové:
Thanks for reading and watching! Do you have any tips to share?