Day trips from Prague, Czech Republic
You’ve walked across the Charles Bridge, explored the maze of streets, and visited the castle.
You’re starting to get to know the city but feel like you should see a bit more of the Czech Republic. With limited time before you leave, how can you do the best day trips from Prague?
Well, I’ve got some great news for you. You don’t have to go too far from Prague to discover some of the highlights of the Czech Republic – from castles to modern architecture, incredible nature to creepy churches, plus fairytale towns and plenty of beer!
I have spent a fair bit of time in the Czech Republic and have put together this list of six day trips from Prague based on my own experiences.
Although each of them can technically be done in one day, I’ll mention when you may prefer to stay overnight.
My first suggestion for a day trip from Prague is also the closest and easiest one – Karlstejn Castle. The castle was built in 1348 by King Charles IV and was intended to be a country retreat and to hold the crown jewels.
It’s an impressive building, high on a hill, surrounded by beautiful green forest.
You can walk around the walls and courtyards of the castle for free but you’ll need a ticket to go inside. During the holiday months, it can be quite busy and you’ll wait a while to get in.
If you don’t have time for that, I suggest using a tour like this one to arrange everything for you.
If you prefer to go independently, the best way to get to Karlstejn Castle is by train and it’s just a 40 minute ride from Prague’s central station.
My suggestion is to do more than just the castle – and this is what makes it a particularly good option for a day trip. There are also a number of hikes through the forest that start at the castle, that take you through some of the wonderful Czech nature.
I would particularly recommend doing the track that takes you to Velka Amerika, an old quarry that is now a beautiful lake surrounded by tall cliffs. I have written a story that has all the details you’ll need to find the quarry.
If you like the idea of doing some hiking and you want more dramatic scenery than around Karlstejn Castle, then you can’t go past the Bohemian Paradise about 60 kilometres northeast of Prague. It’s one of the most stunning landscapes in the whole Czech Republic.
This protected natural area has enormous rocks that have been shaped by the elements into unique and fascinating shapes. There are also castles that have been built amongst these rocks and other grand houses on the edges of cliffs.
Surrounding all of the geological formations are lush forests with plenty of hiking and cycling tracks running amongst them. You’ll even stumble across a couple of beer gardens that appear to be almost in the middle of nowhere.
You can get the train from Prague to one of the towns that are easy launchpads into the Bohemian Paradise – I would suggest either Turnov or Mnichovo Hradiště.
The fastest train will get you there within 1 hour and 40 minutes, while the slower trips will take around 2 hours and 30 minutes. For this reason, you may want to consider staying overnight so you don’t have to worry about a hike taking longer than expected and leaving you stranded.
I have more tips, including two suggested hiking routes, in a story I’ve written about the region.
Perhaps you feel like you’ve seen enough churches and historic buildings from your time in Prague and the last thing you want to do is spend another day seeing even more.
Well, put that thought aside for just a moment because a day trip to see the old medieval city of Kutná Hora will not disappoint!
Kutná Hora became really important in the 13th century because of the silver mines in the vicinity around it. That wealth was used to construct these impressive buildings – including the Royal Mint and the Jesuit College.
The two most important (and World Heritage Listed) sites in the city are the Baroque Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec and the Gothic Church of St Barbara. Both churches are spectacular in their own different ways and you’ll find plenty to see inside them.
But probably the most interesting thing, that a lot of people come for, is the Sedlec Ossuary – the small church that has been decorated with thousands of human bones. I can assure you, it’s pretty creepy!
It only takes 50 minutes to get from Prague to the main train station at Kutná Hora but you’ll need to change onto a local train to the Kutná Hora město station to go up to the historic centre.
(Or it’s a 30 minute walk to the historic centre, which also takes you past the Sedlec Ossuary and Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec.)
You might also like to consider this tour from Prague that will take all the hassle out of the planning.
If you’re interested in seeing what the city looks like, you can check out my story about it.
When it comes to day trips from Prague, there’s no doubt that the most popular one is down to Český Krumlov.
This fairytale city about 140 kilometres south of the capital is a medieval treasure, with quaint colourful houses around a meandering river and a grand old castle on the clifftop above.
The castle and its gardens are the highlight of the city when it comes to tourist attractions but the real charm is found in just wandering the streets of Český Krumlov (the central ones have no traffic) and exploring all the little museums, shops and cafes.
For the more adventurous, the river offers the opportunity to go swimming or kayaking – but I think I would only try this in the warmer months.
You can quite easily get to Český Krumlov by bus but the trip will take about 3 hours in each direction, so you may want to consider staying overnight. Or this guided tour from Prague will make everything a bit easier for you.
For even more information, you can read my story about my visit – and one major concern I had.
On the way to Český Krumlov, it’s likely you’ll pass through a much larger city called České Budějovice.
It doesn’t get the same kind of attention because it is not, on first glance, as beautiful. But I think it’s a mistake to ignore České Budějovice because it actually offers a wonderful day trip.
The city is an excellent example of a typical Czech city that has not become overrun with tourists. The historic central square is stunning, with colourful facades topped with metal spires. Restaurants and bars spill onto the street, full of life and local culture.
But, as well as this, České Budějovice is home to the controversial Budweiser Brewery. This is the local company that has been locked in decades of legal disputes with the US beer giant – all because both of them claim the right to use Budweiser as their brand name.
You can visit the brewery and do a tour of the factory and learn about the process and history. It’s really interesting and a much more authentic and local experiences than you’ll find at the breweries in Pilsen.
You can go by bus or train to České Budějovice. The fastest train from Prague takes about 2 hours.
To get the full details about the Budweiser fight and how you can visit the brewery, you can read my story about it.
Finally, as a bonus, I want to suggest Brno as a good place for a day trip.
You may think it’s odd that I’m recommending somewhere so far away from Prague but because Brno is the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, there are great transport connections between the two and the trip is just over 2 hours in each direction by train or bus.
The city has a very different feel to Prague. It is still full of historical buildings and cultural institutions but they feel a bit more relaxed and playful than the capital, which can sometimes have a more imposing feel.
There are also much fewer tourists here, creating a less stressful and more authentic atmosphere (as well as cheaper food and drink in the centre). There’s plenty to see so you could either have a busy single day or stay overnight and fit more in.
One of the most significant sights in Brno (and on the World Heritage List) is the Tugendhat Villa. It was built in the late 1920s and is considered a jewel of modern architecture.
If you’re interested, it’s certainly worth a visit. The problem is that only a limited number of visitors are allowed in each day and you generally have to book a spot weeks in advance.
I hope at least one of these suggestions inspires you to explore a bit more of the Czech Republic. Prague is beautiful and I love it – but it’s so full of tourists these days that it’s not a perfect window into the country.
Explore slightly further afield and I think you’ll be very pleased with what you find.
For something good value and a bit local, Family Lorenz & Coffee House is a great place.
For a cool and stylish option, you should try Design Hotel Jewel Prague.
And if you want to splurge for somewhere really cool, have a look at the BoHo Prague Hotel.