Visit the Budweiser Budvar Brewery

When you think of Budweiser, you probably think of the US beer. But in this Czech city is a beer with the same name that’s caused a century of lawsuits!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Visiting the Budweiser Budvar Brewery

The Budweiser Budvar Brewery in the Czech city of České Budějovice would be an interesting enough place to visit anyway, but its long battle with the American beer of the same name adds a whole other level.

Here's what you need to know to take a tour of the Budweiser Budvar Brewery, including a tasting of its products.

What’s in a name? When it comes to Budweiser, the answer is years of bitter trademark disputes across the world.

Most people – myself included – probably think of the American beer when they hear the name. Budweiser (the US company) spends millions of dollars in advertising at sporting events that are telecast around the world.

It’s no wonder that’s the first association we make.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

But in actual fact, in the majority of countries, if a beer is called Budweiser it’s probably coming from this relatively innocuous brewery in the city of České Budějovice in the Czech Republic.

Is Budweiser Budvar the same as Budweiser?

No, there are two very distinct companies that share the word Budweiser in the name. Budweiser is a US beer brand, while Budweiser Budvar is from a brewery in the Czech Republic. The similarity is because ‘Budweis’ is the German name for the city of České Budějovice, where both beers originally came from.

What is Budweiser Budvar?

Budweiser Budvar is the name of a brewery in the Czech city of České Budějovice. It was founded in 1895 and is still in operation. Its products are exported to many countries around the world, but it is different to the US company called Budweiser.

Can you visit the Budweiser factory in the Czech Republic?

Yes, the Budweiser Budvar Brewery is open to the public and you can take a tour and taste some of its products (even direct from the tank). The brewery is located in the Czech city of České Budějovice.

The name says it all. In German, České Budějovice is called Budweis. The name quite literally says that it is from this city. So how did a US company end up using it?

Well, it started when a brewery from this Czech city started exporting its beer to the US in 1871. Five years later, in 1876, the American distributors started using the name Budweiser.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

It wasn’t for another couple of decades, in 1895, that another Czech brewery was formed in České Budějovice. It called itself Budweiser Budvar.

A seemingly innocent enough name, referencing the city it was based in, but it was the beginning of legal action that is still going on more than a century later.

For a big day trip from Prague, there’s this private tour to Český Krumlov that also includes the tour at the Budweiser Budvar Brewery.

I’ll come back to the lawsuits in a minute. To understand a bit more, though, let me take you into the heart of the Czech Budweiser.

Budweiser Budvar factory tour

I am staying in the city of České Budějovice for a couple of nights during my travels through the Czech Republic and I decided to take a tour of the Budweiser factory one afternoon.

The centre of the city has a historic feel, with a market square of colourful facades topped with metal spires. But if you walk for about 30 minutes you hit a more industrial area on the outskirts where the brewery is located.

I sign up for the daily public tour and, as I’m led through the compound, I can see all the action.

Forklifts whizz by, machinery whirs away, and crates of beer are stacked up everywhere.

It’s clean and efficient and there’s something modern about the technology… but it also has the feel of European tradition to it.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

In the brew house, for instance, the historic copper tops of the tanks stand between walls with a slightly Soviet feel.

In a cellar with more tanks – these ones used to mature the beer – the corridor is concrete with fluorescent lighting and I feel as though I’m in an Eastern European dungeon (not that I’ve ever been in one, for the record).

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

In the cellar, everyone on the tour is given a cup of beer straight from the tanks – before the final processes like bottling and pasteurisation have taken place.

Pure, fresh. Untouched by the techniques that allow it to be exported, before it has any labels glued on that will associate it with the legal conflict beyond these walls.

It’s just beer and it’s the taste that matters. The genuine article, perhaps.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

My favourite part of the tour comes in the packaging hall. The enormous room is filled with sound and movement, as conveyer belts rattle bottles along at high speed.

There’s a jangling ricocheting through the air, as glass constantly taps glass.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

The tour group watches it all from an elevated metal walkway that crosses from one side to another.

I look over, down towards the machines, and it’s almost like a mini city, with large highways, smaller roads and parking stations… except with bottles instead of cars.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

The bottles pass through different machines that perform different tasks – washing, filling, labelling, closing, packing. Until there’s a final product.

40,000 bottles can be processed here in an hour!

Budweiser vs Budweiser Budvar

The Budweiser Budvar Brewery here in České Budějovice is a large operation but it has elements that remind you it’s still a local company.

For instance, the water for all the beer comes from the same site, from the ground below. About 40 litres is brought up every second from an artesian well that is 320 metres deep.

The American beer… well, it is made in 12 breweries in the US, 14 breweries in China and in 9 other countries. Not really comparable.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

And that brings me back to the trademark dispute. It has been going on for more than a century, since 1907, and has involved more than 100 individual court cases across the world.

The current state of play is that the two companies have the right to market their product as ‘Budweiser’ in different countries.

For instance, if you drink a Budweiser in Australia, the UK or Canada, it will be the American one. If you drink a Budweiser in most of Europe, it will be the Czech one.

When the competitor is selling their product in a country where they don’t own the trademark, they call it something different.

Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Ultimately, if you know what you’re getting, it doesn’t make a difference. But I do feel sorry for those who drink the American beer, thinking they are getting the Czech one.

That’s the one thing I do have a strong opinion on, having spent a bit of time in the Czech Republic. The beer here is great and the world would be a better place if you could easily get it everywhere!

Visiting the Budweiser Budvar Brewery

The Budweiser Budvar Brewery is in the city of České Budějovice, which is about 150 kilometres south of Prague.

The brewery site is a couple of kilometres from the city centre, in a more industrial neighbourhood, but it’s walkable or accessible by public transport.

In July and August, there are two tours a day, but there’s only one a day (in the afternoon) the rest of the year. I recommend checking the details below and planning your visit so you don’t miss it.

    Budweiser brewery tour, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

As well as the tour, there is a museum on site that you can visit. It’s available even when there aren’t tours, and is open from 09:00 – 17:00 most days.

A few other things worth noting about visiting the Budweiser Budvar Brewery

  • The tour lasts about an hour
  • People on tour who are below 18 will not be offered beer during the beer tasting
  • An individual tour can be organised for visitors in wheelchairs
  • Dogs are not allowed
  • It’s cold in the cellar, you need to bring warm clothes.
  • It’s also possible to book tours outside regular times, tours in different languages, and for groups of more than 5 people.

Where is the Budweiser Budvar Brewery?

The Budweiser Budvar Brewery is about 2.5 kilometres north of the city’s historic centre.
The official address is K. Světlé 512/4, 370 04, České Budějovice.
You can here to see it on a map.

How do you get to the Budweiser Budvar Brewery?

It takes about 30 minutes to walk from the main train station or the centre of the city.
Or use tram #2 to get there by public transport.

When is the Budweiser Budvar Brewery tour?

From January to February, there is an English tour at 14:40 (closed Sunday).
From March to June, there is just an English tour every day at 14:40.
In July and August, there are English tours every day at 10:40 and 14:40.
From September to December, there is just an English tour every day at 14:40.
There are also tours in Czech 40 minutes earlier, and in German 20 minutes earlier.

How much does a Budweiser Budvar Brewery tour cost?

The tour costs 220Kc per person (US$9.90), with a concession ticket costing 150Kc (US$6.75). Children aged 6 or under are free.
The tour includes a guide in English, German or Czech. It takes about an hour.

For more information, you can visit the brewery’s official website here.

If you’re hungry, there is a restaurant at the brewery that serves typical Czech food (and beer, of course). It’s probably not the best place to eat, though, and you would be better getting a meal in the city centre, if you can.

In fact, if you come to České Budějovice, I would recommend trying to spend some time in the city. There’s a beautiful square in the Old Town and some interesting historic sights.

The city makes a convenient stop on a day trip to Český Krumlov, for example, or it can be a destination in its own right.


It’s a small city and you should be able to find something nice in the historic centre or walking distance from the train station..


If you’re looking for a budget option, I would suggest Cuba Bar and Hostel in the centre of the city.


For something a bit local, Hotel Bohemia is a good option because it has a popular beer garden on site.


For a cool and stylish option, you should try U Tří Hrušek Suites & Apartments.


And if you’re after a bit of luxury, have a look at Zvon Design Suites.

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