Hiking near Prague

To see some of the Czech countryside, take an easy day hike from Prague that also leads you past castles, churches and flooded quarries.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

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

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Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

As Prague grows in popularity, the Czech capital is becoming more crowded by the year – particularly in the warmer months. It’s easy to see why people are visiting.

The centuries of history, the beautiful architecture, the modern culture, the cheap food and free-flowing drinks. It all makes for a great holiday.

But you need to look beyond the central streets to discover the whole offering. The Czech Republic has some incredible nature and you don’t need to go too far to find yourself amongst it.

There are some natural wonders a little bit further away from Prague, like the Bohemian Paradise… but today I want to tell you about a wonderful hike that you can easily do as a day trip.

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

The instructions and descriptions are all below. It’ll take you through some spectacular scenery but also introduce you to a castle, a quarry, an old church and some small country towns.

There aren’t any hiking tours that will take you to this spot, but there is this great bike tour of the same area, which includes the train from Prague.

If you have the time on a visit to Prague, I strongly suggest you try to do this, to see more than just the city.

I’m not going to give exact hiking instructions for every step because most of the paths are marked – but you can refer to this map I’ve made to see the suggested route.

Karlstejn Castle

To get to the start of the walk, catch the train from Prague’s central train station to a town called Karlstejn. (The journey is 40 minutes long and costs 55Kč (about US$2.10).)

Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

You may notice some bars and cafes opposite the train station in Karlstejn. I grabbed a morning coffee here to start the day and, having got used to the Czech Republic, was not too surprised to see most other people having a breakfast beer.

Walk up the hill through the town, past the charming little shops with souvenirs and drinks, up to Karlstejn Castle.

Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

The castle is a tourist attraction in itself so it’s likely to be quite busy here.

Karlstejn Castle was built in 1348 by Charles IV, one of the most important historical figures of the country. As well as being the King of Bohemia, he was also the Holy Roman Emperor, and he had a large impact on many of the buildings in Prague.

The castle was designed to hold the crown jewels and was used a country retreat from the capital.

Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

You can walk through the exterior parts of the castle without a ticket and check out the views from the walls. If you’re interested in having a look inside, I’ve got some information here to help you:

Where is Karlstejn Castle?

Karlstejn Castle is at the top of the hill in the small town of Karlstejn, which you can drive to or catch the train from Prague. You can see it on a map here.

How much does Karlstejn Castle cost?

You can walk into the external areas of the castle for free. To do the main tour, it costs 270CZK (US$10.70) for adults and 180CZK (US$7.10) for concession. A family ticket for 2 adults and a 4 children (maximum) is 860CZK (US$34).

When is Karlstejn Castle open?

The opening times for Karlstejn are different during the year and it’s worth checking the website if there are any changes.
It is open in the last few days of December and first week of January (1000 – 1500) then closed the rest of the month.
In February it’s open just Saturday and Sunday (1000 – 1500).
In March it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0930 – 1600).
In April it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0930 – 1700).
In May it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0930 – 1730).
In June it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0900 – 1730).
In July and August it’s open every day (0900 – 1830).
In September it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0930 – 1730).
In October it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (0930 – 1630).
In November it’s open Tuesday to Sunday (1000 – 1500) until the 12th and then it’s open only Saturday and Sunday(1000 – 1500) until December 26.

Are there tours to Karlstejn Castle?

There can be long lines to buy a ticket at the castle so you’ll save a lot of time by going with a tour from Prague because they’ll organise the transport and the tickets. If you’re looking for a good tour, I recommend this option.

More information

To find out more information, you can check out the castle’s official website here.

If you are mainly interested in seeing Karlstejn Castle, I would recommend looking at one of these tours to make the trip easier:

Otherwise, let’s continue with the hike!

At the northern edge of the castle, you’ll find the start of a path that leads down into the forest.

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

It goes down through the trees into a valley and then opens up onto a road for a while. You can continue to walk along the road for a while or veer off slightly to the right to find a walking track that takes you through the forest.

You’ll reach the small town of Mořina and go through the outskirts before heading off to the left and up a hill through fields. This brings you to the first quarry.

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

Velka Amerika Quarry

Who would have thought a quarry could be so beautiful? Velka Amerika was dug up in the early part of the twentieth century for limestone and it’s just been left mainly untouched since then. Water has filled the base, creating a lake that is up to 18 metres deep at some points.

Velka Amerika Quarry, Karlstejn, Czech Republic

The Velka Amerika quarry is about 800 metres long and you’ll approach it from the east. I would suggest walking on the southern side, all the way to the western end.

There is a safe road along this side (that doesn’t give any views) or there is a track along the edge which gives you a great view but is a bit dangerous. Be careful if you go that way.

The best place for photos is at the western end, where there are lots of places to stand.

Velka Amerika Quarry, Karlstejn, Czech Republic

From here, follow the path that continues to the west. You’ll pass another quarry called Mexiko on your left but it’s hard to see unless you scramble up through the trees to one of the viewpoints.

After a little while, you’ll hit yet another quarry. This one is called Small Amerika and there is a nice area to stop here for a rest and look down on the lake at the bottom.

Mexiko Quarry, Karlstejn, Czech Republic

You will probably have noticed that there aren’t many people around anymore. The casual tourist has disappeared and now it’s just a few hikers left along the paths. There’s quite a long walk now of at least an hour until the next stop but it’s through beautiful forest and along peaceful undulating tracks.

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

Svatý Jan pod Skalou

Eventually you’ll get to the small town of Svatý Jan pod Skalou, nestled in a valley with green hills around. Literally, the name means ‘Saint John under the rock’.

The highlight here is the church called the Nativity of St John the Baptist. It was built in 1657 in the Baroque style and it’s worth having a look inside. The church is quite simple but what makes it so interesting is that some of the rooms are made out of caves and are cool and dark.

Svatý Jan pod Skalou, Czech Republic

There are a couple of cafes and restaurants in Svatý Jan pod Skalou and I think this is a good place for a late lunch, if you’ve got here in time. You can sit outside and have a beer (or two) with your meal and have a nice rest before finishing the walk.

Svatý Jan pod Skalou, Czech Republic

The final stretch of the walk is mainly along roads – although they’re not particularly busy ones and there are some pretty landscapes along the way until right at the end when you start to come back into an urban area.

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

This is the town of Beroun, which has a population of about 20,000 people. From here, you can catch a train back to Prague. (The train takes about 45 minutes and costs 68Kč (about US$2.70).)

Hiking around Karlstejn Castle, near Prague, Czech Republic

The whole excursion will probably take most of the day if you take it easy, stop along the way, and explore a bit of Karlstejn castle. It’s a perfect way to see some of the beautiful scenery of the Czech Republic while still basing yourself in Prague.

If you’re looking for some other ways to explore the area, this bike tour is a lot of fun (and a great alternative to the hike).

There are some other fun options here that I would recommend:

Please let me know if you give the hike a try and if you have any comments about the route.

THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN PRAGUE

Prague has very affordable accommodation – and it has amazing luxury. You’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for.

BACKPACKER

If you’re looking for a budget option, I would suggest the Post Hostel which is modern and friendly.

BUDGET

For something good value and a bit local, Family Lorenz & Coffee House is a great place.

BOUTIQUE

For a cool and stylish option, you should try Design Hotel Jewel Prague.

LUXURY

And if you want to splurge for somewhere really cool, have a look at the BoHo Prague Hotel.

38 thoughts on “Hiking near Prague”

  1. Unbelievable photos. After seeing some of those hikes and how affordable it was (thanks for including the price), it really makes me want to add the Czech Republic to the bucket list. Such an overlooked Europe destination!

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    • I kind of think it is overlooked too! Prague is busy but even places like this a short distance away are not that busy. Then if you go even further afield, there’s some incredible stuff with hardly anyone around!

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  2. What beautiful shots. My family and I were in Prague last summer and would have loved to visit the Karlstejn Castle area and Velka Amerika Quarry. Prague had never been a city at the top of my “places to see” list but this trip made it clear just how wrong I was. I have never experienced such a perfect city with so much to do in and around it. We did some hiking in Cesky Krumlov, Prachovske Skaly and explored Petrin Park. I will definitely back and make sure I don’t miss these places. Thanks for the awesome information.

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    • I was just like you – I had never thought too much about Prague but I absolutely loved it when I finally went. I was also so impressed with things nearby (either day trips or overnight trips). Karlstejn was one of them and I’m so glad I did it. But there are heaps more – and one day hopefully I’ll get back there to try some of them too!

      Reply
  3. This is great! I’m on a bus right now to Prague and we are totally wanting to do some hiking this week – we are pretty European citied out. Is this hike suitable for pets? Our friends have a dog who loves to adventure!

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    • Hi Kayley – this is a great hike to do for the day. You’ll be fine to take a dog along. I don’t think it’ll be allowed into the castle grounds (not sure, though) but there’s no problems on all the other trails I’ve mentioned. You may need to check about a leash – there could be some areas where it’s needed – but I am not sure about those exact details. Enjoy!!

      Reply
  4. This hike looks great and I’ve put it on my list! We are going to Prague next month and was wondering how well marked the trail is? When you say it begins north of the castle is there a sign? I would really appreciate more detailed info if you have time to post. Thanks for this great idea!

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    • The start of the trail is very well-marked. It is a clear deviation from the main path that leads up to the mountain. Also, even if you happen to miss it, just find a way to head in the right direction and you’ll easily find it.
      As you go further along the trail I’ve suggested, there are signs and markings – but it’s not one continuous path. I have spliced bits of a few official paths together. So I would suggest having a copy of the map (online or offline) to make sure you take the right turns. Or just make your own route, like I did! 🙂

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  5. Hey, visiting Prague at the end of August and I’m so looking forward to it after reading this blog post. I have researched a bit online and the walking tour to karlstejn castle is actually a bit expensive. Would you suggest us getting a map and trekking all the way ourselves from Prague then paying for the castle tour?

    Reply
    • Hi Maria. I didn’t do the walk all the way to Karlstejn from Prague. That is about 30 kilometres so would take a whole day. What I did was get the train to Karlstejn and then go on a day walk in the surrounding area then got the train back to Prague at the end.
      Having said that, walking trails in the Czech Republic are generally well marked. If you do want to walk the whole way, just make sure you’ve got a GPS-enabled phone with a map loaded up and you should be fine. You may want to stay the night and save the castle tour until the next day (I imagine you’ll be tired after 30kms of walking!).

      Reply
  6. Thank you for sharing this wonderful hiking route. I am going to Prague on the end of September. This article is so useful and has much details. I’d love to try it asap. Best regards.

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  7. Thank you so much, I have been traveling for 2 weeks and the city/churches with old buildings are beautiful but I am ready for something new. As someone that loves nature I am so excited to do this hike when I get to Prague.

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    • I know exactly what you mean! I was really impressed with the historic buildings in the Czech Republic but I think I enjoyed getting amongst the nature even more. It’s a surprisingly beautiful country!!

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  8. Hi, I was just wondering if this trail is still open during the winter months? I’m planning for a visit in January and am not sure if it will be safe to hike during that time?

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  9. How long is the walk and how many miles , is there public transport that you can catch back into Prague if we only wanted to do half the walk

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  10. I’m going to Prague in three weeks for 8 days and would appreciate your opinion on whether hiking in Karlstejn is better than Cetky. Thanks.

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    • Hi Nancy. Do you mean would it be better to spend a day hiking around Karlstejn than going to Cesky Krumlov?
      I don’t think you should miss Cesky Krumlov. If that’s the choice you’re facing, definitely head down there – it’s more than possible as a day trip (but it’s a relatively long journey each direction).
      The nice thing about the Karlstejn hike is that it gets you out into the beautiful nature if you’re spending the rest of your time in cities. You could even go out for just half a day and do a shorter walk that loops you back to the train station you arrived at. You should have time for that if you’ll be in Prague for the whole 8 days.

      Reply
  11. Hey, great post and photos! I’m from Prague and did this hike so many times when I was younger, we even climbed down to Velka Amerika couple of times for a swim! I don’t live in Czech republic anymore and this post brought back some great memories! Thank you for that.

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    • We intend to get the train to Karlestein and then continue the walk to beroun but need to know the distance in miles to see if we can do the whole walk

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      • Hi Helen. The route that I have marked on the map is 20 kilometres long. It’s designed to take most of the day. There are lots of opportunities to make changes to that exact route, though, that could shorten the distance. Or you could loop back to Karlstejn, if you prefer.

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  12. about how many hours does the hike take total, if we are in abit of a rush ( we won’t dilly dally or take too many photos)?

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    • I am not 100% sure but I don’t think you can swim there. I certainly have never heard of people swimming there – and I would suspect that it is considered a bit too dangerous. I have read that it’s illegal to go down into the quarry (but that wasn’t from an official source, so I can’t be certain about the rules). Sorry.

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  13. I love this walk, having “discovered” it by myself about 10 years ago. I think it’s worth noting that I’ve never gone further than Svaty Jan, you can get the bus back to Prague there, it doesn’t run frequently but you can see it pull up from the restaurant so it’s not a bad wait.

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  14. Thanks for this idea! My friend and I decided to follow the website’s directions and had a good day. I have some suggestions and information for the traveller that takes this journey:
    1) We went yesterday, during November. Many of the dirt trails were muddy- so wear boots or shoes and clothes that can get dirty. This also gave our older friend some issues when traversing slippery hills and the such.
    2) Tips / updates on the trail to the Quarries: We started, as suggested, at Karlstejn Castle, and took the path from the castle down into the valley. We then walked along the road for about 15 minutes before veering off to the right along the forest. Here, we could only walk about .75 mile on the path before cutting back towards the road- (there was a wire blocking off the path). When we got to the small town of Morina, instead of going up through the town and then to the left, we turned left at the road sign. This took us to the west end of the Mexiko Quarry, missing the Velka Quarry completely. I would suggest going to the east side of Velka Quarry first to avoid backtracking (and navigating the active quarry). You can look on google maps and see what I mean.
    3) It is not described on this site how long the trek takes. My friend and I started from the Karlstejn train station at 10:30, and got to Beroun at 5:20 after making some stops along the way. My apple watch said we talked 12 miles and climbed 60 floors. We also avoided the Svatý Jan pod Skalou stop because the sun set around 430 and we didnt bring headlamps. All and all, I would say that yes this is a whole day trip, even without stopping at Svatý Jan pod Skalou (which is kind of out of the way from Beroun.
    4) Don’t be afraid of the seemingly abandoned roads! The path my friend and I took was following google maps’ walking directions from Velka Amerika to Beroun, and walked through the forest on roads that were just covered with leaves and we didn’t see anyone. We felt safe, but It wasnt as much of a trail, more of a road.
    5) the last 3 miles to Beroun were mostly highway with no sidewalk. The walk was very nice and we were not dissapointed, but there was not a trail (that we could see), so we just walked along the road to Beroun.
    6) the town of Beroun after dark was kind of dead… we didnt find many restaurants that were open or in the main centre.. I would recommend just grabbing some fast food before heading back to Prague where there are many options for food and drinks.

    All in all- Leave yourself the day, pack a lunch, wear good shoes and a warm coat and have an adventure! Everything was worth seeing and this felt like such a unique experience.

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  15. Thanks for creating this page and sharing all the information about this beautiful hiking route near Karlstejn. I am planning to go there next week but would like to ask if it is possible to pitch my camp in the forest or would you rather recommend an affordable place to stay in Svatý Jan pod Skalou, Beroun or Karlstejn?

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  16. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for sharing this path! I just moved to Prague last week and this was my first hike in the country. It was a wonderful experience!
    Unfortunately due to Coronavirus the castle and the church was both closed but their look from outside and view on the quarry and along the whole way were amazing!
    According to my phone the tour took around 18km with +600m elevation and same descent from Karlstejn station to Beroun-Závodí station. (Though for future hikers I would recommend going directly to Beroun station, so they won’t have to change the train and could go directly to Prague)
    Thanks again,
    Samuel

    Reply

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