The Czech Republic is a very popular tourist destination, and Prague especially since it is the main hub of the country. It appeals the most to young people who want to experience that wild Czech nightlife, but also to architecture lovers who can’t get enough of the Gothic buildings and church towers.
And it’s a great city to spend a week in. The people are friendly, the beer is delicious and there is food literally everywhere. My Prague story includes going to a club located inside of an old church, and that was probably one of the tamer clubs there. But it also includes visiting some nearby cities and going to the countryside, and that is exactly what we will be talking about today.
So yes, it’s awesome to spend a week in Prague, but it’s even better to wake up there, grab a coffee at Starbucks and hit the road. The entire Czech Republic has so much stunning places you should visit that it’s so worth it to give up the partying. After all, would you rather be at the club or inside a castle?
So, today we will check out some of the best day (road) trips from Prague and back, and they will include a lot of castles and Gothic buildings. Brush up on your history of the (Late) Middle Ages, and come join me on this epic ride!
Here is an overview of the places in the Czech Republic that you could easily do a day trip to.
Prague Day Trip Options
So, the logical first question is how am I going to travel from one place to another? What are my best options? And I have all the answers!
Car Rental: I’m one of those people that will drive everywhere – 800 kilometers in a day? No problem, just give me a gallon of coffee! Jokes aside, your best option is to rent a car if you want to have full autonomy of your trips. You can go whenever you want, you can drive back whenever you want, and if you want to spend a night somewhere, nobody can stop you.
The good thing about car rental in Czechia is that it isn’t expensive. If it’s just you or one more person, you can rent a small car for about 90EUR –and that’s for the entire week. And you will also save a lot of time, especially when travelling to places that are not as urban as Prague.
Trains: You can get everywhere via train. Tickets aren’t too expensive – they are cheaper than bus tickets, but when you add them all together it’s still cheaper to rent a car. They range from 4EUR to go to Karlštejn, to 37EUR for a trip to Dresden.
You can see the prices for yourself and book tickets online at the official website of Czech transport.
Busses: You can also go everywhere via bus. The tickets are more expensive then train tickets, and the rides aren’t much shorter. And you would have to switch between busses a lot, which means you’ll also lose time. A trip that you can complete in 45 minutes with your own car can easily last as long as three hours if you go by bus.
Visit the official website of Czech transport (click the link above) or of Prague transport to see all the timetables and ticket prices.
Timezone: The Czech Republic is the CEST (Central European Summer Time) timezone. That means that it is just one hour ahead of the United Kingdom, and about 6 hours ahead of EST in the USA.
Currency: The official currency of the country is Czech koruna/Czech Crown (CZK). Some hotels and shops will accept Euros, but many only accept Korunas.
1USD = 21.87CZK
1EUR = 25.7CZK
1GBP = 29.14
1CHF = 22.13
Exchange rates as of June 13, according to xecurrency.com.
Language: The official language in the country is Czech. It’s a Slavic language, and speakers of other Slavic languages could understand most of it. Also, there are a lot of expats in the Czech Republic from other European countries, and especially in Prague. So, chances are that you will easily encounter someone speaking your native language in the city – if you are from somewhere in Europe.
A lot of people in Prague speak English, especially at shops and restaurants. However, the farther you are from the urban areas, the less people speak it. In my personal experience, not even the hotel staff spoke English, and it was pretty hard to communicate with them. My advice is to charge up your phone and have your Google Assistant (or Google Translate) ready.
Visa: The Czech Republic is a member of the EU and of the Schengen Area. People from other EU countries and from the US don’t need a visa, and you can see the entire list of countries that require the Schengen visa online.
Credit Card Acceptance: Credit cards are widely accepted in the Czech Republic.
Electricity: 230V, with round type C plug outlets like the rest of Europe. If you are travelling from the US, bring an adapter.
Our first trip is to a beautiful spa town west of Prague. Get up, load up on coffee, and hop in your car or get to the bus/train stop. Whichever mode of transport you choose, the ride will be about 2 hours long – give or take 20 minutes.
Karlovy Vary is famous for its thermal springs, which attract people from all over Europe. The word on the street is that the water from these thermal springs is incredibly healthy and can even cure illnesses! If you want to test that theory, bring along a bottle of water – you can refill as many as you want. Just know that the water temperatures are above 35 degrees Celsius, and it’s not really pleasant to drink.
Karlovy Vary Highlights:
But where do you start? Let’s start with the Mary Magdalene Church, and make your way to the art galleries and spas from there. The 18th century Catholic church is a stunning sight, especially for lovers of Baroque architecture. Even if you are more about exploring than admiring, the church has something to offer. You can roam around the crypt, and see the Altar of the Holy Sepulchre, a unique funeral chapel and a few other things.
When you exit the church, you will find the Hot Spring Colonnade just opposite it. Go there and check out some of the hot springs inside – after all, this is the most popular hot spring in Karlovy Vary. I’ve been there, the inside of the building is stunning, and definitely worth checking out. Doesn’t seeing a 12m tall geyser sound amazing to you? Walk around the building until you get bored or grab all the hot water you need, and then we will go to the Castle Colonnade.
The Castle Colonnade building was originally built in the Art Nouveau style, all the way back in the 1910s. It was converted to a spa recently, and since it’s not open to general public, we are just passing by it. But it’s definitely worth it to just stop by and take a photo, since the building is incredibly stunning.
From here, we are going just down the Zámecký vrch street, and to the Wax Museum. While it might not be Madame Tussauds, it is still an incredibly popular museum of wax figures. You can see figures of some famous people, royal families and notable visitors to Karlovy Vary there and be sure to take photos! From the museum, you are going just down the Petra Velikého street, and to the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral – the most popular church in Karlovy Vary.
The giant Byzantine building was built in the late 19th century. It boasts five gold-pleated cupolas, along with an abundance of wall murals and figures inside. The sight of the building is mesmerising, and you could spend hours inside and still not feel like you’ve taken it all in. It’s truly the perfect place to end our road trip to Karlovy Vary, especially since it’s so close to some really good restaurants.
So stay at the church as much as you like, and then walk across the street to one of the awesome restaurants. Refuel your energy for the trip back to Prague and get a good night’s sleep because day trip two awaits!
The West Bohemian Region of the country is home to this lovely town. The most popular tourist attraction there by far is the Český Krumlov Castle. The castle itself is exceptionally large, with tons of different tourist attractions inside it, so we are going to be there for the better part of the day.
Inside the castle grounds you will find a large rococo garden, a big bridge and a few breweries – among other things. The castle is also home to a 17th century theatre, one of the few that still retain its original machinery. Because the theatre is so old and difficult to maintain, it is open to public only twice a year, when a Baroque opera is performed.
I could tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil everything – it will be more impactful if you experience the place for yourself. But don’t spend too much time at the castle, we still have the rest of Český Krumlov to explore!
Český Krumlov Highlights:
Most of the popular tourist attractions are very close to the castle, so we’ll go from there. When you are done exploring it, get out of the castle on the side where the Castle Tower is, in the IInd courtyard. From there, we are going to the St. Jost Church. The exterior of this building had to be restored multiple times, but traces of its original Gothic style are still visible. The fun thing about this building is that it doesn’t function as a church today. Instead, it is the home of some clothing shops, restaurants, the Marionette Museum and a few other places. Definitely stop by the museum before leaving the building, it will totally be worth your time.
From there, we are going over the Barber’s Bridge, which is another popular sight in Český Krumlov, and into the more urban area of this perfectly preserved Medieval town. This part of the city is almost like a tiny peninsula, since 3/4 of it are surrounded by the Vltava river. And there are so many different places to visit there, so it’s time to grab another coffee (or beer) and walk a little faster. Also, this area isn’t too large, and you can easily walk from one end to another in less than 10 minutes.
So where do you go first? Well, if you went over the Barber’s Bridge, the closest attractions to you are the Museum of Commerce and the Museum of Torture. The latter sounds really fun to me, so I would advise you to definitely visit it. From there, you can go to a number of different places, and the ones that I would choose are Zrcadlový labyrint – a huge maze built from mirrors -, the Egon Schiele Art Centrum – a modern art gallery situated in a 16th century brewery -, and the Regional Museum. But before that last one I would stop by the Seminární zahrada park, which offers some stunning panoramic views of the castle but that is because I truly love to take photos. So, if you like photography, definitely stop by the park – you will not be disappointed.
Yes, you read that right – we are going to Germany! It’s about a two hour ride from Prague to Dresden, whether you are going by bus or driving. Also, the bus to Dresden leaves from the main bus station in Prague (Praha Florenc), so it should be fairly easy to find it and get a ticket. And bring your passport just in case. You normally wouldn’t need it because both countries are members of the Schengen Area, but the migrant crisis in Europe is still going on, and there are some random passport checks.
Anyway be sure to get on the road early, so you can really make the most out of your day in Dresden. It is a very large city, and there are so many interesting things to do and see there, but I’m only going to tell you about the top ones.
Most of these places are located in Dresden Altstadt (Old Town), and I’m going to focus on that area. I think that, if you only have one day, it is better to explore one area thoroughly, than to run from one part of the town to another and lose hours in transport.
From the Dresden bus stop in the New Town, it’s a 15 minute bus ride or a 20 minute walk to the Augustus Bridge. Make your way there so that our tour of the Altstadt can begin! The first place there we are going to is the Katholische Hofkirche (Dresden Cathedral). It was built by an Italian architect in the 18th century, but it had to be restored after the bombing of Dresden in WWII. The Cathedral is a stunning building, and definitely one of the most beautiful sights in Dresden. Among other things, you can explore the Rococo Permoser pulpit, Silbermann organ and the Meng altarpiece there.
Right next to the Cathedral is the Dresden Castle, and that is our next stop. The castle is the home to several different attractions, the first of which is the Georgenbau – the gate through which you enter it. You will also find the Turkish Chamber there, the Old and New Green Vault, the Dresden Armory and plenty of other galleries and museums. Really, you could spend half your day just walking around the castle and seeing everything it holds, and you still wouldn’t see everything. Just remember that you have to get tickets to enter the castle, but you can buy them online.
After the castle, we are going to Zwinger; an enormous building that boasts several beautiful gardens and art galleries. It’s just across the street from the Dresden Castle, and you literally can’t miss it. And if you are tired from walking around the castle, you know what that means – time for coffee! Luckily there is a Cafe/Restaurant within the Zwinger, so make it your first stop. Unless you feel just fine, then walk straight to the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Art Gallery), which houses paintings by some of the most renowned painters, including Vermeer, Raphael and Correggio. From there you can go to the Porzellansammlung and see the porcelain collection displayed at the Zwinger. Or if you don’t care that much for porcelain, you can check out the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon; the 18th century museum which is home to thousands of clocks and several historic scientific instruments.
Now, do you see why I wanted to focus on the Old Town? And this isn’t even half of it, so definitely plan to return to Dresden at some point, if you really want to explore the city. For now, we are heading back to Prague.
The distance from Prague to Kutná Hora is 70-80 kilometers. A bus ride is about 2 and a half hours long, and it’s much faster to drive there yourself – you’ll arrive there an hour earlier. Another reason to drive there is to avoid paying bus fares when getting around Kutná Hora, since we will be covering a larger area this day.
Tip: Take the train from Prague to Kutná Hora, not the bus. It’s much faster, and not to mention cheaper.
Our day in this town begins in the Sedlec suburb and ends in the Vnitřní Město (Inner City), so plan on riding the town bus if you choose to go to Kutná Hora by train or bus. Or if you don’t mind walking, it’s about a 30 minute walk between the two areas, which isn’t that bad.
Kutná Hora Highlights:
So, we start at Sedlec, and our first stop is the Sedlec Ossuary. It’s a small gothic chapel, but its design is really something. The inside of it is decorated with human bones! So, if a bone chandelier or garlands made of human skulls sound fun to you, you are going to love this place. In very close proximity to the Bone Church is the Phillip Morris Tobacco Museum (Muzeum tabáku). Naturally, not all of you will find that to be an interesting attraction, so go there if you want to. It’s not a must see, but it would certainly be fascinating to see how cigarette packs looked decades and centuries ago.
But if you don’t feel like paying a tribute to the tobacco kings, then head over to the Church of Assumption – it’s right next to the museum. And even if you went to the museum, stop by the Cathedral – it will be more than worth your time. The building dates back to the 13th century and it doesn’t look too interesting from the outside, since it was rebuilt many times. But oh on the inside… For one thing it is huge, it is also adorned with frescas and features a giant spiral staircase. Definitely take your time there, before you hop on a bus (or walk) to the Inner Town.
This area of Kutná Hora is much larger than Sedlec and there are a lot more interesting attractions here. Depending on how much time you have left in this city, plan to at least check out the Italian Court (a coin minting museum), the Bohemian Museum of Silver, the Three Kings House and the Jesuit College. And at the end of the day, also visit St. Barbara’s Church. Not only is it stunning on the outside, but even more so on the inside. I think the fact that this church is one of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture in central Europe speaks for itself.
There are some 50 kilometers between Prague and Konopiště, so you can make it there in less than an hour. Generally, the train ride is about 40 minutes long, and so is the drive there. This is also our shortest day trip, with pretty much just a few things to see. So, you can sleep in and even walk around Prague a little, if you hadn’t had the chance before. I would set aside some 7-8 hours for this day trip, including the travelling time.
So, what’s so special about this place? Only that the Konopiste Castle was once the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The building is huge; it has three storeys and four different wings, one of which houses a modern restaurant. You can check out the residential rooms inside the castle, where the Archduke used to sleep, eat, read and whatnot. But you also get to see a large collection of antlers – he was a hunter, after all. Additionally, the Obizzi-Este collection (third largest European collection of medieval weapons and armoury) is also in the castle, as well as a shooting hall that features moving targets. The Archduke sure did know how to live life!
And can you guess what else Ferdinand built within the castle? A brewery! How very Czech of him. :>
Outside the castle you will see the Rose Garden and the Botanical Conservatory. They are very close to each other, and they are both stunning sights. The Rose Garden in particular photographs incredibly well, and just imagine all the beautiful photos you could take! These gardens are also home to several greenhouses, as well as some Italian Renaissance Sculptures.
From here, you can make your way to the Konopiste Amphitheatre. It’s to the right of the castle and the gardens, and you can’t really miss it – just walk along the path that goes alongside the lake. There’s not a lot going on there, but it is a worthwhile sight. And do you know what would make this short, laid back day trip even better? If you bring along some lunch, a few beers (not if you’re driving!) and just have a picnic in the nature – works best if you are not alone. It might sound boring, but I would rather call it peaceful, which is a welcome change from the urban jungle that Prague is. And an awesome way to recharge your batteries before going back to that jungle.
Before I begin to tell you about this gorgeous gem of the Czech Republic, let me tell you about getting there. Bohemian Switzerland is right next to the border with Germany, and it’s just few hours away from Prague. You can take the bus or the train there, and you can also drive if you choose to. There is a little over 120 kilometers from Prague to this National Park, and the trip shouldn’t last longer than two and a half hours.
Tip: Bohemian Switzerland is very close to Dresden – about an hour away. If you are interested in visiting both the national park and German city, I would advise you to go to Dresden and spend the night there. That way you can see even more of it, and maybe even make it to the Neustadt. The next day you can start travelling back to Prague, and stop in Bohemian Switzerland.
One more thing to note is that this national park is very large, and there are so many different attractions there. Ruins, castles, towers, fishing spots, hiking trails – you name it, Bohemian Switzerland has it. And with so many places to check out, you definitely need to get an early start!
Bohemian Switzerland National Park Highlights:
Since we are talking about a large area with waaaay to many different spots to check out, I don’t think I should guide you through everything. I’ll tell you what I think you’ll find the most interesting, but the best way to explore Bohemian Switzerland is to just walk around and stumble upon things. Besides, not all of you will want to go check out yet another Czech castle, but would rather enjoy spending a day hiking through some stunning nature for a change.
But if I were you, I would definitely go check out Mariina skála. It’s a rocky hill that offers some stunning views of the nature below it. And also getting there is going to be one hell of a workout, since the lookout is about 430 meters above sea level. Basically, it’s a moderately difficult hike with an amazing prize once you reach the end!
Next, I would also check out the Prebischtor Gate and the Falcon’s Nest right next to it. The Prebischtor (Pravčická brána) is actually a rock formation of so large dimensions that it’s the largest natural sandstone arch in the entire Europe! Even though you can’t climb directly onto the Gate, it’s still worth visiting and seeing with your own eyes. And taking lots and lots of photos of it and the stunning nature that surrounds it. As for the Falcon’s Nest, it’s a hotel that was built way back in the 19th century. It’s out of commission today, and it actually houses a restaurant – good to know if you get hungry from all the (uphill) hiking.
That’s about all the places I will suggest you visit, because you really should try to make this experience as personal as possible. I always feel that, when visiting national parks or ethnic villages, the best thing to do is just walk towards things that seem beautiful to you. That way you can really feel happy at the end of the day, and you (probably) won’t feel so bad for having to return to Prague.
Our last, but definitely not the least, day trip from Prague is to the Terezin Concentration Camp (Theresienstadt concentration camp). I mean, how often do you get the chance to see the remains of such an important piece of history?
Terezin is just 70 kilometers north of Prague, and the ride there shouldn’t last longer than an hour. My advice for this trip would be to have a good breakfast and prepare yourself for an emotional day. And also purchase tickets on time – this is one of the most popular day trips from Prague, and tickets sell out very fast. By the way, you will get a free tour of the Camp along with your ticket, so I won’t tell you where to go right or left. Just follow your guide, and let them tell you the story of this landmark. Oh and one more thing – some of the guides are actually Terezin Camp survivors, which is incredibly inspiring and brings a little light into the darkness that the place is.
The first thing you need to know about Terezin Concentration Camp is that it wasn’t an execution camp. Instead, it was used by the Nazis as a transit camp, where they would hold Jewish people headed to Auschwitz or other execution camps. However, over 30,000 people died here, due to neglect and just horrible living conditions.
Terezin was established by the head of the SS, Reinhard Heydrich, in late 1941 but it has been preserved incredibly well – so well that the barracks inside the Minor Fortress still feature the original beds. The entrance to the Small Fortress in the Camp is just past the national cemetery – look for the giant star of David. Inside the Fortress you will get to see the joint shower room, prisoners’ cells, three out of the four courtyards and the remains of the ‘hospital’.
From there, you will be lead to the Large Fortress, which houses the main tourist attraction of the camp – the Ghetto Museum. This museum has a permanent exhibition, which exemplifies the living conditions Jews in the Terezin Ghetto experienced. But don’t worry – even though it is an emotional exhibition, it is also a testament to the courage of the people who were held there, so it is not entirely depressing. It’s truly something you should experience for yourself because words can’t even begin to describe what you will feel once you step inside it.
The museum building was originally a dormitory for young boys, and images painted by them are the most stunning pieces of the exhibition. Not because of their beauty, but because of the impact they have and the history that they hold.
I don’t want to end this on a depressing note, so how about after the emotionally exhaustive tour of the Camp, you head to the Terezin Automuzeum? It features over a hundred cars from the 20th century, most of which are from the Eastern Bloc countries, but with a few western gems as well. The Automuzeum also has a cafe/restaurant inside it – the perfect spot to recharge your batteries and refill your stomach before you head back to Prague and then home.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!