10 Best Day Trips from Prague

Best Day trips from Prague

Over 20 million visitors a year fall in love with the enchanting capital city of the Czech Republic, and boy, can’t you tell. To get the most from your visitor experience, combining city sightseeing with day trips from Prague allows you to learn more about the country’s varied architecture and culture away from the busier tourist areas.

Touring or exploring by hire car allows you to come or go as you please and link your day trip from Prague to your existing itinerary. Especially if you are used to driving on foreign roads through different European countries.

However, organised day trips from Prague also have a lot going for them. You can relax and read up on your destination during the journey. And you will have a professional guide (usually English-speaking) who knows all the major places of interest and the history behind them.

Like so many of these old east European cities, Prague has had to endure more than its share of upset, right up to the late 20th century. 

To get a more balanced and enlightened view of the modern Czech’s day-to-day life away from the city centre, take a look at our list of the 10 best day trips from Prague.

The Best Day trips from Prague

1. Karlovy Vary, Czechia’s famous medicinal spa town

Best Day trips from Prague

A two-hour drive from Prague, Karlovy Vary lies in Bohemia, in the west of Czechia, and is an internationally known spa resort that attracts A-listers from around the world to enjoy the therapeutic properties of its numerous hot springs. Many of which operate medical and wellness programmes.

The town has over 80 hot springs, more than anywhere else, with temperatures ranging from 30C to over 70C. Be sure to take your bathing costume and towels.

Although dating back to the 14th century, most of Karlovy Vary’s architecture is from the Renaissance period and later, specifically the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1918 it became a part of the Czechoslovak State until 1938 when it was incorporated into Nazi Germany. After the war, in 1948, it reverted to being a part of communist Czechoslovakia, until the communist collapse of 1989.

For those looking for a complete Spa Day, spa places of interest include:

  • The Market Colonnade, Swiss Chalet style, opened in 1883
  • The Mill Colonnade, Neoclassical style opened in 1881
  • The Castle Colonnade, Art Nouveau style opened in 1912
  • The Park Colonnade, Swiss Chalet style, opened in 1881
  • The Hot Spring Colonnade, the largest and opened in 1975

If photography and panoramic views are your forte, there are several excellent viewpoints you can take in:

  • Diana Observation Tower, at 562 metres above sea level, is easy to access and close to the town centre
  • The Castle Tower. Close to the Market Colonnade, the tower is all that remains of the castle built in the 14th century by Charles IV. A climb to the top rewards with excellent views of the main town area
  • Goethe’s Lookout, an attractive Neo-Gothic style tower that sits a mile out of town, on the top of a hill named Height of Eternal Life. Around 2,000 ft in total above sea level, the tower was opened in 1889 and provides excellent views of the surrounding countryside

If you feel events and fiestas give you the best insight into a country’s customs and culture, a number are held annually in Karlovy Vary.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is held every year in July and is highly popular. Attracting film buffs and stars from across Europe.

The official Opening of the Spa Season is held annually on the last weekend of April or the first weekend in May.

The Dvořák’s Karlovy Vary musical Autumn Festival was first held in 1959 and has been held every year since. Full details of the latest programme can be found online at the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra’s website.

With plenty of cafes, coffee shops, bars and restaurants around the town centre, you can be as active or laid-back as you like on your day trip from Prague.

2. Terezin Concentration Camp, a bleak history of a dark past

Terezin Concentration Camp, a bleak history of a dark past

Just an hour’s drive from Prague, Terezin was originally built as a large, fortified garrison town by Austrian Emperor Josef II. 

Building began in 1780 and was completed in 1784 to defend Austria against the Prussians. Although no conflict ever reached the town.

Converted to a holiday resort for Czech nobility, maybe Terezin’s grim history was preordained years before the horrendous times of the 1940s. 

During the first World War, it was used as a prison for political prisoners and others. Then, during the Second World War, in November 1941, it was turned into a concentration camp and ghetto.

Over 150,000 German and Czechoslovakian Jews, political prisoners and dissidents, including 15,000 children, were detained in the ghetto during this time, before being moved to extermination camps such as Auschwitz.

It is documented that 33,000 died from maltreatment, disease and malnutrition in the ghetto. Of the remaining 117,000 moved to the death camps, only 17,247 survived, including, out of the 15,000, just 132 children.

During the tour, you will see the original accommodation, where 60 to 90 men were crammed into a space little bigger than a garden shed with one toilet and one sink. 

The courtyards used for torture, the women’s living quarters and work areas, and the thousands of plaques dedicated to those who perished.

Although a humbling, harrowing experience, it is also very thought-provoking, and a day trip from Prague you’ll be glad you took.

3. Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO world heritage site well worth the journey

Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO world heritage site well worth the journey

The second most popular visitor destination after Prague, Cesky Krumlov lies in southern Bohemia, around three hours travelling time from the capital. 

Famous for its fairyland architecture and historic roads and alleys, the whole town was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992. The town dates from the 13th century, and straddles the River Vltava. The architecture comprises Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles

With its red terra cotta roofs, white buildings, winding roads, and alleys, it’s difficult to tell when you are leaving the old town area and moving into ‘modern’ Cesky Krumlov.

Český Krumlov Castle is probably the town’s biggest attraction and dates to the 13th century, although it was substantially rebuilt in Renaissance style in the 16th century. Further work in the 17th century accounts for its Baroque element.

The castle today is state-owned and is, with its 30-acre gardens, the second largest castle complex in Czechia after Prague Castle. 

Next door to the fortress, you will find the Latrán Quarter. Another old historic area with numerous Gothic and Renaissance buildings, narrow streets and ancient alleys to be explored.

Other places of interest around town include The Church of St. Vitus, built in Gothic style in the 15th century.

Unity Square (Náměstí Svornosti) is the inner town’s main square, with its beautiful 16th-century Town Hall and a Marian plague column. Many of these plague columns were erected across Czechia and beyond, in homage to having survived the various plagues.

The square is an attractive place to rest, enjoy a coffee or local beer, and do a little people-watching.

Those who like galleries should pay a visit to The Egon Schiele Art Centrum in the town, with its permanent exhibition of works by modernist Austrian artist Egon Schiele.

If time allows, consider lunch or an early dinner. Cesky Krumlov is fast developing a reputation among visiting gourmets for excellent Czech cuisine and superb craft beers brewed in the town’s local breweries.

4. Scenic Kutna Hora and its Chapel of Bones one of the best day trips from Prague

Scenic Kutna Hora and its Chapel of Bones

Kutna Hora is a small town sitting east of the city and a great place to visit on a day trip from Prague. Travelling time by road is around 90 minutes

During the Middle Ages, the surrounding area was riddled with silver mines, producing over 30% of Europe’s silver.

Today however, what makes this pretty Czechian town one of the most popular day trips from Prague is its magnificent architecture – and famous (infamous?) Chapel of Bones.

The Sedlec Ossuary (Chapel of Bones) is a small church elaborately decorated using the bones of nearly 70,000 people thought to have perished in the area when the Black Death swept across Europe.

Inside, you will find chandeliers, garlands and even a coat-of-arms, all made using human bones and skulls.

Still in the Sedlec area and close to the Chapel of Bones, you can tour the beautiful Cathedral of our Lady at Sedlec, made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

After exploring the chapel and cathedral, make your way into the old town area of Kutná Hora and more magnificent religious architecture.

The Gothic Church of Saint Barbara is frequently highlighted on postcards. Although construction began in the 14th century, it took 600 years before the building was completed. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of miners from when silver mines littered the surrounding countryside.

The church is open daily and can be found on 1 Jakubská Street, close to the town centre.

Other places of interest around town include:

  • The Baroque style Jesuit College, completed in the late S.XVII
  • The Italian Court, a castle located on Havlíčkovo Square in the town and now a museum
  • The Stone Fountain, built in Gothic style in the late S.XV and located on Rejskovo Square
  • Hrádek, a one-time small palace, is now the Czech Museum of Silver, and located at 9 Barborská Street in the town centre
  • The Stone House, a 15th-century Gothic structure on Václavské náměstí 183/26 and also a part of the Czech Museum of Silver

Add to that the photographic opportunities from the various vantage points around town, the numerous quaint cafes, coffee shops and restaurants where you can rest awhile, and you have all the ingredients needed to make up a satisfying day trip from Prague.

5. Pilsen and Nizbor, two interesting day trips from Prague in one

 Pilsen and Nizbor, two interesting day trips from Prague in one

The town of Pilsen, located in West Bohemia, first developed its pilsner lager nearly two centuries ago, while Nizbor, sitting on the River Berounka and close to Prague, has been producing high-quality glass products for over 150 years.

Many tour organisers regularly pair up these two popular day trips from Prague. Depending on who you book with, you could visit the brewery first and glassworks second, or vice-versa.

At the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, you can enjoy a guided tour through the museum, taking you back hundreds of years to the early days of pilsner brewing in old oak vats. 

Then, finally, arriving at the modern bottling plant – and a complimentary bottle or two of this famous pilsner.

At the Nizbor Glassworks, you will learn the secrets of glass production and glass blowing handed down over 150 years. 

You can watch glass products being made, and learn the secrets of glass blowing to produce those fabulous crystal glasses. And how to tell if your glass goblets are crystal – or mere glass.

Most trips include a light lunch between visits, making an excellent day trip from Prague for the whole family.

6. Karlstejn Castle, on a hillside location guarding the town of Karlstejn

Karlstejn Castle, on a hillside location guarding the town of Karlstejn

The town of Karlstejn lies an hour’s drive from the Czechia capital, and is a well-liked day trip from Prague for many visitors.

The first blocks were laid in 1348 by the Bohemian King Charles IV, and the castle was completed in 1365 with the consecration of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, located in the Great Tower.

For nearly 50 years, the castle was used to protect and store holy relics, royal treasures and even the crown jewels until 1420, when the Hussite religious civil war began, and the treasures were removed.

On a tour of the castle, you will find a large original 14th-century wall decoration. In the Chapel of the Holy Cross, you can view over 120 works of art by Master Theodoric, the one-time court painter to Charles IV. 

There is also a large portrait gallery of the kings of Bohemia, a reproduction of the Crown of Bohemia and an ancient castle well.

After your tour of the castle, make your way to the town, and more interesting attractions. Most museums are converted houses, which is a novel idea in itself.

  • The Clock Museum: Located in house number 138 on the main street, the museum holds a collection of over 1000 clocks, some from as far afield as China, Japan and the US.
  • The Museum of Nativity Scenes: Found in house number 11, the exhibition is primarily a collection of cribs. Many are made of wood, but some are made from other materials, including wax and sugar.
  • The Wax Museum Karlštejn: Located in house number 173 close to the castle, this is a typical wax museum with some exciting waxworks, mainly from the Czech Republic. It is one of three branches, with one being in Prague.

Available tour: Karlstejn Castle: Skip-the-Line Ticket and Tour from Prague

7. Konopiště Castle and Kozel Brewery, another great 2 in 1 day trip from Prague

Konopiště Castle and Kozel Brewery, another great 2in1 day trip from Prague

Just under an hour’s travelling time from Prague, in central Bohemia, stands the impressive Konopiště Castle. 

It was the last home of the ill-fated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose assassination in 1914 triggered WW I.

The castle was initially founded in the late 13th century. Through the ensuing centuries it changed hands numerous times, either through purchase or war, and was extensively rebuilt, refurbished or extended by various owners.

Having been occupied, and sacked, by the Swedish army in 1648, it was bought privately in the early 1700s, and over the decades was converted into a magnificent Baroque style château.

Bought by Archduke Ferdinand in 1887, he had numerous repairs undertaken and declared the château a residence fit for a King.

The excellent tour includes the Archduke’s living quarters, a museum of armour and medieval weapons, the bullet used in his assassination, and the 500 acres of English-style gardens, terraces, fountains and statues. Even on its own, this is a very popular day trip from Prague.

After lunch, you head off to Kozel Brewery. One of the Czech Republic’s favourite beers, Kozel began brewing way back in 1874 and is famous for both its light and dark beers.

The tour takes in the old cellars, with a commentary of the Brewery’s history. Visit the Brewhouse and watch how the beer is made, and the production house where kegs are filled and tapped; and bottles filled.

You will also learn to properly pour a glass of beer, with a large foamy head to seal in the flavour to the last swallow. 

Finally, the tour ends with the usual alcohol tasting, to decide your preference for a light or dark beer. You also get to meet the brewery’s mascot, Olga, the goat.

8. Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park, a day – or three – for lovers of the great outdoors

Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park, a day – or three – for lovers of the great outdoors

The magnificent Bohemian Switzerland National Park is set in northwest Czechia, around 100 miles from Prague, and sits close to the Czech/German border.

It is over 30 square miles of magnificent Norway Spruce forests, deep valleys of Bog Pine, striking rock villages, twisting river gorges and high, rugged sandstone mountains, with shapes hewn by nature over millions of years.

If you are touring by hire car, enjoy hiking, and time isn’t an issue, you can make the most of this awe-inspiring national park by booking an extra couple of night’s lodgings in one of the park villages.

For the rest of us, there are numerous day trips from Prague using road or rail options and featuring different areas of the park. Whether travelling by coach or train, journey times tend to vary from 90 to 120 minutes from the city.

The following attractions in the park are worth mentioning due to their being excellent viewpoints above the forest canopy, or for historical or other reasons.

  • The Pravcicka Brana Gate: Europe’s largest natural rock bridge and one of the park’s favourite attractions. The sandstone bridge has an 85ft span, is 52ft high and 26ft wide.
  • Kamenice Gorge and Edmund’s Gorge: Two gorges with sheer towering cliff walls on either side. Organised boat trips through the canyons are available and a great way to get a feel of the enormity of nature.
  • Saunstejn Rock Castle: Just the ruins of a former 14th-century fortress, but the views across the treetops are fantastic.
  • Mary’s Rock: Another great viewpoint and close to Jetřichovice, one of the park’s pretty villages.
  • Belvedér Terrace: One of the oldest viewpoints in the park with views across the Elbe Canyon.
  • Bastei Bridge: Certainly near the top of the most visited list, it is on the German side of the park. The bridge is over 1000ft high and, if you’re brave enough to venture across, provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Tisa Rocks: Nearly 2000ft above sea level. A semi-circle of 100ft high sandstone pillars showing the awesome power of nature.

Whether you choose a one, two or three-day trip from Prague to Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park, the best time to visit is late spring to late September, although the park is open 12 months of the year.

9. Best Day trips from Prague: Olomouc, a historic city at the centre of Moravia

Olomouc, a historic city at the centre of Moravia

Considered the most important city in the historic Czech region of Moravia, Olomouc lies around 300 miles from Prague. By train, the journey time is around 2hrs 30mins. By road, on a coach day trip from Prague, about 3hrs.

The beginning of Olomouc was first mentioned in the 11th century, but it was two centuries later that it was officially founded, and quickly became a significant player in the region. Finally, in the Middle Ages, becoming one of Moravia’s capital cities.

Even today, Olomouc is considered second only to Prague as the most important city in Czechia

With its old town area, charming Baroque style architecture and a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list, it is growing in popularity with visitors wanting to avoid the crowds exploring Prague.

Some favourite sites to visit include the Baroque-style Holy Trinity Column. Another plague column giving thanks for those who survived the epidemic.

With a small chapel enclosed within the column, it stands 115ft high, is one of the finest columns in the country, and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Olomouc also has its astronomical clock. Fitted to the town hall in the 15th century, it was damaged during WW2, and repaired after the war socialist style – and not to everyone’s liking.

The city also has a distinct bias for fountains. There are 25 in total, with seven being highly ornate Baroque fountains decorating the squares and surrounding areas.

Numerous religious buildings are dotted around the city including, close to the square, the Church of St Maurice with its two towers.

The ruins of The Olomouc Castle complex can be found close to Wenceslas Square and includes the Romanesque Saint Wenceslas’ Cathedral and The Olomouc Archdiocesan Museum.

There is also a popular zoo on the edge of Olomouc at Svatý Kopeček that can be reached from the city centre on bus number 11 and, through the busy season, bus number 111.

10. Dresden, visit two countries in one day on a day trip from Prague

Dresden, visit two countries in one day on a day trip from Prague

Situated in eastern Germany, Dresden is 30 miles from the Czechia border and 90 miles in total from Prague. On a day trip from Prague by coach, travelling time is around 90 minutes, and the journey takes about the same time by train.

Founded in the early 13th century on the River Elbe’s north bank, this spectacular city was effectively destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945. After the war, the city was painstakingly rebuilt, and much of the architecture you see today, could have been standing a hundred years ago.

The Church of Frauenkirche, complete with its dome, once again stands proud against the skyline, castles glisten in the sunlight, and parks and gardens are awash with colour through the seasons.

Dresden’s Baroque architectural masterpiece of Frauenkirche Church was initially completed in 1743. Almost totally destroyed by the bombing of 1945, what was left was carefully stored, numbered and catalogued.

Its reconstruction began in 1994, after the reunification of Germany, and fully completed in 2005. Sitting on the Neumarkt Square, it is today one of the city’s most visited attractions.

Another of Dresden’s Baroque masterpieces is the Zwinger. A beautiful set of buildings built for Augustus II the Strong, to hold balls and splendid parties. Work, including the magnificent gardens, sculptures and fountains, was completed in the early 1700s.

Also in the Zwinger complex, you will find the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), with displays of Renaissance art from Flanders, Spain, Italy and Holland, and the magnificent state porcelain collection.

Another spectacular piece of architecture is the Semperoper, Dresden’s opera house located on the Theaterplatz close to the river, and opened in 1878. It is also home to the Semperoper Ballet.

Dresden Royal Palace ( Dresden Residenzschloss) was originally constructed as a Romanesque Keep around 1200. Throughout the centuries, many alterations, refurbishments and extensions were added to the castle, until it was hit numerous times by the Allied bombing of 1945.

Rebuilding began in the 1960s and was finally completed in 2013. Today the castle houses five museums, an art library holding 260,000 volumes of art history, and the Münzkabinett, a 300,000-piece state coin collection from around the world.

Alongside the Residenzschloss, you will find the facade of the Stallhof on Augustusstraße, a mural over 300 feet long and initially painted in the 1870s.

Another building badly damaged and rebuilt is the Dresden Cathedral on Schloßstraße 24. Originally a Catholic church, it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was granted cathedral status.

If you want a break from all the architecture, head for the Neustadt. Here you will find the interesting Courtyard of the Elements, the Courtyard of Lights and the Courtyard of Mythical Creatures.

With beautiful parks and gardens to relax in and plenty of local hostelries and restaurants to keep the energy levels up, your day trip will be full to overflowing.

Nonetheless, with so many excellent places to visit in Dresden, you may find yourself booking another day trip from Prague, to take in the things you missed.

Photo: Shutterstock

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