Because of Prague’s location, it’s often a city added to longer Central European itineraries, and while most of Prague’s main sights can be seen in a short period of time, there is more than enough to see and experience to fill the days of a longer trip. Many of the Czech Republic's other cities, large and small, are easily accessible by very efficient, inexpensive public transportation, and typically take less than three hours to reach from Prague (driving east to west across the Czech Republic takes about six and a half hours, for context).
Sports fans, nature enthusiasts, history buffs, art lovers, and everyone in between will be able to find a city or a rural village with Czech attractions that interest them. Make Prague your home base while becoming acquainted with the rest of Bohemia and Moravia on these top day trips.
Pilsen: Pilsner Beer and World War II History
The birthplace of pilsner beer, Pilsen is the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, and one of the most popular day trip destinations from Prague. It’s home to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, where guided tours take guests through the facility, providing insight on how beer is made, where it’s stored, and ending with a glass of fresh beer for visitors to sample. Pilsner beer dates back to 1842, when it was first developed by Josef Groll, and it has since become a symbol of Czech heritage ever since.
History fans will also appreciate Pilsen’s connection to World War II. It was one of the only Czech towns to be liberated by American troops; today, the Patton Memorial Museum pays tribute to those troops and to General George S. Patton, where visitors can learn more about the liberation and see artifacts from the 1940s and 1950s.
Getting There: Pilsen is easily reached by train, from Prague’s main railway station, Praha Hlavní Nádraží. Trains run every 30 minutes on the quarter of an hour. The Pilsner factory is a short 10 minute walk from the Pilsen train station, and the city center is similarly close by.
Travel Tip: The fall is a great time to visit for beer lovers, when Pilsen hosts the Pilsner Beer festival (first weekend in October) and the Sun in the Glass festival (third September weekend). The city truly hones in on its affinity for beer, with concerts, keg tappings, and more revelery.
Karlovy Vary: Spas and Relaxation
Far on the eastern side of Bohemia, near the German border, sits Karlovy Vary, a town known for being the spa capital of the Czech Republic. Here, you can visit over 170 hotels and wellness retreats dedicated to health recovery, relaxation, and luxury medical services. If booking a massage, facial, or other treatment isn’t your style; it’s easy enough to enjoy a light hike through the city’s green areas, or sample natural spring water from several colonnades.
For an elevated relaxation experience, visit the original Beer Spa, where ingredients for beer are mixed in warm water that guests soak in while enjoying unlimited beer while there. It is also the site of the annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the biggest film events in the country.
Getting There: The RegioJet and Flix bus lines leave from the Praha Florenc bus station, and takes about two hours and ten minutes to get to Karlovy Vary. Direct trains from Prague leave about every 2 hours from Praha Hlavní Nádraží, but the journey takes a bit longer (around 3 hours).
Travel Tip: Becherovka, a Czech herbal bitters, is all over the Czech Republic, but Karlovy Vary is the best place to try it, as it is made here. Take it as a shot, or order a Beton, the Czech version of a gin and tonic.
Brno: The Capital of Moravia
The Czech Republic is actually divided into two regions: Bohemia, the largest region which encompasses Prague, and Moravia, a smaller region to the east. Moravian culture has its own variations from what travelers will find in Prague, and a visit to Brno, the second largest city in the country, provides the perfect entrypoint. Here, visitors can enjoy visual arts and photography from the region at the Moravian Gallery, or take a short hike up to Špilberk Castle, which was a military prison up until the 19th century.
Getting There: Trains run regularly between Prague and Brno, almost every 10 or 15 minutes, from Praha Hlavní Nádraží. The journey will take between 2.5 to 3.5 hours, depending on which line you take. The RegioJet bus from Praha Florenc also offers a less-expensive option that is direct, and takes 2 hours and 35 minutes.
Travel Tip: Brno is also home to several universities, including Masaryk University, the second largest university in the country. Because of this, the city has a very youthful vibe; a visit to Super Panda Circus offers an exciting night of cocktails and music, and for a low-key hang, check out Atelier Cocktail Bar & Bistro.
Ústí nad Labem: The Gateway to Bohemian Switzerland
The town of Ústí nad Labem doesn’t pop up on a lot of travel itineraries in the Czech Republic, but it offers a lot in terms of a quick trip from Prague. Bordering on Germany in Northwestern Bohemia, it is well known for being an industrial capital, with many factories for textiles, chemicals, and more. Despite the town's industrial reputation, access to nature is the biggest draw. This area got its name from two 18th century Swiss artists, and is now the location of Bohemian Switzerland National Park (České Švýcarsko), the Czech Republic’s youngest national park. There are trails, scenic routes, waterfalls, and sandstone rock formations to admire, and the area is easy enough for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.
Getting There: Trains and buses can get you to the city center of Ústí, but to reach the nature park, it’s best to rent a car and drive there directly. It generally takes less than 3 hours and will offer a more comfortable mode of transport back to Prague, after a long day of hiking.
Travel Tip: For an unusual meal experience, book a table at the Větruše Chateau, which is reachable via an aerial cable car from the Forum shopping centre.
Telč: Czech Renaissance History
Less than 6,000 people live in the Moravian town of Telč, but it’s worth a visit if Renaissance art, history, and trade networks interest you. Telč was part of an extensive network of Medieval and Renaissance merchant sites, which is why its architecture stands out. The main square, with its rows of pastel-colored buildings, small shops, and lively market, makes visitors feel as though they’ve stepped into the pages of a romantic storybook. It is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for the level of historic preservation the town has kept for centuries.
A visit to the Telč Chateau provides even more insight into the rich history of this small town. Originally built in the Gothic style, the castle was reconstructed to reflect the trends of Renaissance-era Italian villas. Self-guided tours of the chateau allow travelers to immerse themselves in the world of its previous owners, whose furnishings, decor, and more have been well preserved.
Getting There: Traveling by car or private transport rental is the fastest way to get to Telč, taking just under 3 hours. RegioJet and Flixbus also travel to Telč, but leave enough time for at least one transfer in České Budějovice.
Travel Tip: Dine at the Švejk Restaurant, a Czech franchise restaurant inspired by the original Jaroslav Hašek novel, "The Good Soldier Švejk." The book chronicles a character from stories used to teach lessons about Czech history and culture, and the menu of Czech dishes is inspired by meals and characters from the story.
Ostrava: Mining History, Brought to Life
Travelers can explore how integral mining was to the Moravian region with a visit to Ostrava, a city near the Polish border. Start at Landek Park, a restored 19th-century mine with interactive experiences that include riding down a replica mine shaft elevator, and participating in a rescue mission. In the warmer months, the well-manicured grounds host concerts and other events. Nearby, Michal Mine provides a glimpse into the everyday life of a miner, with replica changing rooms, equipment, bathrooms for the crews, a lamp room, and the machine and the boiler room.
Getting There: Traveling by train or bus from Praha Hlavní Nádraží takes about 3.5 hours, but you’ll be able to enjoy the changing landscape from Bohemia to Moravia along the way. Direct trains run about every 20 minutes.
Travel Tip: Partiers will appreciate the seemingly nonstop entertainment scene on Stodolní Street, which is where the majority of bars, clubs, and casinos exist. It’s very much a, “work hard, party harder” kind of attitude, even amongst Czechs, so fuel up with some street eats before the night begins.
Olomouc: The Home of a Pungent Cheese
This popular Moravian city was made famous for the infamous Olomouc cheese, beloved by some, reviled by others. Olomoucké Tvarůžky can be found in most markets and restaurants in Moravia, and it’s worth trying if only to say you’ve tried it. It’s made from sheep’s cheese that has been aged under meat, is low in fat and cholesterol, and is recognized by its pungent scent (defined as a different taste by everyone who tries it). Olomouc cheese has its own museum and bakery in nearby Loštice, where visitors can purchase pastries and baked goods that use it as a main ingredient.
Aside from stinky snacks, Olomouc is truly a center for Moravian culture. The Holy Trinity Column in the center of town is the largest free-standing Baroque sculpture in Central Europe, and is also part of the UNESCO monument list. Baroque art and architecture can also be found in the many fountains of the city, and in the wintertime, the Olomouc Christmas market is the perfect place to pick up a special gift.
Getting There: Trains run about every 20 minutes from Praha Hlavní Nádraží, and the trip takes about 2.5 hours.
Travel Tip: The Entrée Restaurant offers a serene refuge from Olomouc cheese, and is considered one of the best new restaurants in the area. Its decor is very Insta-worthy, and includes a lush, living garden, and an open kitchen. Menu items are inspired by nature, and the restaurant offers a few tasting menus, including a “bizarre” tasting menu which lists the dishes in simple, albeit cryptic, terms.
Český Krumlov: Explore a Fairytale Village
Most travelers associate the city of Prague with a fairytale-like ambiance, but the true storybook lifestyle is found in Southern Bohemia’s Český Krumlov. The city has done an excellent job of preserving its Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its contributions to Czech history, art, and culture. The main attraction is Český Krumlov castle, with its restored Baroque theater and tower, where visitors can ascend to the top and take in a full view of the village below.
Walking is the best way to explore the city center, as it offers you an up-close view of the artistic details Český Krumlov is known for. Every side street tells a story, and has contributed to the history of the Rožmberk family, the richest Czech family in history. Their love for Italian Renaissance architecture influenced much of the city’s structure; it’s not uncommon to see everyday buildings with beautiful sgraffito, or 16th century frescos. In the evenings, strolling through the streets lit by gas lanterns makes Český Krumlov feel even more romantic.
Getting There: Buses run frequently from Prague to Český Krumlov and are the preferred method of transportation, as travelers get dropped off right at the beginning of town, making for easy access. The journey takes between 3 to 3.5 hours, depending on the bus line and how many stops/transfers are involved (České Budějovice is a common transfer point). There is a train station but trips from Prague are not as frequent, and it’s about a 25 minute walk from the station to the edge of town.
Travel Tip: The end of February is an exciting time for Český Krumlov, when it hosts Carnival. It feels like a week-long Renaissance fair, with banquets, parades, dance parties, lavish costume displays, and more. It’s a very unique way to experience this tradition carried over from Venice.
České Budějovice: Salt, Skeleton Legends, and Beer
Budweiser is arguably one of the most popular beers in the United States, but few know about the drama involved with its Czech roots. A tour of the Budvar brewery walks visitors through the beer brewing process (with a recipe for beer dating back over seven centuries), and sheds light on the brand and name war in "The Story of Budweiser Beer" exhibit. Whether Budweis and Budvar are the same or different is up to you; contemplate the controversy over a beer poured directly from kegs in the lager storeroom, or visit the massive beer hall at Masné Krámy instead.
České Budějovice isn’t all about beer though. The city is home to one of the largest squares in Europe, Přemysla Otakara II Square, which is exactly 1 hectare (2.47 acres). It’s here visitors will find the Samson fountain, and Baroque architecture, with shops, cafes, and pubs selling Budvar. Legend has it, the Black Tower has skeleton who would ring the death bell in place of lazy tower guards; visitors can climb the tower today if they are brave enough to not get spooked.
Getting There: Trains run approximately every half hour from Praha Hlavní Nádraží. Buses also frequently depart from Praha Florenc. Both modes take approximately 2 hours to reach the city.
Travel Tip: České Budějovice used to be a central hub for the salt trade, and many shops offer salt as a gift to take home. The Medieval Salt House was recently restored inside and is a prized piece of architecture in the area. It once stored salt that was enroute to other European destinations, but today it is home to the restaurant Solnice, which honors the building’s history while serving contemporary dishes.
Pardubice: Horse Racing and Gingerbread
Hockey is the Czech Republic’s number one sport for sure, but a little known fact is how much Czechs adore their horses. Less than an hour from the capital, is the area of Pardubice, well known for its horse farms, trails, and a rich history of champion riders. Pardubice has hosted Great Pardubice Steeplechase since 1874, which is known as Europe’s oldest cross-country horse race, consisting of 31 obstacles, including the Taxis Ditch—a hedge fence with a 3-foot-deep, 19-foot-long ditch that is considered one of the hardest obstacles a jockey can overcome.
In the city of Pardubice, visitors may be charmed by the Renaissance frescoes and architecture evocative of beautiful gingerbread houses. It’s not too far off from the second most well-known aspect of this area: some of the country’s best gingerbread is produced here, thanks to the Gingerbread Guild established in the 16th century. Since then, Pardubice has been the go-to city for all things gingerbread and marzipan. Visitors can learn more about this tradition at the Gingerbread Museum.
Getting There: Trains from Praha Hlavní Nádraží run very frequently, at least every 20 minutes, and will have you at Pardubice’s main railway station in an hour.
Liberec: Visit a Television Transmitter Hotel
The Jizera Mountains, located just outside of Liberec in Northern Bohemia, remain one of the most accessible, nature-focused day trips from Prague. The mountains are popular with the winter sports crowd, especially cross-country skiers, who take advantage of the area’s nearly 100 miles of trails dedicated to the activity.
In the warmer months, the mountain paths are still lovely to walk through, but to really appreciate the area, visit the Ještěd TV Tower. Construction was completed in 1973, and it is an example of mid-century, futuristic architecture that stands out against the Czech Republic’s Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. The tower, resembling a funnel, contains a gallery, a restaurant with panoramic views (it’s possible to see as far as Germany and Poland), and a hotel, for those wishing to extend their stay.
Getting There: The fastest way to get to Liberec is by car, especially if travelers plan on exploring the mountain area or any of the wintertime resorts. Buses run every hour from the Praha Florenc bus station. A dedicated cable car takes guests from Liberec to the Ještěd TV Tower.
Travel Tip: iQpark offers an alternative indoor activity while visiting Liberec. This museum uses interactive exhibits to convey different scientific fields, with an emphasis on play and creativity. Chat with robots, learn about the wonders of the human body, or view an out-of-this-world show at the planetarium.
Divoká Šárka: A Urban Nature Reserve
Prague’s parks offer visitors the chance to relax within the city center, but those seeking some true peace and quiet don’t have to travel very far to find it. The Divoká Šárka Nature Reserve offers travelers the chance to do some hiking through tree-lined trails, which lead to expansive views, elevated rock formations, and natural springs. Take a dip in Džbán Lake, near one of Prague’s best camping areas, or splash around at the Divoká Šárka swimming pool, a popular place where locals to cool off.
Getting There: Visitors can easily take tram 26 from the center of Prague, which stops just outside of Džbán Lake, in less than an hour. It’s also possible to take metro Line A to Nádraží Veleslavín, walk a short distance through the neighborhood of Vokovice, until the nature reserve is found.
Travel tip: Travelers can refresh themselves at the Dívčí Skok Pub, which offers a lovely beer garden in the warmer months.