Karlstejn Castle is a 45-minute train ride from Prague, and one of the most convenient and popular escapes from the Czech capital city that tourists can enjoy. If you aren't driving, a train is the only way to get to Karlstejn - there is no bus service despite the high numbers of visitors who choose to visit Karlstejn. While it may be tempting to sleep away this short train ride into the town, you'll want to stay awake for the final part of the journey because this is when you'll get your first glimpse of the majestic castle on its hilltop location.
From the train station, be prepared to walk for about half an hour (mostly uphill) to reach the castle proper, where you can buy tickets for the tours required to see the interior of the structure. If you need to stop along the way for snacks or drinks, both sit-down establishments and street-side vendors cater to the castle's visitors with everything from bottled water to Czech food to trdelnik rolled pastries.
Karlstejn Castle's Appeal
The 14th-century castle was originally built as a treasury to hold the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. The building was initiated by Charles IV, and like most castles, Karlstejn has seen changes and additions - as well as renovations - over the course of its centuries-long history. While many of the best rooms are off-limits to visitors, the exterior of the castle, as well as the interior guests are given access to, makes this trip memorable.
Much of the enchantment of Karlstejn lies in its situation on a peak in the middle of forested land, and the walk to the castle is a pleasant way to take in this scenery. Be sure to take your time and pause to snap photos as you ascend.
Tours of the Castle
The two tours offered by Karlstejn Castle's staff are completely different. Tour I is approximately 50 minutes in length and takes visitors through the Imperial Palace, Hall of Knights, Chapel of St. Nicholas, the Royal Bedroom, and the Audience Hall. Tour II runs about 70 minutes in length and requires prior reservations, but if you want to see the Holy Rood Chapel with its gem-encrusted walls, it will be worth it to plan a bit ahead.
Tours vary in price depending upon the type of tour and whether the guide speaks Czech or a language of your choice. Also be sure to check opening times and seasonal schedules. The castle is closed in January and February, the coldest time of the year, and has the longest daytime hours of operation in July and August.
Exploring the Village
Your trip to Karlstejn does not begin and end with its castle. The town offers shops, restaurants, bars, and more. Souvenirs similar to those you have spotted in Prague may be slightly cheaper here, even though the selection will naturally be more limited, so it's worth it to check prices for glassware, garnets, or other souvenirs here if you plan to buy before you leave the Czech Republic. The town also boasts a golf course if you have the time and inclination to play around.
- Antik-Bazaar Antiques Shop in Karlstejn
Karlstejn Castle Website:
For information on hours of operation and prices, visit the Karlstejn Castle website (English): www.hradkarlstejn.cz