Prague is a great city to spend a few days sightseeing around, but it also happens to be a perfect base for discovering the rest of the country. While the Czech capital tends to get the bulk of tourists’ attention, you’d be surprised just how many things to see in the Czech Republic outside of Prague there are. You only need to travel a couple of hours at most in any direction from Prague to find some of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic, be it other cities, national parks, or castles. Finding somewhere to visit from Prague is easy, the hard part is deciding which of the following Prague day trips you want to do first.
1. Kutna Hora
Certainly one of the best places to visit from Prague is the UNESCO recognized mining town of Kutna Hora. Despite its mining past, the town is far more scenic than you’d imagine thanks to landmarks like the St. Barbara’s Church with its Gothic architecture. Kutna Hora also has one of the country’s more macabre attractions on the town’s outskirts, the Sedlec Ossuary, a small chapel completely decorated with skulls and bones. You’ll also want to seek out the Italian Court, a medieval palace turned royal mint, and the Bohemian Museum of Silver which will further take you through the town’s mining past. Then there’s the huge Jesuit College with its row of saintly statues, views down the valley, and trove of artwork inside.
Getting there: The most straightforward way to visit Kutna Hora is by taking a guided tour, as the Sedlec Ossuary is over in a separate village. Otherwise, you can visit by train, taking around 1 hour 15 min.
2. Karlstejn Castle
The Czech Republic is packed with fantastic castles to visit, and one of the best is surely Karlstejn Castle. One of the most common and easy train trips from Prague, a trip out to Karlstejn is full of history and staggering scenery. Overlooking the small town of Karlstejn and situated within hills of forest, you couldn’t ask for a more epic setting for a castle than this. Whether you choose to walk up through the quaint town or hitch a ride with a horse and cart, reaching the castle is half the fun. Once there, walk along the castle walls or tour inside its halls and towers. The castle was the home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels for quite some time, and you can see their replicas there today.
Getting there: As mentioned, Karlstejn is just a 33 minute train-ride from Prague which leaves every half hour making it an easy place to see on a whim. For door-to-door service though, a half-day guided tour will cut out the hassle of navigating public transport and leave your morning free.
3. Cesky Krumlov
As one of the most popular destinations in the Czech Republic, it’s little wonder that Cesky Krumlov is also one of the most sought after day tours from Prague. Cesky Krumlov is a wonderfully preserved historic town in the country’s south with cobblestone streets and plenty of pretty traditional houses to see. Impossible to miss is Cesky Krumlov Castle which sprawls across the far river bank in all its glory. Allow plenty of time to tour the castle, from its outer courtyards and terrace viewpoints, through the beautiful castle interior and up the castle tower. Afterwards, take some time in the manicured Castle Garden which practically dwarf the rest of the town, or spend time by the Vltava riverfront in spots like Lazebnický Bridge or the City Park.
Getting there: To guarantee that you have as much time as possible seeing Cesky Krumlov and learn the most about the place, a guided day tour is the best way to go. To make it there on your own, you have the choice of bus or train with both taking a little under 3 hours each way.
4. Bohemian Switzerland
People may not realize, but the Czech Republic is home to some phenomenal national parks. One of its best is unquestionably the Bohemian Switzerland National Park which sits on the country’s northern border. What makes this one of the best side trips from Prague is that it suits not only hikers, but also those who want to see some cool rock formations and stunning vistas. Inside the park, you can take a river cruise along the Kamenice river through Wild Gorge and Edmund’s Gorge and make a journey over to the Bastei Bridge in the neighboring Saxon Switzerland National Park. Nobody leaves Bohemian Switzerland though without going for a gentle hike up to and through the park’s unusual rock formations and finding the iconic Pravcicka Gate.
Getting there: Visiting Bohemian Switzerland independently without a car as a day trip comes with a lot of challenges. The train to Decin takes 1 hour 40 minutes, from there you’ll need to take the local bus to reach the park’s main village, and then you’ll need to account for the time it takes to get from one sight to the next. A far less complicated approach, which will also let you see Saxon Switzerland, is to go with a full day guided tour which greatly reduces travel time and stress.
5. Karlovy Vary
For a city which rivals Prague’s beauty, look no further than Karlovy Vary, another one of the best day trips from Prague. A riverfront city of thermal springs and spa resorts, it’s really the city’s regal riverfront with never ending rows of grand buildings which makes it special. As you walk through town, you’ll come across the city’s many colonnades along the way, from the stone Mill Colonnade to the fine details of the Sadová Colonnade. Inside each are small hot spring fountains, although all are dwarfed by the boiling hot water which spurts and steams from the Vřídelní fountain. Either side of the river valley, Karlovy Vary is sheltered by hills blanketed in forest. At the Deer Jump Lookout you’ll find spectacular views of the city, or you could also climb up the tower overlooking the Castle Colonnade.
Getting there: As the train takes an indirect route, taking one of the frequent 2 hour buses to Karlovy Vary is your best public transport option. If, however, you want to learn more about the city and its thermal springs, taking a guided tour is a better way to go.
There’s no question that the Czech people have a special relationship with beer and the small city of Pilsen is the perfect place to explore that bond. The birthplace of the pilsner beer, Pilsen is where you can visit the Pilsener Urquell Brewery, take a tour to see the brewing process, and sample some beer straight from the kegs. Across the river it’s not far to the city’s historic center, where you’ll want to head for Republic Square. There’s no shortage of sights here, from the towering Cathedral of St. Bartholomew to the modern gold fountains, the renaissance Town Hall and all the traditional gabled houses around the sides. Around the edges of the Old Town, other interesting landmarks include the Great Synagogue and the J.K. Tyl Theatre.
Getting there: While taking the bus might be slightly quicker, direct trains leave Pilsen every 30 minutes or so. The train journey takes about 1 hour 40 minutes, but if you drive you can get there in an hour.
7. Terezin Concentration Camp
Although independent and peaceful now, the history of the Czech Republic has been quite grim and turbulent. Arguably the darkest chapter in the region’s history came during World War II when Nazi’s occupied the country and places like Terezin Concentration Camp were opened. On a visit to the Terezin Memorial, you can learn how this fortress town was converted by the Nazis into a concentration camps for them to work towards their Final Solution. Here you can hear stories of prisoners at the camp and see the railway tracks which led victims to this place. The memorial is broken up into different museums, including the Ghetto Museum and the Magdeburg Barracks war museum. In the town, you can also see the old town fortifications and head down into the underground corridors.
Getting there: While Terezin is a short trip from Prague by car, at only 45 minutes, the trip is best done with a guided tour to understand the true gravity of the place. Visiting on your own is possible, but the camp lies 2.5km from the nearest train station, with trains every hour.
8. Konopiste Castle
There’s no shortage of castles which are easily reached from Prague, Konopiste Castle outside the small city of Benesov is one of them. This beautiful castle can be comfortably visited as a half day trip from the capital. With a history that stretches all the way back to the 13th century, you can expect to see plenty of historical artifacts, especially in its famed armory. And yet this three storey chateau is best known as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria before he was assassinated in 1914. As such, there’s quite a bit about him on the castle tour, including a visit to the family’s private apartment.
Getting there: The real benefit of taking a tour to Konopiste Castle is that some tours include another destination like Karlstejn Castle to make it a full day trip. Otherwise, you can make the half-day trip there in an hour with one of the very frequent trains from Prague.
9. Bohemian Paradise
For an enticing mix of castles and curious natural landscapes you’ll want to make your way over to the Bohemian Paradise Nature Reserve. With similar labyrinths of rock and names, it’s easy to get this reserve confused with the above mentioned Bohemian Switzerland. But they’re actually quite different. While there are also hiking opportunities through the formations of towering rock and narrow crevices here too, Bohemian Paradise is also home to multiple historic castles and ruins. Some not to miss here are Hruba Skala Castle perched up high atop huge sandstone cliffs and the Gothic charms of Valdštejn Castle. Throw in sweeping panoramas and there’s something here for everyone.
Getting there: Bohemian Paradise is the kind of place where you can only hope to see it properly if you are driving or going with a tour. Public transport doesn’t even get you to the outskirts of the reserve within 2 hours and then you need to get around inside the reserve as well.
Thoroughly underrated, the northern city of Liberec offers those who visit a chance to see another side of city life in the Czech Republic. On your day trip you’ll want to begin with the city’s main square, Dr. E. Benes Square. It’s here that you can admire not only the beautiful Fountain of Neptune, but also the magnificent Town Hall which dominates the square with its imaginative architecture. Next, seek out the Wallenstein half-timbered houses to get an idea of what the homes of Liberec once looked like. Heading behind the Town Hall you’ll see the F. X. Šalda Theater on the way to the city’s Museum Quarter. From here it’s a nice walk down to the Old Harcov Dam with its peaceful waterfront and quaint dam wall. Back near the city center, it’s hard to miss the red and white exterior of the Reichenberg Castle and its gardens.
Getting there: Your best option for getting to Liberec quickly is by car as the city is only a little over an hours drive away from Prague. If you’ll be taking public transport, buses are the way to go as there are regular ones leaving Prague East bus station which take around 1 hour 30 minutes.
We could keep going with more great places to visit from Prague, but I’m sure you’ll agree you’ve now got plenty of day trips to get you started. Enjoy!