The capital of Czechia (Czech Republic) is one of Europe's best-loved cities – a wonderful sprawl of gothic, renaissance and baroque buildings filling the hills on both sides of the Vltava River. But boy is Prague crowded! Some 22 million tourists swing by in an average year, transforming thoroughfares such as Pařížská and the Charles Bridge into human superhighways during the summer high season.

While you'll want to spend several days soaking up Prague's myriad sights, the hills around the city are dotted with historic small towns, ancient castles, curious churches and green spaces where you can escape the worst of the crowds. After the crush of downtown Prague, a day trip is the perfect way to regain some personal space and recharge your batteries.

Within an hour of Prague are some of the country's most important sights, from a church made from human skeletons to the castle that once enshrined the Bohemian crown jewels. Come in spring or fall and you can enjoy these sights with even smaller crowds. Here are our tips for a fantastic day trip from Prague.

Kutná Hora

Best for creepy majesty

For an easy day trip from Prague, head an hour east to the historic town of Kutná Hora, famed as the setting for the Sedlec Ossuary – aka the 'Bone Church' – the creepiest sight in Central Europe. This macabre chapel was created by local woodcarver František Rint in the 1870s, using bones from the 40,000 human skeletons in the town crypt.

There's more than just old bones in Kutná Hora. The city grew fabulously wealthy in the 14th and 15th centuries as the centre of silver mining for the kingdom of Bohemia. You can still don a miner’s helmet and work clothes and tour the old silver mines, then pay your respects at the gloriously Gothic Cathedral of St Barbara, the patron church of miners (look out for medieval miners depicted in the church frescoes).

Once you’ve had your fill of medieval finery, take a peek inside the ghoulish ossuary to see chapels, crosses, chalices and monstrances made from the bones of thousands of plague and war victims over the centuries. If that hasn't put you off dinner, there are a couple of decent pizza places on the main square, or you can wet your whistle at Pivnice Dačický, with its wide selection of local beers. Alternatively, centrally Kavárna na Kozím plácku is great for coffee. 

How to get to Kutná Hora: Kutná Hora is about 65km east of Prague and the drive takes under an hour. Buses leave hourly throughout the day from Prague’s Háje station on metro line C (red), while direct trains depart regularly from Prague’s main station.

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The Gothic turrets of Karlštejn castle rise above the Berounka River
The peaceful country setting is part of the magic at Karlštejn castle, a half-hour southwest of Prague © ValeryEgorov / Getty Images


Best for castle grandeur

The main event here is Karlštejn Castle, a gleaming 14th-century castle rising dramatically from the countryside beside the Berounka River, a half hour drive south from Prague. This Disney-esque fantasy of a castle can trace its roots all the way back to 1348 and the reign of Prague’s own Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, and the building was conceived as a hiding place for the Bohemian crown jewels in times of war.

Entry is by guided tour, so be sure to reserve a tour time in advance by phone or email before setting out. After you’ve toured the castle (or merely gawked at the turrets), meander through Karlštejn village which is packed with pubs, or take a longer hike through the surrounding woods. Restaurace Pod Dračí Skálou is set away from Karlštejn’s crowded main street and offers good Czech food, grilled meats and Pilsner Urquell beer on tap. 

How to get to Karlštejn: The 30km drive from Prague to Karlštejn takes about 30 minutes along the D5 motorway; just follow the signs to Plzeň. Regular trains depart from Prague’s main station to Karlštejn, in the direction of Beroun.

Best 10 free things to do in Prague

A large Star of David has been erected in the middle of the National Cemetery Theresienstadt that contains about 10,000 victims.
Terezín was the site of the most notorious Nazi concentration camp on Czech soil © Albertem / Getty Images


Terezín, or Theresienstadt, was home to the most notorious German concentration camp on Czech soil. It wasn’t a mass extermination camp like Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland, but a holding centre for Jews and other Holocaust victims before they could be sent onward to their deaths. Conditions were atrocious and many thousands perished from hunger and disease in this dark period in European history.

The main Ghetto Museum is spread out over several buildings, and the permanent exhibitions explore both the daily lives of the prisoners of the Terezín ghetto and the way the Nazis used Terezín as a showcase camp to deceive the International Red Cross that their intentions with respect to Jewish prisoners were benign. 

Bring along a packed lunch, as Terezín is short on decent restaurants; centrally located Restaurace Atypik is average at best but will do in a pinch. 

How to get to Terezín: Terezín is 60km north of Prague and the drive takes under an hour. Buses from Prague to the town of Litoměřice normally stop at Terezín, departing from near the Praha-Holešovice metro station on line C (red).

Statues in the grounds of Konopiste Castle in Czech Republic
Stately Konopiště Chateau was the family home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand © MondayMorning / Shutterstock

Konopiště Chateau

For deep dive into Czech history, tour Konopiště Chateau, the impressive residence of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este, one of the most fateful figures of the 20th century. A trip around the staterooms offers some fascinating insights into how the very wealthy lived in the early years of the 20th century. You'll also learn about the tragic life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, whose assassination was the trigger for WWI.

By all accounts, the archduke hated court life in Vienna and chose instead to spend his days in the Bohemian countryside, along with his Czech wife Sophie, but it's an undeniably ostentatious address. Guided tours take you through the family rooms, filled with objects that reveal the archduke’s twin obsessions: hunting and the cult of St George. The chateau gardens, with their forest paths and ponds, make for a restful respite.

For a meal, head downhill from the castle to Stará Myslivna, just down the hill from the castle, features old-fashioned Czech cooking and, true to the archduke’s passion for hunting, lots of game dishes on the menu. 

How to get to Konopiště Chateau: Drivers follow the D1 motorway south from Prague to Benešov u Prahy, the closest town to Konopiště – local buses run up to the castle, or you can walk in about half an hour. If you're coming by public transport, buses to Benešov run throughout the day from both Prague’s Roztyly and Budějovická stations on metro line C (red). Alternatively, come by train from Prague’s main station.

A man pours beer into a large glass behind a bar. Behind him are four large copper containers. To the left is a large group of people standing in front of the bar.
Hop in the car for a quick day trip to the Pilsner Urquell Brewery © Fotokon / Getty Images

The Pilsner Urquell Brewery, Plzeň

Best for a brew

For lovers of the amber liquid, a tour of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, the birthplace of modern lager, is almost a pilgrimage. Pilsner Urquell's house brew is considered the gold standard for beer in a country with some very stiff competition. Guided, 70-minute tours of the brewery are Plzeň’s biggest attraction, but the town’s Brewery Museum is also worth a look in.

Before you give up on the beer theme, explore the city’s extensive underground tunnels, which were used for both beer production and defence. You can book everything ahead of time online over the brewery website. The city that sprawls around the brewery is the second-largest settlement in the province of Bohemia (after Prague) and it has some great museums and restaurants. It’s well worth an overnight stay to enjoy the calmer mood after day trippers have gone back to Prague.

In keeping with the beer theme, sample some excellent pub grub and wash it down with local beer. Na Spilce is situated on the brewery grounds; tours end conveniently at the restaurant’s door. Na Parkánu is another popular pub, situated next to the Brewery Museum. 

How to get to Plzeň: The city is easily accessible from Prague by car, bus or train; the trip takes about 1 hour 20 minutes. The drive is a straight shot southwest along the D5 motorway. Buses run every half-hour from Prague’s Zličín metro station, on line B (yellow), while trains depart from Prague's main station. 

Sightseers admire the square below the renaissance-style Castle Tower in Český Krumlov
The postcard-perfect medieval town of Český Krumlov is a long but rewarding day trip from Prague © Prangkul Ruangsri / Getty Images

Český Krumlov

Two hours south from the capital, Český Krumlov is like Prague in miniature. This lovely museum-piece is one of the most picturesque towns in Europe, and you can walk from one side of town to the other in around 20 minutes, taking in the striking Renaissance-style State Castle and many more examples of stunning Czech architecture. The town bustles with tourists and day-trippers in high season and there are plenty of lively bars and riverside picnic spots for refreshments. It has a certain magic in winter too when the streets are almost empty.

With a two-hour journey time from Prague each way, Český Krumlov is just about doable as a day trip if you’re short on time, but we recommend making it a weekend trip instead. There are beautiful woods and meadows in the surrounding area that are perfect for hiking and biking. If you only have time for one meal in town, head to Krčma v Šatlavské; it's touristy, but the grilled meats served up in this medieval barbecue cellar are excellent.

How to get to Český Krumlov: By car, the journey to Český Krumlov takes just over two hours via the D3 motorway, cutting onto Route 3 after Veseli Nad Luznici. Regular buses leave the Na Knížecí bus station and take 2 hours and 50 minutes.

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This article was first published February 2020 and updated February 2021

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