Prague needs no introduction. Its medieval cobbled streets, its myriad of architectural styles, and fairy tale feel has put the city firmly on the top of Europe’s must-visit cities over the past few years.
While it is certainly tempting to spend your entire vacation time in Prague, marveling at its glorious highlights such as Charles Bridge, the astronomical clock and its grand castle, adventuring out of the capital city on day trips can bring you numerous rewarding and fun experiences.
Whether you’re exploring historicl castles, relaxing in world-famous spas, cycling out into the countryside or discovering spooky churches, taking a day trip from Prague offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the rare beauty and varied culture that the Czech Republic has to offer.
Terezin Concentration Camp
Situated just an hour’s drive from Prague is the Czech Republic’s only concentration camp, Terezin (Theresienstadt). Built originally as a fortress and prison by the Emperor Josef II, this small holding camp is one of the most chilling and dreadful reminders of the Nazi occupation during World War II in the Czech Republic. It was made famous by the propaganda videos that were produced by the Nazis as part of an elaborate plan to deceive people from what was really going on inside the camp. During their occupation, more than 38,000 people died from infection, disease or starvation. Visitors are free to explore the complex, however, a guide is recommended to fully appreciate the history of this memorial.
Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
Located 100km west of Prague lies Karlovy Vary, one of the world’s most renowned spa towns. Boasting grand aristocratic traditions, colourful buildings, and numerous thermal springs, this Czech spa town is one of the best day trips from Prague for those seeking the warmth and health benefits of the healing mineral spa waters that have made this town so famous.
Home to the famous “Bone Church” Sedlec Ossuary and the beautiful St Barbaras Cathedral, this medieval silver mining town is just a short 80km east of the city. There are many tour companies offering day tours from Prague which venture to this small town to visit is spooky chapel that has been decorated with the bones of over 70,000 humans who were killed by the plagues and wars. Make sure you don’t miss the chandeliers and the coat of arms, made with every bone in the human body.
Built by the Czech King Charles IV, the fairy-tale castle of Karlstejn is one of the many easy day trips from the Prague, situated 45km outside of the city. Easily reachable by train or by a cycling trip, this picturesque castle is one of the most famous castles in the Czech Republic and its makes for a great countryside day trip from Prague too! Trek up to the main part of the castle and peer out from its walls and turrets for an amazing view over the countryside and visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross where King Charles IV kept all his precious jewels and relics.
Also home to a chilling “Bone Church”, this charming Czech town is a mere 30 minutes drive or train ride from Prague and is ideal as a day trip from Prague or an afternoon out of the city. Bask in the sunshine during the summer and enjoy a beer in Melnik‘s town square or wine tasting at the chateau or explore the Crypt of St Peter and Paul’s Church, home to 15,000 skeletons of those who suffered and died from the plague in 1520.
For those who love history, hiking, and nature, a day trip to Křivoklát castle won’t disappoint. Located an hour west of Prague (by car), this 12th Century fortress features a beautiful Gothic Chapel, historical library and a well-preserved Gothic interior filled with art, paintings and sculptures. Its hill-top view also allows for beautiful views across the countryside and Berounka River.
Featured in the Hollywood movie “The Illusionist” this 17th Century castle is another easy day trip from Prague or afternoon adventure out of the city. Konopiste castle was once the hunting lodge of Archduke Franz Ferdinand heir to the Habsburg throne. Up until his assassination in 1914, he was a frequent visitor to the castle. Visit to discover his myriad of hunting trophies and the large collection of mounted animals. There is also a rather peaceful rose garden, a wildlife reserve with wild boar, birds of prey and deer and a moat which is currently home to two sun bears.
Located on the border of the Czech Republic & Austria, this Czech Bohemian Jewel is one of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country and one of the most visited places in Prague. With the Vltava horseshoeing its way around its historical center, Cesky Krumlov‘s medieval town features original Renaissance and medieval styled architecture, a dominating castle, beautiful and lively town square and some of the quaintest, fairy-tale like cobbled lanes you’ll ever see. While it is a popular day trip from Prague, it is also a very long day trip, roughly 6 hours round trip. I highly recommend staying the night, especially if you have plans to travel on to Salzburg or Vienna. There are numerous hotels in the center however my favorites are Hotel Ruze for luxurious travelers and Krumlov House for those on a budget.
90km southwest of Prague lies Plzen, a 13th Century town best known as the home to the pale larger known as Pilsner. Take a tour around the brewery, sample a pint of “pivo” (or more) or explore the town’s Cathedral of St Bartholomew and Renaissance town square.
Although technically in Germany, Dresden is a great city to explore and a great addition to the list of top day trips from Prague or as a stop on the way to Berlin. Lockers at the station mean you can store your luggage while you spend the day exploring this fascinating city that was almost completely destroyed during the air raid bombings in the second World War. Visit the famous Baroque palace of Zwinger and its manicured gardens, the Hofkirche and Frauenkirche churches and the Semperoper Opera House. During the Christmas season, make sure you explore its numerous Christmas Markets and sample a warm mug of Gluhwein!