Plzen or Pilsen in English is probably the town you have heard of at some point in your life. Most probably when you have ordered a beer and wanted a “pilsner”. That beer was first brewed here in a town in the Czech republic. Also, a place where I was born. Plzen is just an hour away from Prague which means that Plzen is great for a day trip if you are visiting the capital. Besides, there is plenty of things to do. This is my local guide on things you should most definitely do when visiting Plzen.
Day trip to Plzen – what to do there?
Brewery and brewery museum
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Here is where the magic started. One of the biggest breweries in the Czech Republic offers a tour. Even in several foreign languages and it is pretty cheap. You get to know here everything bout brewing beer itself. And actually you get to know about why is Pilsner so special and how it is brewed differently. In general, this museum is awesome for any beer lover.
The brewery itself was founded in 1842. Before it was possible to brew a beer in different places by different people, which make the unstable quality of the beer. That is where the idea of one brewery with stable quality began. Just about 15 years later the Plzen beer gets to be in Wien. Ever since then, the beer gets more and more popularity, it is exported to different parts of the world and it even started a daughter company with slightly different types of beer.
If you are visiting Plzen, the local brewery tour is definitely something you should do in Plzen. You will get to know everything about the beer itself and the amazing story behind it.
How much does it cost?
There are several options when it comes to visiting Pilsner Urquell. If you want just a tour, it will cost 250 czk. During the tour you will get to see how the beer is bottled, people who invented this specific beer, and also how it looks in brewhouse and brewery cellars. The tour is in English as well (yey!)
Another option, that is cheaper, is to visit the beer museum. There you will get to see an exhibition with all the facts about beer, how it was invented and you can enjoy a little bit of beer tasting as well. The beer museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm and it cost 90 czk to get there.
Cathedral of st. Bartholomew
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A Gothic church that you can find in the main square in Plzen. The date when it was established is not certain, so we guess it was built together with the city in 1292. The cathedral was finished in the 16th century but got the status of the cathedral just in 1993 when pope John Paul the 2nd established bishopric here. Before it was just a church. But with the height of 103 meters, it was (and still is) one of the tallest churches in the Czech republic.
When you enter the cathedral, you get to see a lot of beautiful architecture. In the altar, there is very well-known Pilsen Madonna, the statue that represents the style of the Gothic era, when it was made. Perhaps one of the best things about the church is also the fact that you can see the whole city from local galleries.
Entry fees and opening times to the cathedral
This time the visit will be even cheaper than the one before. The entrance to the chapel costs 35 czk and then you will get to see all of the interiors of the cathedral. But if you want to visit the spire, you will need to pay 50 czk for it. The view is certainly worth it though.
Make sure, that you are coming here on the right day. The cathedral is open from April to September from 10 am to 4 pm. And only from Wednesday to Saturday. Later on from October to December the opening times are the same but you can visit the place only from Wednesday to Friday.
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A labyrinth of passageways, underground streets, wells, and cellars. Plzen has a historical underground and you can go through it too, there are tours through it the whole morning, where you can get to know a lot more about this underground that goes back to the 14th century.
In the tour, you can see how the underground changed during centuries and how the locals were using it differently during centuries.
All you need to know about Plzen underground
The underground streets starting under the brewery, so it is easy to see this place right before or after you visit Pilsner Urquell. However, you will need to get on a tour to see the underground. There are certain times on each tour. But they do take place every hour from 10 am to 5 pm. It costs 120 czk to visit the underground.
The Great synagogue is the second biggest synagogue in Europe and third in the world. You can find it right in the city center. In 1993 was pronounced as the cultural heritage of the Czech republic. The interior is decorated with paintings of plants. You can also find here organ from 1890 when the synagogue was most popular.
During the second world war was the synagogue used as a storage of food and other different things. It was established again as a place of worship since 1973.
All you need to know about Pilsen synagogue
Update: Currently is part of the synagogue under reconstruction, which means that it is not opened for visitors until the end of the year of 2021.
However, you can still visit the old part of the synagogue. There you can go from Sunday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. As an adult, you would pay 55 czk for entrance.
Rennaisance building that is up till now used as the town hall of Plzen comes from the 15th century. The house was originally built in the 15th century and soon after the people from the municipality decided to make it into a fashionable town hall since it was the biggest house in the center square.
The Cathedral of st. Bartholomew is about 50 meters from it and the Plzen underground is right under the town hall. Currently is the first floor of the building used as an exhibition hall where you can also find a samurai armor (No explanation here, I have no idea what meaning does it have for the city). You can still visit this or any other exhibition, that they will have here from 8 am to 6 pm.
Pretty large zoo in the middle of Plzen. There is a lot of animals in a great environment, so you don’t have to be afraid that it is unethical or that the animals don’t have enough space. At the same time, there are a lot of trees around so you can come here even if it is hot. There is always something to hide under.
At the same time, the local zoo isn’t just about animals. You can find here plenty of plants in the botanical department, both exotic ones and the ones that are natural for European habitat. Besides that, Plzen zoo has one more department that is especially exciting for kids who are into dinosaurs. Yep, Plzen has dino parks. A large space filled with statues of dinosaurs in their proper scale, both the small kinds and the big ones. Especially in the dino park, you can find a lot of interactive games.
Practical info about Plzen zoo and Dino park
First of all, this part of Pilsen is not necessarily close to the center, so you will have to get here on a bus. There are busses from the center that are marked so it is not hard to find which one to use.
Once you get there, you can choose whether you want to visit just the zoo or the dino park. Or – why not both? So, just to make it clear – the only zoo costs 140 czk for adults and 100 czk for kids. Dino park is for 100 czk for grownups and 70 czk for children. If you want to combine those two, you can buy the ticket for 220 czk for adults and 150 czk for children.
It is possible to visit it from 8 am to 7 pm. Although the hours differ a little bit depending on when are you coming.
Practical info about a day trip to Plzen
How to get to Plzen
Getting to Plzen is surprisingly easy. There are two ways you can get there – besides the car. First – take a train. From Prague, you can take the train either from the Central station and or from the station called Smíchov. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to get to Plzen central station, which is very close to the city center. Approximately 10 minutes by walk. The train ticket costs about 5 dollars and I would recommend a seat reservation as it is often full, especially during the weekend.
If you don’t feel like taking the train, you can also take a bus. Two main operators are seeling bus tickets. First of them is a Czech company called Student agency and they are departing from Zličín, which is in the suburbs of Prague but close to the airport or from Florenc, which is also in Prague, closer to the city center, close by a subway station. It also takes from hour to hour and a half (from Florenc) and costs around 5 dollars. You should pre-order these on websites.
When is it a good time to do a day trip to Pilsen?
I’d like to dedicate this paragraph to one special occasion. On the 1st of May, the Czech Republic celebrates the end of world war. Plzen was liberated by the American army and every beginning of May they celebrate it. Most of the time they invite veterans, there are great talks, the second world war machine and so one. Generally, a lot of things from these times. Sometimes even veterans come to visit the city that they liberated back then. Plzen is worth to visit in general but the first weekend in May is something special there.
Another great time to visit Plzen would be around Christmas time. Prague isn’t the only place in the Czech Republic that has a great for Christmas markets. There are really big ones on the main square in Plzen and you can also see here a lot of local craftsmen. Generally, the atmosphere here is perhaps more traditional than you can see in Prague.
Otherwise, Plzen is great to visit on any day od the year. But when you are planning your trip, you should know that summers are quite warm here, while winters can be really cold with snow. Both spring and autumn are nice but can be very rainy.
Is a day trip to Plzen worth it?
Yes, thousand times yes! Especially if you have a couple of extra days in Prague, Plzen is a great place for a day trip. It is just an hour away from Prague so it is easy to go and come back in the right time. At the same time, there are connections between Prague and Plzen every hour.
If you have in mind a little bit longer itinerary, perhaps it would be a good idea to stay in Plzen overnight and on the next day head to the next adventure. You can visit several castles from Plzen or alternatively on the next day you can head to one of the spa towns in the western part of the Czech Republic.
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