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14 Top-Rated Day Trips from Prague

The beautiful city of Prague is a great springboard for adventure. Whether you're looking for historic castles and quaint medieval streetscapes, cultural experiences at art galleries and museums, or a chance to simply explore the scenery, you'll find plenty of things to do outside the city. From the old churches and crypts in Kutná Hora and Sedlec to lovely old palaces and bizarre natural rock formations, there's no end of possibilities for day trips from Prague. And the other great European cities of Vienna and Dresden are within reach, as well.

Plan your adventures with this list of the best day trips from Prague:

1 Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov
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One of Eastern Europe's most perfect walled towns is second only to Prague in attracting tourists to the Czech Republic. Its entire center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the beautifully preserved and maintained 14th-century buildings that line its narrow streets. Cesky Krumlov Castle, on a rock promontory high above the River Vltava, is even older, dating back to 1240. The castle complex, which includes 40 palaces and other buildings, five courts, and a splendid original Baroque theater, is surrounded by gardens. You can visit the castle and tour the old town with a guide to learn more about its long history on a Cesky Krumlov Day Trip from Prague. The 10-hour tour includes a scenic ride through the Bohemian countryside by air-conditioned coach before touring the castle and old town, with time to explore on your own before returning to Prague.

2 The Old Town of Kutná Hora

The Old Town of Kutná Hora
The Old Town of Kutná Hora
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About 80 kilometers east of Prague, the town of Kutná Hora is filled with spectacular architecture. A highlight is the Baroque St. Barbara's Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 1338. The extravagantly decorated interior has unusual frescoes featuring minting and mining (the silver mine here was once the largest in Europe), along with a mural of the Vision of St. Ignatius. Also worth seeing is the Italian Court (Vlassky dvur), whose old mint once produced much of Europe's coinage, and the former residence of Bohemian King Vaclav IV. A few minutes' drive outside Kutná Hora is Kacina Chateau, built in 1822 and housing a private theater, pharmacy, library, and picture gallery, as well as a beautiful park laid out in the English style.

One of the country's most unusual attractions is on the outskirts of Kutná Hora, the rather gruesome collections of its "Bone Church." In the Gothic All Saints Chapel are the remains of some 70,000 people who died during the plagues that started in 1380, or who fell victim to the Hussite Wars of the 15th century (look carefully, and you'll see evidence of injuries on some bones). By 1526 overcrowding in the church cemetery was so severe that a local woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, was granted permission to remove bones and use them to create this astounding display of curious arrangements including coats of arms, a functioning chandelier, bells, and even chalices. You can visit All Saints Chapel, St. Barbara's Cathedral, the old mint, and other historic sites with an expert guide on the six-hour Kutna Hora Day Trip from Prague, traveling there by air-conditioned coach.

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3 Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Parks

Bastei Bridge
Bastei Bridge
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Two national parks, one in the Czech Republic and one in the eastern German state of Saxony, protect the vast, scenic region along the Elbe River. Towering above the Elbe are huge sandstone pillars, carved by wind and water into fantastic shapes. A network of hiking trails through the forested hills reveal waterfalls, viewpoints, and deep gorges. The highlight of the Saxon park is the Bastei Bridge, a 76-meter high stone arched bridge that connects the rock formations. You can walk across to stand on the summit of an eroded cliff and look straight down onto the Elbe River. The Pravcicka Brana is the biggest sandstone arch in Europe and the symbol of the Czech national park. The Kamnitz (Kamenice) River has carved a dramatic narrow gorge, which you can travel through in a small boat.

You can see these highlights on the Small-Group Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park Day Trip from Prague, a 13-hour excursion that can include a variety of other options, as well. Depending on which experiences you choose, you can sail on a gondola-style boat down the river, walk along the Elbe, take a boat ride through Gorges of Kamenice, or take a seven- or 15-kilometer guided hike. You can even experience the parks in winter to see the frozen icefalls.

4 Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)

Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad)
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More than a dozen powerful hot springs, some shooting jets of water 14 meters into the air, have made Karlsbad, Karlovy Vary's more commonly used German name, a health resort for many centuries (Holy Roman Emperor Karl, IV is reputed to have discovered the springs in 1358). But there is more to do here than drink or soak in its famed mineral waters. The city is awash in Neoclassical and Art Nouveau spring houses, colonnades, and fountains built at the spa's heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It's also well-known for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of Europe's oldest and only one of the town's cultural attractions. Centuries of wealthy spa-goers needed other activities and amusements, so Karlovy Vary has an active performing arts center, along with art galleries and museums. At the Moser glass factory, you can see artisans creating beautiful art objects in Bohemian crystal.

An easy way to get here is on a Karlovy Vary Day Trip from Prague, a 10-hour tour that takes you by coach through the beautiful Bohemian countryside as you learn from your guide about the history of Karlovy Vary and the Bohemian glass industry. You will visit the Moser factory to watch as the crystal masterpieces are created, then have time to stroll through the spa town and admire the colonnades and other buildings and fountains and sample the waters.

5 Dresden

Dresden
Dresden
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The magnificent Baroque churches, palaces, and other buildings of Dresden's Old Town have been meticulously restored after crushing destruction in World War II and 40 years of neglect when the city was behind the Iron Curtain as part of the GDR. The soaring dome of the Frauenkirche, for many years nothing more than a pile of rubble, stands once more above the city, and the Dresden Royal Palace once again houses its famed Green Room and other treasures of the Dresden State Art Collection. Other highlights of the city are the Zwinger Palace and Semperoper (Semper Opera House), along with the lovely Brühl's Terrace overlooking the Elbe and its riverboats.

On a Dresden Day Trip from Prague, you can travel here by coach through the countryside as your guide explains the history of this city known as the "Florence of the Elbe." Once here, you will visit the Frauenkirche and the Zwinger Old Masters Gallery to see Raphael's Sistine Madonna and other masterpieces. The afternoon is free to explore the city at leisure and visit its other tourist attractions.

6 Vienna

Hofburg Palace
Hofburg Palace
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Gracious and elegant, Vienna was the capital of the Hapsburg Empire, whose glittering palaces and collections make the city one of the art capitals of the world. Three Hapsburg palaces top the list of attractions here: The royal Hofburg Palace in the heart of the city, their summer retreat at Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens, and the Belvedere Palace are works of art in themselves and house priceless collections. St. Stephen's Cathedral is one of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture, enhanced by centuries of additions. The Vienna Staatsoper is among Europe's finest opera houses, part of the historic center of the city that's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

On a Vienna Sightseeing Day Trip from Prague, you can get a good overview of Vienna's illustrious history as you travel along the Danube River through the landscapes of Bohemia and Moravia. On reaching Vienna, the coach tours the famed Ringstrasse that encircles the old center before heading to beautiful Schönbrunn Palace, where there's plenty of time to enjoy its gardens. Later the tour visits the Hofburg Palace and St. Stephen's Cathedral, where you have a guided tour.

7 The Bohemian Paradise

The Bohemian Paradise
The Bohemian Paradise
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In Eastern Bohemia, the spectacular Bohemian Paradise (Český ráj) is a natural area characterized by numerous unique rock formations, splendid old castles, and countless historical buildings. Declared a UNESCO Geopark in 2005, this area of outstanding natural beauty is famed for its many sandstone hills and natural bridges, as well as its tall basalt columns and outcroppings, all of which draw sightseers from across Europe. A highlight of a visit is exploring the park's 180 square kilometers via its superb network of hiking trails, or if you're more inclined to drive, you can take any one of its pretty scenic driving routes, including those that travel past its superb old fortresses such as Trosky and Kost castles. A good place to begin your exploration of the area is from the historic town of Turnov, notable for its fine old churches and architecture.

Address: Antonína Dvořáka 335, 511 01 Turnov

Official site: www.cesky-raj.info/en/

8 Terezin Concentration Camp

Terezin Concentration Camp
Terezin Concentration Camp
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Terezin was a concentration camp north of Prague where more than 150,000 Jews were sent and held for months or years before being sent to extermination camps. Inside the walls of the fortress Theresienstadt, built by Emperor Joseph II of Austria in the late 1700s, it was originally a resort for Czech nobility. In 1940, Nazi Germany had the Gestapo turn Terezín into a Jewish concentration camp for Czech Jews and those deported from countries occupied by the Nazis. Today, the camp is preserved as a memorial to the 33,000 who died from the conditions here, and the 88,000 people who were sent from here to die in extermination camps. You can tour Terezin with an expert guide who will explain the site and its history on a six-hour Terezin Concentration Camp Day Tour from Prague. The tour includes the camp, educational exhibits, and moving Terezin Memorial.

Official site: http://www.terezin.org/

9 The Catacombs of Klatovy

The Catacombs of Klatovy
The Catacombs of Klatovy Donald Judge / photo modified
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Dating back to the 13th century, the town of Klatovy - despite being some 130 kilometers southwest of Prague - is well worth a visit. A highlight of this fortified old town is the 81-meter-tall Black Tower (Cerna vez), built in the mid-16th century at the height of the town's influence (it was an important place of trade and commerce) and notable for the astronomical clock added in the 18th century. Also of interest is the Old Town Hall dating from the 16th century; the white towers of the 17th-century Jesuit Church; and the Klatovy Pharmacy, an old apothecary that has remained unchanged, along with its original equipment and furnishings, since the 18th century. Perhaps the most important attraction in Klatovy, however, are the catacombs. Built in the 17th century by Jesuits constructing the Church of Immaculate Conception and St. Ignatius, they were designed to hold the bodies of Jesuit priests and to serve as protection during times of war, only later becoming the final resting place of nobility and other important persons from Klatovy, many of whose remains can still be seen in various states of preservation.

10 The Příbram Mining Museum

The Příbram Mining Museum
The Příbram Mining Museum
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The town of Příbram, about 63 kilometers southwest of Prague, has a long tradition of mining. Historical records indicate that mineral extraction in the region began as far back as the 10th century when it became an important source of silver, iron ore, and more recently, uranium. While the mines are now closed, the town is home to a fascinating tourist attraction, Mining Museum Příbram, one of the country's largest and oldest museums, established in 1886 on the site of a 16th-century mining pit. The museum showcases the mining techniques and history of mining in the region and includes numerous original buildings and machinery, as well as a chance to travel underground to see firsthand the often difficult conditions faced by miners.

Address: Hynka Klicky Place No. 293, PrIbram, Central Bohemia/Stredocesky 261

11 Plzeň

Plzeň
Plzeň
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Established in the late 13th century, the town of Plzeň, 90 kilometers southwest of Prague, serves as the main administrative center of Western Bohemia. Notable highlights of a visit include the large main square, Square of the Republic (Náměstí Republiky), where you'll find the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew (katedrála sv Bartoloměje), famous for its 100-meter-tall spire, the tallest in the Czech Republic, as well as the Renaissance Old Town Hall. Also of interest is the Great Synagogue, built in the 19th century and the third largest synagogue in the world. Another highlight of a visit to Plzeň is to take a tour of the town's historical network of underground cellars and galleries, many of which date from the 13th to 19th centuries.

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12 Krkonoše National Park

Krkonoše National Park
Krkonoše National Park
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Although it lies a two-hour's drive northeast of Prague on the border with Poland, Krkonoše National Park (Krkonošský národní park) is well worth a visit. Home to the Krkonoše (Giant Mountains), the highest peaks in Bohemia, this national park was established in 1962 to protect the numerous bird species and extensive flora, including many species of rare trees, that inhabit the area. Now listed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reservation, the park's highlights include visiting the quaint spa town of Janské Lázně, while in winter, the ski resorts of Špindlerův Mlýn and Pec pod Sněžkou are busy with winter sports enthusiasts. In addition to skiing, the park is also a popular area for hiking and offers plenty of opportunity for birdwatching. The most popular hike in the mountains is the Harrach Path, which traverses a diverse landscape of rounded mountains, peat bogs, cliffs, and waterfalls.

Address: Dobrovského 3, 543 01 Vrchlabí

Official site: www.krnap.cz/en/

13 Kroměříž Palace and the Titan Gallery

Kroměříž Palace and the Titan Gallery
Kroměříž Palace and the Titan Gallery
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Considered the most extravagant palace in the Czech Republic, Kroměříž Palace - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - should be on every visitor's must-see list. Built as a Bishop's palace in 1686, the palace was almost completely rebuilt following damage sustained in the Thirty Years' War. Today's structure is largely of early Baroque style and is notable for its extensive library of more than 50,000 titles, along with a musical archive containing original scores by Mozart and Haydn. Another highlight is the famous Titan Gallery, one of the largest art collections in the country boasting numerous religious paintings including Veronese's Apostles, and Titian's The Flaying of Marsyas by Apollo, along with works by Jacopo Bassano, Jan and Pieter Brueghel, and Anthony van Dyck. Set along the banks of the Morava River, the large palace grounds are also worth exploring. (English language guided tours are available.)

Address: Sněmovní náměstí 1, 767 01 Kroměříž

Official site: www.zamek-kromeriz.cz/en/

14 The Škoda Auto Museum

The Škoda Auto Museum
The Škoda Auto Museum Black nexus.eu Photography / photo modified
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The Škoda Auto Museum in Mladá Boleslav, a 50-kilometer drive from Prague, makes for a fun day trip and celebrates the achievements of one of only four car manufacturers worldwide with an unbroken track record of more than 100 years. This fun museum consists of a number of interesting exhibits, including a look at the decades of vehicle production that has taken place here, along with a gallery showing engine development from the early 20th century to the present day. Other highlights include a chance to see how Skoda's cars are assembled, as well as seeing numerous classic cars on display and a variety of old machinery in action. Also worth visiting while in Mladá Boleslav is the 17th-century Chateau Mnichovo Hradiště, notable for its chapel where Albrecht von Wallenstein (Valdstejn), a famous warrior of the Thirty Years' War, was buried, along with displays of Delft pottery and porcelain miniatures of Japanese and Chinese origin.

Address: třída Václava Klementa 294, 293 60 Mladá Boleslav

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