Use Pilsen as your home base for experiencing the Czech Republic
If you like beer, surely you’ve heard of the type of beer Pils or Pilsner. They’re named after the Czech city Pilsen, where bottom-fermented lager was first invented many years ago. This fourth-largest city located in West Bohemia, close to the German border, entices visitors not only for the tours of its world-renowned brewery but also thanks to its beautiful historical centre with the Gothic cathedral and one of the oldest synagogues on earth. And the city where four rivers meet has even more to offer. You can use Pilsen as your home base for exploring many of the corners of the Czech Republic. Where can you head off to from Pilsen?
1) Go by train to the capital city of Prague
Of course, trying to experience the Czech Republic without visiting Prague would be like going to Pilsen without trying the beer. From the centre of Pilsen, you can get to the centre of Prague comfortably by taking the train; the ride takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s then up to you whether you want to see the most interesting sights and photo-spots, such as the Old Town with its astronomical clock, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. Or you can explore the lesser-known parts of Prague with fewer tourists, which you’re sure to enjoy just as much.
2) A visit to the largest Czech producer of sparkling wine
You won’t find any vineyard in the countryside surrounding Pilsen. To find one, you’d need to head down to South Moravia. However, in the region where beer is famous, even lovers of sparkling wine won’t go thirsty. Not far from Pilsen, you’ll find the village of Starý Plzenec, also known as the home of Bohemia Sekt – the leading Czech producer of champagne. Here you can take a tour of the production factory as well as a guided sparkling wine tasting. If you’re also planning on going by foot to the local Romanesque rotunda, the Radyně castle ruins, or the gardens of the hunting castle Kozel, one day might not be enough.
3) A Baroque stroll under the starry sky north of Pilsen
From Pilsen, you can certainly make your way to the popular and tourist-packed city of Český Krumlov, whose chateau grounds are included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. However, if you like romantic historical buildings, we’ve got something else for you: A landscape dotted with Baroque sights just north of Pilsen. Admire the monastery in Plasy, visit the chateau in Manětín, or the provostry in Marianske Týnice, built by famous architect Santini. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy a concert, the theatre, or period fireworks at the Summer Baroque Festival.
Our tip: And should your Baroque musing prove insufficient, we have one other special tip for you. The area around the city of Manětín, where the night sky has yet to fall prey to the shining of thousands of artificial lights, is renowned for its dark skies. Can you think of a better place to watch the Perseids in August?
4) From the beer spa to the colonnade in Karlovy Vary
You can enjoy a non-traditional wellness experience at the beer spa inside the Purkmistr brewery. Apparently, this local beer isn’t only beneficial for your digestion but your skin and hair too. Nevertheless, even beer can’t replace a romantic stroll along the colonnade. In West Bohemia, you can visit a number of wonderful spa towns. For instance, you can set off for the world-famous city of Karlovy Vary, where greats such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Freud spent some time, and the celebrated festival dedicated to the stars of the silver screen has been held for the past 10 years. Mariánské Lázně is also worth a visit. So much so that it charmed England’s King Edward VII enough to make repeated visits in the city.