Getting from Prague to Plzen
For people who have been to Prague before and want to explore the country then Plzen has a lot going for it. Remember that in 2015, Plzen was the European City of Culture. Let’s get it out there right now. The number one reason for people going from Prague to Plzen is the brewery. World famous since 1842 (if you are in Prague then the bar/restaurant U Pinkasu was the first in Prague to serve Pilsner) it’s an absolute magnet for beer lovers.
Tour TIps in Plzen
I recommend three tours. One is a pickup from Prague which includes the brewery plus lunch but you also combine it with a trip to the Rukl glass factory. The second requires you to first go to Plzen (train is the easiest) but what they call the “Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour is run by the brewery itself so no lunch on this one but you do get to try some beers in the cellar. Finally it’s a mini-tour of the city which includes some pub food which also requires you to travel to Plzen. To get to Plzen allow 90 minutes by public transport and a short walk.
Staying in Plzen
I look at Plzen as an overnight stay or maybe a weekend if you are driving and want to use it as a base. I have a favourite hotel in Plzen, actually just outside the very centre located next to a very pleasant mill pond and park. Those who know me will know that I like the 3 star class but here you can go an extra star and still keep a reasonable price. Free parking, 10 minutes walk to anything you’ll want to see. Check the Hotel Gondola in Plzen.
What’s to See?
Ok, that’s out of the way so what else have we got. Well, we have the second largest Cathedral in the country on a beautiful main square and we have the popular Dino Park for kids. Location-wise Plzen is halfway between Prague and the Spa town of Karlovy Vary so if you are prepared for a long day you can get from Prague to Plzen for an early lunch/brunch on the square, go on to Karlovy Vary for the afternoon and still be back in Prague for 9pm. To the west of the square there’s a small Botanical Garden and to the south of the main square is the Old Jewish Synagogue (opens from April to October). May/June is usually the open-air “Metalfest” rock festival and in September you’ll find the International Theatre Festival.
If you have a car or are hiring a car while you are here then of course, driving is the fastest via the D5 motorway and you’ll find ample parking much cheaper than Prague parking tariffs. You’ll need a motorway sticker and driving time should be about 40 minutes. Take lots of CZK10 and CZK20 coins for parking meters or if you are going to the centre or at the brewery there’s a car park.
Student Agency runs a bus service during the day every hour and in peak times every 30 minutes between 7am and 9pm and it only takes an hour to get to Plzen (TIP: If you are making your own way to the brewery then get off at “Terminal Hlavni Nadrazi” (train station) and the brown tourism signs show you the way to the brewery. If you are visiting the centre of Plzen i.e. the square and Cathedral then stay on the bus and get off at CAN, the bus depot, and walk back 500 metres to the centre). Current cost is 3.8 Euros (about CZK90).
Again the service from Prague to Plzen Main Station (Plzen Hl. Nadrazi) takes about an hour and costs about CZK100 one-way. For the brewery, exit the station to the North (Severni) and follow the brown tourism signs or the Google Maps link is https://goo.gl/maps/cdyL3s7Fq2zTW2Yv5. If I wasn’t using a car then this would be my preferred route. Be sure to read the Prague Main Train Station post.