Day Trip from Prague: Beer, Baroque, and Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice

Day Trip from Prague: Beer, Baroque, and Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice

Olga Hayes, MIR’s Senior Private Journeys Specialist and native of St. Petersburg, recently spent some time in Czech Republic. She and her husband Ray spent a day exploring the town of Ceske Budejovice, home of the original Budweiser beer.

Olga enjoying the view in Prague. Photo: Ray Hayes

Olga enjoying the view in Prague
Photo: Ray Hayes

When people think about Czech Republic, they usually picture its capital, Prague, and the two most famous smaller towns, Ceske Krumlov and Karlovy Vary. But there are many more interesting and charming places in this old country. One of them is Ceske Budejovice. 

A Bohemian Beauty

With a population of less than 100,000 people, Ceske Budejovice is known as the capital of the South Bohemian region of Czech Republic. The city was founded in 1256 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. Since then it’s been a part of the complicated history of this Central European country.

(click on photo to see larger version)

A day trip from Prague sounded like a very good idea for me and my husband. And visiting Ceske Budejovice turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip!

The streets of Ceske Budejovice. Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

The lived-in streets of old Ceske Budejovice
Photo: Ray Hayes

We left Prague in the early morning and after two hours of driving through farms and fields, we arrived at the town. The historic part of it is very well preserved, and doesn’t have a “touristy” look. Quite the opposite – it feels real and alive, with very few tourists and the normal everyday life of locals to be seen. We crossed the bridge over the Vltava River and enjoyed a few hours walking around this charming place.

Walking across the bridge into the Old Town Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

Walking across the bridge into the Old Town
Photo: Ray Hayes

Architectural Medley 

The narrow streets were almost empty in the early afternoon on a weekday. Most people were at work, and the kids were at school. The Old Town has an assortment of architecture ranging from Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque, to 19th century art nouveau.

A local biking around town Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

A bumpy bike ride in Ceske Budejovice
Photo: Ray Hayes

Stop by the Central Square

Every small old European city seemingly must have a Central Square. The one in Ceske Budejovice is called Ottokar II Square. It’s really large – much bigger then you might expect in such a small city.

More beautiful architecture in the Square Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

The baroque Town Hall anchors one side of the square
Photo: Ray Hayes

Central Square SpotsThe Samson Fountain is in the middle of the square. The Old Town Hall has murals and bronze gargoyles. The 16th century Black Tower and St. Nicholas Cathedral are on another side of the square.

Samson Fountain in the sun.  Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

Samson Fountain on Ottokar II Square
Photo: Ray Hayes

The Black Tower and St. Nicholas Cathedral. Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

The Black Tower and St. Nicholas Cathedral
Photo: Ray Hayes

Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

The Mary chapel in St. Nicholas Cathedral
Photo: Ray Hayes

Watch Your StepThe “death” stone – the place where executions were carried out in the Middle Ages, has a legend around it. Locals believe people should not to step on it – if you do, you will never find your way home. We didn’t step – just in case.

Watch your step! Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

Watch your step! It’s the death stone
Photo: Ray Hayes

The Dominican ConventThe most famous historic building in the Old Town is the Dominican convent with the Gothic Presentation of the Virgin Mary church from the 13th century. It’s simple and beautiful, inside and out.

A colorful church in the Old Town Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

The Dominican Convent and its clock tower in the Old Town
Photo: Ray Hayes

Adjacent to the convent is the Salt House, built in the 16th century as a granary,and later used as an armory. Today it’s a motorcycle museum.

The Black Tower in Ceske Budejovice. Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

The Salt House in Ceske Budejovice
Photo: Ray Hayes

Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic

Masné krámy traditional restaurant
Photo: Ray Hayes

Recommendation: Try Traditional Goulash Here

We enjoyed lunch at Masné krámy, a restaurant that occupies a 14th century meat market – it was fun to have traditional goulash with different types of knedliki (dumplings), including sweet ones for dessert, and great local beer inside such a place. I recommend it to everybody!

Czech Pride: Budweiser Brewery

Most Czech food is not really “unique” – it reminds me of the food of many surrounding countries. But local beer is a subject of national pride. Budejovice has been well known for breweries since the 13th century. Budweiser Bier was made specifically for the Holy Roman Emperor, starting in 1256! If you like beer, you should go to Ceske Budejovice and take a tour of the Budweiser Budvar Brewery, founded in 1895. If you don’t like beer – take this tour anyway.

I don’t drink beer, but I was really impressed – I could never have imagined how complicated the process is and how much history, and even politics, could be involved in the centuries of beer brewing!

Time for the tasting Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

Budweiser ingredients
Photo: Ray Hayes

The brewery has legal rights to market its beer under the Budweiser name in much of Europe. The American lager was originally brewed as an imitation of the famous Bohemian one, but then developed its own identity. According to my husband, Czech Budweiser is better than the American one.

Ray gives it his seal of approval. Photo: Olga Hayes

Ray gives it his seal of approval
Photo: Olga Hayes

The tour starts with a walk around the factory grounds. A hundred years ago about 150 people worked at the brewery all the time. On our tour we saw only three employees – and one was our guide.

Most people especially like the tasting part – everybody was allowed to taste freshly made beer before it was bottled. The room was in a basement, and was very cold – 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit).

Beer is made in one building but bottled in another one. Then it goes straight onto the railway cars.

Train at Budweiser station.  <br>Photo: Olga & Ray Hayes

Train at Budweiser station
Photo: Ray Hayes

A lot of tourists visit the factory every year and learn about the pride of Czech Republic. A small museum shows old machines that were used about 100 years ago, and the souvenir shops offer souvenirs connected to the beer theme.

And – of course – everybody wants to take a picture with the famous beer bottle.

A can't miss photo opportunity Photo: Ray Hayes

A can’t-miss photo opportunity
Photo: Ray Hayes

Travel to Czech Republic with MIR

MIR is an award-winning company with over 30 years of travel experience in this area of the world, providing a superior edge in on-the-ground operations. 

You can visit Prague and Cesky Krumlov, a beautifully preserved UNESCO-listed medieval town on MIR’s private train journey, New Year’s in Vienna by Private Train.

Or, sample original Budweiser in Ceske Budejovice with the help of our custom and private journey specialists

MIR specializes in personalized, private journeys, and we’d love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you. Travel wherever, however, and with whomever you like, relying on our expert assistance. Contact us to find out more about our custom and private travel expertise – each trip handcrafted to your interests, dates and pace.

Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Czech Republic by phone (800-424-7289) or email today. 


Top photo: Olga admires a baroque side chapel at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic. Photo: Ray Hayes

PUBLISHED: November 17, 2017

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2 thoughts on “Day Trip from Prague: Beer, Baroque, and Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice

  • Peter Prisegem

    We have been there and the original Budwieser is much better than the US version. The US version gives me heart burn. The Czech on tastes great.

    Also, MIR trips are fantastic.

    • Olga Hayes

      Peter, my husband agrees with you! He is also sure that the original Budwieser is much better than the American version 🙂