Want to take a break from Prague but not break the bank? Check out these cheap day trips only a few hours from Prague.
Česky Krumlov is located about two hours from Prague in South Bohemia. This means that if you study at NYU Prague, then you are located about two hours from a piece of heaven. Česky Krumlov is a small town and a UNESCO world heritage site. It can definitely be seen in a day, but if you want to hike around the area then I would suggest two days.
The Vltava river forms a sort of island here. There are plenty of restaurants, churches, and shops lining the small alleys and streets. The biggest attraction is without a doubt the 13th century castle. The castle is not as grand as I originally imagined, but after being lucky enough to travel across Europe four times now, I will admit I am a bit castle jaded. Still, it is absolutely worth a visit as the views from the top of the bell tower are spectacular. I’m talking background of wedding pictures spectacular.
Aside from the castle, there is an art center there, Egon Schiele Art Centrum, which is named after an Austrian painter and worth checking out. I would recommend visiting in the less touristy months if you can. I went in mid-March; plenty of shops and restaurants were still open, and there were barely any annoying tourists’ selfie sticks in my photos.
A spa town in Western Bohemia known for expensive hot thermal resorts and spa treatments may not seem like an ideal day trip for a college student, but it is absolutely worth visiting. It is also home to the Becherovka museum, some beautiful churches, and of course the famous Hotel Pupp where James Bond Casino Royale was filmed. By bus, it is a little less than two hours from Prague.
The city is gorgeous and easy to walk around in a day. Karlovy Vary is famous for its many detailed colonnades which are basically long gazebos with lots of columns. Many of them house small fountains which contain the spring and thermal water that the city is known for. The water is supposed to be extremely healthy for you, but BEWARE. It has a high sulfur content and tastes like blood, so I would not recommend drinking it unless you are still a huge Twilight fan (in which case you may want to just stay home and think about where you went wrong in life.)
During the trip, definitely also check out the Diana observation tower; it provides views of the city and surrounding mountains that are so incredible Drake could write a whole new album simply about them. The Diana Observation Tower can be reached by foot or by incline for 45kc per person.
Kutna Hora is best (and really only) known for the “bone church” located in one of the city’s suburbs. The “bone church” is better known as the Sedlec Ossuary which is also a world heritage site. There is a small fee to enter the Roman Catholic chapel located above a cemetery. But really, seeing a church with a chandelier made of skulls inside is priceless (cue Mastercard promotion).
It takes about an hour to get to Kutna Hora via train from Prague, and you definitely do not need more than about four hours in the city. While there, check out St. Barbara’s church as well as the area around it. The town is walkable, but aside from the Sedlec Ossuary and St. Barbara’s, there is not much to see.
Dresden is only about a two hour bus ride from Prague and is a great place to go for a quick, stress-free day trip. Most of the tourist sites are located in the same area and can be probably done in a half day. I split the half day between Altstadt (Old Town), where most of the tourist sites are, and Neustadt (New Town), which had a hip, artsy vibe.
If you're short on time, just go to Old Town and hit all the must-see's. I started at Frauenkirche, a gorgeous baroque church. You can climb to the top for a few euros to get panoramic views of the whole city. Then be sure to check out the Zwinger Palace (go inside to check out the art gallery if time permits), the palace's gardens, the opera house, and the Procession of Princes, which is the largest porcelain mural in the world.
If you're feeling ambitious, cross the river and head to New Town. The best attraction is the Kunsthoffpassage, which is a street with colorful buildings, interesting architecture, and tons of cute boutiques and cafes. The surrounding area has lots of cool restaurants, bars, and shopping that are worth checking out.
Featured image of Cesky Krumlov by Emily Bertha