The name of the city speaks for itself – Pilsen is the birthplace of the famous Czech beer Pilsner, which has been brewed here since the day it was founded. The abundance of beer restaurants and cafes, the obligatory visit to the brewery museum, and even the presence of vending machines selling canned beer on the street (of course, subject to the presentation of a document confirming the age of majority of the buyer in the place of a special scanner), unambiguously declare that you are in a “pub capital of the Czech Republic. At the same time, the city, founded in the 13th century, which has retained its medieval flavor and contained traces of all subsequent historical periods, is still the industrial, cultural and administrative center of Western Bohemia. See MATERNITYETCHIC for Czech Republic customs regulations and visa requirements.
Pilsen is interesting for its architecture: it did not grow on the site of a settlement or stronghold, as was common in those centuries, but was built by royal decree on a plain. The city was divided into quarters with a huge central square (the largest in Western Europe), and its streets intersected exclusively at right angles.
How to get to Pilsen
There are several direct buses from Prague to Pilsen: from the station. metro Zlicin, on the way 1 hour and from the bus station Praha, on the way 1 hour 40 minutes. In addition, you can get here by bus from Karlovy Vary (1.5 hours, 8 departures per day).
Trains to Pilsen depart daily from 4:00 to 23:30 from Prague Central Station (Praha – Hlavni nadrazi CD), departure every hour, 1.5 hours on the way. From České Budějovice it is more convenient to travel by train (1.5 hours) than by bus (2.5 hours). In addition, Pilsen is located on the Prague- Munich railway line.
Tourist Information Offices
There are two official tourist centers in Pilsen, one of which is located on the central square, Náměstí Republiky 41 – main office, entrance to the left of the Town Hall, tel. +420 378 035 330.
The second one is at the central railway station (Nádražní 102). Here you will receive information about upcoming cultural events, as well as a free city map.
The historical part of the city is quite compact, so the best way to get around it is on foot. However, a developed network of public transport (trams, trolleybuses and buses) will allow you to get to any destination. Tickets can be bought at tobacco kiosks and shops, as well as at vending machines at bus stops (not available everywhere).
Cuisine and restaurants in Pilsen
Plzeň’s restaurants are, without a doubt, a gastronomic paradise for lovers of good beer and corresponding snacks, traditional for Czech cuisine. In many bars of the city, as well as at the brewery itself, you can try some varieties (unfiltered, unpasteurized) that you will not find anywhere else.
But diversifying the menu will not be difficult – the city has an impressive number of cafes, restaurants and eateries offering Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, Japanese cuisine. Adherents of a healthy diet can recommend the organic food restaurant Slunecnice zdrava vyziva sro or Vegetka restaurant with a vegetarian menu.
It is worth visiting the largest restaurant in the city – Na Spilce (U Prazdroje 7, tel.: +420 377 062 755), which can seat 550 people at the same time.
Other good restaurants are Plzenska basta (Riegrova 5) with traditional cuisine, the oldest in the city U Salzmannu (Prazska 8) or Na Parkane (Veleslavinova 4) where you can try the unfiltered Pilsner Urquell.
Shopping and shops
In the historic center you will find antique shops, fashion boutiques, as well as shops where you can buy Bohemian glass. All sorts of souvenirs are sold at the information center, as well as at the brewery museum. There are several large shopping centers in the city, most of which are located in the suburbs on the main highways, with the exception of Plzeň Plaza, which is located directly in the city center. In addition to shopping, the centers invite you to visit cinemas, cafes and restaurants, children can be entertained in play areas and complexes.
On the main square of Pilsen, almost at any time of the year, you will find festive fairs in the best traditions of old Europe – Easter (March-April), Christmas (November-December), St. Valentine’s Day (February), St. Bartholomew’s Day (in August), and many others.
Entertainment and attractions in Pilsen
We recommend starting your acquaintance with the city from the observation deck of the Gothic Cathedral of St. Bartholomew (62 m), located on Republic Square, from the height of which offers an impressive view. The tower of the cathedral (102.6 m) was the final monumental chord during the construction of medieval Pilsen, and to this day it is the highest in the Czech Republic. According to an urban legend, touching the angel on the cathedral railing brings good luck, though you may have to stand in a long line of fortune hunters.
Walk through the historical center, which is a colorful canvas that “weaves” buildings and monuments of all possible architectural eras: not far from the cathedral is the “representative” of the Renaissance – the City Hall (XVI), a baroque monument – the bishopric building, the building of the Museum of Western Bohemia – late Renaissance, the building of a large synagogue – Moorish-Romanesque style of the 19th century.
The main modern attraction of the city, which attracts the largest number of tourists, is the Brewery Museum. In addition to visiting the museum itself, guided tours are organized to the Pilsner Urquell or Gambrinus breweries, located on the territory of the Plzensky Prazdroj plant.
The beginning of the exposition of the mysterious Pilsen historical dungeon is located on the territory of the museum. The system of underground passages and corridors penetrating the entire historical center is the largest in Central Europe. Going down into the catacombs, you will see an exhibition of archaeological finds, as well as a replica of the medieval city water supply system.
Pilsen is a city very friendly to small tourists. Here is a magnificent zoo, in which, along with only a few zoos in the world, you can see, for example, exotic lizards from Komodo Island. Animals are not locked in cages, but walk around vast enclosures that imitate wildlife.
Excursion to Pilsner Urquell Brewery
During the tour, you can observe the process of production of Pilsner Urquell beer, which has remained unchanged since 1842. A historical digression, watching a film about the secrets of beer production, visiting a modern bottling line, and, of course, tasting beer directly from the barrels in the brewery cellars will not leave indifferent any beer lover.
The tour can be booked in advance, in which case the tour will be conducted in Russian. Tours without a reservation are available in Czech, English and German. The duration of the tour is 1 hour 40 minutes.
Excursion to the Gambrinus brewery
In August 2010, the Gambrinus brewery, founded in 1869, opened its doors to visitors. Here you can also follow the brewing process in action, get acquainted with the ingredients, technology, methods of production quality control, see the interactive presentation of the Gambrinus Arena and enjoy the taste of beer during the tasting. Of the negative points: at the moment the excursion program is only available in Czech.
To visit the cellars, it is recommended to stock up on warm clothes – the temperature inside is about +8 degrees.
Anyone over the age of 18 can visit the breweries. Younger tourists are allowed accompanied by adults, but no more than 5 people per accompanying person. Of course, only those who have crossed this age line will be able to participate directly in the tasting.
Museums in Pilsen
Both parents and children will be interested in the Puppet Museum, and thrill-seekers cannot miss the Ghost Museum, both located on Republic Square.
Other museums in the city: West Bohemian Museum, Ethnographic Museum of the Pilsen Region, City Art Gallery, Masne Kramy Gallery, Jiri Trnka Art Gallery.
Almost all Pilsen attractions operate in two modes: from April to September, during the high tourist season, they are open daily from 9:00 to 19:00, and in winter from 9:00 to 18:00.
Every year in October, the city hosts the largest and one of the oldest beer festivals in the Czech Republic – Pilsner Fest. It is a kind of finale of a number of various beer festivities. The festival begins every year with a pour of free beer, the so-called Pilsen Twelve. Concerts are held in the main square, and costumed performances are held in the beer museum.
Another interesting festival, In The Streets, takes place in the first half of August. At this time, several stages are set up in the city center, on which musical and theatrical performances are arranged.