Pilsen City Guide

Pilsen City Guide

Be inspired to explore Europe's joint Capital of Culture 2015, the city of Plzeň.

Sights

A place of religion and history, Pilsen is the Czech Republic's hidden gem. This year, Pilsen, or Plzeň as it's spelled in Czech, was awarded the joint title of European Capital of Culture, with the city of Mons in Belgium, so it's no surprise that it's one of the most fascinating and charming cities to visit. To inspire you for your visit to this captivating city, we've put together a guide to making the most of your time there. From exploring the city's beautiful places of worship, to having fun at the local breweries, Pilsen is a city for every taste.

History and culture

The Great Synagogue, Velká Synagoga

The Great Synagogue, Velká Synagoga, is the second largest synagogue in Europe, and an amazing example of Czech architecture. Its original designs were put forward by Viennese architect, Max Fleischer, which included 65-metre high towers and gothic-style buttresses. But, the government didn't want the synagogue to compete with the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew elsewhere in the city, and so Fleischer's design was scrapped and replaced with Emmanuel Klotz's, which lowered the towers to just 20-metres, and changed the gothic design to include an oriental theme and neo-renaissance style.

The finished building features a mix of styles from around the world, and includes a giant star of David on the front exterior, a breathtaking roof of red and white tiles, and beautiful domes.

The beautiful sights of Plzeň

The beautiful sights of Plzeň.

The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, Katedrála Sv. Bartoloměje

The Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, or Katedrála Sv. Bartoloměje, is another example of Pilsen's amazing architecture, and is definitely worth exploring during your trip. Located on the city's main square, this wondrous example of gothic architecture was completed in the 16th century, and includes a spire that is 102.6-metres high, making it the tallest church in the Czech Republic.

To really appreciate its beauty, wander inside to admire its stunning interiors, such as the deep-red bricks that make up the walls, and the long, tall stained glass windows that let in a rainbow of light.

Plzeň Historical Underground

For an extraordinary glimpse into Pilsen's past, make your way down to the city's underground, a system that was built from as early as the 14th century, and completed during the 19th century. Of the 11-kilometres of tunnels that have been excavated, 500-metres of this underworld labyrinth of passages, cellars and wells is open for you to explore.

Guided tours are available, and various exhibitions and displays include a treasure trove of medieval findings that will fascinate and amaze you.

Museum of West Bohemia

Founded in 1878, The Museum of West Bohemia is huge, including a range of many other museums and galleries, such as the Museum of Religious Art of the Pilsen Diocese and the Puppet Museum. The museum features a vast collection of historical, artistic and scientific artefacts, and provides visitors with fascinating exhibitions, lectures, guided tours and workshops throughout the year.

Exhibitions past and present have explored a range of interesting topics, such as Czech and German Bohemia during the 19th century, via a collection of historical artefacts, including books, money and busts. Past exhibits featured archaeological studies, such as palaeontology, which included rare and unusual paleontological specimens.

Fun things to do

DinoPark

For a fun day out with your kids, make your way over to DinoPark and Pilsen's Zoo, where you can explore and admire life-sized dinosaurs and exotic animals. You and your kids can pose for photos with the park's Tyrannosaurus Rex and Diplodocus, explore life underwater in the 3D cinema's Dino Aquarium, and get to grips with the animals in the zoo. From watching the flamingos huddle together, to admiring the beauty of the prowling cheetahs, your kids will love learning about animals and reptiles from the past and present.

Explore the dinosaurs at DinoPark

Explore the dinosaurs at DinoPark

Techmania Science Center

If you and your family love learning about science, head over to Pilsen's Techmania Science Center, for a day of scientific fun. Established in 2005 by Škoda Investment, this wonderful science centre is home to a range of interactive exhibits, as well as the Czech Republic's first 3D Planetarium.

During your time there, take part in the many exhibitions, such as Man Versus Animal, where you can learn how we compare to the force of other species, or discover just how powerful water is in the wet and interactive Water World.

On top of all of the fun exhibits, be sure to stop by the planetarium, where you can sit back and watch a range of 2D and 3D dome projections of educational movies that explore the world of astronomy.

Pilsner Urquell Brewery

Pilsner is a famous type of pale lager, which has been brewed in the city of Pilsen since 1842. Golden in colour, with a high foaminess and light flavour, the Czech version of the lager is a true delight to drink during a sunny day spent sightseeing.

If you want to learn more about the country and city's favourite beer, a trip to Pilsner Urquell Brewery is a definite must. During a tour of the brewery, you'll find out all about the history of the beer and how it's made. You'll also get the chance to attend the brewery's beer tapping school, where expert staff will teach you how to correctly tap your beer, give lessons on the correct lingo to use, and you'll get a ride on the onsite horse and carriage, during a tour of the brewery's grounds.

Where to eat

Zumbera

This classic Czech restaurant is the perfect place for those of you looking to sample delicious and homely Czech cuisine. Popular choices include the ribs, which are served with garlic and plum sauce, and the pork knee with potato croquettes and tomato salad. For dessert, you can look forward to enjoying plates of pancakes covered in chocolate and fresh fruit, which goes perfectly with a pint or two of the local beer.

Na Parkánu

Located in a historical building that was once used as a prison and a locksmith's workshop, this charming restaurant offers a modern take on traditional Czech dishes. On a sunny day, sit on the outdoor terrace, and dig into roasted sausages with mustard and horseradish, or fried pork schnitzel with delicious potato dumplings. After your main, you can finish your evening with a portion of apple strudel covered in nuts and whipped cream, as well as a pint of beer in the neighbouring brewery museum.

El Cid

For something a little different, check out El Cid, an amazing tapas restaurant that's perfect for when you fancy a quick nibble. Snack on marinated octopus or Spanish Serrano ham with caramelised pear, or try the restaurant's Asian influenced dishes, which include pork tenderloin wrapped in nori seaweed, which is served with wasabi mashed potato and pickled ginger.

Places to stay

Budget

For somewhere cheap, but full of character, book a stay at the Hostel River,, where rooms go for as low as just £10 a night. Located close to the River Radbuza, the city centre and Pilsner Urquell Brewery, this charming hostel includes spacious rooms with comfortable beds and sofas, as well as a garden where you can enjoy barbecues during the summer.

Mid-range

For somewhere comfortable, that doesn't break the bank, enjoy a stay at the Courtyard Pilsen hotel, which is run by the Marriott group. The hotel includes delightful rooms that are pet friendly, so you can bring along your four-legged friends, as well as an onsite gym and eatery, the Pils`n`Grill Restaurant & Bar. After a busy day exploring the city's sights, relax on your room's balcony with a glass of wine, and enjoy a perfect end to a brilliant day.

Luxury

For accommodation like no other, book an apartment with Golden Fish Hotel Apartments,where luxury and comfort are top priorities. Located close to the stunning Borský Park, this four-star collection of apartments is perfect for those of you looking for something special during your time in Pilsen. Each apartment is stylish and chic, and includes a beautiful bathroom, comfortable bedding and a living space with TV. On top of the accommodation, the hotel also includes an amazing restaurant and bar, that's perfect for when you fancy a relaxing evening in.

Enjoy the expensive taste of Spain's angulas.

Getting there and around

It takes just 35-minutes to cross the Channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle,meaning you'll be on the road and on your way to Plzeň in no time at all.

Book your journey

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Photo Credits:
Admire the Great Synagogue
Wander inside the beautiful Cathedral of St. Bartholomew
Explore the dinosaurs at DinoPark
Enjoy a glass or two of Pilsner during one your pitstops
The beautiful sights of Plzeň.
Discover the city of Plzeň.

All pictures licensed for commercial use at time of publication.

Book travel

from £23
Prices start from £23 per car, each way* *£23 Day Trip & Overnight - Ticket must be purchased as part of a 2 day return. Return must be completed by midnight (local time) on the second calendar day. Book your travel now