As I wrote almost four years ago (man, times flies), I wrote about my three-week trip to the Czech Republic. During this time, I elected to travel around the country as frankly, you don’t hear about the other cities as much. Whether it be for partying or because of its name recognition, Prague seems to be in the limelight. Don’t get me wrong, I love Prague, but at this point I’m a bit jaded of seeing a rise in tacky souvenirs and somewhat dodgy restaurants that cater to tourists combined with too many stag parties. So, if you feel the same way, may I offer you my thoughts on an alternative destination in Bohemia: Plzen. Home to the famous Pilsner Urquell brewery, among other things, the Bohemian city feels far cozier than everybody’s favorite Czech capital. Here’s why!
For starters, getting there isn’t very complicated, as the train journey takes about an hour or so, replete with some absolutely gorgeous countryside. Accessibility to the city is super convenient, as the train station is a 5 minute taxi from the center of the city; I had my luggage with me, but I probably could have walked to my hostel otherwise. One of the first things that struck me was how laid back the city seemed. Honestly, after the hustle and bustle of Prague, it was nice to get away from that. Despite being fantastically hot during my stay, strolling along the quaint neighborhoods was a real treat. Upon doing some research, Plzen is the fourth most populous city in the entire country, yet it didn’t feel that way. It also was named as one of two European Capitals of Culture (along with the Belgian city of Mons), which attests to its uniqueness. Gotta love that, right? Also, in my experience, a sign of a cozy city is how easily walkable it is, and Plzen definitely met this criteria! From what I recall, you had all the amenities and culture of Prague, but in a smaller chunk of territory and slightly cheaper prices, but I also felt locals were a bit more authentic. More importantly, getting to and from the brewery takes no time at all, which is a vital aspect of any trip. And on that note, the beer is amazing, naturally. As I mentioned before, Pilsner Urquell dominates the alcohol scene, but there’s also the underrated Gambrinus beer to complement your tastes; they’re two of my favorite beers, period, so I was unabashedly drinking to my heart’s content the entire time in the country. If you go in the summer or winter, you have plenty of chances to drink and be merry. Better yet, you can get a discount in participating restaurants after touring the brewery, so cheers!
All in all, I cannot recommend Plzen enough, be it out of curiosity to see more of the splendid Czech Republic/Czechia or if you want to get away from Prague. You’re bound to enjoy this fantastic city!