Plzeň, Česká Republika 🇨🇿
With winter being here, I figured it was about time for me to start sharing the adventures we had almost a year ago, so that people can get ideas of what to do on a day the weather warms up and the skies are clear.
Last February, AJ and I decided to take a day trip to Pilsen, Czechia with a group of our closest friends to see what this city had to offer. Going in, we really only knew that the Pilsner (or Pils) style of beer got its name from there, but aside from that we did very little research and just went.
One thing you should know though, if you’re driving into Czech, is that you might need to get a vignette for your car if you’re using one of the main highways. It’s basically just a toll for the roadways if you’re not driving a vehicle registered there. It’s a simple affordable process that can be done online or at most border areas. Usually the in-person method will save you a couple bucks, but the speed and convenience of registering online is what we typically do. So make sure to find out if you need a vignette for the roads you’ll be travelling on before you get caught with a fine.
Aside from that one logistical obligation, we booked our Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tours, and got in the car ready for our adventure! It was only an 80 minute drive from our home, so it was a perfect location for us to take a risk and not stress so much about timing or hotels, as we’d be returning home that evening.
Our first stop was lunch, so we just walked into the first restaurant we saw that was open. It was called Lékárna and was pleasantly surprising. My husband noticed an item on the menu in Czech which translated to something like “Chef’s Surprise,” which, with him always wanting to try new things, he excitedly took the risk and went for it. What ended up coming out was a pickled fish dish! The rest of us ordered food that we recognized from the menu (😂) and had everything from chicken, chocolate cake, and a delicious goulash.
Spoiler: he loved the fish.
Right after lunch, we went to the ATM, since the Czech Republic uses their own currency — the koruna or Crown (CZK). This wasn’t entirely necessary since a lot of places accept cards, but we feel its always safer to have some local currency on us.
Since our tour had a start time, we were off to find the Pilsner Urquell Brewery to learn about the home of the original Pilsner, and the history of the brewery (in English). Seriously, this was a pretty cool tour, and you even got to try an unfiltered Pilsner in the underground portion of the brewery, which was AMAZING. There were a couple of people in our group that aren’t necessarily beer drinkers and they all enjoyed it as well. Also, it’s worth mentioning that ticket for the tour was extremely reasonable — about the equivalent to $6 USD, and the half-liter of Pilsner came with the ticket. It was a great way to burn about 90 minutes, learn some history, and cap it off with a delicious beer on a budget.
After some shopping at the brewery’s souvenir shop, we went back to the main square. Unfortunately many places were closed even though it was a Saturday, but that was most likely because it was still during COVID times. But that’s okay — we were still able to get into the St. Bartholomew Cathedral. Then half of us went up the gothic Cathedral’s clock tower to look over the city, and the other half of us went to a puppet toy shop. A fun fact about the cathedral is that it’s actually the tallest church in all of Czechia, standing at over 334ft (102 meters) tall!
The only other thing one of us (my husband AJ) had heard of was that there was a General Patton Memorial somewhere in Pilsen so we went on a hunt for it. It’s a unique monument that was built in order to honor the role Patton’s 3rd Army played in liberating the city in May of 1945 during the final days of World War II. The monument is supposed to be viewed from a certain angle which displays an at first hard-to-notice side profile silhouette of Patton’s head with his helmet on. It might be hard to trick your eyes into seeing it, but once you see it, you can’t unsee it. We also thought it was a nice touch that the memorial is located in close proximity to Pilsen’s Great Synagogue. Fun Fact: The Great Synagogue is Czech’s largest, Europe’s second largest, and the world’s third largest synagogue!
Dinner for us was a tough one, while we did try to get into a few places that looked good — they were all reservation only. Luckily we found Restaurace Republika24, and all of us were happy with our selections. Honestly, Czech food is very underrated in general. They have some very unique and tasty dishes at an always affordable price!
Unfortunately, a day trip can only be called such if you eventually go home the same day. So, although there was more we wanted to experience in Pilsen, the time had come for us to leave. We had eaten dinner, the sun was down, and we had had a great day. From there we went back to the parking garage, and drove back to beautiful Bavaria! Check out the summary video below to see some of the highlights of our time in the birthplace of pilsner beers: Pilsen, Czech Republic! 🇨🇿
Parking Garage: Parking House Rychtářka
Lunch: Lékárna – restaurant – šenk
Dinner: Restaurace Republika24