Check out all the best things to do in České Budějovice, the capital of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic. This historic, medieval city is truly beautiful from the colorful buildings on the town square to the beautiful countryside that surrounds it.
We recommend planning a visit to this historic and famous beer city when visiting not only the Czech Republic, but Central Europe.
Check out our complete guide to all the best things to do, see, and experience while you’re in this incredible South Bohemian city.
Travel Tips for České Budějovice
While you can totally visit and enjoy most of our picks for best things to do in České Budějovice by public transportation, we highly recommend you renting a car as many of the options we choose in the surrounding area are only accessible by car and worth seeing.
Exploring the Czech countryside is best done by car so you can experience first hand the beauty of the country by road, make unexpected stops, and access some of these great, unique gems we’ve recommended in this guide.
We recommend booking your car in advance on Expedia.
If you’re going to be needing train or bus tickets, we like to use Go Euro to look up timetables and book our tickets in advance. They will show you the times, fares, and redirect you to the site to buy your tickets beforehand, it’s surprisingly very easy.
Be sure to refer to our Czech Republic travel guide for more basic tips from money, transportation, accommodation, and other travel planning information you need to know before visiting the Czech Republic.
Also, if you’re looking for a great route to take during your road trip or travels throughout the Czech Republic we recommend checking out our 3, 5, or 8 day Czech Republic itinerary to help you take a huge load of the planning off your shoulders!
Brief History and Interesting Facts About České Budějovice
The capital of South Bohemia as an interesting history and is known as one of the greatest beer towns in the country who has been brewing as far back as the 13th-century.
České Budějovice is the Czech way to say the name of this city while Budweis is the German way to say the name of the city. For centuries both Germans and Czech co-existed here in this important city in the Kingdom of Bohemia.
České Budějovice was founded in 1265 by King Přemysl Otakar II of Bohemia, or known locally in Czech as Přemysl Otakar II. He was also the one who granted the city for brewing rights.
The most famous of the breweries is the Budweis brewery, known as Budějovický Budvar or known as Budweiser to us Americans.
Budweiser actually is protected under the EU under the Protected Geographical Indication status. This means Budweiser can only officially be produced here in České Budějovice, Budweiser comes from the Budweis brewery. Similar to how only Pilsner can come from the Czech city of Pilsen.
However, the US beer company Anheuser-Busch began making a beer called “Budweiser.” They claimed that they had been motivated to brew a beer in similar color, flavor, and quality as the Czech equivalent – but more on that later as visiting the Budějovický Budvar is one of our picks for best things to do in České Budějovice and we will touch on this ongoing trademark dispute soon.
By the 14th century, České Budějovice was the most powerful city in South Bohemia thanks to its wealth from silver mining, much like the city of Kutna Hora, as well as trade. The royal mint was here in České Budějovice during the 16th century and the city remained prosperous until a devastating fire ravaged half of the city in the mid 17th century.
The city started to see recovery in the 18th and 19th centuries when industry and educational establishments were brought here. In 1827, České Budějovice was where one of Europe’s first horse-drawn tramways opened linking České Budějovice to Linz, Austria.
As mentioned earlier, Germans and Czechs have coexisted peacefully here for centuries. However, after WWI South Bohemia was a part of Czechoslovakia. After WWII, Germans were forced to leave České Budějovice in 1945 in what was called Beneš decrees. This was a series of laws that were made by the Czechoslovak government (in exile) during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in WWII.
What to do in České Budějovice, Czech Republic
Přemysl Otakar II Square
One of the best things to do in České Budějovice is visit the town square, Přemysl Otakar II Square. This is one of Europe’s largest arcaded town squares and is filled with Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic architecture.
Give yourself time to explore the shops and restaurants around the square and be sure not to miss Samson’s Fountain in the center of the square. This is one of the famous symbols of the city, this grand Baroque fountain was constructed after the city was renovating after the Thirty Years War in the 18th century.
Samson’s Fountain was initially intended to help distribute water throughout the city and is one of the largest fountains in the country and the sculptures on it tell the biblical tale of Samson and his betrayal.
Another building not to be missed in the town square and one of the best things to do in České Budějovice is the grand Town Hall building. This is considered one of the most interesting buildings in the Czech Republic, originally done in Renaissance construction, but renovated in the 18th century as Baroque and what you see today.
If you have time, try to tour the interior of the Town Hall where you can see the gorgeous vaulted ceremonial hall and frescoes as well as other historic landmarks from the city including an original statue from the Samson fountain.
If you can’t go inside, no worries you can still enjoy the lovely song that plays on the hour every hour from the Town Hall in the square.
The next best thing to do in České Budějovice is to get a bird’s eye view of the city from the Black Tower located in the town square next to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
The Black Tower, locally known as Černá věž dates back to the 16th century and only costs 25 CZK to climb. Be ready though, you will have a thigh-burning climb to the top of the tower where you will be rewarded with fantastic views of the colorful Přemysl Otakar II Square and views off in the distance.
If you look in the right direction, you’ll see Hluboka Castle off in the distance.
One of the most famous breweries in the Czech Republic is located right here and is one of the best things to do in České Budějovice.
Budweiser Budvar or Budějovický Budvar is the original Budweiser beer in the Czech Republic, that’s right, the real and original Budweiser Beer is actually a Czech beer, not an American beer!
Join one of the guided tours through Budějovický Budvar and see how the original recipe for Budweiser beer is made, manufactured, and packaged in the factory tour as well as a history lesson on the beer.
So you might be wondering, what’s the difference between the US Budweiser and the Czech Budweiser? Are they the same beer? Short answer, no.
The US Budweiser and the Czech Budweiser are two completely different beers, the US Budweiser sort of stole the name and used their own recipe that was “inspired” by the color, quality, and taste of the original Budweiser Budvar recipe and went on to be one of the United States most widely sold beers.
The two companies have had trademark disputes for decades still with no winner, you can read our whole guide on the tale of two Budweisers where I break down the history and the dispute.
The guided tour of Budějovický Budvar is about 60 minutes and along the way you get to try unpasteurized beer straight from the tank, this is the freshest beer experience you can have.
Call or email ahead of time at +420 387 705 347 or [email protected]
The Food Scene
One of the best things to do in České Budějovice is enjoy the amazing food scene this city has to offer. We’ve visited České Budějovice on two different trips and have tried quite a few of the different restaurants, here are a few of our favorites.
This place is so nice we visited it twice! Krajinská 27 doesn’t only serve up amazing food from its restaurant kitchen, but this spot is also a great microbrewery.
This is a great stop for either lunch or dinner, and don’t miss one of their drafts to pair with your meal.
This is easily one of the most photogenic restaurants in the city, photographed above, and also serves up some amazing dishes! We enjoyed breakfast here, which we highly recommend as a breakfast, brunch, or lunch spot.
You can’t help but love the hanging garden of live plants surrounding you. Try to get a seat by the big windows, the restaurant floats over the river and you can look down at the trickling water as you dine.
Another fun place to dine in České Budějovice is this traditional beer hall which also is a great spot for a hearty Czech dinner.
This lively restaurant was once home to the local meat shops and now is converted into a Czech dining hall serving up local Czech Republic beer and cuisine. There was live music and a fun atmosphere going on here, this was more than a meal, it was an experience and popular among locals.
Kilka Kitchen & Coffee
This was one of our favorite meals in České Budějovice. If you like beef tartare this is a great restaurant to try it! Located along the Malše River, on a warm day you can’t trade this waterfront view! If the weather isn’t permitting, no worries there’s indoor dining too.
Another great restaurant in České Budějovice is only really an option if you are doing a road trip or have a car. This restaurant is around a 10-minute drive from the city center and it doesn’t see many tourists, but don’t let that fool you.
If you can make it here, you will be treated with some amazing dishes from this hidden gem and locals-only spot.
Have a Pick Me Up at Kavárna VLNNA
After exploring all the best things to do in České Budějovice, if you’re looking for a nice place to grab a coffee, beer, or any pick me up of your choice we recommend walking over to Kavárna VLNNA, a floating cafe on the Malše River right by the confluence with the Vltava River.
The cafe is located on a boat and is the perfect spot for a drink, especially on a beautiful day. Be sure to also walk along the path along the river too for another peaceful and pretty place to enjoy in České Budějovice.
Another amazing thing to do in České Budějovice is visit another one of the great beer spots around this famous beer city. Microbrewery Kněžínek about a 15-minute drive or a 60-minute bike ride from the city center of České Budějovice.
We recommend taking a bike if you have the time, the drive is flat and the countryside is just beautiful.
They have a few different types on draft and a restaurant on-site if you’re feeling a bit hungry. On a beautiful day we recommend taking advantage of their beautiful outdoor seating area in addition to their indoor seating.
They also have accommodation options if you decide you want to stay outside of the city and more in the countryside. This is just one of the many breweries in the Czech Republic in South Bohemia that are fun to visit, be sure to read our full guide to exploring the South Bohemia beer trail for more great stops to add to your České Budějovice trip.
Museum of South Bohemia
Another one of the best things to do in České Budějovice is learn all about the history of the region at the Museum of South Bohemia.
Located in a historic Neo-Renaissance building, the museum houses a collection of historic pieces from books, art, money, and military artifacts with educational programs that focus on the region’s history as well as art.
České Budějovice Things to do Nearby
Less than 30 minutes away by car is one of the best picks for where to go near České Budějovice. Easily one of the most famous places to visit in the Czech Republic, this enchanting village is pulled straight from the pages of a storybook.
The Vltava River winds through this small fairytale village with the country’s second-largest castle perched above the cobbled lanes.
Many people make the mistake of only spending a few hours here, while you totally could do that we urge you to explore all the best things to do in Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site from its museums, shops, historic attractions, and touring the castle and castle theater, one of the best-preserved Baroque theaters in the world.
Enjoy a Czech Beer Spa
One of the most unique things you can do in the Czech Republic, home to the world’s number one beer consumers is visit their famous beer spas! Better yet, since South Bohemia is extra famous for their beer you have options near České Budějovice.
Located around a 30-minute drive from České Budějovice is Svachovka, a golf resort, distillery, brewery, hotel, and beer spa set in the South Bohemian countryside.
This is best visited by car, and just outside of Český Krumlov (by only 6 km) if you’re hoping to plan a few stops in for things to do in around České Budějovice.
The beer bath experience was unforgettable. You have your own private Czech Republic beer on tap, in this case, Glockner Beer on draft as its brewed in their brewery all while you soak in a special beer-infused bath where you can not only drink the vitamins in beer but soak them all in through your skin.
One of the most popular things to do in České Budějovice is drive to the nearby castle, Hluboká n. Vltavou, the same castle you can see off in the distance when you’re atop the Black Tower in the city center.
This is about a 20-minute drive from České Budějovice and one of the most enchanting and beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.
You’ll need to find parking on the street in the downtown area and walk the rest of the way up to the castle, don’t worry it’s not a long walk.
This Neo-Gothic style castle can be enjoyed from the outside or you can tour the interior as well. There’s a gorgeous greenhouse and cafe on site too if you need a little pick me up!
Another one of the best things to do nearby České Budějovice is visit the Czech Republic UNESCO Site and small rural town of Holašovice.
Holašovice is one of the most charming small villages in seemingly the middle of nowhere and a great place to just walk around the small town’s beautiful Baroque folk homes. This entire town is like an open-air museum with inhabitants.
What we found most interesting was the history of this little rural town. The entire population of Holašovice was almost completely wiped out between the years of 1520 – 1525 due to the bubonic plague. There were only two survivors.
It took years for the local population to recover and ended up recruiting people from Austria and Bavaria to move here.
Many of the remaining few inhabitants left and abandoned their farms during the Communist regime in the 20th century and the town was pretty much uninhibited until 1990.
Because of all the years of this town being inhabited, Holašovice is very well preserved and a great example of a rural, traditional central European village which is why it’s protected under UNESCO.
Enjoy a meal at one of the two restaurants open overlooking the small, charming, rural town. Be sure to walk over and check out their local Stonehenge, rocks forming a Celtic stone circle in the middle of a field.
Another one of our favorite places near České Budějovice is the gorgeous, colorful town of Třeboň. This South Bohemian town is famous for its freshwater systems and fishponds, wellness spas, and colorful town center.
Be sure to explore the castle grounds and park, walk along the famous Golden Canal, and eat the local specialty, Carp at Šupina.
Travel around the world in less than an hour on the lake (its the name of an island) and visit the gorgeous Neo-Gothic Schwarzenberg Tomb or check out the lovely turquoise theater of Theater of J.K. Tyl – these are just a few of the best things to do in Třeboň.
You’ll want to stop at this enchanting town!
Visit the castles of Orlik and Zvíkov
A few really cool things to do nearby Ceské Budějovice are two castles located right on the Vltava River that not many tourists or visitors know about.
Both Orlik and Zvíkov castles are perched along the scenic and beautiful Vltava River. There are two gorgeous castles here to visit, a boat ride, and of course another fantastic brewery to check out.
Orlik Castle is a gorgeous Romantic Gothic structure perched overlooking the serene Vltava River. You can tour the castle or just enjoy the view of it from the boat ride, which you can embark from here who give tours every 30-60 minutes.
If you want to to do the boat ride, you might need to have a bit of flexibility in your schedule as we discovered the boats don’t follow a strict schedule. You might want to sort this out first then tour the castle because the boat was definitely the highlight for us.
Be sure to also visit Zvíkov Castle and Zvíkov brewery, which you can reach 20 minutes by car even though its much closer the way the roads are it takes this long to drive here.
This medieval castle is one of the best examples of a naturally fortified castle in the history of the country due to its location perched on a sliver of land above both the Otava and Vlatava Rivers.
Visit the castle’s interior courtyard then as you’re leaving you can stop at Pivovarský dvůr Zvíkov, or Zvíkov Brewery on the way out for another amazing local beer experience! They also have a full restaurant here if you’ve built up an appetite.
Where to Stay in České Budějovice
You can also extend your time in Ceské Budějovice and enjoy the area some more! Look below to see where you can stay:
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