It is no surprise that Prague Castle is the top tourist attraction in the Czech Republic, but there are other castles and chateaus well worth the visit, and nice focal point for a day trip. Many have been restored, and host large collections of art and furnishings, as well as impressive architecture.
Castles tend to be on hills, which can make for a little exercise before stopping at a local pub. Chateaus are often more accessible, as they were built to show off wealth rather than be defensive.
Both tend to be open most of the week in the summer, but in the winter many are open only on weekends or closed completely, so it is best to check in advance.
There are also events like European Heritage Days, which this year falls Sept. 7–15, where there is no or reduced admission and special events at many of these landmarks and others. While “hrad” means castle and “zámek” means chateau, when the official place names are translated into English, “castle” is often used as a blanket term.
These are the top 10 most visited castles and chateaus in 2018, according to CzechTourism:
10. Konopiště Castle (Státní zámek Konopiště)
Benešov, Central Bohemia
The name Franz Ferdinand should ring a bell. He was the archduke whose assassination sparked World War I. Konopiště Castle, originally built in the 13th century, was one of his homes, and its interiors have been preserved from that time. There are four tours to choose from ranging from the chapel and armory to hunting trophies. It is close to Prague, and quite photogenic.
Visitors in 2018: 161,200
9. Castle Loučeň (Zámek Loučeň)
Loučeń, Central Bohemia
The Baroque-style Castle Loučeň has an English park plus a set of 11 labyrinths and mazes. Tours are guided by someone in a period costume such as a prince or princess or even a white lady, a type of castle ghost. American writer Mark Twain once visited the castle. It is a popular wedding location, and parts may be booked for private affairs, so it is best to check in advance before going.
Visitors in 2018: 179,300
8: Archbishop’s Chateau and Gardens Kroměříž (Arcibiskupský zámek a zahrady v Kroměříži)
Kroměříž, Zlín region
One of the Czech Republic’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Archbishop’s Chateau and Gardens in Kroměříž is “an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens,” according to UNESCO. Scenes from Amadeus and Immortal Beloved were filmed there. The chateau has the second-most valuable painting collection after the National Gallery in Prague.
Number of visitors in 2018: 181,100
7. Valtice Chateau (Státní zámek Valtice)
Valtice, South Moravia
Along with Lednice, the third-most visited chateau, Valtice makes up the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. Valtice was actually part of Austria until 1920. The chateau’s history dates to the 12th century but its current look comes from the 18th and early 19th centuries. The grounds include a colonnade and a Temple to Diana.
Number of visitors in 2018: 194,400
6. Karlštejn Castle (Státní hrad Karlštejn)
Karlštejn, Central Bohemia
Emperor Charles IV built Karlštejn Castle to safeguard the crown jewels and his vast collection of religious relics in 1348. Its look was drastically altered in a heavy-handed neo-Gothic renovation at the end of the 19th century. There are two main tours, plus a tower tour. Reservations are required for the tour of the Holy Cross Chapel and sacred spaces.
Number of visitors in 2018: 223,900
5: Dětenice Chateau (Zámek Dětenice)
Dětenice, Hradec Králové region
You can take a journey back in time at the Dětenice Chateau complex. It consists of a château in the late Baroque style, medieval tavern, château brewery, and two hotels. There are many family-friendly events like knights tournaments and theme tours for witches or princesses.
Number of visitors in 2018: 242,500
4: Hluboká Castle (Státní zámek Hluboká nad Vltavou)
Hluboká nad Vltavou, South Bohemia
With its heavily romanticized facade, Hluboká Castle is one of the most distinctive chateaus in Europe. It was featured as a vampire stronghold in the 2016 film Underworld: Blood Wars and also made an appearance in the 2003 action film Shanghai Knights, as well as many Czech fairytale films. K-pop star Park Jihoon filmed the video for his single L.O.V.E. there. You can choose from four tours, plus a winter tour.
Number of visitors in 2018: 288,600
3: Lednice (Státní zámek Lednice)
Lednice, South Moravia
The counterpart to seventh-ranked Valtice, the chateau at Lednice is part of the same UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main chateau began as a Gothic fort in the 13th century. It was last rebuilt in the 19th century by Austrian Prince Prince Alois II in the English neo-Gothic style as a place to entertain guests in the summer. Among its attractions are a minaret and a grotto. There are eight tours of different parts of the chateau and the grounds.
Number of visitors in 2018: 394,100
2: Český Krumlov Chateau (Státní hrad a zámek Český Krumlov)
Český Krumlov, South Bohemia
The entire town of Český Krumlov has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992. The center of the town preserves a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The castle was founded by the Lords of Krumlov in the 13th century and then passed through many hands over the centuries. The Baroque theater is the best preserved of its kind in Europe. There are five different tours, and admission to the castle gardens is free.
Number of visitors in 2018: 429,200
1. Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
While this hardly qualifies as a day trip from Prague, there is no avoiding the fact that Prague Castle is the most visited location of its type, or of any type, in the Czech Republic. It is a key part of Prague’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, which covers the city center plus the chateau and garden in Průhonice. Prague Castle’s history goes back over a millennium and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 sqm. It can be seen in numerous films including in the background of several shots in Spider-Man: Far From Home. There are three different tour tickets, plus separate admission for exhibitions.
Number of visitors in 2018: 2,444,900