Prague is known as the City of a Hundred Spires, but it doesn’t have a monopoly of towers that offer good views. Many cities have a tower on the town square. Castles and mountain tops also often sport a good lookout post.
Few have elevators, so be ready for a steep climb up some windy stairs. On a clear day, you will be surprised by how far you can see.
Most of the towers in the list are in cities, but there is a large network of towers in hills and mountains across the country. These were built by hiking clubs in the 19th and early 20th centuries when going out for a long walk and a picnic was a popular pastime. Some of these still exist, but many are seldom open due to their poor state and remote locations. Some have been taken over for use as mobile phone relays.
The rankings, based on 2018 statistics, come from CzechTourism, based on paid admissions to towers that are open to the public on a regular basis. The Old Town Hall Clock Tower in Prague was not listed separately as a tower, but Old Town Hall as a whole had 599,500 visitors in 2018. This would have been good enough for second place,
10. Black Tower
České Budějovice, South Bohemia
České Budějovice, the home of Budvar beer, is completely overlooked by tourists. It is the largest city in South Bohemia, and its roots date back to 1265. The Black Tower dates to the 16th century and is on Náměstí Přemysla Otakara II, the city’s historic square. It was built to show the city was an economic powerhouse and not just some random big village. The tower is 72.5 meters tall and was used to watch for fires and other threats to the city.
Visitors in 2018: 34,400
9. Klínovec Lookout Tower (Rozhledna Klínovec)
Boží Dar, Karlovy Vary region
The highest tower in Krušné hory (Ore Mountians) is a 4 km hike from Boží Dar. The area recently became a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its mines, and the tower can give a good overview as far a Germany. The tower and adjacent hotel complex are listed as cultural monuments. Kaiser-Franz-Josephs-Turm, as the tower was first called, was built in 1884. It was a popular destination for people visiting spas in the Karlovy Vary area. EU funds were used to rebuild the tower in 2013, as it was in very poor technical condition. In winter, the area is known for skiing.
Visitors in 2018: 35,700
8. White Tower (Bílá věž)
Hradec Králové, Hradec Králové region
The 72-meter tower is a dominant feature of Hradec Králové and offers views into the Krkonoše Orlické hory mountain ranges. The tower’s name is due to the white sandstone used to build it. Inside the tower, there is the third-largest largest bell in the country, called Augustin, A renovation on 2014–15 saw the installation of new audiovisual devices. Once a month, the tower is open at night, and less frequently it is open for sunrise. The tower was built staring in 1574.
Visitors in 2018: 36,100
7. Old Town Hall Tower (Vyhlídková věž Staré radnice)
Brno, South Moravia
The Czech Republic’s second largest city is home to a historical Old Town Hall with a stuffed dragon, which looks suspiciously like a crocodile, and magic wheel, both the source of popular legends. The tower measures 63 meters but is not the tallest structure in the city. The residential AZ Tower, built in 2013, reaches 111 meters. The Old Town Hall Tower, though, offers a view of the historical center. Construction on the Old Town Hall began in 1240, with significant elements added in the renaissance and Baroque eras. The tower is closed in winter.
Visitors in 2018: 38,500
6. Malá Strana Bridge Tower (Malostranská mostecká věž)
The taller of two towers on Malá Stranaside of Charles Bridge is the youngest part of the bridge, built in 1464 by King George (Jiří z Poděbrad). The lower tower next to it was part of the former Judith Bridge and dates from the 12th century. Charles Bridge itself was built in 1357. The taller tower, which is open to the public, lacks the symbolic sculptures of the other towers, and its statue niches have always been empty. In the morning hours, you can see the sun over Old Town from the tower.
Visitors in 2018: 53,900
5. New City Hall View Tower (Vyhlídková věž Nové Radnice)
Ostrava, Moravia Silesia region
The highest City Hall tower in the country measures 85.6 meters tall, and has an elevator. The New Town Hall was built in 1925–30, and the tower is by far the youngest on the list. With good weather, you can see mountain peaks as far as Poland. Ostrava is trying to reinvent itself as a post-industrial cultural center, with music and art festivals. A main attraction though, is the former iron works in the part of town called Dolní Vítkovice.
Visitors in 2018: 56,800
4. Štramberk Castle Tower (Štramberská Trúba – Věž hradu Štramberk)
Štramberk, Moravia-Silesia region
The castle, now in ruins, was supposed to be on another hill. Legend says fairy tale–style dwarves from a cave called the Devil’s Hole (Čertova díra) prevented construction. The early history of the castle remains a mystery, though. It was built sometime around 1200 and was for a while used by Templars. The castle and tower have been state property since 1994. the town itself is known for a pastry called Štramberk Ears (Štramberské uši). The tower offers good photo opportunities of a quaint small town and surrounding forest.
Visitors in 2018: 65,700
3. St Bartholomew View Tower (Vyhlídková věž katedrály sv. Bartoloměje)
Plzeň, Plzeň region
Another Czech city often overlooked by tourists, Plzeň is most famous for its Pilsner Urquell brewery but has many other attractions including modern architecture by Adolf Loos and a network of underground tunnels. The Cathedral of St Bartholomew was built in the 13th century, and the spire reaches 102.5 meters, the tallest in the country. Much of the height is due to the metal point on top of the tower. The viewing platform is significantly lower. With luck, you can see as far as the Šumava mountains.
Visits in 2018: 78,100
2. Old Town Bridge Tower (Staroměstská mostecká věž)
On the opposite side of the bridge from sixth-ranked Malá Strana Bridge Tower is the Old Town Bridge Tower, with a facade filled with mystical symbols and statues linking the earth to heaven. The tower was meant to be a triumphal entryway to Old Town. The view from the top of the tower is spectacular at sunsets, with the bridge leading across the river and the sun setting somewhere behind Prague Castle or Petřín. Inside the tower are rooms with elaborate ceilings and historical exhibits Hidden away a bit is the statue of Věžník, the guardian of the tower.
Visits in 2018: 166,400
1. Petřín Observation Tower (Petřínská rozhledna)
The Petřín Observation Tower (Petřínská rozhledna), sometimes called the Little Eiffel Tower, opened to the public on Aug. 20, 1891. The idea to build the tower was launched in 1889 by members of the Club of Czech Tourists who had visited the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where they saw the actual Eiffel Tower.
The tower actually has little in common with its Parisian namesake. The Prague one is just 63.5 meters tall compared to 324 meters for the Paris original. Petřín Hill, though, rises to 318 meters, so the height of the observation decks of both above the respective city’s basic ground level is comparable. The tower was fully renovated in 1999, and new lighting is being installed.
Visits in 2018: 697,600