You should spend at least a weekend in Pilsen (Plzeň), Czech Republic. Pilsen is a wonderful little city a little over 50 miles west of Prague. It’s technically the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, but it’s a pretty cozy place. The Republic Square alone is a beautiful locale for all of your eating and drinking chill-out time.
I’m sure that when you think of “Pilsen”, you think of “pilsner” beer. And you are correct. This little city is the birthplace of the Pilsner, and most everything here revolves around the delicious beverage. You can also find other brews that are hard (or impossible!) to find in Germany, like the IPA. I was actually pretty disappointed in the abundance of IPAs you can find here. My favorite thing about Germany is the fact that none of the beers are hoppy, so I can order anything and be pretty happy with it. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was beyond thrilled to experience the other beer here. So if you are an IPA fan, or a fan of beer in general, then Pilsen is for you.
If you don’t really care about beer, then maybe you will come for the food. Czech cuisine is known for being closer to a “comfort food” than some other types of food. Being a ‘student town’, the clubbing/partying scene here has limited, but quality options. If none of this interests you, maybe you will like the cheap but glorious Thai massage offerings here. Regardless of your “poison”, you can find it even cheaper here than in Prague. (That says a lot because Prague is pretty cheap.)
Here is a suggested weekend itinerary for you, along with what we did:
1 pm. Arrive, check into hotel
My boyfriend, a friend of his, my dog (Saber), and I checked into the Astory Hotel. (The total cost for one night was less than$100, and it was a relatively nice place- I love the Czech Republic!)
2 pm. Get food, because I know you’re hungry. But first go down to the Brewery Museum and buy your tickets for the Historic Underground Tour and Brewery Tour
We headed over to U Mansfelda, a little pub right by the green municipal park and a 15 minute walk from our hotel. The food was delicious and the beer was fresh and tasty.
4-5 pm. Go to your tour appointments at the Brewery Museum, OR go get a beer flight at Pivotečka
I didn’t realize that the Pilsen Historic Underground and the Brewery Museum required tickets to be purchased ahead of time. We went down to the Historic Underground entrance, and unfortunately, there were no English tours left for the day. There were a few the following day, but it ended up not working out for us this time. We only live a little over an hour from Pilsen, so we’ll try again next time. But this is definitely something that you want to do if you can!
I’m kind of glad we didn’t make the tour that day, because we stumbled upon Pivotečka, which was awesome. They had 10-12 beers on tap, and TONS of other options in bottles! We asked if they had a flight option, where we could taste several of the beers on tap. They had a 10-beer flight, which ended up being like $8! More than half of the beers were too hoppy for my taste, but the guys loved them! And 10 beer samples is more than enough for you to be feeling really good when you leave.
7 ish pm. Go to Dobra Cajovna – an awesome tea room with shisha/hookah
We wanted to kill some time before dinner, so we found the nearest hookah place- Dobra Cajovna- and enjoyed some fresh teas, very small snacks, and shisha while we waited to get hungry. Dobra Cajovna clearly used to be an opium den, just by the way it’s laid out, but it’s definitely cozy. If the inside is a little too chill for you, go all the way back and out the door on the left to sit outside in the little garden.
8-9 pm. If you like Chinese food or pho, get dinner at Zlaty Drak
Zlaty Drak was this great little Asian place. Unfortunately, they didn’t really speak much English, or German (although they do have English menus, so as long as you don’t have any questions you can just point to what you want). If you’re into pho, get it. This is the best cheap pho near Bavaria that I’ve had. Regensburg has some pho, but most of it isn’t that great. The one place that does have good pho is way too overpriced. The Chinese food here was also authentic and reasonably priced. Great experience.
Late Night. Go to The Pub (where you can draft the beer yourself), Lokal (where you have a nice view of the third biggest synagogue in the world), or the Jameson Club
We just went to bed. I’m a granny. But those recommendations are from a friend of mine who lived in Pilsen for a few years. Cheers!
9:45 am. Eat breakfast at hotel, then wander around the park
Our hotel literally only offered meat, cheese, and eggs for breakfast, with a bowl of apples nearby. I eat mostly vegan, so I had an apple and then rushed the boys to finish packing so that I could go get some actual food.
12 pm. Eat lunch at Le Bistro
Although pricier than most places in the Czech Republic, Le Bistro is this awesome little spot that offers a full vegan menu, plus vegetarian options, plus meat options, AND a full bar. When I say it’s pricier than most places, the dishes are around 9 euros a piece. So it’s just like normal European prices, but high for the Czech Republic. I tried almost all of the vegan dishes, and I was fully impressed and fully satisfied.
3 pm. Get a Thai massage at Samui- right behind Le Bistro
Again, book this ahead of time. They only had one appointment available, so the Boyfriend took it. He said it was the best Thai massage he’s ever gotten- they literally walked on him the majority of the time while holding onto a low beam for support. It was also cheaper than the Thai massages in Prague, which are very reasonably priced.
If you need to kill time between Le Bistro and the Thai massage, or if you need to kill an hour while someone else in your group gets a massage, then walk across the street to Nabidka Dne and grab a coffee, ice cream, or beer (if you’re not driving!) while soaking in the ambiance of the square. It’s the only place in the middle of the square (except the Cathedral), so you can’t miss it!
Bonus: Visit the tower in the Cathedral of St Bartholomew
It costs around 2 euros to go to the top, but the view is totally worth it!
Whenever you feel like it. Go home
All good things must come to an end. But be sure to come back to explore the Belovec Ponds, Akva Tera (an open animal park in the city), and the Puppet Museum, which apparently is great.