Karlstejn Castle- Is it worth visiting?

We wanted a day trip from Prague and there were a few to choose from. However, I adore castles, so a trip to Karlstejn Castle was top of my list.

Karlstejn Castle was built in 1348 by King Charles IV as a place to keep the Bohemian Crown Jewels safe, as well as holy relics and other royal treasures. The treasures were kept in the middle of the tallest stone tower.

The castle apparently wasn’t considered safe enough, though, because the Crown Jewels were evacuated during the Hussite Wars and moved to a safer location in 1421. After that, the Crown Jewels were moved back and kept at Karlstejn Castle for almost 200 years before being moved to Prague. In 1648, the castle was conquered by the Swedes and fell into disrepair. In the 19th century, interest in Karlstejn Castle revived, and the castle was, fortunately, repaired and restored to its former glory.

The castle features a mix of late Gothic and Renaissance styles thanks to several reconstruction periods. It’s present style comes from its neo-Gothic reconstruction carried out between 1887 and 1899. With the location being so close to Prague, it’s Czechia’s most famous and most visited castle.

How to get there

We chose to go by train. Now, I know that sounds pretty scary, but honestly it is not too bad. The train journey is about half an hour out of Prague, and the nearest train station to the castle is- you’ve guessed it- Karlstejn station. From Prague’s central train station (Hlavní nádraží), take the train in the direction of Beroun. Trains run about every 30 minutes.

The station is really quaint and feels like it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. When you arrive at Karlstejn Station, turn right and cross the Berounka River, turn right again, then left to follow the main road up to the castle. 

One thing you need to prepared for when walking from the station to the castle is that it can feel long. It is a solid half an hour walk and is quite pleasant. You can also drive but that doesn’t reduce the walk by that much, as the car park is still a little while away from the castle. So bring a good pair of walking shoes and prepare to enjoy the gorgeous Czech scenery. Also, whilst you walk, you encounter views like this:

You will walk through the delightful little village of Karlstejn on the route, which is full of shops and cafes and nestled among the forested hills. We visited in August, so everywhere was open, however I have been informed that off-season, you will be lucky to find anywhere open. The walk is not too bad through this area, however, at the end, it started to get steep. I am pretty fit, but struggled massively and so did everyone else around me. I would suggest that you bring water for the walk up, or at least some cash to buy something.

If driving or taking the train isn’t your thing, then you always book a guided trip. I’ve heard a few people say that they booked an excursion through, so it is worth considering them or something similar.

What to see and do

The castle cannot be visited independently, but only on a guided tour. However, access to the first inner courtyard and the ramparts is free of charge. From these you have a wonderful view of the Central Bohemian region and the surrounding forests. There are three main tours- we chose the Great Tower tour, as we thought it would provide us with the best views.

The inside of the castle is sparse but very authentic. Our tour guide was fantastic- really knowledgeable and personable. She gave us plenty of time to enjoy all the rooms we visited.

And there most definitely were beautiful views. We were able to open up the windows and look out to take photos. The stunning scenery we encountered was enchanting. The long-lens camera made an appearance!

Is Karlstejn Castle worth visiting?

If you are visiting Prague, I would definitely recommend a trip to Karlstejn Castle. Before I went, I saw quite a few negative reviews online, referencing the long walk and the sparse interior. However, I felt there was plenty to see at the castle and it was a fantastic example of Gothic architecture. It is also an ideal day trip from Prague, as it is not far out of the city.

Have fun!

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