Take a tour of one of the most-visited castles in the Czech Republic. Karlštejn Castle is steeped in history and is a must-see for castle-lovers and history buffs visiting the country.
Karlštejn Castle is the second most-visited castle in the Czech Republic. That’s probably because of its fairytale architecture, the fact that it once held the Bohemian Crown Jewels, and its close proximity to Prague.
I visited this castle during my family’s 3-day vacation to Prague and was enchanted by its fairytale architecture. As I’ve been known to do, I actually made this day trip into a two-castle day and visited the nearby Křivoklát Castle as well.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Karlštejn Castle, how to get there, and interesting castle history.
Karlštejn Castle History
Karlštejn 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 Karlštejn Castle for almost 200 years before being moved to Prague.
The castle features a mix of late Gothic and Renaissance styles thanks to several reconstruction periods. In 1648, the castle was conquered by the Swedes and fell into disrepair. The castle’s present style comes from its neo-Gothic reconstruction carried out between 1887 and 1899.
Getting to Karlštejn Castle
Getting to Karlštejn Castle from Prague is pretty easy. You can choose to go by a guided tour, by train, or by car.
By Guided Tour
If you don’t want the hassle of figuring out Czech transportation yourself, there are several guided tours that will take you from Prague to the castle.
We did a tour with Private Prague Guide to Karlštejn Castle and Křivoklát Castle. This Private Full-Day Tour Karlštejn Castle and Crystal Glassworks from Prague is also a popular choice.
Taking the train from Prague to the castle is about a 1 hour trip. From Prague’s central train station (Hlavní nádraží), take the train in the direction of Beroun. Trains run about every 30 minutes.
When you arrive at the Karlštejn Station, turn right and cross the Berounka River, turn right again, then left to follow the main road up to the castle. It’s about a 30 minute walk.
The car drive from Prague to the castle is about 45 minutes. Take the D5 motorway towards Pilsen and follow the signs to Karlštejn.
The central parking lot in the town of Karlštejn is on the left bank of the Berounka River. From there, it’s about a 15 minute walk uphill to the castle.
Touring Karlštejn Castle
The castle offers three different tours. Only the basic tour will be available during the winter season, though, so double check your dates before you go.
The Imperial Residence of Charles IV (basic tour) is a 1-hour guided tour that shows you inside rooms like the King’s Bedchamber, the wood-paneled Audience Hall, the Banquet Hall, and displays a copy of the St. Wenceslas Crown.
The Karlštejn Castle Chapels (exclusive tour) is a 1-hour and 40-minute guided tour that shows you the most valuable rooms in the castle, like the eastern wing of the Imperial Palace, the 2nd floor of the Marian Tower with the Church of the Virgin Mary and the St. Catherine Chapel, the Great Tower, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and the Lapidarium. This tour requires advanced reservation.
The Great Tower View (basic tour) is a 40-minute guided tour that shows you the upper floors of the Great Tower (but without a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross) and gives you an exclusive view from the highest point of the castle.
Visiting Karlštejn Castle
The castle’s hours vary by season. Check their website for accurate opening times. The last tour starts at that day’s listed closing hour.
All tours are guided. Reservations are only needed for the exclusive tour.
The Imperial Residence of Charles IV (basic tour) ticket costs 260 Kč for adults; 210 Kč for seniors 65+, students aged 18-24, and persons with disabilities with valid ID; 80 Kč for children ages 6-17; and free for children 5 and under.
The Karlštejn Castle Chapels (exclusive tour) ticket costs 560 Kč for adults; 450 Kč for seniors, students, and persons with disabilities; and 170 Kč for children.
The Great Tower View (basic tour) ticket costs 200 Kč for adults; 160 Kč for seniors, students, and persons with disabilities; 60 Kč for children; and free for children 5 and under.
Top Karlštejn Castle Tours
There’s a lot to see in the Czech Republic! To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour. Check out this list of the top tours that include Karlštejn Castle.
- Private Full-Day Tour Karlštejn Castle and Crystal Glassworks from Prague
- Karlštejn Castle in Vintage Convertible Car
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour to Karlštejn Castle
Want to visit more castles nearby? Check out Prague Castle and Křivoklát Castle! You can even make it a two-castle day by visiting both Karlštejn Castle and Křivoklát Castle together.
Ready to visit Karlštejn Castle in Karlštejn, Czech Republic? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Karlštejn using Booking.com.
- Start Packing: Check out my packing list resources so you’re prepared for your trip.
Have you visited Karlštejn Castle? Let me know about your trip in the comments!