Plzen is municipal capital of the West Bohemia region and arguably beer capital of the world. The birthplace of Pilsner lager (the German name) and home to the famous Pilsner Urquell factory, Plzen also has an attractive historic centre and a good amount of green space which just about offsets the industrial nature of its development. Founded in 1295 by King Wenceslas the Second at the converging point of four rivers, the region soon became a busy trade route between Czech and German regions. The Old Town was created and reworked throughout the Middle Ages leading to the wealth of Baroque architecture. The nineteenth century saw mass industrialisation with the beer and Skoda factories that employed the thousands of inhabitants and led to the city’s expansion. There was a second rapid increase in population following the exodus of German nationals post World War II causing much of the residential sprawl. Despite a depression in the 1980s the city is growing into a busy sightseeing stop for Czech and international visitors as well as being an important industrial, commercial and educational centre.


[ Pilsner Urquell Beerworld] – The history of brewing in Plzen dates back to the city’s origin, which is not surprising for a city that lends its name to one of the world’s greatest types of lager. The brewery is a short and slightly confusing walk from the centre over the river but well worth it. The tour covers the history of the factory and how the beer is prepared and enjoyed throughout the world. Only two tours run daily however so be sure not to arrive late or you will only be allowed to visit the bar. At the end you are forced through the gift shop where you can buy all manner of drinking paraphernalia and dubious clothing although most of the products are available for far cheaper prices in the city centre.

Old Town – This area of town was surrounded by a wall that has now made way for the stretches of grass and parkland that give the centre its pleasant and less imposing feel. The highlights of the famous architecture are the towering spire of St Bartholomew’s Church and the renaissance period city hall. The rest of the centre is worth exploring and at first many of the streets look the same but in fact are all an interesting mix of baroque, renaissance and gothic. Highlights include House “U Salzmannu”, Perner House and the colourful “House with the Water Tower”.

[ Plzen Zoo and Botanical Garden] –The zoo is home to many species of large mammal and includes the second largest bear enclosure in Europe. There are also some very rare reptilian specimens and an excellent noctarium called “The Mysterious World of African Night”. Plenty of wildlife can be seen patrolling the 21 hectares of gardens, lakes and parks that make up the adjacent botanical gardens.


Plzen is not a shopping hotspot. The square has a decent number of souvenir shops selling the famous local glass and vendors wander around trying to sell postcards and flowers. The streets leading away from there are lined with shops but they tend to sell sports equipment or hardware. There are clothes boutiques but most of which seem to be geared towards wedding attire and none of the styles are particularly current. There is one shopping centre in the centre and several more on the outskirts, including the Olympia centre which also has a multiplex cinema. The bus journey from Prague passes countless out-of-town shopping districts and complexes which retail famous international clothing and electronic brands as well as home furnishings and similar items.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Walking the streets and perusing menus does not really give the impression that you are in a place of culinary importance. Most of the food appears to be pizza which could arguably be a suitable accompaniment to beer, but is certainly not the best. There are some great traditional dishes lurking, notably beer cheese and fruit pancakes. The restaurant in the Art Nouveau Mestanska Beseda has a good reputation for both the food and interior. The cafes in the main square are quite popular and offer outdoor seating in the warmer months; the places that are tucked lightly out of the way have a much more personal feel and are popular with the young couples from the university.

As suggested by the large number of adult bookshops you pass as you draw close to the bus station, much of the nightlife is of a very seedy nature. There are also clubs where not only the women dance, most of which get pretty busy at the weekends and the student population means a few are popular throughout the week. Activity is focussed around Amerika Street, with Klub Alfa being the largest contender both in size and facilities with its dance floor, bar and bowling alley. Elektra plays heavier music and there are a several similar basement affairs which keep going until the last customer gives in and heads home. The smaller bars also see a lot of pretty heavy drinking and are a good spot to get to know some of the locals.

Tourist Information

City Information CentreRepubliky 41301 16 Plzen

  • Telephone: 420 378 035 330
  • Email:
  • Website: []
Rail Station Information CentreNadrazni 102 301 10 Plzen
  • Telephone: 420 972 524 363
Information Centre Zlate slunce (the House of Golden Sun) Presovska 7 306 37 Plzen


The Plzen Line Airport is no longer operational for commercial flights and so visitors must use [ Prague Airport] which has flights to over 50 destinations across Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. There are express buses and trains which run throughout the day from Prague to Plzen and the journey takes around ninety minutes.