Kokořin Castle: How to visit this hidden gem north of Prague

One of the most romantic and enchanting Czech Castles, hidden in a forest full of magical rock formations, here's my guide to Kokořín Castle.

Kokorin Castle Image of Kokorin Castle Czech Republic
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Kokořín Castle is one of the most romantic castles you’re ever likely to see. This medieval castle is picture-perfect, its conical tower, turret and red rooftops rising above the Bohemian forest.

Hrad Kokořín is one of the smaller, but best castles near Prague, and the amazing countryside around is hugely popular with weekend visitors from the Czech capital.

In this Kokořín Castle guide we’ll look at its history, explain what there is to see, where to photograph it, the gorgeous surrounding area and the small matter of how to get there from Prague.

Kokořín Castle – An Introduction

Image of Kokorin Castle Bohemia Czech Republic
Now we can see it – Kokořín Castle
Image of Kokořín Castle Czech Republic
Looking over the residential palace

Kokořín Castle is a 13th century castle which gradually fell into ruin, and was restored from the late 19th century onwards

Kokořín Castle is at the heart of the forested Kokořínsko region near the wine-producing town of Mělník, 25 miles north of Prague

It is pronounced ‘kock-orr-ZHEEN’

Image of the towers of Kokořín Castle
Kokořín Castle’s towers
Image of Kokořín Castle residential palace

Kokořín Castle was rebuilt after a revival of interest inspired by the Romantic movement

It’s one of the less-known Bohemian castles but among the most rewarding day trips from Prague

The Kokořínsko is something of a locals’ secret, where many head on weekends for a break in the country – as well as the Castle you’ll also find some of the best hiking near Prague, with some fantastic rock formations in the forests around

Kokořín Castle History

Image of Kokořín Castle Czechia
Kokořín Castle from the main – sorry, only – viewpoint

The Castle was founded in the early 14th century by Hynek Berka of Dubé, a powerful Bohemian knight. It probably had an operational life of around a century, as it was ransacked by Hussite forces in the early 1400s.

Thereafter it seems to have been abandoned and fallen into ruin. It was described as a ‘cursed castle’ in the 16th century. It is difficult to access, at the summit of a rocky, forested hill, so would have been very costly to maintain.

Image of Kokořín Castle in the Czech Republic
Kokořín’s gatehouse
Image of a mural in Kokořín Castle with hunting dogs and the Castle
A mural depicting a hunt near Kokořín

This ruined Bohemian castle remained derelict until the late 19th century, when its cause was taken up by poet Karel Hynek Mácha, painter Antonin Mánes and the Czech Touring Club, who were also responsible for the building of the Petřin Tower on Petřin Hill Prague. Kokořín was the first Castle in Bohemia to undergo a full restoration and rebuild, which was completed in 1918, by owner Václav Spácek.

More Czech Castles to Explore:

Křivoklát Castle – one of the great royal castles of Bohemia

Konopiště Castle – Bohemian residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Vysehrad Prague – the gorgeous, often-overlooked ‘second castle’ of Prague

Hluboká Castle – iconic Romantic 19th century chateau and one of the most-visited Czech Republic castles

Blatna Castle – beautiful water castle in South Bohemia

Lednice Castle – Moravian marvel and part of the Lednice-Valtice World Heritage Site

Kokořín Castle – What You See

Image of the exterior of Kokořín Castle
Romantic Kokořín Castle
Image of murals in Kokořín Castle
Murals in the dining hall

Despite its position high above a valley, Kokořín Castle hardly announces itself in spectacular style in the manner of, say, Karlštejn Castle. It is largely concealed by the surrounding tree cover, so you only get a full view of it up very close or from the vyhlidka (viewpoint) beyond the Castle entrance further up the winding road.

The approach to Kokořín Castle is one of the joys of visiting it, and once inside, the wall walks are brilliant, one of the highlights for my 7-year-old son. The restoration / rebuild a century ago was magnificent, as it feels much, much older.

Image of child holding a falcon at Kokořín Castle
Our Little Man meets a falcon

We were lucky to encounter a small birds of prey display in the castle courtyard, and my son’s day was made when he was able to don a glove and hold a falcon for a minute or so.

The tour takes you around several rooms in the residential palace, and afterwards you have the opportunity to climb the tower for superb views over the countryside.

Kokořín Castle – Tours

Image of the view from the main tower at Kokořín Castle
Looking down from the main tower
Image of a mural of a knight in Kokořín Castle
A jousting knight at Kokořín

The Kokořín Castle tour is one of the shorter Czech castle tours you’re likely to undertake, clocking in at around half an hour and taking in four interior rooms and an unaccompanied walk along the ramparts.  the interior is small but wonderfully atmospheric, enhanced by a series of restored murals including a pair of jousting knights.

The Kokořín Castle website mentions a second tour of the main tower, but this was simply incorporated into the main tour when we visited in September 2021, and we were free to climb it ourselves and savour the views over the rest of the Castle and the forest around it.

Kokořín Castle – Opening Hours

Image of the hunting room in Kokořín Castle
The hunting room at Kokořín

The Castle is open between April and October. It is open on weekends in April and October, and from Tuesdays to Sundays between May and September.

Normal opening hours are 0900 to 1545, except in April when remains open until 1600.

Where Is Kokořín Castle?

Image of Kokořín Castle Czech Republic
Looking up at Hrad Kokořín

It is located in Central Bohemia, 15 km (9 miles) north-east of the town of Mělník, which is 35 km (23 miles) north of Prague.

Getting to Kokořín Castle

Image of road leading to Kokořín Castle
Looking back down the road to Kokořín Castle

The easiest way to reach Kokořín Castle from Prague is by bus. Head out to Ládví metro station (red line C), turn right out of the station along the subway with the panda murals and up onto the main road, where you’ll find the stop for the 369 bus to Mělník.

Continue to Mělník bus station (Mělník aut nadr) on timetables and catch the connecting 695 service, alighting at the Kokořín Kokořínsky dul Podhradi stop. This bus runs along the valley floor, and you don’t get a glimpse of the castle at ground level, but you do see the Hotel Kokořín on your right.

The Castle is up the hill on your left, and the main car park is at the bottom of the hill. It’s a 10-15 minute walk up to the Castle. You’ll eventually reach a track leading up to the Castle on your right. A short distance before this – immediately before a tunnel – a steep path leads up the steep slope, with tree branches serving as steps.

Bus 474 also runs from Mělník to Kokořín, but follows a different route to the 695, taking a higher road to Kokořín village instead. From there it’s a mile along the ridge and down the approach road to the castle. This service tends to be more frequent on weekdays – check the excellent idos.cz transport website for up-to-date information.

Around Kokořín Castle – The Kokořínsko

Image of the Poklicky rocks near Kokořín Castle
The mushroom-shaped Poklicky Rocks are 2 km from the Castle

We have an errant bus driver to thank for discovering some of the wonders of the Kokořínsko. Amid considerable uproar among fellow passengers, he failed to stop at the castle bus stop, and we all had to make our way back from the following stop a mile along the road. This happened to be below the Pokličky rock formation, a well-known Czech landmark, so we decided to climb up to see them before returning to the Castle.

Their name translates as ‘lids’, and they certainly bear some resemblance to flat-topped mushrooms. It’s a short, steep climb, worth it for the view, but be aware that there’s no fence at the viewpoint and that it’s a pretty long drop from there.

Kokořín Castle – Final Words

Image of Melnik Castle from the River Elbe
Melnik from the bridge over the Elbe

I hope you have found this guide to Kokořín Castle helpful and inspirational.

It’s one of the less-known day trips from Prague – somewhere mostly visited by locals. No guided tours pass this way, so you’ll either have to catch the bus or drive.

Don’t miss my guide to the nearby town of Mělník. It’s a beautiful wine-growing town above the confluence of the Vltava and Elbe rivers, well worth a stop for a few hours.

Check out my guide to Konopiště Castle, the nearest popular day trip destination from Prague. It’s one of the finest Czech Castles, and one of the three most popular around Prague.

If you’re planning more day trips around Prague, don’t miss my guide to Karlštejn Castle. This magnificent monster of a Castle was built by King Charles IV to house the Bohemian Crown Jewels, and is less than an hour from Prague.

Křivoklát Castle is the other major Czech Castle within reach of Prague. It’s a superb royal forest Castle, in hilly country west of the capital. It’s also one of the most picturesque castles in the Czech Republic.

Don’t miss my guide to the best things to do in Český Krumlov. This gorgeous medieval town in South Bohemia is the most popular day trip from Prague.

One of the Nazis’ most infamous concentration camps, the Theresienstadt Ghetto (also known by its Czech name Terezin), is an hour north of Prague. Check out my guide to Visiting Terezin Concentration Camp and the associated sites in the town.

And finally, just in case you missed it, here’s my guide to over 50 of the best Things To Do In Prague.

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a Welsh historian, photographer and writer. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe.

He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times. 

David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.

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