Kokořín Castle is one of the most enchanting Czech castles, sitting above a forest full of magical rock formations an hour’s drive from Prague. Discover its secrets in our guide below.
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
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’
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
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.
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
Vysehrad Prague – the gorgeous, often-overlooked ‘second castle’ of Prague
Blatna Castle – beautiful water castle in South Bohemia
Kokořín Castle – What You See
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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.