Křivoklat Castle: A must-see day trip from Prague

One of the best castles to visit in the Czech Republic and an ideal day trip from Prague.

Image of Krivoklat Castle Bohemia Czech Republic
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Křivoklat Castle is one of the great royal Czech castles, and one of the most essential places to visit in the Czech Republic. Along with Prague Castle, Cesky Krumlov, Karlstejn Castle and Konopiště, it’s one of the absolute must-see castles in the Czech Republic.

The Castle occupies a stunning site high above a narrow wooded valley in the Křivoklátsko, a lovely scenic hilly area to the west of Prague.

From the outside, it’s a wonderful romantic castle, and it’s easily accessible, one of the more straightforward Prague day trips.

Our Křivoklát Castle guide tells you everything you need to know about this outstanding Bohemian castle, including when to visit, what to see in and around the Castle and the all-important how to get there. 

Much as we love Prague, we encourage visitors to venture beyond the capital, and this is one of the best places to visit near Prague to get you started.

Fun facts about Krivoklat Castle

Image of Kirvoklat Castle Czech Republic
Křivoklát Castle

Křivoklát is one of the oldest royal castles of the Czech Republic

It’s located around 50 km (30 miles) due west of Prague

It’s pronounced Kr-Zhee-vo-klaat in Czech – don’t worry, many Czechs have to have special tuition to correctly pronounce the letter ř

Image of the entrance to Krivoklat Castle in the Czech Republic
The approach to Křivoklát Castle

Its name may have been derived from ‘křivy’ and ‘’klaty’, which roughly translate as crooked trees which once surrounded it

The name may also have come from ‘křivy’ and ‘plát’, meaning uneven ground – on which the Castle may have been built

It’s usually known as Hrad Křivoklát in Czech

Křivoklát Castle History

Image of the doorway at Krivoklat Castle
The splendid door at Křivoklát

Krivoklat was founded in the 13th century by the Přemyslid dynasty, who also founded Vysehrad Castle in Prague

Its heyday was under Přemysl Otakar II, who reigned as King of Bohemia between 1253 and 1278, whose domains stretched all the way south to the Adriatic Sea

Another great Bohemian King, Charles IV (responsible for the Charles Bridge Prague) also lived there, but Křivoklat began to decline when he completed Karlštejn Castle

Image of the sundial at Krivoklat Castle
The sundial in the courtyard at Křivoklát

The Castle was destroyed by fire twice, used as a prison, then sold off to aristocratic families including the Schwarzenbergs, Valdštejns and Furstenbergs

It was eventually sold to the Czechoslovakian State in 1929

Křivoklát Castle Viewpoints

Image of Krivoklat Castle in the Czech Republic

Most of the Křivoklát Castle photos you will have seen have been shot from the same area, a couple of hundred metres or so from the Castle itself.

There are no others simply because of the forested landscape – you get the occasional glimpse of the Castle through the trees, but very few open views of it.

The three viewpoints are very close to each other. One is next to the statue of Charles Egon II of Furstenberg, which is visible from the roadside, and a two-minute walk away.

There is a second viewpoint around 20-30 metres further south along the path.

What To See In Křivoklát Castle Without Joining A Tour

Image of the courtyard at Krivoklat Castle
The courtyard at Křivoklát

The Křivoklát Castle ticket office is in the left-hand side of the gatehouse, and there is also a great shop where you can buy some excellent books on Czech Republic castles.

You don’t need to buy a ticket to enter the main courtyard of the Castle. There is a small craft and souvenir shop on the right, and further down, a small café serving soups, sausages and two or three other meals daily. They also serve coffee, cake and the excellent local Bakalař beer.

You can also wander around the western end of the Castle, and can climb the ramparts for a view of the Castle interior, and the small tower next to it.

Křivoklát Castle Tours

Image of medieval angel sculptures at Krivoklat Castle
Angel sculptures at Křivoklát

There are four Krivoklat Castle tours that you can join, three of which are guided. The exception is the Castle Walls and Tower Tour, which are self-guided.

You normally encounter several tour options when visiting castles of Czech Republic – you often have to go on at least two tours to see everything, sometimes more (at castles like Konopište, for example). In some cases, you can’t get to see the whole castle in a single visit.

The full Křivoklát Castle tour only runs on one weekend in June and then from the beginning of July to late September.

Image of the courtyard anmd cafe at Krivoklat Castle
The cafe and courtyard at Křivoklát

The self-guided Walls and Tower Tour runs from late May to the end of August, with closures on some days.

The longer of the two Gothic Palaces tours – which we took – is the most regular tour, and runs on winter weekends. This is very worthwhile, and it gives you a great overview of the Castle and its history.

The shorter Gothic Palaces tour doesn’t even start running until late June, then runs intermittently throughout the second half of the year.

Křivoklát Castle Gothic Palaces Tour – What You See

Image of the altar in the Chapel at Krivoklat Castle
The main altar in the Křivoklát Castle Chapel

The tour starts in the second courtyard, with soaring arches on one side and the main. tower on the other.  You start by seeing the Castle prison and dungeon – it’s amazing that one of the finest castles near Prague should be reduced to this, but it’s a common story among medieval castles in Europe.

One of the cells contains the dreadful ‘iron maiden’, a horrific torture instrument.

The fine late Gothic royal chapel is one of the Castle’s highlights, dating from the 15th to 17th centuries.

You then move on to the Knights’ Hall and Royal Hall – the former currently houses an exhibition of Gothic religious art, including a copy of the late 14th century illuminated Wenceslas Bible.

Image of old volumes at the Krivoklat Castle Library
Centuries-old volumes from the Křivoklát Library

As with places like Blatna Castle which have been almost continuously occupied, you also get to see how the Castle’s later aristocratic occupants lived and shaped the Castle.

We were hugely impressed by the Library, one of the most important in the Czech Republic, and you can stand close to the shelves and see some of the centuries-old volumes up close, a privilege indeed. Some documents there date back to the 10th century.

The tour concludes with the Fürstenbergs’ Portrait Room and a small Museum containing a collection of their artefacts and art collection.

Getting To Křivoklát Castle From Prague

Image of the entrance to Krivoklat Castle
This way to Křivoklát, ladies and gentlemen

We’ve travelled to Křivoklát Castle twice from Prague, and made the journey by train both times.  If you’re planning day trips from Prague, there is no point going about it any other way. A 90-minute journey each way, no carbon footprint – ideal.

Czech Railways – České dráhy – run regular services from Prague main train station – Praha hlavní nádraži – to Beroun, calling at Prague Smichov station (Praha Smichovské nádraži) en route. 

You then get 5 minutes to transfer for the S75 train to Rakovník, which usually departs from platform 1 (naštupište 1), just to the right of the doorways into the station entrance hall.

It’s normally a two-carriage service, and upcoming stations are regularly displayed above the doors of the carriage as well as being announced.

The station you require, Křivoklát, is, perhaps surprisingly, a request stop (zastávka na znamení). So you’ll need to press one of the small red  buttons (marked ‘na znameni)’ after leaving the station before, Roztoky na Křivoklátu.

Once you’ve alighted the train, head right down the footpath, crossing the bridge over the stream to reach the centre of the village.

Then, depending on your fitness, it’s a 5-10 minute walk up the hill (not much in the way of pavement / sidewalk, so you’re aware) to the Castle entrance on the left.

Alternatively, if you’re on a Czech Republic road trip, it’s on the 227 road between Rakovník and Beroun. It’s 50 km west of Prague, but because of the geography of the surrounding area the drive from Prague would be longer, taking an hour or so in all.

Křivoklát Castle Day Tours From Prague

Image of Krivoklat Castle Czechia
Křivoklát Castle

A day tour from Prague is an easier option , and you also get to see more, with optional hotel pick-up and drop-off.

This tour takes you to Křivoklát Castle and also includes a visit to a Bohemian glass workshop or local brewery, depending on the time of year you book.

Křivoklát Castle Opening Times

Partly due to its royal status, Křivoklát Castle tends to stay open later in the year than many castles in Czech Republic.

It remains open on weekends over most of the winter months, while many close completely between late October and early May.

The Krivoklat official site’s opening times page gives full information on this, including which tours are open when.

Křivoklát Village

There are several small restaurants in the village below the Castle, including the Krivoklat Hospudka Pohoda, which serves classic traditional Czech dishes. The Hotel Sykora also serves some of these, as well as a range of pizzas.

Křivoklát Castle – Final Words

Image of Karlstejn Castle Czech Republic
Karlstejn Castle

I hope you have found this guide to Křivoklát Castle useful and informative. It’s one of the less-known day trips from Prague – but it’s one of the best castles in Czech Republic, well worth the visit.

Check out my guide to Konopiště Castle, the nearest popular day trip destination from Prague. It’s another 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.

Check out my guides to the town of Mělník and nearby Kokořín Castle, both of which are around an hour north of Prague.

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

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.

He creates detailed travel guides about the places he visits, combining personal experience, historical context, and his images to help you plan a fantastic trip.

Take a look at some of our other Czech Castle guides:

  • Mělník – beautiful Bohemian wine town with fine Castle owned by the Lobkowicz family
  • Kokořín Castle – romantic castle surrounded by forest and landscape with amazing sandstone rock formations
  • Hluboká Castle – ornate white ‘wedding-cake’ castle in South Bohemia
  • Lednice Castle – superb English-inspired chateau rebuilt by the Princes of Liechtenstein in the 19th century

Discover some of the most beautiful towns in the Czech Republic in our guides here:

  • Telč Czech Republic – A Gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Town in Moravia
  • Mikulov – A Beautiful Moravian Wine Town Near The Austrian Border
  • Mariánské Lázně – A Splendid Bohemian Spa Town and World Heritage Site
  • Český Krumlov – Possibly The Most Beautiful Town In The Czech Republic
  • České Budějovice – South Bohemia’s Undiscovered Capital
  • Holašovice – The Unique Folk Baroque UNESCO World Heritage Village
  • Slavonice – Border Town With Incredible Renaissance Sgraffito Townhouses

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