If you’ve ever had Budweiser, then you can thank a Czech city called Ceske Budejovice.
This 800-year old city is home to around 100,000 people. It’s also home to the Budweiser factory.
Ceske Budejovice, or “České Budějovice” as it’s written in Czech, isn’t overly touristy. However, I found it to be a friendly, pretty town with a beautiful square.
You can tour the Budweiser factory for $8 CAD. You can walk around the beautiful and well-preserved old town. You can even see a hockey game.
What’s the best thing to do in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic? What are the must see sights, attractions, and activities? Where should you stay? Keep reading to find out.
1) See the Square
Ceske Budejovice has a beautiful main square in the center of town. It’s called Ottokar II Square (or Náměstí Přemysla Otakara II square in Czech). There’s a fountain called Samsonova kasna (Samson fountain) in the middle.
There was live music here when we visited in the summer. Locals had gathered around to listen. We stood around with beers and watched the sunset while listening to traditional Czech music. It was great. There are also art exhibits and other public square-y stuff going on.
The tourist information center is right on the main square. There are also plenty of bars and cafés around the square.
2) Climb the Black Tower
Climb 225 steps up the Black Tower (called Černá věž in Czech) for fantastic views over Ceske Budejovice.
The tower was built in the 1500s. It’s beside the Church of St. Nicholas because it once served as the bell tower for the church.
Every city in Europe has one of these towers. Just go up it. It costs 30 CZK ($1.50).
3) Walk a Big Loop Around the Old Town
Ceske Budejovice is like a less picturesque version of Cesky Krumlov. Walk around town and you’ll see Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. The town is like something out of the Witcher 3.
My favorite part of walking around town, however, was just seeing it as a normal town. Shops were opening. People were going about their day. It’s not as overrun as Cesky Krumlov. In fact, we might have been the only tourists there.
4) Visit the Budweiser Brewery
Budweiser is the only state-owned brewery in the Czech Republic. When you buy Budweiser, you’re supporting the Czech government – so good job.
You can do a tour of the Budweiser brewery in Ceske Budejovice. In fact, this is the main reason people come to Ceske Budejovice.
Tours are cheap: for like $8 CAD, you get a complete factory tour and beer samples straight from the cellar. There’s also a well-rated restaurant on site where you can have traditional Czech food.
Opening Hours: 9am to 5pm (changes by season)
Duration: 60 minute tour
Cost: 150 CZK ($6 USD)
Languages Available: Czech, English, German, Russian, French, Spanish, and Italian
Beer Samples: Yes
Yes, the Budweiser brewery is located in Ceske Budejovice. No, this is not the same Budweiser you drink in North America.
Beer brewing in Ceske Budejovice dates back to the 1200s (!). There were two main breweries, and both called their beer Budweiser (just like the brewers in Pilsen called their beer Pilsner).
In the 1870s, these Ceske Budejovice breweries began shipping their beer to the United States. Adolphus Busch liked the beer and wanted to re-create it, so he used a similar recipe and called it Budweiser.
Complicating matters further is that the Budweiser brewers were okay with this copycat version of their beer. In 1907, the Czech and American brewers came to an agreement that Anheuser Busch could market its beer as Budweiser in North America, while the Czech brewers could sell Budweiser in Europe.
Today, the dispute over Budweiser continues to rage. Budweiser beer (the Czech stuff) is made by Budweiser Budvar, which owns the naming rights to “Budweiser” in most of Europe.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), meanwhile, has the right to “Budweiser” in North America. If you order a Budweiser in Europe, you’re probably going to get the Czech stuff. If you want to buy the Czech stuff in North America, it’s called Czechvar.
Legal disputes between the Czechs and Americans over the use of “Budweiser” continue to this day. The dispute has been ongoing since 1907 and there are still 100 court cases worldwide. There’s even a Wikipedia page on the issue.
5) Day Trip to Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is incredible. It’s like stepping into a fantasy kingdom. People are starting to discover it, and there were troves of Asian tour buses when we visited in summer 2019. The best time to go was five years ago.
Czechs seem to laugh at Cesky Krumlov. They talk about it like Disneyland: it’s great for tourists, but it has lost a lot of its authenticity.
Of course, any touristy place has lost some of its authenticity. That’s inevitable. However, Cesky Krumlov is absolutely worth visiting.
To get there from Ceske Budejovice, we took a comfortable bus from the main bus station. It’s about a 30 minute drive down a pretty country road before you descend into the river valley around Cesky Krumlov.
Book your bus in advance: we got the last two seats on our bus. However, there are multiple buses per day. We used Flixbus and it was affordable and convenient.
There’s also a train, although it’s longer, more expensive, and has fewer times.
Where to Stay in Ceske Budejovice
We stayed at Grand Hotel Zvon, a fantastic hotel just off the main square. It was surprisingly affordable (around $100 CAD a night) when we visited in the middle of summer. Offseason and shoulder season rates are half of that. That price includes a huge breakfast buffet. Lots of Asian tourists and bus tours stay here. Rooms are spacious. I recommend it.
There are plenty of other well-rated hotels around the old town of Ceske Budejovice. Hotel Maly Pivovar, Residence U Cerne veze, and Hotel Budweis are all very well-rated.
There’s also a hostel called Cuba Bar & Hostel with an 8.6 rating (150+ reviews) on HostelWorld.
Where to Eat and Drink in Ceske Budejovice
There are actually quite a few well-rated restaurants, pubs, and breweries in Ceske Budejovice. Some of the ones recommended by locals include:
- Café Datel: Coffee and pastries with a patio
- Zmrz.li: Very well-rated ice cream shop
- Paluba: Upscale-ish indoor and outdoor dining with a view of the river.
- Restaurace U Sebestu: Casual dining open till 5am.
- Masne Kramy: Bar and restaurant that’s great for a local Budweiser
- Cukrarna: A sweet shop or candy shop
- Solnice: Restaurant and bar with outdoor patio (and they make their own beer)
How to Get There
Ceske Budejovice, like most Czech cities, is well-connected by train and bus. Check the usual bus providers (Megabus and Flixbus), then hop on a bus from the main train station.
You can find plenty of direct trains to and from Prague.
You could make a day trip out of Ceske Budejovice. Many people go from Prague to Cesky Krumlov as a day trip. However, some people do a day trip to Ceske Budejovice for the Budweiser factory.
How Long to Spend in Ceske Budejovice
Ceske Budejovice isn’t overly touristy. You can see most of the sights in a single afternoon walking around the city center.
We spent two nights in Ceske Budejovice. We got in late one night, visited Cesky Krumlov the next day, and left the day after. We didn’t have much time to see Ceske Budejovice, and we never made it to the Budweiser factory.
Other Tips for Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
See a Hockey Game: Ceske Budejovice has a nice-looking hockey arena near the city center. We visited in summer, so HC Motor Ceske Budejovice was not playing. However, if you’re there during the winter, you can see a professional hockey game. They play in the second tier of Czech hockey (the Chance Liga), which is one tier below the Extraliga.
Watch Honest Guide’s Video on Ceske Budejovice: Honest Guide is one of the best travel YouTubers. He has a travel guide for pretty much every city in Czech Republic. If you want local restaurant recommendations from someone who knows way more than me, then watch this video:
Don’t Be Afraid to Go During High Season: We went to Ceske Budejovice in August. It wasn’t busy. Cesky Krumlov was a little busy, but still not bad. Don’t be afraid to go any time of year.
Rent a Bike: You can rent a bike and cruise around town. The old town is small, but to see surrounding areas you may want a bike.
Stay in Ceske Budejovice to Avoid the High Prices of Cesky Krumlov: Cesky Krumlov is 30 minutes away from Ceske Budejovice, but prices seem significantly cheaper. Hotels, bars, and restaurants were affordable and never busy.
Final Word: Is Ceske Budejovice Worth Visiting?
Ceske Budejovice is worth visiting – even if you’re just staying overnight and visiting Cesky Krumlov, which is what we did.
It’s also worth a visit for the Budweiser brewery. Budweiser is one of the best-known beers in the world, and it’s pretty cool to visit the home of the original Budweiser.