Planning a Trip
It's more comfortable taking the train to Plzen than the bus. A fast train from Prague whisks travelers to Plzen in just under 2 hours without you having to witness the mayhem caused by Czech drivers. Trains between the two cities are just as plentiful and fit almost every schedule. The train costs 210Kc ($10/£5) first class or 140Kc ($6.65/£3.35) second class. To get from the train station to town, walk out the main entrance and take Americká Street across the river; turn right onto Jungmannova, which leads to the main square.
The bus trip from Prague takes 1 1/2 hours, and it tends to be cramped. It costs 80Kc ($3.80/£1.90) one-way. If you do take the bus, head back into town along Husova to get to the square.
Thanks to the government's highway-building scheme, Plzen has moved closer to Prague -- or at least it seems that way. A once treacherous 2-hour drive on a narrow two-lane highway has been replaced by an easy 45-minute cruise on the Highway D5, which leaves Prague from the west.
Trying to be as visitor-friendly as possible, the City Information Center Plzen, námestí Republiky 41, 301 16 Plzen (tel. 378-035-330; fax 378-035-332; www.icpilsen.cz or www.plzen-city.cz), is packed with literature to answer your questions. It is open daily 9am to 6pm.
If you're an American or speak English, being in Plzen in May is quite an experience. May 8 marks the day when Gen. George S. Patton was forced to halt his advance after liberating the area, thanks to an Allied agreement to stop. The Russians were allowed to free Prague, becoming its successor superpower, as decided at Yalta in 1944. Forty years of Communist oppression, however, means that the town now celebrates Liberation Day with a vengeance. You'll be feted and praised into the wee hours, as the city's people give thanks to the forces that ended Nazi occupation.
In mid-August the city hosts a modest music festival called Jazz on the Streets, highlighted with several concerts by top-name Czech musicians.
Anxious to capitalize on its beer heritage and always happy to celebrate, Plzen has started its own Oktoberfest, called Pivní slavnosti (Beer fest), which takes place in the end of September and beginning of October.
For more details on festivities for all events, contact the City Information Center Plzen.
Plzen's old core is centered around námestí Republiky. All of the sights, including the brewery, are no more than a 10-minute walk from here.