Discover Mělník, an oft-overlooked wine town that’s one of the loveliest towns in Bohemia and one of the best day trips from Prague
Mělník Czech Republic is a beautiful wine-producing town near the capital Prague, and one of the best places to get an introduction to the country beyond Prague.
It’s one of the best places to visit near Prague because it’s a complete ‘package’, a gorgeous historic town with several things to do, including the option of boat trips. It also has plenty of places to eat and drink, including a quirky café in the wonderful setting of a 16th century tower.
Other than Kutná Hora, we’ve found it’s probably the best town to visit within an hour of Prague.
Our guide takes you through all the best things to do in Mělník, with all the logistical information you’ll need including opening times and how to get from Prague to Mělník.
Mělník Czech Republic – An Introduction
Mělník is a historic town 22 miles (35 km) north of Prague, and is one of the easiest Prague day trips
It’s pronounced ‘Myel-neek’
It is best-known as a wine-growing town, and there are centuries-old vineyards just below Mělník Castle
The Castle and nearby tower of the church of SS Peter and Paul is one of the most prominent Czech Republic landmarks, visible for many miles across the countryside
It was the hometown of St Ludmila, grandmother of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czechs, and the Castle vineyard is named after her
Mělník isn’t as well known as the likes of Karlstejn Castle or Kutna Hora, but if you’re looking for a beautiful town to explore for a day, it’s one of the best places to visit near Prague
Most things to do in Mělník are within a 300-metre radius of the Castle
Don’t confuse Mělník with its near-namesake Melnik in Bulgaria – the latter is also a renowned wine town, and perhaps not unsurprisingly, they are twinned
Best Things To Do In Mělník, Czech Republic
Many visitors head straight for Mělník Castle, which presides on the ridge of the hill overlooking the confluence of the two rivers below. With the exception of the post-war Communist period, it has been in the hands of the Lobkowicz family for centuries, and this Renaissance gem has been recently restored.
The Czechs call their castles ‘hrad’,meaning ‘fortress’, or ‘zamek’, meaning a fortified residence, chateau or palace. Mělník Castle is very much a ‘zamek’, with a splendid courtyard and several opulent rooms where functions would be hosted.
Although a non-oenophile, I was very intrigued by the Chateau Mělník wine cellars. You pay 50 Kc and get to wander the dimly-lit, damp and musty cellars for twenty minutes or so. The wine vats are enormous, one holding around 130,000 litres of wine, and each vat is named after a different saint.
Check out more castles near Prague in some of our other articles:
Konopiště Castle – the Bohemian residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Křivoklát Castle – stunning medieval castle in forest an hour west of Prague
SS Peter & Paul Church
The superb tower of SS Peter and Paul Church, next door to Mělník chateau, can be seen from many miles away on a clear day, and the climb to the top takes you to a superb vantage point which gives you a great view over Mělník town rooftops and over to Řip Hill, a place of great significance to many Czechs.
The first church on the site is believed to have been built by the 11th century, but the oldest surviving part is from the late 15th century. Fires in 1555 and 1681 destroyed much of the fabric of the church, which underwent a large-scale restoration in the early 20th century.
There are several ossuaries around the Czech Republic, including one below the chancel of SS Peter and Paul Church.
They were normally set up in the cellars of churches (including, most famously, the elaborately decorated Kutna Hora Bone Church in Sedlec) and used to accommodate the bones of long-deceased people when cemeteries were close to capacity.
The ossuary in Mělník is believed to contain the bones of around 15,000 souls, and was arranged in the early 20th century.
Opening hours are the same as the church and tower.
See Also: Chapel of Bones, Evora, Portugal
Galerie Ve Věži Cafe In The Prague Gate Tower
Our favourite Mělník café is hidden away up a couple of flights of steep wooden steps in the 16th century Prague Gate clock tower, on the southern side of the old town.
The café is spread over several floors, as is an art gallery. You enter after two flights of stairs, and enter through the door to reach the counter, where there are also several tables. There are also more tables on the next two floors.
If you decide to sit upstairs, your order is placed on a tray and hoisted up to your level where you collect it. When you’re finished, you ring a bell and the tray is hoisted back up to you.
My coffee and cake were great, and I also enjoyed the superb view across to the church and Castle.
Mělník Town Square
Namesti Miru (Peace Square) is the heart of Mělník, a broad oval surrounded by some striking medieval and Renaissance architecture, including the red and yellow town hall (radnice).
The first time we visited, a festival was being held on the square, with music, dancers and a convivial atmosphere helped along by plenty of local beer and Mělník vino. It made a great setting for this, and there were some great craft stalls to browse.
On my most recent visit the square was empty on a normal weekday, but it was still a pleasure to stroll under the arches of the arcades which occupy part of the square.
Check out more beautiful Czech towns in our guides below:
Telč Czech Republic – A Gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Town
Mikulov – A Beautiful Moravian Wine Town Near The Austrian Border
Things To Do In Mariánské Lázně – A Splendid Bohemian Spa Town
Best Things To Do In Český Krumlov – Possibly The Most Beautiful Town In The Czech Republic
České Budějovice – South Bohemia’s Underrated Capital
Holašovice – The Unique Folk Baroque UNESCO World Heritage Village
Slavonice – Border Town With Incredible Renaissance Sgraffito Townhouses
Mělník Tourist Train
On weekends during the summer months, a tourist train takes visitors on an hour-long run around Mělník. The circuit begins on the corner of the main square, and takes you around some of the back streets near the Castle before heading down the hill to the banks of the Elbe and back up.
It also runs a much longer circuit through the forest to Kokořin Castle, including the run up the steep winding road to the one clear viewpoint of the Castle.
Confluence of Elbe and Vltava Rivers
Mělník is also notable as the confluence of the two great Czech rivers, the Vltava and the Elbe.
After a dramatic journey from southern Bohemia, the Czech national river Vltava peters out rather anticlimactically. The final stretch is canalised, but you still get a very impressive view from the terrace of the Castle, with both the confluence and the knobbly hills rising out of the Bohemian landscape.
The River Elbe then continues its journey to Germany, where it passes through Dresden and Hamburg before entering the North Sea at Bremerhaven.
See Also: Vltava River In Prague and Vyhlidka Maj, the classic viewpoint over a bend in the River Vltava
St Ludmila’s Church
In summer this church is partly hidden by the surrounding trees, so it’s easy to walk past.
It’s not always open, but if you enter the churchyard you can still admire the church’s wooden bell tower, a very rare specimen in this part of the world.
Explore Mělník’s Gorgeous Back Streets
One of the joys of wandering around Mělník was discovering its many architectural details.
There are atmospheric late-medieval vaulted arcades, some gorgeous wall decorations and motifs, and a wonderful Art Nouveau doorway just down the street from the Castle. Keep wandering, and you’ll discover even more.
A Boat Trip Along the River Elbe
The best view of Mělník is from across the river, and you can enjoy something similar on boat trips between late May and late September.
The Fidelio takes you on one-hour cruises along the scenic stretch below the Castle, or on two-hour trips to see the canal locks at Hořin and/or Obřístvi.
The boat departs from Přístaviště Mělník, a 10-minute walk down the hill from the town square, and a few minutes beyond the bridge.
Getting to Mělník From Prague
You can get to Mělník by bus, train or car, and having been there four or five times we’ve found the bus to be by far the most convenient way.
The 369 bus departs from Prague Ladvi Metro station, on red line C in the north of the city. It leaves every half an hour, and takes 40-45 minutes through the Bohemian countryside to reach the town. It’s best to alight at Mělník Fibichova, which is at the top of the hill a few minutes’ walk from the old town area. The Mělník bus station is at the bottom of the hill, so it’s around a kilometre back up to the top.
Tickets cost 60 Kc (£2) per adult each way, and you can buy them from the yellow machines inside the Metro station. Click on the ‘Prague and suburbs’ section, and then on a 5-zone ticket. You can buy the return ticket at the same time. When you board the bus, validate your ticket in the yellow machine near the driver.
The train station is inconveniently situated over 2 km down the hill from the historic town centre, and there are bus transfers up the hill from there.
For bus and train times, check out the excellent idos.cz website.
Onwards From Mělník
Mělník is a good base for exploring the Kokořinsko, a magical landscape a few miles to the north-east of the town. The area is largely forested, with fantastical rock formations hidden within, with villages full of distinctive wooden Bohemian cottages in the valleys
One of the highlights is Kokořin Castle, one of the most romantic Czech castles, perched on a rocky outcrop high above the surrounding forests. It’s a bit of a hike up from the village, but well worth it.
If you’re driving, you can also reach a lot of the smaller places of interest near Mělník, including mysterious Houska Castle, which is purportedly built over an entrance to Hell.
Pension U Zamku is ideally situated in the heart of Mělník, on the street between the Castle, SS Peter & Paul Church and the main square. It’s also the top-rated place to stay in Mělník among visitors, and was Guesthouse of the Year in 2017.
Hotel U Rytíře is an excellent central option, right next door to the Castle and on the same street (Svatovaclavska) as Pension U Zamku. The rooms and apartment are very spacious, ideal if you’re travelling with kids.
The 3-star Hotel Olympionik is another good option, down the hill from the town centre and only 100 metres. One of our friends stayed there on a week-long bike trip from Prague to Dresden and said it was great for a few days’ stay.
Looking for other places to visit near Prague? Take a look at our Czech Republic Travel Guide
Discover these other Czech Castles across the country:
Blatna Castle – superb water castle with adjoining Deer Park
Lednice Castle – lavish 19th century rebuild of one of the main Liechtenstein princes’ Castles
Hluboká Castle – extraordinary white wedding cake Castle in South Bohemia