Visiting Konopiště Castle with a Small Dog

One day we woke up and could see that Mother Nature was uncertain as to what she was going to wear that day. Was it going to be blue skies and warm rays of sunshine? Or maybe cool grey with a hint of late summer breeze, something more melodramatic, complete with rain and menacing clouds? Who knew? In case of the latter, our first instinct was to stay in Prague, but then we thought … Why not! Let us go see Konopiště Castle. In the worst case scenario, we would turn back. So off we went!

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Looks like Mother nature went with “light grey” for our visit to Konopiště Castle!

Konopiště Castle is an hour away by train from Prague’s main train station, where you can buy your tickets to Benešov u Prahy and back for what was less than $10 Canadian per biped. TIP: Inform the ticket agent that you are travelling with your dog. If you forget your small dogs carrier, or they don’t accept the sling as a “carrier” – as happened for us that day, you will need a ticket. Otherwise, if you have a sling or bag, small dogs travel for free.

Visiting Konopiště Castle with a Small Dog Montecristo Travels train ticket

My very own ticket today!! (approx. $2.50 Canadian)

When you get off the train at Benešov u Prahy, do not expect to see the castle. You’ve got a bit of a ways to go yet —— not enormous distances like for Kutna Hora, but it’s not just a skip away either.

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It’s well explained!

We chose to walk to the castle (a 25 minute walk) and save the really cute, “mini train” for our trek back. Walking and the little train are your two easiest options for travelling the distance between the main train station and the castle. Although I was also told you can take the local bus. But it wasn’t raining and so walking was choice #1! And it was easy enough. The interesting weaving and rather scenic route is marked by painted stripes. (Thanks, Rick Steves, for that tip in your guide book, and thank you, Airbnb hosts, for having the book!)

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Follow that white – yellow – white!

White—yellow—white painted horizontally! And they are on everything, from crosswalk signs to people’s fences to trees! But they certainly ensure you find your way!

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It’s fun! keep your eyes out because you never know where the symbol will pop up!

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Can you Juuuuuuust make out the next symbol on the tree?

Eventually, you will end up entering the huge wooded area of the castle’s parklands. It’s absolutely beautiful. Even with an unpleasant damp chill in the air, we couldn’t help but be in awe of the 555 acres before us. We knew we would only see a small section but we were so glad we had given ourselves time to really enjoy it.

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Clear enough!

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Freedom!!

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Really lovely dirt trails as well as more manicured options.

Statues everywhere … a lake … a terraced garden … a deer park and, Mom’s favourite (even off season), the rose garden.

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Gold … even outside. So cool.

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Little vignettes everywhere!

Visiting Konopiště Castle with a Small Dog Montecristo Travels

Rose garden from above – wish it had been in full season but they were all cut back.

Personally, I was a fan of meeting a peacock face to face for the first time. Well, HELLO!

Visiting Konopiště Castle with a Small Dog

THE reason for keeping your small dog on LEASH!! (photo credit The Star)

Eventually the paths led us to the castle proper. It sort of appears in a rather sudden and majestic manner.

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Hey guys!! what is that up there?!!

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There it is!

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And more of these handsome fellows!

The castle is really popular so we recommend you go early. We messed up and went a bit later in the day. As such, we had fewer options for the English guided tours. We ended up not going inside for that reason, and because the interior isn’t pet friendly so we would have had to do a hand-off.

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Main entrance and ticket office is on the left!

Should you be interested, however, note that the castle tours are split into three: the south wing with its saloons, period furniture, and paintings and porcelain; the north wing, which is the oldest part of the castle with gothic and renaissance architecture; and the private rooms of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (yup, that Ferdinand).

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Courtyard is pretty enough!

You can pay to visit each area separately or buy a combined ticket, which allows you into all three parts and gives you entry into the St. George Museum and the shooting range (which is not where that Ferdinand was shot). They also have self-guided headphones as an option, too. If you can do a handoff with your dog, then go for that. One person can enjoy the massive gardens while the other goes inside, and then switch!

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Or have a cup of coffee and cake in the pet friendly courtyard terrace just like these two!

In our case, as it was now past noon, we were a bit cold and hungry. So we decided to skip the inside of the big baroque-style castle and settled, instead, in the local traditional Czech restaurant called Stará Myslivna, which is … yep, right there, INSIDE the castle. We figured that would do just fine! We walked past the old elevator shaft that was installed by Archduke Ferdinand and found the restaurant. They didn’t mind me in my bag, so we settled and enjoyed a really good meal!

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This elevator … kinda spooky but pretty!

About the Archduke … Some of you may know him as the man whose assassination led to the First World War. To those at the castle, he was known mostly for his hunting. The palace has over 300,000 hunting trophies. Something my vegetarian’ish bipeds sort of didn’t want to see, to be honest.

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Let’s confuse them all!

The Archduke was also obsessed with weapons and armour, so he also collected those. There is an impressive collection of the best that Europe had to offer throughout history and during the Archduke’s time, if that is your thing. Personally, I think the poor man was just sort of … well, unhappy.

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Why can’t people just let others love who they wish to love?

He bought Konopiště Castle as a refuge, you see. Criticized openly for marrying the woman he loved, a Bohemian noblewoman by the name of Sophie Chotek, the man felt the need to leave the Viennese court and find refuge in his castle from the hostilities. He lived there until he and his wife were murdered by an assassin in Sarajevo. I will never understand why humans will not just let each other love who they will. sigh

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With Dad!

Anyway, after our delicious meal, we wondered down past the bear in his bear pit (that is something we just can’t condone) and enjoyed the lush greenery all around us.

Mom took a look at the rose garden for a bit and then the lake where there was a bit of a children’s fair going on, complete with cotton candy and singers and puppets!

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Glimpsing the lake!

We could have walked for hours and hours on the pet friendly grounds. Even just around the lake would have taken a good 45 minutes. But the skies were growing really dark and menacing at this point and without umbrellas, we decided it may be best to head back to the train station for the next available train back (TIP: Get the schedule of returning trains when you first arrive so you know when to get back and avoid wasting time at the train station!)

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Waiting for the ticket master!

We were about to ask the man who drives the little tourist train if dogs are welcome on board when a lady with a BIG dog, who had obviously been enjoying the grounds, got on without so much as a “by your leave,” so on we hopped as well after Dad got our tickets.

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Enjoying my ride!

That little trip was fun! And before we knew it, we were back on the BIG train to Prague —— warm and looking forward to finding a nice place for dinner.  We wish the weather had held up so we could have visited the town of Benešov proper.  But given the storm that came in that evening I think we made the right call. I would love to go back and see it all under the sun.

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Hey that is the same dog that took the “mini” train now taking the “big” train with me! cool!

In review: Visiting Konopiště castle with a small dog – or any size dog really –  is a great idea! The castle has gorgeous and extensive pet friendly grounds to visit. Once further away from the castle proper and the tourists, we found paths that made us feel alone in the woods ——almost like in old bohemian fairy tales. I even got to run off leash, but do be cautious about that: the castle is home to a large number of birds of prey, some domesticated and trained, some not. So look UP first!

27 Comments on “Visiting Konopiště Castle with a Small Dog

  1. Dear Monte and bipeds,

    I’m really happy you got to experience and enjoy another jewel of Czech history. Konopiště is for sure beautiful, and it has been for ages a representative place for the country.

    I went to visit it three years ago when I started to plan our wedding. I was there to talk to a wedding organizer and see what our options are. I met with my great girlfriend Jana there, and we enjoyed the grounds and a chateau, and then I had my meeting.

    I have to say that the enormous amount of taxidermy throughout the castle made me really sad. I can’t comprehend that there were and are people that desire to kill all kinds of animals in such vast amounts. It’s really sad. I was also deeply saddened by the bear enclosure, which I have to say is quite common on Czech castles and chateau grounds. However, as you said, if people don’t mind it, they should not be deterred by our views on it because the chateau and the grounds are magnificent. Go visit, you won’t be sorry!

    Thanks for another delightful post!! Keep them coming :-)

    With love,
    Michaela, Oliver & Chloé

    • Absolutely … plus it’s a little like going to see a torture chamber … it’s not something anyone believes in but we still visit as part of history. AS for the bear … yeah … :(

      The grounds alone are absolutely stunning. Absolutely worth the visit. It’s gorgeous. Plus this archduke … well his death really did shape history – it’s interesting to “walk where he walked” no matter what you think of him or any of that – he did have that impact.

      Plus … Peacocks!!

  2. This place looks so beautiful! I had always been so fascinated by castles, even when I was younger, I always made my family go and see them, haha! But at the time, as a kid, I didn’t see the dark side of them. Just the majestic and royal scenery. Which is why I love that you pointed out the cruelty of the time as well! History is so important for us to learn from!

    It’s just a shame that you couldn’t go inside the castle with Monte! It’s always such a bummer when a place isn’t pet friendly. :(

    • Castles are not all about fairy Princesses and such … some are full out fortresses built for one purpose only: war. But I always find them fascinating too. They all have their story to tell. If the stones could talk – Oh the secrets they would spill! I always imagine … what have they seen? heard? what bit of history not in our books happened there…?

      As for going inside … we did get lucky in Karlstejn Castle so … it does happen! I do have to say that the castles in France were often pet friendly. Perhaps more than in the Czech Republic. Still … we hardly saw ALL of them so who knows really!

  3. I absolutely LOVE the wooded areas! How beautiful! Plus the dog friendly courtyard is so awesome! It is so lovely that they welcome pets. Too bad that your pup needed a train ticket lol. I would love visiting this castle!

    • at less than $4 I wasn’t too worried about the ticket. At least dogs are allowed not he train unlike in Canada. :) As for the castle grounds yes – totally awesome but … if you love castles and want one where pets can go INSIDE then I recommend Karlstejn Castle – also in the Czech Republic.

  4. I love the idea that the gardens and woods were off leash as it gives the parents time to just wander slowly and enjoy the peace while the pup trots along at his or her own pace, it sounds magical, thank you for sharing

    • If Monte can’t go we don’t go. Simple. When we travel there is always SO much to see. So it’s perfectly ok to not go to one thing if it’s not per friendly. Frees us up for the stuff that is.

  5. We’ve always wanted to visit the Prague area – maybe one day soon and you can show us the sites! We love your highlight of the dog-friendly courtyard – it would be glorious to just sit in this glorious setting with my pups and people watch!

    • For sure! I have a 2 part Prague post coming up! We don’t live there (we live in Canada) but if you have questions when your time comes we are MOST happy to help you out!

  6. It looks like you had a lovely day! Just the walk to the castle looks great.

    I can’t stand hunting trophies either. I’m with you on the let people love who they love, it isn’t anyone else’s business.

    It is a shame about the bear. I didn’t realize that keeping bears in a pit or an enclosure was something that was common in castles.

    • yeah the bear was a particularly sad thing. We’ve seen a lot of them. Although less in the last 5 years or so. The only bear enclosure I DID like was the one in Bern – in Switzerland. It’s … wow. Those bears are really really living the good life. But this…? I just feel so bad. It’s a smalls pace and it’s just for entertainment at this point. It’s not needed.

    • I love it in a way. It forces people to think of bringing the carrier if they want to travel for free and also making public transport pet friendly means people don’t abandon them when time comes to travel. And with them paying a small fee it means that pets are considered “paying customers” and kept in mind from all sides be it train design to snacks at the bar!

    • yeah – a bit much … I mean sure you expect one or two or so … I mean they hunted to eat and such – but this was way more.

  7. Wow, what a great trip, I’m so jealous! I’ve often wondered how it is to travel abroad with pets, looks like it went well for you, very cool!

  8. The grounds are gorgeous and the castle is stunning. I would have been one of those people that would not have appreciated the hunting trophies – and the bear pit. In some ways we have come so far…

  9. I apologize for my delay in commenting. I had intended on leaving a note much earlier. This looks like an amazing location for a visit! The well marked trails, the grounds, and the historic building are all beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to see some of the places you’ve explored!

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