Find out how to spend one day in Pardubice. In this post, I’ve included the highlights such as the old town, the castle, horse racing, and the tasty gingerbread, which the city is known for.
If you’re on a road trip in East Bohemia, you really cannot skip a trip to the city of Pardubice.
It’s the largest city in East Bohemia, famous for its horse racing and delicious gingerbread (Pardubický perník).
It’s just an hour’s drive from Prague so it makes a great day trip or stop on your Czech itinerary.
Here is my complete guide to the things to do in Pardubice, Czech Republic.
One day in Pardubice
What is Pardubice known for?
Pardubice is best known for its horse racing (the Great Pardubice Steeplechase) and its gingerbread, which has been made in the traditional way for many years.
Czech horse jockey Josef Vana holds the world record for winning the race 8 times.
Pardubice is also home to a plastic explosive called Semtex, which is similar to C-4 and known for being difficult to detect by dogs.
The explosive was created in 1952 by Czech chemist Stanislav Brebera at the request of the Czechoslovak army.
Why visit Pardubice?
If you’re wondering if it’s worth visiting Pardubice, let me give you some reasons to go.
First off, Pardubice has a charming and historic old town. As you wander through this quaint part of the city, you’ll see old churches, stunning architecture, colourful houses and even peacocks in front of the castle.
Next, be sure to try the region’s famous gingerbread—a local speciality with a rich culinary tradition. You can even visit the Gingerbread Museum (called The Gingerbread House) with more than one thousand gingerbreads from all over the Czech Republic.
The castle is a big draw, too. It’s beautifully restored and has those pretty Italian arcades just like Litomysl Castle. In front of the castle are 30 peacocks running around.
And lastly, if you like horses, you can experience the Great Pardubice Steeplechase in October. This prestigious horse racing event is one of the oldest in Europe.
Where is Pardubice?
Pardubice is located in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, about 100 km or an hour east of Prague. It’s the capital of the Pardubice region.
You can easily get there by train, bus or car within one hour.
How to get to Pardubice
Getting to Pardubice from Prague is pretty simple.
Just hop on a fast train from Prague Main Train Station, which is close to Wenceslas Square in the heart of Prague.
The trip takes around 65 minutes, and there are trains running frequently throughout the day.
When you arrive at the Pardubice train and bus station, you can either walk, catch a local town bus, or hail a taxi into town.
It’s really easy to walk because the road is well signposted. It takes around 15 minutes.
Where to stay in Pardubice
Penzion Víno Hruška Pardubice (⭐ 9.2) is a lovely place with historic character and a wine cellar. Located just 300 m from the city centre, you’ll be in the heart of Pardubice where all the sights are. Check latest rates and availability here.
One day in Pardubice
The best things to do in Pardubice
1. The Old Town
Start your day exploring the Pardubice Old Town. It’s small, so take your time to just stroll through the charming streets and look at the old, beautiful houses. Many of them date back to medieval times.
There are many interesting sites in the old town. I’ll share more details about the Green Gate in a minute, but that’s a site you should definitely visit. Also, notice the town hall, and the town tower.
The town hall is the biggest building in the square and was built in Renaissance style at the end of the 19th century.
2. Pernstejn Square
Next, visit Pernstejn Square (Pernstynske square), which is the central point of Pardubice’s historic area. This lively square is surrounded by colourful houses, so it’s a picturesque spot to relax and people-watch.
The square is named after the Pernštejn family, who took control of the region in the 14th century. They were the ones who helped the city to flourish and become what it is today.
In 1538, Pardubice was hit by a massive fire. When it was rebuilt, many buildings were designed in Renaissance style.
You can see that in the terracotta framed windows and arch gables on the houses around the town square and on the road leading to the castle.
3. The Green Gate
Now, head over to the Green Gate, one of Pardubice’s most significant points of interest.
The Green Gate is located at the entrance to the old town square and has been guarding the town since the beginning of the 16th century.
Originally, it was called the Prague Gate because it marked the road to Prague. But a fire damaged the gate a few years later, and it was rebuilt with turrets added to the roof and the entire roof finished with copper sheets.
Over time, the copper oxidized and turned green, and since then the gate has been called the Green Gate.
4. Green gate tower
Inside the gate there’s a door that leads you to the top. I highly recommend that you go up as you’ll be rewarded with the amazing views of the city.
On your way up, there’s also an exhibition about the history of Pardubice.
5. The hidden square
Close to the main square is a hidden square. It’s so small that I almost missed it if it hadn’t been for the canal.
This secret square gives you a glimpse into the past and is the perfect place to take a break and soak up the atmosphere.
6. Find the 3 sad knights
This is a fun one…
Inside Pardubice old town there are three sad knights. They’re bollards made to stop cars from driving through the gates. They almost look like police officers saying “hmmm”
Have a look and see if you can find all three of them. (tip: they’re located close to each other).
7. Pardubice castle
One of the main highlights of Pardubice is the castle.
The Pardubice chateau that we see today was rebuilt in Renaissance style by the famous Pernstejn family in the 15th and 16th centuries, although the original castle dates back to the end of the 13th century.
What makes this castle unique is that it was redesigned from a moated castle, which is rare as it would be more obvious to simply build a new castle somewhere else.
The Pernstejn family, who were known for their vast wealth and importance, ensured that the only entrance to the chateau was via a single main road and street directly leading from the main town square.
Today, the Pardubice castle is an art gallery and castle museum. It doesn’t feel as authentic as Litomysl castle, but it’s still worth a visit. The exhibitions are located in a separate part of the castle, so you can explore them individually.
8. Taste gingerbread
The gingerbread tradition in Pardubice dates back to the 16th century. Back then, being a gingerbread baker was a specialised profession, and they were protected by a local bakers guild.
Only those with special permission were allowed to bake gingerbread, and each family closely guarded their recipes.
Today, there are only two main companies that bake traditional Pardubice Gingerbread. One has been in operation for over 100 years, while the other was established in the 1990s.
Just 8 km from the city center, you’ll find the Gingerbread Museum, where you can learn about gingerbread making and the fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel.
9. The Winternitz Automatic Mills
The Winternitz Automatic Mills were built in the early 20th century.
They were designed in the unique style of Rondocubism (Czech Art Deco) by the Winternitz brothers and one of the most important architects of Czechoslovakia of the 20th century, Josef Gočár.
Although the mills are no longer working, they used to produce wheat and rye flour, with an output of about 280 tons per day – that’s a lot of flour!
Recently, the production stopped, and the whole complex is being redesigned into a modern centre of art and creativity with conference rooms and apartments, where the people of Pardubice can hang out.
I got to see the building from the inside although it’s still under construction.
The Gočár Gallery, the East Bohemian Gallery, the Gallery of the City of Pardubice, a café, an information centre, and a scenic terrace are all going to be opening up in September 2023. Looks like it’s going to be great!
10. The horse racing stadium
Pardubice is also known for its iconic Horse Racing Stadium, where you can take a guided tour or even catch a live event if you time your trip right.
The horse racing season in Pardubice usually starts in May and ends in October.
The main horse racing event (Velká Pardubická) takes place each year on the second Sunday in October, and the town becomes really busy during that time.
Kladruby Nad Lebem
You can also visit one of the oldest studs in the world: Kladruby Nad Labem. The national stud farm lies 26 km from Pardubice but it’s well worth the trip if you like horses.
Kladruby nad Labem specialises in breeding the majestic and rare Kladruber horses, which are used for royalty and the imperial court.
11. Lunch at Nejen Dvorek
For lunch or dinner, I suggest you head to Nejen Dvorek, a great restaurant serving delicious Czech cuisine. It’s popular so you might want to avoid the busiest time or make a reservation.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants in Pardubice where prices are slightly lower than in Prague.
12. Try a trdelnik
Make sure to get it fresh out of the oven!
Trdelnik is a traditional sweet pastry, made by wrapping dough around a stick, which is then baked over an open fire and topped with sugar, walnuts, and/or cinnamon.
Although Trdelnik is not originally from Pardubice, it’s still a popular street food in the town, and you can find it in many cafes and bakeries.
13. Visit Cafe Bajer
Finally, round off your day with a hot chocolate or coffee at Café Bajer, a cosy snack and coffee shop. It’s a retro cafe with a homely interior.
Where to next?
So, after your visit to Pardubice, you’re probably wondering where you should go next?
East Bohemia is a beautiful area of Czechia and there’s plenty to do here. One of the best places to visit is Litomysl.
Litomysl is a beautiful town with a rich history and many tourist attractions. It’s located in East Bohemia and known for its UNESCO castle, Smetana’s Litomyšl festival and the longest old town square in the Czech Republic.
You can also explore the Piarist church and the eccentric Josef Váchal museum.
Read next: The perfect one day in Litomysl itinerary
Many thanks to Visit Czechia and Visit East Bohemia for hosting me in the Czech Republic. Whenever I travel, there will always be full disclosure about whether my stay was hosted by a tourism board. And even if I’m on a press trip, my view will never be swayed one way or the other.
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