Velka Amerika and Mala Amerika are two abandoned limestone quarries near Prague that have really become popular to visit in the past few years. If you translate both names of the quarries they would directly translate to Big and Small Amerika. Interesting…
We agree, the name is strange but the view is beautiful and visiting these two made for the perfect day trip from Prague. We stopped by Karlstejn Castle beforehand and then continued along our hike towards Velka and Mala Amerika.
Let’s dive in!
Everything you need to know about visiting Velka America
We really didn’t know what to expect from this day hike. Looking at the pictures of course it looks beautiful. But the trail to get to Velka Amerika we couldn’t find any information about. Luckily with a bit of research and planning, we turned this into a pretty epic day trip from Prague.
We’d been to Karlstejn Castle before and absolutely loved it. While we were looking into visiting Karlstejn again, we realized this beautiful “quarry” called Velka Amerika wasn’t too far away.
So we decided to plan a way where we can turn this into a hike and not just drive or take a bus directly to the viewpoint. And it was a lot of fun!
So in this post, we’ll explain what train to take, what trail to hike on, along with any other important you need so you don’t get lost!
It really is an awesome day trip where you’ll end up hiking by the castle towards the quarries. The best part is that lots of people know about the famous Karlstejn Castle but that’s about as far as they go in this area of the Czech Republic. So that’s why we want to share with you this little gem of a hike so you can see it for yourself.
The majority of the names of the trails are only in Czech, but if you follow our directions below, hopefully, you won’t get lost like us. (We don’t always get lost but sometimes it happens. I mean it’s half the fun, isn’t it?)
Even though the trails aren’t in English they are still super well marked. Just by reading the trail map and seeing the colours, you shouldn’t have any problems navigating your way through the Czech countryside. It’s one of our favourite hikes near Prague because of how unique these two quarries are. Plus the countryside in this part of Czech is absolutely beautiful.
It feels like you’re just walking in a farmer’s field with no idea where to go. I guess it’s why not many people go on this trail unless they know about the quarries. At some point you’ll be wondering if they’re real or not and out of nowhere this enormous hole in the earth just shows up.
Velka Amerika is so beautiful to look at from above, and some people even go swimming and kayaking down in the quarry. If you’re lucky enough and it’s a hot summer day then you can treat yourself to a nice swim.
After you’ve enjoyed the quarries and taken a hundred pictures head back to the town of Karlstejn. There you can enjoy a proper Czech meal and a refreshing ice-cold Czech beer. This is both necessary and mandatory after a long day of exploring the Czech countryside. At least in our opinion! 😉
What a day trip from Prague to Velka Amerika includes
- Checking out Karlstejn, a historic castle,
- Eating a yummy Czech meal,
- Walking in the countryside,
- Enjoying the views at Velka and Mala Amerika
It definitely doesn’t sound like one of our typical day trips from Prague. Trust us, the Czechs love hiking and being outdoors so this is completely normal for them. We promise this is one of the better trips you can do from Prague and away from all the tourists.
The trail we mapped out can be done in about 3.5 – 4.5 hours depending on how long you spend at each viewpoint (and of course, how many beers you end up drinking).
With Karlstejn being so close to Prague you don’t even have to wake up at 6 am to make the most of your trip. We recommend 7-8 hours to fully enjoy the day with time for pictures, lunch, and just being out in the wilderness. This includes the 50-minute train ride each way.
Now we’ll explain each checkpoint a bit and any other information you may need for visiting the Karlstejn area and Velka Amerika.
Practical information about hiking to Velka and Mala Amerika Trail
Distance: 12.7 km return / 7.89 miles return
Elevation: 280 m / 918 ft. elevation gain
Type: Loop / Lollipop
Length: 3.5 – 4.5 hours
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The hike itself is pretty straightforward if you follow the map. If you don’t follow the map, you can easily get lost because there are lots of side trails. But if you use the Google Maps we created, you shouldn’t have a problem.
How to get to Karlstejn from Prague
If you go from Prague to Karlstejn by public transport, it takes you less than 1 hour to get to Karlstejn from where the hike starts. The easiest way to go there is by hopping on a train. The train leaves from the central train station (Hlavní nádraží) in the direction of Beroun.
To buy your tickets, we recommend using an app called Muj Vlak. You can also go to the main train station beforehand and purchase your tickets at the office there. We find using the app much easier though.
The trains from Prague to Karlstejn and return run quite frequently so whenever you get to the station you rarely have to wait for long. During the day and on weekends the train runs every 30 minutes or so. In the evenings it’s less frequent. You can check the train times on Google Maps on your phone or on České dráhy right here.
The stop you will get off at is called Karlstejn so that makes it easy. From there we got you covered down below! =)
We also have a full post about Karlstejn Castle which talks about everything you need to know about a day trip to this famous Czech castle.
Karlstejn Train Station to Karlstejn Castle
Once you get off the train in the town of Karlstejn you’ll start your walk to Karlstejn Castle. Here is the trail info in case you need it. This will be the first viewpoint on your way to Velka Amerika! The town is very Medieval-esque and worth exploring early in the day before the crowds of tourists take over. Roam the streets and use the restroom in one of the cafes if you need it because after Karlstejn there aren’t many more along the way to Velka Amerika.
This time around we didn’t spend too much time there because of the full-day hike that was planned. However, we can highly recommend doing a guided tour of Karlstjen at some point.
If you don’t do a guided tour, you should at least explore the courtyard which is the free area where you can get some cool shots of the castle and the town below.
Karlstejn Castle to Restaurace Pod Draci Skalou
Depending on what time of the day you go you can stop for a bite to eat at Restaurace Pod Draci. It’s on the way to the two quarries and has yummy traditional Czech food with a huge patio. It’s a nice place to enjoy the sun and sip on a delicious Czech beer!
We actually went to the restaurant at the end of the hike but it can be done either way. You’ll pass it on the way there and on the way back so you can see how you’re feeling.
The trail from the castle to the restaurant may be a little challenging to find. Here are the directions to help guide you. There is a little “hidden” path before you enter the castle grounds. It’ll be on your right-hand side marked with a green diamond.
Once you find that then you’ll just follow the path and it will lead you to the restaurant. It takes about 5-10 minutes to walk from the castle to the restaurant. Enjoy a Czech beer or two before heading to Velka Amerika!
Restaurace Pod Draci Skalou to Velka Amerika
Once you’ve enjoyed the restaurant or just stopped for a quick beer and a restroom break, you can continue along the Czech countryside towards Velka Amerika. It’ll feel like there is no path and you’re just walking on a road but there are usually paths in the trees parallel to the road for walkers. So just be on the lookout for them and you’ll find them.
It’s not so much hiking and more just walking in nature through villages and countryside where you’re surrounded by forests and fields the whole way. A little similar to the hike up to Vyhlidka Maj if you’ve done that one.
It should take roughly an hour to walk from the restaurant to the parking lot of Velka Amerika. Click here to see the directions. You’ll see a car park which may or may not be full.Lots of locals just drive up and walk around the quarry instead of hiking like us. The weekends do get quite busy so then it’s usually full but if you go during the week, it can sometimes be completely empty.
There are two ways you can go around Velka Amerika from the parking lot. From what we were told by locals and other people it’s better to go left from the parking lot (south side of the quarry) there are more lookout points and better views from the south side.
There are tons of beautiful spots along the perimeter but be careful because there are steep drop-offs. The view of the big quarry is one of the highlights of this day hike. Spend some time enjoying the view and taking cool pictures of the quarry. If you go to the very west end of the quarry there are a few lookout points where you’ll be able to get the best pictures.
Velka Amerika to Mala Amerika
Once you’ve had enough of BIG America you’ll be able to venture off towards small America. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the end of the first quarry to the beginning of the second one.
Mala Amerika is not as scenic or picturesque as Velka Amerika and it’s really hard to get a good photo of, but it is still worth checking out since you’re hiking in the area. There are also a bunch of places you can rest and enjoy a snack while enjoying the beautiful nature.
If you have some extra time, there’s also a third quarry in the area called… Mexico! You can see what that one looks like in the image below.
Mala Amerika to Karlstejn Train Station
There aren’t any more viewpoints after Mala Amerika but the walk is beautiful. You’ll walk through fields and forests that really represents the Czech countryside.
It’s quite strange but here in the Czech Republic, you can actually just walk on private land in the country. So you may see that sometimes while you’re exploring the Czech Republic. So don’t worry if you feel like you’re walking on someone’s property in the countryside. It’s completely normal here!
Once it’s time to go back to the train station you can stop by that restaurant first if you’re hungry! Here are the directions that go past the restaurant and back towards the train station.
It’ll be about an hour’s walk back to the train station from Mala Amerika. If you have reception, now may be a good time to look at your Muj Vlak app and see when the next train is going. Luckily they go often so you don’t have to worry. Worst case you end up having an extra beer at the restaurant! 😉
You may also like…
- Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Karlstejn Castle
- 21 Best Food Places in Prague That Expats Love
- 7 Awesome Day Trips From Prague You Need to Do
- 11 Must Do Weekend Trips from Prague
- 35 Fun Things to Do in Prague on a Budget
What to bring on the trail
Hiking to Velka Amerika from Karlstejn is a pretty easy day hike but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a bag. Whenever we go hiking our Osprey bags are always full of sunscreen, snacks, a tripod, our camera, and other random things we need for the day.
It’s good to bring a few extra snacks because there’s some stretches of the hike where you’ll most likely get hungry. Plus there’s something nice about hiking and snacking.
Things to consider bringing:
- Reusable water bottles! We love our Lifestraws because of the filter! Although we fill it up with fresh mountain water on almost every hike you just never know if it’s actually drinkable or not.
- Sunscreen is a must (eco-friendly of course). Czech can get toasty when the sun is out!
- Extra layers for the chillier days (long-sleeve shirt or a windbreaker jacket).
- A sun hat or bucket hat + sunglasses for the sunnier days.
- If you want to take some cool pictures a portable tripod or a #selfiestick is nice to bring.
Also, this is a great list of hiking gear if you’re looking for more inspiration.
Other useful information about the trip to Velka Amerika
You can see the full trip here with all the main viewpoints. We also recommend downloading MapyCZ. They have all the trails and more detailed maps than Google Maps does. But for the simplicity of this post, we used Google Maps for all the directions since that’s what most of us use. That being said, if you plan to hike a lot in Czech then MapyCZ will become a close friend.
Summer and fall are probably the best times to visit Velka Amerika. Maybe even September when the weather is still quite nice and the kids are back to school. Nice weather makes hiking through the countryside much more enjoyable and in the fall you get the pretty colours.
With all that being said we hope this day trip goes smoothly and you get to enjoy all the viewpoints throughout the trip! Let us know if you end up getting lost like us or if you make it back for some beers in one piece.
Dom & Jo
Red White Adventures