Most WWII travelers know about visiting Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany and Auschwitz in Poland, but not everyone knows you can visit Terezín Concentration Camp from Prague in the Czech Republic.
The sad reality about the Nazi concentration camp system is that it was a vast network of over 1,000 camps and subcamps spread across much of Europe. What this means today is that travelers have ample opportunities to explore this horrific past up-close. In other words, you don’t need to be traveling through Germany or Poland to visit sites like these.
Visiting Terezín Concentration Camp from Prague
Visiting Terezín Concentration Camp from Prague is quick, inexpensive, and pretty straightforward. There’s actually more to see here than just the Terezín memorial and camp which makes this a worthwhile day trip from Prague.
This post will tell you everything you need to know about how to take a day trip to Terezín from Prague: how to get there, where to go, what to see, and more.
The Terezín memorial and its related sites is known in Czech as Památník Terezín. The former Concentration Camp at Terezín is known in German as Theresienstadt.
Terezín Concentration Camp
Around 1940, Nazi Germany decided to turn the town of Terezín into a Jewish ghetto and establish a concentration camp in its 18th-century fortress. This fortress, about 30 miles north of Prague, was commissioned by the emperor of Austria at the time, Joseph II, which he named after his mother, Maria Theresa (ergo, “Theresienstadt”). Lovely tribute.
Over the following few years, the camp and ghetto at Terezín held mostly Jews from Czechoslovakia. It was primarily used as a transit camp where tens of thousands of German and Austrian Jews were held until they could be transported to the death camps at Auschwitz and Treblinka. All in all, around 150,000 Jews including 15,000 children passed through here.
Of those numbers, 33,000 died in the Terezín ghetto from things like terrible living conditions, disease, and starvation; 88,000 were killed in the death camps; and 17,247 survived (including less than 150 children).
Terezín as propaganda set
Besides serving as a transit camp, the Theresienstadt concentration camp also served as a propaganda set. Nazi officials scrupulously cleaned up and beautified the space to give the appearance to visiting dignitaries and Red Cross representatives that it was a nice place to live. They installed fake shops and cafés, planted flowers, and deported most of the Jews to the death camps to dispel any rumors of overcrowding. They literally called it “Operation Embellishment” and—I kid you not—marketed Terezín as a “spa town” where Jews could “retire.” You can even see the swimming pool.
Officials kept visitors on a specific route through the camp and shown them only the deceptively curated areas. They forced the prisoners to smile and even put on performances for the visitors.
They forced the prisoners to make a propaganda film about their lovely life at Terezín; Jewish prisoner and experienced filmmaker Kurt Gerron directed it. When filming was over, the Jewish cast and crew (including Gerron) were sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. This film is commonly referred to as “The Führer Gives a City to the Jews.”
What to see on a day trip to Terezín from Prague
Unlike Dachau which is just made up of the one large site, the Terezín memorial consists of many different sites that are scattered throughout the town. (See map above for every site listed on this page.) On your day trip from Prague you can check out:
The Small Fortress
Terezín’s small fortress is what you would call the “concentration camp.” This is the location of the prisoner camp that was located inside the walls of the former military fortress. You can explore the many cells, facilities, tunnels, and various other locations throughout the entire (quite large) camp as well as a couple of permanent museum exhibitions.
The National Cemetery
On the way into the Small Fortress concentration camp you’ll pass the National Cemetery which opened in 1945 and serves as the final resting place for around 10,000 Holocaust victims. Towered over by a giant Star of David sculpture, the National Cemetery contains 2,386 individual graves and five mass graves that contain the remains of thousands more victims from the Small Fortress, the Terezín Ghetto, and the concentration camp in Litoměřice.
The Ghetto Museum
Located just a 15-minute walk from the Small Fortress in the middle of the town is the Ghetto Museum. This is a small but thorough permanent museum showcasing the history of Terezín as a Jewish ghetto during the Holocaust.
You’ll find a number of memorials to the atrocities at Terezín in and around town. Such as:
- Memorial on the bank of the Ohře River – commemorating the 22,000 victims who were cremated in the Terezín ghetto. Camp prisoners were forced to throw the ashes into the river.
- The Park of the Terezín Children – a memorial park to commemorate the child victims of Terezín.
- Monument of Danish Jews that died in Terezin
- Memorial to those imprisoned and murdered in the Terezín Jewish ghetto
A good half-hour walk from the concentration camp is the camp’s crematorium. Don’t let the fact that Terezín (Theresienstadt) wasn’t a “death camp” fool you; more than 30,000 victims from the camp and ghetto were cremated here. Today it holds a couple of permanent exhibitions as well as original furnaces, a morgue, and an autopsy room.
A short walk from here is the Columbarium and Central Morgue where you can see how the thousands of urns were stored as well as some small museum exhibitions on related topics.
Also read: What you need to know for visiting concentration camps with kids
Outside the crematorium is the Jewish Cemetery. The bodies that were once buried here have been exhumed and moved to the National Cemetery, but this one remains as a memorial.
Also nearby is the Cemetery of Soviet Soldiers which contains the remains of 49 Soviet soldiers who were killed during the liberation of Czechoslovakia.
Jewish Prayer Room
A couple blocks away from the Ghetto Museum is the Jewish Prayer Room. Located in the attic of a residential/farm building, this room was used for worshipping in secret during the time Terezín was a ghetto.
This room remained unused after the war so it still looks similar to the way it did at the time. While the objects may be replicas, the room still retains its original murals, texts, and decorations.
Located on the site of the old railway is a permanent exhibition detailing how Terezín’s transport system worked. In other words, how the Gestapo transported prisoners from other parts of Europe to the Theresienstadt concentration camp… and then from there to Auschwitz and other death camps.
This small museum is located in former army barracks and focuses on the cultural activities of the Terezín ghetto’s prisoners. Things like art, music, literature, theater, and more. There’s also a special exhibit here on the shooting of propaganda films at Terezín.
While in Prague, don’t miss the Operation Anthropoid Memorial – here’s a quick guide with everything you need to know.
Terezín concentration camp tour
Touring the actual Terezín concentration camp inside the small fortress will comprise the bulk of your day trip to Terezín from Prague. In here you’ll be able to see all of the rooms, prison cells, bathrooms, showers, delousing facilities, medical rooms, etc. that made up daily life for Theresienstadt’s prisoners.
You’ll see the execution yard and sites of mass graves. You’ll find makeshift memorials and sculptures as well. There are a couple of permanent museum exhibitions in some of the buildings, a few of them focusing on artwork.
You can walk through the fortress’s tunnel system which is a seriously interesting thing to do here and a haunting experience. Let’s just say… you’re underground, in the dark, in a maze, for a loooong time.
And you’ll inevitably see people posing for photos with the gate’s Arbeit Macht Frei sign because some people still just don’t understand how incredibly inappropriate that is. (Don’t be those people!)
Self-guided tours of Terezín concentration camp
At Terezín you can choose between touring the entire camp on your own or taking one of the guided tours.
A guided tour is not mandatory and you are free to roam about as you please. If this is the route you’d like to take, pick up one of the brochures upon entering. This contains a map and a list and description of all the notable locations within the fortress camp.
If you are short on time (or attention spans), this is a perfectly adequate way to visit Terezín concentration camp from Prague. I found that the brochure and other information was enough to give me a pretty good idea of what each space was used for (and more).
Guided tours at Terezín concentration camp
Terezín concentration camp also offers guided tours, the cost of which are included in your admission fee. (In other words, they’re free!) You can reserve your spot ahead of time or simply request to join a tour when you get there.
They offer guided tours of the Small Fortress camp from 8:00am-4:00pm in English, Czech, German, Spanish, and Italian. When booking, you can choose from a guided tour of the Small Fortress or the Terezín Ghetto, or both.
If this is your first visit to a Nazi concentration camp and you have adequate time to spend on your visit to Terezín concentration camp from Prague, I would highly recommend a guided tour as you’re going to get the absolute most information possible.
If you’re a seasoned WWII travel veteran and/or are traveling on a time budget, you may want to go the DIY route. Either way, this is a worthwhile trip.
Terezín Memorial: how to get there
Getting from Prague to Terezín is quick and pretty straightforward when someone lays it all out for you (as I’m about to do). Of course, this all depends on the mode of transportation you choose. Let me break them down for you.
How to get to Terezín concentration camp from Prague by bus
By far the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to get from Prague to Terezín is to take the public bus. This method will take you one hour and cost 100kč (roughly $4 US) each way. (This does not include your camp admission or trips to and from the bus station though.)
Prague to Terezín by bus, the short version:
- Start at Nádraží Holešovice Station station in Prague
- Head to bus platform #7
- Take the bus in the direction of “Litoměřice.”
- Pay the driver directly for your ticket
- Get off at the stop called “Terezín,,U Památniku”
- Walk 5 minutes to the Small Fortress
Prague to Terezín by bus: all the details
First, get yourself to the Nádraží Holešovice station in Prague. This is the long distance bus/train station and is located juuust outside central Prague. Personally, I had my hotel call me a taxi which ended up costing me around $11 US. (On the way back to my hotel afterwards, I called an Uber from the bus station and that same trip cost me just $5. So, you do you.)
At Holešovice station, head over to the “bus station” part which is basically an empty lot where buses pull in and out. (If you’re inside a covered structure, you’re in the train station.) Once at the bus station, head to Platform 7.
Check the posted schedule for the most up-to-date times, but the bus from Prague to Terezín leaves about once every hour (but it varies slightly). Get on the bus that’s headed in the direction of “Litoměřice.” It should say Litoměřice in the window when it pulls up.
Paying for your Prague to Terezín bus ticket
When the bus arrives, you’ll pay for your ticket on the bus, directly with the driver. When you get on, you’ll want to say “Terezín” so he knows how much to charge you.
However, if you clearly look like a tourist like I must have, the driver will take one look at you and know you’re going to the concentration camp. “Terezín?” he’ll ask, as soon as you step aboard. This is great because now the driver knows you are going to Terezín, which means he knows which stop you need to get off at and that you probably need him to tell you when to get off. Which he will. Bless.
Pro tip: when traveling on public transportation in a foreign country, I always tell the driver where I’m going and sit in the front near them. (Or really, ask him/her if this is the right bus for [insert destination here].) So far, this has worked every time to let the driver know I may need prompting for when I’m at the right stop and need to get off.
Now, sit back and relax for a pretty straightforward but mostly uninteresting drive. There will be a couple of stops in between in what seems like the middle of nowhere. If your driver doesn’t tell you, you’ll want to get off at the “Terezín,,U Památniku” stop.
Now look, I think the bus is actually supposed to stop at the Ghetto Museum inside the town first, and then the Small Fortress. But, because the driver knew were we were going (and where everyone else on the bus was going for that matter), he skipped a lot of the stops and took us directly where we needed to go. [Picture me putting my hand to my heart right now.]
Arriving in Terezín
At this stop, get off the bus and turn to your right. The Small Fortress is just a five minute walk from here, and you’ll pass the National Cemetery on the way.
From the Small Fortress, you can get to the Ghetto Museum with just a 15-minute walk. Leave the fortress and walk straight until the road curves at the city wall. Follow the road around the next curve too and continue straight until you see the sign for Muzeum Ghetta on the left, just past the park.
Now, you’re in Terezín. Within this city you can visit all the other sites listed on this map. Use the map above or your own GPS to visit each one.
Getting back to Prague from Terezín by bus
To get back to Prague from Terezín by bus, you’ll want to wait for the bus at the bus stop next to the Ghetto Museum and the large central square. Sitting in the bus stop you’ll be looking straight at the left side of the museum. This bus stop will have a sign with the word Praha (Czech for Prague).
As obvious as that seems, this part was kind of confusing. I asked a teenager who was at another station where to go and she gladly set me on the right path. Plus, by the time the bus did arrive, that little stop was full of people – it’s clearly the bus going to the capital city. Use your smarts, people.
Same thing – tell the driver you’re going to Praha, pay your little fee, get off at Holešovice station, then call your Uber.
Getting from Prague to Terezín by train
Unfortunately, unlike the rest of Europe it seems, it is not easy to get to Terezín from Prague by train. You definitely can take a train if you really want to, but you’ll still have to get on a series of buses in order to get your final destination. And it will take you at least twice as long.
Why take multiple forms of transportation instead of just one? Why endure multiple stops and transfers when you don’t have to at all? And why spend 2-3 hours (each way) on the road when you only need to spend one?
For these reasons, I’m not even going to go into detail about how to get from Prague to Terezín by train. It’s not worth it. Just take the bus.
Getting from Prague to Terezín by car
If you have a car for your time in the Czech Republic, by all means, drive yourself to Terezín! Driving there will only take about 45 minutes.
Need a rental car? Check out the best rental car deals in Prague here.
There is an easily accessible parking lot just outside the entrance to the Small Fortress. It costs just 30kč for one hour (that’s about $1.25) or 90kč for all day (about $3.80). (It also has a restroom, WiFi, and refreshments.)
Organized Terezín concentration camp tours
Probably the most popular way to visit Terezín concentration camp from Prague is by organized tour. This is by far the easiest method because it requires little thought or preparation at all. And if one of these had worked out with my schedule, I would have gone this route myself.
These organized tours of Terezín from Prague are typically all-inclusive and pretty affordable. They usually include pick up and drop off, private roundtrip transportation from Prague, admission fees, and a knowledgeable tour guide. Sometimes they have extras like lunch or snacks.
Often, all you have to do is show up at the meeting point and everything else is taken care of. If this sounds like the route you want to take, check out this list of organized Terezín concentration camp tours from Prague.
I’ve gone through and picked out the ones I think are the best deals. But, if you want to see all available Prague to Terezín tours, click here.
Tips for your Prague to Terezín day trip
Unless you take one of the organized tours shown above, there are a few insider tidbits you need to know to save you some time, money, and stress.
Single vs Combination ticket
First, there are two kinds of admission tickets you can buy at the Terezín sites: single and combination. The single tickets get you only into that particular site. So, if you buy a single ticket at the Small Fortress, you can only visit the Small Fortress.
The other is the combination ticket that gets you into three sites: the Small Fortress, the Ghetto Museum, and the Madgeburg Barracks. If you plan on visiting more than one of these, get the combination ticket.
As of this publishing, the cost for a single ticket is 210 CZK (about $9US) and a combination ticket is 260 CZK (about $11US).
The bus schedule
When you’re at the bus platform in Prague, be sure to take a photo of the bus schedule so you always have it with you. This way, you’ll be able to always know what time the bus comes by in case your plans change throughout the day.
Reading the bus schedule in a country where you don’t speak the language can be tricky. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask other people at the bus stop, the bus driver, or the staff inside the Terezín sites. From my experience, everyone has been incredibly helpful.
There is a vending machine and some small refreshments available inside the Small Fortress, but other than that I didn’t see any convenient places to grab food. Plan ahead and bring something to snack on in between the Small Fortress and the Ghetto Museum.
Don’t forget where you are – pay attention to your volume, your attitude, and what you’re wearing. This is not a mere tourist attraction set up for your enjoyment. Keep your voice low and be respectful at all times. Don’t scroll through your phone while the guide is talking about the horrible things that happened here. Pay attention; learn something.
Don’t take selfies, especially in front of the Arbeit Macht Frei sign. Don’t run around and act out. Do not pose for photos as a family. (What? Is this going to be your Christmas card?) I know you are smarter than that, but sadly not everyone is. I see it every single time.
Where to stay in Terezín
There are indeed a lot of World War II sites in Terezín and you could spend a whole day or two here. If you’re visiting Terezín concentration camp from Prague but don’t plan on returning to Prague, here are a few accommodation suggestions for where to stay in Terezín:
- Parkhotel Terezín – a pretty basic 3-star hotel, but it’s the only one in Terezín. If you don’t have a car, this is probably the most convenient.
- Hotel Apollon – Located over in nearby Litoměřice, this is a better option if you have your own car or time to take the bus a few more stops. Reviewers love the staff here.
- Hotel Dejmalik – Another good hotel in Litoměřice, people love the breakfast (which is included!).
Books to read before your visit to Terezín
You’ll learn a lot on your trip to the Terezín concentration camp from Prague, but you won’t be able to learn everything during your short visit. If you want to learn more about the camp Nazi Germany called Theresienstadt, check out these books:
- The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt by Anna Hájková (Nonfiction, 2020)
- Somewhere There Is Still a Sun: A Memoir of the Holocaust by Michael Gruenbaum (Memoir, 2015)
- A Sparrow in Terezín by Kristy Cambron (Historical fiction, 2015)
- Theresienstadt 1941-1945: The Face of a Coerced Community by H.G. Adler (Nonfiction, originally published in 1955, new edition in 2021)
What to pack for your trip to Prague
Don’t forget these few essential items for your trip to Prague and Terezín:
- European plug adaptor – 100% necessary, often forgotten
- Prague + Czech guidebook – for all your other sightseeing
- Czech Republic customs and culture guide – I LOVE these little guidebooks that focus on more than just where to go and what to see
- Anti-theft purse – I never travel without my anti-theft purse, backpacks, and more.
- Considering travel insurance? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Have questions about your trip to Terezín concentration camp from Prague?
Let me know below.
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