Cesky Krumlov, a town that looks like it’s stepped straight out of a fairytale, is found in the south Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, just north of the border with Austria. It’s 172 km (107 miles) south of Prague and 24 km (15 miles) southwest of Ceské Budejovice, the regional capital and home to the original Budweiser beer.
In pre-COVID times and I expect now, this tiny town was heaving with tourists and day-trippers. But I travelled out of season in early April, and it was very quiet, almost eerily quiet – and I loved it.
Most people visit Cesky Krumlov on a day trip from Prague, but it’s three hours each way, so I would highly recommend staying a night or two. Once the day-trippers have left, that’s the perfect time to explore this enchanting, well-preserved medieval town.
Don’t have the luxury of time to stay a little longer, then visit in the shoulder season when there are fewer visitors -from late March to May or September through to November. Make sure you wander off the main thoroughfare and explore all the surroundings.
What To Do In Cesky Krumlov?
Free Walking Tour
I always love a walking tour to get my bearings in a new destination.
Cesky Krumlov is so small that you’d soon find your way around anyway, but it’s always good to learn a little bit about the history of the place you’re visiting and be shown sites you may not notice yourself.
The Wiseman Free Walking Tour is excellent and covers all the major highlights.
A random fact I learned on this tour: The Czech Republic invented contact lenses and sugar cubes!
Wander The Cobblestoned Streets of Cesky Krumlov’s Historic Centre
The historic centre of Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Walk along the cobblestone streets and the River Vltava to admire the mix of Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance buildings.
Cesky Krumlov’s Main Square, Namesti Svornosti
The main square, Namesti Svornosti, is an excellent spot in Cesky Krumlov to eat on one of the restaurant terraces or linger over a local beer or coffee.
If you visit the town in the middle of winter, this square is home to one of the best Christmas markets in the Czech Republic.
The tourist board is located here, and it is also the starting point for the free walking tour. There’s even a torture museum!
Explore Český Krumlov Castle
You can’t come to Cesky Krumlov and not visit its impressive castle that dominates the town’s skyline.
Dating back to 1240, the extremely wealthy Rosenberg family built the castle. It’s the second largest castle complex in the country. Prague Castle is the largest, in case you were wondering.
As the castle has grown over the years, there’s a fascinating mix of different architectural styles.
Climb To The Top Of The Castle Tower
I may be scared of heights, but it doesn’t seem to stop me from climbing every tower I come across. So when I saw the Castle Tower, I knew it was just a matter of time before I was climbing the 162 steps to the top.
The view was incredible, but oh my goodness, it was so windy the day I visited, it literally took your breath away. The ticket for the tower also includes the Castle Museum. In April 2022, the ticket cost 180 CZK.($8 / 7 euros).
Take time to visit the beautifully manicured castle gardens located towards the back of the castle.
Admission to the Castle Garden is free.
From June to September, operas, plays and ballets are performed at the Open Air Revolving Auditorium in the Castle Gardens, which opened in June 1958. The theatre can hold 650 spectators and performances sell out very quickly. Travelling out of season has some negatives, I would have loved to have experienced this.
However, there is an ongoing battle with UNESCO, who want the theatre demolished and are threatening to remove Cesky Krumlov from the World Heritage List if they don’t adhere.
Český Krumlov Castle is the only castle in the world to have a bear moat. It’s located between the castle’s first and second courtyard. Since 1707, bears have been kept in the castle moat as a status symbol, warning, and deterrent to invaders.
The bears are cute and apparently well cared for. They aren’t locked in tiny cages, but they are still captive animals, so I felt a bit sorry for them.
The Castle Baroque Theatre
Only four castle baroque theatres are left in the world, and this one in Cesky Krumlov is considered the finest. It’s more than 250 years old, and everything inside the building is hand-painted from the 18th century.
Unfortunately, it was closed in April 2022 when I was there. But it is open now. Tickets and guided tours are available in the castle.
Church of St Vitus
Gaze over Cesky Krumlov from any viewpoint, and you can’t fail to miss the thin spire of the Church of St Vitus.
It was built on the former site of a 14th-century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The only remains from this church is a mosaic above the door.
The neo-Gothic spire you see all over the town was added in the 19th century.
Another Amazing Viewpoint of the City
One of the best viewpoints in Cesky Krumlov is the courtyard at Seminární Zahrada. You can’t miss it; it’s between the bus station and the main square.
You get a fantastic view of the castle and the town from here.
The monastery of the Minorites is close to the castle by the River Vltava. It had a lovely garden with benches to sit, chill, and ponder life.
Where To Eat In Cesky Krumlov
The Hospoda Na Louzi, just off Cesky Krumlov’s main square, is a great historic pub for a traditional roast pork meal washed down with a local beer. I wouldn’t say I like beer, but Czech beer is famous worldwide, so I had to give it a go. Good hearty food and some interesting local characters.
How to get to Cesky Krumlov
There are regular departures from Prague to Český Krumlov, and prices range from 5 to 14 euros, depending on the time of day.
Flix Bus has excellent deals, especially if you take the late afternoon departure from Prague.
Regio Jet has a bus almost every hour and built-in LCD screens for watching movies, wi-fi on board or a hot drink for free.
Note: there are two bus stops in Cesky Krumlov – one a tiny stop called Špičák and then the actual central bus station. From either bus stop, it’s only a ten-minute walk into the centre.
Also possible to take a train, but that involves typically changing trains at Ceske Budejovice.
Shuttle (from 35 EURO) – you are looking for a door to door service, shuttles are a great option. CK Shuttle comes highly recommended.
Join A Tour
But if you don’t have the time to spend a night or two in Cesky Krumlov, then here are some of the best day tours from Prague. Whatever you decide, Cesky Krumlov is definitely worth a visit.
Where To Stay In Cesky Krumlov
I loved my time in Cesky Krumlov and Prague and hope one day to return to the Czech Republic to explore a little more. I am also really pleased that I decided to stay a couple of nights in this town – it’s completely different when the day-trippers have left.
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