Cesky Krumlov is a Czech village that we like! The town is breathtaking and should not be missed during a visit to the Czech Republic.
Cesky Krumlov, located in Bohemia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village escaped World War II bombardment, which explains why the historic city is in such good condition.
This city is a joy to stroll through. It’s little and compact and oh-so-photogenic. It’s a quick visit, only a few hours on the shortest routes, or well worth an overnight stay on a longer visit. However, Cesky Krumlov is well worth the trip, even if it is a little out of the way.
Cesky Krumlov is one of our favorite European little towns.
Cesky Krumlov, less than three hours from Prague, is not only the ideal day trip, but also one of the best destinations to visit in the Czech Republic. There are numerous attractions and activities in Cesky Krumlov, but you should definitely stop by the 13th-century castle; climb the tower steps for a glimpse of the red, curved rooflines; and tour the historical center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However, once you’ve seen the major sights, the best course of action is to put your map aside and purposefully become disoriented. Perhaps the most charming aspect of this historic city is its winding, cobblestoned streets, which are brimming with fairy-tale charm and Gothic architecture–and discovering them may end up being the highlight of your trip.
If you’re planning a day trip from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, here are some pointers on how to make the most of this beautiful, scenic town.
How to Get to Cesky Krumlov from Prague
Train: The majority of trains departing from Prague to Cesky Krumlov require a necessary transfer in Ceské Budejovice and take three to 3.5 hours to reach Cesky Krumlov (depending on which train you take). While transfers may sound annoying, these trains depart Prague as early as 6:00am, ensuring that you arrive in Cesky Krumlov in the midmorning with ample time to explore.
There is just one direct train from Prague, departing at 8:00 a.m. Even though the train is straight, it takes three hours to reach Cesky Krumlov, arriving at 11:00am–leaving little time for exploration if you’re only there for the day. On the return, direct trains are not the best option, as the only direct daily link departs from CK at 2:00pm.
While riding the train may take somewhat longer than taking the bus, there are numerous advantages to taking the train. To begin, there is something romantic about riding a train between two old cities, and you’ll see plenty of Czech landscape along the trip, swishing past Bohemia, rolling farms, and forests. Additionally, the train is less expensive than the bus and features an excellent onboard culinary service as well as luxurious and spacious wagons.
On a Guided Day Trip from Prague: If you’re pressed for time or simply overwhelmed by the prospect of organizing everything, a planned Cesky Krumlov Day Trip from Prague may be the ideal answer. Simply board an air-conditioned van in the morning and allow a professional guide to take you on a tour of the medieval town center, 13th-century castle, and majestic Church of St. Vitus. Along the route, gain valuable insights and then spend some free time shopping the gift shops and numerous art galleries before returning to Prague.
By Bus: Long-distance buses such as Regiojet and Flixbus can take you to Cesky Krumlov in approximately 2.5 hours and will drop you off directly in the town center, which is an excellent alternative if you’re traveling with luggage or don’t want to deal with the difficulties of hailing a taxi (the train station is located slightly outside the city). Buses are more expensive than trains, and you’ll miss the picturesque views, but they provide Wi-Fi and onboard movies, so they’re worth considering if you’re pressed for time or require these luxuries.
What to Do in Cesky Krumlov for a Day
1. Tour the State Castle and Chateau’s Grounds Cesk Krumlov
The local castle is at the top of the list of things to do for tourists visiting Cesky Krumlov. The castle, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, towers over the Vltava river and town, and is home to various remarkable structures, including an outdoor revolving theater, magnificent Baroque gardens, and several stables housing a huge collection of saddles and horse-drawn sleighs and coaches.
Additionally, the castle is home to a 17th-century Baroque Theatre, one of just a few in the world. The theater, which is powered entirely by hand via a wood-and-rope apparatus and illuminated by simulated candlelight, retains all of its original stage objects and technology. Although the theater is only available twice a year for performances, guests may get a behind-the-scenes look by booking a guided tour.
2. Climb to the top of the Castle Tower
The Castle Tower is a must-see attraction in Cesky Krumlov. Many visitors to the castle forego purchasing the extra ticket required to climb the 162 steps to the top of the tower–a grave error, as the views from the top are absolutely stunning. The tower, which dates from the mid-13th century, has four colossal bells and is embellished with frescoes from the 1600s.
3. Pay a visit to the Fotoatelier Seidel Museum
This museum, housed in a renovated Art Nouveau mansion, was established to document the work of renowned Czech photographers Josef and Frantiek Seidel. The father-son duo spent the first part of the twentieth century shooting umava National Park (Central Europe’s largest forested location), initially focusing exclusively on the landscape but gradually recording local villagers’ daily lives.
Today, the museum houses a great collection of original photographs, as well as a large portion of their equipment, painted backgrounds, and much of the Seidel family’s original furnishings.
3. Pay a visit to the Fountain and the Plague Column
The town square, surrounded by colorful medieval homes, is dominated by a stunning fountain and a column. While the current fountain was constructed in the 1840s, water fountains have been a local fixture since the 16th century, providing drinking water to town people. The column was constructed in the early 18th century as a memorial to Europe’s century-long plague pandemic.
If you look attentively, you’ll notice that the column is adorned with images of saints such as St. Francis Xavier and St. Judas Thaddeus, both of whom are considered defenders against plague. If you visit during the winter, the plaza also hosts a bustling Christmas Market, where you can purchase everything from elegant Bohemian glass ornaments to handmade crafts, as well as plenty of food and hot beverages to keep you warm.
4. Pay a visit to the Cathedral of St. Vitus
After the castle, St. Vitus is the most remarkable architectural monument. It was built in the 1400s and subsequently expanded and modified over the next few decades. As a result, the structure as it stands today is an intriguing synthesis of Neo-Gothic, Rococo, and Baroque features. Numerous members of the Schwarzenberg Czech noble family are buried here, and the cathedral hosts live classical music concerts on a regular basis.
5. Take a tour of the Moldavian Museum
This unusual museum, packed with interactive exhibits, explores the tale of moldavite, a semi-precious stone produced when a large meteorite collided with the Bohemian area 15 million years ago. The museum features numerous multimedia installations, English-subtitled videos, fascinating facts about meteorites, and numerous samples of the magnificent, otherworldly green glass.
6. Take a River Rafting Trip
Visitors arriving during the summer season can view the town from a whole different vantage point: the water. At several locations along the river, kayaks, inflatable boats, and canoes are available for rent, with or without a guide. While there are a few small rapids along the way, the majority of the journey will be spent paddling leisurely down the gorgeous river, which is excellent for a hot afternoon.
For those seeking a more adventurous day, full-day expeditions departing from adjacent towns, as well as evening cruises on wooden rafts, are also offered.
7. Allow the Muzeum Obchodu to Enchant You (Museum of Commerce and Merchandise)
It’s easy to overlook this small museum, which is located just feet from the castle bridge and is concealed in the back of an unremarkable yellow and green structure that almost looks like a shop. The collection, which is actually a small branch of the Bratislava Museum of Commerce, is situated in the town’s oldest merchant house.
Visitors can view an authentic merchant shop here, complete with ancient scales, stone and glass counters, and cash registers. Additionally, there are numerous advertising in both paper and enameled metal formats, as well as original packaging for a variety of products, ranging from food to cleaning supplies to toys. If something catches your attention, there is a good probability that a replica will be available in the museum shop.
The museum is free to enter, and it is ideal for families.
8. Cesky Krumlov Restaurants
Le Jardin is an award-winning restaurant that frequently ranks as the top restaurant in Cesky Krumlov. Offering a delectable combination of French and carefully picked Czech dishes, Le Jardin is on the pricey side but well worth it if you’re looking for a full dining experience.
Laibon, the town’s first entirely vegetarian restaurant, is housed in a 1585 structure. Laibon earns extra points for its location: their patio overlooks the Vlatava River and provides spectacular views of the castle.
If you’re in the mood for sweets or a strong cup of espresso, head to Cafe Hradek, which is located directly next to the castle tower. The café features a charming courtyard and is well-known for its pastries.
9. Shopping in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is a shopper’s delight, particularly for art and design enthusiasts. Numerous galleries, antique shops, and eccentric bazaars litter the town’s small lanes, just waiting to be explored.
The meteorite-formed moldavite stone is one of Cesky Krumlov’s most famous and distinctive local souvenirs. You can now purchase a variety of moldavite jewelry pieces, as well as raw collector’s stones. And, while there are numerous shops that offer moldavite, the greatest place to find high-quality pieces is the gift shop at the world’s only moldavite museum.
Antique na Zámeckch schodech (yeah, that’s a mouthful) specializes in local nineteenth-century collectibles and vintage curiosities, ranging from little militaria objects and toys to paintings and statuettes, musical instruments, and even period and folk furniture. It’s worth a leisurely browse to take home a small piece of history.
Cesky Pernik is an Old Bohemian business that sells pre-wrapped homemade gingerbread, a traditional Czech delicacy. The baking molds were obtained from a local museum and used to create copies, ensuring that each gingerbread creation offered here looks and tastes exactly as it did three centuries ago (the bakery also employs an actual 16th-century recipe).
Where to Stay in Cesky Krumlov if You Want to Spend the Night
Can’t seem to get out of the house at the end of the day? If you want to extend your stay in Cesky Krumlov, have no fear–there are lots of lodging options in this tiny town, ranging from charming, economical B&Bs to mid-range hotels and even a few luxury accommodations.
Hotels de luxe
If you want to feel like royalty, stay at the four-star Hotel Dvorák. Located in the historic center, the rooms of this lovely hotel provide breathtaking views of the castle and the Vltava River.
Hotels in the Mid-Range Price Range
The majority of hotel options in Cesky Krumlov come into this category, providing lots of options regardless of your budget. Hotel Konvice, housed in a 500-year-old structure in the heart of Old Town, feels more like a pension than a hotel, which adds to its appeal. Spacious rooms with exposed wooden beams and expansive views of the city will transport you back in time without sacrificing modern conveniences.
Another good alternative is Hotel Latran, which retains a portion of the area’s original 15th-century timber burghers’ dwellings. Much of the building’s original beauty has been preserved, and it is filled with antique furniture, hand-painted stencils, and an outstanding collection of paintings and sculptures curated by the owner.
Hotels on a Budget
Pension U Hada will meet all of your needs if you’re on a budget. Despite being built in a quaint 500-year-old building, the hotel is modern and pleasant on the inside. It also offers an excellent breakfast and spectacular views of the river and town’s center streets.
Pension Faber’s position, just a few feet from the castle, is unbeatable. This property is excellent value for money, with clean modern rooms, a sitting area, and a peaceful terrace overlooking the town.