When I was making plans to travel around Budapest, Vienna, and Prague, I knew I had to do the impossible to stop by the small town of Cesky Krumlov. My schedule was tight but, in one way or another, I had to fit it into my plans.
Why? The answer is easy. Cesky Krumlov is one of the best preserved medieval towns in the entire world. On top of that, it has a larger than life castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Gothic elements and a unique location along the twisty shores of the Vltava River. If that explanation is not enough, just keep reading. Trust me. You want to learn more about this place!
Therefore, get ready! In here, I am going to give you details on the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov.
To understand the town, you have to start by taking a look at it on a map. At its location, the Vltava River makes several sharp curves. Think about it like two continuous letters “s.” Those curves form what can be seen as three small peninsulas. Cesky Krumlov is located in those three areas. So, you are going to see bridges and water everywhere.
This curious location gave birth to the name of the town. It is believed the word Krumlov has Germanic origins and means “crooked meadows.” Cesky means “Bohemian” and it was added to differentiate the town from its Moravian counterpart.
A castle was erected in the area around 1240. The town started to grow around the protective fortress. At the beginning of the 1300s, the town was ceded to the Rosenberg family. After 300 hundred years of rule, they left an undeniable mark. Krumlov is known as the “Town of Five-Petalled Rose” in honor to the family’s coat of arms.
Later, the town passed to the Habsburgs, Eggenbergs (that is how the brewery in town is called) and Schwarzenbergs. After World War I, the town formed part of Czechoslovakia. The town regained its old splendor once Communism rule ended in the region. Nowadays, the Krumlov is visited by people from all over the world.
Related: Things to Do in Old Town Prague
Cesky Krumlov Things to Do
The main square is the heart of the city. This big space houses the Town Hall, Plague Column, and Visitor’s Center. It is the place to find banks, ATMs and public restrooms. There are several benches where you can sit down, people watch, enjoy a pastry or indulge with an ice cream cone. Make sure you appreciate the colorful façade of the many buildings lining the four sides.
Saint Vitus Church
After the castle, this is the second architectural landmark of the town. Its spire is seen from most points on the ground.
Terrace of the Regional Museum
Cesky Krumlov is a town blessed with many spectacular views. However, I urge you not to miss the terrace or viewing platform located next to the Regional Museum. I loved the views from here!
Siroka and Na Ostrove Streets
Siroka Street is the widest street in town and it contains many examples of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
Na Ostrove is located on a small island on the river. It is a lovely area to eat at a riverside restaurant or spot the canal formed between the river and the island.
This is my favorite bridge in town since you can see the castle, river and a series of open-air restaurants. It is a beautiful sight since you have trees, flowers and, of course, excellent views of the Castle Tower.
Once you cross the Lazebnicky Bridge, you are going to find yourself in the Latran Quarter (north of the Inner Town Quarter). Also, Latran is the name of the main artery in the quarter. I recommend walking the entire length of the street in order to continue admiring the well-preserved architecture of the town.
Latran Street will end at the Budějovická Gate. This is the only one of nine city gates that have survived to this day. Its inner side is covered with frescoed decoration with a sundial at the level of the second floor.
The Monastery of the Order of the Knights of the Cross with a Red Star, with the Church of Corpus Christi and St. Mary in Pain, was founded in 1350 at the initiative of the Krumlov ruler Peter I of Rosenberg and his wife Katerina as a common monastery of Minorites and Clare nuns, with a common church.
You can tour the monastery and its permanent and temporal exhibitions.
Saint Jost Church
This well-known landmark had hospital functions till 1922. Its tower is another prominent point on Krumlov’s landscape.
Now, we have arrived at the must-see attraction in town! There is no reason to miss the spectacular castle.
The steps to the castle are found in the Latran Quarter, close to the Lazebnicky Bridge. Do not freak out since the walk to the top is not that steep.
Once you arrive at the entrance gate, make sure to take a look at the bear moat to see if you can spot one of its four inhabitants. The Rosenberg family believed they were related to the Noble Italian family of Orsini. Orsini comes from “Orsa” which means she-bear. Because of this, they featured the bear (and the five-petalled rose) on their coat of arms. Historians are not sure when they started to keep bears on the castle but the town has kept the custom till present.
At the main castle’s courtyard, you will be able to get tickets to one or more paid attractions. The paid attractions include:
- Two castles tours (there is a separate charge for each one)
- Castle Theater
- Castle Museum
- Castle Lapidarium
- Castle Tower
I recommend having an idea on which of these attractions you want to purchase and how much the “package” you want is going to cost.
But, you do not have to pay to see the castle’s five courtyards, the bear moat, the huge gardens and the excellent viewing platforms which afford views of the entire town. If you are on a strict budget, visit the castle anyway!
The Baroque Garden was founded in the 17th century. It is situated on the rise and the slope adjacent to the complex of castle buildings on the last courtyard. At the garden, you can admire flowerbeds, fountains and the Revolving Theater (covered when not in use).
Views from the Castle
Let’s not forget about the iconic views visitors can enjoy from the castle. A visit to Cesky Krumlov is worth just for these views!
Kiosks on the castle grounds offer drinks and simple fare. You can grab something to enjoy while breathing deep and taking in the views.
This district is located below the Inner Town. I would not miss a walk around Linecka and Horska Streets. The City Park and Synagogue can be visited too.
Here are some interesting museums you can consider:
- Regional Museum
- Marionette Museum
- Museum of Torture
- Historical Motorcycle Museum
- House of Photography
- Egon Schiele Art Centrum
Visit the Castle Museum, Castle Tower, Regional Museum, Seidel Photographic Studio Museum, Egon Schiele Art Centrum and Monastery for one price by buying the Cesky Krumlov Card (you can save 50%).
Wiseman Free Tour
I took this free, 2-hour walking tour and had a blast! I learned a lot about the history of the city in a fun and engaging way. Plus, I was able to interact with people from all over the world. During high season, two daily tours are offered. On the low season, only one tour is offered. Look for the red umbrella at the Main Square.
Cesky Krumlov Rafting
Rafting is one of the most popular activities in Cesky Krumlov. As a matter of fact, you are going to see tons of rafts on the river. You can do one of two things:
- Rent an inflatable boat, canoe or kayak for a determined period of time. This option allows you to do your own thing (but a route will be provided). You can rent a boat fitting from 2 to 8 passengers. Please ask about security measures if you do not have previous raft experience
- Join an organized tour. The most popular tour lasts about an hour and takes you to the historical center. Longer trips (2 hours, half day, full day, multi-day) can be booked too.
The biggest raft provider in town seems to be Malecek Rafting. This company offers wooden rafting too. In other words, you can board a raft, sit down and somebody will take care of the paddling. This is ideal for those who do not want to get wet or deal with the river rapids.
Other providers include:
- Vltava Sport Service
- Rafting Krumlov
- Vltava Rafting
You can do your comparison shopping around town. Just remember not to compromise your security. Also, make sure you understand what a quoted price includes. Most companies include a paddle, vest, waterproof bag and vessel.
Best Restaurants in Cesky Krumlov
If you want to make your meal memorable, I will recommend eating at a place with a terrace located next to the river. Nothing beats eating with views of the castle! We ate at Papa’s Living Restaurant and Krčma U dwau Maryí and they were both excellent choices.
Other delicious restaurants include:
- Jakub Restaurant
- Na Louzi
- Restaurant Bohemia
- Cikánská jizba
- Bolero Restaurant
Cesky Krumlov Shopping
If you enjoy shopping, come prepared because the town is full of cute and charming stores. Here are some examples of what you can take home:
- Brandy & Liquors
- Soap, candles, fragrances, creams
- Wood Carvings
- Local Art
Prague to Cesky Krumlov Day Trip
The town is a popular day trip from Prague. Take into consideration the driving/transit time is about 3 hours one way. That means your time available to see the town is going to be limited. You can book a day trip with a tour company or plan your own trip. If you choose the second option, try to leave Prague as early as possible.
Prague to Cesky Krumlov Bus
You can buy your bus ticket online or at the station. Buses depart from either Prague’s Hlavní Nádraží train station or Na Knížecí bus station. Companies such and Infobus, Regiojet, Leo Express, and M Express offer the service.
Cesky Krumlov Bus Station
The main bus station is located at Nemocnicni Street. Do not expect full services. The station is a lot where buses pick and drop passengers.
It is possible to walk to town from the bus station. This is only recommendable if your luggage is light. Most people take a taxi to the center or hotel.
If you decide to walk to town, there is a nice view of the town on Objížďková Street.
Prague to Cesky Krumlov Train
Trains link Prague with Cesky Krumlov every 2 hours through the day. The trip takes 3 and a half hours each way. Trains depart from the Hlavní Nádraží station. Pre-booking is not necessary. A taxi ride from Cesky Krumlov’s train station to the center of town will be needed.
Vienna to Cesky Krumlov
When visiting Cesky Krumlov, I was coming from Vienna. In my case, it didn’t make sense to go all the way north to Prague and then move south to visit the town.
To move between towns, I use the services of CK Shuttle. This ended up being an excellent idea since the driving through Upper Austria ended up being gorgeous. Time flew since we were admiring the charming towns, castles, and river. Do check out this company if you are looking to visit from Vienna.
Hotels in Cesky Krumlov
To be honest, I do not think Cesky Krumlov should be visited as a day trip. This is a place you do not want to rush. We arrived from Vienna and spent the night there. This ended up being a good idea since we would not have been able to see as much under other conditions.
The hotels in town are very affordable. Prices range from $30 to $90. Here are some reasonable accommodations:
- Hotel Bellevue
- Hotel Latran
- Hotel Dvorak
- Hotel Old Inn
- Hotel Arnia
- Pension Marie
- Pension Na Špičáku
- Pension Tiffany
- Pension U Hada
- Pension Kolbl
Cesky Krumlov Hostels
As I mentioned, hotels and pensions in town are budget friendly. However, if hostels are your thing, here are some good ones:
- Krumlov House
- Hostel 99
- Hostel Postel
- Hostel Skippy
- Hostel Kominik
- Hostel Havana
- Find more about the city at the Prague City Tourism website
- Plan to see more of Czechia (Czech Republic) with the help of the country’s official tourism site
Visit Other European Cities
Hope you have enjoyed my guide on what to do, see and eat in Cesky Krumlov!
Have you been to this town? What other things to do in you can recommend?
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