Have you ever had one of those crazy fantasies where you are the king or queen of a medieval kingdom? That the land is at peace, your subjects adore you and there isn’t a brewing coup or an impending invasion? And more importantly: that the person with whom you are betrothed is actually your secret childhood love and not some stranger you had to strategically marry?
Pardon the flight of ideas – it’s easy to get lost in a web of absurd medieval fantasies when you’re looking down on the old town of Cesky Krumlov from the castle tower.
In fact, from the moment you step in to Cesky Krumlov’s streets, it’s easy to forget you’re in 2017.
The narrow, twisted streets with its cobble stones – each polished and naturally worn by the millions of footsteps it has weathered through the centuries – are lined with tall, imposing buildings. This design, made to conform to the whims and meanders of the Vltava river, adds to the town’s enigma. You cannot see far beyond, making each turn a surprise.
One turn you’ll be treated to a row of colorful Gothic houses. In another street, a flash of light will lead your eyes to a window display of Bohemian garnets and moldavites. One of the most impressive views, however, is when the narrow street of Radniční suddenly opens to the Lazebnický most, the bridge crossing Vltava on the way to the castle. Suddenly, you are treated to a view of the Vltava river, sparkling under the morning sun, the towering state castle preserved from the 14th century, and street musicians giving life to a place seemingly frozen in time.
Just walking around the old town can take up a whole day, and most day trippers from Prague leave the town regretting that they didn’t plan to stay at least a day more. While the town is indeed compact, Cesky Krumlov is not a place you can blitz through on your way through central Europe. Despite the popularity of day tours, Cesky Krumlov deserves at least two or three days – and the early start you get from staying in the town allows you to beat the day-tripping crowd to the town’s most popular sites.
Cesky Krumlov is also a great base and gateway to South Bohemia’s charming small villages and hiking spots. Exploring the region gives you a more intimate experience of central Europe – acquainting you with its well-preserved historical towns, the art, cuisine, and philosophies it has inspired, and the old castles and ruins that tell the story of Europe’s majestic past.
This comprehensive and easy-to-follow travel guide will help you create your own trip to Cesky Krumlov. You can download a free PDF of the travel guide here (really handy for when you’re exploring the town) or pin and bookmark for later. Do share with anyone who’s planning a trip to the Czech Republic – they’ll love you for it!
Table of Contents: Cesky Krumlov Travel Guide
- Getting There
- Eat and Drink
- Cesky Krumlov Old Town in One Day: Walking Tour Itinerary
- Cesky Krumlov Tourist Map
- Further Reading
- Airports: The nearest international airports are Prague (180 km), Linz (70 km), and Munich (300 km).
- Public transportation: The closest major transportation hub is Ceske Budejovice, a stopping station of international express trains on the line Prague-Zurich and Prague-Vienna. From Ceske Budejovice, you can ride the train or bus to Cesky Krumlov. You can find more information about local transportation here.
- Helpful websites – Find and book your routes here: Ceske drahy for train travel around the Czech Republic; Student Agency for comfortable and convenient buses
- Shuttle buses: This is especially a good option for travelers short on time. More information here.
- Self-drive: From South Moravia, we drove 200 KM through beautiful towns like Znojmo, Telc, and Trebon. From Prague, you can reach Cesky Krumlov via the E55 (shortens your journey by an hour).
Cesky Krumlov caters to all kinds of budgets. If you want to splurge on a romantic weekend, I’d suggest looking into hotels in the Cesky Krumlov Old Town. If you’re a backpacker, look into hostels near the bus and train stations. And if you’re driving, I’d suggest you look into accommodations just outside the old town where you can freely park your car while you explore the town.
Here is a list of my recommended accommodations. The town can get a little bit packed, especially during the peak months, so I recommend booking at least your first few nights’ stay in advance.
Recommended Hotels in Cesky Krumlov Old Town
- Hotel Bellevue – This hotel is perfectly located near the castle and the chateau and houses the gourmet restaurant Le Jardin. If you’re planning something extra special, the hotel can also arrange your event for you. Otherwise, an ordinary romantic weekend getaway will be made much sweeter with sauna and massage facilities, amazing views of the Old Town, and romantic walks in the area. Rooms start at CZK 1,600.
- Other highly-rated hotels in Cesky Krumlov include: Hotel Ruze (rooms start at CZK 3,000), Hotel Arcadie (rooms start at CZK 2,600), and Hotel Mlyn (rooms start at CZK 1,300).
Recommended Budget Hostels and Pensions in Cesky Krumlov
- If you’re a backpacker and plan to arrive to Cesky Krumlov via the train or bus and looking for a cheap and comfortable place, here are some hostels to check out: Hostel 99 (beds start at CZK 340), Hostel Havana (beds start at CZK 270), and Travel Hostel (beds start at CZK 250)
- If you’d like to combine your trip to Cesky Krumlov with a road trip and hikes in the surrounding forests (like we did!), you’d want to get a rental car and get an accommodation just outside the Old Town. Make sure they provide free parking and that it’s not too far from the historic center. We recommend Penzion Panorama (rooms start at CZK 1,100).
- Some restaurants we liked were Papa’s Living Restaurant (if the weather is nice, grab a table by the river) and the Restaurant Konvice.
- If it’s peak season, make reservations. There weren’t a lot of people when we were there and yet we had to go from restaurant to restaurant to look for a place with an open table.
The town is pretty compact and you can actually see a lot of sights in one day. Wear comfortable shoes as the cobblestone steps can kill your feet.
- Start at the Infocenter to get your Cesky Krumlov card – a card that covers entrance to 5 of the most popular museums in the town.
- Walk to the castle grounds to tour the castle and get a really nice view of the town from the tower.
- Make your way to the monastery and check out the exhibits
- Pass by Cesky Pernik for souvenirs
- Make your way to the Egon Schiele Art Centrum but grab a bite first at one of the restaurants you pass by on the way to the art gallery
- Afterwards, walk along the banks of Vltava and watch the sunset
Cesky Krumlov Keepsakes and Souvenirs
Left your heart in Cesky Krumlov? Transport yourself to the charming old town with this vibrant one-of-a-kind illustrated map. Also a perfect gift for every KrumLOVER. Get it here!
If it’s your first time traveling to the Czech Republic, combine your trip to Cesky Krumlov with a trip to Prague. You’ll also find a more comprehensive guide to the country here.
“This is a town that changes everybody’s plans. […] It basically ruins everybody’s itineraries, changes everybody’s plans and makes them switch directions pretty quickly. And that’s kind of the way the river runs. The river runs in on itself.”
Although not at the level that it changed Carolyn Zukowski’s life, Cesky Krumlov did have that effect on us. This is an interesting look into the life of a tourist-turned-local and her life along the Vltava’s riverbank.
A crash course on Cesky Krumlov’s history told through buildings and beer.
Cesky Krumlov is more than just a pretty postcard-perfect town. I got goosebumps walking through its streets, its polished cobblestone steps a testament to the number of shoes that have walked those streets since the 1200s. I think you can best appreciate its beauty by reading about its history and the structures that have stood the test of time.
If you want to bask in the chill vibes of the south, combine your South Bohemian trip with a South Moravian road trip. I suggest an entire week at least for both.
* * *
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Cesky Krumlov and encourage you to do more than a day trip. Again, you can download the free PDF here, pin and bookmark for later, or share with a friend. If you have any questions, you can ask me in the comments or contact me and I’ll see how I can help. Happy travels!