From the moment you step into Český Krumlov’s old town, it’s easy to forget you’re in 2020.
The narrow, twisted streets with its cobblestones – each polished and naturally worn by the millions of footsteps it has weathered through the centuries – are designed to conform to the whims and meanders of the Vltava river, adding to the town’s mystery. You cannot see far beyond, making each turn a surprise.
One moment, you’re treated to a row of colorful Gothic houses. Another, a flash of light leads 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 the 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, Český Krumlov is not a place you can blitz through on your way through Central Europe.
Český 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.
Český 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.
Whether you’re looking for a change of scenery from Prague’s busy streets, planning a weekend of hikes around the Blanský forest, or maybe you just want to kick back and relax with a glass of beer in a picturesque town, this comprehensive and easy-to-follow travel guide will help you plan your little holiday in Český Krumlov.
Little Holidays Travel Guide to Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
- How to spend 2 days (or more) in Český Krumlov
- Map – landmarks in Český Krumlov
- Best things to do in and around Český Krumlov
- Day trips from Český Krumlov
- Where to eat and drink
- Planning your trip
- Beyond Český Krumlov – where to go next
- Download the PDF travel guide
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Český Krumlov is a fantastic destination for a weekend trip. Its old town is compact and walkable, and you can visit the town’s best sights in a day or two. If the weather permits, you can hike around the surrounding Blanský forest, or go for a drive to nearby towns and cities.
Here’s my recommended itinerary for 2 days (or more) in Český Krumlov.
Day 1 – Spend your first day walking around Český Krumlov’s old town. Walk around the castle ground and up the tower for amazing views. Then check out the Minorite Monastery and the traditional Czech goods along Latrán. Pop into the Egon Schiele museum for edgy art, then end the day with a glass of local beer along the Vltava.
Day 2 – Time for a hike! Český Krumlov lies in the Blanský natural reserve, with many hiking trails beginning at the town’s borders. Hike up to the Kleť mountain’s observatory tower for breathtaking views of the countryside. Then, hike down or ride a cable car to Holubov and continue your walk to Dívčí kámen, the ruins of a Gothic castle. Have dinner at the scenic town of Třísov before catching the train back to Český Krumlov. If you’re not in the mood for a hike, you can also drive to these locations and see more nearby towns and landmarks.
More days? – If you can add more days to your trip, there’s a lot more you can do around the South Bohemian region. Visit České Budějovice, the region’s capital and home of Budvar beer; Holašovice, a small and quiet historic village; and Hluboká nad Vltavou, home of one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful castles. If you’re driving towards South Moravia or Vienna, check out this road trip guide that goes through the Czech south’s most beautiful towns and villages.
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Use this Google map to help you plan your trip to Český Krumlov. I added all the important landmarks, the best sights and places to visit, as well as the best hotels and restaurants in the area.
When going hiking, use this map only as a guide. It’s best to follow the marked trails.
If you’re driving to Český Krumlov, use Waze to navigate. If you have a valid Czech highway vignette that allows you to use the tolled highways, add it to your Waze app’s list of toll and HOV passes to get the best routes. (Go to: Settings > Navigation > Toll & HOV Passes > Vignette CZ – Dálniční známka.)
Český Krumlov Old Town
There are several entrances to the old town.
If you’re coming from the train station, you’ll be entering via the northern side, passing through hotels and restaurants along Latrán. If you drove to Český Krumlov and used the parking lot near the castle (along Chvalšinská), you’ll be coming in from the northwest, and you’ll see right away the impressive stone gate leading to the castle grounds. If you chose to stay in the pensions just outside the old town, you would be coming in from the southern entrance.
Wherever you’re coming from, the town’s twisted and narrow streets designed to follow the meanders of the Vltava river will entice and surprise you at every turn. You can’t see far ahead as the tall, imposing buildings rise to the sky. This keeps the scenery fresh – one moment a row of architectural wonders, another a view of the river and the many lovers holding hands on its banks.
If you are keen on visiting the top museums in the old town, stop by the Information Center in the old town square to get your Český Krumlov card. This card covers the entrance to 5 of the most popular museums in the town, 3 of which we will be visiting on this walking tour.
If you want to learn more about the history of the town, go on a walking tour with an expert guide.
Český Krumlov Castle Complex
One of the most amazing bird’s eye views of the town is right within the castle grounds.
The Krumlov castle was built in the 14th century, initially the dwelling place of the royal families of Rosenbergs, then Schwarzenbergs, before it became a property of the state. In 1992, the castle complex was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage monument.
Visit the castle museum then go up the castle tower for amazing views of the town. Then walk further west towards the castle’s gardens and pond.
From the castle grounds, retrace your way back to Latrán to visit the monastery, first established in 1350 by the Rosenbergs. The monastery grounds are designed for reflection. Shaded benches and grassy lawns in a peaceful courtyard invite guests to take a moment and slow down.
There are several exhibits in the monastery which gives you a glimpse of how the Minorite monks have been conducting their duties and their lives throughout the centuries. There is also an entire room dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi, with panels of illustrations depicting his life and how he came to be a saint.
Specialty shops along Latrán
From the monastery, exit to Latrán once more. If you’re looking for souvenirs, turn right on Latrán and you’ll immediately see Český Krumlov Original – you won’t miss its bright storefront. This is a perfect place to pick up traditional gingerbreads, mead, chocolates, and other regional specialties.
The Czechs take great pride in their regional products. There are the Czech beers that you will hear every Czech rave about; the Moravian wines that every Moravian could discuss for hours; and in Český Krumlov, they have gingerbreads that come with centuries’ worth of artisanal history.
Egon Schiele Art Centrum
From Latrán, go back through the old town square (or venture into the smaller side streets) and make your way to Egon Schiele Art Centrum – a tribute to Český Krumlov’s resident bad boy.
Born in Austria surrounded and influenced by the great Viennese minds of Freud, Mahler, and Klimt, Schiele spent a lot of time in the then-widely conservative town of Český Krumlov (his mother’s birth town). While at the time, his erotic artworks earned the ire of the burghers and elitist artists, now he is celebrated by the town as an artist whose bold style challenged all the norms of his time.
Sunset by the banks of Vltava
When in the Czech Republic, beer will always be present. With Český Krumlov’s proximity to České Budějovice, the home of Budvar, a glass of the regional specialty is the best way to end your day.
Try to get a table in one of the riverside restaurants, like Papa’s Living Restaurant, to watch the sunset.
Hiking in Blanský forest
On your second day, go for a hike around the Blanský forest.
There are several nature trails you can follow with varying levels of difficulty. The one we did – hike to Kleť then to Dívčí kámen and then back by train from Třísov to Český Krumlov – was easy enough for a hobby hiker like me. Start early and make several stops to eat and drink and enjoy the beautiful scenery. We hiked about 20 KMs and walked from mid-morning to sunset.
If 20 KMs sounds a bit much, you can also visit these places by driving. You can then add a visit to Zlatá Koruna to your itinerary.
Mountain Kleť is the highest peak of the Blanský natural reserve. On a clear day, the lookout tower at the top can give you amazing views of the surrounding countryside.
A few meters from the lookout tower is the Kleť Observatory, an astronomical observatory and research institution where scientists have been monitoring the sky for asteroids, comets, and UFOs since 1968. You can tour the facilities and learn more about the research program and their discoveries.
If you’re starving after the hike, there’s a restaurant beside the lookout tower. Have a bowl of goulash, česnečka (Czech garlic soup), and the region’s beer (the Czech Budweiser Budvar) before moving on to your next stop.
From Kleť, walk or drive towards Třísov and on to Dívčí kámen. You can also ride the cable car from Kleť to Krásetín and continue your hike from there.
Our next stop is the ruins of Dívčí kámen, a Gothic castle built in the 1300s and one of the biggest castle ruins in Bohemia.
Like the Krumlov Castle, Dívčí kámen was built by the Rosenberg family in 1349 and then eventually abandoned in 1506. While it is certainly no longer fit for a king to live in, the castle ruins still regularly host concerts, medieval markets, and performances.
From Dívčí kámen, you can walk to the Třísov station and catch the train back to Český Krumlov. If you’re driving and still have some time, you can continue your drive to Zlatá Koruna.
Zlatá Koruna is a short drive from Český Krumlov. The town is home to a well-preserved medieval monastery listed as a National Historic Monument.
The Czech King Přemysl Otakar II established the Cistercian monastery in 1263, which he dedicated to the Virgin Mary after winning the Battle of Kressenbrunn. Through the centuries, it endured attacks from the Hussites in the 1400s, aggression from nobles like the Rosenbergs in the 15th and 16th centuries, and abolishment by the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II in 1785. In the 1900s, the Schwarzenbergs began rebuilding essential parts of the premises, and the state eventually took over rebuilding the monastery complex. Today, it is considered one of the most valuable complexes of early and late Gothic architecture in Central Europe.
You can go on a tour of the monastery and church to see and learn more about the convent, the Gothic chapel, and the Church of Assumption, which is the largest church in South Bohemia. You’ll also get a glimpse of the Cistercian order’s daily life and learn more about the history and literature of South Bohemia.
Apart from the monastery, Zlatá Koruna is a beautiful place to go on a short walk. The village lies at the foot of Mountain Kleť and parts of it are within the protected landscape of the Blanský forest. From the monastery, you can walk along the Vltava and make a loop around the village.
If you can spend a couple more days in Český Krumlov, there are a lot of beautiful places you can visit in the South Bohemian region. These are all within 45 minutes’ driving distance from Český Krumlov and can also be reached by public transportation.
The Hluboká Castle is one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful castles. Initially established in the 13th century as a royal castle for King Přemysl Otakar II, it underwent reconstructions in the 1600s when the Schwarzenberg family gave it its present-day Neo-Gothic appearance. Prince Adolf II’s diplomatic trips to Great Britain inspired him to pattern the castle complex after the English castle of Windsor.
There are several tour routes you can take of the castle. You can also spend some time walking around the castle grounds and appreciating the castle from every angle.
The town itself is a beautiful place to stop by when driving between Prague and Český Krumlov. Restaurace Lovecká Chata near the pond is a great place to stop for lunch.
Holašovice is a small historic village which, despite its quaint and charming row of Baroque houses, has a bit of a dark history.
In the 16th century, Holašovice was nearly wiped out by the bubonic plague in just five years. Only two inhabitants survived, and it took another five years for the population to rise to 17. In the following centuries until the 1900s, the village became home to a primarily German-speaking community – an enclave within a Czech language area.
At the end of World War 2, the German residents were driven away, and the village became deserted during the Czech communist regime. It was only in 1990 when the village was once again restored and inhabited, with its “South Bohemian folk Baroque” style preserved.
It is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site as an example of a traditional European folk village. It’s a small and quiet town you can easily explore in about an hour. It does come alive during the annual festival held on the last weekend of July.
České Budějovice is the capital city of South Bohemia.
Its most popular landmark is the beautiful square named after King Přemysl Otakar II (of whom we’ve heard so much about so far), who also granted the city its brewing rights in the 13th century. The square is one of the largest in Europe – a hectare in size – and is lined by beautiful Baroque arcaded houses and home to an impressive Baroque town hall.
While there, you can also climb up the Black Tower, visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and the Iron Maiden Tower, or tour the Budvar brewery.
Drive from South Bohemia to South Moravia
If you’re driving to South Moravia or Vienna, make sure to stop by the lovely towns of Telč and Třeboň. Both are small and historic Renaissance towns and great spots to go for a short stroll.
Třeboň is one of the largest producers of freshwater fish in Europe, so if you’ve had enough roasted pork and duck in Bohemia, make sure to taste the Třeboň carp (Restaurace Bílý jednorožec is one of our favorites!).
Here’s my itinerary for the drive across the Czech Republic’s south.
While you’re in Český Krumlov, make sure to try traditional South Bohemian dishes like kulajda (a creamy dill soup), various potato specialties like bramborové šišky and cmunda, and freshwater fish from Třeboň. You can have a taste of these traditional dishes at Jakub Restaurant or Krčma U dwau Maryí.
If you need a break from Czech food, Papa’s Living Restaurant and Nonna Gina are excellent Italian restaurants.
Driving – South Bohemia is a lovely destination for a road trip. You can get a rental car from Prague or Vienna and go on a road trip that goes through the Czech Republic and Austria’s most beautiful cities.
By train or bus – If you’re coming from Prague, the most convenient way to go to Český Krumlov is by bus. Buses go from Prague to Český Krumlov and back almost hourly from 6 am to 8 pm, and the journey takes about 3 hours.
If you’re coming from elsewhere, the nearest major transportation hub to Český Krumlov is České Budějovice. You can take the train or bus to České Budějovice and then transfer to a bus to Český Krumlov. RegioJet and České dráhy are the most useful companies for bus and train travel around the Czech Republic, as well as neighboring countries. You can search for routes and buy tickets online.
Day trip from Prague – If you’re on holiday in Prague and only have a day to visit Český Krumlov, join this convenient day trip with experienced guides. You’ll travel comfortably through the countryside with an English-speaking guide and see all of Český Krumlov’s highlights.
Vignette for driving on Czech motorways – Make sure that your car has a valid vignette for driving on Czech motorways. Most rental cars from within the Czech Republic would have this. If you’re coming from neighboring countries, you can buy it from gas stations in border towns.
Use Waze to navigate around the Czech Republic. Add the Czech vignette to your Waze app’s list of toll and HOV passes to get the best routes. (Go to: Settings > Navigation > Toll & HOV Passes > Vignette CZ – Dálniční známka.)
Public transportation – You can travel by bus and train to most cities and towns in the Czech Republic. RegioJet and České dráhy are the most useful companies, and you can search for routes and buy tickets online.
Best places to stay in Český Krumlov
To fully enjoy Český Krumlov’s romantic medieval ambiance, stay in a beautiful hotel in the historic old town like Hotel Ebersbach. If you’re traveling with family and friends, stay in a spacious holiday home like Monastery Garden. If you plan to go on hikes and road trips, and want a relaxing stay away from the crowds, stay in a pension outside the old town like Penzion Tilia.
Here’s a more comprehensive guide to the best places to stay in Český Krumlov.
Learn more about Český Krumlov
“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, Český 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 Český Krumlov’s history told through buildings and beer.
Český 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.
Continue your adventures beyond Prague and visit the sunny wine region of South Moravia! If you love castle towns like Český Krumlov, head to Mikulov and enjoy days of hiking, dining, and wining around the beautiful town.
If you’re craving for more beautiful Baroque cities, Salzburg is a 3-hour drive south of Český Krumlov. You’ll spend days admiring opulent cathedrals and palaces, enjoying the strains of Mozart’s compositions, and driving around the gorgeous Lake District. Continue your drive to Vienna for the perfect Central European road trip itinerary.
Lake towns are indeed the perfect setting for beautiful holidays, and Lake Bled is Slovenia’s most gorgeous one. With plenty of amazing natural landscapes to explore, a slew of restaurants serving delicious Slovenian and international cuisine, and a long list of outdoor adventures and experiences to check out, a holiday in Lake Bled is one that’s sure to be sweet and satisfying.
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I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Český Krumlov and the beautiful South Bohemian region!
It’s truly one of the Czech Republic’s most beautiful castle towns and a must-visit – even if you’re just in Prague for a short city break. A day trip to Český Krumlov from Prague is certainly worth it, but if you can spare a couple of extra days, make sure to take your time exploring the beautiful South Bohemian region. Breathtaking views, hearty Czech cuisine, and historic landscapes and monuments await!
Make sure to download the PDF guide and use it to plan the perfect little holiday in Český Krumlov and beyond. If you have any questions or need extra help planning your trip, send me a message, and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Thanks for reading and have a fun and exciting holiday in the Czech Republic!
Post first published: 14 January 2017
Last updated: 17 July 2020 – added and updated travel guide, fixed format