When in Prague earlier this year, since I had visited Prague before, I really wanted to do a day trip to a new city. I settled on Ceský Krumlov, which is a beautiful small town about 2 hours south of Prague, near the Austrian border.
I choose Ceský Krumlov based on the wild reviews of Rick Steves (with whom I have a love/hate relationship) and in in the hopes of visiting Ceský Krumlov before it is totally overrun with tourists – too late for that one! In sum, Ceský Krumlov was an easy day trip from Prague, but it was super, super crowded with tourists!
The Town And Its Sites
Ceský Krumlov is truly totally cute and looks like a fairy take town. Ceský Krumlov is also quite compact, and wandering around Ceský Krumlov itself is its main attraction. I recommend allotting at least a 1/2 day for Ceský Krumlov and at least an hour to simply wander the town. That being said, I would probably not spend more than 24 hours in town.
Aside from the town, Ceský Krumlov castle, dating from the 1200s, is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit. Its “the” site to see in Ceský Krumlov and you can spot the castle from almost anywhere in town.
We actually skipped going inside of the castle, but we did walk through the outdoor portion. First up, of importance, is the bear that lives at the castle. As you cross the bridge to enter the castle, a bear lives in the enclosure under the bridge. Definitely have a look, although its kind of sad that the bear lives in that small area by itself.
Upon entering the castle, be sure to look out the windows on the left side of the castle for excellent views of Ceský Krumlov. Once you reach the other side of the castle, there is a super crowded terrace with the best views of Ceský Krumlov! Make your way to the front and get a good picture! And for the best pictures, please go super early! We were there at about 10 AM and it was already packed!
While we did not enter the castle, we did explore the Rocco gardens behind the castle and they were pretty awesome! I recommend planning an hour for the castle exterior, longer if you are going inside the castle.
The castle gardens are also home to a really cool revolving outdoor theatre. Apparently, there are good shows in the summer. I would check it out if you are in town in warm weather. It looked very fun!
Aside from the town and the castle, the Vltava River runs through town and there are lots of cafes and restaurants along the river, making for a fun place to grab lunch or a drink. These spots get very crowded during lunch time, so for prime seating, have an early or late lunch. Most of these restaurants have blankets on the outdoor chairs, so you can enjoy outdoor seating late into the Fall.
The main square, Svorsnosti Square, is also quite nice but extremely crowded – go early for the best pictures. Svornosti Square is also lined with shops and cafes, a perfect spot for an afternoon coffee.
The Látran neighborhood – the part of town just below the castle on the same side of the river as the castle – is also a cute area to explore. Látran seemed a tiny bit less crowded when we visited and was home to cute shops and hotels.
Ceský Krumlov has a lot of shopping, yet nothing great in my opinion – a lot of tourist trinket shops, a handful of Czech crystal and jewelry shops (some of which may or may not dabble in fake goods), and one or two stores settling a hodge podge of luxury brands. I wold not prioritize shopping in Ceský Krumlov unless you are looking for tourist trinkets.
However, Ceský Perník (pictured above), does sell some fun Czech-made products, including chocolate, gingerbread, jams and jellies, and body products, among other things. They also sell Czech liquor that you can sample for a small fee.
What To Eat
Eating Ceský Krumlov can be a bit tough. There are a lot of touristy restaurants and very few (if any) “good” places to eat. Our tour guide recommended Krcma v Satlavske and, despite my hard rule not to eat at super touristy places, I went with his suggestion and our meal was pretty good. However, there was not a single Czech person in the restaurant. That being said,, Krcma v Satlavske did seem like a decent meal for super touristy Ceský Krumlov. It was also packed; make a reservation if you plan to eat here.
Ceský Krumlov was also full of stands selling the Trdelník – a cinnamon pastry stuffed with your choice of filling. These are popular all of Central Europe.
What To Drink
Ceský Krumlov is home to its own Eggenberg brewery. Unfortunately, the brewery was closed when we visited, but you can find Eggenberg beer through the town. We skipped the beer, but did try some Czech sparkling wine at a restaurant without door seating. Just drinks are fine as long as its not prime lunch time.
Getting To And From Ceský Krumlov From Prague
We were coming from Prague, so we hired a car with a driver through My Prague Driver. The ride was an easy two hour drive on a modern highway. Anyone who can drive could make this drive. If you do not have a car, I believe there is a bus and a train from Prague.
- Arrive in Ceský Krumlov early, before the tour buses. That is when the town is at its best. Alternatively, spend a night and see the town without all of the tourists.
- Book lunch reservations in advance, especially if you have a particular spot in mind.
- Visit the castle when it first opens to miss the crowds.
- If you drive, scout out parking before your trip – it can be a bit hectic.
- Bring a camera – everything in Ceský Krumlov is terribly photogenic.
- Ceský Krumlov can absolutely be done in a day. I would not spend more than 1 night here if you want something more than a day trip.
- Wear walking shoes – all the streets are cobblestone and the castle is uphill.
All in all, we had a great day trip to Ceský Krumlov. Here are some more pictures of this picture perfect town!
STEAL OUR TRIP
My Czech Driver – We had a very good experience with My Czech Driver. We booked online and received a text the day before confirming our tour. Our driver was also our guide and he was very knowledgable. We had a great day! I think this company is much better than its website makes it out to be. Our 8 hour day, including the tour and round trip transportation to and from our hotel was 260 euros, which was split between the 4 of us. Highly recommend this company.
Ceský Krumlov Castle – Check the linked English website for hours. Some of the castle is closed during winter.
Krcma v Satlavske – Šatlavská 143, 381 01 Český Krumlov, Czechia. Open daily 11h – 00h. Reservations highly recommended, especially on weekends and during high season.
Eggenberg Brewery – Pivovarská 27, 381 01 Český Krumlov, Czechia. Check the website for tour hours.
Ceský Perník – Latrán 54, Latrán, 381 01 Český Krumlov, Czechia. Hours unclear. Credit cards accepted.
ON A BUDGET
Like the Prague, Ceský Krumlov is a good budget destination. To save money, take public transportation rather than hire a driver. Also, if you are staying in the area, staying outside of Ceský Krumlov will be cheaper than staying in town.