Český Krumlov, located in the deep south of Bohemia, is a fairy tale-like town in the Czech Republic. It is home to about 13 000 people and full of Baroque and Renaissance architecture, along with an enormous Castle and an old-town square.
Alongside that, there are many lively bars and riverside picnic spots, all of this is why it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Calm and predictable weather typical for Central Europe means that during the summer the town’s inhabitants are outnumbered by tourists. On the other hand, in winter the city center looks like a typical romantic novel setting, with a blanket of snow covering the narrow streets of the Old Town.
Český Krumlov is not an overnight destination. If you plan on visiting, we recommend staying at least 2 days or more, to see and experience everything the city has to offer.
Table of Contents
Getting to Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov is a small, historical place, and therefore transportation means are appropriately humble.
Unfortunately, Český Krumlov doesn’t have an airport serving the city, but there are several alternative options nearby.
The closest airport to Český Krumlov is the airport in Linz, Austria. It’s located about 85 km south of Český Krumlov, so you would have to catch a bus to Český Krumlov once you arrive in Linz. The next nearest international airports are: Prague (180 km) and Germany’s Munich (300 km).
Taking a train to Český Krumlov is perhaps the most comfortable way to get there, however, it is one of the pricier ways of traveling. Czech Railways operates one direct long-distance Ex “Jižní express” train from Prague and back, departing from Prague train station. The train ride takes about 3 hours and ticket prices range from 200-300 Czech Korunas (7-12 Euros). You can buy tickets online or directly at the train station or even on the train itself, more information here.
You can also use a train connection from Prague that transfers in České Budějovice. The train leaves every 1-2 hours, the trip takes between 3 and 3.5 hours. If you do decide on this route, you will need to buy two separate tickets because regional Os trains from České Budějovice are operated by a different company. These tickets can be bought at both railway stations or from the conductor onboard (which means an extra fee).
The train station Český Krumlov is located north of the main square and the castle; the walk to the center is 15–20 minutes downhill.
Český Krumlov is well connected by roads with neighbouring cities, on top of that getting to Český Krumlov by bus is faster and somewhat cheaper than getting there by train.
There are dozens of hotels in Prague that allow you to take a shuttle bus to Krumlov Castle, which is the preferred method of travel to Český Krumlov. From the capital, and other nearby cities of Bohemia, getting to Český Krumlov by bus is pretty straightforward.
Here are just a few of the popular routes to Český Krumlov:
|Prague to Český Krumlov|
|Munich to Český Krumlov|
|Brno to Český Krumlov|
|Bratislava to Český Krumlov|
|Vienna to Český Krumlov|
There are two main bus stops in Český Krumlov: the first is located north of the castle, the second is the main terminal located east of the main square. Both stations are about a five to ten minute walk from the main square.
Getting Around Český Krumlov
Being a small place, Český Krumlov is best seen on foot, as most of the sights are located in a pedestrian only zone, and it doesn’t take long at all to get to anywhere you want to go within the city.
If you’re arriving to Český Krumlov by car, note that historical center is a car-free zone.
But, it’s possible to park in one of the paid parking lots northwest of the old town. Or, if you arrive very early and are very lucky, you may be able to take one of the few spots along the main road.
Most of the old town architecture dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town’s structures are mostly of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The old town’s core is situated within a horseshoe bend of the Vltava river, with the old Latrán neighbourhood and castle on the other side of the Vltava.
State Castle Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov Castle is unusually large for a town of its size; within the Czech Republic it is second in size only to the Hradčany castle complex of Prague. Inside its grounds are a large rococo garden, a bridge over a deep gap in the rock upon which the castle is built, and the castle itself, which consist of many defined parts from different periods of architectural styles.
The Castle is unique in that it is surrounded by a moat filled not with water, but with bears. This was an attempt made by former rulers of the castle to associate themselves with the powerful Orsini family, whose name is a pun on the Italian word for bear; orso.
The Baroque theatre is the only one in Europe that survives in its original 18th century form with no modern additions. This means that stage sets are still operated by manual labour, and candlelight is still used to illuminate the stage and orchestra pit. Periodic performances of operas are performed at the theatre.
Due to its age, the theater is only used three times a year (only open to the public twice), when a Baroque opera is performed in simulated candlelight. Visitors can take a guided tour beneath the stage to catch a glimpse of the wood-and-rope apparatus. It allowed stage settings to be moved in and out at the same time as the audience was diverted with fireworks and smoke.
Egon Schiele Centrum Museum, named after one of the world’s most famous artists, is located west of the Old Town Center. Egon set up his easel for a short time in Český Krumlov, painting his famous Dead Town series there. Later he painted young girls in compromising poses…which led to him being driven out by the townspeople.
Technical Monument – Graphite Mine
This mine offers a bit of information about the history of mining and about the region of Český Krumlov. Before you set off on this excursion, you get a special miner’s uniform, including a helmet and torch. A special miner train will transport you underground, from where you continue on foot.
You will be able to experience the conditions under which the miners worked, and the machines they used. The guide will inform you about mining procedures, and how graphite was reworked and used. The excursion takes approximately 1 hour and it will lighten your wallet by 200 Kč (~8€) if you want it in English or 150 Kč (~6€) in Czech.
There is a museum dedicated to the semi-precious gemstone Moldavite, located in the city center. Moldavites are highly valued “stones of transformation”, born in the impact of an asteroid 15 million years ago. Moldavites are found exclusively in the heart of Europe.
Český Krumlov is an epicenter of culture, steeped in history after having been the seat of many powerful noble families like the Rosenbergs and the Slavníkovci and the Witigonen. Along with tradition there are many modern events which have made Český Krumlov their home.
Five-Petalled Rose Festival
On the weekend closest to the summer solstice, for three days Český Krumlov revives historic city festivals that were important during the time of the last Rožmberks.
During this time you can see a historical costume parade and ceremony at the Svornosti Square: a night fire parade, historic market, jousting tournament, street theater, musical performances with dancers and much more. For your entertainment there are also historical plays for children and adults, renaissance games on the river Vltava and many other surprises.
International Music Festival Český Krumlov
The festival includes indoor and outdoor concerts during the months of July and August. It features international music greats along with a rich mix of musical genres. Even if the tickets are sold out, you can still find an outdoor pub and enjoy the sounds and post-concert fireworks.
Český Krumlov Christmas Market
A calm and family-friendly Christmas atmosphere awaits you!
Many different cultural events take place in the historical town center: you can watch the Living Bethlehem – a biblical story narrated by local inhabitants through music and dancing, or join them in singing “Silent Night” in various languages. You can imbibe the Christmas spirit during one of many Christmas-themed concerts by leading Czech musicians or local children’s choirs. The unforgettable Christmas atmosphere of this medieval gem located in the heart of Europe will charm you!
With a wide open, hilly landscape and a beautiful large river, Český Krumlov packs a natural punch that is rare to experience, here are just some of the fun things to do in the great outdoors of Český Krumlov!
Rafting and Tubing on the Vltava River
You can rent rafts on several locations and hostels in and out of the town, and near the camping area as well. There are normal, modern tours and rafts, but also historical rafting tours, for example. The river can become faster flowing in summer months after rain, so approach the weirs with caution.
Český Krumlov’s hilly landscape provides the perfect setting for nature walks and hiking tours of all kinds! You can make a trip to the highest hill of the Blanský Forest Region: the Kleť Mountain – where the oldest Czech view tower is located, as well as an astronomical observatory and a pleasant restaurant!
A popular pastime not just in Český Krumlov but in the entire Southern Bohemian region. Lipno Lake has long been a famous fishing haven with local fish sorts such as: carp, zander, pike, perch and catfish. Short-term fishing permits are available in hotels, at travel agents and information centres. Fishing season in Southern Bohemia lasts all year long with a few exceptions.
Hot air balloon tours for everyone who wants to see South Bohemia like its avian inhabitants do!
Every morning and evening there is a chance for you to experience the sensation of flying in a hot-air balloon over Český Krumlov. If you’re up for it and have willing friends, more balloons can join in for a flying competition.
Český Krumlov Golf Club
An exceptional place in the South Bohemian countryside near Český Krumlov with an 18-hole course and training facilities. This sports resort is surrounded by the hotel complex Svachovka, brewery Glokner and Distillery Svach. Lots to see and experience here, and not only for lovers of golf!
Czechia has a very traditional “meat and potatoes” cuisine, with dishes heavy on gravies and root vegetables. Staying warm is important when it’s cold, which is why winter is the best time to try Czech cuisine, as their delicious soups are best then.
Here are some of the must try dishes:
- Guláš – a stew made from beef, pork or game with onions and spices. It is usually accompanied with knedlík (dumplings!) or sometimes bread.
- Roast pork with dumplings and cabbage is usually considered the most typical of Czech dishes, a hearty delicacy.
- Marinated sirloin – a popular dish consisting of braised beef covered with a thick, creamy sauce of parsley root and carrots. It’s usually served with a side of cranberry sauce and whipped cream.
Some of the establishments where you can try them:
Hospoda Na louži
This is a fine place to visit, with quality food and a special touch to the atmosphere. The building dates all the way back to 1449 (before the discovery of the Americas!) and it has been remodeled and maintained throughout the centuries. They also serve South Bohemian specialties such as a spicy pork mixture with vegetables, potatoes and garnish.
This is a Vietnamese place that is recommended for anyone that wants to experience the exotic tastes of the Orient and it can be like a little slice of home for visitors from the east of Asia. Traditional dishes as well as those with a modern twist are on offer!
Tavern of the Two Marries
A great choice for eating out. Traditional, local food with a warm atmosphere and with their own specialties on offer.
Whether it’s souvenirs, a gift for a loved one, or just buying something because it caught your eye, Český Krumlov does not disappoint.
Most of the shops are located in the center of the town around the castle and the rest are on the other side, past Lazebnický most ( en. Lazebnick bridge).
If you are interested in jewelry or precious stones then you are in luck because South Bohemia is rich in gems. Garnet is a deep red stone, while moldavite is olive green. Both of these are mined in Czechia, fashioned into jewelry and sold throughout the country.
A well-reviewed and locally recommended shop is Granát Turnov, located across from the castle entrance. A factory shop selling its own products for a lesser price than sold in other shops. There’s a wide selection of items set in 14 karat gold and sterling silver.
Český Perník is a wonderful little place that is the perfect stop after a long castle tour. It is a shop selling gingerbread, wines, honey, chocolate and much more, all prepared in the traditional Bohemian style.
From pottery and stationary to fashion and foodstuffs, there is something for everyone.
Český Krumlov may be small but it doesn’t lack good pubs and bars! The locals are friendly and menus are in English so do not be afraid to walk into a pub by your lonesome. Here are just a few picks for the prospective merry-maker:
Literally meaning “the Gypsy Bar” this is a little place full of character that is frequented by a mix of curious travelers and loyal patrons. On the weekends the air is filled with the tunes of the Gypsy band’s amazing live music. To top if off there is the local Eggenberg beer brand on offer which is not an opportunity to be missed.
Zapa is popular with tourists and expats, being a cozy soulful spot that serves some of the best cocktails in town. The service is friendly and the prices are reasonable. The bartender will create a special cocktail if that is your wish, otherwise this is a great opportunity to try authentic Absinthe.
Winehouse and Bar Bertold
Bertold has an incredible setup, it is a cave-like underground space made up of gorgeous stone, rustic furniture and exactly the correct sprinkle of light. It has good, broad selection of wines and an impressive menu of liqueurs and spirits, among which are whiskeys and bourbons.
Český Krumlov’s hotel selection is robust and there is a wide variety of all kinds of places to choose from for everyone from backpackers and campers to families and couples.
Tourist Information center, Infocentrum: +420 380 704 622, náměstí Svornosti 2
Fire department: 150
Hospital: +420 380 761 111
Pharmacy working all week long, 09:00–18:00 : +420 608 403 210, Havlíkova přírodní apotéka, Horní 148, 38101 Český Krumlov, Vnitřní Město