The fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov is one destination in the Czech Republic that shouldn’t be skipped. This gorgeous South Bohemian city and World Heritage site is ever so charming and picturesque. With its narrow, winding cobblestones streets and its colourful Gothic houses, it’s pretty easy to fall in love with this town. Cesky Krumlov is famous worldwide for its beauty and charm, making it the second most touristy town in the Czech Republic after Prague. But don’t let this stop you; you’ll definitely regret not going there and even with the crowds, it’s totally worth it. The more time you spend in Cesky Krumlov the better, but if you only have one day there, here’s how you should spend it:
But first, how do you get to Cesky Krumlov?
It’s pretty easy to get to Cesky Krumlov from Prague. You can head there by bus, train, or shuttle transfer. If you prefer to have a guided tour and for everything to be organised for you, many companies offer tours from Prague. However, this option will be a bit more rushed.
Explore the castle complex and its tower
Cesky Krumlov has the second largest castle complex in the Czech Republic after Prague. The castle was originally a Gothic castle and was built in the 13th century. It was then rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 16th century and finally renovated into a Baroque and Rococo style in the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s free to wander around the castle’s grounds and its gardens but there is a charge to enter inside. Guided tours of the interior are only available from April to October.
Make sure you climb the tower for some magnificent panoramic views of the town. There are one hundred and sixty-two rather uneven stairs to climb and the ceiling is quite low, so mind your head if you’re tall!
As stunning as the castle was, one thing really bothered me when we visited. As we crossed the small bridge leading to the entrance of the castle we found a bear being kept in captivity in the cramped moat under the bridge. He looked pretty unhappy pacing up and down, with little to entertain him other than a big bunch of tourists photographing him and screaming at him from above. We learnt later that this is a tradition dating from the 16th century, but given that we’re now in the 21st century, maybe it’s time to ditch these cruel traditions? Animals don’t belong in captivity for the enjoyment of people. This left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth for this otherwise delightful town.
Visit the Minorite Monastery
This massive monastery complex is hidden away, not far from the famous castle. A couple of years ago it was completely restored to its former glory. Along with its educational exhibitions, you can also admire its gothic ceilings and its beautiful frescos. It is very quiet compared to the rest of the town because many people still don’t know that it exists. That makes it a great place to escape the crowds!
Time for a lunch break! Head to U Dwau Maryi for some delicious South Bohemian cuisine. If you can, get a table on the outdoor terrace and enjoy lunch beside the river. There you can watch the kayaks drift down the river and look across to the castle as you enjoy your meal. If you can’t find an outdoor table, the interior is pretty interesting too. The building dates back to the Middle Ages and is well preserved with antique tables. For a selection of traditional fare, order an old Bohemian feast to share.
Walk around the old town
You’ll just love to wander around this beautifully preserved medieval town. Take your time, get lost in those narrow, cobblestone streets. Look around and admire the colourful, old buildings and the meandering Vlatva river. Take photos and lots of them! It’s such a great place to explore and you never know what you’ll find just around the corner.
Check out the many speciality shops
Cesky Krumlov is filled with speciality and souvenir shops that sell all sorts of knick-knacks. The town is also famous for its rare gemstones, called Moldavite. Those gemstones are found almost exclusively in Bohemia and Moravia. You’ll find many beautiful rings, necklaces and earrings made with Moldavite in stores all over town.
As the day slowly comes to an end, less and less people are wandering the streets. The day trippers from Prague head back to the capital and you’ll find a totally different atmosphere in the evening. Find a bar to enjoy a drink or two by the river or on an outdoor terrace in the old town. Then head out for another traditional Czech meal in one of the town’s many restaurants. Le Jardin is a good restaurant to pick for dinner. It’s one of the best restaurants in Southern Bohemia. Alternatively, if you need a break from meat, the vegetarian restaurant, Laibon is another great option.
Is one day enough?
One day is enough to experience the main sites. But to really enjoy the atmosphere, it’s really worth spending a night or two there, especially as the tour groups and day trippers depart by 5pm and you can enjoy a much more peaceful stroll around town in the evening.
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