Every time somebody tells me they are planning to go to Prague or puts up a status that they are currently in Prague, I immediately shout out, "Oh, please visit Cesky Krumlov !!!
Cesky Krumlov is just a couple of hours drive from Prague, and it is the best European town to visit. It is indeed a very petite and cute town. Cesky Krumlov is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is a shadow of the medieval European town which remained intact even after suffering from the world war.
Cobbled streets, Vltava river flowing through, a town square and a castle with a vast garden. That is pretty much about the town.
The place has all my heart!
The drive to Cesky Krumlov was as if I was driving through the outskirts of a village, filled with green farms, lavender farms, a distant farmhouse, and cows grazing by.
I, along with my travel group, reached the town by the late morning. Travelling for the first time, we took the assistance of the travel map, but the receptionist was kind enough as a local to guide us. Before I get into the places to see, let me run you through the town.
About Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is situated in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, and the main town revolves around the state castle.
Situated on the banks of the Vltava river (Moldau river), the town is said to have formed around the 13th century. This is the town for the ones in love with architecture. There are architectural elements of all kinds, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance. The castle itself is an excellent example to spot all these kinds.
The town has not adapted to the urban infrastructure. The city is often addressed as the "Historic Centre of Cesky Krumlov" to honour the preserved culture and heritage. It is also less populated. It is believed that tourists outnumber the local people.
Since the town is based around the castle, the city is pretty small. I walked around the town, sat in a cafe, walked around the city again; it is that simple to look around. Four wheelers are allowed on many lanes. So it is good to stroll through the town.
Now, let us walk through the places of Cesky Krumlov.
How to Spend a Day at Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov Castle
After equipping us with history, let's go into the town !!
Cesky Krumlov State Castle and Chateau are the most visited places in the town. The castle is one of the largest castles in central Europe. It dates back to 1240, and up until the 16th century, the castle was ruled by different names and saw various additions over time.
You can walk into the castle complex for free and check out the buildings and garden. But I would recommend you to take a guided tour. The complex today houses a small state castle, a giant castle, a chapel, a moat, a garden, a watchtower, a courtyard, a stable and a theatre that the royals spent their time at.
As I read English Classic novels, I was part of those English novels coming to life as I went into the town. Passing through the simple gates of the castle, a courtyard and the tourist information centre comes by from where you can collect tickets for the guided tour. The tour is an hour long and is scheduled periodically.
There are different tours aimed at the castle, museum, moat, and Watchtower. Another combined time takes you to all those, along with the chapel and baroque theatre. I opted for the first tour that cost me 300czk.
Passing through the stone bridge towards the castle, the first thing that comes to notice is the moat. The moat that runs around the castle is dry, and they seem to have house two bored bears.
There is a tradition that is followed from the 16th century -
The Rosenburg rulers had the bears as a symbol in their coats-of-arms. Coat of arms is symbols engraved into shields, caps, flags, etc. So the Rosenburg rulers, apart from having roses and other things, had two bears as shield bearers. Since then, they started holding bears.
Somewhere in the 19th century, they decided to conserve the bears and breed them. And now it seems there are four bears. I could see them getting bored. There is also a bear festival conducted annually for the children to come to have a look. I wonder what kind of mock they would do on that day to the bears !!
Moving on to the second courtyard, it has a little castle with the Watchtower.
The little castle was initially built in gothic architecture and was then later improvised to renaissance style. The Watchtower has been completely remodelled in renaissance style. The cylindrical tower towers above the castle walls are visible from many corners of the town. You can walk up to the Watchtower to get a 360degree view of the town.
The subsequent courtyard has bigger houses. There are five courtyards like this with huge houses. The walls of this building give you the convex and concave illusion. It feels as if one is walking uphill as one moves from one courtyard to another.
I don't remember which one of these houses had the museum. We get to walk through various rooms where many of the artefacts are preserved, like the china they used, the gems they wore, the weapons used in war, coins, letters. And then you walk through rooms like the study, living, bedroom, kitchen. Photography is not allowed inside. Compared to Indian palaces, these are very low key affairs.
Nevertheless, it is a peek into their lifestyle and quite enjoyable.
Here is a fun fact I saw. All the rooms in the castle have an oven. The guide said it is a good sign to bring prosperity or a must custom to have an oven built in every room. The logical reason behind it is that it acts as a central heating system with warm pipes running from one room to another.
Also, the kitchen is far from other rooms, and when the servants brought the food, they used these ovens to reheat the cold food for the occupants. The queen's room was unusually pink in colour, and there were many other interesting features like this to see.
I did not visit the Baroque theatre as I neither had the ticket nor the knowledge of its interesting aspect.
Walking past all the courtyards, I saw a garden. The garden is a nice place to relax after the walk through the castle complex. It is called the 'New Princely Garden', and it forms the largest part of the castle.
The main attraction is the cascading fountain in the garden. And then, you can walk past the numerous trees and neatly carved out garden shrubs. I remember sitting on a bench amidst the serene green garden and recording all of that in my diary.
Visiting the Cesky Krumlov castle would easily take away about 3 hours of your time. So it is advisable to keep ample time to stroll around the castle.
Visiting the Cesky Krumlov castle would easily take away about 3 hours of your time. So keep ample time and stroll around the castle.
Museums at Cesky Krumlov
There is a street in Cesky Krumlov that is filled with museums.
Most of these museums close by 5 pm and on that day when I was visiting, I guess I sat in the garden for too long that all the museums were closed by the time I walked on that street. Most of them are simply ways to kill time. There is a puppet museum, wax museum, trick eye museum, 3D museum, museum of torture instruments, and marionette museums.
The marionette museum houses the puppets and theatre backgrounds used during the staging of drama back in the era in the Baroque theatre that I mentioned before. It is advisable to pick one or two museums if you would like to spend quality time exploring them.
Hot Air Ballooning
Want to see this Bohemian town from above the sky?
If yes, choose a clear day and take a hot air balloon ride to watch the town. The good thing is that the sun doesn't set so soon in this part of town and it sets only by 8 pm or so.
So you might have ample time to take the memorable balloon ride
Rafting and Canoeing down the Vltava River
The river is a bit harsher outside the town, and it calms down as it flows through the old city.
You are walking along the Vltava river while walking along with the old town. There are many places for access to the river, and people use this to park their canoes. And others have to take one to go around the town. On the outskirts of the city, you can notice proper rafting boats that take people down the river. It is indeed a good way to enjoy the evening.
Brewery Cesky Krumlov
How about visiting a brewery that is as old as the castle!
The brewing mechanism has been equipped with the latest technology now. But still, some part of the old traditional brewery is preserved. And it is possible to take a guided tour through the brewery. You can take a tour through the brewery and get yourself a beer served or take a ticket just for entrance and some beer.
I did not drink alcohol when I visited Cesky Krumlov, so I decided to skip this tour as it was not of much use to me back then.
Walking around the Old Town
Now, this is something I would have done twice or thrice.
There are many reasons for it! I am a fan of cobbled streets, and two, the roads are filled with quirky stuff.
The old charm of the town is preserved in the tiny lanes and vehicles. But the quirky props along the lanes make it interesting to take pictures and stop by that one might even lose their way out of them !!
Spending time at the Town Square
Like many European towns, this one also has a town square with houses on one side, a town hall on the other side, the tourist information centre and was also linked with many other cafes.
While I travelled to Europe, I always remembered the way to my hotel from the town square so that every time I got lost, I used to find my way to the town square and figure out my way from there.
The main structure in the middle of the town square is the plague column topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary. I saw this structure and was very amused as it felt as if it was smiling at me or instead it was sculpted with a big smiley. I later discovered that it is one of the nine gates into the city preserved from the olden times. I am quite sure that you will stumble across this gate when you are walking around the town !!
To be honest, I saw this structure and was amused as it looked like smiling at me or rather a big smiley was drawn on this building. I later came to know that it is one of the nine gates into the city preserved from the olden times. Am sure you will stumble across this gate when you are walking around the town.
Hop Cafes Along The River
There are many cafes lined around the river. Most face the river that you can sit and listen to the gurgling water or even watch the fellow tourists canoe down the river while enjoying the European desserts and coffee.
Have a Trout
My receptionist recommended having the river trout for lunch or dinner, and I did it without fail. The fresh catch and grilled fish is delicious and a must-have for all seafood lovers.
These were pretty much about the things you can do in this pretty town.
That is pretty much about things you can do this in this pretty town.
Also Read. Complete travel guide to Plitvice National park - Click Here
How to Reach Cesky Krumlov
From Prague, you might reach Cesky Krumlov by train at 8 am in morning. This train reaches the town by 11 am, giving you ample time to look around and stay for the night. This train departs from Cesky Krumlov at 2 pm and reaches Prague by 5 pm.
I wouldn't suggest doing this in a day as the three hour time would not be enough to visit the palace. However, some tour operators from Prague include it as a day trip to Cesky Krumlov, which might work as you will get some time to breathe !!
Where to Stay at Cesky Krumlov
I stayed at this charming hotel called Hotel Bellevue Cesky Krumlov. It is walkable to most of the attractions around the town. Here is a link to book this hotel - Book here