It’s hard not to fall under the spell of Cesky Krumlov. Nestled among the rolling hills of southern Bohemia, this well-preserved medieval town is the second most popular destination in the Czech Republic after Prague. It is also one of the prettiest old towns in Europe. I highly recommend spending at least a full day in Cesky Krumlov so that you get to see most of the town as well as experience its beauty at night.
From rafting down the Vltava River to immersing yourself in the town’s rich history, here are some amazing things to do in Cesky Krumlov.
Recommended hotels: Hotel Grand is located in the main square and has very modern and comfy rooms. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, Penzion Gardena is a gorgeous guesthouse in the old town with cosy, rustic rooms and a garden.
1. Hang out in Svornosti Square
Some of the most beautiful buildings in Cesky Krumlov are found in the main square, which bears traces of the town’s architectural development throughout the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. A Baroque structure, known as the Plague Column, stands in the centre of the square. It is dedicated to the patron saints of the town and was built in gratitude for the end of the plague, which had claimed many lives in the town. Another landmark is the Town Hall, which dates back to the 14th century and nowadays houses the Museum of Torture.
There are various restaurants in the square and surrounding streets where you can enjoy a hearty Czech meal. Krcma v Satlavske Ulici (or Krcma Satlava on Google Maps) serves a variety of Czech and Central European dishes, including delicious meat-based meals like lamb chops, veal and pork knee.
2. Visit the stunning castle complex
Cesky Krumlov is home to the second largest castle complex in Czech Republic. Perched on a rocky ridge, the castle overlooks the huddle of medieval houses on the other side of the Vltava River. The castle dates back to the 13th century and features a mix of architectural styles. In 1992, Cesky Krumlov Castle became listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle complex houses several buildings and palaces, so you will spend at least an hour exploring the site. One of the most significant buildings within the complex is the Baroque Chateau Theatre, which is among the best-preserved theatres of its kind in the world. Another must-see is the Golden Carriage in Eggenberg Hall.
3. Absorb the panoramic views from the painted tower
The painted round tower of the castle is the Cesky Krumlov’s main landmark. The oldest part of the tower dates back to the 13th century, but its facade was embellished with figures and paintings in the late 16th century. Besides boasting a beautifully decorated facade, the tower also offers staggering views of the town and its lush green surroundings.
You’ll need to climb over 150 steps to get to the top, but the views are worth the effort. There is an admission fee of Kc 50 to go up the tower (or Kc 130 if you also want to visit the castle museum)
4. Admire the majestic Cloak Bridge
The three-storey Cloak Bridge is one of the town’s architectural pearls. Works on the bridge started in 1686 and were completed in 1765. The lower storey connects the Masquerade Hall with the Castle Theatre, while the upper storey leads to the historic Castle Gardens.
You can take in the beauty of Cloak Bridge from the small bridge that connects the Old Town to the castle complex over the river. Also, make sure you walk over Cloak Bridge for more staggering views of the town and the painted tower.
5. Go for a stroll through the Castle Gardens
The Baroque Castle Gardens feature various architectural remnants of the Rococo period, which include the Summer House Bellarie and its open-air revolving auditorium, the beautiful Cascade Fountain and the Riding School.
You don’t really need a map to explore the gardens – just enjoy the walk and the surprises awaiting you at the next corner. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few red squirrels in the garden.
6. Walk along the river – or go rafting!
You don’t need to spend money to enjoy beautiful views of Cesky Krumlov (although I still recommend going up the castle tower). Take a walk along the river promenade, or if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, consider booking a rafting trip.
Water sports are very popular in Czech Republic, and there are various companies in Cesky Krumlov that offer raft, kayak and canoe rental services. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before – the river is very calm and the weirs are gentle.
7. Explore the streets of the Old Town
Lining the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town are the richly-decorated facades of stone townhouses. Some of these buildings have been converted into artisan shops, cosy inns and boutique guesthouses.
If you would like to get immersed in the history of Cesky Krumlov, it is worth booking a walking tour with a local guide. Despite being a small town, Cesky Krumlov is packed with history and architectural gems, thus it might be better to hire a guide if you’ve only got a day to see the town.
Walking through the streets of Cesky Krumlov at night is an equally magical experience – make sure you get the see the castle all lit up.
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