I was hosted by Cesky Krumlov Region. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I’m a firm believer that the world’s most popular places shouldn’t be overlooked (they’re popular for a reason, right?). Cesky Krumlov, one of the most popular places to visit in the Czech Republic after Prague, is one such place. From wandering through this medieval town’s winding meanders, to sampling delicious food and beer, there are so many things to do in Cesky Krumlov.
I’ve been to the Czech Republic twice (in fact, I recently spent a month in Prague!), but it wasn’t until recently that I got to visit Cesky Krumlov. This small South Bohemian town is so popular, so renowned for its well-preserved architecture and beauty, that it’s earned a place among the ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Because of this, the town is a pretty typical day trip from Prague and Vienna.
Weirdly (and amazingly), I visited Cesky Krumlov in 2021, just as the world was starting to reopen to international travel. So, I ended up practically having this famous Czech town to myself, which was such a surreal experience! I was able to see and do so much thanks to the minimal crowds.
If you only have one day in Cesky Krumlov, I’ve shared highlights below that you can’t miss. But, I highly, highly recommend using the info in this article to spend a whole weekend in this town, so you can soak up the spectacular sights and romantic, charming ambiance at a more relaxed pace. Plus, many of the day trip crowds disappear at sundown, meaning you get an entirely different experience with Cesky Krumlov at night!
In this guide, I’m sharing all my favorite things to do in Cesky Krumlov, plus other practical information on how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat. Read on!
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Your Year-Round Guide to Cesky Krumlov (1 and 2-Day Itineraries Below!)
You might start to hear this a lot, but that’s because it’s true – Cesky Krumlov feels like a fairytale town. In fact, it’s even been used as the setting for magical and fantastical films like The Illusionist.
Cesky Krumlov has remained largely unchanged since the 14th century, and is best known today for its pink Disney-esque castle, its cobblestoned streets, its preserved buildings and facades, and the meandering Vltava River that snakes through and carves the town into 3 distinct sections.
Things To Do in Cesky Krumlov Year-Round:
1. Wander the Cesky Krumlov Castle
The most iconic feature of Cesky Krumlov, the Cesky Krumlov Castle, is an unmissable sight to see. This pinkish, reddish, yellowish castle is the second-largest castle complex in the entire country, and features a total of 40 structures and 5 courtyards designed in a Renaissance and Baroque style. It sits on top of a rocky promontory overlooking the town, making it a focal point and central heartbeat of Cesky Krumlov.
It is free to enter the castle complex and wander from courtyard to courtyard. When you do, look around at the elaborate designs on the walls. One thing that stands out to me about Czech historic buildings, and that I found a bit funny to be honest, are the ‘reinforced brick’-like patterns that line the walls. It’s almost as if laying actual brick was too much (and perhaps not as beautiful) for Renaissance taste. But, they’re very eye-catching! See here:
Be sure to also try and catch a glimpse of the bears (yes, real bears) that live in the castle moats below the entrance. Whether you agree with these royal bears living here or not, know that bear-keeping has been a tradition of the castle since 1707. My best vantage point was from the stairs climbing the Castle Tower, as the bears were napping under the bridge.
2. Climb Up the Castle Tower
The Castle Tower is one of the top things to do at the Cesky Krumlov Castle, because it provides you with 360-degree views of the town. This tower is an undeniable symbol of Cesky Krumlov, and shouldn’t be missed!
Like a layered cake, the tower was built in distinct sections or “tiers.” The bottom section dates back to the 13th century, the layer above was added 100 years later, and the top was completed around the late 1500s.
While I’ve heard this tower can get pretty crowded, we had it all to ourselves. The astounding views of Cesky Krumlov and the Vltava River winding through blew me away and made me forget, for a moment, that I am living in the 21st century.
You can enter for free with a Cesky Krumlov Card (more on that later), or for 50 crowns otherwise.
3. See the Views from the Cloak Bridge
Another distinctive feature of the Cesky Krumlov Castle is the Cloak Bridge. It has a great view of the town, and is a good alternative if you don’t want to pay for the Castle Tower.
This three-story arched bridge connects the 4th and 5th courtyards of the castle and is best enjoyed both on the bridge itself, and when standing at the foot of the castle looking up.
4. Get Lost in the UNESCO Heritage Historic Town Center
The castle isn’t the only remarkable thing to do in Cesky Krumlov. The entire historic center of the town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This incredible example of a small medieval town preserves what life was like, in many ways, several centuries ago in central Europe. From the Renaissance and Baroque facades of the buildings, to less visible details like the layout of the streets in relation to the castle, all are more or less original.
Cesky Krumlov’s historic center is divided into three meanders, or areas bisected by the winding Vltava River. The first and second meanders closest to the castle are usually the more popular to explore, while the third is more quiet with a bit less to see but equally as charming.
Don’t miss the main town square, Svornosti Square, another well-preserved medieval landmark with Gothic roots and historic symbols throughout.
5. Go Inside the Church of St. Vitus
You’ll notice the impressive Church of St. Vitus, located on the second meander of Cesky Krumlov, hovering ever so slightly above the town center. This beautiful masterpiece of a church dates back to the 1400s and has distinctively tall arched windows on either side. More pink and blue details can also be found here on the church tower!
I tried to go in during my visit, but there was a ceremony happening inside at the time. When you visit, definitely go inside if you have the chance!
6. Get Your Portrait Taken at Museum Fotoatelier Seidel
In the quieter, third meander, you’ll find the house-turned-museum of Fotoatelier Seidel. This 19th-century house was Josef Seidel and son Frantisek’s photo studio, and features original home decor and photo equipment from the period (such as the original dark room, and the thousands of glass plates they used to store their negatives). What makes Josef and Frantisek so remarkable is that they would take pictures of the Southern Bohemia region and its people as they were, back in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By doing so, they created the first real chronicle of small town life in the area for Czechs, Austrians, and Germans.
You can tour the house, the photo studio, and even watch a quick movie explaining what you’ll find.
But, one of the coolest things you can do at Fotoatelier Seidel is to have your very own old-timey portrait taken! Dress in 100 year-old Czech outfits and props of the time, and have a photoshoot in Seidel’s very studio. It makes for a unique souvenir from your time in Cesky Krumlov!
I learned this is a pretty popular thing to do in Cesky Krumlov (we almost weren’t able to get an appointment!). Definitely book ahead by either emailing [email protected] or calling +420 736 503 871.
7. Tour the Egon Schiele Art Centrum
Born in 1890 in Vienna, Egon Schiele was a perplexing, remarkable artist famous for his distorted, sometimes erotic, expressionist portraits, and perhaps equally famous for his alternative, bohemian lifestyle.
His mom was from Cesky Krumlov, and he spent 10 years of his life in this town. Here, he created a series of aerial-perspective paintings depicting the town, which he titled “Dead City.” Today, these paintings are celebrated, but in fact, Schiele’s lifestyle choices back in the early 1900s (erotic paintings, constant visits from female models and muses) was ultimately too much for this small town, and they kicked him out!
You can see Egon Schiele’s works – from the erotic portraits, to the paintings depicting distorted anguish, to the snapshots of Cesky Krumlov – at the Egon Schiele Art Centrum. This museum also features rotating exhibits of other artists, so you can easily spend an hour or more here.
8. Attend the Workshops and Exhibits at Minorite Monastery
Not far from the lower entrance to the castle, you’ll find a 14th-century monastery complex that’s open to visitors. The Minorite Monastery has onsite accommodations, a bakery, and rotating exhibits, workshops, and events. This is actually where I stayed when I visited Cesky Krumlov, and it’s so central to all of the most amazing sights in the town.
During my visit, there was an incredible exhibit on the illustrations of Czech artist Jindra Čapek. He has illustrated fairytales worldwide throughout his career, and his illustrations as well as his creative process were on display at the monastery complex. We even got to meet Jindra Čapek himself!
While that exhibit is sadly over, I recommend checking out the monastery during your one or two day visit to Cesky Krumlov to see what other programs they have on their calendar!
9. Learn About (and Shop For) Czech Toys and Puppets
Two popular souvenirs to find in the Czech Republic are wooden toys and puppets, and there’s no better place to shop for them than Cesky Krumlov. Czech toymakers have been fashioning handmade wooden toys for centuries, and the designs haven’t really changed much over time (why ruin a good thing?).
I recommend popping into the small but cool Puppet Museum in Cesky Krumlov if you’re interested. Otherwise, look around for wooden toy shops and souvenir shops as you wander around town. They make great gifts and souvenirs!
10. Listen To Gypsy Music at the Gypsy Hole
For such a small town, you might be wondering – what is there to do in Cesky Krumlov at night?
On my first night in Cesky Krumlov, my local friends led us to a small, unassuming hole-in-the-wall called Cikanska Jizba (also known as Gypsy Hole or Gypsy Bar). Here, we found a family-run operation well-known for its live gypsy music on weekend evenings. They also serve food and drinks, but the real star of the show here is the band. If you’ve never heard gypsy music – and I’m guessing most haven’t – you’re in for a treat. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced!
Thanks to the informal vibe of this place, it feels like you might’ve wandered into a dress rehearsal, rather than a real performance. The band may riff off each other for several songs, before beginning to battle instruments, often stopping altogether to take shots and converse with other locals. The whole thing was spectacularly dizzying, and I couldn’t stop smiling.
One thing you might notice is that the owner is renowned for being a bit grumpy, especially with new visitors who don’t yet understand how he runs his bar. As this place can get crowded on weekends for the music, plan to have 50 crowns per person on you just in case he decides to charge a cover. Be polite and you’ll have a great time.
11. Have Breakfast in a Synagogue
You should absolutely make the effort to stop in at Cafe Synagoga at least one morning during your visit.
Why? Three words: raspberry mascarpone croissants.
These beautiful and ridiculously delicious pink-striped croissants sell out quick, so it’s highly recommend you come in early when they open to get first dips. Otherwise, they have croissant breakfast sandwiches, chocolate croissants, and all kinds of other delicious-looking pastries.
12. Take a Stroll Along the Vltava River
The Vltava River is a key feature of Cesky Krumlov, and it snakes through the town in dramatic, sweeping bends. No matter what time of year it is, you can walk along the river and enjoy the scenery of the town at a slower, more relaxed pace.
The riverbank here is romantic and peaceful (it’s where our Czech friends got engaged!), but it also has some quirks to it, like this bizarre foot bench. It makes for a fun photo opp, as you can see here:
13. Admire Cesky Krumlov At Night
After night falls, make your way up the Cesky Krumlov Castle to the Cloak Bridge. At dark, Cesky Krumlov provides some spectacular nighttime photography opportunities, if you’re into that!
Otherwise, I still recommend retracing your steps and wandering around town if you find yourself lucky enough to be in Cesky Krumlov after dark. With the day-visit crowds gone, you truly get the town to yourself.
Things to Do in Cesky Krumlov in the Winter:
While Cesky Krumlov is a great place to visit year-round, I visited in December, so I’m biased. Winter is a fantastic time to explore this medieval town! I did every single thing on the list above in the middle of winter, made even more beautiful by freshly fallen snow! Really, doesn’t snowfall make everything more dreamy?
The best thing to do in Cesky Krumlov in the winter is the Cesky Krumlov Christmas market. But, sadly, when I visited, the market was canceled due to the pandemic. So, while I didn’t get to enjoy this myself just yet, I’ve been told the Christmas markets here are amazing. Food stalls, piping hot mulled wine, endless Czech souvenirs, and the occasional live music situation make for a perfect Czech Christmas market, and you’ll find all that and more here.
Beyond the Christmas market, Cesky Krumlov casts a completely different ambiance in the wintertime. Restaurants look cozier, doors and windows are decorated with wreaths, and fresh snowfall encapsulates you as if you were walking through a snow globe. Chilly weather aside, it really is quite magical. I’ve also heard New Year in Cesky Krumlov is an amazing thing to experience. Seeing fireworks light up the town from above must be insane!
Things to Do in Cesky Krumlov in the Summer:
Photo Credit: Cesky Krumlov Official
While I didn’t visit Cesky Krumlov in the summer (yet), I can’t tell you how many locals said “you gotta come back here in the summertime.”
Apparently, summer in Cesky Krumlov, along with the rest of the country, is a total vibe. The small-ish window of warm weather brings Czechs and visitors alike outdoors to enjoy the sunshine, and there’s no better setting than this beautiful little town.
One great thing that can only really be done in the summer is floating down the Vltava River. For an active experience, you can canoe, kayak, or raft down the river as it winds through the town. Or, for something more chill, take a boat tour to sit back and enjoy the scenery. See all water activities in Cesky Krumlov using this link!
The warmer months are also the best time to stroll the Cesky Krumlov Castle gardens, which are sadly closed in the winter and covered in snow anyway, so you can’t really see much.
One-Day Cesky Krumlov From Prague Itinerary
By this point, I hope my article has convinced you to devote more than one day to Cesky Krumlov! But, if you reeeally only have one day to spare, here’s how I recommend you do it:
- Visit the Cesky Krumlov Castle first thing in the morning, and climb up the Castle Tower to beat the crowds
- Have breakfast at Cafe Synagoga, Kollectiv, or Masna 130
- Wander around town, being sure not to miss Svornosti Square and the Church of St. Vitus
- Spend the afternoon at the Egon Schiele Art Centrum or the Monastery
- Grab a beer to cap off your day at Eggenberg Brewery, Depo, or Svejk
Alternative Option: If you don’t want to drive or take the train for only one day, you can book a full-day tour of Cesky Krumlov with transportation included using this link.
Two-Day Cesky Krumlov From Prague Itinerary
With two days or a full weekend (from Friday to Sunday) in Cesky Krumlov, you can do pretty much everything on my list above, and still have time for extra wandering, drinks, and souvenir shopping. Here’s how I recommend spending two days in Cesky Krumlov:
- Visit the Cesky Krumlov Castle first thing in the morning, and climb up the Castle Tower to beat the crowds
- Have breakfast at Cafe Synagoga
- Go to the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel and have your portrait taken
- Enjoy a classic Czech meal at Svejk
- Grab a beer and enjoy the live music at Gypsy Hole
- Wrap up your night with a cocktail at Apotheka
- Wake up early to stroll the Vltava River and the town center before the rest of the world is awake, being sure not to miss Svornosti Square and the Church of St. Vitus
- Head to Kollectiv or Masna 130 for coffee and a delicious breakfast
- Spend some time at the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, the Monastery, or both
- Go souvenir shopping or, if it’s summer, float down the Vltava River in a boat, kayak, canoe, or raft
Cesky Krumlov Card
If you’re planning to explore all of the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov, a Cesky Krumlov Card might be worth getting. This card provides you entrance to five museums / attractions throughout Cesky Krumlov, including:
- Egon Schiele Art Centrum
- Cesky Krumlov Monasteries
- Castle Museum and Castle Tower
- Museum Fotoatelier Seidel
- Regional Museum Cesky Krumlov
You can purchase this card at either the Tourist Information Center in town, or at any of the museum listed above, for 400 crowns per person. Alternatively, if you’re traveling as a family, you can get a family card for 800 crowns. The card can only be used at each museum / attraction once, but it is supposed to save you 50% on admission price!
Where to Stay in Cesky Krumlov
For those spending a night, or two, or more, you might be wondering where to stay in Cesky Krumlov. I’ve only stayed in the monastery, but I have heard good things about these Cesky Krumlov hotels as well!
- Cesky Krumlov Minorite Monastery (where I stayed)
- Monastery Garden Bistro and Rooms
- Pension Kristian
- Hotel Villa Beatika
- Ultra Premium Apartments
- Pension Alt Straninger
- Latron 98
- Villa Harmony
Where to Eat and Drink in Cesky Krumlov
I mentioned some of the best places to eat in Cesky Krumlov throughout this guide, but if you scrolled right down to this, here’s a full list of some of my favorite spots that I got to experience while I was in town.
- For Breakfast / Lunch:
- For Dinner / Drinks:
Cesky Krumlov FAQ: Tips to Know Before You Go
How Do You Get to Cesky Krumlov from Prague?
There are four main ways to get to Cesky Krumlov from Prague.
- Prague to Cesky Krumlov by Car: Renting a car is going to be the quickest way to get from Prague to Cesky Krumlov. The distance between Prague and Cesky Krumlov is 108 miles, and will take you about two hours to drive. Look at car rentals in Prague using this link.
- Prague to Cesky Krumlov by Bus: Taking the bus from Prague to Cesky Krumlov is going to be the cheapest way to get from point A to point B, and should cost you between $6 and $15 USD one way. Check Regiojet and Flixbus to compare rates and times.
- Prague to Cesky Krumlov by Train: Taking the train is another convenient way to get from Prague to Cesky Krumlov, and takes the same amount of time as the bus, more or less. Use Czech Railways to see time slots and prices.
- Prague to Cesky Krumlov Tour: Booking a day tour is an easy way to visit Cesky Krumlov from Prague without having to drive. I’ve heard good things about this one-day tour, though I haven’t done it myself!
Traveling from Vienna instead? Renting a car or taking the bus is going to be the easiest way to get you from one place to the next.
- Vienna to Cesky Krumlov by Car: Renting a car and self-driving will take you about 2.5 – 3 hours from Vienna to Cesky Krumlov, covering a distance of 128 miles. Look at car rentals in Vienna using this link.
- Vienna to Cesky Krumlov by Bus: Taking the bus will take a bit more time (about an hour longer) than self-driving, and will cost you around $30 USD. Check Flixbus to see times and rates.
How Many Days Do You Need in Cesky Krumlov?
You need at least one full day to see the highlights of Cesky Krumlov. But, I highly recommend spending two days or longer if you have the time to spare. By staying overnight, you get to explore beyond the day-tripping crowds.
I visited Cesky Krumlov from a Friday afternoon to a Monday morning and found it to be the perfect amount of time to really take in all the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov, relax in coffee shops and pubs, and return to places I liked without feeling rushed.
What is the Weather Like in Cesky Krumlov?
Though there is no bad time to visit Cesky Krumlov, the Czech Republic has four seasons, and it may help you determine when will be best for you to go. The warm season is from May to September, and the cold season is from November to March.
If you’re looking for the most things to do in Cesky Krumlov, I recommend going in Spring or Summer. If you’re interested in the Christmas markets, going during the winter (between November and January) will be your best bet! However in general, the best way to avoid crowds will always be to visit Cesky Krumlov in the shoulder seasons between summer and winter. So October / November, and February / March will likely give you more opportunities to stretch out and explore.
What are you most excited to see or do in Cesky Krumlov, and what season will you be going? Tell me in the comments!
Book Tours In And Around Cesky Krumlov:
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