As far as compact and charming towns in the Czech Republic go, Cesky Krumlov is one of the most compact and the most charming. It’s based in the southwestern corner of the country in the South Bohemian region close to the borders of Austria and Germany.
It’s just close enough to Prague for most people to only consider visiting Cesky Krumlov on shorter day trips.
With a population of only 13,000, you might think that there aren’t a lot of things to do in Cesky Krumlov to warrant staying more than a few hours. In reality, there are a lot of things to see in Cesky Krumlov once you learn more about the place!
For starters, the historic centre of Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town includes the castle, museums, churches, and other buildings of historical and architectural value.
The scenery just outside of Cesky Krumlov offers lots of opportunities for hikes and outdoor pursuits in the summer months. In the winter months, there are Christmas markets and lots of indoor Cesky Krumlov attractions to keep you busy.
It’s an incredibly picturesque, fairytale town no matter when you visit and whether you stay for one day or one weekend, there are plenty of things to do.
This guide will show you exactly what to do in Cesky Krumlov for all types of travellers year-round to convince you why you should include Cesky Krumlov in your Czech Republic travel plans. If a lot of the attractions on this list appeal to you, it might even be worth investing in the Cesky Krumlov card for discounted and free entrance.
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Things To Do in Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov Castle and Chateau
Without a doubt, one of the top things to do in Cesky Krumlov is to visit the State Castle and Chateau of Cesky Krumlov.
It’s an entire complex which includes a castle, manicured gardens and sculptures, the Cesky Krumlov Castle tower, a bridge, stables, and a theatre. More on the bridge and theatre soon!
This castle complex is a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque buildings dating back to 1240 when it was built by the wealthy Vítkovci family.
This UNESCO-certified castle is so popular that it is the most-visited castle in the Czech Republic after Prague Castle.
And it’s not just the exteriors that resemble a Disney fairytale castle. Inside, you’ll find period interiors and extensive art collections too.
Museum Fotoatelier Seidel
Slightly south of the Old Town, near the city park, is where you’ll find Museum Fotoatelier Seidel. This building might seem unremarkable from the outside, but inside is a restored 19th-century home of a photographer with authentic furniture and decor.
Many of the photographer’s photos are also on display so you can get a clear idea of what life would have been like in Cesky Krumlov during the 1800s.
Church of St. Vitus
If you take a walking tour of Cesky Krumlov or walk around the town for at least five minutes, you’ll discover the Church of St. Vitus. It’s the city’s most prominent, historic Roman Catholic church and one of the top places to visit in Cesky Krumlov.
It was built between 1407 and 1438 in the late Gothic architectural style but has undergone many modifications and renovations since so it’s now a beautiful mix of several styles. In 1995, it was declared a National Cultural Monument to the Czech Republic.
Inside, you’ll find stunning frescoes painted on the walls, ornate sculptures, and brighter colours than you find inside most Gothic churches.
It really is a unique place of worship and worth going inside rather than just spotting it from the city’s skyline.
Cloak Bridge is part of the State Castle and Chateau Complex of Cesky Krumlov, but it’s one of the most interesting parts of the complex. It towers three stories above a deep gorge connecting two castle courtyards together.
The massive stone pillars that sprout deep into this gorge were a technically difficult feat of engineering at the time it was built in 1767.
Whilst the lower part resembles a Roman aqueduct, the top floors are galleries with impressive sculptures. You can walk over the bridge for free and you should because the views from the top alone are worth it.
Another part of the castle complex worth highlighting is the Castle Theatre. It’s a preserved baroque building and is a rare example of a self-standing theatre from 1682 when it was built by the Czech aristocrat Johann Kristián von Eggenberg. Josef Adam von Schwarzenberg restored it in 1766 and it looks much the same today as it did then.
Take a tour around the castle and imagine all the performances that might’ve taken place there. Puppets and marionettes are a historical Czech performance art, so these types of shows might have been popular in the Castle Theatre too!
Egon Schiele Art Centrum
Love visiting art museums when exploring small European cities? You need to check out the Egon Schiele Art Centrum in Cesky Krumlov. It’s housed in a 16th-century former brewery so not only does it display beautiful and historic art, but you can also explore a beautiful and historic building!
This museum is dedicated to the Austrian painter it’s named after and there is also an onsite shop and cafe.
Monastery of the Minorities
There are several Cesky Krumlov monasteries or former monasteries, at least, that are now museums, and one of the best to visit is the Monastery of the Minorities.
This complex dates back to the 14th century when it was home to many Catholic monks. Today, you can take guided tours of the monastery where you’ll find lots of cool artwork and religious workshops.
Some of the other monasteries nearby that you might want to check out include the Kláštery Český Krumlov and the Kostel Božího těla catholic church.
Many of the nearby monasteries were transformed into restaurants and hotels. So, if you’re looking around the area and think every building looks like an ornate, beautiful church then that’s probably the case.
Like most European cities during the festive season, Cesky Krumlov hosts its own Christmas markets during the lead-up to Christmas day in November and December. It’s by far one of the top things to do in Cesky Krumlov winter! You’ll find them in the Old Town near the castle.
Whilst they are a little more modest than the markets you’ll find in Prague, that’s the charm. You’ll still find all the festive sweet treats, bratwurst, and spiced wines that you’ll find in any other Christmas market in Europe.
Plus, Cesky Krumlov is such a fairytale-looking town that visiting the Christmas markets here will be much more magical and enchanting than in a big city like Prague.
Regional Museum in the Czech Krumlov
One of the best things about travelling is being able to see what a place is like in the present day but also learn about what life was like there in the past.
The Regional Museum in the Czech Krumlov is housed in a former school, a relatively modern building by Cesky Krumlov standards, and has displays, collections and exhibits on regional and local history.
Graphite Mine Tour
Just outside of Cesky Krumlov is a former graphite mine which opened in 1975. It’s no longer a working mine, but it is open for tourists to explore.
The entire tour is 2 km long but you cover 1200m by riding on a mine train before tackling the remaining 80 m on foot.
The tour is only an hour long but a lot of interesting facts and exploring are packed into that time. This is a great activity if you’re on vacation with older kids who are getting bored of looking at art and old buildings.
Zapa Cocktail Bar
If you’re not travelling with children then you should check out the Zapa Cocktail Bar! Located in the beautiful Latrán neighbourhood, this is an underground bar that looks like it was built in a stone bunker but that just makes it feel cosier.
They serve incredibly delicious craft cocktails including the classics as well as twists on local Czech favourites.
Historical Rafting Tour of the Vltava River
The Vltava River cuts right through the centre of Cesky Krumlov in a horseshoe shape which only makes the city look more charming.
One fun thing to do in Cesky Krumlov would be to take a boating tour up the river so you can see the town from a different perspective.
You don’t have to book any old boat tour as you can take a historical rafting tour of the Vltava River.
Guides in period clothing will help you onto an old raft which will help you visualise exactly what Cesky Krumlov would have been like 20 years prior. It’s a bit of fun and a great way to liven up a boat tour for children!
Latrán is a neighbourhood in Cesky Krumlov’s Old Town where you’ll find a lot of the top bars and restaurants.
This is because the bars and restaurants want to be located in the most beautiful part of the city where all the tourists want to walk and explore, and you should too!
These multicoloured pastel buildings line up against a pedestrianised cobbled street and there is no better way to spend your time than by walking up and down and getting lost in these streets.
You can’t really stay lost for very long as Cesky Krumlov isn’t big enough so all the more reason to take the time to relax in this neighbourhood.
Via Ferrata Havranka High Wire
Cesky Krumlov is surrounded by lush green countryside and is a great place for outdoor activities like hiking.
One of the cool activities that the whole family can enjoy just outside of Cesky Krumlov is climbing the Via Ferrata Havranka high wire. It’s a series of cables (one to stand on, several to hold!) just above a rocky ridge.
It’s not too high nor too scary as young kids should be able to complete this challenge with no problems. Plus, you’ll get fantastic views of the town from this hill!
Cesky Krumlov has lots of beautiful parks but the biggest and best has to be Zamecky Park. It’s a large, baroque park right next to the castle with fountains, flower beds, pavilions, amphitheatres, and so much more to see.
You can even pop into the castle’s old riding hall from the park. Of course, you can also just sit on the grass or on a bench and relax here for a while too!
Day Trip to Mauthausen Memorial
Cesky Krumlov is a small town so you might want to take a day trip to mix things up. One option for a day trip from Cesky Krumlov is to visit the Mauthausen Memorial.
This site is a former Nazi concentration camp located around one-hour south of Cesky Krumlov in Austria.
It’s an extremely poignant, heartbreaking place and not to be visited lightly but it is important to learn more about the darker parts of history too.
Day Trip to Telc
Another option for a day trip from Cesky Krumlov is the Czech town of Telc. It’s approximately 100 km northeast of Cesky Krumlov which takes less than two hours to drive.
Telc is around the same size as Cesky Krumlov and is famous for its Italian Renaissance architecture, water features, and manicured lawns.
You have to try some traditional and authentic South Bohemian and Czech cuisine while you are in Cesky Krumlov! Restaurant Jelenka is the best choice.
It’s right by the castle and has a great open outdoor terrace where you can sit in the summer months. They serve hearty meat dishes alongside more standard western fare so it can cater to all appetites and palettes.
Fountain and Plague Column
Last but not least, you need to check out the fountain and column dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Plague in the centre of the main square of Cesky Krumlov.
It’s an interesting statue as well as a beautiful square so it’s a can’t-miss thing to do in Cesky Krumlov.
Recommended tours in Cesky Krumlov
- Český Krumlov Free Tour
- Best of Cesky Krumlov Old Town and Castle Exteriors
- One day trips in the surroundings of Cesky Krumlov
- Private Night tour of Český Krumlov
- Walking private guided tour in Cesky Krumlov with local certified guide
- Daily Door to door Shared Shuttle bus from Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg
- Private Day Trip to Mauthausen concentration camp from Cesky Krumlov
- Private one way transfer from Cesky Krumlov to Hallstatt