Although Cesky Krumlov has a population of only 13,000 people, the tiny city is full of charm and character. This medieval beauty is hidden in the south of Bohemia in the Czech Republic, right by the Vltava River.
It’s this scenic location, combined with cobblestone streets and magnificent architecture, that makes Cesky Krumlov a fairytale destination that you’ll instantly fall in love with.
Since 1992, the historic old town of Cesky Krumlov has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While many Central European towns suffered damage during the wars, the central buildings of Cesky Krumlov have peacefully thrived and remained intact throughout the centuries.
If you’re unsure about what there is to do in Cesky Krumlov, you’re not alone. In fact, this may even be the first time you’re hearing about this part of the world. Follow along this ultimate travel guide to find out what there is to see, do, experience and taste in this Bohemian gem.
This ultimate travel guide to Cesky Krumlov will show you all the most beautiful places in Cesky Krumlov, what to expect when visiting, where to stay in Cesky Krumlov and things to do in Cesky Krumlov which will help you in planning a trip to Cesky Krumlov.
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How to get to Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov doesn’t have a nearby airport, but if you’re coming from Prague, it’s easy and simple to get there. The two cities are 180 kilometres apart and are connected via frequent buses and trains.
RegioJet is a popular choice, as it takes under three hours and costs only 195 CZK. The buses are clean and comfortable, with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. FlixBus is a good option as well, although the journey takes half an hour longer than RegioJet.
Trains also take about three hours and allow you to see more of the stunning Bohemian countryside. A train trip costs a little bit extra than a bus, though you will have more space.
If you have a valid EU or international driving license, renting a car is also an option. That being said, this is significantly more expensive and not much quicker, so it’s not really worth it.
What to expect in Cesky Krumlov
The local language in Cesky Krumlov is Czech. Funnily enough, the word Cesky actually means Czech. German is a popular foreign language spoken by residents as well. You will not have a problem getting by if you only know English, as there are many English-speaking guides and the younger population is likely to be fluent.
You will notice that despite being a member of the European Union, the currency used throughout the Czech Republic is not the euro. The Czech koruna, or CZK, is used instead. At the moment, one euro equals just over 25 CZK.
At touristy restaurants throughout the city, foreigners are expected to leave a 10 per cent tip. While it is not a part of the local culture to tip, you should at least round up the bill to the nearest 10 CZK anywhere you go.
How to get around Cesky Krumlov
Fortunately, Cesky Krumlov is very walkable. It typically won’t take you more than 15 minutes to get from one place to the other. So, all you need to get around the city are your own two feet. No cars are allowed within the historic centre, so walking is really your only option!
The main train station is about one and a half kilometres from the heart of Cesky Krumlov. While walking from here is doable, you may prefer to call a taxi to reach your accommodation. OK Taxi is the most reliable and professional taxi service in town. There’s also a local bus you can take that will drop you off right outside the old town.
The best time to visit Cesky Krumlov
There’s no such thing as a bad time to visit Cesky Krumlov, as the city remains scenic and enjoyable year-round. A Cesky Krumlov summer is warm but not too hot, while the winters are picturesque and fairly mild.
The annual international music festival held in July contributes to Cesky Krumlov’s summertime appeal. As the small city continues to grow in popularity with tourists, it may start to become overcrowded during June and July.
That being said, larger cities like Prague will be far more packed with tourists, so Cesky Krumlov will still feel like a peaceful escape!
In the wintertime, however, you won’t run into many fellow tourists at all. There’s a charming Christmas Market held in December that feels truly special and intimate. If you’re not a fan of the cold whatsoever but still want a laid-back holiday, consider visiting in autumn or spring instead.
Things to do in Cesky Krumlov
The Cesky Krumlov Card provides entrance to five museums. At a cost of 300 CZK per adult (or 150 CZK concession), you can save 50% off the total admission costs at each attraction. Travelling with your family?
There’s a joint family card for 600 CZK as well. The card can be used at the Castle Museum, the Cesky Krumlov Regional Museum, the Egon Schiele Art Centrum, the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel, and the Cesky Krumlov Monasteries.
If you plan on visiting all of these attractions, you should definitely purchase a Cesky Krumlov Card. They can be purchased from the Tourist Information Centre or at any of the museums. Another great benefit is that the cards are valid for 12 months, so there’s no need to rush around and see everything in one day!
Here is everything you need to know about the five museums:
The State Castle of Cesky Krumlov
The Cesky Krumlov Castle is one of Central Europe’s most important castles. Built by the Witigonen family in 1240, it is listed as a national heritage site for its cultural and architectural significance. Due to its remote and almost hidden location within southern Bohemia, its original layout and structure have remained well preserved.
The interior details and styles include elements from the 14th to the 19th century. Baroque and Renaissance are two of the most notable styles. However, as the castle was continually expanded upon for hundreds of years, the architectural mix is one-of-a-kind.
While you’re there, you can spot the impressive cascade fountain, wander the Rococo garden, and try not to get lost in the labyrinth of cellars.
The castle is currently home to the stunning Cesky Krumlov Baroque Theatre, where numerous cultural events are held throughout the year.
The Seidel Photographic Studio Museum
One of the most unique and fascinating things to do in the city is to stop by the Museum Fotoatelier Seidel.
This photography studio belonging to Josef Seidel and his son Frantisek has become a museum open to the public. Some of the most moving images on display are from daily life in surrounding villages during the early to mid-20th century.
For those particularly interested in the printing and historical aspects of photography, there are functioning cameras, glass-plate negatives, and well-preserved darkroom equipment. English-language tours are available during the peak travel season in the summer.
The Regional Museum
The incredible regional museum in Cesky Krumlov is a small yet extensive look at the city’s history. In fact, there are over 22,000 items and 5,000 historical books.
A highlight is the unique ceramic model of Cesky Krumlov’s historic old town. It includes over 800 structures, including the old fortified walls and gates that protected the city during the 1800s.
Also on display are Bohemian antiques and furnishings, and some interesting folk art from the Sumava National Park region.
Keep in mind that this museum closes for a half-hour lunch at midday, so schedule your visit for the early morning or afternoon.
The Egon Schiele Art Centrum
The Art Centrum houses a permanent exhibition of the works of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, whose mother was born in Cesky Krumlov. Many of Schiele’s graphic figurative drawings were considered controversial in the early 1900s.
In addition to Schiele, there are usually three other exhibitions showcasing contemporary Central European artists. In 2019, you can see works by Karel Valter and Katerina Seda, who were both born in the Czech Republic, as well as Argentinian-Czech artist Federico Diaz.
While here, you can stop by the beautiful outdoor courtyard cafe. There’s also a gift shop if you’d like to purchase posters, art postcards or souvenirs to take home with you.
The Cesky Krumlov Monasteries
The monastery area in Cesky Krumlov is a pleasant spot to wander around. Founded in 1350 as a monastery of Minorites and Clares, this complex was used for various religious purposes until 1950. It is a gorgeous place to discover how people lived throughout the centuries.
Learn about the lives of Poor Clare nuns with medieval exhibitions inside their former cells, and get to know more about the Minorite Order and the history of the monastery’s construction.
You can even take a fascinating look inside an alchemist’s kitchen from the Middle Ages. Don’t forget to head up to the eerie attic too, where you’ll find a camera obscura.
The interactive elements make the monastery a must-visit attraction when in Cesky Krumlov. There are various activities on offer, including herbal and soap-making workshops. In the scriptorium, you can try to write with an old-fashioned quill.
What to eat in Cesky Krumlov
Interested to find out what the residents of Cesky Krumlov typically eat? Trying out the local cuisine is one of the best parts of travelling, as it ensures your experience in a new place is truly authentic.
Czech food consists of a lot of meat, so vegetarians will discover that their meal options are limited in this small city. Meat lovers, on the other hand, will find it a culinary paradise!
Here are some of the best foods to sample while visiting Cesky Krumlov:
- Gulas (goulash): A hearty stew typically made with pork or beef and onions. It’s simple, cheap and traditional. If you’re in Cesky Krumlov during the wintertime, this will quickly become one of your go-to meals.
- Knedliky: Boiled dumplings made from flour, yeast, milk, egg and salt. Knedliky is usually served as a side dish, particularly with goulash.
- Vepro knedlo zelo: Roast pork and gravy served with fermented cabbage and knedliky. It is easily one of the most popular dishes in the country.
- Cesnecka: A garlic soup with croutons and raw eggs. This dish can be meat-free, although sausage or bacon is sometimes added, so check before ordering.
- Svickova na smetane: A braised beef sirloin steak marinated with various vegetables and spices, then covered in a thick sauce. It is commonly served with cream and cranberry sauce.
- Chlebicky: A lighter lunchtime dish, this open-faced sandwich is topped with various sliced meats as well as pickles, cucumber, eggs and herbs.
- Palacinky: A Czech mix between pancakes and crepes, rolled up and served with fruit, cream or nuts. The ideal breakfast treat! Savoury palacinky filled with meat, cheese and spinach can be found as well.
Where to stay in Cesky Krumlov
If you’re wondering where to stay in Cesky Krumlov to keep costs low, stay at a pension. This type of guest house is common in Europe and typically offers breakfast, lunch and dinner plans.
Pension Fialka costs a little bit more but is still very reasonable and worth paying extra for. The rooms are so welcoming and charmingly decorated that you may never want to leave. Located in a peaceful residential area a short walk away from the old town, you’ll feel like one of the locals in no time.
If you want to go all out, book a room at the Monastery Garden Bistro and Rooms. This 4-star bed and breakfast by the Minorite Monastery is industrial and elegant yet homely. With impeccable interiors, kind staff and delicious home-made food, you’ll remember your stay here for all the right reasons.
Tours to do in Cesky Krumlov
If you want to learn as much as you can about Cesky Krumlov while you’re there, book a personalised, private walking tour. Spend a few hours discovering the pearl of Bohemia through the eyes of a local who is eager to show you what their city has to offer.
Your knowledgeable English-speaking tour guide can take you around the places you want to see and skip what you’re not interested in. While most walking tours operate during the day, there’s a two-hour evening tour available as well.
Malecek Rafting also operates a historic sightseeing cruise along the beautiful Vltava River. The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic, also running through Prague and Ceske Budejovice.
The 50-minute cruise around the city runs from May to September, departing multiple times per day. The romantic sunset cruise is the ultimate experience, even if you’re just travelling with friends or family.
Day trips from Cesky Krumlov
A RegioJet bus to nearby Ceske Budejovice departs every hour and takes exactly 30 minutes. As the capital city of South Bohemia, it’s much larger than Cesky Krumlov and has some fantastic buildings to see.
The Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Dominican Monastery, the Museum of South Bohemia and Samson’s Fountain are some of the best landmarks to put on your list.
You can find a private guide on Viator to show you around for the day, though you will need to organise this in advance.
Heading to Prague for the day is possible as well. Usually, travellers will take a day trip to Cesky Krumlov from Prague, but who says you can’t do the opposite?
Buses depart as early as five in the morning, and the last bus back leaves at nine o’clock at night, so you could potentially have 11 hours to spend in Prague.
Activities you could fit in include a two-hour bike tour, a three-hour private walking tour, or a Czech beer tasting tour.
A bike tour is certainly the most time-efficient for a day trip. You’ll see all the top attractions, including the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock and Prague Castle.
Recommended tours in Cesky Krumlov
- Cesky Krumlov Old Town Private Walking Tour
- BEST OF Cesky Krumlov Old Town and Castle Exteriors (for couples, small groups)
- Private Transfer from Cesky Krumlov to Hallstatt with 2 Sightseeing Stops