When I first visited the Czech Republic in early December 2016, I knew I wanted to see more than just Prague. Not that there is a problem with exploring only Prague but I wanted to see a little bit more and this is how I ended up discovering the beauty that is Cesky Krumlov.
This fairy tale town is located a little more than three hours by car from Prague and it was one of the highlights of the time I spent in the Czech Republic. If you’re wondering why just scroll down to see the pictures that I took from this city that seems to be lost in time. It also helps the fact that Cesky Krumlov is, together with the Prague Castle district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of that, the city has attracted a lot of visitors in the last decades. But this is not a something that has been happening only nowadays.
A little bit of the history of Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov has long attracted visitors. First, it was in the form of Celtic Tribes, then it was German tribes and, finally, Slavic tribes came to settle in this bend of the Vltava river. The construction of the Cesky Krumlov and the castle began around 1240 and it was first called Chrumbenowe that, according to legends is a name that derives from the German term for crooked meadow.
By the XIV century, the town and castle were part of House of Rosenberg and the majority of the people in Cesky Krumlov were Germans. A century later, when gold was discovered next to town, even more Germans came to settle in the area.
In 1602, the castle and town were bought over by Emperor Rudolf II and gave it to his son, Julius d’Austria. Later, Emperor Ferdinand II gave the town to House of Eggenberg who made the town the seat of Duchy of Krumlov. From those years until 1945, Cesky Krumlov Castle belonged to House of Schwarzenberg.
The Magnificent Cesky Krumlov Castle
The highlight of the city is the Cesky Krumlov Castle that overlooks everywhere you go in this small town in the Czech Republic. It almost feels like there is no escape from it, the castle follows you around wherever you are. But that is not a problem since the place itself is magnificent and unusually large for a town the size of Cesky Krumlov.
Most people go to Cesky Krumlov just to see this amazing castle and it makes a lot of sense since everything in this small town happens around it. Too bad I didn’t manage to explore inside it since I got distracted with taking pictures of the castle from outside and forgot to go inside. Even with this in mind, I would advise people to go inside it and explore it all. Mostly because, inside the castle, you can find a unique Baroque Theater built between 1680 and 1682.
Cesky Krumlov Baroque Theater
The Baroque theater inside Cesky Krumlov Castle was built following the order of Prince Johann Christian I von Eggenberg and renovated under Josef Adam zu Schwarzenberg almost a century after it was first built. During the guided tour, you go under it stage and you can see how it used to work all these centuries ago. This is a highlight of the trip since the theater is one of the only ones that still exist with its original stage machinery.
Too bad that, due to its age, the Baroque Theater is only used three times a year, with only two of these presentations being open to the public. If you want to know more about when these events happen, you have to check out the castle website.
Cesky Krumlov Castle has other sights as well if the theater is not your kind of thing. One of my favorites spots is the colorful round tower that is the highest place in the city. The tower was built as a way to guard the medieval river crossing and, to go all the way to the top, you have to climb more than 150 steps. A lot of climbing is necessary but it’s worth it since you can see the city in its entirely.
But the tower comes with something that I believe to be unnecessary nowadays: there is a bear pit that holds a family of brown bears. There’s been a family of bears there since the XVI century but, back then, I think it would make some sense to have something like this. But we are in 2017 and we should treat wild animals like that. They shouldn’t be kept in a small confinement space like this bear pit. They should be free and that was the only thing I really didn’t like about my time in Cesky Krumlov.
Inside the Cesky Krumlov Castle, there is, also, a large Rococo garden. Too bad it was closed down during the time that I was there since it was winter. Next time that I go to the city, I know that I have to stop there to see the garden.
Where to stay in Cesky Krumlov
When I visited Cesky Krumlov, I stayed a night at Hotel Bellevue and it made everything even better. The room that I was in was the Superior room and the view from there was pretty cool. Breakfast was amazing, they had pretty fast wi-fi, the people working there were really friendly and showed me a lot of places to see and to eat. I would advise everybody to stay there. You can trust me on that.
When it comes to food, I would tell you to go straight into Depo, a pub that shows you what is the beer culture in the Czech Republic. But they have more than beers, they have a menu focused on South Bohemian and Czech cuisine that made my lunch there even better than expected. I remember that I had a small entry of schnitzels and the main dish of pork belly that was beyond perfect. You need to try it.
How to get to Cesky Krumlov
You can arrive in Cesky Krumlov by train since they have a railway station with connections to České Budějovice. Since there are no connections to Prague, you have to take the train from Prague in the direction to České Budějovice and transfer there to the train that will take you to Cesky Krumlov.
If this sounds too complicated, you can get to Cesky Krumlov by bus. It’s easier, cheaper and faster than a train and you should do it. Between Prague and Cesky Krumlov, LEO Express runs two air-conditioned buses per day between Český Krumlov and the Florenc bus station in Prague. Also, there is Student Agency who runs up to eight buses a day between Český Krumlov and the Na Knízecí bus station in Prague. It takes around 3 hours to arrive but it costs less than 8 EUR so I believe you will be alright with that.
The best places to take pictures of the Cesky Krumlov Castle
One of the first things that I did when I arrived in Cesky Krumlov was asking around the hotel about the best places to photograph the castle. I wanted to see it in a different way, from different angles, and from different perspectives. On the map below you can see some of my favorite spots.
Personally, I really like going outside of Cesky Krumlov and getting in town through the elevated bridge that connects one part of the castle to the other one. Also, there is a spot almost in the end of the city that has a great view of the castle. It’s a parking lot on the edge of the city. The view from there is great because nobody seems to visit the parking lot, there are no trees in front of you and you can capture the castle and the fairy tale small town at the same time. For me, this was perfect.
Since I like to take my time to explore and take pictures of everything in a town like Cesky Krumlov, I don’t believe that the city should be visited in a hurry. I heard some people there mentioning that they were in there on a day trip from Prague. I wasn’t and I don’t think you should do it as well. Take your time in Cesky Krumlov and enjoy the evening there.
Once you are in Cesky Krumlov, you understand better why this small town is Czech Republic’s second-biggest tourist destination. The castle is a piece of art, the small cobblestone streets of the city have a wonderful medieval feel and walking around it is almost like going back in time. You really need to experience this small town in the south of Czech Republic. For more ideas of where to go in Cesky Krumlov, please check this post on Bobo and ChiChi. Trust us on that.