Cesky Krumlov, just a short drive or train ride away from both Prague and Vienna, is a beautiful small town located in the heart of Bohemia.
It’s a quaint and charming historic little village that’s a popular day-trip from Prague, but there are so many different things to do in Cesky Krumov that you’ll definitely want to spend more than just a few hours wandering around the medieval streets of one of Europe’s most stunning small towns.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cesky Krumlov’s history dates back to the 13th century and since the 1600s it has stood as an important historical and cultural area, not only in the region of Bohemia, but in all of the Czech Republic.
From wonderful castles and tucked-away streets to an incredible Old Town Square here are some of the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov!
The Krumlov Castle
As you’re nearing the city it’s almost impossible to miss the Krumlov Castle.
Sitting high above the Vltava River, the Krumlov Castle provides its visitors with a unique look back into history when Bohemian aristocracy lived in and ruled the area.
It was during the 13th century that structures on the current site of the castle began to be built and there was constant renovations and improvement underway until the 19th century.
Today you’re able to explore a significant portion of the buildings and surrounding grounds. There’s a Castle museum on-site and the Castle Tower gives you one of the best views of Cesky Krumlov that you’ll find.
There’s also a theatre, a dungeon museum and at the rear of the Castle complex is a beautiful park with tree-lined laneways, collections of lovely flowers and even a small, private lake at the edge of the property.
For many people the favorite thing about the Castle is the most, which until this day is still filled with 2 or 3 different brown bears as it would have been over the past few hundred years.
- The grounds are quite large and there are a few steep areas. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and arrive early in the day to beat the crowds.
The Medieval Town Square
In the centre of Cesky Krumlov is the medieval Town Square and you’re bound to walk through it at least a few times during your visit.
It’s a perfect representation of the design of smaller Czech towns from the Middle Ages and while many of the facades of the houses that line the square have been recently renovated it’s still a majestic place to visit, relax with a coffee or ice cream and take some photographs.
Each of the buildings have been painted in different colors and it looks like something right out of a fairy tale when you first enter the square from one of the wide side-streets that lead up to it. In the centre of the square is the famous Plague Column and on one end is the Town Hall, two other interesting things to check out when you’re visiting Cesky Krumlov.
The Plague Column is one of the most prominent features in the Square.
The sculpture of the column was commissioned in the 1715 or 1716 and it was built as a memorial to those who passed during the Plague that ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages. At the top is a stunning sculpture of the Virgin Mary and the Column itself is very intricately designed – well worth the photo opportunity.
The Old Town Hall is another interesting features of the Cesky Krumov Town Square.
The entire structure was originally two separate buildings, that were built in a Gothic style, but sometime during the 17th century they were attached and construction was completed on the Town Hall by 1796.
On the front of the building are a few different coat of arms. There is the Eggenberg family coat of arms, one for the Czech lands, the coat of arms for the town of Cesky Krumlov and finally, one for the Schwarzenberg family.
These coat of arms are prominently displayed on the front of the Town Hall and I recommend taking a minute or two to admire the artwork that they are composed of.
An interesting fact about the Town Hall is that doing some renovations in 2000 there were some wall painting fragments discovered that were determined to be from sometime during the early 15th century. These would’ve been painted on the original building that once stood before it was attached to the one beside it in order to form the current Town Hall.
In the basement of the Town Hall is the Torture Museum, and I recommend checking it out if those sort of dark and gloomy kinds of things interest you.
One of the most picturesque buildings in all of Cesky Krumlov is the St.Vitus Church.
You’ve probably seen it before in the iconic photos of the city – it’s the church that dominates the very center of town and is one of the highest points on the skyline second to the castle itself.
The church’s history can be traced back to the 13th century when it was built on the site of the previous place of worship. It’s been a religious site for hundreds of years and has continuously been visited by both Czech locals and European royalty.
Additionally, many of the most famous and popular Bohemian families, such as the Rosenbergs and the Schwarzenbergs, have tombs here where the remains of different generations of their families are buried.
Just like the rest of the buildings in the town St.Vitus Church has undergone many renovations over the years with the most recent being the tall, impressive spire. This spire was built sometime during the 19th century and adds another element of beauty to the church itself.
Depending on what time of the year you visit you might be able to go into the church and explore but it was not open for me when I visited in both July and December.
For the best views I recommend heading down to the river directly beside the church or photographing it from the many different look out points at the castle.
Exploring the Medieval Streets
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov is to just wander and explore the many quiet and historic streets that crisscross throughout the entire Old Town.
On the façade of many of the buildings are the collection of different frescoes, paintings and intricate little structures or statues that historically represent what the building was for or the family that lived in the building.
Many of the different buildings have their own stories and historical importance which can actually find out about online. There are many different stories and legends about Cesky Krumlov and decided to walk through the city tried to imagine what life must of been like over the past couple hundred years.
It’s not hard to see why so many people call Cesky Krumlov a “mini-Prague”. Most of the buildings are brightly painted and you can’t walk very far without stumbling onto something beautiful and impressive.
When I was there I noticed many of the tourists walking straight from the bus parking lot, through the Town Square and then directly to the Castle. Try to avoid this route, as it’s very populated with tourists, and make an effort to explore some of the quieter alleyways and sidestreets that surround the Town Square.
I recommend heading across the river and exploring the other part of the town that’s across from St.Vitus Church. There are quite a few hidden gems worth finding in this area as well.
Stop by the Regional Museum
I’m not one for museums really but the Regional Museum in Cesky Krumlov is an interesting place that I recommend checking out when you’re visiting the town.
At the museum you’ll be able to learn more about Cesky Krumlov including why the area where the city is was so historically important, some facts related to the prehistoric settlement of the region and you’ll be able to give more insight on the Royal families that lived in the castle.
It’s a really helpful Museum and will give you better insight on the town itself. The collections inside the museum are quite extensive and you’ll definitely want to spend at least an hour walking around and reading all of the informative signs.
Admission for adults is only 50 Czech Crowns so it’s a very affordable place to spend an hour or so learning more about the town and Bohemian history.
Go on a Walking Tour
If you’re only able to visit Cesky Krumlov for a day then going on a walking tour is one of the best ways to see most of the city while being able to learn more about all of the sites and attractions.
The walking tour that I recommend is the Wise Man Free Tour.
This is a free guided walking tour that is offered every day of the week and gives you the best introduction to the city if you’re only visiting for a short while.
Between April and October there are two tours starting at 10:30 AM and 2 PM. Between November to March there’s only one tour and starts at 10:30 AM.
The tours take about two hours and the meeting point is in the main square, just out front of the tourist office (INFOCENTRUM).
Keep an eye out for the guides wearing red shirts and holding red umbrellas, they’re impossible to miss if you’re in the square at the right time.
The tour visits most of the best sites including:
- Cesky Krumlov Castle
- The Old Town Brewery
- The Castle Tower
- The Cloak Bridge
- The Jesuit Garden view point
- St.Vitus Church
and then a few more of the key places to see.
Free walking tours are some of the best ways to explore new city and I definitely recommend checking out the Wise Man tour whenever you visit Cesky Krumlov.
A short five-minute walk from the Old Town Square is the Minorite Monastery.
Construction of this lovely monastery begin sometime during the 14th-century and different buildings were erected and parts of the monastery renovated up until the 19th century.
It’s a picturesque, quaint little monastery that’s definitely worth visiting if you’re looking to take a short break from the busy crowds the frequent the area surrounding the castle. There is not much signage but you can access the monastery from Monastery Street (Klasterni ulice) through a Baroque gate that leads into a spacious courtyard.
The architecture of the monastery is very impressive and it’s a great place to relax and take some photos without being bothered by the crowds of tourists.
Today, the monastery is just used for offices and concerts. Some of the buildings are still under construction and not quite suitable or safe to be explored.
Hike Up to the Chapel on the Mountain of the Cross
If you’re looking to get one of the best views of the town and surrounding countryside then you’ll want to head up to the Chapel on the Mountain.
When you’re walking through the Old Town you’ll be able to catch glimpses of the chapel high up on the hill that overlooks Cesky Krumlov but it’s not until you take a short hike up to the top that you can truly appreciate it.
Unfortunately, when I did the hike in 2014, the Chapel was seemingly in need of repair. I’m not sure if it’s been renovated lately but the view from the top is still worth it, even if the Chapel is under construction.
The chapel itself was built in 1710 and every year since 1991 it’s the location of a pilgrimage celebration of the St.Cross Rising. Entrance to the chapel is not available to the public but there are some windows that you can look through to see inside.
The best part about hiking up to the chapel is the view. From the top of the hill, which is just about 619 m above sea level, you have a sweeping view of Cesky Krumlov and you can see for miles across the Bohemian countryside. It’s truly a breathtaking view and I recommend checking it out if you have the time.
From the Old Town Square it’s about a 30 minute leisurely walk uphill to the Chapel. You’ll definitely want to bring a water bottle because there is a much to buy along the way once you leave the city center. The steepest part is right at the beginning so if you tough it through the first part of the hike the rest is pretty easy.
Looking for a Day Trip?
If you have some I recommend heading to Ceske Budejovice to check out another one of the beautiful small towns in the Bohemia region.
You could also check out the UNESCO village of Holasovice.
Another nearby town worth exploring is Kasperske Hory.
Where to Stay in Cesky Krumlov
There are a few different places I recommend for you to stay if you’re spending the night in Cesky Krumlov.
Here are the hostels and hotels I suggest:
- Hotel Bellevue (my personal favorite, great service, comfortable rooms, 5-min from the Old Town Square, 2-min to the Castle)
- Hotel Ruze (luxury, five-star service, 3-min from the Old Town Square)
- Hostel 99 (best hostel in Cesky Krumlov, 6-min from the Old Town Square, 3-min from the Castle, great vibes)