Český Krumlov could have been plucked right out of a fairytale, with its multi-coloured Rapunzel-like tower, pink church spire, winding river, medieval houses and magical stone castle, so you will need to spend at least one night in Český Krumlov if you want to fully experience the magic of this medieval South Bohemian town in all its glory.
While many visitors arrive on a day trip from Prague, time in town will be limited, and once here, it’s easy to see why you will want to stay for longer than a few hours in this beautiful Czech town.
For this reason, a one-night / two-day stay in Český Krumlov is a must to fully immerse yourself in everything this Unesco world heritage site has to offer.
In this post, I have detailed all the tips you will need to plan a visit to Český Krumlov, and I have highlighted highlight some of the best things that you will be able to do and see in Český Krumlov over a one-night / two-day / 24-hour stay.
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Plan Your Trip: Visiting Český Krumlov
How Long Should You Spend in Český Krumlov?
The answer is to spend at least one night and two days in Český Krumlov. This will give you between 24 and 48 hours to see all the best things in Český Krumlov and to experience the town once the crowds have gone home.
Balmy evenings and crisp mornings are magical and feel very different from the hustle and bustle during the day.
Is a day trip to Český Krumlov from Prague long enough?
The answer is no. The reason is that a day trip to Český Krumlov from Prague by road or train takes around 3 hours both ways, so if you only plan to visit for the day, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to explore the town.
Believe me when I say that once you are here, you will want to stay for one night, so you won’t have to leave this picturesque town without exploring all its nooks and crannies.
Getting to Český Krumlov
We were visiting Prague on a second visit and were looking for new adventures to experience while we were there.
We decided to visit Český Krumlov and booked a return coach journey from/to Prague with FLIXBUS, which was punctual, comfortable and cheap.
The 3-hour journey from Prague Andel to Český Krumlov bus station and back the next day cost us £35.00.
Please note that if you are going to use FLIXBUS from Andel, the bus station is further along the road than the train station (which is probably where your taxi will drop you off).
The bus stops are numbered 1-7, with 6 and 7 being on the roadside. We couldn’t see our stop, to begin with, and ended up on a wild goose chase going up and down the road looking for it and then just found it as the bus was about to leave!
When you get to Český Krumlov, stay on the bus until the last stop. There are two bus stops in Český Krumlov, and in our excitement, we got off at the Špičák bus stop thinking it was the end of the line and then realised it wasn’t. Luckily we hopped back on and continued for 5 minutes to the main bus station.
When you get off the coach, there is a 10-minute walk to the centre of town where you will no doubt be staying. Beware of the cobbled streets (remember, it is a medieval town) and wear flat, comfortable shoes (thank me later!)
It is worth noting that Cesky Krumlov is located very close to the Austrian border, so you can also reach the town easily from cities like Vienna or Salzburg.
Parking in Český Krumlov
The historical centre of Český Krumlov is a designated pedestrian zone that vehicles can only enter with a special time-limited permit issued by the town authorities.
If you are bringing a car and staying in a hotel, they will give you details on how to get a permit. There are spaces to park outside of the main town by the castle for day visitors.
Český Krumlov is a walkable town, and you can get from one side to the other in about 20 minutes. However, there is so much to look at and experience that you will need a lot longer than that to get around.
Not forgetting stops for beer, wine, ice cream, and Trdelník, a circular hollow sugary pastry eaten on its own or filled with ice cream and other goodies!
Where to Sleep
Hotel Grand is a popular place to stay in town due to its location in the central square.
We booked an executive room and were given spacious accommodation in the loft. The decor is a bit dull and dated, but the location is perfect, and you won’t be spending much time in your room when you have the whole of Český Krumlov to explore.
The hotel has no lift due to its heritage, so be prepared for a long walk up the stairs if you have a heavy suitcase!
Alternative hotels in Český Krumlov can be found here. Make sure to book your room well in advance of your expected date of stay, as hotels get booked up quickly, especially in the summer months.
Where to Eat and Drink
Český Krumlov has plenty of places to eat, with most of them serving traditional Czech dishes. The ones listed below are where we ate and drank during our one-night stay in Český Krumlov.
The Two Maries is the best spot in the city for traditional Czech food and offers tasty medieval Bohemian dinner platters with chicken, smoked meat, skewer, pancake, dumpling, potatoes, and salad.
Anyone would enjoy the menu, which also features vegetarian options. The restaurant is themed in a medieval style, accessed by a small wooden door. It sits at the side of the Vlatava River and has beautiful views of the castle.
Hanoi Dreams is a Vietnamese restaurant located down wooden steps at the side of the bridge by the kayak and raft point.
I would normally stick to eating food from the country I was visiting, but after spending 3-days in Prague and sampling all the Czech food there, I was ready for a change. Hanoi is also one of my favourite cities, and there is a large Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic.
The food here was authentic and delicious (we both had chicken pad thai and panko shrimp, and the service came with a big smile from the young boy serving us).
Non-Solo Coffee Bar is a cute Italian coffee shop close to the castle entrance and has a couple of seating areas outside to sip your flat white and watch the world go by.
Kolectiv Cafe serves delicious breakfasts and coffee and is located along the historic Latrán main street.
Mona Lisa Ice Cream Bar is located by the river in what looks like a dilapidated garage! Fear not; the ice cream is delicious and supposedly the best and cheapest in town!
Authentic Cafe is an art-deco-themed restaurant that serves mouthwatering cakes and pastries. It is a lovely spot to enjoy morning coffee and a sweet treat in the main town square.
Synagoga Cafe is near the city park and next to a synagogue that now houses a museum on Jewish history. It is on the edge of town and serves cakes and refreshments.
It’s a good place to try koláč, a traditional sweet pastry with a fruit centre surrounded by puffy dough, an alternative to the popular trdlnik pastry sold throughout town.
Nine top things to do in Český Krumlov
- A visit to the 13th-century castle and gardens which overlook the town.
- Climb to the top of the Castle Tower for a bird’s eye view.
- Book a wooden raft tour of the Vltava river and learn some of Český Krumlov’s hidden secrets.
- Be adventurous; hire a kayak, canoe or raft, and row yourself down the river.
- Wander along Latrán Street and spot the historic buildings now home to artisan shops.
- Soak up the atmosphere as you wander along the historic narrow street and alleyways around the main square.
- Visit St Vitus church, with its landmark pink church spire, visible from every point in town.
- Visit one of the numerous town museums, including the torture museum!
- Take a stroll through the park and see various buildings from the 1920s, including St Martin’s Chapel, the music pavilion and the Synagogue, where you will find a cafe in the former flat of the rabbi!
What to Do in Český Krumlov – My Perfect 2-Day Itinerary
Spending two days in town gives you plenty of time to see all the wonderful things Český Krumlov has to offer.
Afternoon – Day One
We had caught the noon bus from Prague, so we arrived in Český Krumlov at 3 pm and headed down the hill to our hotel in Svornosti main square.
On the way, we had to stop at the most famous viewpoint in Český Krumlov, the tiny park at Seminarni Zahrada. From this spot, you will get sweeping views across the rooftops of the castle complex, and the scene is stunning.
Unity Square (Náměstí Svornosti) is at the centre of town and is home to the Plague Column, an important feature in Český Krumlov and dedicated to those who lost their lives to the Black Death.
It also houses some popular hotels alongside the Town Hall, Torture Museum and the Authentic Cafe, which serves the most delicious pastries.
You will also find the Tourist Information Office (where you can purchase the Cesky Krumlov Card for discounted entry to attractions), an ATM and a bank in the main square.
Once we had checked in to the Grand Hotel, we were straight back out to explore all of Krumlov’s hidden gems.
Fun Times on the Vltava River
Heading down to the Vltava River, we saw something we were not expecting – lots and lots of kayaks and dinghies cruising along the river with people singing and waving as they went along.
Youngsters, stag and hen groups (who knew they would come somewhere like this!), family groups, and couples happily paddled their way along the Vlatava without a care in the world.
Some were in fancy dress, some skimpily clad in swimwear, and some in everyday wear – no matter how they had arrived, they were all having the best time (helped with the copious amounts of beer they all seemed to be producing from their onboard coolers!)
It turns out this is the reason Czech citizens come to town, to have fun on the water. We weren’t prepared for this activity, so we watched the procession of watercraft cruise by us from the safety of the bridge.
So if this sounds fun to do in Český Krumlov, you can rent kayaks and dinghies from several companies along the riverbank and join in with the revelry.
Evening – Day One
After a lovely, the evening descended, and we ate dinner at Hanoi Dreams (see information above). It is a Vietnamese Restaurant, and the food was delicious and a nice change from Czech goulash or duck, of which we had eaten plenty in Prague!
After dinner, we wandered down narrow alleyways, across bridges and through the park. The bus loads of tourists had long departed for Prague, and we felt that the town was much calmer.
Folk Tales in Český Krumlov
The City Park has a funny story surrounding it. In the past, women would wash their clothes in the river, and on the opposite side was the Jesuit College, high on the river bank.
Folk tales tell that the religious students spent far too much time peering out of the windows at the women as they soaked themselves in the water while washing their garments, making their tops see-through!
The elders caught wind of this and bought the park and banned the women from doing their laundry there ever again. Is it true? Who knows, but it seems pretty feasible to me.
As we walked along, a few groups were still cruising down the river in the twilight; we crossed the main bridge and walked towards the castle on the opposite side of the river.
The castle’s stone facade is illuminated at night, adding to its charm, and the twinkling lights from the restaurants and street lights add a sprinkling of romanticism, making the town feel more like a film set than an actual modern community.
To experience this magical vibe is the reason to stay in Český Krumlov for one night and discover this medieval hamlet in a more authentic setting without the crowds.
We finished our evening in one of the riverside bars, and as we watched the lights reflecting on the water, agreed that we had made the right decision to stay in town for one night.
A walking tour of Český Krumlov with the company Wiseman Free Walking Tours is a good way to learn about its history, but you need to book a space. If the Wiseman tour doesn’t suit your schedule, you can always opt for a paid walking tour of Český Krumlov.
Morning – Day Two
We woke up early to experience Český Krumlov before the coach tours descended from Prague and the surrounding areas.
We strolled to the castle entrance along the historic Latrán main street to see the original Bohemian Gothic and Renaissance houses now converted to shops and restaurants.
Beneath the road arch at the top of town, we stopped at Non-Solo Coffee Bar to fuel our day with great Italian coffee.
Explore Český Krumlov Castle
Heading inside the castle grounds, we wandered along the Cloak Bridge ramparts for the most amazing view over the rooftops.
The castle, built in 1240, is the focal point in town and is only slightly smaller than the magnificent Prague castle, making it the second-largest castle in the Czech Republic.
If you want to see even more stunning views across Český Krumlov, you can buy a ticket to climb to the top of the beautifully decorated Castle Tower. You can’t miss it as it is decorated in charming pastel colours.
You will need to purchase a combined Tower & Museum ticket as there isn’t one solely for the tower climb; however, the museum is fascinating, and you will learn all about the castle’s history through the centuries.
While exploring the castle complex, wander around the vast gardens to see the maze hedge, flower borders, lake and 17th-century Rococo water fountain.
You will also see the revolving theatre stage, a controversial modern structure in the centre of the castle’s gardens.
One thing that you will see in the castle moat is a bear. The moat has been home to these beautiful creatures since the 18th century.
Seeing a solitary animal pacing the concrete compound was distressing and unnecessary. It may follow the town’s history and tradition, but for me, it is time for a change.
Angie’s Travel Tip:
Get to the castle first thing in the morning if you want to take photos on the Cloak Bridge without the crowds. That way you will miss all the tourists arriving on coach tours.
Afternoon – Day Two
A must-do in Český Krumlov is to cruise along the River Vltava with Voroplavba River Raft Tours.
The company have a small kiosk near the town’s entrance where you can book cruises, or you can turn up (as we did) on the river bank near where they cruise from and hop aboard if there are spaces.
Alternatively, you can book a guided wooden raft tour online to ensure you will get a seat onboard.
The cruise lasts one hour and stops halfway to replenish you with wine or beer.
Our English tour was a good mix of humorous and historical stories about Český Krumlov and its inhabitants. We found it a great way of seeing the town from a different perspective of the water.
The tour will also take you down the two water channels along the river, which are a bit like a slow water ride at a theme park and a lot of fun. A fast one also needs to be avoided at all costs!
The cruise starts and finishes in two different places, so you will need to walk back through town, which is a great excuse to stop for lunch, beer, delicious ice cream, or Trdlink cake. It is a short walk along the river, which we found enjoyable.
Late Lunch at Tavern of the Two Maries
We chose to eat lunch at Tavern of the Two Maries but never found out why this Bohemian restaurant had such a name. Whatever the reason, it served great traditional food.
We had tried just about all the Czech food we could in Prague and Kutna Hora, including duck, dumplings and goulash, but Tavern of the Two Maries was wholeheartedly different to other restaurants in town. It served a menu based on medieval Czech dishes; even the serving staff were dressed in peasant outfits.
We chose the Old Bohemian Feast for Two and got to sample chicken, smoked meat, skewer, pancake, dumpling, potato, and salad, and it was delicious, all washed down with a local Czech beer – perfect.
Saying Goodbye to Český Krumlov
Before we left, we checked out the pretty pink St Vitus Church, which watches over the town from its elevated position; no matter where you are, you can see its spire.
The Gothic church dates back to the 15th century and is an important monument within the Czech Republic.
We collected our carry-ons from the hotel and looked back at Český Krumlov from the town viewpoint before heading to the bus station to catch our bus back to Prague.
It’s quite easy to say that this is one of the most beautiful European towns I have ever visited and one I would recommend to any other travellers heading to the Czech Republic.
Český Krumlov Tour From Prague
If you have enjoyed reading this post but haven’t got the time to stay overnight in town, then there are plenty of guided tours from Prague to Český Krumlov. After all, it’s better to see it that way than not visit at all!
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