If you haven’t heard of Cesky Krumlov, I’m not surprised. Though it’s one of the world’s best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it rarely makes the top of European city lists. While most visit Cesky Krumlov from Prague on a day trip, it deserves so much more attention than a quick stopover.
When my good friend Barbie suggested Prague for an early February trip, I knew I wanted to add another city in the Czech Republic. I had my eye on Cesky Krumlov for awhile, knowing it is not a frequented destination for most. As soon as we entered the old archway from the medieval part of town, I knew the town was going to be a hit. Picture cobblestone roads, pastel-colored buildings (some of which date back to the 13th century), cozy cafés, and a castle overlooking the whole city. The town is built around the ’S’ curve of the Vltava River, and aptly named Cesky Krumlov (‘Crooked Meadow’,) for its landscape. It’s extremely walkable and charming, a true gem!
Preset Collection used in this blog post: Winter Collection
BEST TIME TO VISIT– MAY THROUGH SEPTEMBER IS PEAK SEASON, JANUARY/FEBRUARY IS THE QUIETEST TIME OF YEAR
WEATHER – SUMMERTIME IS WARM, (80°F / 26°C AVERAGE), SNOW IS RARE IN WINTER
GETTING AROUND – WALKABLE, THE HISTORICAL CENTER IS A CAR-FREE ZONE
CURRENCY – CZECH KORUNA, SOME PLACES TAKE EUROS AND CREDIT CARDS BUT YOU’LL WANT CASH
LANGUAGES – CZECH, MOST PEOPLE SPEAK ENGLISH
NEARBY AIRPORTS – LINZ AIRPORT (LNZ)
Photos: colorful buildings of Cesky Krumlov; old fort walls; view of the river from the patio outside Papa’s Living Restaurant; crossing the bridge towards Cesky Castle, views from the castle grounds.
→ Getting to Cesky Krumlov From Prague
Traveling from Prague to Cesky Krumlov was very straightforward and affordable. We took a 3 hour bus via Regiojet from the main bus station in Prague to just outside the walls of Cesky Krumlov. The trip cost less than $12 USD and included comfy seats, plus drinks and snacks for sale.
Where to Stay
As I mentioned, Cesky Krumlov is a walkable city. You don’t need a car to get around, and most sights and stops are within a 10 minute walk from the main square. The town is best experienced as an overnight visit; you’ll get the small streets to yourself in the mornings and evenings when the day trip crowds disperse back to Prague!
With most small town stays, we opted for a boutique hotel offering picture-perfect city views. Hotel Oldinn was the spot, conveniently located in the main square and fully renovated in the last few months. Our room was cozy and design-forward, with windows that opened onto the main square in Cesky Krumlov. I highly recommend it for an overnight visit. We were lucky enough to wake up to snow in the main square our second morning here!
Hotels in Cesky Krumlov
The Gardena – $ – a family-run guest house at the top of the hill, authentic and highly-rated.
Hotel Oldinn – $$ – recently remodeled, this historic hotel in the main square is my top pick in Cesky Krumlov. Where I stayed & where I’d stay if I returned.
Hotel Latran – $$ – old-world decor in a pink building, featuring classic Czech food and drinks.
Garni Hotel Castle Bridge – $$ – basic rooms overlooking the river, but the real draw of this hotel are their rooms with a balcony.
Bellevue Hotel – $$ – this charming, elegant hotel on the edge of town has one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. Where I’d want to splurge.
Airbnbs in Cesky Krumlov
Picturesque rentals are sparse, so opt for an Airbnb mainly if you’re on a budget. Location is everything in Cesky Krumlov — you don’t want to find yourself outside the walls of the city! Here are my top picks, all within walking distance of the main sights.
Authentic Cesky apartment – $ – with a private balcony and castle views, this 16th century apartment (previously a museum) is the best deal in town.
Pension Na Fortne – $ – A cozy and bright space in the center of town, with easy river access and a private patio.
Double room near the castle – $ – straightforward, clean lodgings nearby Cesky Castle.
Apartment No. 7 – A well-appointed apartment featuring homey touches, located on the historical Latrán street.
16th Century Guard Tower Stay – $$ – if you’re after history, look no further. This unique overnight option is steeped in history.
600-year-old whole house – $$ – with 3 floors to yourself, it’s hard to beat this charming and rustic property with wood beams and plenty of character.
New to Airbnb? Here’s $40 off your first booking.
Where to eat
As Cesky Krumlov is frequented mostly by day-trippers, it’s easy to fall into a tourist trap for a quick lunch or dinner. During our visit in February, many restaurants were closed (February is one of the slowest seasons here and in Europe), but that didn’t stop us from scouting out the best food options. Scouring reviews, vetting local recommendations and opting for local cuisine lead to some of the best meals we had in the Czech Republic!
Papa’s Living Restaurant – this restaurant shows up first in most recommended restaurants in the city, and we were pleased to find that our dishes were quite tasty. Both of us ordered daily specials.
Krčma Šatlava – housed in a historic old building, this local restaurant features a grill in the middle where items are barbecued over an open flame.
Pension Kristinka – this hotel has a downstairs restaurant with a great selection of Czech specialties – I ordered the fish, and my favorite dessert of our trip. According to the house’s history, witches lived here in the 1500s. Cash only.
Hostinec Depo – this warehouse-turned-restaurant has a trendy vibe with large ceilings and local beer. It seemed to have the most locals out of any restaurant in Cesky Krumlov. My chicken dish was delicious.
Le Jardin Restaurant – the highest-rated fine dining restaurant is located in Hotel Bellevue. Unfortunately closed for remodeling during our visit, but I wish I could’ve eaten here.
Traveller’s Restaurant – this is the most basic of all restaurants on this list, situated in a local hostel. If you’re after straightforward Czech dishes in a casual atmosphere, head here. Cash only.
Drunken Coffee – our go-to spot for breakfast and coffee. It’s located just off the river and has takeaway pastries as well.
Jakub Restaurant – also closed during our visit, this restaurant came recommended to us by others for classic Czech dishes in a fine dining atmosphere.
What to Do
Cesky Krumlov is a small town, and everything inside the medieval walls is walking distance away. The best way to see the town is by exploring the various roads and shops. It’s one of those destinations that you simply need to experience for yourself!
Visit the main viewpoint – there are a number of city views in Cesky Krumlov, and this one is a great place to start. Located in the center of town, it features views over the rooftops and of Cesky Castle. There’s also a beautiful map of the city that is great for mapping out your walks.
Taken one day apart from the main viewpoint in Cesky Krumlov. We woke up to snow our second morning here.
Take a boat tour – in the warmer months you can take a raft down the river for a different perspective. This tour is under an hour and includes a stop for drinks. Unfortunately, we visited in winter so this wasn’t an option for us.
Explore Cesky Castle – the castle dates back to 1240 and is a must-visit in Cesky Krumlov. You can explore the grounds for free, but entrance to the museum and tower is an additional fee. Tickets include admission to both. The tower views are spectacular and provide a 360 degree view of the city.
The first two photos are the view from the castle tower. The other photos are the view from the castle grounds (no ticket required).
Go antiquing – there’s a number of antique shops in town. They’re hard to miss, but if you want a good starting point, head to this antique store.
Go to a museum – we admittedly only visited the Castle museum during our trip, as we found a number of the museums to be over-the-top tourist attractions. However, I’d suggest checking out this blacksmithing museum for something a bit different – you can even participate in the demonstrations.
Try the local cuisine – some of our favorite spots included Bon Bon for homemade chocolate, Česky Perník for gingerbread and liqueur, Rosmarinus for local spices, and Krčma Šatlava and Hostinec Depo for lunch and dinner. You’ll also want to try a local Trdelník (Chimney Cake)!
My top 3 favorite Cesky Krumlov photo spots
Main viewpoint in town – Google Maps
Cesky Krumlov Castle Grounds near Cloak Bridge – Google Maps
With a Chimney Cake in hand – Instagram