no doubt heard of Český Krumlov already. It’s the gorgeous little town
in the hills of Southern Bohemia where the Vltava River wraps around a
beautifully restored old town and the second-largest chateau in the
country (after Prague). It’s also easily the most popular destination
outside Prague for English-speaking tourists and the notorious
Roth/Tarantino films Hostel and Hostel II were filmed there.
it’s so famous and it’s on the route of all those big tour groups like
Contiki, Busabout and Rick Steves, is it still worth visiting? Well,
the short answer is ‘Yes’. Český Krumlov is popular for good reason and
as long as you won’t be upset when you find you’re not the only
foreigner walking around, then it’s a very enjoyable place to pass at
least a few days.
And especially if you’ve come
from Prague or Vienna, it may not seem crowded at all. A large number
of Český Krumlov’s foreign visitors still just pass through for an
afternoon, so the evenings and early mornings can be quite peaceful.
Breathe in the past
so what is there to do on these peaceful mornings and evenings? Well,
perhaps the greatest pleasure of a stay in Český Krumlov is just
wandering around soaking up the atmosphere. The entire old town is
UNESCO world heritage listed and the narrow cobbled streets and lanes
could have been conjured straight from a book of fairytales.
Krumlov chateau and tower
For a more specific activity though, a visit to the chateau is a must. There are several tours through the different sections,
including to the baroque theatre, which is one of only four surviving
in Europe. If your budget is extremely tight, there’s no charge to walk
through the various courtyards, wave to the bears in the moat and end
up in the huge gardens with spectacular views back over the town and
the river valley. And if spectacular views are your thing, it’s also
possible just to climb the colourful round tower of the chateau at a
much lower fee than a full tour of the whole complex.
Schiele Art centre
Just off the main square, the Egon Schiele art centre is a world class facility. Entry is not cheap, but past exhibitions
have included Salvador Dali, Keith Haring and Marc Chagall. The
permanent collection is also an illuminating glimpse into the life of
Schiele, who lived and worked in Český Krumlov prior to WWI.
Curves of the River Vltava
you’re here during the warm weather you shouldn’t miss a chance to get
into or onto the River. You’ll see plenty of locals swimming and dozens
if not hundreds of people in canoes and inflatable rafts. There are
several companies that will hire you a raft and equipment, drive you upstream and leave you the rest of the day to make your way back to Krumlov.
of the backpackers’ hostels will also loan their guests old inner
tubes. The best thing to do with them is to find the spot where the
river almost doubles back on itself (below restaurant Barbakan)) jump
onto your tube there, float around the old town and beneath the castle,
climb out near Hotel Mlýn, walk back 100m back to your starting point
and do it all again.
And being such a popular
destination, Český Krumlov has some brilliant facilities for visitors.
Accommodation like the legendary hostel Krumlov House and restaurants and bars like the Two Mary’s and the Gypsy Bar are some of the most memorable in the Czech Republic, if not Central Europe.
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Outside Prague last updated June 13th, 2010. All text and images Copyright 2007-2010. Articles may be excerpted for review, or printed for use by individual travellers.
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