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Český Krumlov

You’ve 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.

renaissance house in shadowIf 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

OK, 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

Cesky Krumlov chateau at duskFor 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

Second weir in Cesky KrumlovIf 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.

Some 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.

As is the town itself. Enjoy your trip!

Cesky Krumlov
See and Do
Český Krumlov Overview
Český Krumlov Chateau
Vltava River rafting
Egon Schiele Art Centre
Eat, Drink and Sleep
Two Marys' restaurant
Šatlava dungeon tavern
Gypsy Bar
Horror Bar
Hostel Krumlov House
Check Hotels in Český Krumlov
Getting there
Getting to Český Krumlov


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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