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One of the most popular day trips from Prague is the medieval town of Český Krumlov. So many tourists make the day trip from Prague to Český Krumlov with the best intentions and hope for the highlight of their trip.
The truth? Český Krumlov is often listed as one of the best day trips from Prague – but everyone else did the same. As a result, Krumlov is almost unbearably crowded during the day, especially in summer.
I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Czech Republic lately and one of my main priorities was finally to visit Český Krumlov. My friend has lived in Prague for 18 years and works in the tourism industry. One of his top tips for his customers is NOT a day trip to Český Krumlov, but an overnight stay.
Overnight stay in Český Krumlov? I thought. But there are only two hours left. This is a perfect day trip.
There is a reason for this, however. Český Krumlov has had an enormous tourist load in the past ten years. For this reason, a day trip to Český Krumlov means spending your day struggling through crowds, standing in line and taking photos that don’t have a million people living on them.
But after about 5:00 p.m. everything clears up wonderfully. The crowd gets back on their buses and sets off on a tour of Central Europe. The day trippers return to Prague to stroll across the Charles Bridge and watch the astronomical clock.
When the city becomes quiet, when the streets are empty, Český Krumlov becomes exceptional.
Why travel to Český Krumlov?
Český Krumlov is a small medieval town in the Czech Republic. Like many Czech cities, Český Krumlov is beautifully preserved – you can imagine that the skyline looked exactly the same in the 14th century. For this reason, the historic center of Český Krumlov was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
The Czech Republic does not get enough recognition for some of the most beautiful cities in Europe. (It turned out that invading the invaders is VERY GOOD to preserve the architecture of your city.) When I came to Prague as a student, I was amazed at the candy houses and thought this was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been had seen.
When you come to Český Krumlov you will see more of these candy houses – but you will also be able to enjoy a castle tower with an incredible view. And a baroque theater like you’ve never seen before. And a river waiting to be rafted. And one of the best craft cocktail bars in the country. All in one small, walk-in, delightful package without the noise and traffic of a big city.
If you are traveling to the Czech Republic and want to see more than just Prague, Český Krumlov should be at the top of your list.
I wrote this travel guide for Český Krumlov to make sure you have the best visit ever.
Frequently asked questions about Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov is pronounced CHESS-ky KROOM-lov.
Do not take the train to Český Krumlov – there is only one per day and the train station is far from the city. I recommend arriving by bus, tourist shuttle or rental car.
I am a big fan of the Hotel Oldinn and I think it is the best place to stay in Český Krumlov. Hotel Bellevue is lovely if you’re looking for luxury, and Pension Galko is a solid, affordable option.
PLEASE do not take a day trip from Prague to Český Krumlov! It is too crowded with day tourists. Spend the night and you will fall in love with the city. Here’s why.
Český Krumlov Overtourism
Overtourism has become an important topic in the past ten years, especially in places like Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona. Upper tourism is when a certain travel destination has too many tourists in a small space and has a negative impact on the locals.
Many people think that Prague is the epicenter of high tourism in the Czech Republic – and if you drive along the Old Town you will understand its seriousness. There is almost nothing for locals in Prague’s old town. It is a sea of hotels, money exchange offices and chimney cake sellers. My local friends in Prague rarely go there.
Fortunately, Prague is a big city and outside of the city center there are interesting neighborhoods where very few tourists can be found. I hope that is what will make the city worth living in the future.
Even though Český Krumlov has fewer visitors than Prague – about 1.5 to 2 million a year to about 8 million in Prague – the problem of over-tourism in Český Krumlov is far more serious. This is primarily because of its size – it is geographically tiny and there is no place where people can spread.
Tourism in Český Krumlov has increased enormously in the past ten years. This is due to two major factors – the growing popularity of river cruises and the massive increase in tourism in Asia.
River cruises were once a niche product, but have recently become a popular way to explore Europe, especially for North Americans over 50. Ironically, Český Krumlov is not even a river cruise station! The Vltava is too small to accommodate a cruise ship. Instead, Český Krumlov is a popular day trip from Danube cruise ports such as Linz (Austria) and Passau (Germany).
In Asian tourism there was initially a wave of Korean tourists after Korean Air bought a 44% stake in Czech Airlines in 2013 and started direct flights to Prague from Seoul. However, Chinese tourism to Europe has increased year by year in the past ten years European travel commissiondrive further east, especially to Hungary, Estonia and especially to Croatia.
Most East Asian tourists to Europe travel on large buses, primarily to have guides who speak their language. While it is good that these tours make interesting destinations accessible to more travelers, large bus tours have a negative impact on small towns like Český Krumlov.
How bad is overtourism in Český Krumlov? If you visit during the summer months, the small medieval streets will be crowded with people from wall to wall. If you want to get one of the outstanding photos with a view of the castle or city skyline, you have to push people out of the way. There will be lines everywhere; It will be difficult to go to restaurants at lunchtime.
In the winter months, especially in January and February, it is a little quieter, but in Český Krumlov, over-tourism is a year-round issue. It’s crowded 12 months a year and the more bus loads arrive, the worse it gets.
What can you do to avoid over-tourism in Český Krumlov?
Overnight in Český Krumlov. It’s that simple. It’s JARRING how different it is at night.
I am often asked whether it is worth visiting an exaggerated travel destination. You can avoid over-tourism destinations if you want. However, this is not always an option. Some of them have no viable alternatives – there is nowhere else in the world like Venice. I don’t have the heart to tell someone that they should never travel to Venice if they have dreamed of visiting all their lives!
Sometimes you can avoid over-tourism by visiting in the off-season. For example, this works spectacularly well for Dubrovnik, but not so well for Barcelona, which is popular all year round. And for cruise ships, you can often see the port schedule and visit on the day when the fewest ships are in the port.
With popular destinations, however, the answer is simple: Just stay overnight,
This is the truth for Český Krumlov, for Mostar in Bosnia, for Bruges in Belgium, for Kotor in Montenegro. All of these are popular excursion destinations in Europe that are empty until late afternoon.
And then the magic happens. It cools down, the light becomes beautiful and suddenly you have these winding streets to yourself. I bet if you travel from Prague to Český Krumlov you will like the city a million times better if you stay overnight.
Activities in Český Krumlov
What is the best thing to do in Český Krumlov? Most of the city’s charm is strolling and marveling at its beauty. Krumlov is a city for hiking.
But there are many sights. And if you want to see more, I recommend them Cesky Krumlov card, It costs 300 crowns (USD 13) for adults, 150 crowns (USD 7) for children, students and seniors. and you have access to the castle tower and castle museum, the regional museum, the Seidel photo studio museum, the Egon Schiele Art Center and the monasteries in Český Krumlov.
You can buy the card at any of the five attractions you have access to, or at the city’s tourist information center.
Český Krumlov Castle
One of the highlights of the visit to Český Krumlov is the visit Český Krumlov Castle, You can enjoy the castle from the outside or explore the magnificent interiors.
Tours are offered in Czech, English and German. There is written material in French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Dutch. Tours cost 300 crowns ($ 13) per person.
There are 162 steps to the top of the castle tower and the view is excellent (especially in the afternoon). Your admission ticket also gives you access to the Castle Museum, a small museum on the history of the castle. Entry is 150 crowns ($ 7) for adults.
The beautifully preserved baroque theater is spectacular from the inside. The scenery consists of layered, painted objects that slide in and out. You must visit as part of a tour. English language tours cost 270 crowns (USD 12) per person.
Canoe, kayak and rafting on the Vltava
The river around Český Krumlov may be tiny, but travel outside the city and it will be strong! In the shops in Krumlov you can find out which river cruises are currently available. This is one of the best activities in Český Krumlov during the summer months.
Museum photo studio Seidel
This museum is actually the former home of local photographer Josef Seidel, who spent his life photographing Krumlov and his people. Entry is 120 crowns (USD 5) per person.
St. Vitus Cathedral
This is the white church on the hill in the city. It is worth taking a quick look. I was here when the locals left Sunday mass far more disguised than American Catholics!
Read The bloodshed’s daughter
I often like to read books that are in the place that I visit. The bloodshed’s daughter by Linda Lafferty is a historical novel that takes place in Český Krumlov in 1606. Marketa is her father’s assistant, a bloodshed dedicated to treating the madness of the emperor’s bastard son, Don Julius. As the disease progresses, Don Julius becomes more dangerous and obsessed with Marketa.
(Full disclosure: I was not enormously Fan of the book. I liked the setting, I liked the plot, and I didn’t like writing. You cannot agree; Writing is a subjective thing. But that’s so vivid for Krumlov that I thought it was worth sharing.)
Get photos from the best angles
You might think that in a city as beautiful as Český Krumlov you will have beautiful photos no matter what. However, if you make an effort to visit the best vantage points at the right time of day, you will get even better photos. There is nothing worse than getting to a photo point and realizing that you are shooting in the sun.
Here are the best photo locations:
Opposite the Hotel Ruze. The light is best in the morning. Scroll down and you’ll see rainbow shots!
Castle Tower. A must. The light is best in the afternoon.
Mantle bridge in Český Krumlov Castle. You do not need an admission ticket. The light is best in the afternoon.
Immediately after the Cloak Bridge on the left. There are crescent-shaped cutouts that are well suited to frame the St. Vitus Cathedral. The light is best in the afternoon.
Kaple Penny Marie Bolestné. Do you see the small white building on the hill in the distance in the top right in the photo above? That is the point. It is about a 30-minute walk from the old town. The light is best in the morning.
Eat traditional Czech food
If you spend a short time in the Czech Republic, you should definitely try Czech food! The medieval atmosphere of Český Krumlov lends itself well to quaint, traditional restaurants that serve dishes that stick to your ribs.
This is garlic soup (česnečka), a popular Czech dish that goes well beyond its name – it’s a buttery herb soup with potatoes and croutons.
Tavern of the two Marys Looks like a restaurant from centuries past – you climb stairs in a quirky, narrow house adorned with blankets and two portraits of the Virgin Mary. You sit on wooden benches and enjoy hearty Czech specialties.
Another fun option is Krčma Šatlava, a medieval restaurant where you dine in a cavernous atmosphere while meat is roasted on a blazing fire. Reserve here in advance. it is rather fully booked.
Český Krumlov at night
Mid December when I visited sunset in Český Krumlov is around 4 p.m. – yikes! (The good news is that the sunrise at this time of the year is at 7:50 a.m. So if you take pictures early in the morning you can sleep in!) And of course, if you come here during the summer months, the sunset can be late as well like 9.10 a.m.
Either way – the night is the most magical time in Český Krumlov. The bus tours start around 4 p.m. and the streets are empty until 6 p.m.
Suddenly you can walk down the street and be one of three people instead of three hundred.
After dark, I felt so free in Český Krumlov – and I loved the city more and more. Two of my favorite experiences in Český Krumlov were at night.
If you are looking for a good restaurant in Český Krumlov or if you want to celebrate a special occasion, I can recommend the meal at Le Jardin, The restaurant serves fine Czech cuisine.
Full honesty: I’m usually not a big fan of Czech food. I occasionally eat goulash and dumplings, such as when I’m in a brewery, but when I want a special meal, I choose practically any other kitchen.
Le Jardin is an exception. Your food is accurate, tender and thoughtful and not cumbersome at all, from the amuse bouche to dessert. You can eat à la carte or choose a tasting menu. The restaurant is small and cozy, just like Český Krumlov. And the service is among the best I’ve had in Europe.
The menu at Le Jardin changes with the seasons. But the pork fillet and the duck jam are both great, and if they have pumpkin soup or pumpkin soup on the menu, I ask you to get it! This soup is perhaps the best dish I have ever eaten in the Czech Republic.
But the best thing about being in Český Krumlov overnight was an evening in the pharmacy, one of the best cocktail bars in the Czech Republic (and there are a lot of incredible cocktail bars in the Czech Republic). The pharmacy used to be a pharmacy. Today alcohol is used as medicine.
It’s a very cool room, dark and old-fashioned, with lots of oddly shaped bottles.
We tried two of their typical cocktails – both spectacular. One tasted of Raspberry Kool Aid (and I could easily have drunk it all night!), And a butter cocktail was popcorn!
You could tell that they were almost exclusively locals. They were well dressed, chatted with the bartenders, and seemed to know each other. It can be difficult to find a bar in a tourist town that has a cool factor but is not taken over by tourists. Pharmacy is a rarity.
Make sure you bring cash with you! The pharmacy is only available against cash payment. When you leave the bar and turn right, there is an ATM. This is on the left in a kind of outdoor area.
Pharmacy does not allow photography. The manager kindly let me take some photos after I showed him my media ID and told him about the story I was writing and that I had been there for a while.
A few cocktails, another evening walk and I fell asleep in peace.
Tomorrow in Český Krumlov
If you are a photographer, you want to take pictures in Český Krumlov early in the morning – this is your best chance of taking pictures during the day without people being around. If you stay overnight, you can experience a good light in other areas than in the afternoon.
When I woke up the next morning in Krumlov, the rain had cleared. But we had the BEST result – a rainbow! A full, bold rainbow that stretched from one end of the skyline to the other.
We went back to the viewpoint opposite Hotel Ruze and photographed the view against a blue sky, taking more rainbow pictures.
After a stroll through the city (I recommend a coffee break Kolektiv), we left at 11:00 a.m. And BOY, that was a random moment!
When I left the city, this was the view of the Cloak Bridge. Hardly anyone in the morning sun.
No kidding – less than ten seconds later, the masses poured in from the big bus tours.
Immediately behind them were river cruise groups led by descriptive guides.
I could not believe it. Was my fairy tale gone? I had spent a quiet and beautiful morning in Český Krumlov and around 11:00 a.m. I felt that the city was under attack.
It was a wise decision to stay in Český Krumlov.
Accommodation in Český Krumlov
You can find Český Krumlov hotels at any price and get good value for money. Although the city is primarily a day trip destination, it is well suited for its overnight guests.
On my trip to Český Krumlov I was in Hotel Oldinnwhich I really enjoyed and recommend. The Oldinn is a comfortable, newly renovated mid-range hotel in an excellent location.
Here are the top rated hotels in each price range:
Best luxury hotel in Český Krumlov: Hotel Bellevue
In a city full of old-fashioned luxury hotels, the Hotel Bellevue is a breath of fresh air. Modern, innovative and hidden in a quiet corner of the old town, the hotel offers a sauna, tennis courts and even a bowling alley! The rooms are quiet and tastefully decorated in muted colors. The hotel’s Le Jardin restaurant is the best gourmet restaurant in the city and serves exquisite Czech cuisine.
Make sure you book a deluxe room or higher – the superior rooms are very small. Prices start at $ 217.
Best mid-range hotel in Český Krumlov: Hotel Oldinn
I loved my stay at the Hotel Oldinn. This modern hotel is located on Náměstí Svornosti, one of the most picturesque squares in the old town. It has large, recently renovated rooms. The quotes on the walls add a touch of quirkiness, and the hotel offers room service.
Please note that Hotel Oldinn was renovated in 2019. If you see reviews of dated, old-fashioned decor, it was before the renovation. It looks like the photo above. Prices from $ 62.
Best budget hotel in Český Krumlov: Pension Galko
This five-room guest house is in the heart of the old town and is a cozy option if you are traveling on a budget. The rooms are a bit small and dated, but the Bohemian murals are warm and cheerful. Prices from $ 44.
How to get from Prague to Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov is a bit isolated – it is not on one of the main traffic routes and it is not a strategic stopover between major cities. You will go a bit out of the way to get to Český Krumlov, but there are several ways to get there.
Prague to Český Krumlov by train
In the past there was no train from Prague to Český Krumlov. Today there is exactly one train that only runs once a day at 9:01 a.m. It takes 2 hours and 51 minutes and arrives at 11:52 a.m. One train returns at 2:07 p.m. and returns to Prague at 4:56 p.m.
I prefer to drive in Europe if possible, but I do not recommend driving from Prague to Český Krumlov. The times of the trains are somewhat inconvenient and the Český Krumlov train station is about a 16-minute walk from the edge of the old town, much further than the bus station (6 minutes away).
Buses run more frequently, take around the same time and bring you closer to the old town (which makes a big difference if you have luggage).
Prague to Český Krumlov by bus
Most people who travel from Prague to Český Krumlov by public transport take the bus. There are buses all day and they last 2 hours and 45 minutes.
If you want to go to Český Krumlov by public transport, I recommend taking the bus. The bus stop is about a six-minute walk from the edge of the old town.
Prague to Český Krumlov with the shuttle transfer
Shuttle transfers are usually a minibus that you share with other travelers. Many of them pick you up from your accommodation.
You can also book a shuttle from Prague to Český Krumlovand book your next shuttle to another destination – to Salzburg, Vienna, Halstatt and more.
Prague to Český Krumlov by private transfer
If you want, you can hire a private driver to take you from Prague to Český Krumlov. This is the most expensive option. However, if you are traveling in a group, this may be the cheapest option.
Prague to Český Krumlov by car
Renting a car is an option and I highly recommend road trips across the Czech Republic, not just the two most popular cities! There are great cities like Olomouc and Brno, there is beautiful nature like the Moravian Karst and the Bohemian Switzerland. There are even excellent Czech wineries if you go further east to Moravia!
There is a parking lot directly in front of the city wall of Český Krumlov with a price of 450 crowns (20 USD) for 12 to 24 hours and 900 crowns (40 USD) for 24 to 48 hours. When the lot is full, several others are on the same street.
If you are driving from Prague to Český Krumlov and are interested in UNESCO World Heritage, visit the town of Holašovice. It is about 30 minutes from Krumlov.
The city has been declared a World Heritage Site for its architecture, but has no other tourist value. It’s a cute place, but if you’re not in World Heritage Sites, you can miss it. We stayed about 10 minutes and then drove back to Prague.
Other attractions in the area that you can visit include Hluboká Castle and the town of České Budějovice, home of the Budweiser Brewery (the Czech Budweiser – nothing like the American one!).
Best time to go to Český Krumlov
I suspect you won’t be planning your entire trip through a small town, but I strongly advise you not to plan your trip to Central Europe in the heart of summer. It is incredibly crowded, it gets much hotter than you think and the prices are the highest.
If summer is your only travel time, you can enjoy a visit to the fullest. (If you are a teacher or have children, I understand. Summer is what you have.) I encourage you to come earlier in June than in August if you can. August is the busiest time in the Czech Republic and temperatures can be scorching.
The high season, spring and autumn, can be a good time to travel to Český Krumlov. Temperatures are milder, but you know that the city is still extremely crowded during the day.
I visited Český Krumlov in mid-December. Due to the growing popularity of river cruises in the Christmas market, this is still a popular travel time. There are a few Christmas markets in Český Krumlov and they are cute, but I recommend going to Germany instead if you really want the best Christmas markets.
The absolute lowest season in Český Krumlov is January and February. Tourism never dies here, but then it is the lowest (not to mention the coolest). I’m not a fan of Central Europe in the winter months – it’s gray, dark, and cold – but if the weather isn’t a deal breaker, you can enjoy it at this point.
Overall, I would aim for November or December or maybe April.
But as always, no matter what time of year, Český Krumlov is much less crowded when the day trippers leave.
Should you visit Český Krumlov?
A mistake many travelers make is visiting Prague, then leaving and seeing nothing else in the Czech Republic. (Hell, I’m one of them. I was in the country for three days at the age of 20, never left Prague, and didn’t return until I was 35.)
Český Krumlov is such a special city and I think it is the most beautiful place in the Czech Republic. A visit is definitely worth it …
… only as long as you don’t do it as a day trip. ACCOMMODATION IN KRUMLOV!
How to plan a trip from Prague to Český Krumlov
Here is a cheat sheet of how to plan the perfect trip to Český Krumlov:
Step one. Choose an appointment for your trip.
Step four: make a table reservation if you are interested in a particular restaurant like Le Jardin or Krčma Šatlava.
Step five: take out travel insurance. If you have an emergency, it can save your life or your finances. I use and recommend world nomads,
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Have you been to Český Krumlov? Share your tips!
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