About two hours south of Prague, nestled among the rolling hills of the south Bohemia Region of the Czech Republic, Český Krumlov is a quaint and picturesque town with a 13th century hilltop castle standing guard over the countryside below. I have wanted to see it for a long time, so during my week in Prague I joined a small group tour and spent a day there.
Built in 1240, the castle is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A series of five courtyards lead you through the building. It is the second most visited castle in the Czech Republic after Prague Castle. I understand that it's possible to visit some of the interior rooms, but our tour concentrated on the exterior spaces.
The Rosenbergs, a prominent Bohemian noble family, settled in the region and played a prominent role in both the castle and the region from the 13th to the 17th centuries. Its coat of arms included a rose with five petals, one for each branch of the family.
Medieval castles wouldn't be complete without a moat. The three-storied covered arched Cloak Bridge that spans the moat at the Upper Castle is an extraordinary sight. Originally built in the 15th century, it's believed that it was originally made of wood, but what exists today was completed in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Rosenbergs kept bears in the moat and they remain to this day, although they didn't appear for us.
Four statues line the walkway, including one of St. Wenceslas.
My favorite feature of the castle was the tower. Built between the 13th to 16th centuries, this six story structure stands at almost 300 ft. above the countryside.
It can easily be seen from just about anywhere in the town.
The fairytale town is surrounded by the Vltava River, the same one that runs through Prague to the north. The town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
Its narrow, cobblestone lanes transport you to another century.
Tourism is an important source of revenue and nowadays small shops and restaurants welcome tourists.
The town currently has about 13,000 inhabitants and it can get quite crowded during peak visitation, but on the day we were there in late October we had it almost to ourselves.
Even the manhole covers are artistic!
If you've read other articles on this blog, you know that I'm not much of a foodie, but I know good food when I see (taste) it! Our guide took us to this restaurant which has a beautiful riverside location - and the food was delicious!
The view from our table.
I don't know exactly how old the restaurant is, but it's old!
It was a picture-perfect day and I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful town when you're in the Czech Republic.
See also my article about the beautiful city of Prague.
➜ Top Tips
Český Krumlov is a perfect day trip from Prague. I took a small, organized tour but you could also get there on your own by car, bus or train. Note that the train station is on the outskirts of town, about a 25 minute walk.
A few articles I read before I went suggested staying a night or more in Český Krumlov. Especially during peak season, the day trippers would be gone by night and you'd have a more authentic experience, but a day trip during the fall was adequate for me.
The castle, as is the case with most castles, sits at the top of a hill. There is a short walk up which isn't too strenuous, but wear comfortable shoes.
Try to go on a nice day. The views of the countryside are beautiful and the clear, crisp day we were there made for a perfect experience.