Big on Charm…and Tourists
A little town BIG on charm, many people make a visit to Český Krumlov a day trip from Prague or just an overnight stop. Sure you can see the famous castle and maybe a couple of other sites in a day but to really enjoy Český Krumlov the uncrowded mornings and evenings are perfect.
Castle View Apartments, 3 nights in the charming Attic View Apartment #1, breakfast included. Loved the day and night view of the Castle through the dormer window of this delightful studio apartment.
After a long sightseeing drive from Krems we checked in and parked the car where it would stay put for the next 3 nights. Our first night started with dinner at Mastal Resaurant – down a cobbled sloping entry to a low-ceiling atmospheric cellar for a traditional meal, with the cozy rustic decor it was a great start to our stay in this little medieval town.
Tip: Český Krumlov’s historic center is pedestrian only, but to check in and drop off luggage you can drive there and park briefly. Drive over the bridge directly to the Main Square – set your GPS to navigate to the Tourist Information office in the square.
Tip: If you’re staying at one of the Castle View Apartments, print the picture of their map found on their website. The tiny pedestrian streets are confusing to the GPS and may take you in frustrating circles. Follow the map, it’s a one-way road into town over the bridge, and a one-way road out over another bridge to their parking lot.
The 2 hour Wiseman Free walking tour (you know it’s for tips, right?) is fun and informative and a great way to get to know your way around little Český Krumlov. The tour starts in front of the Tourist Information in the Main Square and ends at the Castle, where you’re perfectly position to get a ticket for a Castle tour. On the tour you’ll get the inside scoop on some marvelous buildings like the Jakub house, an historic and beautiful 14th century building named after its 16th century owner, the Rožmberk Regent and Bohemian fishpond engineer Jakub Krčín.
Castle Tour and Pushy Tour Groups
After the walking tour, head to the ticket office to get a ticket for an English language tour – the tour sizes are limited and English may sell out.
With your tour time secure, you may have time for a walk in the Castle Gardens, where you’ll also find clean restrooms for a small fee. Tip: There are a couple of castle tours, but only tour Route #1 is in English.
Tour #1 of the Castle ends with the fantastic ballroom – the Masquerade Hall. This ballroom is far different from any you have ever seen and is a terrific end to the impressive rooms you see on the tour. The walls are painted with the theme of aristocrats enjoying themselves in the middle of a masquerade festival, where well known Italian and French Carnival figures (“Commedia del Arte”) mingle with people in Spanish, Turkish, or other national folk costumes. The paintings cover all the walls and the tour takes you in a slow circuit around as the guide describes the key figures. What fun they must have had in THIS ballroom!
Be Forewarned! Tour groups love Český Krumlov. I’ve never run into more obnoxiously pushy people in groups than here. The lovely town is long on view spots and photo ops, but heaven help you if you are standing in one of the spots that one or more of these people want to be in – RIGHT NOW! We were physically pushed out of the way twice in 2 different locations. The first time we were in a tiny opening in the castle walkway when a group of four people rushed up, cameras held high in outstretched arms, and shoved us out of the way. The second time was in THE photo op spot where a woman with a selfie stick moved in on us murmuring something I took for “excuse me” as she persistently pressed against us to move us out of her way. Both times we were so startled by this behavior that we moved.
The Tower, Museum, and Baroque Theater
The next full day we got out early to go up the tower and enjoyed the scene peacefully by ourselves for awhile. After that we had plenty of time for the interesting museum before the Baroque Theater. If you’re hesitant about a “theater tour” – don’t be! This is the most completely preserved baroque theatre in the world, and one of the oldest castle theatres preserved in Central Europe. A wonderful opportunity to see it in all it’s restored glory.
Great Eats: A typical Czech dish is called Svíčková, or svíčková na smetaně (beef sirloin in cream sauce), simply delicious! We had it at Papa’s Living Restaurant, outside by the river watching the paddlers zip by. Perfect end to our last night in Český Krumlov. Tip: Papa’s Living Restaurant doesn’t have this dish on their menu all the time, we asked at the Castle View Apartments where we could get it and Friday was the night!
Leaving Český Krumlov
We’d picked up our expensive little Skoda Fabia rental car in Vienna and were returning it in Salzburg at the airport at noon, about 2.5 hours drive from Český Krumlov.
Good thing we left with plenty of time to spare, we didn’t realize it but we turned the wrong way out of a gas station in Studanky not far from the Austrian border. A couple of Czech police officers were taking a break at the cafe inside the station, saw this, hopped in their car and pursued us blue lights flashing. Despite us having no Czech language skills and they had almost no English language skills, they were very friendly and pleasant and we shook hands all around after somehow negotiating paying the 2,000CZK ticket for 1,000CZK. We had NO Czech Korunas and were able to get 1,000CZK for €40 at a nearby store. It was the cheapest ticket we’ve ever gotten and a reminder to be vigilant looking for traffic and “No Entry” signs. Was that cash pocketed or was it legit? Yep, it was legit – we got the official receipt for our 1,000CZK.
Travel: Český Krumlov to Salzburg Airport – 3 hours.
Český Krumlov Handy Resource List
- Wiseman Free Walking Tour
- Český Krumlov State Castle and Chateau official site
- Český Krumlov Castle Baroque Theater
- Castle Masquerade Hall (Ballroom)
- Český Krumlov official site: Jakub House, Kájovská No. 54
- Tolls in the Czech Republic – SFDI Official Site. In this part of the Czech Republic the highways don’t have tolls – a toll sticker (vignette) isn’t required.