Have you been to the fascinating fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov?

Cesky Krumlov, the iconic way…

Imagine green-yellow hues of the pastoral countryside of southern Czech Republic. Leading to an enchanting cobbled town cozily hidden within gently sloping hills. And a towering castle straight out of a Bohemian fairytale. Cynic or romantic…Český Krumlov can lure anyone into an endearing 16th-century time warp.

There are no bus-filled bays or bustling queues in sight. Maybe no one gets off with you at the bus station. A secluded road and an equally secluded petrol station in sight. A prick of doubt…are you even at the right place? Which way to the town? And how far? No cabs, cars or public transport to be seen. No signboards anywhere. Quick check with the petrol station. Apparently, its a 5 minute walk across the road. Oversized luggage roll, on your way. Wait, stop, hold it! That view, that view!  Lost your heart even before you step into town. Tough competition…huh, Prague?

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No grand gate. Just an unassuming entryway along a cluster of red-roofs buildings straight into a charming medieval paradise trapped in time. Homely Pension B&Bs all around. And you realize that the narrow lane you’re trudging on is the main drag. Perspective set right immediately. A few seconds and you’re at the Hotel Ruze. Love, love, love it. Designed like a monastery, complete vaulted ceilings, tall, iron-grill windows, a Knights Dining Hall and servers in vintage velvet gowns. A gorgeous view from the room over Vltava and a park. Ah, those vibrant autumn colors!

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You expected crowds…just not that much. There’s a festival in town and people are streaming onto the streets. Go with the mood, melt in, join the revelry. Map-less and agenda-less. Follow the throngs to dip into every iconic flavour of this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. Delights every step of the way.

Located opposite Hotel Ruze, is the most first photogenic spot to start with…Seminární Zahrada. Did they plan that for wide terrace consciously, just for an eye-popping effect? Such a perfect place to catch up on some reading or finish a project report. Lean on the balustrade and soak in the gorgeousness of the wondrous vista. You could pitch a tent here to spend your life in, with that as a backdrop. Whoever planned this town was a genius.

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The main artery of town leads directly to the lively town square, Namesti Svornosti, enclosed by delightful, pastel gabled houses, crookedly huddled together since antiquity. Uncanny resemblance to Prague’s old town square…on a small scale. Aromatic food grills, artisans showcasing local crafts, sweets, wines and Bohemian folk performances. The carnival spirit is infectious…pick up some gingerbread cookies to munch along.

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Lazebnický Bridge, the ancient wooden bridge over the rushing river Vitava is no Charles Bridge, but feels more inviting and intimate. Photo-ready and how. The odd street performer or two, souvenir dangling salesmen, portrait painters, the scene is familiar. And there’s the legendary castle (second largest in Czech Republic), clinging to a rocky hill above, owners richer than the Holy Roman Emperor himself. The Rožmberk family ran this town from that spot for three centuries…and they certainly knew how to scout for a location. Who wouldn’t fall in love with this mini Prague?

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Mandatory Tridenlik queue-up a a tiny shop ahead for a hand-rolled cinnamon version. Hot and fresh, soft yet crunchy. Tread up a short flight of steps towards the castle entrance. Much less walking and much less steps than in the Prague castle complex. A complex of forty buildings situated around five courtyards and seven-hectare grounds. 13th-century castle with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. Can’t stop ogling at the finely painted pastel facades of the palace walls. Explore the interiors if you have the time, but don’t miss a sneak peak of the International Gallery of Ceramic works in the Vaclav Cellars located in the 4th castle courtyard. The freestyle artworks of selected Czech artistic ceramicists within vaulted ceilings and rock walls are quirky and inspiring.

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Towards the most recognizable landmark of the town…the six-storied cylindrical Castle Tower. Dressed with lovely murals and motifs in pale salmon and mint colours. Negotiating a traffic jam up the 160 steps to the windy, circular arcaded gallery. And being rewarded with 360-degree killer views of the entire town. Who cares about crowds when you get this?

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Back to ground level, follow the throngs to the Chain Bridge vantage points. There’s a reason why its so popular…that incredible horseshoe bend of the Vltava river. With two bends so acute that they almost touch, creating an island. The challenge? Jostling the crowds and waiting patiently for free spots to gawk from. Houses spilling down the hill to the river to the New Town, where elaborate merchant houses surround the town square. Tiny people dotting the curving streets. And the commanding tower and spire of St Vitus church standing proudly as a centrepiece of the russet-green landscape. Quintessential Bohemian takeaway? A picture of Cesky Krumlov town, framed in a stone arch…stuff dreams are made of. Stay a bit longer and breathe in the remnants of the past.

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High above the town, past the castle complex, away from the selfie sticks and noisy tourist groups, sprawls a massive sanctuary of calm. Does remind you of the Prague castle garden, though. Humungous trees, endless walking paths strewn with russet fallen leaves, carpet-design flower beds, manicured mazes, grand sculptures, lavish fountains. And minuscule figures of you… hopelessly giving in to the fantasy of royal pretence. Find a bench and just watch the clouds float on that generous expanse of blue. The Rožmberks were not the only ones to be privy to this luxury.

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One long day and its a wonderful wrap on the castle and its grounds. Mission iconic Cesky accomplished. But satiation status incomplete. There’s a whole town sprawled down there, literally begging to be discovered. So, who’s up for another kind of hunt? This time for quieter, hidden spots…away from the madding crowd. Just you and your restless roving spirit. (To be continued)

 

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44 thoughts on “Have you been to the fascinating fairytale town of Cesky Krumlov?

  1. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of Cesky Krumlov before reading your guide, but I fell in love with the country after visiting Prague and keep hearing amazing stories about all the other towns. I do like the idea of escaping the selfie sticks and noisy tourist groups to find a calm park area, it looked incredible!

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  2. What a picturesque little town, I love the colours and the artwork inside the castle. Do you know what the suitcases were meant to represent? I remember going to Prague on a school trip not long after the country started welcoming western tourists and there was a lot of grey. You could tell there was a lot of very good architecture and history but they had yet to dust it off. Your post shows that the Czech Republic is now a much brighter place than what I saw in the 90s!

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  3. One place I really want to check up in Czechia is Cesky Krumlov and it does look totally stunning. I done Praha and Brno and wasnt a big fan of these cities but I love checking out smaller places and I always find that they are more beautiful and there is always something to do.

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  4. Brings back such great memories. Thanks! We loved this magical small town on our visit to the Czech Republic last year. But it looks even more beautiful in autumn with the changing colours. My mouth is watering thinking about the yummy Tridenlik. We were happy we stayed in town so we got to wander at night after the day travellers departed.

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  5. Brings back such great memories. Thanks! We loved this magical small town on our visit to the Czech Republic last year. But it looks even more beautiful in autumn with the changing colours. My mouth is watering thinking about the yummy Tridenlik. We were happy we stayed in town so we got to wander at night after the day travellers departed. (Linda – LD Holland)

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  6. Quaint and so picturesque! It’s my favorite kind of town to explore — with medieval buildings and cobblestoned streets, and lots of super cool things to take photos of. Love the views of the red rooftops and spires, too!

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  7. What a beautiful little town! After my last visit to Prague, I was a bit scared and did not know if I should go to the area so much again. The Overturism hatched there so. But in this sweet little town, I think I would like that a lot.
    Thanks for the tip

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  8. Such vibrant colors and amazing photography. Cesky Krumlov looks like an amazing place to visit away from the very popular Prague. The Czech Republic is on my dream list and I am even more intrigued now. Great visual storytelling.

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  9. I should confess that I haven’t heard of Cesky Krumlov before. I have been to a few small Czech towns and they are all beautiful. I think I was lucky because we had a car otherwise we would have been like you with big luggage and no public transport

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  10. I visited Prague quite a few years ago on a trip from uni and absolutely loved it. Since then we’ve seen photos of Cesky Krumlov and it’s always made me want to return to Czech Republic to see it as well as seeing Prague again.

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  11. Well, you most definitely have my attention. Cesky Krumlov is the quintessential, colorful charming town I love to visit in Europe. I haven’t been to Prague yet so it’s interesting that you call it a mini-Prague. I will have to visit both in the same trip and compare. But I’m with you on the views. They are AMAZING!!

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  12. Love your article and all the photos that go with it. We almost went to Cesky Krumlov when we were in Czech, however time constraints ensured that we did not go there. It is still on cards though. 😉

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  13. Cesky Krumlov really is a fairy tale town. The red roofs with the backdrop of rolling green hills is really a splendid view here. I have only been to Prague but never been to other areas. But now I have to look for this fairy tale town too.

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  14. Unfortunately I have not been to Cesky Krumlov 😦 But it truly looks amazing! I’ve never been to Prague either but those red roofs remind me a bit of Lisbon. I’m glad to hear that it’s not overrun or overcrowded, and Namesti Svornosti with all its street vendors and market-like atmosphere looks like so much fun to explore!

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  15. Czech Republic.. always my favorite! I remember visiting Prague and the feeling is still there – and now seeing all your photos make me want to go back to Czech! But now to Cesky Krumlov – I love the architectures, the autumn leaves, the quietness of the place that seems less touristic – I just love what I see! I’ll be heading there this year! ❤

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