Tucked away in the south of the Czech Republic, close to the Austrian boarder, Český Krumlov is a cute, medieval town. I first heard about it from the Indie Travel Podcast, way back in one of their early episodes from June 2007 when Craig and Linda interviewed the owner of the hostel they were staying at, Krumlov House.
It’s possibly the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and during my time living and teaching in Austria, I visited Krumlov six times, and always stayed at Krumlov House. It has clean dorm rooms (with no bunks!) and private rooms, great staff, free (fast) wifi, a book swap and a great quiet, homely atmosphere.
There are plenty of other places to stay in town, including a few other hostels as well as many hotels and pensions. Except in summer when the place gets overrun, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to stay.
The main sight here is the town itself; just walking around the streets is a wonderful experience, however there are a couple worthy of a mention.
Krumlov Castle is especially large considering the size of the town and is built on a rock overlooking the rest of the town, making it an impressive sight, visible from almost everywhere in town. The castle itself is closed during winter, but it is still possible to walk through the grounds and across the bridge over the castle rock for views of the whole town, for free. Entrance to climb the tower costs 50kr (€2) and offers more pleasant views of the town and surrounding hills. Behind the castle, there are also gardens, which are free to enter, but only open during the main tourist season (April-October). They are a pleasant place to wander around and lounge on the grass on a sunny day. At the centre, there is also a revolving theatre which has frequent performances in the summer.
Křižek is a chapel on a hill on the outskirts of the old town which offers the best views of Český Krumlov. The church looks a bit like a white circus tent and it’s only a 10-15 minute (uphill) walk from Krumlov House. While you can’t enter the chapel itself, it’s still a pleasant walk and the views are definitely worth it. In winter, you can also carry a snowboard uphill with you (that the guys at Krumlov House will lend you for free) and race back down on it!
On Latrán just outside the main castle entrance, this is a great place relax for an hour or two and sip one of the hundred different kinds of tea on offer, alongside some light snacks or even a hookah. In summer, they have a lovely garden overlooking the old monastery.
This is a café-cum-bar attached to the town’s theatre on Horni ulice, just up the road from Krumlov house. The honey cake, though not vegan, is gorgeous. It’s the perfect cosy place to retreat to on a cold, snowy day.
If you’re staying in Krumlov House (which you should), you can make use of the shared kitchen and do your shopping at one of the handful of small supermarkets, but otherwise, there are plenty of good places to eat in town.
For fresh, innovative vegetarian and vegan (which is generally hard to find in the Czech Republic), head to Laibon on Parkán.
Read more: See our review of Laibon here.
U dwau Maryí (The Two Marys)
This medieval style place next door to Laibon is something quite special where you can have a ‘Bohemian feast’ in either a pork, chicken, duck or vegetarian variety which is served with kraut, salad, potatoes, millet cake and dumplings. (I’m pretty sure the vegetarian version of the feast is also vegan, though I wasn’t able to check.)
This diminutive restaurant on Široká is a good choice for traditional Czech food, with a few vegetarian options, and several that are dairy free (if you ask for no tartar sauce) like breaded cauliflower (smažený květák) with boiled potatoes and salad. Note: this contains egg.
I have also created a Foursquare list of all the places mentioned here, which you can save.
At 180km and about 3 hours by bus from the Czech Republic’s capital, Prague, Český Krumlov is not quite a day trip destination from the capital, but is easily accessible with direct buses run by Student Agency. A single trip costs 150kr (about €6). From or to anywhere else in the Czech Republic, it is necessary to travel to Český Budějovice (Budweis), the nearest large town, either by bus (30-40 minutes, 32kr/€1.25) or by train (1 hour, 55kr/€2.20). There are a couple of agencies offering direct transfers by minivan or car to Linz, Salzburg, Vienna and Hallstatt in Austria or Munich in Germany, to which there are no other direct options.
All in all, Český Krumlov is a great place to visit, either for a relaxing weekend trip, or on the way between cities (like Vienna, Linz or Prague) on a longer European trip.