The day before leaving Prague we bought our tickets for Cesky Krumlov through the Student Agency Bus Service ticket window at Florenc Bus Station, 100 metres from our hotel. For Jack, Sarah and I the total price came to 400 CZK (AU$20), which I think is great value given the trip takes three hours and Jack gets his own seat as well.
The only reason Cesky Krumlov was on our itinerary is because during my last visit to Prague in 2000 I was told that it was a beautiful town and I had to go. I didn’t have time on that trip, but given we were in the neighbourhood this time around I thought we should go and see what all the fuss was about. So with absolutely zero research put into where we were going and what we would do, we boarded our bus and made our way south.
The scenery on the trip down was idyllic, the Czech countryside a nice change from the big cities we’ve been experiencing lately, with quaint little towns along the way. The bus arrived in Cesky Krumlov and we made our way to our hotel, the Penzion Feston. It was a little way out of town, up and down a few hills, but it was quite cheap and had wi-fi and breakfast included, which are pretty much the three things I look for when searching for accommodation! We knocked on the door and given the greeting we received from the lady who answered, I thought maybe we’d disturbed a private residence despite the big Penzion sign on the front of the house. Is it just me or do the Czech people seem grumpy all the time? Perhaps their really happy inside, but don’t display their emotions outwardly? Despite speaking not a word of English, she managed to show us to our room and tell us breakfast is at 8.00am every morning.
We dumped our stuff in the room, got a few things ready which takes about 15 minutes with a two year old in tow – food, water, nappies, wipes, blanket, pram, toys, iPad (of course), spare clothes – and made a beeline for the old town. Unfortunately the beeline from our hotel was not exactly straight, or flat, but it was an easy enough walk and we were there in about 15 minutes.
As soon as you hit the cobbled streets of Cesky Krumlov it’s like you’ve been transported back to an era of horse drawn carriages and aristocracies. Even the busker on the main bridge in town was playing some sort of percussion instrument not seen for hundreds of years! Incredibly Cesky Krumlov survived any real damage from either of the World Wars, and to this day remains in pristine medieval condition. This UNESCO World Heritage site retains all of its old world charm, from the character-laden cobblestone streets to the restaurants that line the beautiful banks of the river Vltava.
We spent all afternoon and into the evening eating the cheap and hearty traditional food on offer at the local restaurants (meals are anywhere from 100-200 CZK or AU$5-$10) and wandering the old town streets. There’s plenty of attractions to see such as the Krumlov Castle (the second biggest in the Czech Republic), Eggenberg Brewery, St Vitus Church, and any one of a number of galleries and museums. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit the castle as there was a movie being filmed there for the two days of our stay. That was disappointing as it’s clearly the focal point of the town, but often we’d see hundreds of actors making their way between sets dotted around Cesky Krumlov in their period costume which added to the feeling that we’d stepped back in time. However the main attraction is the town itself, and exploring the streets for hours on end is an absolute joy. Although like in Prague, our Seebaby pram took an absolute battering from the cobblestone streets, and given the wheels are not the air filled rubber variety, and there’s absolutely no suspension, Jack got quite the bumpy ride.
There are a few activities you can do in Cesky Krumlov, like go on the ‘free’ walking tour (you pay the guide a tip at the end dependent on what you thought the tour was worth), or hire a canoe and head up and down the river for the day. But the truth is it’s a sleepy town that is best experienced simply by wandering the streets and eating at the local restaurants.
There’s a couple of ways you can experience Cesky Krumlov. You can do what we did and spend a night or two here as you make your way from Prague to another destination, or vice versa. Or simply add a visit as a day trip from Prague by catching a bus early in the morning, spend the day there, then head back later in the afternoon or evening. The truth is Cesky Krumlov is small enough to see pretty much everything in 3-4 hours. We saw everything on our first day, before catching up on work at the hotel, then in town at a restaurant with wi-fi while having lunch and dinner on the second day.
If you’ve got time while travelling to Prague to spend a day in Cesky Krumlov then I thoroughly recommend it, in fact it’s a must. It’s great to visit big cities and soak up the grandness of what they have to offer, but there’s nothing better than taking a break from those big crowds and enclosed spaces by visiting a small, fairytale country town like Cesky Krumlov.
Click below to see a photo gallery of our stay in Cesky Krumlov…