Český Krumlov is a small town in Southern Czechia, about 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Prague and a mere 30 kilometers (18 miles) from České Budějovice, home of the famous Budweiser beer. It first appeared under this name in written records in the year 1253. But people had lived there since the neolithic. The first slavic people settled near the river bend of Vltava around the sixth century. Of course, since this place was perfectly suitable for merchants' boats to dock, it changed hands many times. Vltava river has long been a natural transportation route and there was always someone who wanted to have control over this little town. At some points in its history, Český Krumlov was a part of the Czech emporium, then it belonged to the Republic of German Austria, then in 1918 it became part of Czechoslovakia, in time it was annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II and affixed to the Sudetenland, and was finally returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945.
Drive a couple hours on the picturesque roads, straight and winding, following the Vltava river and cutting curves here and there, then at last climb to the top of a hill, and as you step out of the car you will suddenly find yourself standing inside a postcard. Or perhaps inside some old, beautiful painting. You know, that kind where a skilled painter brings to life blue waters, green tree crowns, terracotta roofs, tall and thin church towers pricking an incredibly azure sky and aiming for the white cotton balls of neat clouds. It seems as though you can extend your arm and touch those puffy bunnies, lambs and dragons, slowly floating over river bend stitched with wooden bridges far below.
Welcome to the Český Krumlov Castle! This is the best starting point to explore the town. This structure dates back to 13th century and it also known as the second largest castle complex in Czechia. It is huge and well worth taking a guided tour. Take a look on interiors and tour possibilities HERE: Or simply search for other tours and find whatever suits you most.
The castle consist of 42 buildings, 300 rooms, and 5 inner yards! I'd recommend to plan a two-day visit to Český Krumlov, time permitting. Spend one day in the castle and another in town. As a bonus you will have the chance to watch a gorgeous sunset over the castle! And during the day you may want to rent a boat and paddle around the town.
As you start walking alongside the castle, slowly descending the hill, look at your right side to the river, valley and town. Make sure you have your camera or phone fully charged, because you will want to snap a picture every five steps or so. You'll think: "This is the most beautiful view I've ever seen!" only to find that after five steps the scenery becomes even more breathtaking.
As you exit through the castle's lower gate, you will find yourself in the middle of a fairy tale: a narrow winding cobblestone street lined with picturesque little houses, shops and cafés - some of them could remember your great-grandma when she was a little girl. You'll feel the same excitement as young Harry Potter on his first visit to Diagon Alley!
Continue to walk down the street to the bridge. But before crossing the river take a break, sit down in one of the riverside cafés. Stretch out your tired legs and watch kayakers and boaters passing by so close that you can almost shake hands with them, while sipping hot coffee and savouring dessert. Or perhaps enjoying a cold beer and an appetizer.
Rested enough? Let's cross the bridge and dip into the maze of the lower town!
After wandering through narrow cobblestone streets and admiring toy-like houses, head to the little island with a tiny park, sit on a bench and enjoy the view! Did I already say that every view in this town is truly breathtaking?
From the island you can also admire the gorgeous work of ancient castle builders. They incorporated castle walls into the rock in such a manner that it seems to grow from the natural rock like some wonderous plant, and it becomes difficult to tell where the works of nature change into the work of man. Look at this five-level bridge, called Plášťový most (Cloak Bridge), built in 1764. This bridge connects the main castle apartments to the garden and unique baroque open-air amphitheater with a revolving auditorium where performances run from June to September.
As the sun settles down and hides behind the castle, nightfall turns the town into a medieval fantasy land. Let your imagination run wild while sitting at the old wooden table in one of the many "hospoda" and sipping your beer brewed with the same recipe for many centuries at this old place living a new life in present times.