Cesky Krumlov: A Fairy Tale Town With 14 Must-Do Activities

Steve Cummings

Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is a small but impressive Czech Republic town known for its UNESCO World Heritage status. Its medieval castle and old, cobblestone streets make it a popular day trip from Prague, as there are plenty of things to see in Cesky Krumlov.

The town offers much more than just its castle; you can enjoy scenic viewpoints, the peaceful Vltava River, and other cool places to explore. Food lovers also have something to look forward to, as the town is home to various breweries and welcoming restaurants. 

This article will guide you through the best things to do in Cesky Krumlov, what activities to do, where to stay, and tips on making the most of your visit.

1. Walk Around The Old Town

Cesky Krumlov Old Town
Credit: ixuskmitl/Depositphotos

The Cesky Krumlov Old Town is a standout feature, known for its charming atmosphere and historic buildings. Walk through the center, where you can meander along the Vltava River and experience the town's medieval charm. Cars are rarely found in this part of town, so it's easy to wander and check out all the nooks and crannies at your own pace. You'll find plenty to see every few steps, from trendy cafes and art galleries to small, unique museums.

If you're after cool things to do in Cesky Krumlov, stop at the Puppet Museum, which is located in a building that looks like it's straight out of a fairy tale. You even have the chance to try your hand at puppeteering.

2. Cesky Krumlov Castle

Cesky Krumlov
Credit: Depositphotos

The Cesky Krumlov Castle dominates the town from its elevated position and is easily visible as you approach. Crossing the Vltava River, the Cloak Bridge catches your eye, serving as a gateway to the castle and providing an excellent vantage point of the city. The expansive castle complex features 40 buildings, various exhibitions, and several viewpoints. 

Paid admission is required for specific experiences, such as the castle tower and specialized tours. One guided tour, Tour 1, lasts about 50 minutes and takes you through rooms filled with invaluable art and ornaments. Photography inside is restricted, but views of the town from open windows are fair game for your camera. The tour concludes in a masquerade ballroom adorned with paintings. Another option is Tour Route 3, focused on the world's oldest baroque theater. The castle comes highly rated on every website we visited, and that's why it's one of the top things to do in Cesky Krumlov.

3. The Castle Garden

The castle garden in Cesky Krumlov offers a calm and relaxing escape, accessible through the castle with no entry fee. If you're arriving by train, be prepared for a bit of a trek—a 2.5 km walk into town and then uphill to the castle, but the effort is rewarding. 

These gardens are extensive and meticulously maintained, featuring a maze of hedges and an array of statues. Multiple acres of well-kept gardens greet visitors, adorned with fountains that add to the atmosphere. The flora is vibrant, offering lush, colorful displays.

4. Seminarni Zahrada

Seminarni Zahrada offers an excellent vantage point for capturing the beauty of Cesky Krumlov. Located near the Regional Museum, this small garden-like area provides a panorama that rivals even the views from Cesky Castle. However, this is one of the free things to do in Cesky Krumlov, making it even better.

As you go from the bus terminal to the village square, you'll find this scenic spot to the right of the village entrance. It's an excellent place for photography, offering stunning views of Cesky Castle, its towers, and the red-roofed houses that seem to merge with the castle landscape. 

5. Egon Schiele Art Centrum

The Egon Schiele Art Centrum in Cesky Krumlov offers a compelling art experience, combining well-curated exhibitions with an educational approach. The gallery is housed in an impressive building, and one of its standout features is the informative Egon Schiele exhibition at the top. 

The presentation is an engaging introduction for those unfamiliar with Schiele's life and work. Another must-see is the Ivana Lomova exhibition, which provides a fascinating look at everyday beauty. Janz Franz's vibrant and challenging work can be found on the ground floor, adding variety to the artistic lineup.

Visitors often note the attentiveness and friendliness of the staff, adding value to the experience. The entrance fee is worth it, although you can opt for the Cesky Krumlov card for added benefits. Most visitors spend around an hour exploring the museum, making it a manageable but enriching stop in your itinerary. We would put it at the top of things to do in Cesky Krumlov in winter, especially if you are on a day trip.

6. Museum Fotoatelier Seidel

The Museum Fotoatelier Seidel offers a unique blend of history, culture, and interactive photography. Whether you're a photography enthusiast or not, the museum provides an intriguing lens to explore Cesky Krumlov's past and the role of the Seidel family in capturing it. Visitors can roam the entire house with an audio guide for context. For a more immersive experience, there's an option to be photographed in the historic atelier, complete with period costumes and accessories.

The museum takes time with visitors, allowing you to prepare, arrange groupings, and disrobe without feeling rushed. The period costumes and accessories are chosen with an eye for detail, adding to the overall authenticity of the experience. It's not just about clicking pictures; it's a walk through history in a museum-like setting that is also a functioning photo studio.

7. Take A Boat Trip on the Vltava River

Boats in Cesky Krumlov
Credit: io_nia /Depositphotos

A Vltava River boat trip offers a different way to see Cesky Krumlov. While many boat companies offer trips, one standout option is a sightseeing cruise on a model of a historical raft through the town's center. 

This boat ride isn't just for tourists; it's rooted in the town's history. For centuries, raftsmen used these waters to move wood, food, and other goods. Today, the roughly one-hour cruise lets you experience the old town from a fresh viewpoint: the water. 

As you glide along the river, raftsmen share stories and facts about the long rafting history in Cesky Krumlov and the town itself. It's a relaxing and educational way to take in the sights.

8. Visit Eggenberg Brewery

Eggenberg Brewery offers an informative tour that dives into the evolution of beer brewing in the Czech Republic. Located in a large historic building just a short distance from Cesky Krumlov's center, the brewery opens its doors for tours daily at 11 a.m. For 130 CZK, you get the tour and a 0.33-liter mug filled with two beers to sample. 

The brewery leans more towards traditional methods, and you'll see some old machinery still in operation. The tour covers all the critical steps of the brewing process. You'll see the large industrial fermenting vats and navigate a maze of lagering tanks before the tour concludes in the brewery's restaurant, where you can taste their beer. 

The guide is well-informed, open to questions, and friendly, making spending an hour satisfying.

9. Latrán Houses

The Latrán houses are one of the free things to do in Cesky Krumlov and blend history and modern charm. Situated along the riverbanks, these structures were once factories, mills, and homes for the upper class. Today, they serve as boutique shops, restaurants, and hotels while maintaining their original allure. Walking along the cobbled streets with the river rushing by, you'll notice details like a still-functioning old water wheel.

The buildings have an old-world feel, featuring gothic designs that transport you back to medieval times. Despite the area's evolution into a commercial hub, each building on Latrán Street has unique features worth carefully inspecting. The street feels like a living museum, displaying architectural brilliance you can admire freely. Even when the area takes on the vibe of a medieval theme park, it doesn't lose its authentic charm, making it a worthwhile spot to spend an afternoon.

10. Lavka pod Zamkem

Lavka pod Zamkem is a wooden bridge near the city's entrance, offering an immediate connection between the city and the castle grounds. The bridge is well-constructed and scenic, especially in the summer when it's adorned with red flowers. 

Not only does it provide a beautiful vantage point over the river, but it's also highly photogenic, making it a popular spot for capturing the essence of Cesky Krumlov in pictures. Additionally, if you're interested in water activities, kayaks are available for rent beside the water near the bridge.

11. Miroslav Paral Art Gallery

The Miroslav Paral Art Gallery is nestled deep within the cellars of Cesky Krumlov Castle, offering an intriguing mix of art, architecture, and history. The gallery features a broad collection of works by Czech artist Miroslav Paral, available for purchase. His expressive sculptures and drawings are evocatively displayed in the underground rooms, lit dimly to amplify the depth and symbolism in his art. 

The gallery's setting in the castle's stone catacombs adds an extra charisma, complemented by enchanting background music. Paral's work reflects significant periods in Czech history, notably spanning from the Communist occupation through to the post-Velvet Revolution era. 

12. Svornosti Square

Svornosti Square is a central hub in Cesky Krumlov's old medieval town, offering a place to rest and recharge. Lovely old buildings surround the square, and there are many restaurants, small shops, and cafes where you can grab something to eat and drink.

While the square has its charm with its blend of eateries and storefronts, the buildings themselves are standout attractions, encapsulating the rich architectural heritage of the Old Town. Given its central location, many visitors use the square as a starting point for exploring Cesky Krumlov. 

Whether you're looking to take a breather, grab some food, or simply admire the historic buildings, Svornosti Square provides a convenient and scenic setting for all these activities.

13. Open-air Theatre with Revolving Auditorium

The Open-air Theatre with Revolving Auditorium in Cesky Krumlov is renowned for its unique design. Located in the gardens of the Czech Republic's second-largest castle, the theater provides a one-of-a-kind experience. 

Its revolving auditorium allows the audience to turn towards the section where the action occurs, making viewers feel like they're part of the play. Ticket availability can be tight, as sales for the June-through-September season often start as early as January. Whether it's a performance of Dracula, The Three Musketeers, or the Verdi opera Il Trovatore, the shows are praised for their excellent direction and strong performances. 

Ticket prices are considered regular but often sell out, so booking in advance is advisable. It is one of the more unique things to do in Cesky Krumlov.

14. Fairytale House – Puppet Museum

The Fairytale House – Puppet Museum is a treasure trove of marionettes. Filled with puppets from floor to ceiling, the museum is more like an extensive private collection. Each puppet is crafted with intricate details and displayed in inventive settings. 

The museum spans two floors and includes an attic, where you'll find some eerier puppets. Be cautious, though, as navigating the steep stairs can be challenging. This unique space also provides a hands-on experience for children, offering a stage and puppets to play with. The cost of admission is nominal, and while there's no informational signage, the puppets and their displays speak for themselves. 

The owner adds an extra layer of charm, sharing ghost stories related to the venue. As a bonus, there's a gift shop where you can pick up a memento of your visit. 

Final Thoughts

Most visitors take a day trip to Český Krumlov from Prague; given the town's relatively small size and limited number of activities, you can still make the most of your time here. 

Our advice would be don't rush – the beauty of Český Krumlov is best absorbed at a leisurely pace. Walk through the cobblestone streets, drink a cup of coffee at one of the local cafes, and don't miss out on visiting the castle. Even though it's a smaller destination, Český Krumlov offers a range of experiences that make for a fulfilling visit.

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