Český Krumlov is a stunningly beautiful town in southern Bohemia, and after Prague Czechia’s second most visited tourist attraction. The historic center of the town was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1992. The historic center of Prague was inscribed at the same session and these were the first two Czech World Heritage Sites.
The architecture in the historic core of Český Krumlov has remained largely intact over the course of centuries. It is an excellent example of an old Central European town. There were many such towns all over Central Europe, but most of them suffered damages during wars or their architectural heritage was destroyed in order to make space for more “modern” buildings.
In contrast to the fate of many such towns, Český Krumlov evolved peacefully and managed to preserve its heritage. New generations added their contributions without completely destroying what they had inherited. The old architecture and the street layout was preserved to such an extent, that the town was designated a World Heritage Site.
The abundance of beautiful old architecture, the location in a horseshoe bend of the Vltava river and the nearby hills, they all make the town very picturesque. More than a million tourists visit this beautiful small town in Czechia every year. And these are the main sights which they see:
Český Krumlov Castle (Státní hrad a zámek Český Krumlov) is the most important tourist attraction in the town. Its history dates back to the 13th century when it was founded by the Vítkovci (Witigonen) family.
It was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. At that time the castle was owned by the Rosenbergs. Members of this family were prominent Bohemian aristocracy and many of them were great patrons of the arts.
The Emperor Rudolf II of the House of Habsburg bought the Český Krumlov dominion in the early 17th century. Later, the Habsburgs donated the demesne to the Eggenbergs. Its current form of a large Baroque residence the castle owes to Johann Christian I von Eggenberg, who undertook its remodeling in the 1680s.
The bloodline of the Eggenbergs died out in 1719 and the town with the castle became property of the Schwarzenbergs. After World War II it was transferred to the Czechoslovak state. It remains in state-ownership until today, as Czechia is one of two successor states of Czechoslovakia. It is the second largest castle complex in Czechia (after Prague Castle) and one of the largest in Europe.
One of the most impressive sights at the castle is its unique Baroque Theatre. The characteristic round castle tower can be climbed.
The opening hours of the castle and its sections can be found here.
The Church of St. Vitus (Kostel svatého Víta) is easily noticeable in the panorama of the town. Together with the castle they dominate its skyline. The church was built in the Gothic style in the early 15th century.
Unity Square (Náměstí Svornosti) is the center of the Inner Town (Vnitřní Město). This beautiful square features a Renaissance town-hall from the 16th century and a Marian plague column. Náměstí Svornosti belongs to the most beautiful town squares in the whole of Czechia and Central Europe.
Latrán is another historic quarter (besides the Inner Town). It is located in the northeastern part of the town, in the vicinity of the castle. There is a high concentration of Gothic and Renaissance buildings in this quarter.
The International Music Festival Český Krumlov (Mezinárodní hudební festival Český Krumlov) is held every July and August. It presents famous artists performing music belonging to a wide variety of genres.
The Five-Petalled Rose Celebrations (Slavnosti pětilisté růže) is a Renaissance festival held every June. Its traditions date back to the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The name of the festival is derived from the coat of arms of the Rožmberkové (Rosenberg) family, who played an important role in the history of the town and South Bohemia. During the festival, tourists and locals can see a parade of people in historical costumes, attend concerts, theatre spectacles, etc.
How to Get to Český Krumlov
Getting there by public transportation is simple. There are direct trains from Praha hl. n. and the journey time should be below 3 hours. The company LEO Express operates bus connections from Praha hl. n. to Český Krumlov and they should be a little faster than the trains, but only by a few minutes.
As you can see on the map above, the nearest (active) international airport is in Linz. Getting to Český Krumlov from there is possible, but not particularly convenient. LEO Express operates direct buses from Linz – Industriezeile, but it is not in the city center, so you would have to get there first. There are also train and bus connections from the main train station in Linz, but they require changing in České Budějovice. Detailed timetables with all options can be found here.
The airport in České Budějovice is currently undergoing modernisation. After the work is completed, the airport will be able to handle regular passenger planes. One can therefore expect that in the near future travellers will be able to arrive by plane in the capital of South Bohemia. The journey from České Budějovice to Český Krumlov by train or bus takes 25-45 minutes, depending on the connection.