Cesky Krumlov

If you were to ask an English person if they had ever been to anywhere in the Czech Republic, the answer would probably be Prague. It is, after all, one of the top stag and hen destinations in Europe. I'm not going to lie, when my boyfriend suggested that we visit Cesky Krumlov back in July, I had never even heard of it. The town lies in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, just north of the Austrian border.

We incorporated a visit to Cesky Krumlov on our road trip around Bavarian Germany and the Austrian Alps. Our round trip started in Nuremburg, then on hiring a car, we travelled to Munich, then Salzburg, Hallstatt, Cesky Krumlov and finally back to Nuremburg. I really wanted to talk more about Cesky Krumlov, because it is less well known than the other destinations on our trip and it truly is a beautiful little medieval town, that not as many people seem to know about.

On arrival into the town we discovered that cars are not permitted to enter the old town. So after narrowly avoiding getting lost trying to find parking facilities, we found a large car park on the outskirts of the town and headed in on foot with our suitcases.  The town is essentially a former medieval fortress and the old town is surrounded by the Vtlava river, which is popular for it's river boat rides during the busier summer months (more about this later).

Looking at a map of the old town of Cesky Krumlov

The streets are lined with cobbles, this proves to make dragging your suitcase to your accommodation somewhat challenging. My boyfriend was literally carrying both suitcases at one point while we both tried to figure out where our room for the night was on Google Maps. About fifteen minutes later we reach our accommodation, Penzion Na OstrovÄ›.  The room itself had spectacular views. The river was directly below us and the sound of the water churning down the river was quite relaxing.  We could also see the tower which formed part of the castle. As well as bars and restaurants on the opposite side of the river.

behind our accommodation

On dropping our bags off in the room we were eager to explore the town which can easily be explored on foot. But first, we needed food, oh and beer. The Czech people are exceptionally good at making beer and what makes it even better is that it's always really cheap. Cesky Krumlov brews it's own beer called Pivovar Eggenberg. 

Locally brewed beer

We ate ate the hotel neighbouring ours called, Leylaria Hotel and Restaurant. Their outdoor terrace was the perfect place to eat in the mid July weather. We sat adjacent to the river with Cesky Krumlov castle looming behind us.

View from Leylaria Restaurant outdoor terrace

The food was delicious local cuisine. I chose a duck based dish with red cabbage and dumplings, while my boyfriend went for the Trout. The service was prompt, despite it being extremely busy due to peak season.  Most of the staff spoke English, however seemed a little taken a back. I don't think the town receives a high number of English visitors. The town seemed to be popular with Czech or German visitors. I began to wonder whether this was the Czech version of the Lake District or some other smaller honeypot-like town that Czech people come to visit on weekends and during the holidays.

Main dishes from Leylaria Restaurant, Cesky Krumlov

As we finished our meals and settled the bill (excellent value for money by the way) it was starting to get dark so we wandered the streets for an hour, then headed back to the hotel to get an early night, ready for a full day of exploring the following morning.

We began the next day by heading over to the main town square. There was a beautiful array of colourful baroque style shops and restaurants. Definitely very instagrammable!  We grabbed an ice cream and made our way towards the castle.

Cesky Krumlov main square

Some of the best views of Cesky Krumlov can be found on the Cloak Bridge.  This bridge connects two parts of the castle situated on adjacent hills and resembles an old Roman Aqueduct.  It is almost certainly one of the best spots in the town to capture that Instagram worthy photograph.

view from the Cloak Bridge

We made our way from the Cloak Bridge down through the delightful Castle Gardens down to the Second Courtyard and back into the streets of the town below.

 One thing we had noticed when looking out from the view point over the Cloak Bridge, was the sheer number of small rafts and canoes floating down the Vltava River.  On further investigation we noticed there were several locations to rent your own canoe or raft around the town. It seemed that the most popular activity for younger people visiting the town was to go rafting down the river with a beer (or seven) and what a great way to see the town on a sunny July afternoon!

Spotting the rafts and canoes from the Cloak Bridge
One of the locations where you could hire a canoe 

We weren't quite feeling brave enough to hire our own raft or canoe, so instead we grabbed a beer each and settled on a joining a group of other tourists on a large wooden raft navigated by two rafts men, one of which ended up being our own personal tour guide, seeing as we were the only two English speaking tourists on the boat.  The trip cost about two hundred and fifty Czech Koruna, the equivalent of less than ten pounds each and the trip lasted about forty five minutes. Taking us along most main sights along the river.

View of the castle tower as we sailed down the River Vltava
Canoes trying to navigate their way down the river

 Along the way, people from other boats would shout 'Ahoy!' (hello in Czech) to us. Everyone seemed to be having lots of fun. There were people playing their own music, LOTS of people drinking beer and singing, people paddling and even swimming in the river (not recommended, it didn't look very clean if I'm honest) Spectators along the side of the river seemed to be enjoying watching people trying to navigate their way down the river along the rapids and laughing at the ones that were unfortunate enough to have their canoe or raft capsize or ended up going down the rapids backwards (this definitely would have been me if I had chosen to paddle my own canoe!).

One of our tour guide on our trip along the river

Overall it was an amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone planning to visit the town in the warmer months. The English speaking tour guide was friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the history and traditions of the town. The only downside was that the trip ended a short way out of town and it took us twenty minutes to walk back into town town from the end point. Probably not a long walk for some, but it is after you've been sat on a wooden raft drinking beer for almost the last hour!

There was a lively spirit to this town. In the evening we would grab a beer from one of the cheap bars along the river close to our accommodation and go and sit along the river bank while we listened to local musicians perform. There would be lots of people sat along the river banks once the sun had set and there were even still a few people out on rafts on the river.  It had a very relaxing, laid back vibe. I imagine it would be somewhere that people would go to escape the hustle and bustle of busier cities like Prague. It would be the perfect place to go forget about your stresses and worries and just soak up the atmosphere.

The river bank and bar (behind) that we would sit along in the evening

If you ever head over to Prague, I would definitely recommend that you incorporate a day excursion to Cesky Krumlov into your trip.  Especially during the summer months. It can easily reached by bus or car from Prague in just a few hours. To truly experience the spirit and the atmosphere of the town I would recommend an overnight stay. The locals are some of the friendliest people I've met on my travels. It truly is another amazing hidden gem to immerse yourself in and explore!


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