Panorama of Cesky Krumlov, with its Castle
Czech Republic

Český Krumlov, Things to Do in this Fairytale Town

Embraced by the Vltava River, the centuries old city of Český Krumlov captivates with its quaint medieval town and enchanting castle...

Situated along the mountains of South Bohemia, embraced within the curve of the Vltava River, is the enchanting town of Český Krumlov. There’s plenty of things to do in Český Krumlov and its mix of grandeur and small-town charm draws in visitors from all over the world.

TIP: GETTING AROUND IN THE OLD TOWN AND THE LÁTRAN

To help orient yourself, you can remember the Old Town of Český Krumlov as being the section of the city where the main municipal attractions, like the Market Square and the Regional Museum are located. The side of the city directly under the castle is called the Látran.

The Cesky Krumlov castle tower at sunset, bathed in golden light
The Castle Tower reaching high into the clouds. I love the striking pink detail and the green copper roof. If you look closely, you’ll see the Vltava flowing between the Old Town and the neighbourhood of the Látran

Explore The Old Town of Český Krumlov

One of the first things we did after checking into our hotel was to explore the old town of Český Krumlov. Most hotels are within the heart of the old town itself, and you can start exploring by simply stepping out of your door.

The Secret History of Český Krumlov’s Old Town

We enter the city in a taxi, crossing the Lazebnický Bridge into the Old Town. The Gothic stone buildings and small town vibe immediately transports us back to the city’s golden age in the 15th century. This was the century when the ruling family transformed the Castle, giving it its present day elegance.

However, Český Krumlov is older than the 15th century. Settlers first came here in 1240, building beneath the castle. Back then, the city was a medieval town. However, the ruling Rosenberg family, who were greatly influenced by artistic trends in Italy, turned it into the beautiful Renaissance city we see today.

The Gothic windows of St. Vitus Cathedral in Cesky Krumlov, with restored Renaissance buildings in front
The tall, gothic windows of St. Vitus Church, as seen through the buildings of the Old Town. Its winter, that’s why the branches of the tree are bare

Radniční Street – A Charming lane with historical buildings

Our taxi driver expertly manoeuvres his way up Radniční Street, a narrow cobblestoned lane lined with colourful buildings. Along the way we pass the Fairytale House and the Museum of Commerce, which catch our attention with their evocative storefronts. Our hotel, Ú Malého Vitka, is located in the three gothic buildings beside the Museum.

The crucifix and the Castle Tower. This was taken on one of the bridges crossing the Vltava, leading up to the Krumlov castle

We step out of the taxi, and I feel a cold drizzle on my face. It was winter in Český Krumlov, and showers are not uncommon. We hurry to enter the warm interior of the hotel.

A cobblestone street in Cesky Krumlov, with shops and bars, lined with historic buildings
The start (or end) of Radniční street, a truly historical street in the Old Town. This type of cobblestone street is what I used to image all of Europe looked like

Medieval Archaeology hidden in the buildings of Radniční Street

Like all buildings in Český Krumlov’s Old Town, Ú Malého Vitka has an interesting history dating back centuries. In fact, medieval archaeologist discovered and dated a number of artefacts from the 1400s and 1500s in the buildings of the hotel. However, there was no need for the archaeologist to dig. The researches found many items simply stored away in the vault, untouched for 600 years. They found a wooden spoon, parts of a leather pouch and numerous other household items and pottery.

After checking us in, our receptionist leads us through a labyrinth of wooden stairs and brick corridors, to our room. Along the way, we pass the dining hall, with its high ceilings, spacious interior, and solid wooden benches harking back to a bygone era. Already, I was immersed into the living history of the city.

A beautiful Gothic church in Cesky Krumlov is surrounded by red roofed houses from the medieval era
The quaint Medieval buildings of the Old Town with their red tiled roofs cluster around the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral

Lunch at The Christmas Market in Český Krumlov

During the Christmas week, there is nothing like a cup of mulled wine in the market square to feel properly welcomed to Český Krumlov. One of the things to do in this charming town is to lunch in the market square. There’s quite a few choices for food here, mostly cuisine typical of central Europe. The stalls here make a potato pancake called Bramboráky, it’s one of my favourites and resembles a large hash brown. Most stalls serve it, along with sausages and picked cabbage.

A Market Stall in the Krumlov market square. As you can see, the main offering here are Christmas drinks like hot wine and grog

Explore the History of the Český Krumlov Market Square

In the past, Náměstí Svornosti was not only a marketplace, but also a place for the execution of justice. For many centuries, a gallows stood in a prominent location on the square. Here, executioners hanged the murderers. Thankfully, this antiquated instrument of justice is no longer there. Instead, a market selling traditional hot meals and the ever present chimney cake can be found during the festive months of the year.

A row of beautiful buildings line one side of Český Krumlov's market square, which dates back to the 14th Century
Beautiful medieval buildings line one side of Český Krumlov’s market square, which dates back to the 14th Century

Standing in the middle of the square, I marvel at the quaint beauty of the restored houses that surround me. Once these belonged to the most respected members of society. The officials working for the government in the 1500s conducted matters of parliament in the building that is now the Tourist Information Centre and the Museum of Torture.

Check out The Marian Column and Fountain

In the 17th Century, a plague swept through the city of Český Krumlov, killing many people. When the spectre of death had passed, the Schwarzenberg princess, Marie Ernestina, erected this impressive column to give thanks. Restorers in the the 19th century moved the fountain from the middle of the square to its present position where it encircles the column

Merry-go-round and the Marian Column, which was erected between 1712 and 1716, and topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary
Merry-go-round hides the far more sombre Marian Column, which was erected between 1712 and 1716. It is topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary

Beside this opulent monument, tourists queue for food and amble around, unaware of its grandeur. Perhaps in a city where every detail is of historical importance, it becomes difficult to pay attention when the smell of frying sausages and spice wine bekons.

Take in the View of the Castle Tower and Streets

A little ways up Horní Ulice is a little garden that is part of the Český Krumlov Regional Museum. Locals call it the Seminární Zahrada, or the Seminary Garden, as the Regional Museum was once a seminary for Jesuits. On any day, regardless the weather be fair or foul, you will see a small crowd gather in front of the low stone wall facing the river. This was one of my favourite lookout points in the city.

Wide angle view of Cesky Krumlov Old Town with the castle tower and medieval houses in the foreground
View of the Český Krumlov Castle Tower, the Látran neighbourhood below, and the little medieval houses on street Parkán in the Old Town

Looking down, over the wall, I could see the quaint medieval street of Parkán, lined with charming, simple houses winding around the Vltava. Just beyond the river, the little red roofs of the Látran neighbourhood mushroomed at the base of the castle tower. The scene is right out of a storybook.

Buildings of both Renaissance and Medieval character are crowded against each other in the Old Town of Cesky Krumlov
A Renaissance house with a peculiar detail - a corridor that joins it with another building
Incredibly cute medieval houses in Cesky Krumlov's old town. These houses line a curving street.

Sticking my head out as far as I could, I made out the silhoutte of a cute medieval building with a wooden balcony right at the very end. Perhaps more charming buildings like it lay just beyond the bend of the street. The view from the garden was a tantalising teaser to the rest of the town.

A charming hotel with yellow walls in a historic building in the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov
One of the many ‘Pensions’ or hotels in Český Krumlov

Stroll through the Historical Buildings of Český Krumlov

As I spent more time walking between the tightly packed facades of Český Krumlov, I began to notice surprising and unique details preserved on many of them. Quite often, especially in the case of the buildings in the Latrán, I would spot new paint work around an image dating back to the Renaissance period.

A Gothic residential building in the Latran
A charming corner and the meeting of two cobblestone streets in the Latrán. I love the overhang of the building in the picture, with its carved wooden supports that have a Gothic style. A great example of Gothic architecture in an everyday building.

Spot the Sgraffito Paintings from the 15th Century on the Buildings of the Látran

These paintings mimic the artwork in courtyards III and IV of the castle, and have an illustrative quality about them, like something you might see in a children’s storybook. Also sometimes, instead of people and animals, they would mimic brickwork. Like the paintings in the castle, they utilise the sgraffito technique. To create the painting, the artist would make a layer of paint and then cover it with another. Scratching through the topmost layer would reveal the paint underneath. Like this, artists created the decorations on the facades.

Sgraffito paintings from the Renaissance era on a building in the Látran neighbourhood in Cesky Krumlov
Portraits of people done in the sgraffito technique painted on the side of a building in the old Látran neighbourhood

However, The craftsmen did not create all the decorations in this manner. Sometimes, they simply painted them on. Many are portraits of saints re-enacting a moment in their lifetime, or the coat of arms of the ruling families of the city.

A faded Sgraffito painting of Jesus and several coats of arms on the side of a building in Cesky Krumlov
Most of the paintings on the walls of the residential buildings were of a religious nature. Many of them also depicted coats of arms of prominent families that lived in Český Krumlov

Stay in the Hotel Ú Malého Vítka

In entering our hotel, Ú Malého Vitka, we stepped back into another time. A time before the digitisation of the world, when life was simpler and slower. I could not imagine a better place in Český Krumlov in which to stay.

The owner of Ú Malého Vitka has taken pains to recover the history of the buildings and has published the research in a book displayed in the lobby.The artefacts the archeologists have uncovered in the building’s vault, and the record of the people who bought and sold the buildings, play a role in understanding Český Krumlov’s history.

The hotel’s architects have built it from three historic Gothic townhouses and the owner has furnished it with sweet smelling wood. He has also added nice touches like decorations of animal and human characters from a famous Czech fairytale.

Sunlight hits the Cesky Krumlov castle tower, viewed from a narrow cobblestone street in the old town
View of the Castle Tower from the historic Radnicí street, where hotel Ú Malého Vitka is located

Discover the history of those who lived in Ú Malého Vitka

The rooms are all decorated with simple, handmade furniture – I could imagine the people who used to live here using furniture just like the ones we saw. In the cosy foyer of the hotel there are some books detailing the history of the buildings through the centuries.

Account of the People who Lived in the Buildings since the 1500s

This history goes back to the 1500s, when the oldest record of a buyer was found. He was a butcher. The houses passed through many hands throughout their lifetime. It was mostly people who had a skilled craft or trade that owned the properties – besides the butcher, there were two tailors, a court chef, a teacher and quite a number of gingerbread bakers. I didn’t think it was possible to be so specialised in the Middle Ages, but there you go!

Low arched ceilings in a Gothic residential building in the Czech Republic. A short flight of stairs connect the interior of one building to the next.
The strange layout of the hotel’s interior is due to it being three different buildings connected together

Medieval Style Dining Hall

The room that stands out the most is the dining hall. This impressive rectangular room with its high ceilings and solid wooden tables and benches really made me think of a medieval beer hall. I thought it was a bit of a pity it was only used for breakfast. I would have like to have a jug or two of ale in it!

A medieval style dining hall in Cesky Krumlov, the Czech Republic
The charming breakfast hall of Ú Malého Vitka, with its handmade wooden furniture. When I had breakfast here, I felt like I was in an inn back in the 1500s!

If you really want to experience life in Český Krumlov during its heyday, I would highly recommend Ú Malého Vitka. The traditional ambience is a great experience and the staff are very friendly and knowledgeble about the history of the city.

Visit The Museum of Commerce

The Museum of Commerce is a window into a world only recently gone. Beautifully decorated metal plates, wind up musical boxes and other retro items fill the shop front. The items glint under the bright lights of the display window, inviting us in.

The entrance to Cesky Krumlov's Museum of Commerce - it has an art deco sign with decorated metal plates from the era entirely covering the door
The facade of the Museum of Commerce in Český Krumlov. I love the quirky Art Deco sign and the metal plates from the 1900s which completely cover the door

Walking inside, I felt like I’d stepped into a Disney movie in the 1940s. I don’t recall any actual items from Disney inside it, but there was just something. Maybe it was the music that was being played, or maybe it was the bright colours of the items on display… I also noticed that things from that era tended to have more figural representation on them. There was always a woman, man or animal used to advertise the use of a certain product.

A diorama with mannequins of a scene in a pharmacy set in the 1950s
One of the quaint dioramas inside the museum. This scene is of an apothecary in the 1950s

Contemplate over the Dioramas Depicting Life in the 1900s

In the first room, there stands a diorama of a scene from a grocery store. In it, the sales woman is tending to a shopper and her child. Beside her on the counter is a large and beautiful decorated cash register like I’ve never seen before. Behind her are boxes of produce.

Retro style metal dispensaries from the 20th Century on display in the museum of commerce in cesky krumlov
Examples of dispensaries from the 20th Century – back then our products did not come individually packaged

In the next hall, there is an exhibit of beautiful metal containers that were once used in shops for dispensing items like coffee beans, grains, nuts and other dried household goods. Both these exhibits really struck a chord with me. In today’s society of waste, almost all our food comes packaged in plastic. These colourful canisters were a reminder of how people lived more elegantly and less wastefully in the past.

Vintage brass machine in the Cesky Krumlov museum of commerce from the 1920s that dispensed oil for fuel
A large metal tank on example in the museum of commerce from the 1900s that dispensed petroleum
A diorama in the museum of commerce of a man selling draft beer in bottles, from the 1920s

Reflection on the Pace of Consumption in the early 20th Century

We spent more time than most would in this museum, I think. But I absolutely fell in love with all the items. Things, back then, were passed on from generation to generation, and as such, people took the effort to decorate them. To make their value more than just their utility.

Mannequins depicting a scene from a leather workshop in the Museum of Commerce
Diorama of a scene from a leather workshop. Note the beautiful but faded tiles on the arched ceiling above…

I also loved all the marketing posters. This is the other defining feature of the era, I think. When advertisements were illustrated and not photographed. The posters in the museum are very imaginative and beautiful, and I left wishing I had the space in my luggage to transport a few delicate posters.

Visit The Castle of Český Krumlov

Rising over the red roofs and colourful houses of the Látran, dominating the quaint townhouses built around it, is the Castle of Český Krumlov. On first impression, this castle projects a strong Renaissance character. However, it is not from any one era. Instead, it is a mix of medieval, Gothic and Renaissance styles, acquired throughout the 700 years of its existence.

A narrow stretch of the river Vlatava, running towards the Cesky Krumlov castle
A scene which captures the essence of Český Krumlov – the quaint houses, the Vlatava and the pink and green castle tower…

Thoughts on the Barbers’ Bridge across the Vltava

Standing on the wooden bridge by the former mill, the river rushing below me, I crane my head to look up at the castle walls. Built into the cliffs that bank the nothern bend, its buildings rise high, high up into the sky. Along the rock face, vegetation creeps and climbs, the crowns of some trees higher than half the walls. Many of these trees are old, like the castle that lies behind them.

The Cesky Krumlov castle and tower reflected in the still waters of the Vlatava river just before dusk in Cesky Krumlov
Views of the castle are spectacular from any angle. This shot is taken just before dusk, when the waters of the Vlatava were almost still. There is something almost magical about the castle complex reflected in the river…

View of Český Krumlov Castle Tower

Standing loftily above the surrounding buildings is the castle tower. With its pale yellow base, pink arches and copper green arcade, it seems right out of a Disney movie. As a finishing touch, three golden ornaments adorn its Renaissance spires. As the sunlight hits them, they gleam and sparkle magically. The tower, and the Little Castle under it, are the oldest buildings of the castle complex. By dating the wood inside the Little Castle, scientist have determined that it was built at the end of the 13th century.

Little Castle and the Castle Tower, elegantly Renaissance in design, rise above Český Krumlov, seen through a narrow street
When it was built, the Little Castle and its Tower were of simple Gothic design. Today it is elegantly Renaissance, its upper floors decorated with arches and paintings

Climb Up The Castle Steps

From the Old Town, I cross the Barber’s Bridge into the Latrán. Turning right, I see that the road splits into two. The left fork leads up some narrow steps that wind around a quaint restaurant. The delicious smells of lunchtime cooking waft out from gaps in the windows.

The Český Krumlov tower and castle sitting on the solid graphite rock the land is made of
Worm’s eye view of the Český Krumlov castle and tower from the bottom of the Látran, the neighbourhood that sprung up at its base. From this angle, you can see how the castle sits solidly atop the mountainous rock of the region

The Arch at the Top of the Castle Steps

From the restaurant, the steps turn farther to the right. I keep walking up Zámecké Schody street, my curiosity drawing me towards each bend. At the very end, the steps pass below a double arch. Here, the Rosenberg family who ruled Český Krumlov for over 3 centuries had commissioned a wood relief bearing the five petaled rose, a sigil of their house.

Mural of the Cesky Krumlov bear painted on a house at the top of the castle steps. The bear is looking out towards pedestrians climbing the stairs.
A charming mural of the Rosenberg bear looking out a window. This painting is on the last house at the top of the castle steps. I love the curious expression on the bear’s face, as he looks out for pedestrians walking up the stairs

Here, at the very last landing, I turned back to look at the winding path I had taken. To my surprise, there was a whimsical painting of a bear looking cheerfully out of a window, illustrated onto the side of the very last house on the street.

Spot the Bears in the Bear Moat of Český Krumlov Castle

Around the walls of the Castle’s outer couryard and its entrance bridge is a tall metal fence. I peer between its bars and look down. At the same moment, a little brown head pops up over a fallen trunk. One of the castle bears was awake! His sibling, who was sleeping, joined him a few moments later.

Bears of Krumlov castle picking on some leftover orange
The two bears of Krumlov castle, listlessly picking at the leftover food from their Christmas party

Christmas Feast for the Bears

On the other side of the bridge, I noticed various bits of festive food lying around. Apparently, every Christmas, locals can come and offer pastry and honeyed sweets to the bears. The amounts offered are not small – about 120 kilograms (although I’m not sure if this is per bear or for both). The keeper of the bears put the animals on a diet for the month before, to accommodate for the calories from this yearly feast – no fat bears here!

The Christ nativity scene depicted with teddy bears in the Krumlov Castle
The nativity scene, as depicted with stuff teddy bears, a truly creative take on an ancient story…

Bear keeping in the Český Krumlov Castle stretches back to the Rosenbergs in the 16th century. Some people criticise this tradition, but I’m quite alright with it. The current enclosure is designed to modern zoo specifications and gives the bears plenty of space and refuge. The old bear couple also gave birth to two cubs, which signal that the bears feel safe and happy enough to reproduce.

Wander Around The Castle Courtyards

The Český Krulmov Castle has many courtyards. The Courtyards all played an important role in the lives of the people who lived and worked in the Castle complex.

Castle Courtyard I

Courtyard I serves as the grand entrance to the castle grounds. This Courtyard is before the bridge that crosses the bear moat. Regular folk, including people working in the castle lived around this courtyard. It was common back then for households to own domestic animals like pigs, and some of them would run into this courtyard. The ruling family did not like the presence of farm animals here, and the recalcitrant creatures would be punished by being caught and slaughtered!

Castle Courtyard II

As you enter, you’ll notice the entrance to the Lower Castle and the tower. The opening here is Castle Courtyard II. It’s a casual, open space where you’ll also find the entrance to the Castle Tower. If you look carefully at the houses around you, you’ll notice that no two chimneys are built the same.

Straight ahead, past the fountain in the middle, is the entrance to the Upper Castle.

Courtyard II, the first courtyard right after entering the main castle gate. This courtyard was used mostly by the folk that worked for the castle

Castle Courtyards III and IV

The next two courtyards serve to divide up the Upper Castle. I suppose they were created to let more light into the buildings. These courtyards are notable for the sgrafitto artwork on them. Paintings of stonework cover all the walls of the courtyard. I suppose it was cheaper and more convenient to paint the masonry rather than make walls out of perfectly cut stone blocks. Or maybe it was simply more fashionable at the time.

Decorative Renaissance courtyard with Gothic windows and Italian sgrafitto murals
Castle Courtyard IV, with its richly decorated facade in the Renaissance style combined with elaborate Gothic windows. Note the elegant alcove in the centre of the facing wall – it was built as a decorative element of the courtyard as opposed to a functional feature of the interior

The paintings here are mostly faded, so it’s difficult to make out who the human figures are supposed to represent. I later found on that they were Roman gods and goddesses.

Cesky Krumlov's Castle Courtyard III as seen from below, opening up to a cloud covered patch of sky
A patch of sky above – as seen through Courtyard III. Courtyards III and IV are symbolically and stylistically connected through the paintings on the walls

Castle Cellars and the Miroslav Páral Exhibition

Walking onwards takes me through a dark stone corridor. A passage opens up to the right, with steps leading down. At first, I thought the stairs would take me to the castle dungeons. On closer look at the poster advertising the space inside, I realise that it is actually the castle cellars. No food is stored there now – instead, a permanent exhibition of a famous Czech surrelist is on display.

Stone castle cellar in the Český Krumlov castle, lit by warm yellow lamps
The Český Krumlov Castle cellars converted into a permanent gallery space featuring the tortured surrealist figures

The work inside is absolutely magnificient. If you like Salvador Dali, I think you might appreciate the works of Miroslav Páral. Unlike Dali however, there is nothing light-hearted about Páral’s works. Although there is humour, it is all dark. Very dark. I thought the Castle Cellars were a fitting place for his works.

Wooden handrails guide visitors around the stone labyrinth in the castle cellars of the Krumlov castle
The rooms in the cellar are connected by stone corridors with wooden guardrails. This art space is a labyrinth of strange oddities – without the guardrails to guide visitors, one could so easily get lost

The Cloak Bridge

Eventually, the dark corridor that runs under the Upper Castle opens up onto the Cloak Bridge. Its white walls reflect the cold winter sun onto every surface and the lightness that engulfs you is magical.

The Vltava curves tightly around the old town of Český Krumlov, with its cute red roofed houses
A cute view of Český Krumlov’s old town from the Castle’s Cloak Bridge – you really notice the tight bend of the Vltava from this point of view. The town looks so charming with all the red roofed houses packed together

Lookout Point and Panoramic View of Český Krumlov,

A beautiful scene unfolds to your right. The city of Český Krumlov, framed under the arches of the bridge, is like a tilt shift photo of a toy town. The scene is picture perfect. From here, you can see how the Vltava winds around the city. A few thousand years, and the lobes of land that hold the heart of the city will become islands.

The view from here is high up, but not too high up. When you look into the distance you’ll see houses almost merging with the landscape. But when you look at the river bank right across, you could almost make out the main details on the window frames.

Just a quaint Czech village in the bend of the Vltava river with its little houses and prominent church
When the Vltava is still, you can see the village reflected in its waters. Description
Český Krumlov is such a charming town from another time

St. Vitus Church in Český Krumlov

Looking past the Marian column, the tall, thin Neo-Gothic spire of the St. Vitus church rises over the buildings cornering the square. Although it was a cold, rainy day, we did not want to miss a moment, and made our way up the slippery cobblestones of Horní Ulice. Three doors down, the street opened up, leading to the entrance of the church.

Gothic tower of St. Vitus Cathedral and the the grey roof of the nave rising into dark, cold skies
The Gothic tower of St. Vitus cathedral, rising up into the foreboding winter sky

From the bottom of the stairs, the church towered over us. Although not very long or wide, St. Vitus stands twice as high as the surrounding buildings. Its height is accentuated by the fact that the narrow streets around can only provide a close up view right at its base.

Stone steps leading towards the Gothic Cathedral of St Vitus in Český Krumlov
The stone steps leading up to the entrance of St. Vitus Cathedral can be found just off a main street running around the Old Town

We happily walked into the warmth and serinity of the church’s interior. Inside, it is lit by the soft winter light, filtering through the glass of its tall, thin windows. Slender stone columns rise up towards the ceiling, forming an elegant net vault.

The Gothic ceiling of the St. Vitus Church with light coming through the windows
The elaborate ceiling of the St. Vitus Cathedral. Note the keystones at the centre of these arches – a key architectural invention of the Gothic period which enabled engineers to build incredibly tall cathedrals

The Gothic Interior of St. Vitus Church

Dark pews fill the central nave, providing a solemn contrast against the church’s pure white walls. Walking among the pews, I spot the occasional choir book. I cannot help but pick one up and flip through its thin, delicate pages. Although the songs are in a foreign language, I know they are familiar ones, many of them sung throughout the Catholic world.

A red hymn book on a plain wooden pew in the simple Gothic interior of the St. Vitus church
St. Vitus has quite a simple and elegant interior, I loved how its plain white walls and un-decorated pews juxtapose the ornate golden alter

Architectural Elements over the Centuries

Like most churches, St Vitus is not the product of any one particular time. It has seen many architectural evolutions since its initial construction in the 1400s. The oldest part that still stands is the stone loft which currently supports the organ, itself dating from the 20th Century. Between those times the red roofted stone sanctuary was built and the main alter within it completed in 1683.

Egon Schiele Centrum

The Egon Schiele Centrum was definitely one of the highlights of our Prague and Český Krumlov trip. Once the former town brewery, it has now been refurbished into a modern art space. Schiele’s work, and contemporary art about the artist and his influence, is limited to the top floor. The rest of the floors host art by contemporary artists.

Contemporary architecture interior with stone walls and free standing wooden staircases that span many floors
The modern stone and wood interior of the Egon Schiele Centrum

Exhibition of Egon Schiele’s Art Works

To get to the exhibition, I had to walk up a narrow flight of stairs that to the building’s attic. As I neared the top, I could hear jazz music playing. The music immediately set the time period, and I felt I was back in the early 1900s, when Schiele was still alive and making his revolutionary art.

Ego Schiele paintings of Český Krumlov on display in a low wooden gallery
A few of Egon Schiele’s paintings were displayed as prints on light boxes in this evocative wooden room

The attic is dark, with low ceilings supported by magnificient wooden beams. The floor in the entrance hall, interestingly enough, is cobblestone and brick. Here, I discover the source of the music, a video, framed by a stone doorway that has since been walled over.

Ego Schiele's sketchbook with the sketch for the poster design of the secession exhbition of 1928 and trees along the Vlatava
Ego Schiele’s sketch book – note the poster design for the Secession Exhibition of 1918 on the left page

I love the erotic artwork of Egon Schiele, but was unaware he did anything else. In this museum, I became acquainted with his whimsical yet sophisticated paintings of Český Krumlov. One item that I particularly loved was his notebook. It was left open to a page with his sketches for the poster advertising the 49th Secession Exhibition in Vienna, in the year 1918.

Poster of the 49th Secession Exhibition in Vienna
A print of the poster for the exhibition in 1918 – this was a notable year as it was the year World War One ended and also the year of the artist’s death

The Centrum also has a lovely café on the ground floor. Even if you’re not interested in the works of Egon Schiele, you should still drop by. The Egon Café is the perfect place for a bit of tea and cake after exploring the town.

View of the Český Krumlov Castle’s Cloak Bridge from a hidden window in the attic of the Ego Schiele Centrum

Český Krumlov has lots of restaurants, but this was the only café I remember coming across. It has comfortable chairs, a nice relaxed vibe, and really great cake.

Mango mousse cake and Czech brandy in a cafe
Mango Mousse Cake and Czech brandy (Silvovitz) in the café of the Ego Schiele Art Centrum

Regional Museum in Český Krumlov

While walking around Český Krumlov, we spotted a poster with a beautiful ceramic model of the city. “Regionální Museum”, it read, on the poster. Immediately, we knew we had to pay the museum a visit to see this impressive piece of art.

The Celtic room in the Český Krumlov Regional museum
The room in the museum featured artefacts from the period when Český Krumlov and its surrounding areas was inhabited by Celts

Ancient History of the Český Krumlov Region

The museum turned out to be so much more. On the very top floor, there was an exhibit about settlements in Český Krumlov in prehistoric times. I was excited to discover that the area around Český Krumlov had accommodated settlers as early as 800 BC. Archeologist identify the culture that settled in the region as the Hallstatt culture. This later evolved into the Celtic culture. In the museum, there were on display some bronze age pieces of jewellery with clearly Celtic decorations on them.

A wooden model of the Český Krumlov castle
A model of the Krumlov Castle hill and surrounding area

The Famous Ceramic Model of Český Krumlov

The ceramic model of the town, which was our main reason for visiting the museum was very impressive. It was large and detailed enough so you could see all the important characteristics of Český Krumlov’s historic buildings.

A close up from the ceramic model of Český Krumlov in the regional museum
This close up of the ceramic model shows one of the main entrances into Český Krumlov
Close up of the Český Krumlov ceramic model - the castle tower tower
The streets of Český Krumlov Old Town in the ceramic model of the city
The ceramic model of the town is very detailed, right down to the murals from the 1500s - they are all depicted in the model

All the streets of the city were featured, even the little alleys that most visitors to the city might pass without ever knowing they were there. The coolest thing about the ceramic model for me were the depictions of the sgrafitto paintings on the buildings in the Látran. They were so well done and easily recognisable!

A renacment of a Czech pharmacy from the 1800s with a statue of the virgin mary on the wall
An ornate room in the regional museum depicting an apothecary from the 1800s

Contemporary Czech Folk Art

In the final floor was an exhibition featuring the artworks of Martin Šítal and his wife Marie Šítalová. The artists were a working class couple who found each other in their 50s (rare for the time as people married early in those days).

Sculptures in the naive style by Czech folk artists
The amusing sculptural work of Martin Šítal and Marie Šítalová depicting themselves

Their style, although naïve, is truly heart warming. Through their innocent paintstrokes, these two artists have given us a picture of the life of ordinary people living it the country in the middle of the 20th Century.

A simple and graphic painting of Český Krumlov, featuring the castle
A graphic interpretation of of Český Krumlov

Monastery Church

East of the castle is a monastery complex consisting of the Monastery of the Poor Claires, the monastery of God’s Body and the former Monastery of th Minorities. There were plenty of activities in the gardens for most of the year – especially during the advent period. Quite unfortunately for us we were a few days too late for the baking workshop hosted by the monastery!

Empty courtyard of the Krumlov Monastery church
The empty courtyard of the Monastery church – usually there’s lots of activities, including village fairs, taking place here, but we visited a few days after Christmas so it was quiet

Festival Activities at the Monastery

If you enjoy baking, this sounds like a unique activity you should try out! I certainly wished I had the chance. When we were there, the monastery bakery was open to visitors on the 21 and 22 of December. It could also be useful to note that visitors and locals are allowed to donate pastries to the bears living in the castle moat for the 24th of December.

The riverbanks of the Vltava along the Old Town of Cesky Krumlov
A charming view of the Old Town from the river banks on the Látran side

FAQs for Český Krumlov

Is Český Krumlov worth visiting?

Český Krumlov is a five star location and a definite must see if you are already visiting Prague. Some visitors who are short on time even opt for Český Krumlov over Prague. It is a unique town with a beautiful castle and charming medieval townhouses.

What to do in Český Krumlov?

There are lots of things to do in Český Krumlov. The city itself is very picturesque. To simply walk around it and soak in the atmosphere could take up an entire day. If you wish to visit the interior of the castle and the museums, you might need an additional day or two. One thing is for sure, it is impossible to get bored in Český Krumlov.

Where is Český Krumlov?

Český Krumlov is in the Czech Republic, located in Southern Bohemia. It is right between Prague and Vienna.

How to get from Prague to Český Krumlov?

There are buses that depart daily from Prague to Český Krumlov. Depending on the season, departures might be more, or less, frequent. Check out Omnio or Minibuzz.

Is there a train from Prague to Český Krumlov?

No, there is no train from Prague to Český Krumlov. To get to Český Krumlov, you have to take a bus.

How to get to Vienna from Český Krumlov

To get to Vienna from Český Krumlov, the easiest way would be to hire a mini-van. The service we used, MiniBuzz, was very comfortable and we highly recommend it.

How far is Český Krumlov from Prague?

Český Krumlov is about a two and a half hour drive from Prague