Prague, the historical capital of Bohemia, is the present capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. Its unique medieval architecture and rich history attract millions of tourists every year. The countless churches, cobbled pathways, walled courtyards, and magical bridges around the swan-filled Vltava River make Prague a majestic brew of beauty, culture, and history. However, the beauty of the Czech Republic is not just limited to Prague - a number of neighbouring towns and cities are equally stunning and worth visiting. One of the most popular day trips is one from Prague to Český Krumlov.
Český Krumlov is a picturesque town just about 100 miles away from Prague. Visited by over 1.5 million tourists every year, the stunning castle above the Vltava River, an old town square, and the Renaissance and Baroque architecture in this town make it look like a miniature Prague.
Why Go From Prague to Český Krumlov?
Český Krumlov, also called the "Pearl of Bohemia", is a charming little town located in southern Czech Republic. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this town was part of a large estate owned by powerful noble families, who played an important role in the political, economic, and cultural history of Central Europe. A majestic castle perched on a picturesque cliff, and the Vltava flowing through the town, lined with clusters of dinky orange roofed medieval houses are the high points of this elegant town.
Despite its evolution over the centuries, this beautiful town has retained its architectural heritage and has had a confluence of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque transformation to give it its current form. There are plenty of lively bars and riverside picnic spots to add to the verve and energy of this place. It is a popular hangout for backpackers during the summers, and is a sight to behold, especially with its snow blanketed castle, in the winters.
Is a Day Trip Enough?
Just about 100 miles away from Prague lies the quaint little town of Český Krumlov. It takes about 2 hours to reach Český Krumlov from Prague, and you can walk from one part of the town to the other in under an hour. Packed with the most amazing attractions, including the second largest castle in Czech Republic, Český Krumlov is one of the best day trips for those visiting Prague. In just about 10 hours, you can easily experience the stunning countryside landscape, unique architectural heritage, winding cobbled streets filled with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings, a beautiful bridge, and some fine manicured gardens adorning delightful flowers and fountains.
What to See in Český Krumlov
State Castle Český Krumlov
The main attraction of Český Krumlov is the magnificent castle perched atop a cliff. The castle features Gothic, Late Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, and was constructed in the 13th century. It evolved to its present appearance between 16th to 18th centuries under the stewardship of the noble families Rožmberk and Schwarzenberg. Its huge expanse, cultural standing, and architectural excellence make this castle one of the most important historic sights in the central European region. There are many elements make Český Krumlov Castle attractive - huge walled courtyards, steep rising staircases and corridors, a theatre, Gothic salt storage houses, a brewery, lush parks, stone fountains and sculptures from the 16th century, and stone bridges, among others.
Courtyards: There are five courtyards in the castle. The Ist Courtyard was once the agricultural and animal rearing area of the castle. The Castle Information Center was once a Gothic Salthouse which also served as a granary and malt. The IInd Courtyard gas a fountain and the palace called the “Hrádek”, along with the Mint and the Dairy. The IIIrd courtyard is in the higher part of the castle, and has opulent aristocratic interiors and rich facade decorations. The IVth courtyard has the cluster of palaces that were built in Renaissance style between 14th to 18th century. Below this courtyard were multi-storied vaulted cellars built to serve as a reliable foundation for the palace walls. The Vth courtyard was originally built for fortifications and farm buildings but later became home to the remarkable theater building.
Castle Gardens: The Baroque castle gardens form the largest part of the entire castle complex. Surrounded by a stoned wall, the park extends over various terraces of the castle. The terrace of the summer riding ground is bordered by full-grown lime trees, and was once used as a horse-riding training ground in the past. The terrace garden of the lower parterre has a Rococo cascade fountain, and the Upper Terrace park retains the original Baroque park.
Cloak Bridge: It is a three-storied covered arched bridge that stands on massive stone pillars. This bridge forms the connection between the IVth and Vth Courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle. It was initially built in wood as a draw bridge but was pulled down in the 16th century during the French invasion and later rebuilt into a strong structure in stone which stands till date.
Castle Theatre: Built over the stone terraces and fortifications towards the West of the castle The Baroque castle theater is stylised ingeniously and has a strong technical foundation.
Castle Tower: This is a rounded six-storied tower surrounded by the residential palace of the Little Castle. Each floor has its prominent points of attraction. Rounded windows with vaulted niches placed in the circular stonework adorn the interiors of one floor. The belfry, an arcaded barrel-vaulted gallery, vaulted rooms, the clock, the bells, the lantern and many other facets make this tower the centre of public interest.
Museum Fotoatelier Seidel
This is a unique museum of global importance which has on display some pictures taken 19th century onwards. The work of local photographers Josef Seidel and his son František constitute unique period images of that era with Seidel's personal notes, diaries, customer records, and the original furniture and fixtures in the house. There are post-cards and glass-plate negatives; well-preserved, functioning cameras; enlargers; darkrooms and other technical equipment of a photo studio. The Museum Fotoatelier Seidel has managed to create a chronicle of this region that has been home to the Czechs, Austrians, and Germans for centuries.
Egon Schiele Art Centrum
An excellent museum and gallery devoted to the Austrian painter Egon Schiele, who lived in Český Krumlov, it documents his life and work, and presents an exhibition of his works. The artist was controversial and earned the ire of the townsfolk by hiring young girls as nude models. Established in 1992 by a group of Czechs, Austrians, and Americans, this museum also has large art studios for long-term residing young artists coming from both Eastern and Western Europe. This gallery also houses various rotating exhibits of both classical 20th century and contemporary art.
- The town is much less crowded in the mornings and evenings, but if you’re planning a day trip, be prepared to face the crowds.
- Summer months are far more crowded than the winter months. If one can plan accordingly it can make a great difference.
- The medieval castle of Český Krumlov is huge and it is recommended to explore it with a local guide. That would make it far more organised, informative and enjoyable.
- Buying an entry ticket and lunch inclusive trip in advance makes more sense as it saves you time and money.
- Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes would be a good idea to explore the castle well.
- For a small fee, one can enjoy the exhibition in the cool underground dungeons which are least crowded.
Other Day Trips From Prague
Prague to Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is the most popular destination for a day trip from Prague. Just about 60 miles away from Prague, this beautiful historic city can be reached in an hour. Kutná Hora is known for being the medieval center for mining silver and is one of the richest cities in the Kingdom of Bohemia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its extraordinary cemetery chapel, Sedlec Ossuary, decorated with human bone chandeliers. This historic centre also hosts one of the spectacular gothic cathedral of St Barbara. Read more about Prague To Kutna Hora day trips here.
• Half Day Tour of Kutna Hora
Prague to Karlštejn Castle
Karlštejn Castle is one of Czech Republic’s most famous castles. Less than 20 miles away from Prague, it was built by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. The centrepiece of the castle is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Adorned with semi-precious stones and gildings, the walls of this chapel have a total of 129 panel paintings of knights and mentors of the Czech Republic. The royal repository holds a copy of the St. Wenceslas Crown, the Bohemian Crown Jewels, holy relics, and precious artefacts. Spread over various rocky terraces in a unique stair format, the castle captivates millions of visitors with its rich history, Neo-Gothic and Renaissance architecture, picturesque landscaping, and peaceful surrounding. Read more about Prague To Karlštejn Castle here.
• Guided tour of Karlštejn Castle with Lunch
Prague to Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary, the best known spa town in the Czech Republic, is just about an hour away from Prague. Famous for its hot springs, it has a mind boggling 300 small springs and 13 main hot springs spread over this small town. It also has some famous churches like Catholic Church of St. Mary Magdalene, the Orthodox Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Church of St. Anne, and a few others. Karlovy Vary is famous for a refreshing alcoholic drink, herb liqueur Becherovka, with a distinctive secret recipe, tried and liked by many. Visitors are always fascinated by this picturesque town as it has plethora of unique attractions to offer. Read more about Prague To Karlovy Vary day trips here.
• Full Day Tour of Karlovy Vary with Access to Moser Glassworks factory