Visiting picturesque medieval town of Český Krumlov in time for Christmas markets and fogs giving the countryside special atmosphere. Some tips for walks, short trips and mulled wine
Český Krumlov is very popular among tourists. Amazing castle with a covered bridge, a historical theatre with a turning stage, medieval town houses, narrow streets and amazing setting of this beautiful town, attract crowds of tourists from all over the world, meaning, it is good to book your bus ticket at least a week in advance.
I have been visiting this region between České Budějovice (Budweis) and Český Krumlov for ages. I don´t know if it has something to do with common stereotypes, because if you ask Praguers which is their favourite part of the Czech Republic, they will highly probably answer „Southern Bohemia!“ Well, for me there are two main reasons, first of them being rather practical – my friend Baraka has been living here for quite some years. This means I squat her house regularly. The second reason is I feel good here because people are fine and the region is beautiful, with lot of fishing ponds, forests full of mushrooms, deer, interesting architecture, castle ruins… Anyway, there is lot do and see here, so why not write about it. And it was the highest time to invite ourselves, me and Gábina, to Baraka´s house…
Český Krumlov touristic
Yes, it is very touristic and nope, there is nothing you can do about it. But if you fancy an easy half day trip with mulled wine and Christmas atmosphere, it is hundred times better than Dresden. Not mentioning the price of return bus ticket from Prague around 12 EUR. If you come by car, you might even find some time for a short trip near Krumlov.
Cars are banned from the historical centre, the cheapest and nearest car park available is U Luny across the street from a small bridge with a gate leading to Latrán (this is a street name). Latrán is a name to remember, it will take you to the historical centre and back. Everything is small here and in a short walking distance. As long as you see shops and cafés on both sides of the street, you know, you are walking in the right direction. Needless to say that local hotel and restaurant owners don´t have to try hard at all. This is why it might by difficult to find a good place to sleep and eat. I have one special tip for accommodation. It is not cheap though – Krumlovský mlýn. Don´t confuse with the restaurant, it is run by different people, although it shares one website.
When it comes to restaurants I have only two places I can seriously recommend. First of them is Papas Bar where the food is good, staff friendly and they even give you free tap water with your wine. The other is suitable both for herbivores and carnivores and is designed in the style of a medieval inn. It is called U Dwau Maryí. You might just like to have a drink in a stylish Apotheka bar with looks of an old pharmacy.
Fancy just something to warm you during your walks? Just across the street from this bar, is a stylish shop selling small shots of different types of fruit brandy for 20 CZK. Don´t expect to get much more here, Český perník is a pretty overprized shop. After walking for about five more minutes on the main street (the castle is to the right from it opposite this shop) You will get to another bridge and then to the square where Christmas markets are held. You can get here really good mulled wine for about 1.50 EUR. I bought mine at a stall of a Czech speaking man who appeared to be of American origin. There are lot of expats living here because they came to visit, fell in love with the town and have not been able to leave anymore.
Going down the hill towards the river, after the crossing of streets Kájovská and Kostelní, there is a magical shop selling crayons and pencils of world famous Czech manufacturer Koh- i -Noor and a few meters further a shop with delicious Austrian gingerbread Kastner. You can also find here a coffee house. Had enough? Let´s leave the town!
Trips around Český Krumlov
If you arrived by car, you still have enough time left for a short trip to see local quiet winterish countryside (no more colourful leaves). We enjoyed fog nostalgically laying around in valleys and around hills. We saw leafless trees and picturesque cottages emerging from the mist. It was a really nice walk down an old alley called Borovští uhlíři, with houses built in the style of rustic barock (a style native to this region) scattered on surrounding pastures and hills. The same direction from Krumlov is also a hill called Kleť. We didn´t have time to go there this time, however it is very crowded in summer and there is a funicular going there too. Another 20 km distance option is visiting ruins of castle and monastery Kuklov in a village carrying the same name. And its free. Very impressive in this cold and misty weather.
You can also try going direction Křemže. The township is not very interesting itself but there is a lot to see on the way there from Krumlov. Let´s start with the 13th century monastery Zlatá Koruna . It is not as touristic as you might expect. Unfortunately closed (everything not just the monastery) during wintertime but we managed to get to see part of it by entering a small side gate. The whole village has very interesting architecture. Then you can stop for about an hour long walk by a romantic ruin of a 14th century castle Dívčí kámen. It is never crowded here. You can leave your car at a car park and choose from two routes leading to the castle. If you opt for the road, you will get some really nice views.
Being here for the whole weekend, we had time to drive to Červený dvůr. It is a village dominated by … well, basically a rehab. A famous one. Not many people know that you can actually walk in through the main gate and explore the large castle park. It is full of great old trees and interesting spots and surprises. I loved it.
Not enough? On your way back home stop in České Budějovice (Budweis). They also have Christmas markets on the main square, featuring dozens of stalls selling mulled wine, competing who´s got the best. Southern Bohemia has always something to offer, this was really just a small tip for Christmas time.