48-HOURS IN CESKY KRUMLOV, CZECH REPUBLIC
Cesky Krumlov was my first overnight trip alone. Many times I have gone out and explored during the day on my own, but I always had someone to meet up with in the evening for dinner, drinks, and any other nighttime activities.
I got a burst of self-confidence and told myself that I would be completely fine going alone, especially since I really wanted to see the town and the friend I was traveling with wanted to stay in Prague.
And you know what? After this trip I realized I can do anything by myself now! Sure the evening/dinnertime was slightly awkward (more on that later) but in the end I don't regret a thing and highly recommend you take an overnight trip.
ABOUT CESKY KRUMLOV
Cesky Krumlov is a small village in the south bohemian region of the Czech Republic. It's located at a ford in the Vltava River and dates back to the mid 1200s. Funny enough even though this town is in the Czech Republic there is a legend that the name comes from the German phrase "Krumme Aue" i.e. "crooked meadow".
The German roots of the city probably help explain why there are so many German tourists that you will encounter during your visit.
Since the 1980s over 80 restaurants have been established in the area - many of them located along the banks of the Vltava River with some pretty incredible views. There are a number of festivals that take place in the village each year, including the large Five-Petalled Rose Festival which is celebrated on Summer Solstice in June, where the downtown is completely transformed into it's former medieval self.
GETTING THERE FROM PRAGUE
Getting to Cesky Krumlov is SUPER easy from Prague. Trains leave multiple times a day and if you go to the information counter after purchasing your ticket and let them know your travel dates, they will print out the appropriate schedule for you. A round trip ticket cost me about $25 USD and it was pretty straightforward.
Another thing to note about the trains is that there are no direct trains to Cesky Krumlov so there will be a transfer involved if you decide to do this.
Train directions: Take the train from Prague main station to Ceske Budejovice (which will take between 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on the time of day you go).
Once in Ceske Budejovice follow the signs to the platform that the Cesky Krumlov trains will depart from (there will also be signs located on the platform as well).
After transferring to your new Cesky Krumlov bound train it will take you an additional 45 mins to reach the town.
As I mentioned before if you are unable to locate or call a taxi upon your arrival it will be about a 20-30 minute (pleasant) walk to the town center from the station.
There is also a direct bus which will get you there from Prague, which I didn't find out about until after purchasing my RT train ticket. It will take about 3 hours and it's highly recommended that if you are using this mode of transportation to make a seat reservation in advance.
Once you arrive at Cesky Krumlov's super cute station, you have a couple options of getting into the town. One is to take a bus, another is to hire a taxi, and the third is to make a 20-30 minute walk.
I think it may depend on the day/time you arrive, but for me, when I arrived at the station there was no one to be found, and no taxis or buses. My only choice was to walk, but fortunately a majority of the passengers on the train also decided to walk. It's definitely doable and you will pass the cutest neighborhood and get a great view of the village from the top of the hill.
WHERE TO STAY
When I made the decision to go to Cesky Krumlov it was the night before I left. Because it was my first solo overnight trip, I decided to book accommodations prior to arriving.
One thing I noticed was that B&Bs (Bed & Breakfasts) are not called that in the Czech Republic. They are called Penzions - and each one has it's own name with the word "Penzion" attached.
I can now easily say booking in advance is not necessary. As I walked through the town to my Penzion, I passed numerous other Penzion options that had vacancies. Some looked like mine, and others were super cute and you could tell had more of a social aspect to them.
The thing with the Penzions in Cesky Krumlov that you will need to note is many of them you won't be able to find online. So this is the time to go with your gut, book a train ticket, and show up in the town without accommodations. I can guarantee you will find something once you arrive.
Below are a couple of photos from my cute, little, yellow room in my Penzion just north of the town.
WHAT TO EAT
I was happy to find that the delicious cake/sweet pastry dessert Trdelník, that I also found in Prague, was available in the village. Traditionally Trdelník is made from rolled dough, wrapped around a stick and then grilled and topped with sugar and a walnut mix. But lucky for us ice cream lovers, you can also find it rolled into a cone shape, and filled with chocolate and soft serve. Trust me, this is the way you need to eat it!
As you're walking through the town you can't help but notice how much of a 13th century bohemian village Cesky Krumlov is, and how the influence is still apparent. This is why you must eat a traditional bohemian meal for dinner!
I ended up eating at tavern KRCMA U dwau Maryi (the official website is here), and one thing to note, as great as the food, ambiance and location are, the tables are communal. I was seated at a table near the back and for some time had to awkwardly watch as new diners did not want to be seated at my table, due to the lack of view.
But that is neither here nor there, as I ended up sharing my table with a very friendly couple and conquered the "right of passage" situation of eating dinner alone. :) And bonus: A great thing about the Czech Republic is how inexpensive everything is, and my meal and wine (pictured below) ended up totaling only $8 USD.
The best advice I can give you for when you visit is to go with the flow and just walk around.
There is no shortage of small alleyways, cute local run shops, and bars and restaurants. As you wander the streets you may even come across a farmers or flea market, or festival that you had no idea was going on. There are multiple museums in the town for the history buff, as well as a well-known day spa located in the 5-star Hotel Růže, southwest to the main part of town. I didn't get the chance to experience the spa due to my train schedule on my last day, but after taking a look at their services and prices I would say that it is well worth it.
There are plenty of offices located throughout the town if you want to take a rafting adventure down the river, and plenty of places to sit outside to people watch and enjoy a picnic.
One thing you must visit in Cesky Krumlov is the castle. It's impossible to miss when you arrive. The castle dates back to 1240, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
There are two ways to see the castle. You can go the free route and just explore the gardens and general castle buildings, or you can pick and choose your castle experience for a variety of admission fees. You can find all of the tours available, times and admission prices here.
Because I was short on time and wanted to make sure I not only experienced the castle but the town as well I opted out of the castle tour. In general I got a pretty good idea of what it looked like because you can explore an extension part of the grounds. I did not feel short changed, and I don't think you will either.
I hope I've inspired you to take a little overnight trip to Cesky Krumlov the next time you visit Prague. And if you do be sure to let me know what you think!