Looking for a great day trip option from Prague? Look no further than the fairytale streets of Český Krumlov! This charming town is about two hours from the Czech capital, and although there are lots of reasons to stay longer it’s small enough to be explored in a single day. Check out the guide below to start planning your day trip from Prague to Český Krumlov!
When M and I found an incredible deal for a week-long trip to central Europe last October, I swore to myself that I would only focus on the included cities of Prague and Budapest when doing my research and planning. The predetermined itinerary presented the perfect opportunity to for us stay put and really appreciate each city, rather than trying to maximize the amount we would see and do each day like we usually do.
But then I started learning more about Český Krumlov.
Český Krumlov is an idyllic little town about two hours south of Prague. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site charmingly nestled along a narrower section of the Vltava River. There’s a castle on a hill and winding cobbled streets you’d love to get lost wandering. It was even named as one of the ten most breathtakingly beautiful small towns in the world.
Despite my commitment to the Prague Only! plan, I couldn’t escape the niggling desire to see what this place was all about. Finally, on our first night in the Czech Republic, I sheepishly asked M if he wouldn’t mind taking a day trip from Prague to Český Krumlov.
He agreed, and we didn’t regret it.
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Our options to visit Český Krumlov included taking a guided tour, train, or public bus. After doing a little research, we decided on the latter option from LEO Express. At €16 apiece roundtrip, it was about half as expensive as the train and much cheaper than an organized day trip. (Though, to be fair, a tour would have included a three-course lunch, admission to the castle, and guide services.)
Our bus arrived around 10:30 in the morning, just as the city was coming alive for the day. We soon discovered that the old town is a hugely popular tourist destination, with busloads of folks coming in daily and a slew of restaurants and shops built to accommodate them. While the day was a little less of an authentically cultural experience than we usually seek out, the charm and beauty of the town and its surroundings more than made up for it.
Our Top Things to Do in Český Krumlov:
- Visit the State Castle of Český Krumlov and its grounds. There are a variety of options for tours and admissions focusing on different areas of the property, though only guided tours ($11-$12) allow you entrance into the castle. We bought tickets to explore the museum ($5) and ascend the tower ($2.50) for panoramic vistas, but on returning it would be nice to see more of the castle itself. There also are extensive grounds, including a colonnade and manicured gardens, where you can enjoy great views or get swept up in the fairytale-like surroundings. Many of these areas may be free to access.
- Wander the old town, preferably with coffee or hot chocolate in hand. Experience the charm of the winding, cobblestoned streets and duck into the little antique shops to see what treasures you might find there. Gift shops abound, as well, if you’re the souvenir sort.
- Lounge in a cafe or at a riverside restaurant (below) and watch the world go by.
Our Top Places to Eat in Český Krumlov:
- We ate a late breakfast at the cute, brightly-lit MLS Creperie, lured in by a breakfast special that included eggs, meat, toast, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a cinnamon sugar crepe. What more could you ask for to power you through your day? We also sat at the little bar, which afforded a front-row view of the crepe-making. Attached to the creperie is a popular spot to grab trdelník, a cake that is wrapped around a cylindrical spit and grilled.
- In the mid-afternoon, we made our way to the riverside terrace at Laibon, a vegan spot, to enjoy a beer by the Vltava and relax in the shadow of the castle. The beer-carbs soon begged for food-carb company, so we shared some yummy hummus and pita.
Other Top Tips for Visiting Český Krumlov:
- Anytime you can get a vista of this town, take it! Whether it’s from the top of the castle tower or by climbing the little hill toward the main bus station (which may be labeled on maps as Autobusové nádraží, or AN), find a viewpoint and take in the gorgeous juxtaposition of vermilion roofs, graceful spires, and rolling green hills.
- I highly recommend staying overnight to enjoy the charm of the city before and after the tour buses and their hordes of visitors descend upon the streets. It’s also better for the local economy if you stick around for a while versus taking a day trip from Prague. I would have loved to see the old town at night and regretted that we didn’t have time to stay.
- Take a moment to relax along the Vltava. There is more than enough time in a day to hit all of the major sights in town, so don’t hesitate to grab a brew and admire the view from a restaurant terrace.
- Make sure that you pay keen attention to which bus stop is listed on your ticket when arriving in Český Krumlov.
M and I ended up missing our return bus to Prague after mistakenly disembarking at the wrong station upon our arrival. When we arrived with what we thought were ten minutes to spare before our return trip, we saw our bus – the last of the evening from LEO Express – pulling out of its spot, bound for the station we should have used. The rest of the lot was empty, the station building was deserted, and it was 6 PM on a Sunday in a country where we didn’t speak more than two phrases of the language. Most concerning was the fact that we had 9:45 AM train tickets for Budapest the next morning.
Even seasoned travelers make mistakes!
Thankfully, we were able to book seats with another bus that came by a half hour later, which took us to the city of České Budějovice, where we caught a train the rest of the way to Prague.
If you find yourself in Prague or the Czech Republic, I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to explore this charming little town. Even though our day ended up being much longer and a bit more expensive than we’d planned thanks to the bus fiasco, it was well worth it and we would go back in a heartbeat!
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This guide to Český Krumlov was originally posted on February 19, 2018, and last updated on February 19, 2021.
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