48 hours in Český Krumlov | A solo travel itinerary
Český Krumlov is undoubtedly drop-dead beautiful but it has several great things going for it. The old city is small, compact, and if you stay in the city centre, which you probably will, you can see everything within a few hours. The town looks like a fairy tale-land, warped in time: cobbled streets (oh, my poor suitcase wheels!); quaint handicraft shops; eateries in medieval edifices; beautiful, beautiful buildings. Truly, there are no ends to the ‘wow!’ moments.
If you have two days in Český Krumlov, here is a list of things you must do. I was there solo and I loved every minute of it.
Get the Český Krumlov Card if you are planning to visit museums. For 300 Kč you can visit 5 museums which more than covers the price if you visit only the Castle Museum and Tower and Museum Fotoatelier (the popular ones). Note that neither the Castle tour nor the tour of the Baroque Theatre inside is included in this ticket. The museums you can visit using the card are: the Castle Museum and Tower, Fotoatelier, Regional Museum, Egon Schiele Art, and the Monasteries. And even after you buy the card, don’t forget to get it punched at each place and taking a local ticket to scan from the ticket seller.
Book a stay in the centre of the city. I booked a single room in Ubytování Zámecké Schody and it was wonderful. Adequate and in the centre of the old town, I could see the castle tower from the skylight.
Currency: When I travelled, 1 Euro was 26 Koruna. Roughly, divide all values in Koruna by 40 to get the Euro figure
Morning: Do a free walking tour
Do a walking tour of the city by Wiseman. Their English tour takes place every day at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. (March to October). They also conduct private tours. The tour takes about two hours, starts at the main square Namesti Svornosti, and ends at the castle.
As part of the tour, you will also learn about the three main families of the city and the marks they left behind. They are the Rosenbergs (1302-1602), the Eggenbergs (1622-1719) and the Schwarzenbergs (1719-1947). Their main scions are in the following picture: clockwise, starting with Peter Vok of Rosenberg without his wife on the left; Johann Christian I. von Eggenberg and his wife below; and Josef I. Adam Schwarzenberg and his wife to the top right.
It’s important to know them. Believe me, they get referenced again and again. (Also, err… I’m quite a nerd.)
Afternoon: Tour the castle grounds
The Wiseman tour ends at the Castle, so you can tour the castle grounds afterwards. You could purchase a guided tour of the castle at the ticket office (info) but I don’t think there’s any need to. Except if you want to see the Ballroom of the Rosenbergs which is grand and you cannot see it otherwise.
With your Český Krumlov Card, you can go to the Castle Museum which is quite good, and to the tower, the view from which is pretty darn spectacular.
On summer months, the castle grounds get very crowded and you may opt to revisit at night or early morning. And by early morning I mean before 7 a.m., or at least an hour before the tour buses arrive at 10 a.m.
Information on castle tickets and timings here.
A visit to the Baroque Castle Theatre
As part of the Castle visit, be sure to also visit the Baroque Theatre. The tickets cost a whopping 380 Kč, so you may or may not find it worthwhile. But I absolutely did. The theatre is located in the fifth courtyard of the castle. It is one of the two surviving baroque theatres in the world and the oldest.
Cost: 380 Kč
Tickets need to be bought at the castle ticket office and the tour is timed. My English language tour was at 2 p.m. and lasted for an hour. The tour is in three parts: a view of the stage, a view of the underneath machinery, a short AV presentation on how the stage looks when a performance is on.
There are Baroque nights at the castle theatre 7 nights in the year during June, July, and September. If you are lucky, you may get to see them! Check here.
Night: See a performance at the revolving Theatre
What you absolutely must do and I think is a good enough reason to come to Český Krumlov, is the revolving theatre or Otáčivé hlediště. This unique experience in an open-air revolving auditorium will flummox and delight to no end. Unlike traditional theatre, scene changes happen by revolving the auditorium i.e. rotating what you are actually sitting on. All the acts take place on the lovely chateau park surrounding the auditorium providing a matchless backdrop.
Can’t believe they’ve been around for 100 years and this is the first I’m hearing of them!
Shows happen only between June and September. Tickets can be booked online and get sold out pretty fast. The shows are in Czech but you can download an app (Overtekst) to read subtitles on your phone as the show is ongoing. I watched ‘The Lost World‘ which was luckily a kid-friendly play, relying on music, action, and histrionics, so it was not hard to understand what was going on. I LOVED it.
More information on their website.
Ticket prices vary, but mine was 188 Kč which is the lowest. You can see well enough though. Be on time; due to the nature of the event, you cannot enter the venue late.
Morning: Do the remaining museums
You can spend an hour in each of the museums covered by the CK card. The visits are peaceful because not many tourists venture inside these museums for some reason (except for the Castle Museum and Tower). Often, I was the only one inside! The problem is that in some cases, explanations in English are scanty or missing, which can be a dampener.
In order of my preference were:
Regional Museum: The regional museum houses artefacts from Cesky Krumlov from prehistoric times to late 19th century, along with a ceramic model of the Old Town and a baroque Jesuit pharmacy. I was the only one inside when I visited. Spread over three floors, I thought the museum gave a very good perspective of the development of the city along with impressive miniature models and memorabilia. At the time of my visit, they were also having a temporary exhibit on American Indians which I found interesting.
Museum Fotoateliér Siedel: A tour of the 19th-century photographer Josef Seidel’s house, with its old photographic equipment and processes laid out for the visitor and explained. Tours begin at the start of every hour and English speakers get an audio guide to carry around the house. The most fun activity here is after the tour when you can have your photograph taken in the old style with clothes to match. Costs 250 Kč for one photograph and 150 Kč thereon for add-ons. The photograph can be emailed or printed too if you request it.
Egon Schiele Art Centrum: A small museum with some interesting artwork. The life and art of Egon Schiele were good to know about, although I understand his connection to Český Krumlov is tenuous at best: his mother was born here and he visited once, for a brief holiday. Apart from his art, works of Ikuko Miyazaki and Katerina Seda were interesting to peruse. Especially, Seda’s work–UNESCO versus UNES-CO–was telling of the locals’ love-hate relationship with tourists in the region.
Afternoon: Go rafting on the river
You could opt to raft along the Vltava River which is a fun and safe activity to do even with kids and poor-swimmers since the river currents are not too harsh. A 30-minute booking of a canoe for 2 people costs between 300-380 Kč. Several tour operators offer rafts for rent and the top-rated ones are Malacek and Rafting Krumlov.
Evening: Go for a trek to Cross Hill
Cesky Krumlov sleeps early. Shops close at 6 p.m. and nightlife options are limited. A good way to spend the evening is to visit the Castle grounds after the crowds are gone. On summer days, you could also do the Hill of the Cross Hike and watch the sunset from the top. The hike takes about 30 minutes through some picturesque views and ends at a chapel.
Night: Wine and beer tasting
Have dinner and drinks at Pivovar Eggenberg, Cesky’s very own brewery dating back to 1336, relocated to the town by the House of Rosenberg in 1522. The Czech are passionate about their beer. Did you know their per capita beer consumption is the highest in the world? That is 143 litres per capita per year. Germany has a litres per capita consumption of only 109 in comparison. The Czechs take their beer seriously and so should you.
When in Krumlov also try the wines and sweetmeats at Cesky Pernik, especially the Medovina Mead or honey wine. Heady stuff. There are several more to try (25 Kč for a shot) and to buy (about 200 Kč for a 0.5l bottle of wine) in the store. You can also take home gingerbread goodies which actually is the traditional sweet of Cesky and not the Trdelník that is currently peddled in both Prague and Cesky (which is apparently Hungarian).
Cesky Krumlov also sports popup bars that offer cheap takeaway cocktails. Prices range from 100-160 Kč. Other great places to snag delicious cocktails are at Zapa Bar (Latran 15) and Apotheka cocktail bar (Latran 46).
How to get to Český Krumlov
It takes 3 hours from Prague through train or through Flixbus/ Regiojet.