The UNESCO World Heritage listed Cesky Krumlov is a stunning, authentic medieval town that rolls down towards a tear drop bend in the Vltava River. Towering above the town and set into the cliff face is the second largest Castle in Czech Republic. Interesting little shops, restaurants and accommodation is bountiful and the region is renowned for it’s beautiful nature which you can easily experience on foot, canoe, horseback or bike. Our preferred method of exploration over summer is by canoe…
We’ve been coming here for years in all seasons, pre and post children. No matter what our circumstances or the season, we’ve always found lots of interesting places and things to do. Here we share the best activities and places to visit when planning a trip to this beautiful part of CZ.
Join the ‘Vodaci’ (translates as ‘watermen’ - a colloquialism for the many canoeists that you will join on your river journey) and slowly float along with the river currents, stopping for beer or sausages at the many snack bars (obcerstvi) along the way. Observe the costumes and homemade flags that the Vodaci make for their annual summer pilgrimage down the Vltava and don’t forget to return the many greetings of ‘ahoy’ that you will receive - these are Czechs truly at their happiest!
Hear the roar of one of the many approaching weirs and brace yourself for a thrilling ride down their chutes. The toughest chute on the river would have to be the one right underneath the Castle at Cesky Krumlov, here as an observer on dry land you can laugh and cheer on the canoeists as they take on the challenging weir, many craft simply flip out their passengers right underneath your nose.
We took Lucie on her first canoeing trip last summer, she was a few months past 2. The hire company recommended a rubber canoe, these are more stable and very unlikely to flip. We also chose a route that had small weirs and was the shortest trip available (around 1 hour), ending right in the town of Cesky Krumlov. The company drove us out of town (a car seat was installed for Lucie) and upstream to our chosen starting point. We were provided with all equipment including lifejackets. (Lifejackets are available for children 1 year and up). Lucie was a little nervous as it was her first time in a boat, the weirs also made her nervous, so for our cautious little one it was a bit too much. We did pass a family with boys of a similar age and they were having no problems at all. Now that Lucie is 3 I’m confident that she would handle the same trip much better.
If you have older children or no children at all, consider a full or half day trip starting in Cesky Krumlov and ending in either Zlata Koruna or Borsov. We always use a small hire company in Hradebni ul who do not have a website but take a look at this site from Vltava Travel Agency in Kajovska ul for an idea on prices and routes available.
Other Recommended Activities:
1. The Castle - Just walking around the complex, climbing the tower and feeding the ducks in the formal gardens can fill half a day. As a trained ceramic artist I also enjoy visiting the sculpture and ceramic gallery located in the bowels of the castle. Even if you have no interest in the works on display the architectural space is amazing with it’s huge stone ceilings and rock floors - it’s like exploring a series of caves, which really capture kids imaginations.
2. Hiking - Choose one of the coloured walking trails that guide you out of the town and into the gorgeous landscape of South Bohemia. We regularly walk up to the Chapel on the hill opposite the Castle and then follow the trail towards a deep forest, emerging in the town of Pridoli, from here you can wind back towards Cesky Krumlov, passing through lovely, small villages such as Nove Spoli.
3. Egon Schile Centrum - Another interesting architectural building, once a brewery, which regularly shows world renowned artists alongside talented Czech artists. There is also a permanent exhibition devoted to the talented Egon Schile, once a resident of the town. The centre also has a great book shop and a cafe attached.
4. Walk to Austria for Lunch - Drive to Lake Lipno, take a swim and then head south on the dirt roads into the deep forest. At a marked intersection leave your car and walk about 5km to the town of St Oswald over in Austria. The trail is fine for strollers. About half way in you will come to ‘no mans land’ where the border fence once stood, this is marked by a signpost. In St Oswald you can find a bankomat for Euros and then join local village folk in the pub for a hearty Austrian lunch.
5. The Playground - Cesky Krumlov has a newly built riverside playground with lots of play equipment for kids of all ages. Within the fenced area is a pizza restaurant with a large sunny terrace. Here you can sit and watch the kids and the passing parade of river craft whilst enjoying a coffee or an afternoon cocktail.
6. The Town - Just walking through the town on dusk or during the evening is magical. The Castle, streets and buildings are dramatically lit and tourists are few and far between. During the day, the town offers many interesting shops, cafes and museums. Of particular interest to families are the many wooden toy stores.
Where to Eat:
1. Krcma u Satlavske - Probably the most popular restaurant in town so reservations are essential. Enjoy the romantic, candle lit and cavern like spaces of this former jail whilst your meals are cooked to perfection on the open fire. High chairs available.
2. Laibon - Fantastic riverside vegetarian restaurant including excellent Slovakian Halusky - yum! High chairs available.
3. Papa’s Living Restaurant - Part of the Ambiente chain with a riverside terrace and average food (pasta, salads). They do offer a kids menu and high chairs though.
4. Restaurant Marketa - A medievil themed basement restaurant tucked away on the right hand side of the castle gardens. Most menu items are cooked on an open fire (although not as well as Krcma u Satlavske).
Where to Stay:
Cesky Krumlov has many accomodation options for all budgets. A good starting point for narrowing down and booking accommodation in English is through Cesky Krumlov’s Info Centrum or you could also take the advice of past visitors on sites such as Trip Advisor.
These are just a few of the places and experiences that you can try out when visiting Cesky Krumlov. In reality, each family will naturally create their own unique itinerary based on their interests and ages. So be assured that you can easily rent bikes, horses and even boats (on Lake Lipno) during your stay. You can also pre-book tickets to the popular summer opera and ballet concerts staged in the Castle’s outdoor Theatre. And if your stay coincides with the amazing Five Petalled Rose Festival (mid June) then you are in for a real treat. For one weekend the medieval architecture blends perfectly with medieval costumed townspeople who stage authentic markets, sports, street theatre and reenactments for all to enjoy.
I’m happy to share further my experiences in this beautiful region, so if you have any questions or comments please write below and I’ll answer you in more detail.