If you love European city breaks but hate the immense crowds that typically go hand-in-hand with them, a little-known scenic town in the Czech Republic could be just the tonic.
With its 13th-century medieval castle, meandering cobbled alleys, and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements, it’s safe to say that Cesky Krumlov looks like something straight out of the pages of a fairytale.
Frequently described by travel industry as a ‘Prague in miniature’, this small medieval town has a population of just 13,056.
But while it might be smaller than the capital city, it still has a lot to offer visitors with its rich history and charming location – nestled by the rolling hills of the country’s South Bohemia region and beside the Vltava river.
In fact, UNESCO hailed Cesky Krumlov as an ‘outstanding example of a small central European medieval town’ in 1992 and listed it as a World Heritage Site.
Miraculously, the city escaped bombing during the Second World War, leaving a perfectly-preserved Old Town – perhaps one of the largest contributing factors to its reputation as ‘one of the most picturesque towns in Europe’.
In many ways, the spot is just as beautiful as Prague – only it comes without the huge crowds and notorious stag do reputation. Bonus points all round.
How to get to Český Krumlov
This ‘small scale Prague’ is actually located around 110 miles south of the capital city.
For those flying into the capital, or planning to visit both destinations during one trip, it takes around two hours and 50 minutes to get to Český Krumlov from Prague by train.
A simple glance at a map will show you the closest airport to Český Krumlov is actually Austria’s Linz airport, which is 64.1 km away. But it’s worth pointing out that flights here from the UK aren’t direct and come with one stopover in France.
Alternatively, Salzburg, Vienna and Munich are also nearby airport options for those planning their route – all with direct flights from the UK.
UK to Prague – flights start from £30 return from London, Manchester and Nottingham, on Skyscanner.
UK to Linz – flights start from £135 one-way on Skyscanner.
UK to Salzburg – flights start from £35 return on Skyscanner.
UK to Munich – flights start from £25 return on Skyscanner.
The best time to visit Český Krumlov
Český Krumlov might be small but it’s still mighty, as despite its compact stature it attracts around 800,000 tourists every year. Most visitors come during the main season – from April to October.
During these peak summer months, you’ll find it rife with backpackers enjoying the scenic riverside picnic spots, as well as raft and canoe enthusiasts looking to take to the waters of the Vltava River.
As a result, winter is considered a good time to head to Český Krumlov – with a Christmas market held in the main square and a snow-covered castle (if you’re lucky).
However, while November to March sees fewer tourists, it’s worth noting that the castle interiors are closed during this period – an important point to keep in mind when planning a trip.
What is weather like in Český Krumlov?
Summers in the town tend to be reasonable and comfortable.
In July, peak season, Český Krumlov has an average high temperature of 21°C and an average low temperature of 11°C – the warmest of the year.
Whereas in the winter months, from December to February, temperatures plummet to below freezing, averaging between -6°C to -4°C, and often covering the town in snow.
Things to do in Český Krumlov
As the location has such a rich history, there’s plenty to see and do and you can walk across the town in under 30 minutes. So it could be a good choice for those who enjoy slow travel and love taking their time to soak up a destination’s offering.
Top attractions to tick off include Český Krumlov State Castle – as well as the castle museum, tower and garden – alongside the art centre, Egon Schiele.
But don’t forget to simply take a stroll to immerse yourself in the magical architecture of the city, from the red-roofed houses and plaza fountains, to the striking Church of St Vitus.
Not to mention the positively Disney-like cobbled streets, lined with pastel-coloured houses and shops.
Where to stay
Hotel rooms in Český Krumlov hover at around £60 per night, while Airbnb prices start from £36.
Due to its smaller scale, a long weekend (or 2-3 days) is plenty of time to soak up the town’s offering.
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