Armchair travelogue again this week as I take you to the most picturesque and prettiest little town that I’d ever seen in Bohemia during my visit there … oh months ago now! The town is Ceský Krumlov, a UNESCO Heritage town located just over 3 hours bus ride from Prague city. I wasn’t too captured with it the first few hours I was there, but it grew on me and by the time I left, I was pretty much in love with it!
I was there in late Spring so the trees were sprouting lovely new green leaves and flowers were starting to bloom but we hit a cold spell while I was visitng so the skies were a little dreary.
The primary attraction in Cesky Krumlov is the castle. The medieval castle here is second only to Prague Castle in size in the Czech Republic! When I got there though, I was curious. Where was the castle? There were no towering spires or rocky castle walls, nor was there a huge walled-up compound. It was only when I took the walking tour did I realise that everything I saw across the river (that’s on your left of the photo above) is essentially, the castle. On the right is the town, and they were separated by the Vltava River. Ok, its HUGE!
Getting to Cesky Krumlov from Prague city isn’t hard. In fact, its so easy you can prepare for your trip before you even get there. I was supposed to, but left it too long. Fortunately, there was Wifi in the apartment where I stayed so I managed to make a reservation for the bus ride after doing a bit of research.
You have a few options to get to Cesky Krumlov. There are shuttle taxis that might work out more cost effective if you have a few people in your travel party or lots of luggage. They are pretty costly though. But the most convenient way is a very comfortable bus ride on the Student Agency Bus that costs about €15 a person for a return ticket. Now, don’t be misled by the name, anyone can buy a ticket 🙂
You can view the website in English and booking was quite simple. I took the 6am bus from Prague Na Knížecí bus station (Metro Andel) and it can be a little confusing when you exit so I recommend that you get there at least 15 minutes early in case you get confused. Once you get to the stop however, its quite easy to spot it because the Student Agency bus is a bright yellow coach, and there will be quite a lot of people waiting there. It is an e-ticket so you will get a booking number. When you get to the Coach doors, someone will check off your number and name and seats are assigned.
The bus ride is about 3 hours give or take and is pretty comfortable through the Bohemian countryside. There are a couple of short stops at towns along the way but nothing too long. Coffee, tea or hot chocolate is served along the ride which is quite nice, and you arrive at the Cesky Krumlov bus station in no time. Note: Get off at the 2nd station when you get to Cesky Krumlov, where the bus terminates. That’s the stop closest to the town.
(1) Close up of the tower at the Cesky Krumlov castle. What looks like sandstone bricks from afar are actually painted on to LOOK like it! (2) Upon arrival, at an outlook point, overlooking the pretty little town (3) COFFEE!!
The bus station to the town centre is a relatively easy 10 minute walk. I will warn you to allow yourself a little more time when leaving the town depending on where you are. I almost missed the bus! 😛
But when you cross the main road and enter the cobble-stoned town, you almost feel like you’ve been transported into the past. The town is incredibly well maintained, facades of buildings are restored and brightly painted and it all looks very pretty. I was there on a Monday which apparently isn’t a good idea because the Castle is in fact closed. Cesky Krumlov is a popular town to visit on a weekend, so they take Mondays off. Ah well c’est la vie!
I booked a walking tour from the Town Hall which isn’t very pricey and although I recommend taking one to get a quick orientation of the town, I wasn’t too impressed with my guide. There were just 2 of us in her English speaking party and she wasn’t very helpful telling us the history of the town, preferring to wait till we asked questions. Still, it’s just a small little town you can cover walking in about an hour.
We strolled up to the castle, which is accessible two ways. One by walking up the stairs through the shops (I did that in Prague and that killed my legs on the way because its a really steep climb!) and the other is by a more scenic, winding road walking through the town and crossing the bridge that connects the castle to the town.
The area was once divided. Townspeople stayed in the town, Castlefolk stayed on the castle and they were separated by the winding river. But eventually, the town became one so you can pass quite freely between the two sides.
As you enter the Castle grounds, do look where everyone is peering down and you will be treated to the sight of the resident bear having his mid-morning snack in the Bear Moat. Bears have been kept at the castle since the 16th century so it was in keeping with tradition.
I couldn’t enter the Castle since it was closed, but the walk around the Castle grounds is lovely. The gardens weren’t quite in bloom yet, but you could see the flowers were starting to poke through the ground. I expect it would be much prettier closer to Summer (but a lot hotter too!)
The other walking tour I booked was for a visit to the Eggenberg beer brewery located within the town of Cesky Krumlov itself. The Czechs are huge consumers and brewers of beer and every town has their own brewery. The Eggenberg brewery has been around since the 1500s so as you can imagine, they’ve had a lot of practice. Haa! 😛
It was my first time visiting a brewery so it was quite an experience. It can be a little boring, if I’m to be honest, but if you enjoy your drink, it is also interesting to know how it is made, right?
(1) Eggenberg brewery, Cesky Krumlov (2) Hop and Barley – ingredients for beer (3) Careful, PB don’t fall into the fermenting tubs! (4) The best part – tasting!
Walking around the brewery was quite an experience. Parts of it are so hot, you feel like taking off all your clothes, and other parts in the underground cellars are freezing! I learnt here about the different types of beer available in the Czech Republic and found out to my surprise that although the stockyard was piled with crates of Eggenberg beer, it was only enough for the surrounding area! Not much of it gets out and this is apparently true with many breweries in the Czech Republic. Only the big ones like Pilsner Urquell and Budweiszer make enough to export.
Erm yes, I was quite happy about having free beer included in the package haha! 😀
By the time we were done with both walking tours, it was almost 2pm and time for a late lunch! I’d done a little research before I arrived as to where to eat and after checking with the guides, settled on the one that came most highly rated for some traditional local food – the 2 Marys (U Dwau Maryi). Its located down a little side lane with a very unassuming facade but you’re not there for the facade. You’re there because the food is seriously good, affordable and you don’t have to pay a premium to dine by the river!
There is a little garden outside with tables and I can imagine it can get crowded in Summer. But when I was there, there was a table waiting for us and it was quite perfect! The sky was overcast, it was a cold Spring day and I was sitting in the noonday sun but nothing could be better.
Well, except for the food, which was really REALLY good!
Portion sizes are a little smaller than what you get in Prague but so were prices. Significantly smaller!
There was some delicious Garlic Soup (35KC = RM5.50) which was a clear broth lightly flavoured with garlic, leek and croutons. It came piping hot and was perfect to warm me up.
Then there was the Old Bohemia Feast for one of Chicken (145kc = RM23) (They can do you a platter for up to 8 persons and have platters with Rabbit and Pheasant), which had smoked meat, millet, potato cake, dumpling, potatoes and salad. All very delicious!
We were quite filled up at this point, but we didn’t really want to wander around the town aimlessly. We wanted to sit and savour our drinks by the river in the crisp cool air, so we looked around at what other people were eating and saw a few people eating fish. Fish!
So we had it.
Roast Carp Baked Trout with Sage and Potatoes (170kc = RM27). Not my fish of choice at the best of times, but I enjoyed this one. There was no fishy taste or smell, it was very fresh and well done. Crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, and came with a healthy serving of potato and vegetables. It does take a little while to arrive so do be warned. I had the luxury of time, so I wasn’t fussed.
And finally, looking around, we saw other people order something very interesting that looked like ice cream in a bowl. We weren’t sure so we asked the waitress and she told us it was Zahour – sweet creamy dumplings in a blueberry sauce. Sure, lets have it!
Be warned that this is actually more akin to a dessert. Zahour (98 kc = RM15.60) has pieces of dumplings in a lovely blueberry sauce topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream. The dessert is served warm which is very interesting! I must say its a bit of an acquired taste but I also learned that its not all that easy to find dumplings in a sweet fruit sauce. So I made sure to savour it.
Yes, the 2 Marys gets 2 thumbs up from me!
All in all, I spent almost 3 hours over lunch! (This is why I love travelling free and easy) All we did was sit out in the sun, eating and enjoying the marvellous view. It was perhaps at this time that the twee feeling of the town fell away and I started to appreciate it a little more than I had. As many have commented, Cesky Krumlov is a very pretty little town. Almost too pretty to be true. It looks like it belongs on a set of a Disney cartoon. I thought it reminded me of the little town in Beauty and the Beast! Its that surreal! But yet, while sitting there over my long lunch, looking around and up at the castle. I found myself liking the little town for its surreal medieval feel and the almost too pretty to be believed scenery.
I’d say Cesky Krumlov is quite certainly worth a visit. An overnight stay would be a bit too much if I’m to be honest unless you absolutely love places like this, or have the luxury of time, or are passing through headed elsewhere out of Prague. But for me, a one day trip was more than sufficient to get a feel of the place.
I left at 5pm, running for the bus because I’d underestimated my speed of walking but fortunately, didn’t get too ticked off by the bus attendants. Maybe they did, I wasn’t sure I understood 😛 Got back into Prague city by 8pm and it was the end of another memorable day 🙂
This is Part 3 of my chronicles of my visit to Prague, Czech Republic. You can read my suggestions on 10 things to do while visiting Prague here and my visit to Kutna Hora and the Bone Church. Or read more Travel Tales here.
27 comments ... Read or JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Sze Ling says
That chicken meal looks sooooo good. Yum! 😀
Now you’ve gotten me in a traveling mood. Need to ponder on my next destination. 😉
Paris B says
It was absolutely delish! Damn! I miss the great time I had there haha! Time to plan another holiday too – world is so big yet so few places to go hehe…
Ah… I do enjoy armchair travelling! Definitely giving the 2Mary’s a go when I’m there.
For some strange reason, I like visiting breweries even though some of the experiences can be a bit… cheesy like the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. But the sampling part of it is always fun 😛
Paris B says
Yes! Definitely eat at the 2 Marys. I don’t know if the Terrace will be open in Winter because it will be horribly cold but the interior is very interesting too. Small, dark and very medieval 😀 Oh erm dont get your hopes up. The Eggenberg brewery is a working brewery and doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the Scotch Whiskey Experience in Edinburgh (which I thoroughly enjoyed!) but the sampling part is the BEST BIT! 😀
[email protected] Reflections says
SO pretty!! Prague(and area) has never been a place I’d have thought to visit, but thanks to you I really want to now! Looks like such a great vacation!
Paris B says
It was, Tracy. An absolutely wonderful country to visit. I hope you have the chance to because its simply amazing!
Lovely! From the way of your writing, I could feel that it was a breezy and relaxed tour 🙂 That beats the mother hen guided tour where you literally hit and run, touch and go any wall and washroom breaks. Haha, I think I can imagine the near miss to board the bus. I have taken some day trips before with hop on and hop off stops. Most of the time, I would be watching out for someone who came in the same coach as me and try to tail that person as close as before for fear of missing boarding the coach. Ahh, you make the whole trip, from planning to executing to enjoying it such a breeze. Good for you! 😀
Paris B says
Yes yes it was Jennifer, because there wasn’t much to do there haha! Honestly, its a place to take your time and go slow and not rush about because life is just too short not to stop and eat for 3 hours you know 😉 But yes, this is why I don’t do guided tours. I can’t handle the stress 🙁
Sher Lynn says
The food looooks good!! Not pricey as well 🙂 Would love to visit the place one day when I have enough moolah! Hahah. I agree, I definitely prefer free and easy as you can do everything at your own pace and not have noisy tour guides rushing you.
So far the best tour guide I had was in Jeju. He didnt rush us at all. We were late for lunch as we took quite some time to climb Sunset Peak and the rest of the tour group didnt climb. No scolding! Didnt “tunjuk muka”. He just asked how was the climb and etc. just got a bit of stares frm the others. Lol.
Paris B says
Definitely put it on your list of countries to visit Sher Lynn. I am told if they adopt the Euro then prices will start going up but until they do, its a very affordable country to visit, food is good and plentiful for a relatively small price. I haven’t gone on a guided tour in such a long time I’ve forgotten how to play by the rules LOL! I suppose I don’t see as much as someone on a fully guided tour would, but then I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself as much either 😉 Its good to know the tour guide was kind enough to let you fully enjoy your time in Jeju. Often, its the other people in the tour party that I can’t stand HAHA! 😛
Rainy Days & Lattes says
Looks so beautiful there =D it’s like a whole different world. Quiet and picturesque. Glad you had a nice time. Dining for 3 hrs sounds so nice =D
Paris B says
It was such a luxury to just sit by the river for 3 hours. I think the waitress thought we were nuts LOL! 😀
The bear looks pretty big and healthy, and all it seems to eat is fruit! 😛 Love the photo of you with the 2 beer glasses, haha!
Paris B says
HAHA What does that tell us eh? Eat more fruit! 😉 I know, I’m so embarrassingly disgustingly suckered by the freebie beers lol!
oooh…i so wanna be there Paris…next time you go to such exotic locales, don’t forget me ;P
Paris B says
Haha ok, Swati, I’ll leave some space in luggage 😉
Another well-written post 😀 I was in U dwau Maryí for dinner the first night we were there. How did you like the garlic soup? I never like it, unless my husband cooks it *lol* Those in the restaurants are always ‘super salty’ for me. By the way, that fish is a trout, not a carp. 🙂 Most people don’t like carps. I like the Czech trouts, baked or fried. I’ve never tasted or seen Žahour before. I don’t remember seeing them at all in Prague.
Paris B says
Thanks Amanda and oops! I couldn’t decide if it was carp or trout coz it’d been so long LOL Thanks for the correction. I’ll edit it. I quite liked the garlic soup. I didn’t expect it to be clear coz I thought it’d be creamy instead. But I’m glad it was clear. A little salty but then I’d never tried the one your husband makes haha! 😉 I had the Zahour because I remember you telling me about it! You said there was dumplings in a fruit sauce so when I saw it on the menu, I had to have a go 😀
Oh wow. Am definitely putting this on my travel wishlist! Awesome post Paris!
Paris B says
Thanks Kahani 🙂 The Czech Republic is a wonderful place to visit. I’m glad I grabbed the chance when I had it 🙂
That bear looks well-fed for sure..his fruit snack looks pretty good! Loving the photos, more please 😀 And that photo with the 2 huge beer mugs looks somewhat familiar…. 😉
Paris B says
Heh imagine if we could be as well fed on fruits 😛 No more pix I’m afraid. Ran out of places to visit haha! 😀
Wonderful photos and you (and your skin) look great! x
Paris B says
Thanks Marina! 😀 I attribute it to the lovely weather, lots of relaxation, and lots of good food and drink! 😉 Glad you enjoyed the photos.
Hi, Thanks for the great infos abt CK! It’s a nice little town!! Wanted to ask if the bus stopped at where u alighted is the same stop for returning back to Prague??
Paris B says
Hi, glad you found it useful! Yes it’s the same place to go back to Prague. Just make sure you give yourself time to walk there from the town or you might miss the bus!
Hi, Thank you vvv much for a quick reply! Looking forward to CK! TQsss!!! 🙂