For our fifth wedding anniversary, we decided to head to Europe. We prefer to go to Europe during the off season to avoid the crowds. We covered three countries during this trip - Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. We started our trip at the beautiful capital city, Prague... you can check out the itinerary here. True to our travel style, we ventured out of the city on our second day in Czech Republic. We did a day trip to one of the most magical fairy tale small town in South Bohemia - Cesky Krumlov.
This town is located in the Southern Bohemian region of Czech republic and is known for being to home to a spectacular castle over the river Vltava.
Places you can't miss:
Cesky Krumlov Old Town
Local Pastry shops
Oh and local beer, if you are into it
Best time to visit
I would imagine the weather is pretty amazing in the summer but the winters are extreme with snow and temperatures in the low 20s (Fahrenheit not Celsius). That being said, visiting Europe during the winter is absolutely magical and something everyone must experience at least once. So if you haven't done that already I would highly recommend visiting Prague during the Christmas season to soak in all the festivities. Luckily when we visited, there wasn't a lot of snow (we just had one night of snow in Prague) but the temperatures were below freezing during the night.
Flights and Visa
We flew with Smart Wings - short, direct flights all through the week.
Schengen Visa required for entry into Czech Republic. Immigration was simple and quick.
The official language spoken in the country is Czech. You will also find that the second most common language is German, followed by Russian.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel and Medical Insurance is mandatory to travel to all Schengen countries.
Currency is Czech Crown. Restaurants and other places don't accept Euro but most big restaurants accept cards.
Where we stayed
We stayed at the Ametyst Hotel in Prague. This hotel is in the New Town of Prague. The rooms were spacious for European standards with a beautiful view of the city. The staff are really helpful and knowledgeable. The hotel is just a 15 minute walk to all the major attractions. The breakfast was repetitive but was a pretty good spread (even for us vegetarians).
Tip: There is a small grocery right next to the hotel, which is incredibly convenient after a tiring day.
Cost and getting around
Prague is expensive but not ridiculously so. Hotels are reasonably priced (during the off season). Cabs are expensive, as you would expect them to be anywhere in Europe. A proper meal on average will be around EUR 10-15 per person.
Had no issues with safety. We felt everyone we met was warm and helpful.
Cesky Krumlov is a small town, so apart from your pastries there isn't a lot of food for vegetarians. However, I would recommend eating at the Travel Hostel Restaurant - super chill vibes, local cuisine and authentic experience. We had the Pesto Pasta, Veggie Salad and dessert. YUM. Hearty portions too. Double win!
What to pack
Winters are cold. Pack rain jackets, winter jackets, scarves and beanies if you are going around the same time as us.
Itinerary: The drive up from Prague is just around 2 hours, so you can rent a car and do this on your own. Personally, I prefer tours. If you are like me and want to avoid driving during the unpredictable winter season (because let's face it - ain't no fun in doing that), you can book a day tour from Prague to Cesky. We did a tour with Prague Sightseeing Tours. It was very professional with free Wi-Fi on board the bus, great food included during the trip and lots of wonderful information shared. I do recommend doing a tour with them.
Note: during the summer, the entrance fees to the castle is included in the tour cost but during winter the castle is closed, so we got lunch instead.
After a 15 minute slippery walk up a narrow street, we were welcomed by endless rows of gothic houses and bright colored roof tops.
We then gradually walked into the castle grounds - preserved from the 14th century. The castle complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In winter the castle itself is closed but you can still walk around the complex. You can even walk up the castle for some amazing views of the town.
As you walk around the castle, you will notice that there are window display of Bohemian garnets everywhere.. this really adds to the enigma of the town.
We then made our way over down from the castle and towards the old town crossing a small bridge - with the Vltava river running just below it. Just imagine the entire river glistening under the winter sun with music playing in the background giving the entire place a magical feel - yeah, it's like time stand stills here.
We continued walking along the bohemian streets until we reached the city center, which was completely festive and bustling with activity.
After a scrumptious lunch, we got a EUR 7 (per person) ticket to climb the watch tower. The stairs leading up are rickety but there are beautiful views along the way...
and the views from the top are out of this world. Clear blue skies, a flowing river, crisp winter air and magic in the air...
We got incredibly lucky with the weather that day as the clouds cleared by the time we got to the place.. it made exploring this cute town very easy and comfortable even in winter. Never a bad time to grab snacks from a local pastry story.
Fun fact: We were also told the local brew here is world famous!
Cesky Krumlov is easily one of Central Europe's most picturesque towns and tells you a story of Europe's majestic past. There is history, art, cuisine, and old castle tales...
You can blitz through the town in a day or stay for a few days and venture out further to explore South Bohemia. As for us? We were thrilled to have celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in this whimsical winter town with the crowds gone and the place blanketed in pristine white snow.
Happity boppity! :)
One final fun fact:
Did you know that BATA (the world famous shoe manufacturer) was actually founded in Czech Republic? Yeah, we didn't either. I think all countries like to think they founded Bata!
Drop your comments below and show some love. Feel free to shoot me an email with your feedback.