Pastel-coloured walls and creaky old doors. A castle on a hill and snow blanketing the town. Quiet evenings walking cobbled streets in the starlight. Cesky Krumlov really does feel like a fairytale! Although many visit as a day trip from Prague or Salzburg, we chose to spend four days there over New Year’s, and it was utterly magical.
I love how these trees look dipped in snow!
Cesky Krumlov is tucked into the hills in the south of Czechia, around two hour’s drive from Prague, Salzburg and Vienna. We flew into Brno (all about those budget flights!) and drove past snowy fields and frozen lakes to reach our cosy accomodation on the hill just outside of town. From there, it was an easy downhill walk into the centre of town.
The castle’s distinctive tower
I was instantly charmed by the history of this gorgeous little town. Parts of the castle date back to the 13th century, and in wandering the streets in the evenings (when the day-trippers have headed home!) you can feel transported back in time. The colourful walls and doors, many with their own paintings proudly displayed above the mantel, also make Cesky Krumlov a photographer’s dream.
On our first full day, which also happened to be New Year’s Eve, we were content to wander, soaking in the atmosphere of this pretty little place. It’s so compact that we were able to relax and let our feet guide us – no worrying about missing a key sight!
A tredelnik break was compulsory!
We headed into the Old Town and over to the east of the little peninsula poking into the Vlatva River, for beautiful views back over the town and the castle. Very excitingly for us temperate-dwellers, the river was frozen solid in places!
Next, we headed back across the Vlatva and explored the Castle, taking in its panoramic views of the opposite side of Cesky Krumlov. Wood smoke was gently rising over the town, and the sun hung low gleaming off the snow. It was breathtakingly beautiful!
My awesome travel buddies Victoria, Rachel and Emma
Keen to explore further, we jumped in the car to attempt the slightly more energetic climb up Mount Klet for what were promised to be even better views. Unfortunately my boots were designed for wet New Zealand winters, not snowy slopes, so I contented myself with admiring the snowy woods and the views from lower down. Still, not too bad!
We decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the town square with the locals and bundled up. Lucky we did, as it was chilly! Helpfully, the small Christmas market was open and serving hot Svarak, the Czech version of mulled wine. Just what we needed to keep us warm – and it may have helped us dance along to the small band playing too!
Fireworks went off at midnight, shooting high from the houses lining the square. I say shooting high… some were clearly not set at professional level, and a couple even skimmed the crowd! We felt like the only tourists in town, and had a wonderful night.
The next day we were up early and heading to Salzburg, reversing the usual way in which visitors day-trip this area! We only had a couple of hours to explore Mozart’s town, and I’d love to return to visit the castle and experience more of the music that seemed to be everywhere in the city.
Skipping through the gardens famed in The Sound of Music!
On our last day in Cesky we had time for just a little morning wander before saying goodbye to the fairytale town. If you have the time, staying there allows you to see its pretty streets free of visitors and take in those gorgeous night time views. Whichever way you visit this pretty town, I’m sure it will cast its spell on you too!
My Top Tips for Cesky Krumlov
- Visiting from nearby cities for a day-trip is very do-able, as there’s not too many sights to see. But if you stay a night, you’ll get to explore without the busloads of visitors – it’s well worth it to me!
- The viewpoints from the Castle are fantastic – but head to the east of the Old Town to get an awesome view back over the Castle itself
- If you’re planning on climbing Mount Klet in winter, make sure you’re properly equipped – apparently the views from the top are worth it!
Have you visited Cesky Krumlov? Did you stay there or visit in a day?
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