A Castle, Crepes and Puppets –
Welcome to Cesky Krumlov!
There is so much to love about this sweet little town located in southern Czech Republic and not far from the Austrian border. When it comes to family travel in Europe, this has been one of our favorite places. Keep reading to find out why...
One of the things we love about Cesky Krumlov is it’s close proximity to other places in Central Europe. I guess that is true about much of Europe and one of the things we Americans love about visiting this continent. We have been fortunate to visit Cesky Krumlov twice now and each time we found it to be an easy place to get to. In just 2-3 hours by car, you can arrive in Cesky Krumlov from Prague, Munich, Salzburg or Vienna. This would be an excellent stop for a road trip through Central Europe. It is also possible to access Cesky Krumlov by bus or train. The train station is approximately a 20 minute walk to the old town.
Pint Size Prague
Many people consider Cesky Krumlov to just be a smaller version of Prague. Castle? Check! River? Check! Cobble-stoned streets and orange roof tops? Check! Think of a small river that winds around like the letter “C” and then put a little picturesque village in the center of the “C” and you’ve got Cesky Krumlov. Cars are not welcome in the center, but cobble-stoned streets lined with bakeries and toy shops are! It’s impossible to get lost here because as you wander along, you’ll come to the other side in less than 10 minutes and you’ve always got the castle tower and the Vltava River to keep you oriented. The photo below was taken of a map hanging in the hallway of our bed and breakfast. See the letter “C”?
Cesky Krumlov Castle
Gracing the brightly colored medieval skyline like an ice cream sundae is Cesky Krumlov Castle. The original gothic castle was built before 1250 by the Lords of Krumlov and the Rosenbergs, Habsburgs and Eggenbergs have all occupied it in its nearly 1000 year history. The castle complex is made up of courtyards, gardens, towers and a museum. But perhaps the most exciting of all (for kids that is) are the black bears that make their home in the castle moat. They were sleeping when we were there and unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see them. Bear-keeping is not new to Cesky Krumlov Castle. Records show that Wilhelm von Rosenberg kept bears at the castle during the 16th century. We loved climbing the castle tower for a breathtaking view of the landscape below. And like all medieval castle museums, we also loved the collection of knight armor and swords.
Cesky Krumlov Castle
From the Castle Tower
Toy Shops & Puppet Museum
Cesky Krumlov is home to a number of toy stores and puppets are a celebrated theme! The Marionette Museum is worth a stop for an hour or two. We enjoyed seeing the progression of puppetry through the years and also having a chance to put on a little show of our own. Did you know that the 1996 movie The Adventures of Pinocchio was partially filmed in Cesky Krumlov? Purchasing puppets of our own at one of the many shops in the old town made for special souvenirs from our stay.
Hand-made wooden toys galore!
Our own version of a fairy tale...Crepes!
Then right across the street from the Marionette Museum is a quaint little crepe shop by the name of MLS Creperie. Whether you’re in the mood for savory (think ham, mushrooms and Gruyere) or sweet (let’s say Nutella with bananas or strawberries and cream) this is your spot. Delicious!
How Long Should You Plan to Stay?
Each time we’ve stayed, we have only stayed for two nights and that has worked well for us. That gave us one full uninterrupted day and two partial days. We found that was plenty of time to see all that the small old town has to offer (including the castle) without feeling rushed. Someday, if we find ourselves visiting in summer, when hiking and river activities such as kayaking on the Vltava River are popular, we might want to stay longer.
Where We Stayed
Since we were arriving by car, we wanted a place where we could drive to without too much trouble and also park our car for the duration of our stay. Tripadvisor steered us in the right direction and we found everything we were looking for in Pension Athanor. What a Gem! It is sort of a cross between renting an apartment and staying at a bed and breakfast. We opted for one of their larger units with a full kitchen, washing machine, separate master bedroom and living room at the very affordable price of just $80 per night. Downstairs they had a lovely breakfast room with a typical European buffet, as well as made-to-order choices for just a couple more dollars per person. Check out their website so you can see for yourself how modern, clean and spacious the place is! Parking was free and the old town was a short 5 minute walk across the Vltava River, so we didn’t use our car while there. (Well… except the trip to the hospital, but that’s another story for another post).
Pin for Later
So what are you waiting for? Be sure and add Cesky Krumlov to your next Central Europe itinerary. You and your family will enjoy a castle, crepes and puppets!
Have you been to Cesky Krumlov? What did you like best?