Generally you arrive someplace, gawp a bit bit an excessive amount of, after which admit it’s definitely worth the hype. For me, that place was Český Krumlov, a real-life fairytale city – full with a citadel, in fact – in Czechia’s (Czech Republic) South Bohemia area. However maybe I’m not the primary individual to inform you how magical this river-hugging chateau-crowned spot is? Definitely, many individuals had showered me with tales of their love-at-first-sight assembly with this mediaeval marvel. Although if something, that had really put me off visiting.
That’s to not say the Czech Republic hasn’t lengthy held a particular place in my coronary heart. Prague was the primary metropolis break I took my mum on as a finally-earning-money grownup. Karlovy Fluctuate was the town the place I had my first thermal spa getaway. Kutna Hora is the place I learnt that church buildings may be coated with bones. And final yr, in Brno, I found simply how tremendous Czechia’s wines may very well be.
However I’d all the time purposefully bypassed South Bohemia. I didn’t imagine Český Krumlov might really be price that a lot hype whereas not being completely overrun with fellow vacationers. Nevertheless, with the nation celebrating its Thirtieth birthday this yr – and certainly, it being the 15-year anniversary of my very own first journey to the nation – I discovered myself again, this time passing by way of South Bohemia whereas overlanding from Italy to the Baltic States.
So I made a decision to remain some time and switch my journey into a protracted weekend in South Bohemia, and wow, am I glad I did! This area, wealthy in ponds, lakes, castles, and cute cities, left me in awe; my solely remorse was not staying longer.
My journey in South Bohemia didn’t begin in Český Krumlov however slightly within the regional capital metropolis of České Budějovice – a really intentional alternative. Really helpful to me by a good friend from Prague as a extra lived-in instance of Bohemian life (plus far more inexpensive lodging), I made this underrated metropolis my base for the 4 days I spent hopping between the opposite cute cities and fabled castles of South Bohemia. With a well-connected bus and prepare station, in all places that I needed to go to may very well be reached in lower than an hour.
However that’s to not say České Budějovice doesn’t deserve its personal in-depth go to. Simply this month, it was introduced that the town could be one of many European Capitals of Culture for 2028.
Relationship again to its authentic founding in 1265 by the then Bohemian king, Ottokar II, the mediaeval metropolis is wealthy in South Bohemian tradition. Presiding over the regional museum, an unlimited and photogenic city sq., and a various historical past of manufacturing from porcelain to pencils, the laid-back location is additional enhanced by the assembly of two rivers: the Vltava and Malše. It’s additionally only a brief drive or bus experience from the mighty Hluboká Citadel.
Nevertheless, the town has one other facet past the Baroque-style structure and mirror-like lakes. Often called Budweis in German (the town was a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire previous to WWI), České Budějovice has been dwelling to the equally named Budweiser Budvar beer brewery since 1895. Certainly one of many well-known brewers on the planet – and one in every of many within the Czech Republic – you possibly can take a tour and, extra importantly, a tasting within the brewery itself.
High three issues to do in České Budějovice, South Bohemia
Discover the Outdated City’s highlights
České Budějovice is definitely explored on foot, and lots of the primary sights may be discovered main away from the intensive Přemysla Otakara II Square. See the 18th-century Samson Fountain within the center, peek contained in the Baroque city corridor, and climb the Sixteenth-century Black Tower for views throughout the town.
Go to the Museum of South Bohemia
Maybe crucial museum within the area, this grand constructing homes an enchanting assortment of provincial artefacts and interactive shows. With the data in English, you possibly can simply begin to perceive the region’s history and see some well-preserved examples of conventional life alongside extra generic pure historical past collections.
Get pleasure from beers within the Budweiser Brewery
E book a tour and tasting of one of many world’s most well-known breweries, positioned only a brief stroll from the town centre.
State Chateau of Hluboká
Earlier than this journey to South Bohemia, I hadn’t even heard of the State Chateau of Hluboká, one in every of Europe’s most spectacular Romantic castles and a very simple half-day journey from České Budějovice.
Constructed as a royal seat within the Thirteenth century, the constructing modified look many occasions. Falling into non-public palms within the late 18th century, the chateau has had two main redesigns since, firstly within the Baroque model after which later in its present Romantic reconstruction.
Fortunately, the state recovered possession of Hluboká Chateau after the tip of WWII, and its attractive gardens, spectacular and lavish halls, and panoramic towers are actually open to the general public once more. Many of the castles and palaces in South Bohemia and the Czech Republic have very strict no images guidelines within the inside rooms, therefore why you’ll primarily solely see images of the grand exteriors on-line. Nevertheless, you possibly can normally take images from the towers and areas outdoors of the inside rooms and halls.
Choosing one of many 4 tour choices – this additionally appears very commonplace within the Czech Republic, the place you might want to guide (generally upfront) timeslot-defined guided excursions to the a part of the constructing which pursuits you most – I used to be swept away for an hour of historical past. With teardrop chandeliers, portraits of royalty, and ornately embellished wood-panelled rooms aplenty, the inside is magnificent as you’d count on.
Having added the tower to my ticket choice, I might climb the deer-head-decorated staircase as much as Hluboká’s highest level. From right here, the small city under, backed by dense forests, regarded like a pop-up guide, whereas a community of lakes close to and much added cerulean splodges to the panorama.
High three issues to do in Hluboká nad Vltavou, South Bohemia
Tour the State Chateau of Hluboká
The grounds and exterior of the chateau are free to enter and open to all, whereas a ticket for the tower prices just a few euros. To enter the constructing, you’ll must guide a tour (obtainable in just a few totally different languages), and in case you’re coming in the summertime, it’s greatest to reserve your time slot online upfront. There are just a few totally different excursions to select from (Personal Flats, Kitchen or the spectacular Consultant Rooms) – when you’ve got the funds to do all three, nice, however I used to be very happy with my singular tour and tower ticket.
Stroll by way of the city of Hluboká nad Vltavou
The State Chateau isn’t tucked away from the true world anymore and is definitely amidst the city of Hluboká nad Vltavou. Small, fairly and with loads of nice espresso retailers, it’s price strolling across the city after you descend from the citadel to peek into the 2 church buildings and take a espresso.
Stroll or boat across the Munický Rybník lake
From the highest of the tower, it’s this expansive lake which stands out most. You’ll be able to take a ship out on the lake or simply stroll round it and luxuriate in a picnic for lunch – I discovered it surprisingly calm, given how common the chateau is.
Arguably South Bohemia’s crowning glory, and now probably the most common locations to go to in the entire Czech Republic, Český Krumlov is a literal fairytale. Like I mentioned, I had been doubtful about visiting since I noticed the explosion of attractive images on Instagram in recent times. But, arriving on a heat summer season’s day in July, I used to be happy to see that Český Krumlov was removed from overrun, and that was on a weekend.
Wrapped inside a horse-shoe-shaped part of the Vltava River, the mediaeval Outdated City is storybook personified. Cobbled streets, vibrant squares, and hovering towers all add to the painting-like panorama, whereas the spectacular Thirteenth-century citadel overlooks all of it from a excessive.
However the citadel’s look has modified significantly since its first building. The spectacular Renaissance extension was constructed within the Sixteenth century, whereas the distinctive aqueduct-like Cloak Bridge was constructed within the 18th century, changing an earlier picket construction. No matter dates, it’s mighty spectacular and holds the title of the second largest citadel within the nation after Prague – no imply feat given the a lot smaller measurement of Český Krumlov
Inside, it’s equally lavish, with elegant carriages and upscale furnishings adorning the ornate halls, full with detailed wall work and frescoed ceilings. There’s additionally an extremely well-preserved and restored Baroque Theatre, one in every of solely two in Europe nonetheless preserved on this model, visitable with a separate ticket.
Past the hulking citadel advanced and fairly gardens, the remainder of the Outdated City unfurls in its shadow. Beautiful at each flip, I can see why this has change into one of many nation’s hottest day journeys, however there are nonetheless loads of wonderful impartial bars – each alongside the river and down facet streets – to take pleasure in an ideal pint of craft beer.
At a type of spots, Bistro 53 Beer Level, I used to be fortunate sufficient to satisfy an area rafting information Michal, who I had examine in an article in regards to the city’s over-tourism problems earlier than arrival. He informed me all about his rafting firm, which makes use of the identical conventional boats and strategies because the outdated manufacturing rafts from the eleventh century. With a Na zdraví, as we clinked glasses, I ended my day with a smile, completely happy to see that historic traditions and conversations had been nonetheless very a lot alive on this busy nook of South Bohemia.
High three issues to do in Český Krumlov, South Bohemia
Tour the State Citadel of Český Krumlov and the gardens
There are 5 totally different excursions you possibly can take contained in the citadel, which might all be booked online in advance if you wish to assure entry. The grounds are free to enter; nevertheless, the tower ticket is mixed with the Citadel Museum.
Get pleasure from some river rafting in the summertime
Given Michal’s nice beer banter, I’ve bought to provide a specific shout-out to his conventional rafting firm, Voroplavba. These flat timber rafts have been a convention of the Vltava River for almost one thousand years, and it’s a good way to see the town from the water. Alternatively, pack rafts and kayaks give one other solution to loop the Outdated City by water.
Get misplaced within the Outdated City
Strolling across the Outdated City here’s a photographer’s dream, with loads of museums masking all the things from artwork to torture. Bragging quite a few superb viewpoints, corresponding to Seminární Zahrada, the tower, or the raised space close to the bus station, Český Krumlov appears good from all angles. After you’ve had your fill of cobbled streets and river strolls, settle in on one of many floating pontoons with deck chairs for a refreshing brew.
Surrounded by synthetic lakes and fishing ponds, quaint Třeboň is maybe Czechia’s good countryside metropolis. Getting off the bus from České Budějovice, I made a beeline for the Spolský Potok lake, monitoring the shore and canals earlier than getting into Třeboň Outdated City through the historic gates.
Certainly one of South Bohemia’s historic spa cities, Třeboň is a well-liked getaway for locals seeking to recharge and reconnect with nature. That’s to not say the town is with out storied structure, and the Twelfth-century Gothic Saint Giles Church and Renaissance-style State Chateau of Trebon are two of the standouts.
Entered through an enclosed courtyard, the chateau operates in the identical model as others within the area, with three totally different excursions to select from. One will information you thru the extra spectacular Rosenberg interiors, whereas the others, which I didn’t expertise, enter the Schwarzenberg suites or the stables.
For me, Třeboň was extra of a standout for the cobbled streets and pure walks close by, and I’m glad I made time to squeeze a go to into my final day earlier than persevering with to Prague.
High three issues to do in Třeboň, South Bohemia
Tour the State Chateau of Třeboň
Three sorts of guided excursions are supplied by way of the chateau, and tickets may be bought on-line upfront. Nevertheless, that is much less visited than a few of the area’s different castles, so that you doubtless don’t must guide as far forward.
Stroll alongside the canals and lakes
Třeboň’s ‘Golden Community of Canals’ and carp-loaded lakes and ponds had been Center Ages engineering marvels. From the again of the city, you possibly can observe the canal out in direction of the lake, the place in summer season, boats and watersport leases can be found. The Dům Štěpánka Netolického museum explains extra in regards to the pond system.
Discover the Outdated City
Quaint and compact, Třeboň’s Outdated City highlights may be visited in a few hours. Above the market sq., the Outdated City Corridor’s tower supplies the very best views within the metropolis, and the historic Saint Giles Church is price a peek. Or, simply relax within the Regent Brewery with an area brew.
The Lakes Past
South Bohemia is a lot greater than castles and cute cities, although, and this area is famed for one thing else: ponds and lakes. For the reason that Twelfth century, quite a few our bodies of water have been established and created, each for fishing and leisure use. This makes South Bohemia a unbelievable summer season getaway – particularly in a landlocked nation – as you possibly can quiet down, take a dip, or take pleasure in watersports.
With loads of dense forests and untouched corners, it’s a pure paradise for lengthy leisurely hikes and even biking between a few of the Czech Republic’s most spectacular castles on canopy-covered tracks.
A few of the most spectacular clutches of ponds are discovered round Třeboň, the place a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve protected the canals, ponds and flooded plains, which had been established again within the fifteenth century. These days, they match into the surroundings like a superbly sized glove, however loads of years of onerous work went into creating these our bodies of water, with historic engineering techniques re-shaping the panorama.
Nevertheless you spend your time in South Bohemia, my greatest recommendation is to not simply come on a day journey to Český Krumlov from Prague. There may be loads of historical past and heritage to discover within the area apart from probably the most well-known chateau, and I can’t inform you how good it was to expertise the Czech Republic past the large cities and see the nation’s extra pure facet.
You probably have longer than I did, you may also need to take a look at the beer-heavy metropolis of Plzeň (Pilsen), the varied tree walkways corresponding to Lipno, or hunt down much more castles – there are many Europe’s hidden gems to be present in South Bohemia.
I visited the Czech Republic as a part of my very own massive journey by way of Europe this summer season and was subsequently invited to put in writing this text by the tourism board as a part of the nation’s Thirtieth-anniversary marketing campaign, #Czechia30, highlighting regional experiences.