The moment we set foot in Český Krumlov in winter, we knew we had made the right decision to brave the cold to visit.
This adorable South Bohemian town may be a bit Instagram famous these days, but by visiting Český Krumlov in the winter, we felt like we were getting to see the city at its very best.
By visiting in December, we had the chance to enjoy all the fairytale views it is known for (with the added bonus of some snow!) and virtually none of the crowds that are known to clog up the village’s most popular spots during the summer.
Considering a winter trip to Český Krumlov?
Here’s how to make the most of it.
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Why You Should Visit Český Krumlov in Winter
Avoid the crowds.
This really can’t be overstated–Český Krumlov in the summer may be an #overtourism nightmare, but Český Krumlov in winter is a deserted paradise.
We saw very few tourists for most of our trip in December, and those we did see mostly stopped by on day trips through the region.
Mornings and evenings we had virtually to ourselves!
Enjoy snowy winter wonderland vibes.
Sadly, it didn’t actually snow in Český Krumlov during our visit, but the hills surrounding the town were all coated with a delightful layer of snow–perhaps you’ll be luckier than we were and experience snowy rooftops, as well!
Two words: Christmas market.
When you’re traveling through Central Europe in December… odds are you’re never far from a Christmas market, and Český Krumlov’s Svornosti Square is home to an adorable one.
Czech food never tastes better than when it’s cold outside.
Hearty goulash, steaming dumplings, roasted meats, thick soups… Czech food is incredibly delicious, but it’s clearly designed for staying warm during freezing winters and not cooling off during sweltering summers!
… And cute cafes are never cozier.
Český Krumlov is home to some adorable coffee shops and cafes selling everything from cappuccinos to hot chocolate to candy, and they are an absolute delight in winter.
Not only are they usually warm and comfortable, making them the perfect place to regain the feeling in your fingers and toes after exploring outside, they have a tendency to smell like a magical combination of sugar and coffee.
The Best Things to Do in Český Krumlov in Winter
Visit the Český Krumlov Castle.
While the interior of the Český Krumlov Castle is closed during the winter, the exterior–including its courtyard–is beautiful and worth a visit (not surprising, of course–there are tons of stunning castles in the Czech Republic!).
Plus, since strolling through the grounds of the Český Krumlov Castle is how you access some of the best views of the city, it would be an incredible shame to miss it!
Climb to the top of Castle Tower.
Colorful, memorable, and six stories tall, Český Krumlov’s Castle Tower is part-Gothic, part-Renaissance, and all kinds of gorgeous.
The only downside of climbing the tower and admiring the incredible views Český Krumlov from the top?
The pretty tower itself (visible on the right in the below photo) won’t be in your photos!
Seriously, though–the castle is open year-round (with exceptions for bad weather, so don’t get your hopes up if the streets are icy during your visit) and is well worth a climb when visiting Český Krumlov in winter.
Check out the Museum FotoAtelier Seidel.
If you’re a photography buff, a visit to the Museum FotoAtelier Seidel is a must-see while visiting Český Krumlov in winter.
Decorated in an Art Nouveau style, this building was once the studio of local photographer Josef Seidel and is now a small, quirky museum.
Nothing is far apart in Český Krumlov, but this museum is set a few streets away from the most prominent tourist spots in the city, making it a great place to get a moment to yourself away from whatever day-tripping tour groups happen to be around.
Step inside St. Vitus Church.
Built in the 15th century, Český Krumlov’s stunning St. Vitus Church is the second-most recognizable building in the village–after the castle, of course!
While the church is gorgeous to observe from a distance, where you can see it towering over the city, its beautiful interior that combines Gothic and Baroque styles–plus the chance to get out of the cold for minute–is a great reason to stop by for an up-close-and-personal visit as well.
Settle in for a hearty Czech meal (or several).
I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: Czech food is practically designed for winter, and there’s no better way to warm up in Český Krumlov than with a steaming plate of meat and dumplings washed down with local beer (okay, the beer may not be for warming up, but you can’t come to Czechia and not drink the beer!).
We had a couple of tasty (and affordable) meals at Hospoda Na Louži, which came greatly recommended from our hotel.
We didn’t stay at the attached property, but we can vouch for its amazing location if you’re also looking for a place to stay!
We also hear great things about Krcma v Satlavske Ulici, but when we tried to visit, a tour group had just been seated and we were told the restaurant was full.
Moral of the story: if you want to eat at this popular spot, show up early!
Stroll through Svornosti Square.
In addition to being home to the Český Krumlov Christmas market in December, Svornosti Square is also a fascinating snapshot of Český Krumlov through the ages.
Here you can find beautiful, pastel-colored buildings that feature various architectural styles depending on when they were built, a memorial to 17th-century plague victims that is aptly named the Plague Column, and the town hall.
You’ll also see an ATM, souvenir shops, and a store selling trdelníks (aka chimney cakes), because a town square only stays relevant by evolving with the times, right?
Amazing Views of Český Krumlov
Clearly, one of the best things to do in Český Krumlov is simply to look at it–you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque village in the world!
Unfortunately, some of the most popular viewpoints in Český Krumlov are closed in winter–namely the Castle Gardens and Castle Cafe.
However, there’s still no shortage of spots to admire Český Krumlov from!
Here are a few of the best.
This luxury hotel is supposed to be a remarkable place to stay.
If you don’t want to shell out the cash, though, it doesn’t cost a penny to admire the view of Český Krumlov–and particularly of the castle–from the small courtyard next to the hotel.
Some of our favorite photos of Český Krumlov came from simply walking through the castle grounds, and we definitely consider a stroll here one of the best things to do in Český Krumlov in winter.
There are beautiful overlooks to be had, especially as you get close to the Castle Gardens.
We found ourselves stopping to take shot after shot every few steps, which is probably obvious when scrolling through the photos in this blog post!
Kaple Panny Marie Bolestné
This tiny chapel stands high above Český Krumlov, and one of our biggest regrets from our winter visit is not braving the 30-minute walk from the town center to admire this view!
If you’d rather not walk, word on the street is that you can drive part of the way up–and that the views of Český Krumlov are absolutely worth the effort to get there.
I mentioned this above, so I’ll be brief: if you’re looking for beautiful views of Český Krumlov, you can’t go wrong with a (short) climb up Castle Tower!
Getting to Český Krumlov
The best way to get to Český Krumlov in winter is clear: take the train.
Less dependent on weather and avoiding icy roads than buses or rental cars, plus inexpensive and easy to use, the train is an easy pick for how to get to Český Krumlov.
If you’re coming from Prague and time your visit right, you may be able to grab a direct train (that’s part of what makes Český Krumlov such a popular day trip from Prague).
For visitors coming from other places, you’ll almost certainly need to change trains in nearby České Budějovice at a minimum.
If you happen to be coming up from Austria, we have a detailed guide on how to get to Český Krumlov from Vienna!
Getting Into Český Krumlov From the Train Station
If you take a train or bus to Český Krumlov, you’ll be dropped off at the train station a bit outside of town.
Technically, you can walk downhill into the town center in about 20 minutes if all goes well, but the combination of visiting in winter and having luggage likely makes that prospect deeply uninviting (and if you’re staying on the opposite side of the city from the train station like we did, that goes double).
When trains arrive, taxis gather in front of the train station (so the opposite side of the building from the tracks), and it should cost the equivalent of 4-5 Euros to head into town.
Hint: you’ll get a better rate if you already have Czech koruna with you!
If you don’t see any taxis and want to avoid walking into town, there are billboards advertising various taxi companies across the street from the train station, complete with phone numbers.
How Long to Visit Český Krumlov
Many people visit Český Krumlov as a day trip from Prague, but if you have the room in your itinerary, consider staying longer!
Since the town sees so many daytrippers, early mornings and evenings are excellent for enjoying the city with decreased crowds–and clearly, there is far more to do in Český Krumlov than what you can cover on a day trip!
We spent two nights in Český Krumlov and felt that was the near-perfect amount of time to spend there, but if you hope to savor the town and slowly make your way through all the fun things to do in Český Krumlov, three nights wouldn’t be a bad idea.
What to Pack for Winter in Český Krumlov
Lotion — The cold, dry air in Český Krumlov, combined with being outside so much during your visit, is an easy recipe for dry skin. Bring along your favorite lotion to stay comfortable!
Lip Balm –Because there’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy salty food with chapped lips, right?
A Warm Coat — Bring a coat you want to wear all day, every day–because when you visit Český Krumlov in winter, that’s exactly what will happen!
Hat, Scarf & Gloves — Don’t laugh, those of you who grew up with a “real” winter: it wasn’t until Jeremy and I started traveling to colder climates that we started appreciating just how valuable these accessories are–they can add so much warmth on a chilly day.
Fleece Leggings — I basically lived in my fleece leggings (they are similar to these) during our winter trip to Český Krumlov–and why not? When something is both comfortable, fashionable, and warm, it’s hard to turn down.
Travel Adaptors — If you’re traveling to Český Krumlov from outside of Europe, be sure that your electronics will work when you arrive!
Where to Stay in Český Krumlov
Penzion TOP — We loved this little budget property and can heartily recommend it.
When we headed to Český Krumlov, we knew we wanted something no more than a short walk from the center of town, with a comfortable room and reliable wifi–and at Penzion TOP, we found all of that plus a great view and one of the most friendly proprietors we have met recently!
Just be sure to take a taxi from the train station–trust me, you don’t want to make that walk with your luggage!
Pension Athanor — Located a mere 1000 feet from the castle, Pension Athanor is perfect for the traveler hoping to stay in a historic building while in Český Krumlov, without shelling out luxury prices.
Hotel Ruze — Located in the heart of Český Krumlov and boasting one of the best views in town, Hotel Ruze is the go-to property for luxury accommodation in Český Krumlov!
Many thanks to Eurail for providing complimentary passes for our train travel to Český Krumlov this winter.
All opinions are, as always, our own.