Strolling Through Ceský Krumlov
Bring a good pair of walking shoes and be prepared to wear them out. Ceský Krumlov's hills and alleyways cry out for hours of exploration, but if you push the pace you can see everything in 1 day. No cars, thank goodness, are allowed in the historic town, and the cobblestones keep most other vehicles at bay. The town is split into two parts -- the Inner Town and Latrán, which houses the castle. They're best tackled separately, so you won't have to crisscross the bridges several times.
Begin your walk at the Okresní Muzeum (Regional Museum; tel. 380-711-674) at the top of Horní ulice 152. Once a Jesuit seminary, the three-story museum now contains artifacts and displays relating to Ceský Krumlov's 1,000-year history. The highlight of this mass of folk art, clothing, furniture, and statues is a giant model of the town that offers a bird's-eye view of the buildings. Admission is 60Kc. The museum is open May to September, daily 10am to 5pm (until 6pm July-Aug); in October to December and March to April, it's open Tuesday to Friday 9am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4pm.
Across the street is the Hotel Ruze (Rose), Horní 154 (tel. 380-772-100; www.hotelruze.cz), which was once a Jesuit student house. Built in the late 16th century, the hotel and the prelature next to it show the development of architecture -- Gothic, Renaissance, and rococo influences are all present. If you're not staying at the hotel, don't be afraid to walk around and even ask questions at the reception desk.
Continue down the street to the impressive late-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. The church is open daily from 9am to 5pm.
As you continue down the street, you'll come to námestí Svornosti. Few buildings here show any character, making the main square of such an impressive town a little disappointing. The Radnice (Town Hall), at námestí Svornosti 1, is one of the few exceptions. Open daily from 9am to 6pm, its Gothic arcades and Renaissance vault inside are exceptionally beautiful in this otherwise run-down area. From the square, streets fan out in all directions. Take some time to wander through them.
When you get closer to the river, you still can see the high-water marks on some of the quirky bank-side houses, which were devastated by the floods of 2002. Most of the places have taken the opportunity to make a fresh start after massive reconstruction. Krumlovský Mlýn (The Krumlov Mill), Siroká 80 (tel. 736-634-460; www.krumlovskymlyn.cz), is a combination restaurant, gallery, antiques shop, and exhibition space. For an additional treat, stroll through the exhibition of historical motorcycles. Open daily 10am to 10pm.
One of Ceský Krumlov's most famous residents was Austrian-born artist Egon Schiele. He was a bit of an eccentric who on more than one occasion raised the ire of the town's residents (many found his use of young women as nude models distressing), and his stay was cut short when the locals' patience ran out. But the town readopted the artist in 1993, setting up the Egon Schiele Art Centrum in Inner Town, Siroká 70-72, 381 01, Ceský Krumlov (tel. 380-704-011; www.schieleartcentrum.cz). It documents his life and work, housing a permanent selection of his paintings as well as exhibitions of other 20th-century artists. Admission is 120Kc; hours are daily from 10am to 6pm.
After you see the museum, cut down Panenská ulice to Soukenická 39 and stop in at Galerie u rytíre Krystofa, Panenská 6, where you can try on the latest in body armor! This place is like the wardrobe room at a theater, and almost everything is for sale. It's open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm, Sunday from 1 to 6pm.
For a different perspective on the town, take the stairs from the Mestské divadlo (Town Theater) on Horní ulice down to the riverfront and rent a rowboat from Malecek Boat Rentals (tel. 380-712-508; www.malecek.cz) at 400Kc for an hour-long trip.
You might want to grab a light lunch at one of the many cafes in Inner Town before crossing the river. As you cross the bridge and head toward the castle, you'll see immediately to your right the former hospital and church of St. Jost. Founded at the beginning of the 14th century, it has since been turned into apartments. Feel free to snoop around, but don't enter the building.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.