I felt an irrational fear as I was walking through the streets of Ceský Krumlov at nightfall. A breeze ruffled the leaves – I jumped. A cat crossed in front of me – I screamed. It was just the shock I was looking for to put me on my toes, and get me out of my comfort zone.
I arrived to Ceský Krumlov by bus from the quaint mountain town town of Salzburg. I heard about this charming European destination years ago and finally found myself with the time to visit. Ceský Krumlov is located between Salzburg and Prague, and with my final destination being Prague I couldn’t miss it! I stepped off the bus to bitter, icy weather, and dragged my bag through the cobblestone streets on my way to my Airbnb. With sparse streetlights the moon guided me as I crossed over the Vlatva River on my way just out of old town.
Ceský Krumlov – A Medieval Town in Modern Times?
What I found shocking about Ceský Krumlov was the true sense of a town that hasn’t lost its originality. I’ve visited my fair share of small towns that are unique, but they all seem to have lost a touch of originality to the modern world. In Ceský Krumlov you can’t pay with a credit card (I popped in to four restaurants and a market that only took cash), and when asked, “Where’s the nearest ATM?” The locals would point and gruffly say, “Center”. Not necessarily knowing what “center” meant, I just continued to make my way further into town. Sure enough when I came to what had to be the very center of old town, there was one stand alone ATM.
My few days spent in Ceský Krumlov were those out of a medieval fairytale book. A town that was settled in as early as the 8th-century has somehow managed to retain the sense that it is in fact still the 8th-century. I walked across bridges and through narrow alleys. Always lost, but never panicked. Popping into bars for a pint of beer, or the lovely Apotheka for a brilliant cocktail. I walked around taking in the scenery from each unique street. And climbed the hill up to Ceský Krumlov Castle to look out over the entire town spread out in front of me.
A Town Lacking in Population, but Not Charm
As of 2016 only about 13,000 people reside in Ceský Krumlov. Which may be why it isn’t as well known as its counterparts in the Czech Republic – Prague, Brno, or Kutna Hora. But what it lacks in people, it makes up for in charm. And while you could make a point to day trip to this medieval town; I encourage you to make it a destination of its own accord. A place that can be best felt if you choose to spend the night. Take the time to slow in the Czech Republic. Visit Ceský Krumlov.