Executive summary by darmansjah
Crowned by a spectacular castle, and centred on an elegant old town square, Český Krumlov is a pocket-sized Prague. Renaissance and baroque buildings enclose the meandering arc of the Vltava river, housing riverside cafés and bars. Following architectural neglect during the communist era, the undeniable fairy-tale beauty of Český Krumlov is radiant again, with thoughtful restoration transforming the heritage buildings lining the narrow lanes into cosy restaurants and classy boutique hotels.
After earning a spot on Unesco’s World Heritage List in 1992, Český Krumlov has become the Czech Republic’s second busiest tourist town after Prague. Visit in summer and it may feel like a theme park, with street performers punctuating every corner, and tour buses overwhelming the car parks. But come a few months either side of July and August and the narrow lanes and footbridges will be (slightly) more subdued and secluded. Floating lazily down the river will still be possible, and you’ll experience a more authentic old-world charm.
If you’re willing to forego languid days on the Vltava, winter is the most enchanting time of all, with the castle blanketed in snow as pine smoke from chimneys wafts across the river.