The next morning after our brief dock-stay in Passau, Germany, my parents and I arrived at our next destination along the Danube River, with the river cruise we would be taking for the next week or so. We made it to Linz, Austria early in the day, but instead of visiting Linz (famous for the delicious linzer torte), we opted for the other tour included with our river cruise to visit Český Krumlov, located in the Czech Republic.
While I’m sure that Linz would’ve been a lovely time, my parents and I decided to be a bit more adventurous and go to Český Krumlov for the day. Granted, it would be an hour to a 90-minute drive from Linz (let alone into another country), but we were keen on going anyway, since we’ve heard good things about the place. Plus, it gave me an excuse to return to the Czech Republic, especially after having a blast in Prague that previous October.
Along with a good number of other tourists (probably just as excited to visit Český Krumlov as we were), we took a tour bus at 8h30 from Linz, driving through the countryside on our way to our destination. We stopped close to the Austria-Czech Republic border for a bathroom break and at 10h00, we arrived at Český Krumlov. Our tour guide greeted us and for the rest of the morning, we took a tour of the eponymous castle, built back in the thirteenth century which boasts an eclectic blend of Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, which was incredible! The reason why there are so many architectural styles in this one castle is due to the fact that it has changed hands over the centuries, from royal line to line after the predecessors died out. From its beginnings with the Rosenburgs in 1240 to the last line with the Schwarzenburgs before being transferred to the Czech Republic state in the mid-twentieth century, the Český Krumlov castle has certainly seen a lot of people and history!
Our tour of the castle ended around noon, and our tour guide took us to Old Town, where we were given a couple of hours to get lunch and walk around the town center. Taking our tour guide’s recommendation for things to eat, we headed to a small pub near the castle, where I ordered mulled wine along with rabbit as the main dish and kulajda, a traditional Czech soup made from mushrooms and dill. Well-seasoned and hearty, the soup filled me up and it was a solid choice for that cold, April day.
Our stomachs full and happy, my parents and I explored a bit of the Old Town; it was small, but colorful with its quaint buildings in the square that reminded me of a smaller version of Prague’s; in a way, Český Krumlov is like the smaller version of Prague! There wasn’t a whole lot to do, except for eating and shopping, but all the same, the atmosphere was laid-back and pleasant, despite it being a touristy town.
We decided to return to the castle (accessible in and out as we pleased), as there was a bell tower that one could go up and get views of the town. My parents didn’t go, so I went myself. The views were quite nice, as seen from the photo at the beginning of this post.
Besides the views, we were also surprised to see black bears situated in the castle’s moat! From what the tour guide had told us, bears have been kept in the castle since the sixteenth century, aka “bear-keeping.” You know when you’re rich as heck to be able to keep bears in your castle!
At 15h00, we returned to the Old Town Square to meet up with the rest of our tour group, and from there we headed back to our tour bus, passing underneath the towering aqueduct. We returned to Linz close to 17h30, the tour bus dropping us off near our cruise ship from which we boarded and relaxed for the rest of the day. Soon after dinner, the ship departed for our next destination.
While our visit to Český Krumlov was short, it was nothing short of beautiful and charming. If anything, I was happy to be back in the Czech Republic since that October, as well as being able to discover somewhere new in the country besides Prague itself (a gorgeous city, nonetheless).
Stay tuned for the next installment of my travels from April last year. Coming up: Melk and Dürnstein, Austria!