Cesky Krumlov is one of my favorite small towns in Europe and is a great place to visit.
1. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Cesky Krumlov is an incredibly historical town and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it is an "outstanding example of a central European small town dating from the Middle Ages." It is located on an ancient east-west communication route at a crossing of the Vltava River. The earliest record of the town is in 1253 where it refers to the existence of a castle The powerful Rožmberk family controlled the area for 300 years from the mid-14th century. They reconstructed the gothic castle to the in Renaissance style which is what still exists. It was also a seat of wealth and importance which is reflected in the high quality of many of the merchant houses, as well as being an ecclesiastical center with 15th century church of St Vitus and monasteries.
2. Cesky Krumlov has the second largest castle in the Czech Republic
The Cesky Krumlov Castle was originally built in 1240, built on rock cliffs over the Vltava river which made it easy to defend and a perfect place for a castle however, much of what's seen today was built in the 17th century. The Rožmberks inherited the castle and made many improvements including a connecting bridge so that they would not have to go out in the cold. Later the castle was inherited by the Schwarzenbergs, but the 19th and 20th centuries saw the castle stagnate as it was no longer inhabited.
The castle area, one of the largest in Europe, comprises forty buildings and palaces situated around five courtyards and a park. The 54.5m Renaissance Castle Tower is six stories above the castle courtyards and provides a view of the beautiful town, however there is no elevator so you will need to climb 162 steps to the top. In the castle there is one of the best perfectly preserved Baroque Theater that has a collection of original scenery, costumes, props and functional machinery. Lastly, bears have been kept in the moat since 1707 and is a fun sight to see. You can take a couple of different tours of the castle and I highly recommend it.
3. Český Krumlov was an important ecclesiastical center
In Cestky Krumlov, you can find the Roman Catholic Church of St. Vitus, which can trace its origins back to the 13th century. This church while built in 1317 by the Rožmberks was originally built as a small church, but as the town grew, so did the church and was reconstructed from 1407 to 1439. There is no entrance fee, but the clergy ask you to refrain from visiting during services. The second major ecclesiastical sight is the Minorite Monastery, which was built in the mid 14th century and added on until the end of the Baroque era.
4. Cesky Krumlov has 300 protected medieval buildings
One of the best parts of visiting Cesky Krumlov is its just walking around its old streets and seeing the many frescoes. You can get lost in the winding streets and beautiful squares. Some of the buildings are perfectly preserved and other have paint pealing off, both which make the town special. While in first half of the 20th century when many European towns and cities were caught in the midst of the World Wars and historical centers were destroyed, Cesky Krumlov managed to stay out of the destruction and its historical status was left intact. Unfortunately there are few towns left in Europe like it.
5. Cesky Krumlov is great for outdoor activities
Because of its location on the Vltava River there are plenty of activities you can do on the river. Popular activities include floating on the river on a raft and kayaking. Křižák Hill is another activity you can do. There is a nice walk up the hill that offers great views of the city. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. You can also go horseback riding, rent a bike or take a historic wooden raft on the river.
6. Cesky Krumlov is a great place to go on a budget
Cesky Krumlov is cheap for Europe. When I was there I got a good meal with a beer for less than $10. You can get a nice three star hotel for between $50-75 and a budget room for about $25. If you want to stay in a hostel, they start for about $10 for a really nicely reviewed hostel. A couple of good three star hotels is Hotel Konvice with an amazing restaurant, beautiful views and nice rooms, it runs around $70 depending on the season and exchange rate. Another good hotel for a similar price is Hotel Bellevue. For a real budget deal right outside of the old town Penzion Delanta is a good choice around $40-45. There are some nice hostels, starting at $10 and if you want a private room, you can get one for about $20. I recommend checking www.hostelworld.com for availability.
7. Even though it is off the beaten path, Cesky Krumlov is easy to get to
From Prague by bus: A bus ride from Prague to Cesky Krumlov takes about 3 hours. It is a direct trip. Please note that if the bus is crowded (especially on Fridays and Sundays) and you don't have a seat reservation, you may not be able to get a seat and may have to stand for at least a part of the trip.
By Train: Prague to Cesky Krumlov. You have to change trains in České Budějovice, the train station in Cesky Krumlov is far away so you will have to take a taxi from the train station, a better way is to take the train from Prague to České Budějovice and take the bus from České Budějovice to ceskyKrumlov, the bus station is very close to the center of town.
If you are going to Vienna or Salzburg, you can take the train, but it is a major hassle. There are many shuttle buses that take you from Cesky Krumlov to Linz and then take the train from Linz. It is much faster, easier and reasonable priced. Bean Shuttle is a good one, Lobo shuttle and Sebastian tours are others. All leave several times a day and are all around $15.
So while it is a little of the beaten track, it still is easy to get to.
Hope this helps you plan a wonderful trip.