If ever I needed confirmation of the advantages when travelling of being a retired Senior, then my recent visit to Český Krumlov certainly provided it.
I spent a couple of days in this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the south-west of the Czech Republic in early October and was able to wander around the town and magnificent castle overlooking the Vltava River with hardly a tourist in sight. How different from July and August when most people have to take their holidays, and then have to jostle for space in the narrow streets!
And being out of season, you can get excellent rates at the many hotels and pensions in the city. I stayed at the Penzion Delanta, number one at the time in TripAdviser and Booking.com, for just 40 Euros a night for a double room. What’s more, when taking the castle tours or visiting the museums, there is a discount for Seniors (65 and above) of 30% or more!
I travelled to Český Krumlov by car having made a short diversion north from the main Vienna to Linz motorway, but it is also relatively easy to travel from Prague by road in about 2 and half hours. There are many budget airlines flying from the UK to Prague including Easyjet and Jet2, with mid-week travel often cheapest – see Fly on a Tuesday! You can then either hire a car, with Auto Europe offering good prices, or take a shuttle bus.
The historic central part of Český Krumlov is relatively small so you can walk from one end to the other in about 10 minutes. The city centre is dominated by the massive castle towering over the meandering Vltava River; within the Czech Republic only Prague Castle, further down river, is larger.
Most of the old town appears to be on an island but it is actually a horseshoe bend in the river with a narrow entrance, as seen on the map. The buildings are a mixture of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance dating back to the 14th to 17th centuries, all overshadowed by the castle on the other side of the Vltava.
Thre is plenty to see in Český Krumlov but my five highlights were:
- Just wandering along the river banks and around the old town admiring the buildings and having the occasional Eggenberg dark beer. You can visit the Eggenberg brewery if you wish not far from the castle.
- The Church of St Vitus in the old town, which took four hundred years to build. An attractive interior, but photographing is not allowed.
- The central square in the old town with fine old buildings and a 1716 sculpture known as the ‘Plague Column’ created as a reminder of the devastating effects of plagues in the area.
- Climbing the 12th century castle tower to get panoramic views of the city and surroundings. There are two brown bears roaming around in a pit near the entrance.
- The castle gardens. Nothing spectacular and not one of my Top Gardens, but well worth a visit away from the enclosed castle buildings. A rotating theatre is situated in the gardens.
Visiting the lower and upper parts of the castle on guided tours would also, I’m sure, have been one of my highlights, unfortunately when I visited on a Monday, the castle interior was closed. However that gives me a good reason to make a return visit – something I certainly intend to do in the near future, but again it will be out of season!