Most people travelling to the Czech Republic (or Czechia, the short version of the country’s name, as officially marketed lately on international level) visit only Prague and might venture on a day trip to the most famous UNESCO site in the country – Český Krumlov, but that would be it. Czech Republic, beyond its capital, remains uncovered and underrated. But hey, that’s a good news, I guess – there are so many beautiful places, waiting to be discovered, fairy-tale castles to be visited, and beer to be tried. Lots of beer. Recently, I travelled around in South Bohemia and here is my 4-day itinerary visiting the best attractions in this southernmost region of the Czech Republic. Do you love slow travel and cultural heritage? Keep on reading – you will fall in love with this place!
This Czech Republic itinerary is perfect for a long weekend getaway or for a short break around the holidays.Discover amazing South Bohemia with this 4-day itinerary!Click To Tweet
- 1 Where is South Bohemia and how to get there?
- 2 What to do and see in South Bohemia in 4 days?
- 3 Where to stay in South Bohemia?
- 4 Food to try in South Bohemia
Where is South Bohemia and how to get there?
South Bohemia is the southernmost part of one of the 3 historical and geographical areas in the Czech Republic – Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. It may sound simple, but the territories of the Czech lands have been part of many duchies, kingdoms, countries and republics, not only witnessing but also taking part in the turbulent history of this part of Central Europe. For the history geeks, I recommend the following further readings on the Duchy of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Czech lands.
Today, South Bohemia is a district in the Czech Republic and its official name is South Bohemian Region.
To be able to cover the rest of the itinerary, the best way is to use a car.
What to do and see in South Bohemia in 4 days?
On the map below you can find the places of this 4-day itinerary in the South Bohemian Region. Day 1 is marked in purple, day 2 – in red, day 3 – in yellow and day 4 – in green.
I know it sounds a bit cliché to call a place a ‘hidden gem’, but how do you otherwise call a place that is off-the-beaten track and still so beautiful and undiscovered. I can’t hide that České Budějovice stole my heart and became my favourite place during this South Bohemian trip.
České Budějovice was founded in 1265 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia and enjoyed the privileges of being a royal city. Today, the beautiful city of České Budějovice, located at the place where the Rivers Vltava and Malše become one, has a very well preserved historical centre where you can find all historical attractions. The city square, named after its founder – Přemysl Otakar II is quite large and lined up on four sides with arcades. At one corner of the square is located the Town Hall with a beautiful Baroque façade. Just in the middle of the square you will find the symbol of České Budějovice – the Samson Fountain. I loved hanging out near the fountain.
If you take the street at the opposite corner of the Town Square, you’ll find yourself in front the austere 17th century façade of the St. Nicholas Cathedral which was originally built in the 13th century. And there, right next to the cathedral, stands the Black Tower – another iconic site in České Budějovice. For beautiful views of the city, you should climb the tower. The viewing platform is located at 46 m and the tower is exactly 72,25 m high. It was built in the 1550s and served as a watchtower.
Budweiser Budvar Brewery
If you are in České Budějovice you have to take the Budweiser Budvar Brewery tour. Beer is so important for the Czech culture and what a better place to learn how beer is made and hear about the longstanding traditions of the Czech lands in beer brewing, than in one of most famous breweries – the Budweiser Budvar. Without saying, brewery touring comes together with beer tasting, be prepared.
Day 2 was all about the castles! The first castle on my 4-day Czech Republic itinerary through South Bohemia was the Hluboká Castle.
Born out of the fancy of a woman, Hluboká Castle comes out as of a fairy tale with its white façade and rich ornamentation standing in the middle of a beautiful English park. The initial castle was built around 1250 and subsequently, it was expanded and rebuilt a few times. Today’s look the castle has thanks to the renovation carried out in the second half of the 19th century. The woman who built her own fairy tale castle is Eleonora, princes of Lichtenstein, wife of Jan Adolf II from the famous Schwarzenberg family. The couple attended the coronation of Queen Victoria at Windsor and I can imagine that one would have loved to have a summer residence in a romanticist style after seeing the fine examples of the Gothic Revival, an architectural style, which was mostly popular in Britain and USA.
The castle is open for visitors and you can take one of the 5 tours offered.
Hluboká nad Vltavou
When visiting the Hluboká Castle, make sure you stop and have a walk around in the village of Hluboká and Vltavou. I thought it’s absolutely adorable. You can stop for lunch at the Solidní Šance Restaurant and then visit the adjacent microbrewery Pivovar Hluboka and try one of their craft beers. They are very good, trust me!
After visiting the fairy-tale Hluboká Castle I headed further north to Mitrowicz Castle. This castle was recently renovated and open to public two years ago. It’s not that spectacular as the Hluboká Castle, but still quite charming and elegant. The first chateaux was built on this place in 1565. The property changed hands quite a few times during its almost 500 years of history and each new owner was rebuilding the castle, fortifying it, or at the end just neglecting it, after the property was nationalized in the 1940s.
Previously known as Koloděje nad Lužnicí Castle, the Mitrowicz Castle can be booked as a wedding location and has its very own chapel. You can also spend the night in the castle, which I was very lucky to do.
Day 3 from my short trip in South Bohemia was dedicated to the pastoral beauty of the region and its two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Holašovice and Český Krumlov.
Plástovice and Malé Chrášťany
Plástovice and Malé Chrášťany are two small villages I stopped by on the way to Holašovice. All three villages are part of the so-called PodKlety region where there are still preserved villages with the typical 18th-early 19th century rural look and feel, characteristic of Central Europe. Although, Plástovice and Malé Chrášťany aren’t that famous as Holašovice, they are pretty much worth the visit – cute and sleepy, as if the time has stopped, hidden in the South Bohemian marshlands, they are welcoming mostly lost tourists.
Although Holašovice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the place isn’t touristy. You might meet the occasional fellow tourist walking around, but the place steel keeps that special pastoral atmosphere characteristic of the villages of the period. To give you an idea of how tiny the village is: there are only 23 homesteads and the population is 140 people.
I loved the colourful facades with decorated gables and the small patch of green in the middle of the village, instead of the usual square.
Holašovice is the village with the best-preserved architecture in the so-called South Bohemian Rural (or Folk) Baroque style.
The top attraction in Český Krumlov is its castle. It’s the second biggest castle complex in the Czech Republic after the castle in Prague (both are UNSECO World Heritage Sites). The names of some of the most famous families in the history of Bohemia are connected with Český Krumlov. The castle was built in the 13th century by the Vítkovci family, then in 14th – 16th century it belonged to the Rosenbergs, who sold it in the 17th century. From the early 18th century until its nationalization in 1947 the castle was owned by the House of Schwarzenberg.
Besides the castle, you can visit also the Minority Monastery, which was recently beautifully restored. I loved walking around in the garden – it was one of those quiet places in the town where you can escape the crowds. Another landmark in Český Krumlov is the St. Vitus Church that dominates the old town.
The best way to spend your time in Český Krumlov is to wander the tiny streets of this fairy-tale town. Try to take small, side streets away from the crowds and you will discover a quiet, almost sleepy place that will enchant you. Look up at the façades of the houses and you will spot elements like those on the houses from Holašovice, but richer and more elaborate. Then go down to the river and stroll along its banks.
Český Krumlov is undeniably as beautiful as touristy. If you want to have an unspoiled experience, my advice will be to visit the town in the evening or in the morning. Or even better – stay a few days there or spend at least one night. The town turns into pure magic when it gets dark and the streets get empty! Now it’s all yours!
After an early morning stroll through the almost empty streets of Český Krumlov I headed further south to Frymburk. After so many cute little places and a bunch of castles it was time to discover something different. Day 4 was all about nature!
Frymburk is a very small town on a peninsula jutting out into the Lipno Dam Lake. It’s got one street with cute houses and a green patch instead of a square, lined up with cafes and restaurants and a lovey church from the 13th century. My advice – spend a bit of time there as this place deserves attention, or why not make it a destination for your holidays in South Bohemia? Frymburk offers a lot for the outdoorsy travelers or holidaymakers. At the other side of the lake is the Šumava National Park, where you can hike, or you can take the Lipno Bike Trail that goes around the lake. You can fish or sail on the lake, or just like me take a cruise with the Lipno Line.
Cruise on Lipno Lake
Lipno lake is an artificial reservoir lake created after the Vltava River was closed by a dam near the village Lipno nad Vltavou in 1960. There’s also a hydroelectric plant to utilize the water power of the dam. The lake is 42 km (26 mi) long and has an area of almost 50 km2 (19 sq mi).
I took a cruise on the lake with the Lipno Line. The company operates two lines: one serves a trip between Frymburk and Lipno, which instead of directly connecting the two places makes first a detour further to the west in the lake and comes back again to Frymburk and then continues to Lipno nad Vltavou. The second line operates on the whole lake connecting Horní Planá with Černá v Pošumaví and Frymburk and Lipno nad Vltavou. I took the first option from Frymburk to the resort place Lipno nad Vltavou.
I have to confess that this was my first treetop walk and I had a real blast. I have always loved bird views and I seize each opportunity to get on top of a tower or other structure that would allow those amazing 360 degrees views over a place. The journey to the top is mostly exhausting, climbing hundreds of stairs or taking a lift to the top where you stay closed and don’t see a thing. But treetop walkway was different! You can actually enjoy the journey to the top and gradually go up above the forest canopy. Each step uncovers a new perspective of the forest as you climb slowly among the trees until you reach the top, where the eye can soar as far as the Alps.
You can reach the Lipno Treetop Walkway from Lipno and Vltavou by bus, by chairlift or by walking. I took the chairlift on the way up and walked through the forest on the way back. Alternatively, if you have a bit of adventure in you, you can jump on a push scooter and dart downhill.
The structure of the Treetop Walkway is pretty amazing. The walkway is 650 m long and it leads to a 40 m high nonagonal watch tower. On the way back there are two options: you either slide down the 52 m long toboggan that’s spiraling around the centre of the tower or you chicken out and walk the same route back down to the starting point. I chose the second option. Well, I traded the adrenaline rush for a different perspective of the forest. Or at least that was my excuse.
For more information – visit the website of Treetop Walkway.
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Where to stay in South Bohemia?
In České Budějovice I stayed in Hotel Budweis – a full of character old mill turned into a hotel, located at a corner of the historical city centre on the Malše River. The interior is not pretentious, but comfy and I loved the building and the beautiful location – perfect to explore the city.
If you take my advice to stay in Český Krumlov for the night I can highly recommend you the place where I stayed – the Krčínův Dům Hotel. It’s a lovely hotel in a beautiful building located on a small square in the old historical centre.
In Lipno nad Vltavou I stayed in the Amenity Hotel. The hotel is located directly on the lake. It has an indoor swimming pool and a very good restaurant.
Food to try in South Bohemia
OK. These are not strictly South Bohemian dishes but more like typical for the whole Czech Republic.
- Svíčková na smetane
You can’t visit South Bohemia (and of course the Czech Republic) and not try one of the iconic dishes of the Czech cuisine – svíčková (pronounced “sveech-covah“): sirloin beef in cream sauce. It’s served with the Czech variant of bread dumplings – knedlíky, cranberry jam and a slice of lemon. During my stay in the Czech Republic I’ve eaten it quite often and you will get everywhere a decent one, but my favourite was the one I ate at the Ecofarm Horní Chrášťany (unfortunately the website is only in Czech). Was it because of the cornflour dumplings or the own craft beer they were brewing there…
This is the Czech version of the potato pancakes. Although they are yammy, they can be very greasy. Should always drink a beer with them.
That’s smoked meat. It’s mostly served with potato pancakes and sauerkraut. This is the one I had at the Solidní Šance Restaurant in Hluboka nad Vltavou paired of course with beer from the next-door brewery.
When in South Bohemia you have to try the trout. More locally sourced food than that you won’t find – the fish comes from local fish farms.
- Míša ice-cream
This was my personal discovery. The ice-cream with a smiling bear is one of the surviving heritages from the communist era. The original Míša ice-cream is with frozen quark covered in chocolate – super tasty. I tried also some other fruity variations, but the traditional quark one was my favorite one.
This 4-day trip was part of a press trip, organized by the South Bohemian Tourism Board on invitation by Czech Tourism, where all accommodation, meals and activities were provided by the Tourism Board and their partners. However, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.
Was I able to convince you how beautiful South Bohemia is? Have you been there? Share below your experience! Do you have questions about the places in the itinerary? Let me know and I will be happy to give you more details.
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