Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, an incredibly well-preserved medieval town 16 mi/26 km southwest of Ceske Budejovice, is a maze of cobblestoned streets and charming Renaissance facades built along a loop in the river and overseen by an enormous 13th-century castle (complete with five courtyards). This UNESCO-designated World Heritage site should not be missed.
This Czech Republic town is a wonderful place to stroll through, especially at night when the castle tower illuminates the streets. Be sure to climb the tower for magnificent views of the town and surrounding landscape. After the fall of communism, the tower was restored to its 16th-century pink and green hues, chosen by architectural historians who scoured the country in search of old paintings that showed what the tower looked like at that time.
Other sites include the old town square, the Budejovicka Gate and the Egon Schiele Art Centrum. (Located in Schiele's former studio, the center features paintings by this highly original, internationally admired artist as well as hosts art exhibitions.) Try to visit during the annual Renaissance Festival in June, when the entire town reverts to its medieval roots. During the summer, you can rent canoes, kayaks and tubes for a relaxing ride down the river.
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