Whenever I’m asked what my top 3 favorite European destinations are, I’m always quick to answer: Prague, Cesky Krumlov, and Hallstatt.
You could say I have a penchant for fairytale cities. As photographs are my favorite souvenirs, I love a great-looking destination. I love being able to “sell” a destination to friends and family just by scrolling through my Instagram – and with this perfect fairytale trifecta, that’s pretty easy.
However photogenic they are, though, these three cities are more than just pretty postcards. They are all brimming with history and culture. Walking around Prague and Cesky Krumlov, in particular, gives me goosebumps just imagining everything that happened in those streets that went on to impact world history.
Here’s a road trip itinerary that will bring you through some of the most beautiful and historic places in Czech Republic and Austria. While I originally made this guide with road trippers in mind, I also included information for those who opt to use public transportation instead.
Use the Google map below to help you with your trip planning. I’d recommend allotting at least a week for this itinerary. And if you loved this guide, share with your favorite friend (prospective road trip buddy perhaps?) and pin for later:
Road trip map: Prague – Cesky Krumlov – Hallstatt
KM 0 – Prague
Of all the destinations in this itinerary, Prague is by far the most famous one. It is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – a fact, which, I wished fewer tourists knew so we could have Prague to ourselves.
But, despite the ever-increasing number of tourists that pay homage to the city, a few days spent here is a definite must when visiting the Bohemian region.
I’d recommend staying for a minimum of two days, which will give you enough time to explore the old town and the castle complex. This walking tour itinerary covers the essential must-sees in Prague.
- Flights – Check out flight deals to Prague here.
- Train and bus – If you’re coming from one of the nearby cities, check out Ceske drahy for train travel and Student Agency for comfortable and convenient buses.
Where to stay in Prague
- If you hate crowds like I do, stay in one of the less-touristy areas in the city, like the Vinohrady district or nearby. A great hotel is Deminka Palace just a few minutes’ walk from Wenceslas Square. You can even walk all the way to the Old Town Square (just a little over a kilometer away).
- If you’re traveling soon or want to beat the rush, check out these real-time hotel deals in Prague to catch a great price:
Hotel deals in Prague – click to expand
After a few days in Prague, you can set off to another Bohemian gem: Cesky Krumlov. Let’s hit a few stop-overs first.
Stopovers: Prague to Cesky Krumlov
KM 150 – Ceske Budejovice
Also known as Budweis, Ceske Budejovice is one of Czech’s most famous beer capitals (the other one is Plzen, known for Pilsner), and a pretty neat stopover for travelers who are here for the beer.
It’s also the largest city in South Bohemia so if you’re a big city person, it’s great to stop here for some lunch and a rest from the rural landscapes.
KM 160 – Hluboka Castle
This Neo-Gothic castle rightfully earns the title “most beautiful Czech castle.” The surrounding gardens are especially beautiful during fall and a great place to stretch your legs and have a stroll.
KM 180 – Holasovice
The Holasovice historical village is a UNESCO world heritage site and a perfect example of a traditional central European village.
KM 200 – Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov is certainly one of the most beautiful fairytale towns in Europe and it has the added benefit of being lesser-known than Prague (although it’s becoming less of a secret now so I’d visit soon if I were you).
Walking its streets is like living centuries of history, architecture, and art. Even if you’re just after the aesthetics, every angle is a postcard perfect shot.
- Driving – From Prague, the E55 is the fastest way to Cesky Krumlov
- Public transportation – You can ride a train to Ceske Budejovice then a bus to Cesky Krumlov, or a bus all the way to Cesky Krumlov.
Where to stay in Cesky Krumlov
- If you’re driving, stay somewhere just outside the old town and look for free parking. We stayed at Penzion Panorama and highly recommend it.
- If you’re traveling soon, check out these real-time hotel deals in Cesky Krumlov to catch a great price:
Hotel deals in Cesky Krumlov – click to expand
Now change your crowns to euros because it’s time to cross over to Austria! We’re heading to one of my first European loves, the always Instagram-perfect city of Hallstatt. But don’t rely on social media – go there and see the magic for yourself.
Stopovers: Cesky Krumlov to Hallstatt
KM 280 – Linz
Linz is the third largest city in Austria (after Vienna and Salzburg) and a convenient stopover to Hallstatt. You can relax your eyes with views of the Danube river and try a slice of the linzer torte, considered to be the oldest known cake in the world!
KM 320 – Steyr
Steyr is another beautiful stopover, especially if you love ancient towns and architecture. The residents of Steyr are most proud of the Bummerlhaus, said to be one of the finest examples of preserved Gothic architecture in central Europe.
KM 450 – Hallstatt
The road to Hallstatt may be long and twisted, but it’s definitely a stunner. Many times during my drive to Hallstatt, I had to resist the urge to park my car on a mountainside lay-by and take a million photos.
The city is sandwiched between a lake and mountains, making it the perfect getaway for nature lovers. It’s small and compact and you can walk from one end to the other in under 30 minutes – that is, of course, if you don’t get distracted by the charming boutique stores that line the boardwalk.
After walking around, ride the funicular for amazing views of the lake. There’s also a salt mine museum, which is a pretty neat way to learn about the history and economical significance of this small pretty city.
- Shuttles – If you’re not driving, a convenient way to get to Hallstatt is via shuttles. You can catch one from Prague, Cesky Krumlov, or Vienna.
Where to stay in Hallstatt
- If you’re driving, it’s best to stay outside the car-free zone and take advantage of your accommodation’s free parking. We stayed at the Hotel Gasthof Hirlatz – it’s a 15-minute scenic walk from the city center and run by a charming family.
- If you’re traveling soon, check out these real-time hotel deals in Hallstatt to catch a great price:
Hotel deals in Hallstatt – click to expand
* * *
Our fairytale road trip itinerary ends here but here are some suggestions on where to drive or go next:
- From Hallstatt, you can drive to Salzburg, then northeast to Vienna – here’s an itinerary for that
- From Vienna, continue on to South Moravia – here’s a guide on the area
- Going back to Czech Republic is also a good idea if you picked up your rental car in Prague. You can return it in Brno, the Moravian capital, and avoid cross-country fees.
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip across Czech Republic and Austria. If you’ve never tried driving abroad before, you can read about my first European driving experience here – it’s really not as stressful as you think! Plus, it will take you through beautiful towns and cities that would otherwise be too complicated to reach via public transportation, and if there are at least two of you traveling together, it may even come out cheaper.
If you have any questions or suggestions for the readers, let us know in the comments or you can always contact me. Happy travels!