It wasn’t always like this. Rewind the clock just 40 years, to the end of the 1970s, and the Český Krumlov we know and love today was practically unrecognisable. There were hints, but the ruling communists weren’t interested in the tourism dollar and Krumlov was left to the whims of history. Buildings were dilapidated, the red roofs we photograph with such glee mere memories of what was and what was to come, and the Vltava river was tainted by the relentless industry taking place up stream. In short, Český Krumlov was far from the picturesque paradise it is today.
But a picturesque paradise is exactly what it is as the 21st century continues to hurtle to whatever fate awaits us. The city is among the most beautiful on the planet, the neglect of the communist era well and truly resigned to the bin of history, and the tourists of the world haven’t been shy in voting with their footsteps. So, are there too many tourists in Český Krumlov, or are these new eyes much needed?
Like almost everything in life, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. On a purely practical note, Český Krumlov gets far more tourists than it can deal with. This is a small town after all, and the abundance of visitors has seen normality pushed out of the centre as money-hungry people rent out apartments to the highest bidder. Of course, this isn’t the fault of the visitor, this is the fault of the greedy who own the apartments, but that is neither here nor there. Ordinary people are finding it tougher and tougher to rent property in the centre of Český Krumlov, pushing it ever closer to de facto theme park status.
But if tourists don’t flock to somewhere like Český Krumlov, then something is seriously wrong with the world. People are quick to bemoan the attention classic tourist destinations get over towns further east, lamenting name value over value for money. Those same people are the first to moan when places like Český Krumlov or Lake Bled (Slovenia) start attracting people by the bucket-load. The simple fact is that people should be visiting Český Krumlov in their droves, because this is an astonishingly beautiful part of the world.
So yes, there is too much tourism in Český Krumlov, but there remain billions of people who are yet to experience this wonder. Like much of life, the rock and a hard place analogy springs to mind. Be responsible with your tourist Euros, leave a clean camp and a dead fire, and vote with your pennies. This is a place to be loved, however you see fit to love it.