Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important in trade routes in Bohemia. In 1302 town and castle was owned by the House of Rosenberg. Emperor Rudolf II bought Krumau in 1602 and gave it to his natural son Julius d’Austria. Emperor Ferdinand II gave Krumau to the House of Eggenberg. From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg. Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries; the town's structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles. The core of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the old Latrán neighborhood and castle on the other side of the Vltava.
After World War I, Krumau belonged from October 1918 until September 1919 to Upper Austria within the Republic of German Austria. In November 1918 Czech troops occupied the town. During the interwar era it was part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945 it was annexed by Nazi Germany as part of the Sudetenland. The town's German-speaking population was expelled after liberation by the American Army during World War II and it was restored to Czechoslovakia.
During the Communist era of Czechoslovakia, Krumlov fell into disrepair, but since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 much of the town's former beauty has been restored, and it is now a major holiday destination popular with tourists from Germany, Austria, and beyond. In August, 2002, the town suffered from damage in the great flood of the Vltava River.
Český Krumlov Castle preserves its Baroque theatre (completed 1766), complete with original stage machinery, scenery and props:, one of only a few such court theatres that still exist Due to its age, the theatre is only used three times a year (only two are open to the public), when a Baroque opera is performed in simulated candlelight.
Krumlov has a museum dedicated to the painter Egon Schiele, who lived in the town.
Ten kilometers from Krumlov is one of Bohemia's oldest monasteries, Zlatá Koruna ("The Golden Crown"). About 30 km from Krumlov is the Hluboka Castle, established in the twelfth century and later remodelled in imitation of Windsor Castle.
Krumlov is close to the Šumava National Park, the Czech Republic's largest national park. The Šumava mountains lie along the border with Austria and Germany and offer a range of natural habitats - peat bogs, Alpine meadows, old-growth forests, lakes, and rivers. The area is popular with walkers, cyclists, and canoeists on the Vltava. Cesky Krumlov is only a short distance from the man-made Lake Lipno, on which many people take boat trips to various small towns on the lake and also to the Dam, which is a Hydro-electic power plant.
Český Krumlov is home to Pivovar Eggenberg brewery. It has also been used as filming locations for movies such as the 2006 films The Illusionist and Hostel as well as the 1970s German movie Traumstadt.
Since the Velvet Revolution in 1989, over eighty restaurants have been established in the area, including Don Julius, Papa's Living, The Two Marys, the Tavern Markéta in the Castle gardens, the pub Na Louži, and the Pizzeria Latran. Many restaurants are located along the river and near the castle