The town was granted its charter as a city in the year 1265. It has long been well known for the fine beer brewed here, this enjoying a good reputation since the 13th century. For a time the town was the royal brewery for the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and beer from Budweis, or "Budweiser Beer", attained fame. Beer brewing remains a major industry here. The largest brewery is Pivovar Budejovicky Budvar, which has legal rights to selling beer under the "Budweiser" brand name in much of Europe; this product is also sold elsewhere under the names "Budvar" and "Czechvar". The second largest brewery Pivovar Samson also does a fair amount of export, mostly under the "Samson" and "Crystal" labels.
The city is in the center of a valley of the Vltava River, where the Vltava meets the Malse river. The old town preserves interesting Medieval and Baroque architecture around the large town square, including the old town hall with murals and bronze gargoyles, and the town tower "Černá věž" ("Black Tower"). In the new town the Belle Epoque Austro-Hungarian train station is notable. The railroad line connecting Ceske Budejovice to Linz was the oldest on the European continent, constructed from 1824 to 1832.
Ceske Budejovice is home to the University of South Bohemia and an Academy of Sciences.