Here’s a place that’s NOT in most Central European itineraries: South Moravia. In fact, you may not even have heard of it.
But if you’re planning a holiday to the Prague-Vienna-Budapest triad, you’ll want to check out this beautiful region that’s right smack in the middle of your Central European itinerary. Take 5 minutes to check out the 10 best things to do in South Moravia here – and you might just have to make room for it in your holiday.
10 best things to do in South Moravia
1. Climb up the Holy Hill for a spectacular hilltop view of the castle town of Mikulov.
Red terracotta roofs, old and twisted cobbled alleys, and a castle that dominates it all… Nope, that’s not a picture of Prague. It’s actually the small Moravian town of Mikulov – a fairytale Czech town that has Prague’s charm, minus the crowds, plus the wine.
Spend a day walking around Mikulov’s old town square and beautiful castle gardens. And then, get a bottle of their fine wine (I recommend the local Palava, named after the white hills that grow some of the region’s best grapes), and start your trek up the Holy Hill. At the top, you’ll find several religious relics and a chapel, get a bird’s eye view of the town and the surrounding countryside, and enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sunset.
2. Imagine the perfect countryside wedding at the Hradistek in Velke Bilovice.
If you love road trips, the road to Velke Bilovice is one of the most scenic ones, especially during summer and early fall. The most popular destination (and the most Instagrammable!) is the Hradistek, a white chapel built on a hill, which is famous among locals as a wedding destination and the setting of several Moravian movies.
Afterwards, head over to Vinařství U Kapličky, a sprawling hotel and restaurant complex surrounded by vineyards where you can fill up on traditional Czech dishes, and South Moravian hospitality.
3. Try a glass (or more!) of burcak.
Burcak is young wine, a regional specialty available during the harvest season in September. It tastes as sweet as freshly-squeezed grapes, but with the kick of matured wine – certainly not to be missed if you happen to be in the region at the right season.
You’ll find makeshift signs advertising the burcak everywhere, but it’s best enjoyed in one of the wine harvest festivals.
4. Visit the Villa Tugendhat in Brno.
Brno was one of the pioneers of functionalist architecture – a style defined by clean lines, open plans, and functional spaces.
The most famous modernist building in Brno is Villa Tugendhat, designed by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat in 1929-1930. In 2001, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as an “outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production.”
Fun trivia: the “Velvet Divorce” – Czechoslovakia’s amicable separation into Czechia and Slovakia – was finalized in the villa in 1992!
While you can visit the villa’s grounds anytime, you’ll need to reserve at least 3 months in advance if you want to take a tour of the inside. You can find more information here.
5. Walk around the forests and gardens of the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape.
To understand the real value of Brno’s functionalist architecture, you have to understand what it was rebelling from – the gaudy and extravagant designs of the previous generations. And the best place to find examples of that are within the forests of the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, which the Liechtenstein royal family decked with a display of their wealth and extravagance.
This UNESCO-protected site is home to impressive chateaux, the largest garden in Europe, and forests dotted with historical and cultural monuments. A day’s worth of walking or biking around the well-maintained marked trails is a crash course in the history of the Liechtenstein royal family’s reign in the region.
6. Go swimming or fishing in Nove Mlyny.
As a landlocked country, the Czech Republic may be lacking in beaches, but they do have beautiful lakes like the Nove Mlyny. During summer, a lot of tour companies offer water activities. It’s also a perfect place to watch the sunset year-round.
7. Go wine-tasting in Valtice, the wine capital of Czech Republic.
A popular bike/hike stop in the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, Valtice houses a historical 15th century wine cellar underneath the chateau. It’s open to guests year-round and offers the top-rated wines from all over the country.
8. Go hiking in Podyji National Park
Podyji is the Czech Republic’s smallest national park – and the perfect day trip for travelers craving for nature and amazing views. Follow the river Dyje as it meanders around the small wine-growing towns surrounding Znojmo, hike up to stunning viewpoints, and reward yourself with a glass of wine (or two) in one of the wine stalls located around the park.
9. Mingle with the locals at the pubs and cafés in Brno.
The city houses many universities and attracts many digital nomads and expats, which bolsters the food and drink scene. There’s always a new and hip café around the corner and pubs regularly host parties and events. Extra bonus: drinks are way cheaper here compared to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.
10. Hike up the Tabletop mountain in Klentnice for great views of the Moravian countryside.
Beyond the wine, the history, and the architecture, South Moravia’s real draw is a breath of fresh air. It’s where you go to get away from the city’s cramped spaces and bleak walls.
The quickest way to get that breath of fresh air to make your way to Klentnice, where you’ll be treated to amazing views of the Moravian countryside, and – finally – a place to yourself.
Piqued your interest? Read these next:
South Moravia is a feast of the senses and this article guides you through the region’s sights, sounds, and tastes. It’s also got a great overview of the history of wine in the region and a great read for every wine/history enthusiast.
The capital of South Moravia, Brno, has a lot going on. History, architecture, food, beer, wine, and coffee – all at an unbelievably amazing value. If you think Prague is cheap, you’ll think Brno is a steal. It’s definitely worth more than a 2-minute train stop.
If you’re going from Prague to Vienna, why rush? There are so many amazing places in between these cities that you can visit in this amazing road trip – and yes, one of them is South Moravia.
If you’re traveling for the first time to the Czech Republic, this 5-day itinerary is full of ideas for your trip – and it includes a self-guided walking tour of Prague so you’ll know how to hit all the best places in a short time.
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I hope this gives you a couple of great ideas for your Central European holiday! You can find free downloadable guides here to make your trip-planning easier. If you’re looking for more ideas, all my travel guides for Europe are here.
Have a great holiday in the Czech Republic and thanks for reading!
(Photo credits: Hradistek by Eliška Kánová, Villa Tugendhat by Petr1987. All Creative Commons.)
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