This little-known corner of the Czech Republic is nothing less than a revelation – from historic Znojmo, the ‘Pearl of South Moravia’, to the arresting châteaux and monuments of the spectacular ‘Garden of Europe’. Explore the staggering wealth of cultural monuments, indulge in delicious, great-value wines, and revel in the hospitality of these friendly, unassuming people.
Znojmo is one of the oldest towns in Europe and is full of towers, churches, monasteries – and wine! It boasts the most comprehensive collection of Renaissance palaces in the Czech Republic, such as the Rotunda of St Catherine with spectacular Romanesque frescoes that line its walls and ceiling. Other notable buildings include the extensive town walls and castle; the labyrinthine catacombs under the streets; St Nicholas’s Church and St Wenceslas’s Chapel; and Louka Monastery, a massive Baroque church now home to a museum of wine-growing. The Znojmo Historical Wine Harvest Festival (“Vinobraní”) takes place every September and is famed as the Czech Republic’s largest wine festival. Take time to explore the town before enjoying a gentle ride through the wooded Podyji National Park, returning through fragrant meadows for a well-earned glass of Czech beer. (35km).
Today, you follow sections of the Prague-Vienna Greenways cycle track as it meanders along the Thaya Valley, close to the Austrian border, passing timeless villages surrounded by neat vineyards. Your destination is the enchanting town of Mikulov, dominated by its magnificent Baroque château overlooking a delightful square. You stay two nights at the Hotel Templ or the Pension Baltazar. (70km, or 49km if you catch the train for the last leg).
The town of Mikulov grew below a former castle, the remains of which can still be seen in the Canon Tower of the Kozí hrádek (‘Goats’ Castle’). The castle was later rebuilt as a luxurious Baroque château, which, together with the Renaissance tower of the Church of St Wenceslas and the Holy Hill with a chapel, give the town its character. Mikulov is also famous for its religious tolerance, especially towards Protestants and Jews, and from the 17th to 19th centuries was the seat of the Rabbinate. Much of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed in WWII, though a synagogue, some streets and the Jewish cemetery remain. Like Znojmo, the town is the centre of a wine-growing region and holds a popular wine festival every autumn. Read more about South Moravia’s wine festivals.
After calling in to see the famous Giant Barrel in the château, what could be more apt than following the Wine Trail on your day here? This gentle route skirts the Pálava Hills to reach the pretty wine-producing villages of Klentnice and Pavlov on the shores of the Nové mlýny reservoir, where ancient wine cellars offer the chance to sample the local Grüner Veltliner and Welschriesling wines. (31km) Read more about this day.
Leaving Mikulov, you cycle through the unique, composed landscapes of the UNESCO-protected Lednice-Valtice area – a patchwork of neat meadows, fishponds and managed woodland, dotted with intriguing architectural follies, grand classical temples and tranquil nature reserves. Shaped by the wealthy Lords of Liechtenstein over many generations, this is delightful countryside to explore as you make your way to medieval Lednice. Take time to visit the spectacular Summer Palace (closed Monday) before arriving at the Hotel Mario (22km).
Your final day is a real highlight: enjoy a leisurely ride along the Liechtenstein Trail to discover more fairy-tale castles, including the incredible Baroque château at Valtice. This glorious building is home to the National Wine Centre (closed Sun/Mon except Jun-Sep when closed Mon only), where, for a nominal fee, you can indulge in a wine-tasting extravaganza, choosing from the county’s 100 best wines in the hallowed atmosphere of medieval cellars – before making your way back to Lednice. (38km – inc 7km on boat).
Add a stay in Prague or Vienna
If flying via Prague or Vienna, why not stay over in either of these fascinating cities? We provide walking notes to discover the highlights of each.
What’s included: 6 nights, 3 dinners, 6 breakfasts, luggage transported, route notes and maps, high-quality bicycle