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In Czech, there’s a famous song implying one needs to see Znojmo double (it rhymes in Czech). Meaning, one should drink all the wine there is while in Znojmo!
And it just perfectly sums up what your trip to Znojmo, Czech Republic, should entail. Exploring this beautiful town lying so off the beaten path that it hurts, with a glass of wine in hand.
If you’ll find yourself in the area when traveling between Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava, you’ll be basically copying the old trade routes, which gave way to the development of the “Pearl of South Moravia”, as Znojmo is referred to nowadays.
Znojmo is not your ordinary cute town with a pretty Old Town. It’s far more than that. Its position in the landscape, on a rock above the Dyje River, is uniquely picturesque.
Znojmo is actually a great add-on if you decide to explore more of the Czech Republic and see Moravia’s capital Brno. Znojmo is located just around the corner from there.
What’s wild, often even Czechs, myself included, have no idea that Znojmo is this pretty! And it’s logical – the town was part of the Sudeten area on the edges of the Czech Republic, neglected and left to its own destiny. Only in the last few decades was the former glory of the town restored.
Well, before we dive headfirst into Znojmo things to do, let’s look at the pronunciation of Znojmo.
The correct way of pronouncing Znojmo is to say it like Znoy-mo with the “mo” ending in “o”, not “oh”. Just like Palermo.
Lastly – everyone in the Czech Republic knows Znojmo as the origin of the traditional pickled cucumbers. Have some while there!
Best Experiences to Have in Znojmo and Around
Let’s start with Znojmo city:
Did Anybody Say Wine?
For a special introduction to the world of Znojmo wines, head to the Enoteka of wines. If you time it with sunset, it’ll be magical. I swear.
While the front of the Enotéka looks just like a stylish café, if you look closely, you may spot a display cabinet full of wine bottles. In the back, there are several more of them!
That’s what the unique self-service is about. Using a card that you charged up at the counter, you simply slide it into one of those cabinets and press a button above a wine bottle of your choice. And then you just drink!
The hardest is to pick which wine to taste. There are 120 varieties including ice wine.
Znojmo Wine Bar (Enotéka znojemských vín)
Hradní 2, 669 02 Znojmo
Do Some Proper Sightseeing, You’ll Be in Awe!
Probably the first thing you’ll see in Znojmo will be the gothic Town Hall tower from the 15th century with an elongated tower top. At the time of my visit, it was under reconstruction, so I’ll have to go back to get that perfect photo of it. Also, under normal circumstances, you should go up and admire the views.
Like the guard, who was positioned here until 1924 to watch over any incoming danger and apparently also to call out the time every full hour.
From there, move on to Znojmo Castle – a complex of buildings that once, in the 11th century, used to be a castle. A Baroque chateau was built on the base of the original castle in the 18th century and it now serves as a museum.
The most striking structure here is the Rotunda of St. Catherine, which used to form part of the original castle. Inside, there are wall paintings from the 11th century, which is why the rotunda may be closed at the time of your visit. It opens its doors only when the weather conditions are safe enough so as not to damage the invaluable frescoes.
From the castle area, you’ll have incredible views of the valley below, with St. Nicolas’ Church being the main landmark.
The late Gothic St. Nicolas’ Cathedral was built between the 14th and 16th centuries and features a tower from the 19th century.
Right behind, there’s a double-chapel of St. Wenceslas from the 17th century and its outer wall provides a walkway above the city vineyard and yet another angle to view the Dyje River canyon.
The city vineyard, called Rajská zahrada (= the garden of Eden) beautifully covers a sloping hill. It’s administered by the below-mentioned Lahofer Winery. Strolling through here with the view of the stunning Dyje valley, ideally with a glass of wine in hand, will get imprinted in your memory.
You should check out the fortifications, too. They rose here at the end of the 9th century already.
They’re easy to access – e.g. from Masaryk Square, you can take a nice stroll through the gardens of the Capuchin monastery, walking along the fortified walls. You’ll also notice a big prismatic tower – Vlkova věž (= Wolf tower), which guarded the most important entrance to the city.
If you’d rather sit and watch, in the summertime, you can hop aboard a local tourist train. Supposedly, it hits the best spots in town. The whole ride takes an hour and a half.
If you get hungry while walking around, stop at the restaurant Slepičák and have a proper Czech meal. E.g. fried cheese. Coffee lovers will enjoy a small and cozy Kafe U Radnice.
There are a lot more sights to discover in Znojmo, actually. I’m already planning another trip to experience the city properly and will update this article then.
Get Under the Ground
Znojmo sports an underground labyrinth. How come?
Well, in 1226, Znojmo became a royal township. The back-then-rich town enjoyed a good supply of fruits, vegetables, and wine. Sophisticated cellars under each house became the best way to store the goods. For easier logistics, many were interconnected.
This came in handy when the town was under attack. Such as during the Thirty Years War, when Swedes would enter and found instead an empty town.
There are estimated to be 27 km of underground tunnels in Znojmo. It’s possibly the only city in Europe, where the underground was dug for the public to use. Also, it’s the largest underground maze in the country and one of the largest in central Europe.
The building was done for nearly 500 years – between the 13th and 17th centuries. What’s bizarre is that the underground would have been a great place to hide during the World Wars. If only the Znojmo catacombs were not forgotten about by then.
The underground was rediscovered only at the end of WW2 and since the 50s many locals have started using their individual cellars again.
Of course, many legends are connected to the catacombs. Such as the one about a monk named Teodor who’d lure enemies down there, promising to show a secret entrance to the town, and then would drown them in one of the seven wells.
Nowadays, you can visit less than a kilometer. You can experience it on a classic route or more adrenaline one where you’ll be climbing and crawling and will also get dirty.
Obroková 10, 669 02 Znojmo
Find more info and book your tickets here.
Admire an Impressive collection of Jukeboxes and Pinball Machines in Hatě
This is extraordinary beyond words. I mean, I’m Czech, live within a few hours from Hatě, and never knew what gems were hiding there.
The area on the border with Austria is called Excalibur City and it was built by an Austrian businessman who’s become rather wealthy from trading duty-free goods. But unlike practically all other rich people, he’s put his wealth into buying and restoring jukeboxes.
The result? 950 jukeboxes – from the Golden era of the 30s, 50s, but also the oldest jukebox ever from 1890! As if it weren’t enough, he’s partnered with another avid collector – of pinball machines. The museum features 250 of them.
What’s more, most of them are fully functional and you can try them out!
But wait, there’s even more that’ll make your jaw drop. There are many historical setups to admire and unique bars. The underground floor is dedicated to superheroes, and you can find an original Batmobile there! Incredible, right? It’s one of three models made with a real engine. Michal Keaton drove it!
You can also enjoy a hall of videogames bringing back quite some nostalgia. Of course you can play them, too. There are about 100 games that you can play on computers old and new.
Trust me, this museum is exceptional and everyone should visit it. I plan to go back and take my husband with me.
The whole Excalibur City is a place you could stay at for days. It’s basically a big amusement/shopping park.
All jukebox fans will especially love the Jukebox Hotel located right next to Terra Technica. Themed rooms have a clean design, there’s a functioning jukebox in the dining room, and the breakfast is yummy. Highly recommended!
To eat, check out Phönix Restaurant in the heart of Excalibur City. They have the widest menu I’ve ever seen featuring everything from Czech classics to pizza to Chinese food. We did some extensive tasting and everyone was full and satisfied.
Terra Technica – Time Travel Museum
Excalibur City, Chvalovice-Hatě 194, 669 02 Chvalovice
Find more info here.
Chill at the Lahofer Winery in Dobšice
You’ll be amazed the moment you pull up at Lahofer. Endless lanes of vine hug a beautiful wave-shaped building that matches the area meticulously. Inside, you’ll find a beautiful visitor’s area with a large tasting room, a wine shop, and a café.
Established in 2003, the company kept acquiring vineyards in the Znojmo region until it became one of the largest vine growers in the Czech Republic.
Since 2020, Lahofer has moved its operations into the beautiful wavy building, designed by a prominent Czech architectural studio. In the same year, the structure was listed among the Top 10 new buildings of 2020 in the country.
Uniquely, here they let the wine ferment not just in the typical steel tanks but also in concrete tanks, wooden barrels, or qvevri, which is the type of container used for wines in Georgia.
All the wine made by Lahofer is produced from their own grapes. Additionally, they import some from France to have a wider product range.
From the 800,000 bottles produced per year, about 85 % constitute the white varieties, for which South Moravia’s climate is ideal.
When visiting, you must absolutely taste the varieties typical for the Znojmo region: Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon, and Rhine Riesling.
The environment at Lahofer is so special that at the time of our visit, a hip Czech brand of designer bags and purses had their photoshoot there.
After tasting some wine, stroll around and make sure to climb the stairs to the top of the winery – there are lovely views of the vineyards to be seen from there. Do watch your step, though!
Lahofer winery owns a hotel we stayed at (listed below in the accommodation section) and also takes care of the Znojmo city vineyard right below the St. Nicolas Church.
Vinice 579, 671 82 Dobšice
Find more info about Lahofer here (in Czech only).
Feel Like Royalty at Chateau Vranov nad Dyjí
Next, you have to venture out to the edge of Podyjí National Park to explore this Baroque Chateau with dazzling interiors that are guaranteed to take your breath away. Already when walking towards it on a bridge across the moat, you’ll feel like in a fairy tale. I certainly did.
The originally medieval castle was remodeled into this beautiful Central Europe Baroque style, complete with striking statues. Notice the courtyard’s double staircase with Greek figures – Hercules fighting Antaeus and Aeneas carrying his old frail father.
The incredible interior decoration in the Neoclassical style comes from 1758.
There are so many mindblowing stories connected to the Vranov Chateau. For example, its ownership has been rocky, to say the least. Owning a castle doesn’t mean you’re safe and secure.
The biggest work on the chateau was done during the 100-year-long ownership of the Althann family. The last count had to declare bankruptcy in 1793 and the chateau was simply sold off in an auction. Then a Polish aristocratic family owned it until 1945.
Despite owning the chateau, they were kicked out for a time due to their Jewish origin, and a German Nazi Baron bought it and moved in. However, they held no animosity towards each other when it came to possessions. Letters were exchanged and both the German aristocrat, as well as the Polish family, stored each other’s assets away when needed.
After World War II, the state became the new owner of the property, and ever since, it’s been a national heritage site.
You need to see the chateau with a guide and I hope you’ll have a fun one as we did. Apart from the natural “eye candies” such as the unique wall art and decorations, there are many interesting hidden things that don’t catch the eye.
Like a hidden pathway between rooms covered up by a stove.
Nowadays, there are some artifacts on display to showcase the lifestyle of high society as of the end of 18th and the 19th centuries. I especially liked a long and thin scratching tool that would solve the itch under the wig and could be easily hidden away in the folds of an opulent Baroque dress.
To photograph the whole chateau in one frame, you can stop for a minute at a “Lovers’ viewpoint”. Complete with love locks, the unique view shows the castle perched high on a rock above the cute town of Vranov nad Dyjí.
Vranov nad Dyjí Chateau
Zámecká 93, 671 03 Vranov nad Dyjí
For more information, visit the website of the Chateau.
Chill and/or Get Your Adrenaline Pumping at the Vranov Beach
Even near Znojmo, you can be a beach bum thanks to the locally popular Vranov Beach, or Vranovská pláž in Czech. The large area on the shore of Vranov Dam features a campsite with all possible amenities.
You’re welcome to get in the water and even engage in water sports like paddle boarding, paddle boating, or kayaking. The weather wasn’t kind to us when we visited, so I chose to rather observe from the shore.
Even staying on the shore is fun, though. Especially if you put on a bumper ball and go savage with your friends.
Adrenaline junkies will love the swing from a bridge, which sounds perhaps a little ordinary until you learn you have to dive into the nothingness head-first. I won’t lie to you, I turned around and didn’t do it. The swing is in operation in July and August on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Overall, you can enjoy a relaxing day on the beach of the Vranov dam, with a bunch of locals and no tourists in sight. A perfect summer day is guaranteed, with an optional dose of adrenalin.
Camping Vranovská pláž
671 02 Štítary
Check out the website of Vranov Beach.
Do a Little Hike
Podyjí National Park is a true gem for any nature lover. It actually spreads over to Austria too, where it’s known under the name Thayatal NP. The river Dyje, in German Thaya, meanders through the whole area.
Nature here is unspoiled as the territory was a no man’s land during the times of the Iron curtain. It was spared any development and left unkept.
We’ve walked to a viewpoint Devět mlýnů (= Nine mills). It wasn’t really a hike, to be honest. Still, strolling through nature will recharge the batteries even of those who’re not used to hiking. An easy, marked path leads from a parking lot on the outskirts of Hnanice village. It takes less than 20 minutes to walk it.
Once on the viewpoint, you can enjoy views over the Dyje River valley, as well as the Šobes vineyard covering the southern side of a hill. This is one of the oldest vineyards in Europe. Apparently, even Romans used to grow wine here in the river valley.
Of course, there are many more hiking options in Podyjí, Czech Republic’s smallest national park. In fact, there is 76 km of marked hiking trails crisscrossing the national park. Czechs are avid hikers so you can count on super trails with lots to see. Here you can see a few suggested routes.
The prospect of Nine mills (Vyhlídka Devět mlýnů)
669 02 Hnanice
Experience Excellence at Thaya Winery
How best to finish off your Znojmo trip than at another winery, right? And another excellent one, too.
Thaya Winery is named after the river Thaya, in Czech Dyje.
Even though Thaya is relatively new with its three years of existence, it builds upon a winery of 15 years. The first Thaya harvest happened in 2021 and it opened its doors to visitors officially only in 2022.
Apart from the wine they produce for themselves, they sell the remaining up to 40% also abroad – to Norway, Belgium, or the US.
Dry wines represent most of the assortment. As the owner has proclaimed – “We’re a winery, not a confectionery.”
Even though Thaya doesn’t use it in their marketing, their wines are bio!
When you visit Thaya, you’ll first notice their unique building made by repurposing an old granary. The same architect, Jakub Cigler, has prepared a plan to revitalize Prague’s Wenceslas Square.
In the building, you can taste your wine and have your taste buds go on a local adventure. First of all, though, head to the rooftop for amazing views of the vineyards. Depending on how long from now you’ll visit, the roof may already be covered in fresh green vines.
You MUST eat at the restaurant located on the ground floor. It’s called Apri and it’s the absolute best I’ve experienced in the area. I was mindblown. What the chef and his team can create from local ingredients is extraordinary and a true art form. Classic Czech meals are on the menu too and worth every bite. Pair your meals with wine or, if driving, go for the lovely grape juice.
You can also find accommodation at Thaya. And, you guessed it, it’s unlike anywhere else. The rooms are outside in individual picture-perfect, Hobbiton-like units. And, apparently, there’s wellness too. I didn’t see it so will have to wait to hear about it from you if you end up going.
Havraníky 145, 669 02 Havraníky
More about the winery here.
Where to Stay in Znojmo
There are many Znojmo hotels, of course. I stayed at two in the region of Znojemsko – one in the city of Znojmo and another on the border with Austria:
Znojmo: Hotel Lahofer
This hotel has the same owners as the first winery (outside Znojmo) mentioned above. The Lahofer Hotel resides in a historical building that’s hidden away in a quiet street called Veselá (= Cheerful) right in the city center.
The rooms are cute, clean, and modern; they lack nothing. From my window, I saw a tennis court. The breakfast is abundant and yummy. There was even a bottle of alcohol available for those who need to start their day with a bigger kick than just coffee.
Veselá 149/13, 669 02 Znojmo
Check out Hotel Lahofer’s website (use Google Translate).
Hatě: Jukebox Hotel
The Jukebox Hotel is located in Hatě, just across from Terra Technica Museum within the Excalibur City Complex.
The rooms are themed and each represents a musician. I stayed in Bob Dylan’s room. In the dining area, there’s a free jukebox and you can play songs one after another to your heart’s content.
Chvalovice-Hatě 193, 669 02 Chvalovice
See more about the Jukebox Hotel on their website.
Getting to Znojmo
Znojmo is located about halfway between Brno and Vienna, about two hours away from Prague. If you’re traveling in the Czech Republic, you should definitely check out Brno too. After that, it’s an hourlong drive to Znojmo.
Similarly, driving from the Austrian capital Vienna takes about an hour too. There’s an easy railway connection between Znojmo and Vienna but if you want to see more than the city only, it’s best to drive.
So yes, it’s recommendable that you rent a car when in the area. While you could get to Znojmo easily by bus/train, getting around the beautiful region is much easier with a car. Bring a non-drinking friend who’ll do all the driving back to the hotel from the many wineries!
One last tip for Znojmo: if you visit from September to November, you’re in for a treat – it’s the Burčák season! Burčák is a Czech specialty – it’s partially fermented wine. It’s sweet, delicious, and full of enzymes. It can be white or red. Have it at the wineries, at the Enotéka, and at restaurants.
I hope I helped to shine some light on this undeservingly forgotten part of the Czech Republic. Znojmo city and Znojemsko region feature so many beautiful areas – be it in the beauty of nature, in the charm of the towns, or in the captivating taste of local wine.
Veronika of Travel Geekery visited Znojmo on a press trip after the Traverse 2022 Conference held in Brno, Czech Republic. All opinions are her own and unbiased.