Znojmo, Czech Republic is located in Jihomoravský kraj (South Moravian Region), and though picturesque, the city is dynamic and well worth your time. Written records have been found about the city that date back to the 11th century, making it one of the oldest in the country. Those traveling to Znojmo to indulge in wine and beer may be intrigued to find that the cities historical significance is notably marked by fortification systems that are not just visible from the landscape, but also underground. The underground system displays from an alternative angle know-how and innovation when it comes to the town’s strategy and defense. With no threats in the present day to ward off, the city welcomes locals and visitors to wander and relax.
To visit Znojmo means choosing your own pace. The city center is easily walkable, but the possibilities including the surrounding areas pack a punch as a prime destination for enjoying all there is to offer whether on foot or by bicycle. Despite the smaller size of the city, it’s easy to get lost in the side streets and thus lost in time. Some of the homes off the main street seem from another time. The hovering landscape terraces overlooking the river and trees, St. Nicholas’ church, and castle gave the notion that the world is so large and that I have so much yet to discover – a feeling that I usually only get when I am somewhere very far from home. Yet, in that same moment, a laughing, ‘cheers’ing group of friends and the lovely couples reminded me of the equally momentous presence.
Visiting Znojmo is a solid visit standing on its own, but since it is just under a three hours journey from Prague and over the border from Austria, it makes it a perfect stop (though I encourage a minimum of 24 hours) wherever you are headed.
Get to Znojmo from Prague by bus departing at the Prague ÚAN Florenc station. I found routes from FlixBus (my preferred choice) and RegioJet, and by searching through getbybus.com. The journey is approximately 3 hours.
If you have a car, choose the route that has the least traffic that day and head on down. No tips to provide here. The journey is also approximately 3 hours.
Since we often do multi-city trips and make unnecessary stops perusing garden statues and windmills at border shops, visiting dragon-themed amusement parks, and dining at gas station restaurants, etc. we always opt to travel by car. On that note, don’t turn your nose up to gas station restaurants. There, we’ve had extraordinary meals of freshly picked mushrooms, goulash, rinderrouladen, and so on, and enjoyed every bite.
Hotel Mariel proved a perfect choice for our stay and we will gladly stay here again for all reasons: location, cleanliness, free parking, fresh breakfast (and dinner at their restaurant), and hospitality. The ability to feel at home during our stay is always a plus; the owner of Hotel Mariel has put a lot of love into the hotel not only through thoughtful updates but how guests are treated. We were greeted immediately upon arrival and felt welcomed. During the pandemic, and with the rise of AirbNb’s, it’s increasingly common to use a code or grab a key without seeing the host. Generally this efficient, but as this past 1.5 years of distance come (hopefully) to a close, knowing those around us feels like a treat.
We were invited to see the stunning and original wine cellar, and from what we understand, it is common for guests to gather there during specific hours on the weekends. (Don’t hold me to it though if I misunderstood.) Since the hotel was located so close to the city center, we were able to walk and try most of the popular places for drinks before heading back to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner. We were glad we did (see below for our menu choices). After a night out at the Bambus Bar, located just across the street from the hotel, we slept heavily in comfortable beds.
Breakfast was homemade, generously portioned, and there were, as I remember, eight options to choose from. Fresh bread, butter and jams, coffee, and orange juice were all brought to the table. Guests sat in the festively decorated bar area at booths and even in the early morning, everyone looked happy to be up and beginning their day.
Thank you for a wonderful stay!
Eat & Drink
TeraZa u Rotundy
TeraZa u Rotundy was the pinnacle of our stopover in Znojmo. This panorama cafe was the catalyst for calling a local realtor as we sat above the plunging landscape and winding river. The view and atmosphere of chattering friends, couples, and families had us sold enough to try to visit a small hut the next morning. This is the extent that I recommend a visit.
The panorama cafe serves fresh, local beers from the next-door brewery, and cocktails. We believe that they may serve snacks – but cannot say for sure as many locations are only serving from limited menus as the area calms down from the pandemic. There are large and small picnic tables for all types of groups, and many chose to sit on the wall, grass, or surrounding benches.
Enoteka is a wine shop hosted in a sleek design building overlooking the St. Nicholas’ Deanery Church. It is home to a magnificent view made that much better by sipping on local wines. Czech Republic, in my unprofessional opinion, is host to very underrated wine areas. I am the farthest from an expert on wine, but I know what I enjoy and am eager to learn, and we strive to take part in the wine culture in the countries we live in, however possible. This is just another reason to sample the various wines that are grown here.
The website explains that there is a self-service system, payable by a card purchased upon arriving, but we chose to order at the bar from a wine list and our drinks were brought out by a waiter. Our choice, Veltlínské zelené VOC (commonly known in German as Grüner Veltliner) is from a winery in Hnanice (Znojmo District). Our glasses came with a liter of water which was much appreciated after walking around in hot weather.
Znojemský Městský Pivovar
The brewery was under renovation at the time of our stay, but we can tell it’s going to be worth returning to. A small shop remained open where we purchased the Znojemska 12%, (light Pilsner-type lager). We preferred it – honestly, for no specific reason – to the 11% (another Pilsner type lager) that we ordered at a local restaurant. Both were refreshing.
The brewery began production in the 14th century until 2009; due to the belief that a local beer should return to where it belongs, the brewery is back in action with modern ways and we are thankful for that!
Restaurace Hotelu Mariel (The restaurant at Hotel Mariel)
The waitress asked if we needed a second table after we ordered, and we might have had the orders not came out separately. This restaurant, located just minutes from the direct city center (an 8-minute walk from the aforementioned drink locations) was a good transition from ending our daytime touring to beginning the nighttime festivities. The staff at the restaurant attentive and helpful.
Our order consisted of Česneková polévka (a popular Czech garlic soup; made with a thin broth and crispy croutons; often strong, this is curative for hangovers or when you’re about to start one), beef broth with liver dumplings, pork steak with mushrooms and peppercorn sauce, a very tender flank stank with fried onions and peppercorn sauce, fried onion rings, and chicken wings with a spicy-salty rub. The chicken wings were the highlight; they had plenty of moist meat, crispy skin all around, and given a well-rounded seasoning.
In other posts, I will include photos of our meals and drinks but this was one of those nights I ended up with bread tucked away in my purse “to save for later”.
Menu as of June 2021: https://www.hotelmariel.cz/menu_Mariel.pdf
You’re not there just to eat and drink?
The Underground tour of Znojmo is a must – even if it’s just to beat the heat for an hour. The tour center offers different challenge levels – starting from basic to adrenaline. The basic allowed us to take an easy walk, only have to mind our heads and step a couple times, while learning about the various myths and histories.
Construction of the underground began at the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries and is comprised of many passageways, alleys, wind tunnels, peak holes, and even stories. Even Satan is rumored to dwell underground, waiting to lure and capture those with evil souls. It’s a complicated and winding system – an hour of walking showed us just that – which could explain how a system of defense was kept in mind during its construction. Our tour was in Czech and we were offered English microphones to guide us on our way.
Alternative activities include hiking and cycling; the tourism website explains that there is a guided tour around the city.
Czech Republic is a compelling and diverse country, whose cities often get lost behind the lure of Prague. Public transportation is efficient throughout the country and so it is worth taking the adventure south to see this rich region to see what more is offered here.
Any questions? Reach out to me on Twitter @alexlynat