Located at the very border with Austria, Znojmo (Czech Republic) is one of the most interesting yet overlooked places to see in Central Europe. It took me years to eventually visit Znojmo and when I finally got there I didn’t plan my trip properly and all the attractions were already closed.
But it was a lovely summer afternoon and I still enjoyed tremendously wandering around the town and soaking up its pleasant, laid-back atmosphere. It was really easy to fall for Znojmo and I really wished I could have stayed there longer to enjoy it some more.
If you are planning a trip to the south of Czech Republic or even to Vienna (Austria), you definitely should include Znojmo in your itinerary. And when you decide to do that – here is a small guide to visiting Znojmo!
Table of contents
Where is Znojmo
Znojmo, the town of around 35 thousand inhabitants, is located in the very south of the Czech Republic, right at the border with Austria. Brno, the second-largest city in the country is a bit over 70 km away from Znojmo while Vienna, the capital of Austria, is less than 90 km away. Short distance from these two popular cities makes Znojmo a perfect day trip destination from both, Vienna and Brno.
Why visit Znojmo
Znojmo is known especially for its wine traditions that have been cultivated since medieval times. If you are into enotourism you simply don’t want to miss this place. But Znojmo is more than its wine.
The town, picturesquely located on the high cliff above the Thaya river, is actually packed with attractions, some of them as old as the 11th century. Znojmo has a long and eventful history, being located on the main trading routes, and you can clearly see it when wandering around and exploring this interesting place.
How to get to Znojmo
You can easily get to Znojmo by train. There are direct connections with Vienna (journey time is 1 hour 40 minutes), to get to Brno you need to change in Breclav (the travel time is a bit over 2 hours). From Brno you can also use direct buses that take around hour to reach Znojmo.
Where to stay in Znojmo
If you decide to stay in Znojmo overnight (which I’m definitely doing next time) here are some of the best accommodation options:
What to see in Znojmo
For such a small town, Znojmo is really full of attractions and you will need at least a few hours to see them all. Better plan your trip to Znojmo smarter than I did (I arrived in the afternoon and it was already to see the places inside).
Back in the medieval times Znojmo was one of the best-fortified towns in Central Europe. Still today you can see remnants of the old walls as well as five towers that remained until this day. When arriving to Znojmo Old Town from the train station you will see one of the towers – Wolf one from the 14th century – and part of the city walls right away.
Shortly after you will come to the main square of Znojmo Old Town – Masarykovo náměstí – surrounded by colorful town houses and with the plague column right in the middle. The only building that doesn’t really fit here is the shopping center but fans of brutalism (like me) will definitely appreciate it. From here you can start your Znojmo sightseeing tour and explore the maze of winding lanes.
Just of the main square you can see the Gothic town hall tower, easily recognizable for its distinctive shape. It is the only remaining part of the old town hall that was destroyed during World War 2.
It’s definitely worth climbing to the top of the tower (although the stairs are a bit steep and narrow) as from up there you can admire the stunning panorama of Znojmo and surroundings. On a clear day you can even see the Alps!
Next to the tower you can find the tourist information point where you can ask more about Znojmo and its attractions as well as get maps and folders about the town.
Another popular place to see in Znojmo, known from the majority of pictures of the town, is the Church of St. Nicholas, originally from the very beginning of the 12th century (what we can see today was built between 1338 until and the late 15th century) with interesting Baroque interior.
Next to it you can see St. Wenceslas chapel from 1512, a rare example of the late Gothic two-story temple. The chapel is now used for cultural events, such as exhibitions and concerts.
The area around St. Nicholas church is one of the best viewpoints of Znojmo and the Thaya river gorge. Another good viewpoint is next to the Znojmo castle and the Romanesque Rotunda of Saint Catherine.
The rotunda is the oldest and one of the most important monuments in Znojmo, the only remaining part of the castle that used to serve as the Přemyslid dynasty residence here since the 11th century. You can visit the rotunda (only in the tourist season from April to September and only if the humidity isn’t too high) and you should definitely do that as inside you can see invaluable frescoes from 1134, probably the best example of the Romanesque paintings in the Czech Republic.
The castle of Znojmo is located in the place where the former Přemyslid castle used to be (the only remaining part of it is the rotunda mentioned above). As it was destroyed in 1140, the new castle was built in this place but again it was in ruins.
Eventually, what remained was renovated in the Baroque style in the 17th-18th century and the brewery was opened here in 1720 (it has been working until 2005, now the local beer Hostan is made in Brno). Today you can visit the Museum of Southern Moravia as well as the Brewery Museum that are located in the former Znojmo castle.
When you are at the viewpoints, either next to the St.Nicholas Church or the rotunda, you will quickly notice the impressive railway bridge built high above the Thaya river gorge. This engineering masterpiece was built in 1871 as part of the Vienna-Prague railway line, it is 220 meters long and 48 meters high. Today it is used for local trains that connect Znojmo with Vienna.
One of the biggest attractions in Znojmo is actually hidden underground. The town has an extensive complex of underground tunnels that you can visit today.
They date back to the medieval times when the basements of the townhouses were used first to keep the food and wine fresh. Once the locals realized the basements can also serve the defending purpose, the underground rooms were connected, creating an impressive maze of corridors under the town, that stretched altogether for 27 km! In the situation of the attack, Znojmo quickly became a ghost town, terrifying the attacking army.
Today you can visit Znojmo underground, there are a few different routes available. You can choose a classic route or a few adrenaline ones that are much more challenging (for example wading in water, wandering around in the dark, or climbing ladders).
Once you are done with visiting all the important Znojmo landmarks, spend some time wandering around the winding lanes of the old town, soaking up its laid-back atmosphere and enjoying the vibe of the old times. There are also plenty of cafes, local restaurants and wine bars where you can sit down, relax, and fall for Znojmo a bit more. It is really not difficult to enjoy that place!
Where to go next
Once you are done with visiting Znojmo, you can spend a bit more time in the region and explore the surrounding area too.
Literally on the outskirts of the town you can visit Podyjí National Park, one of the four national parks in the Czech Republic, protected for its near-natural forests along the Thaya river. You might also hop across the border to see Austria’s Thayatal National Park, adjacent to Podyjí NP.
Since Znojmo and the region are known for its wine, that’s what you can also focus on when exploring the area. There are over a thousand wine producers in the region so you surely will find some good wines for yourself here.
One of the most unique, wine-related places to visit is “Malovaný sklep” – the painted wine cellar in Šatov, created probably at the end of the 19th century with the works of the local artist Max Appeltauer from 1930s. You can find the place some 10km south of Znojmo.
A bit further, you can visit UNESCO-listed Czech towns – Telc and Trebic, another charming Moravian town Mikulov with the impressive castle, or Lednice-Valtice chateau complex, also part of UNESCO World Heritage List. This part of the Czech Republic is really packed with attractions and interesting places yet international tourists unfortunately don’t really venture here.
Final thoughts on visiting Znojmo
I really wish I did a better research before visiting Znojmo. I knew there are some interesting monuments to see but I greatly underestimated the town. There are so many fine things to do in Znojmo, more than just seeing the monuments, and I really regretted I didn’t have more time to properly enjoy the place (I went there on a day trip from Brno).
When you plan to visit Znojmo don’t repeat my mistake, plan more just 3 hours there, check opening hours of the main attractions and use your time in Znojmo to both do the sightseeing and relax with the glass of local wine. I bet you will enjoy the town this way too!
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