The Czech Republic is way more than just Prague. Unfortunately, few people venture out into the lovely countryside, spending their holiday just in the city, or perhaps popping out to a nearby castle. To truly experience the country, (or any country) you must leave the “big” city and explore the smaller towns and the countryside.
Journeying to Moravia, the eastern half of the country, is an excellent way to do this in the Czech Republic. Here you’ll find beautiful landscapes full of vineyards and fabulous wine towns waiting to be discovered.
Valtice and Lednice
Valtice and Lednice are towns near the border of Austria, which makes them convenient destinations if you will be visiting Vienna as well. Large chateaus dominate each of the villages. The two towns, along with a lovely park, comprise the Lednice-Valtice Complex, a 200-kilometer area with UNESCO World Heritage distinction. Bikers can explore the area via the excellent marked trails—including one dedicated to grapes—which wind through the vineyards and into the villages.
In Lednice, the gorgeous complex is better preserved and extensive: Members of the Lichtenstein family lived in the English Tudor Neo-Gothic building until the end of World War II. The park, complete with ponds and canals, is designed for a lovely wander or a leisurely boat ride. And don’t miss the minaret on the other side of the pond. It’s the tallest of this type of structure in a non-Islamist country. The medieval ruin? It’s actually a hunting lodge and was designed to look that way.
Valtice’s chateau is a bit more rundown, and the surroundings aren’t as impressive. It has two special things going for it, though: a brand new herb garden showcasing hundreds of different herbs and their uses and the National Wine Center. Yep, this is wine country, and in the basement of Valtice’s chateau, you can sample each of the country’s 100 best wines (the selection changes annually). Pace yourself, please.
Both towns offer restaurants and accommodation, although Valtice may be the more pleasant of the two towns if you are over-nighting. A local bus will sprint you between the two towns in less than 10 minutes, but take the more exploratory way and walk.
An easy 11-kilometer marked trail will lead you from near the Valtice train station to the center of Lednice. Along the way, you’ll pass the Temple to the Three Graces and St. Hubert Chapel, a Gothic column dedicated to the patron saint of hunting.
From Prague, Valtice and Lednice are best reached by train. The journey time is approximately four hours. Visit IDOS, the official transportation site, for more information.
Moravia is famous for its warmth; both in the people and the weather. The wine here is a bit fresher, and the vibe more laid-back than Prague. Whether you explore Valtice and Lednice on bike or foot, you will encounter a peaceful corner of the Czech Republic and a new appreciation for the country.