If you're looking to get away from Moravia's metropolis at weekends, how about exploring its environs? For lovers of nature and historical monuments alike, there are many things to see and do.
The Moravian Karst is about more than just caves
The protected area north of Brno is popular with tourists, above all for its cave complexes. A trip to the Macocha gorge and the Punkva caves is a must for everyone who visits South Moravia.
Your trip can also take in the Říp hill. Říp hill? Isn't that somewhere else entirely? Yes and no. The Moravian Říp – properly called Malý Chlum – is not far from Blansko. It is the site of an observation tower that is only a few metres high but offers spectacular views of a wide area. Continue your hike through the woods towards Velký Chlum and you'll discover lots of carved statues and sculptures by well-known local artist Stanislav Rolínek.
Those whose wanderlust takes them to the highest peak of every area they visit, will want to conquer Brno's, too. Between Lelekovice and Svinošice we find Babí lom, a rocky summit that is 562 metres high. It is one of the region's most popular tourist destinations. It is said that the poets Petr Bezruč and Antonín Sova were fascinated by the view it gave.
A small tip for procrastinators: on the way down from Babí lom towards Vranov, stop off at the 'lelkovadlo', a wooden structure of artistic design. If you pass through this, you will be relieved for a year of your tendency to dawdle. Perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to make a visit to this place obligatory for all university students.
Lovers of adrenaline will delight in a trip to the rope-climbing centre in Baldovec, which is at the northernmost tip of the region of South Moravia, while gourmets will appreciate the excellent restaurants in Jedovnice.
Fans of the satirical website Žít Brno [Live It Up in Brno] should not pass up the chance to see the town of Adamov, at the very least by train if they are not in a position to relish its celebrated beauty on foot or by bike. “In the context of South Moravia, Adamov performs an indispensable role – it represents Monte Carlo, Detroit and Twin Peaks simultaneously," claims Honza Pospíšil of the teaching staff of the Faculty of Arts, who was born in the place. “Adamov's carefully planned semantics of cascades certainly deserves a place on the list of Czech urban monuments," he adds.
Moravia's south: wine, bicycles and chateaux
Those keen on Romanticism are sure to be charmed by the Lednice-Valtice Area, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The chateau – with its garden and minaret – needs no introduction, but there are other, less well-known places within a few kilometres of the Lednice chateau that are also worth a visit, such as the neo-Gothic Janův hrad [John's Castle] and the Empire-style Dianin chrám [Temple of Diana].
The whole area is easily negotiable by bicycle; it can even be managed on foot. It takes no more than 30 to 45 minutes to reach the railway stations at nearby Podivín and Břeclav from Brno.
While you're down south, you should take in Mikulov and climb its 'Holy Hill' to the Church of St Sebastian. In September you can visit Mikulov's Pálava Grape Harvest Festival. You can take a one-day hike up the Turold hill and visit its famous cave, continuing to Table Hill, from where you'll have a fine view of the reservoir at Nové Mlýny, before conquering the Děvín, the highest peak in the Mikulov Highlands.
Znojmo, which is famous for its historical underground passages, is well worth a visit, too. You can ride through the town on a miniature train. Not far from Znojmo is the refreshing Vranov reservoir, a hang-out enjoyed by many students. While you're there you might want to take a look at the chateau at Vranov nad Dyjí.
By boat from Dukovany to the Dalešice hydro-electric power plant
Where the region of South Moravia borders with the Vysočina [Highlands] region we find the Dukovany nuclear power station. Dukovany's information centre offers excursions that show us how nuclear engineering works.
Not far from Dukovany is the Dalešice hydro-electric power plant, where attractions include swimming and boat rides. A split electron's throw from here is the Dalešice brewery, where the legendary film Postřižiny [Cutting It Short] was made. What a wonderful place to refresh oneself at the end of a day-long excursion!
“A trip to the serpentine steppe at Mohelno is something for students of geology, botany and zoology in particular," says student Zuzana Kabrhelová. “But it's important to remember to take a good look at your skin at the end of the day. This year I've already brought back two ticks from South Moravia – not the kind of souvenirs I had in mind."
Of course, there's much more to see in South Moravia. Keen hikers will find plenty of places to discover (the Trenck ravine comes to mind), while lovers of history will be sure not to miss the Napoleonic Peace Mound. And so on and so forth.