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The Czech Republic's other half, Moravia, is frequently overlooked by visitors. No cities here can compare with the noble beauty of Prague, and Moravia's gentle mountains suffer in comparison with the more rugged Tatras in Slovakia just to the east. Yet Moravia's colorful villages and rolling hills do merit a few days of exploration. Come here for good wine, good folk music, friendly faces, and the languid pace.

Despite sharing a common political union for more than 1,000 years with Bohemians, Moravians still consider themselves distinct from "Czechs" (though it must be said that those differences are not always apparent to visitors). The Moravian dialect of Czech is softer and—as Moravians insist—purer than that spoken in Bohemia. It's hard to generalize, but in a word the Moravians are "earthier" than their Bohemian cousins. They tend to prefer a glass of wine—or even better fiery slivovice (plum brandy)—to beer. Folk music, all but gone in Bohemia, is still very much alive in Moravia. And Catholicism is still a part of life here—particularly in cities like Olomouc—in a way that died out long ago in much of Bohemia.

Historically, Olomouc is one of its main centers. And it is still impressive today. Long a bastion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire—the city boasts two enormous central squares, a clock tower, and the country's largest Trinity column. In addition, southern Moravia has many small cities, including Mikulov, and a lovely wine region.

If your time is limited or you're just passing through, be sure to at least plan a stopover in the town of Telč in the south. Its enormous central square is like the backdrop of a film set.

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