Many of our guests come from overseas and in addition to Prague, they also want to see other Central European capitals, especially Vienna and Budapest. Some of them have the comfort of a rented car, which gives you a bit more freedom and the opportunity to see something else than just cities. And if you are traveling from Prague to Vienna (or vice versa), the trip gives you a great opportunity to taste some great Moravian wines (at least for those not doing the driving) and to meet some great Moravian people, too.
And because we want you to travel like locals, we give you our model route when we travel from Prague to Vienna. You do not have to visit everything but in any case we recommend that you make a day out of your Prague-Vienna travel. You don’t have to rush (and when you take the D1 Pague-Brno highway, you won’t anyway - you’ll see when you get there) but instead enjoy some countryside in addition to the cities you will visit.
EMA Espresso Bar, Prague
Our Moravian trip always starts with good coffee. EMA opens at 8am, which is reasonable, and we always get coffee to go (cortado for Zuzi, flat white for Jan) and a sweet bun, just like “Honza”, the proverbial hero of many Czech fairytales when he left his humble home to slay the dragon.
Villa Tugendhat, Brno
If you want to see this marvel of late 1920s architecture, you should stop reading this, go to their site and book now. Because it may already be too late: they tend to be fully booked for months ahead. However, our experience has shown that their booking system is not the last resort. If they are fully booked, try to call them and ask directly. (And if they are still fully booked, try to call again in a week.) They may actually have some spots available. In any case, this is the villa to see if you love modern architecture: Villa Tugendhat offers some great views, spaces and history behind them. Even if you decide to see the villa without a reservation, you can visit the garden and see the villa from the outside.
Lunch in Brno
Despite the slight rivalry between the two towns, we actually love Brno - the capital of Moravia - and its friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Brno is also home to a few foodie places we would love to have in Prague. For a lunch on a budget, we recommend Castellana Bistro, Ruzova slepicka, Bistro Franz and Ebisu. While the former three are popular local bistros with daily specials, the latter very simple serves Japanese fare.
For an upscale lunch, head over to Koishi, Pavillon or Forhaus. Il Mercato is a sister restaurant of Aromi and La Finestra in Prague and serves Italian cuisine. Koishi serves lunch specials and focuses on fish and Asian fusion. Pavilon offers a fantastic, airy and light space in the central park and also offers quite nice lunch specials. Finally, the cooking at Forhaus pays tribute to the Austro-Hungarian tradition (think schnitzels, goulash etc.) and their outdoor seating is really nice.
We absolutely love this place. Housed in an old industrial park, Industra Coffee (part of the Industra gallery) is very hard to find but when you do, you’ll reap the rewards: excellent coffee, English-speaking staff (both co-owners used to be baristas in London) and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. You will not want to leave. At least we don’t.
No other winery offers a stunning view of the Palava hill like Sonberk. It is a larger winery but the wines are still pretty good, especially the Rieslings and the Palavas (the latter is a Czech crossing of aromatic grapes). If the weather is great, we can spend a lazy afternoon on the wooden terrace overlooking the vineyards, the ponds and the Palava hill.
A beautiful small winery in the Stary Poddvorov village. The winery building is beautifully integrated in the vineyard and we already plan to retire there (shhhh, the owners do not know yet). You can skip the lunch in Brno and instead call ahead and ask the lady of the house to prepare a cold spread for you. It’s all delicious, and Mr Vybiral, the husband and winemaker, will help you with the wines and share his views on just about anything.
It is a telling sign of the size of the winemaking in Moravia when the biggest winemaking village, Velke Bilovice, sports 2,000 acres of vineyards... and 700 winemakers. We recommend that you drive to "Velke Bilovice - sklepy" where the wine cellars, some of them centuries old, are nested one next to each other under leafy trees. Drive beyond the cellars to see the real vineyards and the "Na hradistku" chapel. The view is nothing short of stunning.
We never miss a chance to visit Mikulov, dubbed “A bit of Tuscany in Central Europe”, on our way to Vienna. As a former seat of both the Cardinal and Moravia’s Regional Rabbi, the history of this picturesque small town just breathes at you. During Communism, the locals would go to the top of the hill to “have a look at the West”, while the recently expelled Sudeten Germans were looking from behind the nearby Austrian border to have a look at their former place of residence. Unlike many other small countryside towns, Mikulov does not suffer from brain drain and is full of lively cafes and small galleries.
This little gem of a cafe and restaurant in the Klentnice village is hardly a secret: the former parish is one of the most popular stops for many cyclists cruising the wine country, and for good reason: the kitchen grows its own vegetables and herbs and puts emphasis on using local ingredients, and you will not get better coffee within a 30-mile radius. Add the great view and the lovely courtyard and you have a winner.
People on Caffeine
After the long drive, the food (and for some, the wine), we need a serious coffee fix. And there is no better place for us to have coffee in Vienna than People on Caffeine, the wonderful small cafe run by our friend Robert. This is not amateur hour: Robert has represented Austria in the World Barista Championships and will prepare anything from a tasty flat white to drip coffee. On top of that, he's a really nice guy and it shows in the café and in the kind of regulars he gets. One of our must-visits in Vienna.