Olomouc: Guide for Beginners
According to the Lonely Planet, Olomouc is the most underrated place in the Czech Republic. This beautiful city is still standing aside from the touristic path. It means you can still enjoy an authentic Czech city life that is thriving thanks to the local university. Modern cafés, restaurants, and bistros are everywhere, and cultural life is vibrant during the whole year. Let’s dive deeper into this city.
In the beginning, I should admit that I visited Olomouc for the first time in my life. This charming city was on my bucket list for some time, and I wanted to dedicate it at least two days. I received recommendations from several friends, and all of them were enthusiastic about the city. We booked two nights in the charming hotel, Miss Sophie´s Olomouc, and dived deeper into the city.
Walk in the Olomouc City Center
Walking in the city center is like a museum in the open air. It reminds me a bit of Rome, but instead of ancient monuments, you have baroque sights everywhere. The explanation is simple. Olomouc was almost completely destroyed by Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War. When the troops left, the city literally rose from the ashes and became a great bastion fortress where education flourish both at the newly established university and within the catholic church as well. There was a joke that if you flip the coin in Olomouc, it will most likely hit a monk or student. It says something about the city itself.
There are so many places to see, so where you should start? In the Miss Sophie´s hotel, we received a great city map made by locals with two suggested walks around the city. The shorter one leads around the main historical sights that you should not miss. The longer one takes you also out of the city walls around the local parks. For the evening, we choose the shorter one and enjoyed city landmarks during the sunset.
We walked by its cobblestoned streets, admiring all the historical buildings, stunning cathedrals, palaces, and local cafés. Olomouc has always been a spiritual center of Moravia, and it is mainly clear by St Wenceslas Cathedral that is still a seat of the Olomouc Archbishop. I was impressed by the cathedral that is also surrounded by solid fortification.
The well-known highlight of Olomouc is the Holy Trinity Column at the Upper Square. This plague column became a UNESCO heritage in 2000 since it is the largest grouping of Baroque statues in Central Europe. All around the city, you can find a set of six well-preserved Baroque fountains with antique motives. Only one is modern, and you will recognize it easily, it’s a turtle.
In the middle of the square is a town hall with an astronomical clock. Since the original clocks were destroyed during WW2, comrades from the Communist regime redesigned them in the spirit of Social Realism. Unfortunately, the whole town hall was under reconstruction, and I didn’t see anything of it.
Eating in Olomouc
Hotel Miss Sophie´s Olomouc has a wonderful Sophie’s Café where we enjoyed long breakfasts every morning. It is open not only for hotel guests but also for any visitors. We could see a bunch of people coming only for breakfast. During the day, the café is full of local people, students, and foreign visitors as well. They have a great specialty, a hidden courtyard with swings, net swing, and several deck chairs where you can stretch your legs. Just a great place to discover.
Our second favorite place was an outdoor sitting area by hostel Long Story Short, just about five minutes walk from Sophie’s Café. Long Story Short used to be a bastion, part of the city fortification. This particular building is a former military bakery that served its purpose until 1997. The interiors are a designer’s masterpiece, and it’s worthwhile to discover it. There is a charming outdoor sitting area with a bar and menu that is open to the wider public. The quality of the food is pretty good, and you can even enjoy live music by a local DJ.
For lunch, we followed the recommendation of Gastromapa by Lukáš Hejlík. Since we want to try Asian cuisine, our choice was CODO Vietnamese deli and sushi bar. The food was delicious, but the service was a bit busy and strict. However, they bring us food in 10 minutes, and we could not complain. So, I can recommend it, but I must admit that the previous two recommendations are a completely different level.
Culture in Olomouc
I always like to discover the local culture. On Monday, all the museums were closed, so we explored the local cinema Kino Metropol. In hotel Miss Sophie´s Olomouc, we found a current program with screening movies about 2-3 times per day. Kino Metropol is the last classical cinema in Olomouc that dates back to 1933. You can find it only about 5 min walk from the hotel.
Since I am a big fan of modern art, I could not miss the Museum of Modern Art located just a few steps from the hotel. Museum showcase permanent exhibition of Czech artists as well as temporary exhibitions on various topics. On top of the museum is an observation tower with a view of the city. Definitely worthwhile to try.
On the way back to Prague, we stopped by the Bouzov Castle that is famous for shooting a fairy-tales. It stands on the hilltop, and you can admire its silhouette from a distance. It reminds me a bit of Disney castle, made of bricks with many spires. We climbed on the top of the observation tower and enjoyed the view of the countryside, just the perfect ending of our trip.
How to get to Olomouc
Olomouc is easily accessible by train. So just check the train schedule. We took a car because we want to explore the surrounding area as well. I was curious, especially about Bouzov Castle. Once you are in Olomouc, you are perfectly fine walking. The city center is not big and for longer distances, you can take a local tram. An ideal city for backpacking and easy orientation.