Vranov nad Dyjí (also known by its German name Frain an der Thaya) is a fascinating market town located in the south-western part of the South Moravian Region, near the border with Austria. It’s nestled in the deep valley carved by the meandering river Dyje (or as it’s called in German – Thaya), lying on the westernmost edge of the Podyjí National Park, one of the four national parks in Czechia. The pretty town is encompassed by gently undulating hills and tranquil forests.
The dominant feature of Vranov nad Dyjí’s skyline is the marvellous Vranov nad Dyjí Castle, seated atop a tall rocky hill straight above the old town. Other prominent symbols include the majestic Vranov Dam and the reservoir it creates – Vranov Reservoir.
The history of this small town dates back to medieval times. Nowadays, thanks to its ideal location, plenty of picturesque sights, varied range of activities and quality services, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Moravia. It’s a place for a perfect getaway.
What to See in Vranov nad Dyjí
Vranov nad Dyjí Castle (Státní zámek Vranov nad Dyjí) – It’s no wonder this fairy-tale-like castle immediately attracts the attention of any visitor to the town. It’s famed for its indisputable allure and rich history. The first mention of a fortress in Vranov comes from the year 1100. In 1323, the castle was given to an affluent Bohemian nobleman Henry of Lipá and, in the 15th century, it became an estate of the House of Lichtenburg.
After it had suffered a devastating fire in the year 1665, the new owners from the House of Althann decided to renovate this originally Gothic castle into a Baroque-style presentable chateau-like residence. During these times, one of the castle’s most iconic venues was constructed – the art-filled Hall of the Ancestors (Sál předků). The other standout part of the castle complex – the Chapel of the Holy Trinity (kaple Nejsvětější trojice) – was finished in 1700. The castle switched hands many times in the following centuries. After World War II, it eventually became state property and thus, thankfully, opening its gates to the public.
Information about the guided tours, opening hours, and admission rates can be found here.
Vranov Dam (Vranovská přehrada) – A monumental 60-meters high (almost 200 ft) concrete dam impounding the winding Dyje river. The construction was finished in 1934. Its 3 Francis turbines provide electricity to the surrounding region. In recent years, the dam has played a role in flood control downstream, saving lives and properties – especially during the devastating 2002 floods.
Vranov Reservoir (Vodní nádrž Vranov nad Dyjí) – A fresh-water reservoir and 10th largest waterbody by area in Czechia. Nowadays, it’s a popular summer resort. Thanks to its usually warm, tranquil and clear waters, it’s a perfect place for all kinds of water sports – swimming, canoeing, paddleboarding etc.
The eastern shores of Vranov Reservoir, between the dam and the postcard-pretty white suspension bridge, feature many cosy pubs and restaurants. On the other side of the bridge, there’s a large campsite with the sandy Vranov beach, hotels, hostels, and more dining establishments.
Podyjí National Park (Národní park Podyjí) – Although it’s small in size, it’s bursting with natural splendour. In Czech, the name Podyjí means the region around the Dyje, a river famed for its fascinating meanders and rare species of wildlife and plants. Vranov nad Dyjí is often referred to as the entrance gate to this nature reserve.
Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary (Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) – Remarkable Catholic church with a marvellous interior, situated just a stone’s throw away from the town square.
Things to Do
Apart from the main tourist sights in Vranov nad Dyjí, there’re loads of other great attractions.
Hiking lovers will be pleased to hear that Vranov nad Dyjí offers a variety of opportunities for a great walking trip. Most trails begin at the main square signpost. The trails are well marked and maintained in good condition. They head eastwards to the dense woods of the National Park Podyjí (for instance, the red-marked international E8 path) and westwards to the castle area.
TRIP INSPIRATION: Starting in the main square, follow the green-marked line, also known as Clary’s Circle (Claryho okruh). This 6 km (3.7 miles) long circle path will take you around some of the most beautiful spots in Vranov nad Dyjí, including the ravishing viewpoint called the Clary’s Cross (Claryho kříž), the shores of the Vranov Reservoir or the Vranov Dam. Moreover, restaurants and bistros in the Vranov Reservoir riviera are superb places to recharge your batteries, for instance, with a pint of a tasty Czech beer! Note: Clary’s Circle is ideal for most hikers, beginners included. It is not appropriate for small children and people with walking disabilities.
There’re plenty of cycling trails passing through the town – e.g. Vranovsko, Mlynářská or the international path Greenway Prague-Vienna. Most trails in the Vranov nad Dyjí region are suitable for everyone. However, there’re some considerably steep and long hill climb passages which will surely test your fitness.
TRIP INSPIRATION: Are you a cyclist who wants to explore as many sights as possible in a single ride? Begin your journey on Vranov nad Dyjí’s main square and head north, across the Dyje River, and up the hill to Lančov. Continue on the cycling path Vranovsko through the village of Lančov. In Lančov, turn right towards Bítov. Soon, you will arrive at Cornštejn Castle, the first highlight of the trip. Stay on Vranovsko. It will lead you to the village of Bítov, where you can stop for lunch or a quick snack in one of the local restaurants.
If you feel fit, you can climb the nearby 30 meters tall (ca. 100 ft) Rumburak lookout tower and witness some sweeping countryside panoramic views. Next, head west, and you’ll arrive at the magnificent Bítov Castle in a couple of minutes. Be very careful in the downhill, since in the summer, the road can get crowded with plenty of other tourists.
Have a break to look around the magnificent castle. There’re many great spots to take stunning pictures. Continue your journey on the path Pivovarská 12 into the forest, to Chvaletice. In Chvaletice, turn left onto the cycling path 5007 to Zálesí and towards Štítary. Approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) before Štítary, turn right onto 5270 leading you to Vranov Reservoir and over the bridge to the Vranov Dam. Continue straight and downhill, and, in a while, you’re back to the starting point in Vranov nad Dyjí.
Note: This circle route is ca. 36 km long (22.4 mi) and with around 650 vertical meters (2130 ft), it’s of medium difficulty, best for moderately experienced bikers. Don’t forget to sufficiently hydrate in case of hot weather. Around 90% of the length of this route contains paved roads.
Tourist Wheel Train: A popular choice of transport for all who would like to explore the town comfortably, at a slower pace and worry-less. Information about this service can be found here (in Czech only).
Cruise trips: Discovering the beauties of Vranov Reservoir from a deck of a boat is a unique experience. The cruises depart from a port nearby the Vranov Dam. At the time of writing, there are two companies offering cruises and scheduled connections during the summer season: Lodní doprava Vranov and Lodní doprava Vranovská přehrada. A return journey to Bítov Castle and back to Vranov Dam usually takes about 3 hours. Come on board and set sail!
Tourist information centre
Address: Náměstí 47, 671 03 Vranov nad Dyjí
Phone: +420 515 296 285
For the opening hours, please refer to their website.
Getting to Vranov nad Dyjí is easy. Perhaps the simplest way is to travel there by car. Arriving from Znojmo, turn left at an intersection near Kasárna onto the road II/408. Coming from Jihlava, make a right turn in Vranovská ves and continue on the road II/398. Finding an empty spot isn’t a trouble, as there’s a considerable amount of parking lots in the town. There are two large car parks: first, by the Zámecká street heading towards the castle and the other one is next to the road to Vranov Dam.
The other option is to use public transport. Regular buses from Znojmo (no. 816) arrive at the main square Vranov nad Dyjí, náměstí bus stop. Connections from Uherčice (no. 831) make a stop at Zámecký hotel. The closest train station is in a village called Šumná, approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) far from Vranov nad Dyjí. You can always find your ideal connection at idos.idnes.cz.
TIP: Take the bus no. 831 to get closer to the castle. It makes a stop close to the castle’s entrance, and you won’t have to climb the tall hill on foot. It’s a request stop which means you need to press the STOP button inside the vehicle before arriving at Vranov nad Dyjí, zámek stop.
Amazing Places Nearby
- Bítov Castle – a neo-Gothic fortress on a steep hill above river Želetavka
- Podyjí National Park – a gorgeous nature park along the border with Austria
- Cornštejn Castle – the ruins of a medieval castle near the village of Bítov
- Znojmo – a charming town famous for its viticulture, the historical centre of south-west Moravia
- Uherčice – a picturesque village and a large Baroque chateau
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