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  • Writer's pictureKristin

EASY Day Trip from Brno: Macocha Abyss at Punkva Caves

We arrived in the Czech Republic! This will be the last main country we explore on this portion of our Eastern European road trip. It’s been a great journey so far and we can’t wait to see everything the Czech Republic has to offer! Our main objective of visiting the Brno area was to see the Punkva Caves & Macocha Abyss. However, since Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic we decided to spend a day there as well as explore its Old Town and it’s unique Cold War Era Nuclear bomb shelter!

Punkva Caves | Macocha Abyss

Large sinkhole or gorge in Czech Republic
Macocha Abyss (Sinkhole) near Blansko, Czech Republic

To be honest, a lot of the caves that we have visited in Europe are starting to looking a bit similar. However, we still enjoy going to them, as they each have a different unique feature about them. In Slovakia, we saw an ice cave, in Slovenia we visited a cave with a train in it and here in Czech Republic this cave had a boat that you take through it, as well as a sinkhole! It was only about an hour’s drive from Brno, near Blansko, so we scheduled it in to visit during our time there.

The cave is part of the Moravian Karst cave system that runs through this area of Europe. The Punkva Cave is one of the five caves that are part of this cave system that have been opened up to public viewing. The karst landscape is characterized by its limestone make-up and the underground streams, caves and gorges. The Punkva Cave is a cave that has streams that are tributaries to the Punkva River run through it.

Small cave pond with reflection in Czech Republic
Mirror Lake in Punkva Cave, Czech Republic

The cave is only accessible through a guided group tour and their website recommends that you purchase the tickets in advance of your visit. There are only so many time slots and a limited number of people who can go on the tour at one time. We visited in mid-September and had no issues reserving a time slot the day before and getting an open slot. However, I imagine during the summer it would fill up much quicker and booking 5-7 days in advance would probably be the safest. The actual tickets to the cave tour aren’t bad – it was only 250 Kc per adult (about $11.50 USD) and 150 Kc (about $7 USD) per child age 6 years and older. However, where the surprise cost come in is the transportation to the cave and the lookout point of the sinkhole, which isn't made entirely clear on the website.

Parking is about 2.5 km from the entrance of the cave, so you either have to walk or take the train bus from the entrance there. Then to get to the viewpoint of the sinkhole you have to hike either 2 km (which would be fairly steep) or take a cable gondola to the top. However, there are fees associated with each method of transport and a variety of options of tickets – i.e. you could do just the train, just the cable car, one-way or two-ways. Pricing isn't posted for the tram and gondola on the website, but we did the roundtrip tram & gondola option and it was over 600 Kc (or about 30 USD) for our family of four. Pricing would vary from there depending on what option you go with.

The tour is only offered in Czech, but if you wanted it in English then you’d have to do a private tour and costs extra. We opted just to do the Czech tour, and they provided a handout that explained what was being looked at each stopping point on the tour so you knew what you were looking at. I really liked that they did that, so we weren’t blindly just going through the cave as what had happened to us at the Ice Cave.

Tour Breakdown

The tour is divided into 2 parts. The first part you walk through the dry portion of the cave and explore the various levels of the cave and the areas first discovered.

As you make your way through the cave you eventually come to the Macocha Abyss, and are able to view it from the ground level. The Macocha Abyss is a sinkhole that has a depth of 138.4 meters from the top viewing area. It is the home of different flora that is usually found in high mountain regions because of its unique ecological environment.

Two children looking onwards at the Macocha Abyss
Macocha Abyss - Near Blansko, Czech Republic

Then about 2/3 of the way through the tour, you board boats to take you through the water portion. Talk about skilled boat drivers – these drivers were able to do turns in the narrow cave as well as navigate us through the channels in the cave with low hanging ceilings. In fact, if the water level gets too high at any time during the year, the boat ride isn’t possible. There were also a few times where taller individuals and people on the side of the boat had to duck to avoid hitting their head. Cameras and phones weren’t allowed on the boat portion of the tour either – I think mainly because of safety reasons that people tend not to be aware of their surroundings when using their devices. However, we really enjoyed the boat portion of the cave and it was definitely unique. There was also one stop where we got off the boats to go see a different portion of the cave.

Cable Gondola to Macocha Abyss Lookout

After the tour we took the cable gondola up to the Macocha Abyss lookout. There are actually some restaurants and shops located up at this upper level, and then two different view points. The upper viewpoint is closest to the gondola and restaurant area and you can look directly down into the sinkhole.

Looking straight down into the sinkhole from the top viewpoint.
Looking straight down into the Macocha Abyss from the very top viewing area. Near Blansko, Czech Republic

The second lower viewpoint is located a coupe hundred meters down a trail, mostly composed of stairs. We actually thought the perspective from this lookout point was better.

Sinkhole near Blansko, Czech Republic - view from top.
Looking at the sinkhole from the lower viewpoint. Macocha Abyss, Czech Republic.

Exploring Brno

This city is in the southwest part of Czech Republic and is right in the heart of several large European cities, which is probably why it is often referred to as the ‘Heart of Europe.’ It’s also known as the city that never sleeps, but this is mainly due to its large student population. In fact, Wednesday nights are known as party night! We can’t say we experienced that because we weren’t there on a Wednesday night, and with kids we don’t get the nightlife experience. However, even just walking around the city it had a lively vibe and we saw students enjoying afternoon beers & hanging out in the parks.

Brno ‘Dragons’ (Crocodiles)

One of the many 'dragons' (crocodiles) around the city of Brno, Czech Republic

As we wandered around we came across several crocodiles statues – including a large one hanging from the ceiling of the gate of the City’s Bell Tower. However, the city actually refers to them as dragons, and there are several legends behind it. One legend is that it was gifted to the city, and the more popular one was that it lived in the Suratka River where it was a big problem to the inhabitants – eating their livestock and causing all sorts of issues. However, the people were too scared to do anything about it, until a traveling butcher came through town. He used Ox skin and filled it with the mineral lime and the crocodile enjoyed it as a ‘tasty’ meal one day until his stomach started to expand and it ended up being his demise.

We mainly just walked through the city – enjoying its Art Nouveau architecture, seeing the locals engage in their normal activities and even stopping for an afternoon beer! It’s Czech after all, so it’s beer-o’clock anytime!

Man drinking 2 Czech beers in Brno, Czech Republic
Enjoying traditional Czech beer, poured with a good foam on top!

Fun Fact: Czech Republic has largely held the spot as being the largest beer consumption per capita in the world. However, 2020 saw a dip in consumption to only 135 liters per the average Czech vs. 2019 when it was 142 liters per Czech. Mainly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and pubs being closed.

Later in the evening, we went for beers after dinner in our little town just outside of Brno. The pricing was unbelievable! For a total of four ½ litres of beer plus .3 Litres it equated to $9.35 CDN or $7.33 USD. In the Czech Republic, they also describe the type of beer by degrees, which tells you the density of the beer. On average, a 10 degree beer is about 3.5-4 percent alcohol, 12 degrees would be about 5 percent and a beer that is 19 degrees would be 8 percent alcohol.

We visited the market in the middle of the town square and there are several of these little cart food trucks that sell ice cream and coffee around the city. They were really cute!

We also visited the Cathedral of St. Paul and Peter, which sits on top of the hill in the Old Town and has a towering presence over the Old Town. Entrance was free to go into the cathedral to check it out and there is also a bell tower you can climb for a small fee, which we opted not to do at that point in time.

10-Z Nuclear Shelter

Just on the outskirts of the Old Town is a Nuclear Bomb Shelter from the Cold War Era. We hadn’t ever visited anywhere like this, so we decided to go check it out. It was a self-guided tour through the tunnel and there were some videos along the route. The shelter was able to hold up to 600 people for up to 3 days at a time; however, luckily it was never used for its intended purpose. They had a generator and an air filtration system to keep things comfortable for the inhabitants.

Two children trying on metal army green helmets at Cold War Nuclear Bomb Shelter Museum in Czech Republic
Testing out some of the Cold War Helmets at 10-Z Nuclear Shelter - Brno, Czech Republic

The shelter was originally used as a bomb shelter at the end of World War II, and then a couple years after the war it was a wine cellar. However, the Soviets took it over in about 1948 and then it was used as Nuclear Bomb Shelter during the Cold War Era. Everything was still preserved in how it would have been during that time. They even had rotary phones on display, which the kids had never seen before, so we spent some time learning how those were used!

There were definitely more stops we could have explored in Brno, including the Spilbert Castle; however, it was nice to just have a leisurely day as well!

Our first stop in the Moravian region was a great start to our stay in Czech Republic! The Punkva Caves and Macocha Abyss, were definitely memorable and it was nice to have a leisurely day just exploring the Old Town of Brno.

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