Forget medieval towns and Baroque architecture, Ostrava in the Czech Republic is much more than this. Think about music festivals, industrial sites, coal mining, incredible viewpoints and of course, one or two castles on the way. There are so many great things to do in Ostrava that you will be impressed.
The third largest city in the Czech Republic is one of the most different and unique travel destinations in the country. After visiting Prague, Brno, Český Krumlov, Liberec, Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Olomouc and Jeseníky we were getting used to historical towns, castles and traditional food. Ostrava was a refreshing and a bit more urban experience, with a good mix of attractions that kept us busy for four days. [click on the name of the cities to read our travel guides]
Ostrava is the capital of Moravian-Silesia, located close to the border of Poland. The history of the place dates back 25 thousand years and despite its prosperous mining and industrial past, Ostrava is still a hidden gem in the Czech Republic. But things are changing and every year more and more travelers are discovering the attractions and unique things to do Ostrava.
From the best viewpoints to underground mines, green parks and climbing walls, we listed the best things to do, see and eat in Ostrava. So if you are planning a trip to the Czech Republic don’t forget to add Ostrava to your itinerary. If you follow our recommendations of places to visit and what to do in Ostrava, I’m sure you gonna love the city.
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Top Things to do in Ostrava
Our list of things to do in Ostrava must start with the most impressive and unique attraction in the city. Famous for its music festivals, for the coal mining and steelwork industry, Ostrava was a big surprise and our first “WOW” was at the Dolni Vitkovice.
Get lost at Dolni Vitkovice [DOV]
Dolni Vitkovice is an industrial complex where coal was mined and pig iron was produced from 1828 to 1998. The place is huge and brutally beautiful and for me it’s the perfect example of how industrial sites can be turned into public spaces. The complex is open to the public, it’s free to get in and you can wander around for as long as you want. One can easily spend hours there, taking pictures of the giant industrial pieces that were once used to produce, store and transport iron. Book a guided tour to walk inside an old blast furnace and to learn how Dolni Vitkovice became one of the most important ironwork facilities in the Czech Republic. It’s definitely one of the unique things to do in Ostrava, an experience you can’t have anywhere else in the country.
The Dolni Vitkovice is not only an open-air museum of the industrial legacy of Ostrava, it’s also a cultural and a science complex. There is an auditorium inside a former gas holder where international events happen all year around. And the U6 Energy Station in Dolni Vitkovice is now the Science and Technology Center of the city.
360º views from the Bolt Tower
The Dolni Vitkovice complex is pretty impressive from the ground but it’s from above that you realize how monumental the place is. You can go up the stairs or take the panoramic lift to the Bolt Tower, which was constructed on the top of a blast furnace. The views from the top are amazing and the modern architecture blends perfectly with the rusty old-fashioned iron industry. The name Bolt comes from the shape of the tower but it’s also related to Usain Bolt, the Jamaican runner visited the DOV tower and he became the icon of the place. Even if you are afraid of heights [as Rob is], give it try. The views are great and climbing the Bolt Tower is one the best things to do in Ostrava.
When buying your ticket to the Bolt Tower you get a 100 CZK voucher to spend at the lovely cafe on the top of the tower. Not a bad way to finish a tour, don’t you think? The tower is also a good place to watch the sunset or to start a night out as the cafe is open until 9 pm.
Challenge yourself on a Climbing Wall
One of the unique things to do in Ostrava is to climb an indoor wall that was built in a former coal mine. Hlubina Mine is just next to Dolni Vitkovice and the Bolt Tower, so you can actually spend the whole day in the area. And it doesn’t matter if you are a professional climber or if you have never done it before, they have instructors, equipment and routes for all levels.
It was my first time climbing an indoor wall and I love it!! It was tough, especially when you see a child climbing faster than you, but once you arrive at the top it’s rewarding. It’s a complete workout, you will use your legs, arms and core muscles and it’s also mentally challenging. I had a one-hour class and climbed an easy route three times, then a not so easy one twice. I can’t wait to do it again! If you like adrenaline and want to try something unique in Ostrava go to Tendon Hlubina and climb those impressive walls.
Go underground at Landek Park
It’s no secret that most of the attractions and things to do in Ostrava are linked to its industrial and mining past. But one thing is to know about it, another one is to be near the mining reality. At Landek Park you can visit a section of the old mine with its original features and equipment. Former miners have now become tour guides and will lead you to the underground tunnels and explain how coal has been mined in this area since 1830.
At Landek Park you can visit the mining tunnels, the workers changing room and have lunch at the old miners’ pub. It’s an eye-opening experience as you get close to the harsh reality of the mine workers. But Landek Park is not only about mining, in 1953 archeologists discovered the Landek Venus, a 46 mm statuette of a woman’s torso carved 25 thousand years ago. The Landek Venus is the proof that mammoth hunters were the first people to live in Ostrava.
Visit Ostrava new City Hall Tower
The view from the Bolt Tower is great but the best place to admire downtown Ostrava is from the new City Hall Viewing Tower, which is the biggest city hall building with the highest tower in the Czech Republic. The views from the top are beautiful and it’s possible to admire the whole city.
A visit to the tower should be one of the first things to do in Ostrava, the views and the guided tour ended up being a good introduction to Ostrava’s attractions and history. All the information about the tower is on the official website. The tower is also a Tourist Information Center, so if you need a map of Ostrava or if you want to buy souvenirs, that is the place to go.
Hike the Ema Slag Heap
It looks like a hill but it has a different type of vegetation compared to the other mountains in Ostrava. It never gets covered with snow and it was named by the locals as “Ostrava’s Volcano”. Well, this is definitely not your usual hiking trail and for sure it’s one of the weirdest places to visit in Ostrava. The hill is actually a pile of mining debris that has been dumped in the area from 1920 to 1960 reaching the height of 315 meters above sea level.
They call it a volcano because inside the slag heap there is mining debris that is still burning. The chemical reaction happening inside the hill keeps its surface hot all year round, melting the snow even in the coldest months of winter. But don’t worry, it’s safe to walk there and many people go to Ema Slag Heap for working out. If you feel like hiking near Ostravice River, this is a place you must add to your Ostrava itinerary.
Stroll Along the Ostravice River
The banks of Ostravice River is one of the best places to go for a run or just to chill out with friends. There is a path along the river that leads to the Komenskeho Sady Park, a green area in the heart of the city which is perfect for outdoor activities. Opposite to the park, you will reach Ostrava old town. If you follow the river, it will take you 10 minutes to walk from the city hall to the historical Masaryk Square. If walking or running is too boring for you, what about going rafting on Ostravice River?
Travel to the past at Masaryk Square
Around Masaryk Square you will find interesting buildings as the Old Town Hall that houses the Museum of Ostrava and the old Habsburg Cafe that is now the Academia bookshop. Just around the corner is the Antonín Dvořák Theatre, one of Ostrava top attractions.
Burger time in Ostrava
Meat lovers, vegetarians and everybody who enjoys a good burger will find happiness in Ostrava. The city is booming with charming cafes, modern restaurants and unique recipes. So it’s no surprise that one of the best things to do in Ostrava is to eat. After having a traditional lunch at the miners’ pub in Landek Park we were craving some “modern food”.
Hogo Fogo is a cute bistro close to Masaryk Square, they have only a few tables so I recommend booking one in advance. It’s not a fancy place, but the food is brilliant and the burgers are super tasty. Rob ordered the classic beef burger with fries, I got the vegetarian portobello mushroom burger and both of them were juicy and flavorful.
For our second dinner we went to Loft Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in Ostrava. We weren’t looking for a burger, but again, on the top of the list of specials were the classic beef burger and a salmon burger with mango sauce. We didn’t think twice before ordering them and the result was full bellies and happy faces.
Have a drink or two on Stodolní Street
Over 50 bars, restaurants, clubs and food stalls lined up on a single street, this is Stodolní Street, Ostrava’s nightlife address. From Sunday to Sunday Stodolní Street is packed with people, tables covering the sidewalk, laughter and fun. If you like a good party or you just want to drink some Czech beer this is the place to go in Ostrava.
Music lovers must travel to Ostrava in July! One of the best things to do in Ostrava is to attend Colours of Ostrava and Beats for Love, two huge music festivals that happen at Dolni Vitkovice complex in the same month. The stages and dance floors are in the middle of pipes, gasholders and blast furnaces, it’s an experience like no other. We missed both festivals, shame on us!! But now we have one more reason to go back to Ostrava and next time it will be in July, for one of the festivals at least.
Our list of unique things to do in Ostrava finishes here. Three days should be enough to visit Ostrava’s top attractions but if you stay a bit longer you can visit Opava, the Beskdi Mountains, castles and some interesting places near Ostrava.
Where to stay in Ostrava?
With so many things to do in Ostrava the days will fly by and you’ll need a good place to recharge your batteries. There are many hostels and hotels in Ostrava for all tastes and budgets. We stayed at the Ruby Blue Hotel located at the Stodolní Street. It’s a good hotel, close to many attractions, in the middle of the action and also a bit noisy. If you’re looking for a comfy room, good breakfast and location, book a room at Ruby Blue Hotel in Ostrava.
For a unique design and great location in Ostrava check out Hotel city.city, it houses the great Loft Restaurant. If you prefer traditional hotel chains have a look at Park Inn by Radisson and Mercure Ostrava Center.
Still in doubt about where to stay in Ostrava? Search for the best hotels in Ostrava here:
How to get to Ostrava and around
You can get to Ostrava by plan, buses and trains. The Ostrava airport operates domestic and international flights within Europe. To search for the best and cheapest flights to Ostrava use Skyscanner or Kiwi.com.
Traveling in the Czech Republic? So do it by train! The country has a good train system with comfortable trains and reliable service, plus Ostrava’s train station is right in the city center. The common train routes to Ostrava are:
– Train from Prague to Ostrava: a 3 hours direct ride. Several departure times are offered during the day and night.
– Train from Brno to Ostrava: a 2 hours direct ride and there are several trains running day and night.
– Train from Olomouc to Ostrava: it takes only 1 hour and they departure almost every hour.
You can buy the train tickets at the Czech train company or at RegioJet, we traveled with both companies and they were great. The trains from RegioJet were delayed twice, but nothing major. Both companies also run trains from Ostrava to Opava.
We love traveling by train and we have traveled across Europe using the Eurail Pass twice, it’s a single ticket that allows you to travel to multiple countries and cities in Europe. If you are planning a Eurotrip or a train trip in the Czech Republic check out the Eurail Global Pass or Eurail 1 Country Pass, it might be a money saving option for you. And don’t forget to read our guide about how to travel with Eurail Pass.
Moving around Ostrava is simple, the city is well connected with buses and trams. You can buy the tickets from the machines at the tram stop and don’t forget to validate your tickets when hopping on a bus or a tram, otherwise you will get a fine.
Done! Now that you know all the best things to do in Ostrava, are you ready to pack your bags and go? Are you planning to visit Ostrava this year? If you need any extra info drop us a message below. Don’t forget to read our other posts about the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic Travel Guides:
- What to do in Prague, from tourist attractions to hidden gems
- Things to do in Brno and in South Moravia
- A travel guide to Liberec
- Unique things to do in Český Krumlov
- Best hiking trails in Bohemian Switzerland National Park
- Discover Olomouc, the Czech Republic best-kept secret
- Adventure and mountain bike in the Jeseníky Mountains
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PS: our trip in the Czech Republic was organised in partnership with the Czech Tourism Board. But as usual, you always get our honest opinion and travel tips.