The week begins with two nights in the mediaeval town of Mikulov in southern Moravia, a region known for producing some of the best Czech wines. The town is dominated by Mikulov Castle at its heart, and a walk in the historic town square is like a step back in time. Given its location, it isn't surprising there are also some great wine cellars in the town, as well as Chateau Mikulov, the limestone Stavty Kopecek (Saint Hill) and its Calvary and Turold cave.
Our first ride is in the Palava hills, whose ridge stretches for 20km, with a high point of 554m, and is part of the West Carpathian range. There was once a tropical sea here, and today the richness of the flora and fauna has led to it being designated a UNESCO biospheric reservation. Our route takes us past three ruined castles, Divci, Sirotci and Novy Hrad, each offering wonderful views. We will also see a number of villages on our route, the first of which are Horne and Dolne Vestonice which are reputed for their archaeological finds. Another highlight is Nove Mlyny Mills Lake, a popular tourist spot of Pavlov, and there are more great views to be had from the winegrowing villages of Milovice and Bulhary. Total ride approx 35km
Leaving Mikulov, we ride to Hranicny Zamecek Chateau where we make a stop. From here we follow a dirt road around the Lednice fishponds to Lednice Chateau to see this majestic country house. The landscaped park is full of lodges, follies and picturesque glades, while the chateau itself is one of the most famous Romantic buildings in the Czech Republic. A particular highlight is the Victorian greenhouse with its vast collection of plants. Those feeling energetic can climb the 302 steps to the top of the minaret for panoramic views of the the chateau and park. Later we cycle form Lednice pas Janov Hrad Castle to Breclav through the forested area of the park known as Kaci Obora (the Duck Woods). Total ride approx 35km.
We start by heading back to Janov Hrad Castle, passing through the small town of Podivin as we make our way to the wine-producing village of Velke Bilovice.Then it's on to Cejkovice with its 13th century baroque chateau. Here you can visit the famous Templar Knights Wine Cellars, which are over 800 years old. This is good chance for refreshments before we continue on over the border to the Slovakian royal town of Skalica where we will spend the night. Here we will have a memorable dinner in the old Ledovna - ice cellars, that is now a pretty unique restaurant serving Slovak specialities. Total ride approx 55km.
A cycle path will take us from Skalica along the banks of the Morava River towards of the big attractions of the area, the Bata Canal. This leads us all the way to Straznice and its historic chateau. We visit the outdoor museum here, comprising 64 houses that depict a way of life from centuries ago. As we make our way back to Skalica we stop in the Plze wine cellars in Petrov. This evening we enjoy a traditional meal round a fire, grilling locally made sausages (amongst other local specialities) and of course tasting some of the wine. If we're lucky we may also be accompanied by live local folk music. Total ride approx 30km.
The White Carpathians are filled with small villages and upland settlements many still very traditional, and we see a number of these today as we pass through Mokry Haj and Sobotiste on our way to the Kopanice settlement, stopping for refreshments on the way. Our immediate goal here is Cupy, the highest point of the ridge at 547m, from where we can see all the way to the Golden Valley on a good day. There is also a traditional wooden restaurant or 'Koliba' here which is a perfect spot for a late lunch. We then return to Skalica by bike. Total ride approx 40km.
Having spent the last few nights in Skalica, our final day is spent exploring it. The county of Skalica sits in a picturesque corner of the Zahorie region, straddlng the Zahorska Nizina lowlands, the White Carpathian foothills and the basin of the Morava River. In the 17th century Skalica was one of the most important towns of Slovakia and was a royal town. Today 6 large churches, 9 smaller sacral buildings, 4 monasteries, the town's fortifications and a unique triangular square have been preserved. The most remarkable of these is the Rotunda St Juraja. We will explore the crypts of the Jesuits Church and see how the famous cake Trdelnik is made in the black kitchens of the Franciscan monastery. Skalica offers a great opportunity to see a snap shot of architectural styles right back to the Romans. Popular stops for cyclists are Skalica's fishponds from where you can head to the Skalica vineyards. In the evening we will finish at one of the local wine cellars with a wine producer, tasting some of the local wine and eating local specialities while listening to the typical local music. Total ride approx 20km
Transfer to Vienna; fly to London.