If you read the title and thought “Ostrava? Never heard of it.” – that’s ok, my reaction was exactly the same when I decided to sign up for TBEX Europe 2018 (travel bloggers & writers conference) and Ostrava was announced as the hosting location.
I have to be honest. After the first few hours in Ostrava, I thought it was not going to be too good. It was a Sunday afternoon, the streets were deserted, shops closed and we chose to walk through all the least representative streets in town. “I’m not liking this at all” I said to my husband as we settled for a night in with a couple of beers & supermarket dinner. The pre-conference tours were starting on Tuesday and I felt like I made a huge mistake by coming there so early.
Everything changed quickly for me – the very next morning to be precise. I got an excellent coffee (at PetPunk, a cafe that became my favourite in Ostrava) and the sun was shining (little did I know it was a start of a month-long heat wave). After-caffeine walk to our hotel allowed me to see Ostrava in a different light. There were some fantastic social realism art pieces, a couple restaurants that caught my eye and I started to get excited about seeing what else Ostrava has to offer.
This article isn’t here to educate you about Ostrava, its history or industrial heritage (for that you may want to read Mark Baker’s article here). I want to share with you my favourite, mostly food & coffee related places and inspire you to go there to discover more.
What you should know
Before we dive into what to eat, see and do, there are some basics that you should be aware of:
- Ostrava is bigger than you may expect – it’s actually the third-largest city in the Czech Republic
- Ostrava is located in the Moravian-Silesian region of the eastern Czech Republic, a very short distance from the Polish border
- It’s not a place to be on Sundays – it really is deserted and most of the good restaurants & cafes are closed on that day
Eat & drink
The soup shop. Homely interior, different soups on offer each day. We tried the traditional beef broth soup (hovězí vývar s nudlemi a játrovými knedlíčky) and it went down a treat (even on a hot day).
Bistro Boule Za Ušima
Beautifully designed, inviting space, where you can get a breakfast with good coffee in the morning as well as mains, beer and cocktails for lunch and dinner. We had a great svíčková (a typical Czech dish of sirloin steak in a thick sauce with bread dumplings) and were sad we didn’t have enough time to visit again.
Zámek Zábřeh Restaurant
Located in an old 16th-century chateau just outside the city centre. The restaurant features a microbrewery (the beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized) and seasonal menus. We enjoyed their red ale that went great with our food (roasted duck leg served with potato gnocchi, sauerkraut and strong gravy & pork schnitzel served with light potato salad).
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and run by a mother-daughter duo, this bistro focuses mainly on Czech cuisine. Fresh bread rolls & pastries are baked every morning, the wines are local and the vibe inside the restaurant is very friendly. The bistro was one of the stops on a food tour I attended and we were treated to a fantastic pate – if you spot it on a menu, make sure you order.
Located in the main square, open every day from lunchtime until late. This Radegast-branded restaurant serves some Czech cuisine classics and, of course, Radegast beer. Good food, cold beer and decent prices – it’s a good place to be.
One of the newest additions to Ostrava’s food scene, serving pelmeni and vareniki – traditional Russian and Ukrainian dumplings. The menu is simple, just a handful of different flavours and sizes of dumpling dishes plus drinks. The food, as well as drinks, are served in enamelware.
One of my favourite meals in Ostrava.
Hearing our friends rave about this amazing pork place I couldn’t ignore it and miss it. I had to try! It’s a tiny, easy to miss place on the Stodolní “party” street. On the day we visited there was only one item on the menu – pork rolls. They were absolutely delightful. No wonder they were sold out just an hour later!
Bar u Gustava
A dimly-lit, speakeasy cocktail bar that treated us to some excellent black cocktails inspired by Ostrava. Pick from the menu or let the bartenders show their creativity.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the fact that Ostrava really knows how to make a good cup of coffee. Right temperature, perfect milk to coffee ratio and just the right size of the cups. Not overly overpriced flat whites too.
The best coffee in Ostrava. After being short-term regulars for a week, I have the right to make this statement. The cafe is rather small with just a handful of tables but most days we ordered take away coffee anyway. I recommend trying the toasted cheese sandwich – split it between 2 people though if you’re not very hungry, it’s big!
Flat white 60CZK.
A beautiful cafe with a vibrant floral wallpaper dominating the space. Very good coffee and potentially good to seat down for some laptop work.
Flat white 62CZK.
Standing room only with a bar table along the window. Great cup of coffee each time. They also have a lot of coffee gear (Aeropress, french press, travel mugs, books etc) if you need to restock on something.
Flat white 62CZK.
U Černého stromu
One of the biggest cafes, with plenty of seats inside and in front of the shop. Good spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a cake.
Flat white 67CZK.
Art & Coffee
Located inside the Art Gallery – Dům umění (hence the name Art & Coffee). Simple interior with some hipster touches (like succulents on the tables and a blackboard menu) and a nice outdoor terrace seating as well.
Flat white 64CZK.
Masarykovo náměstí – Masaryk Square
This main city square is lined with charming colourful 20th-century buildings and dominated by the Old City Hall (now converted into the Ostrava Museum). It feels like the heart of the city with cafes, shopping and restaurants around.
Dolni Vitkovice – Lower Vitkovice
The industrial area of the former Vitkovice Ironworks now transformed into modern attractions. There’s Bolt Tower – a historic blast furnace repurposed into a viewing tower offering panoramic views of Ostrava and surrounds (not for you if you’re even slightly scared of heights).
The former gas holder structure has been transformed into a multifunctional auditorium known now as The Gong (and that’s where the TBEX conference was held, jaw dropping venue). If you’re into industrial photography this place is a must visit.
The most famous brewery in the region, located in Nošovice, 25km from Ostrava. During brewery tours, you can hear about the brewing process and also get a glimpse into the big bottling operation. Tours end with a beer tasting.
Almost every building and every corner hides some interesting pieces of art (mostly social realism sculptures) so walk around, look up, look down, above the doors and by the windows. I was fascinated.
Located in the Silesian part of Ostrava, just across the river from the New Town Hall, in a residential part of town. Modern apartment with a huge bathtub as the main feature. There’s a small kitchen and a table that can be used as a desk. During the hot summer days, we were very happy to also have air conditioning and electric shutters that were blocking the scorching sun.
Public transport is very convenient and easy to use. You can buy a ticket on board the vehicle itself (trams, buses and trolleybuses) using the contactless card terminals. Just tap on your card when you enter and tap off as you exit. A single 30-minute ticket costs 20CZK. To plan the routes and check timetables use Moovit app.
Pink Rekola bikes are everywhere in Ostrava and we used them many times. Just download the app, register and you’re ready to go. First 15 minutes of each trip are free.
Liftago is a Czech taxi app. It’s better than just hailing a taxi on the street because taxi drivers submit their price offers and you can pick the cheapest ride (and you don’t get scammed paying lots of $$$). Unfortunately, we had to use the cash payment option as the app had problems accepting non-European cards.