Things to Do in Brno – Exploring the Czech Republic
Even though it is no where near as famous as Prague curious travelers will find far more things to do in Brno than first meets the eye.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and the capital of the South Moravia region. It’s population is about 400,000, and compared to the 1.2 million people living in Prague you are right to assume that it’s a much smaller city. However, Brno is far from a ghost town. In fact, this little city packs quite a punch and has a lot to offer visitors.
Beautiful architecture, tiny cobbled streets, bustling squares, a historic castle, and some pretty unusual statues are all part of the fun of exploring Brno by day. However, once the sun start to set the city really comes alive and a whole new side of Brno is exposed – a thriving nightlife.
You’d think that a city with so much to offer would be overcrowded and overrun by tourists, but that’s not the case with Brno. Just roam around the city, even in the middle of summer, and you’ll slowly start to realize that you’re one of the few tourists there. At least that’s how it feels anyway.
So, forget being on the lookout for scams and tourist traps, let your guard down, and enjoy visiting one of the most interesting cities in the Czech Republic.
Before we go into detail about the best things to do in Brno, here is some key travel information about the city.
Where to Stay in Brno
Hostel Mitte – The Best Hostel in Brno: If you’re visiting Brno on a budget or looking for a private apartment then Hostel Mitte is your best option. Hostel Mitte is located a 10 minute walk from the central train station and a few minutes from two of the city’s main squares. The hostel offers guests both cheap but cheerful dorm rooms and superb private apartments for rent at very reasonable prices. Additionally, the staff at Hostel Mitte are incredibly friendly and the on-site cafe serves excellent coffee and pastry. If you’re looking for the best hostel in Brno, this is it.
Want more hostel options? Check out our complete guide to the best hostels in Brno.
Best Western Premier Hotel International Brno – Our Favorite Hotel in Brno: If you prefer to stay in a hotel there is no better option than the Best Western Premier Hotel International Brno. The four star hotel is centrally located, just a stone’s throw from Spilberk castle in the city center. The rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated, the beds are super comfy, and the room service is excellent. The hotel has two restaurants on site and a beautiful bar with lovely cocktails. There is also a fantastic fitness center, salt-water pool, hot tube, and sauna for guests to enjoy.
For more accommodation options check out our complete guide on where to stay in Brno!
How to Get to Brno From Prague
Train: The easiest way to get from Prague to Brno is by train. Trains depart several times a day from Prague’s main trains station (Praha hlavní nádraží) to Brno’s main train station (Brno hlavní nádraží) which is only a few minutes walk from the city center. We recommend taking the trip with RegioJet and upgraded to either relaxed or business class for a super comfortable ride.
Bus: Bus options are also available between Prague and Brno and leave throughout the day. The cost and travel time are about the same as the train. You can also travel by bus with RegioJet or check other bus company schedules here.
Car: If you decide to drive to Brno the journey will take you about 2.5 to 3 hours depending on traffic. Directions from Prague to Brno can be found here. Want to rent a car in the Czech Republic? Click here for rates.
Getting Around Brno
Walking: Brno is an extremely walkable city and its small size make it super easy to get around on foot. It’s the best and cheapest transportation option, especially when the weather is good.
Tram: The Brno tram (or Šaliny as locals call it) and bus network is extensive and cheap. Tickets are only about a Euro and directions can be found on Google Maps.
Taxi: If you need taxi service while in Brno we recommend Liftago. It’s similar to Uber (which doesn’t service Brno) but focuses on creating greener traffic patterns, optimizing driver routes, and allowing passengers to pick taxis based on proximity saving thousands of useless kilometers from being driven by disorganized taxi fleets. A big win for drivers, passengers, and environment.
Without further ado, here are our favorite things to do in Brno Czech Republic.
Things to Do in Brno
Visit Freedom Square – Náměstí Svobody – in Brno
Freedom Square (Náměstí Svobody in Czech) is one of the main hubs of activity and interest in the city and among the top things to do in Brno. The triangular square is surrounded by a number of stunning Renaissance and functionalist style buildings that will please the eyes of any architecture fan.
The square itself contains a few interesting sites including two bronze fountains, a Baroque plague column, and one of the most interesting and confusing time peaces we’ve ever seen. Known as the Black Clock this phallic shaped granite clock is nearly impossible to tell time from, except at 11:00 am when a glass marble falls out one of its many openings. While it’s an excellent conversation starter, you’ll be better off checking your phone if you need to know the time.
If you’re visiting Brno in the hot summer months, you can refresh yourself with a drink from one of the fountains, or with a juicy cocktail from the fabulous pop-up bar Na Brno Dobry. We recommend the Parisian G&T.
Things to Do in Brno – Visit Zelný trh aka the Cabbage Market in Brno
Vegetables, Mozart, hidden underground labyrinths, fabulous vegan ice cream, and Baroque architecture. This and more can be found in Brno’s Zelný trh square.
The most functional reason to visit the square is for what is the best farmers market we’ve visited in the Czech Republic. Sorry Prague, Brno definitely does it better.
The variety of produce on offer at this market is astounding. Stalls with colorful local and exotic fruits and vegetables set up shop here on a daily basis during warmer months. It’s the perfect place to spend an hour or so picking out naturally sweet and savory treats for a picnic or to have on hand for a healthy breakfast.
The vegetable market (or Cabbage Market as locals call it) is also a great place to see a little slice of Brno life. You won’t find many, if any, other tourists hanging around here.
If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied by fruit and you’re craving something more intense keep your eyes peeled for a pastel painted truck parked in the square with the a Bozsky kopecek logo on it. These cute little trucks serve up succulent scoops of the best vegan ice cream we’ve ever had. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s some of the best ice cream we’ve ever had, vegan or not.
The flavors change daily so the menu is always a surprise. Word to the wise, if they have the raspberry cardamom get it!
If you’re looking for a full-on meal or some local products to bring home be sure to stop by the indoor food market called Dům potravin. It’s located in one of the few modern buildings surrounding the square. This multi-floor market contains high-end shops, bakeries, bistros, cafes, and restaurants.
Once your stomach is full, a walk or three around the square is highly advised to admire it’s many sites. Like the beautiful Baroque fountain that dates back to the 1600s and features a statue of Heracles holding a three-headed dog on a chain, the Baroque sculpture celebrating the Holy Trinity, the statue of young Mozart, or any one of the beautiful buildings surrounding the square.
If you still haven’t walked off that second scoop of ice cream head underground and explore the nearly kilometer long labyrinth of passageways and cellars that exist six meters below the vegetable market. There you can learn how these tunnels were once used for food and drink storage, see some archaeological finds, and end up in either an old wine cellar or a historic tavern for a frothy brew.
Things to Do in Brno – Hike Up to Špilberk Castle
Špilberk Castle sits perched above central Brno. It seemingly beckons visitors from above to make their way through the winding pathways of the surrounding park to pay a visit. Once you submit your efforts will be rewarded with sweeping views of the entire city, especially from the castle’s tower.
Špilberk, a whitewashed castle with happy red roofs, was built in the 1300s and is currently home to the Brno City Museum. Additionally, it hosts cultural events, concerts, festivals, and theater performances throughout the year.
Špilberk Castle wasn’t always such a desirable place to be. In fact, for much of its history it was used as a prison and had the reputation of being the most harsh jail in all of Europe. Hardened criminals were housed in massive cells with up to 200 other prisoners and sentenced to intense manual labor.
Don’t worry though, the harsh vibe of Špilberk Castle is a thing of the past. Today visitors can enjoy a peaceful setting just outside the city center, and one of the best views of the city making it one of the best things to do in Brno.
Take a Peaceful Walk Around Moravian Square (Moravské náměstí)
Despite being directly across from a busy road and tram rails, Moravian Square is one of the more peaceful and quaint squares in Brno.
It’s home to the Church of St. Thomas, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, and what’s probably the most noticeable and out of place feature in the square, an eight meter tall statue of a knight on a horse. The knight being Jobst of Luxembourg and the horse being, well we don’t know his name, but we do know that if you stand under his chest and look up he’ll bring a big smile to your face.
Let’s just say, Brno seems to have a thing for phallic symbolism.
Visit the 2nd Largest Ossuary in Europe – Ossuary at the Church of St. James
Visitors that dare to scratch the surface of Brno will find…well, the remains of dead bodies. Over 50,000 to be precise.
Brno is home to the second largest ossuary in Europe. The area beneath the Church of St. James contains the bones of the poor souls who succumbed to plague and cholera in Medieval times, and those who died during the Thirty Years’ War battles.
All but forgotten, the ossuary was rediscovered in 2001 and now visitors can pay respect to the dead on a 30 minute tours. Just be sure to book in advance since the tours are quite popular.
If tours aren’t your thing you can go at it alone. Grab one of the printed “guides” at the reception desk, head down stairs, and spend as much time in the ossuary as you like reflecting on life and death while listening to the custom composed music track being pumped throughout.
Things to Do in Brno – Pay Your Respects at the Capuchin Crypt
Have you visited the Ossuary but still haven’t had your fill of dead bodies? Don’t worry, Brno has another creepy option you can explore.
The Capuchin Crypt in central Brno is the final resting places of the mummified remains of Capuchin monks. A self-guided tour with an English pamphlet is a good way to kill half an hour, especially on a rainy day.
The Capuchin monks were quite simple. In fact, so simple that their burial practices didn’t even include a coffin. Their bodies were simply laid on the ground of a tomb and left to their own devices. Today you can view a few of these tombs, including what remains of the monks who were laid to rest in them. It’s absolutely one of the most unusual things to do in Brno.
Things to Do in Brno – Take a Walking Tour of Brno
If you’re looking for an easy way to see Brno and cover a lot of ground in a few yours, a private walking tour is a great option. We recommend this four hour walking tour with a private guide that will bring you to some of the best sites in Brno including the Capuchin Monastery, Parnassus Fountain, the Church of St. James and more!
Things to Do in Brno – Climb to the Top of Old Town Hall
Brno’s Old Town Hall dates back to 1240 and is the oldest secular building in the city.
For one of the best 360 views of central Brno head to the Old Town Hall, buy a ticket for 70 kc ($3.00) from the ticket booth next to the Brno dragon, which is actually a crocodile but never mind, and climb the 63 meter tall tower to the top. From there head out to the observation deck and take in the wonderful view. The best time to go, in our opinion, is the afternoon as the sun is setting.
Things to Do in Brno – Admire the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, which origins date back to the 11th century, sits atop Petrov hill and is one of the most noticeable symbols of Brno.
The cathedral, which started as a Romanesque chapel, has undergone several transformations over the years. After being damaged by war the cathedral was rebuilt over the years and currently has a Gothic Revival style exterior and a Baroque interior. Its most noticeable feature, the two 84 meter high clock towers from which bells toll each day at 11:00 am rather than noon, were added in the early 1900s.
Entry, unlike many cathedrals in Europe, is totally free. The cathedral is open to all from Monday to Saturday from 8:15 am – 6:30 pm and on Sunday from 7:00 am – 6:30 pm except during mass, funerals, or weddings.
Things to Do in Brno – Visit Villa Tugendhat
Villa Tugendhat is the only modern building in the Czech Republic on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. The inclusion on the list is well deserved both because of its historic and architectural importance.
The former home to Greta and Friz Tugendhat was built in 1930 and designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The villa was a monument to modern design and technology at the time and is still an impressive spectacle.
The Tugendhat family left the villa only eight years after its construction when they were forced to flee the country during WWII. Over time the home was used as apartments and offices for the Gestapo and the Soviet military. It was heavily damaged during WWII and eventually reconstructed to its original state, including exact furniture replicas, between 2010 and 2012. Additionally, the villa was the site where the signing of the agreement to divide Czechoslovakia into two independent countries in 1992 took place.
Today the villa, which is owned by the government, is open to visitors for tours. Advanced reservations are required to visit Villa Tugendhat and because it’s one of the best things to do in Brno they usually fill up a full 3-4 months in advance so book your space the moment you know you’ll be visiting the city.
See Brno From Above On a Hot Air Balloon Ride
For a truly spectacular experience a hot air balloon ride over Brno on a clear and sunny day is a must. There is no better company to transport you one kilometer over Brno than Balon.cz.
Their fantastic pilot and crew can take up to ten people at a time on a flight that lasts about an hour and floats over the center and outskirts of the city. Once you land safely they’ll even treat you to a glass or two of bubbly (called Sekt in Czech) and a baptism ritual to memorialize your first hot air balloon ride.
Flights start at 3,600 kc per person.
Things to Do in Brno – Explore the Nightlife in Brno
We’ve been living in the Czech Republic for a few years now and are quite accustom to Czech nightlife. Throwing back a few drinks at the local pub every night is common, however, Brno nightlife feels pretty extreme. Walk around the city center on a Monday night and you’ll start to question whether you’ve gotten your days mixed up because every night here feels like a Friday night.
How does anyone in Brno get anything accomplished during daylight hours? It’s a mystery we don’t really care to focus on, because we’re too distracted by all their amazing bars. Here are some of our favorites.
Bar, který neexistuje – The name means “the bar that doesn’t exist” and ironically it’s one of the most well known bars in all of Brno. The stunning interior was intentionally designed to make patrons feel like they stepped through a time warp and landed right in the middle of Manhattan. Drinks are innovative, service is spectacular, the view is stunning, and the food is pretty good too. It’s a must visit destination in Brno.
Super Panda Circus – Super Panda Circus has a big reputation, and if you’ve read anything about Brno chances are you’ve heard of this bar. There is a lot of buzz around it and it’s pretty well deserved. Central Europe isn’t exactly the best place to get innovative and exceptional cocktails but Super Panda Circus hits the mark. Additionally, the decor is quite special to say the least, and seems like whoever designed it was recounting an acid trip from his or her youth. You really can’t leave Brno without trying it at least once. Tip: Roll the dice at the bar. Trust us, you’ll be happy you did.
Whiskey Bar – Anyone and everyone who has a taste for Whiskey should head straight to this bar. It has the best Irish, Scotch, and even Japanese whiskeys to choose from as well as a number of tempting whiskey cocktails on the menu. For the best service we experienced in Brno, superior drinks, and lovely food head to Whiskey Bar.
Rum Bar – Fancy yourself a rum cocktail? Then Rum Bar is for you. This bar has hundreds of different rums on offer, but don’t worry the friendly staff is there to help you choose the one that’s right for you!
Výčep Na Stojáka – A night out in the Czech Republic without having at least a few beers isn’t really a night out. For a lively atmosphere and nice brews Výčep Na Stojáka (which means standing pub in Czech) is the perfect place for a few pints. Plus, it’s located in St. James Square, one of the hubs of nightlife in Brno.
PETIT CRU wine bar & shop – If you’ve had one too many wild nights in Brno’s and are looking for something a bit more sophisticated PETIT CRU is the perfect place. This shrine to wine offers over 500 different kinds of wine, including some of the best wine produced in the Czech Republic. Plus, they have a very nice menu including oysters, which we’ve never seen in this country before!
Things to Do in Brno – Sample Brno’s Best Restaurants
Brno’s foodie scene is massive and spectacular. There is an abundance of excellent restaurants, bistros, and even tasty fast-food style restaurants to choose from. So eating amazing food is one of the top things to do in Brno! Here are some of our favorite dining spots in Brno.
4Pokoje – This funky restaurant, bar, club, meeting space, and whatever else you might imagine kinda establishment serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the ultra cool crowd of Brno. But don’t be intimidated, everyone is welcomed by the friendly staff, and you’ll be very happy you decided to visit. Food and drinks are both excellent and will leave you feeling very, very happy.
PAVILLON Restaurant – A four star dining experience in a unique functionalist style restaurant awaits at PAVILLON. The restaurant offers superior cuisine from locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Diners can choose from either the a la carte menu or the multi-course tasting menu. We highly suggest the five course tasting menu with wine pairing. At just under $70 USD, it’s a steal. Also, PAVILLON can easily accommodate those with dietary restrictions like vegans, vegetarians, or those with gluten intolerances.
Cafe Pilat – Located inside the Capuchin Monastery, this restaurant serves Mediterranean inspired cuisine in a beautifully decorated setting. Tip: Grab one of the reclining booths in the corner, take off your shoes, order some falafel or hummus, and local Moravian wine for a long and relaxed lunch.
Forky’s – If you’re vegan and visiting Brno, Forky’s is a must. This cute bistro serves burgers, buddha bowls, fish’n’chips, and desserts. Everything is made with love and a respect for life.
Go – Vietnamese Street Food – The Czech Republic has a sizable Vietnamese community so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of excellent dining options when it comes to Vietnamese food. This restaurant serves all the classic Vietnamese options in a beautiful setting. Bun bo, Pho, Banh ran, and more are all on the menu and there are even a number of vegan and vegetarian options. Note: this restaurant always seems to be packed so be prepared to wait.
Things to Do in Brno – Grab a Coffee and Do Some People Watching
Coffee lovers will be stoked to find that Brno is full of amazing cafes. In fact, there are so many to choose from you can visit a different one every day and never even scratch the surface. So make sure you add coffee tasting to your list of things to do in Brno!
To get you started, here are a few of our favorite places for a cup of káva (that’s Czech for coffee).
SKOG Urban Hub – We absolutely adore SKOG. This spacious cafe manages to have a cozy atmosphere, delicious coffee from the sustainably focused and local Rusty Nail’s Coffee Roasters, and delicious vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Tip: go for breakfast, get the vegan pancakes, and sip the morning away.
Cafe Tungsram – A cute little cafe located near the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul and few steps from Capuchin Crypt. The cafe serves nice coffee and wine, friendly service, and has lovely outdoor seating during warmer months. Be sure to check out the unique interior, however, which is inspired by 1930’s cinema projector lightbulbs and 16 mm film.
Cafe Mitte – A tiny, yet cozy, cafe located at Hostel Mitte. The coffee is absolutely delicious and cheap. Plus they have a nice selection of pastries and cakes, including vegan options.
Day Trips From Brno
Take a Day Trip to The Lednice-Valtice Chateau, in South Moravia
The former summer home to the Liechtenstein family, the Lednice-Valtice Chateau is a must visit destination for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of how royalty once lived in the Czech Republic. This stunning English Gothic chateau dates back to the 1800s, has several ornately decorated and adorned halls, and is surrounded by beautiful gardens and manicured grounds. All of which can be visited on organized tours in Czech, English, and German.
If you have time for a day trip from Brno, this is your best option!
How to get from Brno to Lednice-Valitce:
- Drive: The Lednice-Valtice can be reached from Brno in about 40 minutes by car. Need to rent a car in Brno? Click here for rates.
- By Train/Bus: From the Brno Train Station (Hlavni Nadrazi) take a train to the town of Břeclav in South Moravia. From there you can take the local bus 570 to Lednice Namesti, or Lednice Square.
Take a Day Trip to Mikulov – South Moravia Wine Country
The Czech Republic has a thriving wine industry, and Brno just happens to be the capital of the largest wine growing region in the country (South Moravia). The most popular town in the region, Mikulov, is an easy day trip from Brno.
In addition to endless wine tasting from amazing small and medium size producers, the charming little town of Mikulov has myriad of historic sites to see like visiting largest wine barrel in the Czech Republic, admiring sweeping views of the Pálava Hills, and sampling the top 100 wines the country has to offer at the Wine Salon of the Czech Republic.
Interested? Read more about visiting South Moravia, and Mikulov in particular, here.
There you have it guys, our guide of things to do in Brno, the Czech Republic’s second biggest city. If you are visiting Prague we urge you to take AT LEAST a day trip to Brno, but preferably you will stay for at least one night. This city offers a LOT of stuff to see and explore, and its much less crowded and less expensive than the uber popular Prague.
As always guys, travel well, and we’ll see you on the road!
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