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Brno Travel Guide

A Cozy Counterpart to Prague with its Sprawling Ossuary, Underground Labyrinths, Historic Concert Venues, and the Iconic Mies van der Rohe Villa

The Czech city of Brno is not as well-known as Prague or Karlovy Vary. Tourists often overlook Brno, yet it is an authentic and youthful city – and without the tourist crowds. On the streets, you will more likely hear Czech speech, unlike in Prague, and almost a fifth of Brno’s inhabitants are students.

According to “The Times” magazine, Brno ranks among the top ten best non-capital cities in Europe. A journalist from the British “The Guardian” wrote that Brno is better than Prague, which quite angered the residents of the capital. There is an unspoken rivalry between Prague and Brno. Praguers consider Brno a backwater and are surprised that someone manages to live there. They also joke that residents of Brno, starting from the center in any direction, can reach the forest without even getting out of breath. Meanwhile, the people of Brno wonder what there is to love about pompous Prague, which suffers from overtourism. The Czechs themselves love Brno for its closeness to nature, the multitude of walking routes in the surroundings, and its homely vibe. Furthermore, the prices in cafes and hotels are lower here.

If cities were people, Prague and Brno could be compared to a brother and sister who seem to have been born to different parents. Prague is the dressed-up, sociable one, always keeping up with trends and loving to be in the spotlight. Brno is the simple, down-to-earth Czech patriot who dislikes showiness. His hobbies include hiking, hockey, crude jokes, and teasing his popular sister.

Well, tastes differ. However, the unspoken rule when talking to a Brno native is: “Never say that you liked Prague better!”

The Praguers joke that the residents of Brno, starting from the center in any direction, will reach the forest before they even start to pant
The Praguers joke that the residents of Brno, starting from the center in any direction, will reach the forest before they even start to pant

Sights

There are three historical territories in the Czech Republic – Bohemia, Silesia, and Moravia. Brno is the capital of Moravia, a city founded in 1243. To leisurely cover the main attractions of Brno, half a day is enough. Most of them are compactly located in the historical center.

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul (Petrův kostel) is the main attraction of Brno. It is this cathedral that is depicted on all postcards and souvenirs. It is an ancient 13th-century cathedral with two Gothic towers. Organ concerts are often held here with free admission.

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is the main attraction of Brno. It is an ancient cathedral from the 13th century with two Gothic towers. Photo: Carolien Coenen / Flickr.com
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is the main attraction of Brno. It is an ancient cathedral from the 13th century with two Gothic towers. Photo: Carolien Coenen / Flickr.com

The Church of St. James (Kostel Svatého Jakuba) with its majestic late-Gothic windows is one of the liveliest places in the city. It is adjacent to the bar Na Stojaka (which translates to “standing up” from Czech). People drink beer right on the church steps, socialize, and meet new friends. It’s mainly students who hang out here. If you look closely, you can notice a tiny sculpture of a man with a bare bottom sitting on one of the walls of the church, cheekily pointing at its historical rival—the Cathedral of Peter and Paul.

Beneath the church lies the second-largest ossuary in Europe. It holds the remains of about 50,000 people who died during wars and the medieval plague. Inside, eerie music, specifically composed for this macabre place, plays.

Beneath the Church of St. James lies the second-largest ossuary in Europe, where the remains of about 50,000 people who died during wars and the medieval plague are kept. Photo: VitVit / Wikimedia.org, Carolien Coenen / Flickr.com
Beneath the Church of St. James lies the second-largest ossuary in Europe, where the remains of about 50,000 people who died during wars and the medieval plague are kept. Photo: VitVit / Wikimedia.org, Carolien Coenen / Flickr.com

The Minorite (Franciscan order) Church of St. John (Kostel Svatych Janu) may not look particularly notable from the outside, but inside, it is one of the most beautiful in Brno. It has a pompous Baroque interior with painted ceilings. Don’t forget to peek into the chapel with the Holy Stairs and the little house – a symbol of the holy hut where the Virgin Mary lived. The Holy Stairs symbolize the staircase in the palace of Pontius Pilate, which he ascended to carry out the execution of Jesus. Incidentally, in churches, you can only ascend these stairs on your knees.

The Church of St. John may not look very remarkable from the outside, but inside it is one of the most beautiful in Brno. It features a pompous baroque interior with painted ceilings. Photo: VitVit / Wikimedia.org
The Church of St. John may not look very remarkable from the outside, but inside it is one of the most beautiful in Brno. It features a pompous baroque interior with painted ceilings. Photo: VitVit / Wikimedia.org

Freedom Square (Náměstí Svobody) is the main square in the city. Cultural events, festivals, and street food tents are often set up here. A six-meter-tall black sculpture of a phallic form is installed in the square. Without hints, it’s hard to figure out what it is. In fact, it’s an astronomical clock (Brněnský orloj), which the locals also jokingly call “cockwork” (instead of clockwork). However, telling the time by this clock is very difficult. Locals joke that to know the time, you need to stand a bit further away, turn left, and look at the large clock on the Church of St. James.

Freedom Square is the main square in the city. A six-meter-tall black sculpture of a phallic shape is installed on the square. Without hints, it's difficult to understand what it is — in reality, it's an astronomical clock
Freedom Square is the main square in the city. A six-meter-tall black sculpture of a phallic shape is installed on the square. Without hints, it’s difficult to understand what it is — in reality, it’s an astronomical clock

Špilberk Castle (Hrad Špilberk), dating back to the 13th century, is situated on a hill. It will take about 15 minutes of sweating to climb up to it, but the panoramic views of Brno are worth it. Originally conceived as a residence for Moravian kings, it has also served as a military fortress and a prison for political prisoners. Now the castle serves as a museum, where the casemates are shown and the history of the building is told.

Špilberk Castle was originally conceived as a residence for Moravian kings, but it has also served as a military fortress and a prison for political prisoners, and now the castle houses a museum. Photo: Ondřej Kořínek / Wikimedia.org
Špilberk Castle was originally conceived as a residence for Moravian kings, but it has also served as a military fortress and a prison for political prisoners, and now the castle houses a museum. Photo: Ondřej Kořínek / Wikimedia.org

You can also admire the view of the city from the building of the Old Town Hall (Stará radnice). One of the turrets above the entrance to the town hall is twisted. One version of the story is that the architect was not paid for his work, so he decided to take revenge on the city in this way. Also, in the passageway of the Old Town Hall hangs the effigy of a huge crocodile. However, locals prefer to call it exclusively the “Brno Dragon” (Brněnský drák).

One of the turrets above the entrance to the town hall is twisted. One theory is that the architect was not paid for his work and decided to take his revenge on the city in this way. Photo: Leonhard Niederwimmer / Unsplash.com, h_laca / Wikimedia.org
One of the turrets above the entrance to the town hall is twisted. One theory is that the architect was not paid for his work and decided to take his revenge on the city in this way. Photo: Leonhard Niederwimmer / Unsplash.com, h_laca / Wikimedia.org

When mentioning the statue of Margrave Jobst of Moravia (Socha markraběte Jošta), seated on a long-legged mare at Moravské náměstí, locals start to giggle and wink. That’s because if you look at the front part of the sculpture from below, it resembles male genitalia. It is unknown whether the sculptor did this intentionally or not.

If you look at the front part of the sculpture of Margrave Jobst of Moravia from below, it resembles male genitalia. It is unknown whether the sculptor did this intentionally or not. Photo: RomanM82 / Wikimedia.org
If you look at the front part of the sculpture of Margrave Jobst of Moravia from below, it resembles male genitalia. It is unknown whether the sculptor did this intentionally or not. Photo: RomanM82 / Wikimedia.org

While wandering through the center of Brno, it’s hard to miss the vegetable market (Zelný trh). Every morning from 9 to 12, for eight centuries now, local farmers have been selling seasonal fruits and vegetables here. Beneath the market are underground labyrinths, where tours are conducted. Unfortunately, you cannot enter them without a guide. In the Middle Ages, food was stored in the labyrinths. There you can also see an alchemist’s laboratory, a pillory, and other instruments of torture. The guide speaks Czech, but there is simultaneous translation into English. The tour is interesting and tells a lot about the daily life of the locals in different eras.

Beneath the vegetable market, there are underground labyrinths where tours are led—in the Middle Ages, food was stored there. Photo: Brnìnské podzemí
Beneath the vegetable market, there are underground labyrinths where tours are led—in the Middle Ages, food was stored there. Photo: Brnìnské podzemí

From Malinovského náměstí (Malinovsky Square), there is a view of the Mahen Theatre (Mahenovo divadlo). Opposite the theater stand statues in the shape of Edison’s light bulbs. It was the Mahen Theatre that became the first cultural establishment in Europe to start using electricity. By the way, the local theaters have a rich repertoire, and most performances have English subtitles. Just remember the dress code. Theaters are perhaps the only place where Czechs parade in backless dresses and tuxedos. Tickets should be booked in advance on the ticket sales website.

Opposite the Mahen Theatre stand statues in the shape of Edison light bulbs, as it was the first cultural institution in Europe to start using electricity. Photo: Peter Adermark / Flickr.com
Opposite the Mahen Theatre stand statues in the shape of Edison light bulbs, as it was the first cultural institution in Europe to start using electricity. Photo: Peter Adermark / Flickr.com

The Tugendhat Villa (Villa Tugendhat) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built by the famous German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and is considered one of the most vivid and characteristic examples of modernist architecture. Interestingly, two types of chairs specifically designed for the villa—the “Brno” and “Tugendhat” models—are still in production today. To get inside the villa, you have to book tickets a couple of weeks in advance on the museum’s website.

The Tugendhat Villa is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—it is considered one of the most vivid and characteristic examples of modernist architecture. Photo: David McKelvey / Flickr.com
The Tugendhat Villa is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—it is considered one of the most vivid and characteristic examples of modernist architecture. Photo: David McKelvey / Flickr.com

Culture

Locals say: “Brno is a city where there is nothing, but at the same time, there is absolutely everything.” From organ concerts in ancient cathedrals to experimental interpretations of Dostoevsky. Thematic festivals are held here, exhibitions of world-famous and just starting artists, concert programs for every taste—from Rachmaninoff to stars of Spanish flamenco.

For free and permanent exhibitions, we recommend visiting:

Art Design Fashion with the gigantic installation of colorful balls “Demon of Growth” at the Museum of Decorative Arts (Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum).

The "Demon of Growth" installation at the Museum of Decorative Arts can be visited for free. Photo: Moravska galerie
The “Demon of Growth” installation at the Museum of Decorative Arts can be visited for free. Photo: Moravska galerie

The “Brno – Suburb of Vienna” exhibition at the Moravian Gallery (Moravská galerie) features paintings, sculptures, as well as furniture, porcelain, and ceramics from the late 18th century. One of the main exhibits is Rubens’ “Head of Medusa”. There’s a quite amusing story associated with it. Until 2018, the painting was considered merely a high-quality copy of the famous Rubens’ work located in Vienna. However, when the image was examined more closely under a special scanner, it turned out that the original is actually in Brno, and Vienna has the copy.

In Brno, there’s also the Vida! Science Center, which usually delights children and can easily keep them occupied for half a day. Additionally, in Kraví Hora park, there’s a planetarium with huge planet installations in the summer, a technical museum, and an open-air retro museum (open on weekends). And at the House of Arts, every Wednesday, the entrance fee is just 20 Czech crowns (0.81 euros).

The "Brno - Suburb of Vienna" exhibition at the Moravian Gallery is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, as well as furniture, porcelain, and ceramics from the late 18th century. Photo: Michal Dolnik / Unsplash.com
The “Brno – Suburb of Vienna” exhibition at the Moravian Gallery is an exhibition of paintings, sculptures, as well as furniture, porcelain, and ceramics from the late 18th century. Photo: Michal Dolnik / Unsplash.com

Folk Attractions

Adam Čekač (Adam the Waiter). When local residents say “Let’s meet under the clock,” they are referring to a clock with a tiny sculpture of a waiting person on it. He even has his own name – Adam Čekač.

When local residents say "Let's meet under the clock," they mean a clock with a tiny sculpture of a waiting person on it. Photo: Encyklopedie Brna
When local residents say “Let’s meet under the clock,” they mean a clock with a tiny sculpture of a waiting person on it. Photo: Encyklopedie Brna

Street art in the Cejl district. Cejl is a district in Brno where locals advise against walking around in the evening without a special need. It’s also called the “Brno Bronx.” In an effort to revitalize the area, the city council decided to embellish it, so in 2019, a series of murals appeared on the apartment buildings here. Here are the addresses: Cejl 28, Bratislavská 40 and 53, Stará 26, Příkop 18, Francouzská 38. On the building of the Doll Museum (Cejl, 29), a huge installation of half a ship, puppets, and a cartoon mural is mounted.

Also in this area is the Museum of Romani Culture, as it is home to the Romani diaspora. The museum entrance fee is 80 Czech crowns (3.23 euros). A short tour of the museum nicely complements the atmosphere of the district.

Cejl is a district in Brno where locals advise against walking around in the evening without a special need. It's also known as the "Brno Bronx." However, it boasts a significant concentration of street art. Photo: Robert Barca / Wikimedia.org
Cejl is a district in Brno where locals advise against walking around in the evening without a special need. It’s also known as the “Brno Bronx.” However, it boasts a significant concentration of street art. Photo: Robert Barca / Wikimedia.org

The mural with symbols of Brno (Václavská, 30). Not far from Mendlovo náměstí (Mendel’s Square), hidden among houses, is a rather unusual piece of street art. It features all the symbols of the city of Brno – from trams to that very guy with the bare bottom from the Church of St. James. Located not quite in the center, but it can be combined with lunch at Ramen Brno café, where they make the best ramen in the city.

The house of artist Lubo Kristek (Kristkův dům) with huge hands protruding from the walls and clocks from which figures of people fall. Lubo Kristek is a Czech surrealist artist and a friend of Salvador Dalí. While taking photos and videos against the backdrop of this creepy house, keep in mind: the house is private property, and the artist still lives in it.

The house of artist Lubo Kristek with huge hands protruding from the walls and clocks from which figures of people fall. Lubo Kristek is a Czech surrealist artist and a friend of Salvador Dalí. Photo: DigiAr / Wikimedia.org
The house of artist Lubo Kristek with huge hands protruding from the walls and clocks from which figures of people fall. Lubo Kristek is a Czech surrealist artist and a friend of Salvador Dalí. Photo: DigiAr / Wikimedia.org

The Former Prison (Káznice). Once a place where political prisoners, opponents of Nazism and communism, were executed, it now hosts informal events, alternative theater productions, concerts, and exhibitions. The program and tickets are availible here.

Formerly a prison where political prisoners, opponents of Nazism and communism, were executed, it now hosts informal events. Photo: Matej Grochal / Wikimedia.org
Formerly a prison where political prisoners, opponents of Nazism and communism, were executed, it now hosts informal events. Photo: Matej Grochal / Wikimedia.org

Lužánky Park (Park Lužanky). Right in the city center, there’s a large park where people practice yoga, celebrate birthdays, walk on rope bridges, and just lounge on the grass during the warmer months.

Right in the city center, there is a large park where people practice yoga during the warmer months
Right in the city center, there is a large park where people practice yoga during the warmer months

The Church of Blessed Marie Restituta (Kostel blahoslavené Marie Restituty). The architecture of the church sparks many debates among locals, but it is undoubtedly an important piece of modern architecture. The façade of the church features various symbols, including a crying child, a scooter, and half a liter of beer – indispensable in the Czech Republic.

The architecture of the Church of Blessed Marie Restituta sparks many debates among locals but is undeniably an important piece of modern architecture. Photo: Ben Skála, Benfoto / Wikimedia.org
The architecture of the Church of Blessed Marie Restituta sparks many debates among locals but is undeniably an important piece of modern architecture. Photo: Ben Skála, Benfoto / Wikimedia.org

The Starobrno Brewery offers tours of its production facilities, but you need to write them in advance, specifying the desired language for the tour.

By the way, locals have made life easier for tourists by creating a free app, Play Brno (Android / iOS). It’s a kind of pocket guide to the city, covering the main attractions and enhanced with various games.

Surroundings

Due to its proximity to nature, city residents often go on hiking trips during the weekends. All the tourist hiking trails are marked in the mapy.cz app. By the way, volunteers from the Call of the Woods project organize free hiking tours for expats on weekends, combining long walks (15–20 km) with visits to interesting attractions and conversations in English.

Austerlitz (25 kilometers from Brno). The town of Slavkov-u-Brna, also known as Austerlitz. The famous Battle of the Three Emperors took place near Austerlitz in 1805. Now, the site is home to the Mound of Peace – a monument to those who fell at Austerlitz, and a museum dedicated to the historic event. In the town itself, you can visit the castle where Napoleon stayed. On the anniversary of the battle, December 2, reenactors recreate the event, and it’s open for all visitors to watch.

On the anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz, December 2, reenactors recreate the battle — anyone interested can come to watch. Photo: Zamekslavkov
On the anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz, December 2, reenactors recreate the battle — anyone interested can come to watch. Photo: Zamekslavkov

The Moravian Karst (25 kilometers from Brno) is a nature reserve with karst caves filled with stalactites. The caves inside look like the set of a mysterious fantasy movie. Lighting and music add to the epic atmosphere. You can also take a boat ride on the underground Punkva River. The touring season is from April to the end of September, and it’s best to book tickets a month before your planned trip.

The Starovičky Lavender Farm (25 kilometers from Brno). If you don’t have time to go to France, near Brno there’s a lavender field of its own. People visit in the warmer months for beautiful photos. You can also pick lavender, but this service is charged separately.

If you don't have time to go to France, there is a lavender field near Brno. Photo: Starovičky Lavender Farm
If you don’t have time to go to France, there is a lavender field near Brno. Photo: Starovičky Lavender Farm

The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape (55 kilometers from Brno) is a complex of magnificent castles and unique parks, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. You can view the castles from the outside and walk in the parks for free, but to enter the castles, you need a tour guide. By the way, the Valtice Castle cellars host the “100 Best Wines” exhibition. Here you can taste the best Czech wines throughout the year, except for January.

The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is a complex of magnificent castles and unique parks, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Photo: Isaak / Flickr.com
The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape is a complex of magnificent castles and unique parks, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Photo: Isaak / Flickr.com

Znojmo and Mikulov (50–60 kilometers from Brno) are the capitals of Moravian winemaking. These small towns are an hour’s drive from Brno. Znojmo is home to the largest wine tasting hall in the Czech Republic with a beautiful view of the cathedral. Here, you can independently taste wines from the Znojmo wine region from vending machines (there are more than a hundred of them). In Mikulov, completely different wines are offered. You can taste them, for example, in the Mikulov Castle, which is situated on a hill above the town.

Znojmo and Mikulov — the capitals of Moravian winemaking. These are small towns about an hour's drive from Brno. Photo: ENOTÉKA
Znojmo and Mikulov — the capitals of Moravian winemaking. These are small towns about an hour’s drive from Brno. Photo: ENOTÉKA

Food and Drink

Seasonal Delicacies:

    • On Saint Martin’s Day, November 11, most Czech restaurants serve roasted goose.
    • Green beer can be tried on “Green Thursday” — the Thursday before Easter.
    • Triumphant victories of Brno’s hockey club “Kometa” are celebrated in all pubs with blue beer. However, locals sadly add that they haven’t drunk such beer in a long time.
    • From the end of August until early November is the season for burčák (young wine). It’s a gentle wine drink, kind of like fermented grape juice. Its alcohol content is approximately 1–7%, depending on the stage of maturation. You can buy it from local vendors at street stalls or in wine bars and stores (vinárna, vinotéka).
    • On Christmas Eve, it’s customary to eat fried carp, but you won’t find it on restaurant menus. This is a family tradition — carp is cooked at home and eaten with the family, accompanied by potato salad. Before Christmas, stalls appear in every corner of the city selling carps from local ponds.
Green beer can be tried on "Green Thursday" – the Thursday before Easter. Photo: Czeva / Wikimedia.org
Green beer can be tried on “Green Thursday” – the Thursday before Easter. Photo: Czeva / Wikimedia.org

Czech Cuisine:

    • Stopkova Plzenská. The building is noticeable from afar due to its painted, ancient facade. Since the mid-19th century, this restaurant has been a gathering place for students and local intellectuals.
    • Pegas — a basement restaurant with wooden ceilings and a simple interior in Czech traditions.
    • U Třech čertů. Inside, there are brick walls and simple wooden furniture.
    • Pivnice u Čapa. The restaurant is located near the maternity hospital, and its name translates as “Stork’s Beer Restaurant.” For more than 100 years, new fathers have been coming here to celebrate the birth of their children, so the walls are adorned with photographs of these happy moments in frames.
    • Lokál u Caipla. The establishment is imbued with Czech humor. For example, a scarf with the inscription “Brno Cutlet” (a reference to the legendary hockey club “Kometa Brno”) hangs on the wall, and the beer coasters feature instructions for administering first aid with beer.
On St. Martin's Day, November 11, most Czech restaurants prepare roasted goose. Photo: Lokál U Caipla
On St. Martin’s Day, November 11, most Czech restaurants prepare roasted goose. Photo: Lokál U Caipla

Olomoucké Tvarůžky. A cheese with a distinctive smell originating from Olomouc. It’s sold in specialty stores (tvarůžkarna).

Trdelník — a sweet pastry made from dough that is wrapped around a spit. It is filled with various fillings. Considered a Czech delicacy, its roots are actually Hungarian. However, this doesn’t stop trdelník from being the most popular dessert among tourists, probably due to its photogenic nature. Trdlokafe offers raspberry trdelník, with ice cream or Nutella.

Chlebičky (open sandwiches). Every Czech knows: guests should be treated to chlebičky. These are a special kind of cold snacks, the main component of which is a loaf of bread, sliced at a certain angle. Various toppings are placed on a piece of bread: salad, ham, eggs, cheese, fish. They are sold in bakeries (pěkárna) and delicatessens (lahůdky). In the city center, there is even a special store where they sell exclusively chlebičky.

Trdelník is a sweet pastry made from dough that is wrapped around a spit. Considered a Czech delicacy, it actually has Hungarian roots. Photo: Trdlokafe
Trdelník is a sweet pastry made from dough that is wrapped around a spit. Considered a Czech delicacy, it actually has Hungarian roots. Photo: Trdlokafe

Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants:

    • Forky’s — the most famous chain of vegan bistros, which even has a branch in Vienna.
    • Pilgrim — a cozy vegetarian and vegan restaurant that serves burgers, international cuisine, and traditional Czech dishes in vegan interpretations.
    • Die Kuche — a vegan restaurant with relatively expensive dishes.
    • Vegalite — recommended for a business lunch, which costs only 135 crowns (541.5 rubles).
    • Dhaba Beas — a vegan and vegetarian buffet where the price of food is calculated by weight. In the last hour before closing, there is a 50% discount on all dishes, making it a very affordable dining option.
    • Rebio — a restaurant that uses only organic products from local farmers.
    • Tři Ocasci — a vegan kitchen and cultural space with a library.
In Pilgrim, they serve burgers, international cuisine, and traditional Czech dishes in vegan interpretations. Photo: Pilgrim
In Pilgrim, they serve burgers, international cuisine, and traditional Czech dishes in vegan interpretations. Photo: Pilgrim

Foreign Cuisine:

Czechs get tired of their own heavy and monotonous cuisine, so there’s a high demand for exotic food in Brno. As many foreign students stay in Brno after their studies, you can find Thai, Caucasian, Arab, Vietnamese, and other cuisines.

  • Arsalan Buuz — Mongolian buuz.
  • Don Miguel — Mexican cuisine.
  • Cha Cha — Georgian khinkali and wine.
  • La Speranza — Italian pizza in a bistro format.
  • Club Cestovatelů — Arab cuisine and a space where travelers gather.
  • Pad Thai — Thai restaurant with an owner from Thailand. Opposite is a Thai massage salon with top-class masseuses.
  • Manya — Japanese street food, the owners of the establishment trained in Japan for several years.
  • Mandarin — Chinese restaurant with reasonable prices right by the Old Town Hall.
  • Doširak — Korean bistro where you can taste gimbap and bibimbap.
  • Ramen Brno — here, ramen is cooked right in front of you, in an open kitchen.
  • Brno has a very large Vietnamese community, so Vietnamese bistros can be found in almost every area of the city. The best Vietnamese cuisine is at the Vietnamese market Tržnice Vinamo (Olomoucká, 1193/61a). In the center, Oh! Pho is known for its good food.
  • There’s also a significant diaspora of Indians and Nepalese in Brno, and Indian cuisine is in demand. Popular establishments include Anapurna, Buddha, Light of India, Namaskar.

Street Food:

Frgál. Often at farmers’ markets, you can see a round flat pastry that resembles a pizza. This is a sweet Moravian pie called frgál, which is hard to find in other regions of the Czech Republic. Traditionally, it is made with poppy seeds, cottage cheese, plum jam, and pear.

Vegan burgers and baguettes at Fryends. This establishment was opened by several local vegan friends who wanted to show how to make delicious vegan burgers. They have their own recipe – the buns and baguettes are baked in their vegan bakery, they don’t use deep fryers or frozen ingredients. The sauce and patty recipes are also their own creation, and none of them have formal culinary training. Through trial and error, they found the most successful combinations of dishes. And the locals love it – there’s always someone waiting at the window for their order.

“Divine Scoop” Ice Cream (Božský kopeček). In the summer, at the Vegetable Market and in Lužánky Park, you can see the cutest retro carts in pastel colors. “Divine Scoop” ice cream can only be tried in Brno; it’s a local specialty. This vegan ice cream comes in unusual flavors, such as avocado, carrot with cardamom, or strawberry with Thai basil.

Ice Cream at Ješte Jednu. Another insanely delicious homemade ice cream for which you might need to be prepared to stand in line during summer. The name translates to “One More.”

Kofi Kofi. Coffee carts scattered throughout the city. Very convenient for walks or on the way to school or work. The concept was invented by a teacher from Brno.

Often at farmers' markets, you can see a round flat pastry that looks like a pizza - this is a sweet Moravian pie called frgál, which is hard to find in other regions of the Czech Republic. Photo: Polimerek / Wikimedia.org
Often at farmers’ markets, you can see a round flat pastry that looks like a pizza – this is a sweet Moravian pie called frgál, which is hard to find in other regions of the Czech Republic. Photo: Polimerek / Wikimedia.org

Wine:

The Czech Republic is traditionally associated with beer, and not everyone knows that wines from the Moravian region are valued worldwide. Local winemakers regularly receive high awards at prestigious international competitions. In 2021, at one of the most famous wine competitions, Vinalies Internationales in France, Moravian wines won 49 medals. One reason for its lack of popularity is that wine in the Czech Republic is produced in small quantities, mostly for the domestic market.

Wine bars (vinárna) and wine shops (vinotéka) are scattered throughout the city. Feel free to enter any of them for a tasting of South Moravian wine. Some of the most atmospheric wine bars include Vinná Galerie and Vinotéka u Rybničku.

The Czech Republic is traditionally associated with beer, but not everyone knows that wines from the Moravian region are valued worldwide. Some of the most atmospheric wine bars are Vinná Galerie and Vinotéka u Rybničku. Photo: Vinná Galerie
The Czech Republic is traditionally associated with beer, but not everyone knows that wines from the Moravian region are valued worldwide. Some of the most atmospheric wine bars are Vinná Galerie and Vinotéka u Rybničku. Photo: Vinná Galerie

Coffee and Desserts:

Czechs can’t imagine their lives without coffee breaks at a cozy café (kavárny). There are more than a hundred in the city. Here are a few with the most stylish interiors, select coffee, tasty desserts, and fast Wi-Fi:

    • Skog — high ceilings, wooden tables, and brick walls create a minimalist interior with plenty of space. You can sit outside and enjoy the view of Dominican Square. It’s a popular spot for expats and creative youth. All coffee is made from high-quality specialty beans.
    • Pelišek — a cozy café with cats.
    • Prostor — a café and art space at the same time. The interior is complemented by an exhibition of paintings by local artists. Here, they don’t just drink coffee but also hold workshops, seminars, concerts. For example, upcoming events include vinyasa yoga to DJ improvisation and a jazz concert.
    • Kolbaba and Mlsná Holka — two popular confectioneries. At Kolbaba, try traditional Czech desserts: indiánek, větrník, věneček. At Mlsná Holka, they make great doughnuts.
    • Kafec — specializes in coffee and breakfasts. Their specialty is waffle sandwiches with hearty and sweet fillings.
    • Podnik — the concept of the establishment: breakfast in the morning, coffee during the day, and wine with friends in the evening.
    • Podnebí — has a very pleasant garden where you can enjoy coffee in the warmer months.

A few more good coffee shops: Placzek, Monogram, Coffee Trail, Dopoodpo.

At Skog, expats and creative youth often gather. All coffee is made from high-quality specialty beans. Photo: Skog
At Skog, expats and creative youth often gather. All coffee is made from high-quality specialty beans. Photo: Skog

Bars:

Rytířská Krčma — for photos in a knight’s helmet, sitting at oak tables by candlelight, and drinking mead from a ram’s horn, this is the place to be. A true atmosphere of Czech medieval times.

Provázek Dvůr — an atmospheric café-pub at the Vegetable Market, located in a hidden courtyard. Tables are set on a three-story iron veranda attached to the house around the perimeter. Below is a stage where musicians perform. The ambiance is enhanced by light bulbs hanging on ropes. They serve almost everything here: cocktails, coffee, beer, wine.

The tables at "Provázek Dvůr" are set on a three-story iron veranda attached to the house around the perimeter. Below is a stage where musicians perform. Photo: Provázek Dvůr
The tables at “Provázek Dvůr” are set on a three-story iron veranda attached to the house around the perimeter. Below is a stage where musicians perform. Photo: Provázek Dvůr

Bar, Který Neexistuje. The name translates as “The Bar That Doesn’t Exist.” Although, in reality, it’s the most famous cocktail bar in Brno, whose owners were inspired by New York. Before opening this bar in Brno, the owners visited all the top spots in New York, noting details and features in the establishments.

Yacht — techno parties and electronic music events. It operates as a regular bar during the day and evening.

Super Panda Circus. This bar is not easy to find – it has no sign or indicators. However, this doesn’t stop people from queuing up to wait for a table. It’s the most mysterious and creative bar in Brno, and perhaps in all of the Czech Republic. Instead of a classic menu, choosing a cocktail becomes an attraction. For example, a visitor chooses a flower, and the bartender prepares a cocktail based on the mood that this flower evokes. Or you pick a rubber duck from a tray of colorful toys, and the cocktail is brought in a baby bottle. The interior of the establishment is styled like a circus.

Super Panda Circus is the most mysterious and creative bar in Brno, and perhaps in all of the Czech Republic. Instead of a classic menu, choosing a cocktail becomes an attraction. Photo: Super Panda Circus
Super Panda Circus is the most mysterious and creative bar in Brno, and perhaps in all of the Czech Republic. Instead of a classic menu, choosing a cocktail becomes an attraction. Photo: Super Panda Circus

As for beer, draft Czech beer is served in any pub (hospoda). The widest selection of beers from local brewers can be found at Malt Worm, Pivní Burza, Axiom. And Zelená Kočka Pivárium was nominated in the category “Best Beer Bar” at the Czech Bar Awards.

What to Bring Home

Flea Markets and Antique Shops. Flea markets in Brno operate every second Saturday. You can also rummage through antique shops and consignment stores. At Retro Use, you can even take liked items for free.

Second-hand Stores. The most stylish second-hand store is Vintage Shop. Also popular are affordable second-hands with clothing starting from three euros: Genesis (several locations in the city), Textile House, and Botárna Oblekárna.

At Retro Use, you can take liked items for free. Photo: Retro Use
At Retro Use, you can take liked items for free. Photo: Retro Use

A crystal ball from the astronomical clock is a classic souvenir brought from Brno. Every day at exactly 11:00, the astronomical clock on Freedom Square “spits out” a crystal ball (every hour during Advent). This is related to the legend that the Swedish king during the Thirty Years’ War (in Europe in the first half of the 17th century) could only be killed with a crystal bullet. From ten in the morning, people gather around the clock hoping to receive the gift. Those who are not lucky enough to get an original bullet buy replicas in souvenir shops.

Alcohol: local Starobrno beer, Moravian wine, mead, slivovitz. All of these are sold in any supermarket or wine shops. It’s better to ask locals for slivovitz.

Records of Leoš Janáček, who lived here almost his entire life. Leoš Janáček is one of the most famous Czech composers. His opera based on Ostrovsky’s “The Storm” once shocked New York. By the way, he composed the world-famous “Sinfonietta” specifically about Brno.

Czech natural cosmetics. Czech women love everything natural and organic. It’s no surprise that many brands of quality natural cosmetics originate from the Czech Republic. Here you can find the names of the best cosmetic companies.

Cosmetics, costume jewelry, clothing, and local manufacturer’s dishes are gathered in the Place Store on Moravské Square.

The Information Tourist Center is the place to buy classic magnets, mugs, t-shirts. Branches are located at the “dragon” under the Old Town Hall, on Dominican Square, and at the railway station.

Accommodation

It’s best to stay in the center — all the attractions can be explored on foot. The main thing is to avoid apartments and hotels on Cejl Street, as it can be restless at night. Although, in general, the center will be quite lively. A more peaceful area with developed infrastructure is Královo Pole. Trams to the center run frequently, and the journey takes about 15 minutes.

Bunker 10Z — a real anti-nuclear shelter built during the Cold War. Fortunately, it was never used for its intended purpose. Now, it’s a hotel where you can stay to get a real sense of life in a shelter. The rooms have no windows, the walls are simply concrete, not decorated, and you’ll sleep on iron cots, creating an overall eerie atmosphere. A night in the bunker will cost about 850 crowns (34.37 euros).

The rooms in "Bunker 10Z" have no windows, the walls are simply bare concrete, guests sleep on iron cots, and the overall atmosphere is quite eerie. Photo: "Bunker 10Z"
The rooms in “Bunker 10Z” have no windows, the walls are simply bare concrete, guests sleep on iron cots, and the overall atmosphere is quite eerie. Photo: “Bunker 10Z”

Anybody positions itself as 20% hotel and 80% experience. Even locals often head here for unusual romantic dates.

The hotel has ten rooms, each inspired by a famous movie. For example, in the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” room, there’s a scene with a bathtub and spotlights. In the room inspired by the movie The Magnificent (The Man from Acapulco)” with Jean-Paul Belmondo, a hammock hangs above the bed, and the room attempts to recreate a jungle setting. Additionally, all guests are offered to play an interactive game based on the movies.

A room in the hotel is not cheap — from 3600 to 13000 crowns (145.55 – 525.59 euros) for two with breakfast, but the demand is still high.

In the Anybody hotel, there are ten rooms, each inspired by a famous movie. For instance, in the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" room, there's a scene set up with a bathtub and spotlights. Photo: Anybody
In the Anybody hotel, there are ten rooms, each inspired by a famous movie. For instance, in the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” room, there’s a scene set up with a bathtub and spotlights. Photo: Anybody

Bird’s Nest is located very close to the house of the artist Lubo Kristek, on a very quiet street. The interior decoration of the corridors and halls is styled after a 19th-century noble estate. A room for two costs about 1,700 crowns (68.73 euros).

Schrott Bed & Beer is a bar with a mini-brewery in an industrial style in the city center, where you can also spend the night. In addition, the bar houses a gallery and hosts workshops. A bunk in a shared room with four to six beds costs about 600 crowns (24.26 euros).

How to Get There

Brno has an airport, but only Ryanair flights from London operate here year-round. Other flights are summer and charter ones. In the warm season, you can fly to Brno from Egyptian, Greek, Spanish, and Turkish resorts. The nearest major airports to Brno are in Prague (200 kilometers), Vienna (140 kilometers), and Bratislava (130 kilometers). You can fly to these from almost any point in the world. Buses and trains run from Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava to Brno.

The train from Prague to Brno currently takes three hours due to railway reconstruction. By 2023, they promise to complete the repairs, and the train will take two hours as before. A ticket costs 200–300 crowns (8.09 – 12.13 euros).

By the way, from Brno, there are night trains operated by Regio Jet with sleeping cars to Croatia. The season runs from June to the end of September. You can buy a ticket or check the schedule on their website. It’s very convenient: fall asleep in the evening and wake up by the sea. A ticket in a sleeping car with Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and free hot drinks costs from 790 crowns to 1340 crowns (31.94 – 54.18 euros). You can also buy a seat, which is even cheaper.

From Brno, there are Regio Jet night trains with sleeping cars to Croatia. It's very convenient: you fall asleep in the evening and wake up by the sea. Photo: Kabelleger / David Gubler / Wikimedia.org
From Brno, there are Regio Jet night trains with sleeping cars to Croatia. It’s very convenient: you fall asleep in the evening and wake up by the sea. Photo: Kabelleger / David Gubler / Wikimedia.org

Transportation in the City In Brno, the public transportation system is perfectly organized. You can travel by tram, bus, and trolleybus. Public transport rarely runs late and is usually not significantly delayed. Using taxis here is not common, as there are night buses (rozjezdy) that run, allowing you to reach any part of the city even at night.

Fares can be paid by bank card through validators installed in the vehicles. When exiting, you only need to tap your card if the trip lasted less than 15 minutes. In this case, the system will charge it as a 15-minute ticket for 20 crowns (0.81 euros), not 25 (1.01 euros) as for other trips. Paper tickets are sold at stops (not all) in special machines that only accept change, or at Trafika kiosks. Such tickets must be validated inside the vehicle upon entry; otherwise, the controller will not consider the ticket valid. The fine is 800 crowns (32.34 euros).

In Brno, the public transportation system is excellently organized. Public transport is rarely late and, usually, the delays are not critical
In Brno, the public transportation system is excellently organized. Public transport is rarely late and, usually, the delays are not critical
A 15-minute ticket costs 20 crowns (0.81 euros), an hour ticket is 25 crowns (1.01 euros), a 90-minute ticket is 27 crowns (1.09 euros), and a day ticket is 90 crowns (3.64 euros). There are also tickets available for five days, two weeks, and a month.

It’s also convenient and completely free and eco-friendly to get around the city by bicycle. The city government recently launched a campaign where anyone can rent bicycles for free twice a day for half an hour each. You need to download the Nextbike and Rekola apps, register, and scan the QR code to unlock the bike. The bikes themselves indicate which company they belong to.

To get around Brno, the Czech Republic, and neighboring countries, it’s recommended to download the Idos app (Android / iOS). It displays transport schedules down to the minute. The downside is that the app requires mobile internet or Wi-Fi to work.

It’s also useful to download the Mapy.cz app (Android / iOS) to use maps offline. The app is a Czech development, although you can download maps of other European countries too. They are very detailed, showing everything from bicycle paths to city beaches. If you need to check the public transport schedule and don’t have internet, you can do so at the stops themselves.

A travel hack if you’re planning to travel around South Moravia and visit, for example, Znojmo, Mikulov, Lednice, and Valtice: on weekends, a special family ticket for public transport is available for 190 crowns (7.68 euros) for two adults and three children for 24 hours. This ticket allows you to travel around South Moravia on trains and buses for the whole day. This ticket is also valid for public transport in Brno.

Traveling around Brno is convenient, free, and eco-friendly – by bicycle. Photo: Jaroslav A. Polák / Flickr.com
Traveling around Brno is convenient, free, and eco-friendly – by bicycle. Photo: Jaroslav A. Polák / Flickr.com

When to Visit

Each of the four seasons in Brno has something interesting happening.

September is the month of young sweet wine burčák, plums, and pears. In Znojmo, there is a wine festival, and theaters resume shows after the holidays. In November, the major international opera festival Janaček takes place. Also, the hockey season starts in autumn, with Brno’s team “Kometa” in the top Czech division.

From the end of November until December 25th is the Christmas market season. The city transforms into a Christmas fairy tale, with the scents of trdelník, pine, and steaming mulled wine. For those interested in history, it’s definitely worth visiting the reenactment of the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2nd.

In spring, not far from Brno, they hold the Almond Blossom Festival, where you can try dishes with this nut, climb a wooden observation tower, and enjoy the view of a vast blooming plantation. Photo: "Almond Blossom Festival"
In spring, not far from Brno, they hold the Almond Blossom Festival, where you can try dishes with this nut, climb a wooden observation tower, and enjoy the view of a vast blooming plantation. Photo: “Almond Blossom Festival”

In March-April, the whole city blooms, with streets turning into lush pink-white clouds. Near Brno, in Hustopeče, the famous Almond Blossom Festival is held, where you can try dishes with almonds, climb a wooden observation tower, and admire the view of a huge flowering plantation.

In summer, you can swim in local water bodies, walk at night, feast on Moravian peaches, nectarines, and forest berries, ride bicycles, and listen to street performers at the Music Marathon.

In the summer, Brno hosts the Music Marathon, where many street artists perform. Photo: Maraton Hudby Brno
In the summer, Brno hosts the Music Marathon, where many street artists perform. Photo: Maraton Hudby Brno

In a Nutshell

Life in Brno flows slowly and steadily. Most shops close at 17:00, and on Sundays, almost nothing works. It’s a day for quiet family rest, not for business. Czechs very much respect the balance between work and rest. People in Brno wake up early and go to bed early, and after 22:00, the streets are quiet and deserted.

Life in Brno flows slowly and steadily. Most shops close at 17:00, and on Sundays, almost nothing works.
Life in Brno flows slowly and steadily. Most shops close at 17:00, and on Sundays, almost nothing works

Impressing others with fashionable clothing and brands is difficult. Comfort is valued more. There are cities where you feel comfortable going out in home shorts and flip-flops – Brno is one of those. Praguers jokingly call Brno a village, but the locals don’t seem to mind. After all, in a village, you can relax and be yourself – here, everyone’s local.

Praguers jokingly call Brno a village, but the locals don't seem to mind. After all, in a village, you can relax and be yourself – here, everyone's local
Praguers jokingly call Brno a village, but the locals don’t seem to mind. After all, in a village, you can relax and be yourself – here, everyone’s local
Text: Natalia Pribylova

Cover: Leonhard Niederwimmer

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