The second largest city in the Czech Republic is Brno located in South Moravia. This city’s name is pronounced more like Brun-o vs Brewno. With a population just under 400,000 people the city is fairly spread out but some of the best parts to explore can all be found in the city’s Old Town area. While visiting I gathered all of the information I could to share with you for how to spend a day or weekend in Brno.
While visiting Brno in September I stayed at the Hotel Passage located about a seven minute walk from the old town. I was visiting as part of the Traverse travel blogging conference and it was the perfect location and the best conference venue in the city.
I had a few days to explore Brno enjoying delicious local beer, tasty food and taking in it’s unique sights. From my personal experience here is a round up of the best places to visit in Brno in a day. Hopefully this shows you why Brno, is one of the best places to visit in the Czech Republic and how to spend the day in Brno.
How to get to and around Brno, Czech Republic
First to know how to spend the day in Brno, you need to know how to get around. Visit Brno on the train about a three hour journey from the capital of Prague or just a two hour train ride from Vienna, Austria. Once there the Old Town and surrounding area is quite walkable with most places being only a 15-20 minute maximum walk away. Other ways to get around Brno include trams, taxi, uber and liftago.
Visit the Brno Dragon
If you are spending a day exploring Brno, the first place you should begin is at the famous Brno Dragon. This is one of the main unique attractions in the city, and a common meeting point. It is located at the Old Town Hall tourist information centre so it is also a great place to grab a map, tourist info and souvenirs.
Don”t be alarmed when you first see the Brno Dragon hanging from the ceiling of the alleyway here, it isn’t that scary. But also yes it is a crocodile… not a dragon. Why a crocodile/dragon? Many years ago it was believed that this beast was ravaging the city and livestock until the locals found a way to kill and capture it. Then they put it on display of course.
See the Astronomical Clock
Erected in 2010 in Liberty Square in the middle of Old Town Brno is the popular Astronomical clock. In actual fact it is a clock that is kind of hard to tell the time on but is also a victory tribute. Shaped like a large black bullet, each day this clock chimes at 11am and releases a glass ball from one of four holes. The glass ball can be caught by anyone and taken as a souvenir to remember the city. (However unfortunately homeless people tend to take over the area before 11am and catch the ball for themselves to then sell to tourists to make a profit.)
What makes it a monument? In 1645 Brno was being attacked by the Swedish but they weren’t having much success. Finally they said that they would attack one more time and that if they hadn’t succeeded by noon they would retreat. Locals in Brno overheard this and at 11am had their church bells chime 12 times tricking the Swedish into retreating an hour earlier and saving their city. The astronomical clock is to remember this battle and that is why the ball drops at 11am and not 12.
Look under the Equestrian Statue
Another iconic landmark in Brno is the Equestrian Statue of Margrave Jobst of Luxembourg. Placed in Moravian Square in 2015 the sculpture is a Knight in Armour riding a horse with extremely long legs. Meant to be a symbol of courage. Because the legs are so long and the statue stands 8m tall people are able to walk underneath the statue. Those that do will see a unique surprise when looking up towards the horse’s chest and head.
Explore the Ossuary under the Church of St. James
Located just a block from the equestrian statue is the Church of St. James (Kirche St. Jakob). In 2001 an ossuary was rediscovered underneath the church. (A final resting place of human skeletal remains.) Opened for public viewing in 2012 its believed to hold the remains of at least 50,000 people and is the second largest in Europe, second only to the catacombs in Paris, France. (The Paris catacombs are believed to hold at least 5million peoples remains.) The ossuary was first created after the churches graveyards became full. After that happened every 10-12 years burial plots would be dug up with the remains being moved to the ossuary so I new person could be buried in their place.
Buy Fresh Produce at the Cabbage Market
Europeans really know how to do farmers market and the 6 days a week Cabbage Market (aka Zelňák) in Brno is no exception. Rain or shine this market is the best spot in the city to buy fresh and affordable produce. And it has been for hundreds of years dating back to the 1300’s. Depending on whats in season you can buy everything from fresh berries to peppers, flowers, and of course cabbage and even nuts and oils.
The market shuts down in the colder winter months when Christmas markets take its place in late November and December. The market returns in the spring when the growing season begins again with fresh asparagus and more.
Taste Delicious Ajahla Chocolate
Surprisingly in Brno you will also find a local chocolate company making delicious chocolate directly from bean to bar. They import cacao beans from around the world and create their own delicious chocolate from scratch. They offer various flavours from some with orange or rose to even a bar that is 100% cacao, as dark as dark chocolate can be. Bitter for many but incredibly delicious for others. There are also flavours that involve smokey whiskey, hazelnuts, sea salt, coconut milk and more.
Stop in and visit Ajala Chocolate or be on the look out for them in stores around the city.
Visit the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is one of the most popular churches in South Moravia. Partly because it is also the church featured on the 10kc coin. People can visit this national monument which was built in 1777 and is still active today. Designed in Baroque and Gothic styles the church is a pretty place to see while touring around the city.
Tour Špilberk Castle Castle
Located on the western edge of Brno’s Old Town is the Špilberk Castle. The Castle has quite the history and dates back to the early 13th century. It was a baroque citadel, the harshest prison in Europe, a fortress and in 1960 became part of the Brno City Museum. Although it has quite the intense history it also boasts great views overlooking the city.
The castle is open year round and costs about $10 cad to visit.
Make Yourself at home in Brno’s Villas
In Brno there are several Villas that you can visit, tour and even picnic at. The Villas were once single family homes and were designed in the styles of modernism, art nouveau and avant-garde. Mostly built by Jewish family men textile industrialists.
The Villas are Villa Low-Beer, Villa Stiassni, Villa Jurkovic and the most popular and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Villa Tugendhat. Stiassni and Tugenghat have storied histories with the first being taken over by the government after the family had to flee the Nazis and the second at one point being taken over by the Gestapo. All have had extensive renovations and most now appear to guests as they once did when lived in by their original owners.
Salina Pub Beer Tram Tour
By far one of the funnest ways to explore Brno is on the Salina Pub Beer Tram. Book a private tour for a group, corporate event, bachelor party, birthday celebrations and more. Or find out when they offer Hop on Hop off rides to enjoy this unique experience. When we took this tour they provided appetizers, coffee, water and of course delicious beer poured fresh from taps right on the tram. We rode around the city for 2 hours exploring Brno by tram while enjoying as much beer as you want. It is quite the unique way to explore the city while enjoying the delicious national drink of the Czech Republic.
Visit the Bar that Doesn’t Exist
In Brno there are lots of great places to grab a drink. One of the most confusing places might be the Bar The Doesn’t Exist. (Bar Ktery Neexistuje) Confusing because it does exist. Find it at Dvořákova 1, 602 00 Brno-střed, Czechia right in the middle of Old Town Brno. This multilevel bar is an excellent place to grab a beer or fancy cocktail in Brno.
How to Spend the day in Brno? EAT!
There are many great restaurants and places to eat in Brno. I didn’t get to visit nearly enough of them while I was there. However here are the places I enjoyed while visiting.
Bageterie Boulevard, a popular chain across the Czech Republic, almost like their version of Subway but much better. Sandwiches made on delicious fresh baguettes served with salads or the best french fries all for around $8.
Lokal, part of a smaller chain of restaurants in the Czech Republic originating in Prague. A great spot to grab a local Czech Beer and enjoy delicious burgers, schnitzels and more.
If you are looking for a cafe with great drinks, desserts and a place to do some work on the wifi check out SKØG Urban Hub.
Being from the east coast of Canada I wasn’t too excited about eating at a seafood restaurant in a land locked city in Europe. However Ocean 48 had good reviews and there were Canadian lobsters in their tank! Aside from selling food to sit and enjoy there they also sold fresh fish to buy and take home to cook. I went for the fish and chips and was presently surprised.