Young tourist in Brno on square — Getty Images

Brno: the 10 best things to do in the Czech Republic’s second city

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Whether you’re visiting for 24 hours, a weekend or a bit longer, Brno offers loads of cool and interesting things to see and do. Find out where the locals go, what to eat and drink, and a couple of hidden gems besides

If you’re visiting the Czech Republic, you’ll probably go to Prague. But what’s the alternative? What if you’d like to see somewhere a bit more real, somewhere without tourists, somewhere a bit off the beaten track? Brno is the answer. You can easily get to Brno from Vienna, Prague or Bratislava, and it’s on the main rail line from Budapest as well. So, what can you do in Brno? Well, it’s Kiwi.com’s home city, and we can tell you there’s a lot going on. Let’s dive in.

Brno in 24 to 48 hours

Walking tours and the city center

Náměstí Svobody in Brno — Getty ImagesJoin a free walking tour of Brno city center that starts at Náměstí Svobody‘s peculiar-looking clock (pictured) — Getty Images

The center of Brno is easily walkable, mostly pedestrianized, and home to some weird and wonderful stuff. The best way to get an overview of the city before you go exploring yourself is to join one of the free walking tours that start at 11 am every day from the large, black astronomical clock on the main square, Náměstí Svobody. The tour takes around 90 minutes and is a great introduction to the main parts of town.

Alternatively, pick up a USE-IT map and just head on out! You can get this map from most hostels and a number of bars, and they’re a pretty cool resource.

Top coffee shops

Brno is a paradise for coffee lovers, with scores of independent coffee shops selling amazing blends sourced from every corner of the globe. There’s somewhere for you whether you just need to pop in for a quick shot of espresso to keep you fueled up, or you’d rather linger over your drink (with a slice of something delicious to go with it, of course!).

Monogram Espresso Bar, Café Pilát, Mitte (which is also a fantastic hostel), V melounovém cukru, Punkt and many, many more are here to be discovered. Then there’s Industra, located in a reclaimed industrial space that, as well as boasting some of the best coffee in town, hosts second-hand markets, gigs, and meet-ups of all kinds.

Parks and gardens

Lužánky park in Brno — Millenium187, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia CommonsLužánky is the oldest park in the country — Millenium187, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After all that wandering, you’ll want something a bit more relaxing, right? Well, Brno has plenty of green spaces in which to sit, meet friends, sleep, play music, throw a frisbee around, eat, drink, and generally chill out. Lužánky is the largest park in the city and the oldest in the Czech Republic, and a great place to hang out. In the summer, it’s the site of a couple of small independent music festivals and arts fairs, so explore and see what you can find.

Otherwise, Kraví hora, at one end of the number 4 tram line, is home to an outdoor swimming pool with stunning views over the city, so you can cool off from the sun before heading back into town refreshed and ready for more.

Best bars and local beers

Ah, it’s the end of the day. What better than a delicious Czech beer or three? Luckily, Brno is home to some of the country’s finest microbreweries, so head to Na Stojáka or Lokal U Caipla and join the locals lounging around on the square outside. This entire part of town is now somewhere everyone comes to hang out with a beer from early afternoon and on into the evening. Also, it’s right on the doorstep of the Jacob hotel, one of the most popular places to stay in town.

Otherwise, investigate the Lucky Bastard Brew Pub; try the unusual selection in Zastávka; or head to the JBM Brew Lab pub for beers, ales, stouts and lagers from places such as Belgium, the USA, and Russia… as well as Brno, of course!

Nightlife in Brno

 

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Being a city with a massive student population, it seems natural that Brno would be a center for art, music and the like, and so it is. No matter what night of the week, you’ll find something going on.

There’s a host of independent cinemas showing the latest releases, ‘60s classics, documentaries and more. There are theater groups, both local students and international actors; music venues ranging from vast halls to tiny back rooms of pubs; bars with programs including everything from pub quizzes to stand-up comedy and open mic nights… You name it, you’ll find it here.

Brno in three to five days

Food, drink and cocktails

Over the past decade or so, Brno has established itself as one of Central Europe’s best places to eat and drink. Cocktail places, led by Bar, který neexistuje and their sister venue, the surreal Super Panda Circus, as well as the elegant, late-night Rotor, mean that beer is never your only option.

There’s been a foodie revolution as well. Retro Consistorium has some seriously impressive takes on the classics, and Brno’s also got some of the best street food, burger kitchens, classic Czech cuisine, Vietnamese places, bistros and coffee shops the Czech Republic has to offer.

 

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Vegetarian? Vegan? Yep, we’ve got you covered there as well. Try the Nofish & Chips, the Not Dog or the Kimchi Burger at Forky’s, or head over to Die Küche at Kabinet Muz (which is also a great bar and music venue, by the way). A little outside the center, you can find Tři Ocasci, a cooperative vegan bistro, coffee shop and venue, specializing in all things fair trade.

Beer, wine, or food, there is always an opportunity to enjoy a themed festival in Brno — ShutterstockWhenever you come to Brno, chances are there’ll be some kind of food or drink festival taking place — Shutterstock

Establishing itself as a culinary hotspot has meant that a number of food and drink festivals happen throughout the year in Brno. Beer festivals, naturally; wine festivals, yes; but also a varied selection of others. A chili festival, microbrewery weekends, burger festivals, goulash festivals, “extreme food” celebrations, and many more besides. New events are springing up all the time, so chances are there’ll be something going on!

Underground adventures

Mummies at Capuchin crypt — ShutterstockNaturally-mummified Capuchin monks have been peacefully lying in this underground tomb for more than 400 years — Shutterstock

You should probably do this before your lunch, to be honest… The Capuchin crypt is home to the naturally-mummified remains of scores of people from Brno’s history, from military leaders to mayors and, naturally, Capuchin monks. Leaning over and staring into eyes that have seen nothing for 400 years is unnerving, to say the least.

Looking for something even more sinister? The 10-Z nuclear fallout shelter on Husová is the place to be. Buried deep in the hillside under Špilberk castle, it was where a select few people would have been allowed to retreat to in the event of nuclear war. Now open to the public, put on a guard’s uniform, grab a gas mask and discover how the world could have been horribly different…

Get on the water

Boat on Brno reservoir — ShutterstockBrno reservoir is the place for summer activities, and a meandering trip on the boat is the best way to take in the serene surroundings — Shutterstock

Jump on either tram number 1 or 3, get off at Přístaviště, and simply follow the crowds down the hill to the reservoir. Walking around the banks of it, the numbers eventually thin out as you realize that this is where Brno comes when the sun comes out. Sunbathers, swimmers, volleyball players, dog walkers, or just groups of people indulging in a barbecue and a couple of beers in the sunshine — they’re all here. Take the boat from the dock at the southern end of the lake and it’ll lazily zig-zag you up to the top end via Veveří castle, or simply join the locals in chilling out by the water.

Christmas markets

If you come to Brno in winter, you’ll see that just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean that people stay indoors! There are a bunch of markets that are set up on the many squares in town at the beginning of December, each providing something slightly different.

On the main square, the traditional Christmas market takes place, complete with giant tree and nativity scene. Zelný trh is the place to go for a glass of delicious (and deceptively dangerous) Turbomošt, a warming drink invented in Brno by the guys who founded Bar, který neexistuje (mentioned above). Moravské náměstí plays host to ice skating and a huge Ferris wheel, and across all three, there are live music stages with bands playing everything from folk, to rock, to jazz, to… well, you name it.

The best things to do around the Brno region

There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the city, of course, but if you want to see a bit more of the surrounding area, here are a few ideas.

Lednice Chateau — Getty ImagesLednice Chateau — Getty Images

Firstly, we’re proud of how many Unesco World Heritage Sites we have dotted around the region. Let’s take a look at three of them, beginning with the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape. Spreading across almost 300 square kilometers, this collection of chateaus, vineyards, nature reserves, forests, ponds and lakes is one of the most gently beautiful landscapes in Central Europe.

The difficult-to-pronounce town of Kroměříž is where you can find a mighty baroque palace dating from 1664. The crowning glory of the palace is the Pleasure Gardens, very rare and very beautiful examples of the art of the garden. Walk through the roses, the orchards, between ponds and fountains, rotundas and sculptures.

Třebíč — ShutterstockTřebíč is home to one of the largest Jewish quarters in Europe — Shutterstock

Třebíč, around an hour from Brno, has an ancient Jewish quarter; well-preserved and one of the largest in Europe, a maze of narrow lanes, two synagogues, and a beautifully fragile-feeling cemetery. As well as this, Unesco recognizes the 12th-century Basilica of St. Procopius, covered in stunning frescoes and decorations.

Macocha Gorge in Moravský kras cave system — ShutterstockThe spectacular Macocha Gorge in the Moravský kras cave system — Shutterstock

Had your fill of culture and looking for something more adventurous? Try Moravský kras, a network of caves to the northeast of Brno. It’s easily accessible by hopping on a bus or a train to the nearby town of Blansko and then taking the Krasobus into the hills. Embark on a boating adventure with a difference on these intriguing underground rivers — just remember to bring a jacket as it can get pretty chilly.

Visit Brno!

This is just a short rundown of all that Brno has to offer. So forget Prague, and use Kiwi.com to come and meet the friendly locals down in Moravia. We’ve got a lot to show you!

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