Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 04:13 pm
Brno, Czechia’s second largest city, happened to be a huge surprise! What I thought would be just a historic town with a few sights to see, turned out to be a place that will forever stay in our hearts.
I spent almost 5 years living in Vienna and I never took a trip to Brno, despite it being so close! If only I’d known how cool this place was, I would’ve definitely visited it much much sooner. But maybe this happened for the best – you can’t possibly see everything Brno has to offer in 1 day, so coming for a day trip here would only allow you to scratch the surface.
In fact, we didn’t even pick Brno as a destination ourselves. We came here for a travel blogging conference called Traverse. So thank you, Traverse, for bringing us to this beautiful city and helping us experience it in the best way possible!
We spent about 1 week in Brno and managed to see a lot of the sights, visit a few restaurants and bars, and fall in love with Brno overall. So beware – this will be a loooong travel guide… *and very helpful, hopefully!*.
How to get to Brno
Brno is located in Central Europe, just 1.5 hours away from Vienna and Bratislava, 2 hours away from Prague and 3 hours from Budapest.
Brno does have an airport, but there are not many destinations you can fly from directly. You’d be in luck if you’re located in London, Antalya and Budapest, for example. The company that offers the most flights to Brno is Smartwings – a low-cost Czech airline.
We live in Sofia, Bulgaria, so we took a flight to Vienna and then got on a train to Brno, which turned out to be very convenient!
How long to stay in Brno
Spending 3 days in Brno is recommended to see the main sights, but there’s a lot to do here even if you stay 1 week long.
At first we thought a couple of days would be enough to explore all of Brno. The longer I stayed, the more I realised there’s so much to do here. If it wasn’t for the travel blogging conference we were visiting, I wouldn’t have planned so many days in Brno, but I’m sooo happy we got to stay for that long.
Where to stay in Brno
During our week-long stay in Brno we wanted to be located as close to the centre as possible, just so we could get around by foot. Since we were staying for so long, we also tried to find something more budget friendly. The perfect compromise was this apartment where we got a double room to ourselves and had to share a bathroom and a kitchen with other guests.
Internesto Brno turned out to be a hostel as well, where many solo travellers were staying. So regardless if you’re a couple like us, or a solo traveller, this accommodation is a good option.
How to get around Brno
If you’re staying in central Brno, you could walk to almost everywhere. The public transport is also very easy to use – I believe we only took a tram once. Uber is also available, which makes travelling longer distances a breeze.
Map of the main sights in Brno
Best things to do in Brno
Go on a walking tour
Walking tours are one of the best ways to get to know a place fast and see its major sights, while also learning about its history from a local guide.
See this Brno Historic Walking Tour, which covers a lot of the city’s highlights.
You could also join the Brno Free Walking Tour which operates on a tip basis – at the end of the tour you’re asked to tip as much as you thought the trip was worth.
Špilberk Castle was built in the 13th century by Přemysl Otakar II to protect Brno and the Czech lands. In the 1700s, it became a jail for serious criminals and political prisoners from the Austro-Hungarian empire. People called it the harshest jail in Europe.
After 1855, the castle served as military barracks for a while, and during the two world wars, it was used as a jail once again. In 1962, Špilberk castle was added to the National Cultural Heritage list.
The castle offers a beautiful view over Brno. We were even quite lucky to see an air balloon flying over the city!
Moreover, this place holds regular concerts, theatrical performances and festivals, while it also houses the Brno City Museum. All of this makes it one of the top places to visit in Brno, hence why it’s so high on this list!
We got to visit the Špilberk Castle thanks to an event, organised by the travel blogging conference we were attending. Sipping cocktails while watching the sun set over Brno – such a magical experience!
The 10-Z Bunker
The 10-Z Bunker, also known as the Brno Underground, was constructed as an air-raid shelter during and after World War II to protect key city and regional personnel in case of a nuclear attack. It’s located right at the foot of the hill, which leads up to the Špilberk Castle, so you can definitely combine your visit to both places.
This bunker comprises a network of tunnels and rooms designed to house up to 500 people for 3 days, offering shelter, food, and medical care. With air filtration systems, water storage tanks, and backup generators, it aimed to ensure survival even after a nuclear blast.
Thankfully, the bunker never saw its intended use. Today, visitors can explore it with guided tours or on their own using a provided map. The bunker also operates as a hostel and anyone can spend a night here, as we actually did!
We came to the bunker a couple of times – once to do the guided tour (which was super interesting), and then we got intrigued and decided to stay in the bunker’s hostel for 1 night. It was an interesting experience, to say the least – you can read all about our night at the 10-Z hostel in this article.
If you only want to do a tour, you can book your ticket here.
Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
On top of Petrov Hill, you’ll find the 12th century Brno Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, also known as Petrov. It’s a stunning Gothic masterpiece with two towering 84-meter-high spires, making it a prominent landmark in the city. The cathedral’s interior is adorned with beautiful Baroque decorations from the 18th century.
If you venture down to the crypt, you can see the remains of the original 12th-century Romanesque-Gothic building. You can also climb the 130 steps to the top of the southern and northern tower, where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Brno and its surroundings.
Monday – Saturday: 8.15 am – 18.30 pm
Sunday: 7.00 am – 18.30 pm
The Old Town Hall of Brno
The Town Hall is the oldest surviving secular building in Brno. Its historical significance lies in serving as the seat of municipal affairs from 1373 to 1935. Subsequently, the councillors relocated to the nearby Provincial House, which now goes by the name New Town Hall, while the original building became known as the Old Town Hall.
The oldest part of the Town Hall dates back to 1240 and comprises a single-story house with an accompanying tower. In the 15th century, it expanded to include another building with a chapel. Over time, the Town Hall witnessed further developments, including the addition of buildings like the prison in the 15th and 16th centuries.
A remarkable feature of the Town Hall is its stone portal, designed by architect Anton Pilgram around 1510-1511. The portal has five pinnacles with “crabs” on the edges and a finial with a crossed flower, a popular Gothic element emphasising the building’s height.
When visiting the Old Town Hall, don’t miss to go up the tower for another breathtaking view over Brno.
The Brno Dragon and the wooden wheel
The passage of the Old Town Hall holds two well-known symbols, or should I say legends – the “dragon” of Brno and the wooden wheel.
Let’s start with the dragon, which is obviously a crocodile, but still…
Long ago, a fearsome dragon made Brno its home, causing terror among the citizens and their livestock. Merchants stopped coming to the city, and women avoided going to the market due to the threat. Though the idea to defeat the dragon had been discussed, it wasn’t until a brave butcher passing through Brno volunteered that a plan was put into action.
The courageous butcher devised a trap using a fur sac filled with lime. When the dragon devoured the fur and lime, it became incredibly thirsty and drank copious amounts of water from the river. The lime expanded inside its stomach, causing it to burst! In celebration of their triumph, the citizens preserved the dragon, which now hangs from the Old Town Hall.
Now onto the wheel…
According to legend, a master wheelwright named Georg Birck of Lednice once bet about 12 tolars that he could cut down a tree, craft a wheel from its wood, and roll it to Brno (54 km) all in a single day.
Despite regretting the bet, Georg Birk was determined not to lose, and he managed to achieve his goal, winning the 12 tolars. The wheel has remained in Brno ever since.
However, upon closer examination, experts discovered that the wheel wasn’t made from fresh wood or even the wood of a single tree. This raised doubts about the truthfulness of the legend.
Nevertheless, Brno continues to honour this legend by celebrating it every year in October. Teams race from Lednice to Brno with a wooden wheel to commemorate this remarkable event.
Located next to the Church of St. James in Brno, this extraordinary Moravian ossuary is the second largest in Europe, with the Paris ossuary holding the chilling record. It was accidentally discovered during a land survey in 2001, and it is estimated that more than 50,000 individuals are buried here.
Anthropological analyses have revealed that the ossuary served as a burial site for victims of various historical events, including the plague, cholera, the Thirty Years’ War, and the Swedish siege.
The Brno Capuchin Crypt, also known as the main mummy hall, falls into the category of “death on display,” much like other Capuchin Crypts found in Palermo or Rome. Below the monastery, in the cellar, you can see several semi-mummified bodies and death-related artwork.
In the 17th century, Brno’s Capuchin monastery was established, and an unusual practice of “burying” deceased friars in the basement without coffins emerged. This practice aligned with the order’s principles of simplicity and poverty.
Surprisingly, many bodies naturally mummified without any intentional embalming, likely influenced by the cellar’s soil and ventilation. This open burial practice continued until Austrian emperor Joseph II’s reign in the late 18th century when it was eventually banned. Over 200 bodies were placed here, and while not all mummified, around 40 bodies were exceptionally preserved and are now on display, while others were later interred in a collective tomb.
In 1925, the crypt was opened to the public and has since become a well-known tourist attraction.
I’m not gonna lie, just like the ossuary, this place is to be visited with caution. After all, you see the mummified bodies of actual people, and I can imagine that not everyone would be able to take this.
Moravian Square and the Courage statue
This statue is a relatively new addition to the city of Brno. It was placed there in 2015 and it represents Moravian Margrave Jošt (1351-1411), portrayed as a knight in armor, holding a shield and spear, standing at an impressive eight-meter height.
What makes it truly unique is the horse’s disproportionately long legs emerging directly from the ground, allowing people to freely walk among them, as the statue has no pedestal.
The Vegetable Market
The Vegetable Market, or Zelňák, has been a bustling spot for locals to purchase fruit, vegetables, flowers, and more for centuries.
There are a few interesting things you can see in and around (and below) the market.
One of the first things you’d notice is a monumental Baroque fountain called ‘Parnas,’ crafted by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, which stands as a prominent feature in the square.
At the upper part of the square you’ll find the Dietrichstein Palace, designed by the Italian architect Tencalla, which now houses the Moravian Museum.
The statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Near the vegetable market there’s the Reduta, one of Central Europe’s oldest theatre buildings, with a statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, commemorating his concert here at the tender age of 11 in December 1767.
The Labyrinth Under the Vegetable Market
Below the square of the Vegetable market lies a unique labyrinth of medieval underground passages and cellars.
In the early 13th century, the Vegetable Market, formerly known as the Upper Market (Horní trh), bustled with activity as a place to purchase fresh food. The cellars beneath the square served as storage spaces and wartime shelters.
The labyrinth is now open to the public and can be visited within the opening hours (every day except Mondays). Depending on the season, the tours start every hour or every 30 minutes, with the first one being at 9:30.
The Astronomical Clock
This is an interesting and quite controversial sight in Brno! The massive stone sculpture was put up in 2010 near the Freedom square, as a reminder of Brno’s unsuccessful siege by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War.
After enduring an almost 3-month siege, Brno’s citizens refused to surrender. In a tactical move, they advanced the city clock an hour to make it appear noon at 11 o’clock, prompting the Swedish general to honour his promise of withdrawal.
The story has something to do with the clock’s purpose today. Each day, exactly at 11 o’clock, the Astronomical clock releases a glass marble, which comes out of one of the sculpture’s 4 side holes. You never know which side it’s going to come out of, so if you want to get the marble ball, you just pick one of the sides and hope it’s your lucky day.
We wanted to try our luck and got to the Astronomical at 10 am – one hour before the drop of the marble! That’s because we were told people gather here pretty early, and since there’s only 4 holes, there can only be 4 people per day trying their luck. As we got there, there were already two local ladies waiting by the sculpture – they were just chilling and talking right beside it, and as soon as they saw us approaching, they immediately jumped and took two opposite sides of the clock. Well, despite being 1 hour early, we didn’t even get to choose our sides – we just took the remaining 2. And we stood there. 1 hour. On our feet.
The more time passed, the more people were gathering. They wanted to wait and see what the glass marble looked like and who’d be lucky enough to receive it today. So we waited for what felt like an eternity, until 11 o’clock hit. Right on the dot, the glass marble started falling from the top of the sculpture. We could hear it approaching and each of us was hoping it would land in their hand.
Then I heard clapping. The woman next to me had got the little ball. We were unlucky, but at least I got to see what the whole fuss was about.
I was a bit sad that we didn’t get the ball, as we would’ve loved to keep it as a souvenir. We later found out that these local people, who often wait here from early in the morning, usually sell it afterwards. For me this defeats the whole idea of “winning” a souvenir from the town of Brno and keeping it forever.
If you decide to try it, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!
The UNESCO-listed Villa Tugendhat
I’ll be honest – this is probably the only place I saw on all Brno travel guides and still wanted to skip. I mean, what’s so special about a modern-looking villa? If you’re thinking the same thing, let me tell you that this was probably the highlight of our Brno trip.
What is so unique about this villa is that it was constructed back in 1929–1930 for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat (a rich textile trading family in Brno) to a design by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It’s insane how modern and ahead of its time this villa is. Even nowadays it would be considered a masterpiece, but imagine how amazing it was 100 years ago!
The Tugendhat villa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to this day it’s considered one of the four most important villas in the world.
Mr. and Mrs. Tugendhat moved into the villa in 1930 and only spent 8 years living there. As Jews, they were forced to leave due to threat of German expansion into the Czechoslovak Republic, and they never returned to the villa. It was then confiscated by the Gestapo and after the war it fell into the hands of the Czechoslovak state.
It’s also an interesting fact that the dramatic story of the villa and the people who lived there inspired the writer Simon Mawer to write the famous novel called The Glass Room.
Visiting is only done with guided tours and you must book a ticket in advance through the official website of Villa Tugendhat.
Constructed between 1927 and 1929, under the architectural vision of Ernst Wiesner, the villa stands out with its daring, castle-like interiors. Nestled in the luxury district of Brno Pisárky, it’s surrounded by extensive gardens sprawling over 3 hectares.
The villa was originally for the family of Alfred Stiassni – a textile factory owner. Later, the Stiassni Villa transformed into a prominent government residence, hosting significant figures like President Edvard Benes and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Stroll along the Lužánky park
Lužánky park is Brno’s largest and oldest park. If you’re looking for a place to relax for a bit, or just be in nature – this is the right place!
Sammy even came here for a jog one morning, as many locals do. I’m not really a fan of jogging, so I skipped this one. 😀
At its heart of the park lies the Renaissance Revival pavilion, a masterpiece by Viennese architect Ludwig Förster dating back to 1855. This pavilion has hosted balls, concerts and expositions over the years. Now known as Kasino, it predominantly serves as a leisure hub for children.
Ride a Beer Tram
What if I told you you could explore the city of Brno with a beer in your hand and chilling in one of the most famous modes of transport here – a tram? Šalina Pub offers a unique experience, allowing you to get to know the city better while doing two things that represent the everyday life of Czech people – riding on a tram and drinking beer – the nation’s cherished beverage.
Try the grasshopper cake
Mechový dort or moss cake is a delicious local cake (commonly found in Czech/Polish cuisine), with a small surprise on top – a real cricket!
The cake resembling a moss garden is crafted from a moist foundation of spinach and pistachio, homemade cheese cream and strawberry jam. It’s decorated with an array of fruits and real crickets, farmed specifically for human consumption.
I wasn’t so brave to try the crickets, but Sammy did and he said they tasted like baked sunflower seeds. The cake was very delicious though!
You can Mechový dort in a bakery called Sorry – Pečeme Jinak (Sorry, We Bake Differently).
Bars to visit in Brno
The Bar That Doesn’t Exist
One of the more popular bars in town, which also has a very interesting name, is The Bar That Doesn’t Exist. Well, it does exist and it’s in the very city centre, usually jam packed with locals and tourists.
We didn’t go there but some people we talked to did, and they said it was a very cool experience!
Super Panda Circus
This bar I can talk about for hours. First of all, visiting this place is not just a night out – it’s a whole experience and you need to spend at least 1.5 – 2 hours here to fully enjoy it. It’s a game, which makes you try more and more cocktails, but it’s made in a very enchanting way.
The moment you get to the door, you need to ring a bell and wait to be let in. The bar is super small and spots are limited, so we do recommend getting there soon after they open. Reservations are sadly not accepted.
Once you get in, you’re welcomed with a glass of juice and one of the people working there will talk you through how the game works. You pick a character and then you go in, receive a table and start playing.
It’s a game where you get to decide how your hero’s story unfolds, and each decision leads to a different outcome, hence a different cocktail. Not to mention that all cocktails on the menu are unique and an experience on their own.
I’ll stop here because I feel like I’ve already revealed too much. We went twice to Super Panda Circus and we strongly recommend you check it out as well.
If you don’t have 2 hours to spend here – don’t worry! You can also stop by for a quick drink just to see what the bar’s like and try some of their cocktails.
Day trips from Brno
The Lednice Chateau is part of the Lednice-Valtice Complex, and it’s one of Europe’s most exquisite examples of the English Neo-Gothic style. Lednice served as the summer residence of the Liechtenstein family, though it currently belongs to the state,
There are a few tours you can take to see the interior of the chateau. Tickets to the tours can be purchased online from this link up to 24 hours before your visit
The castle ranks among the Czech Republic’s most visited landmarks, and for a good reason – it’s absolutely stunning. In 1996 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Valtice is the other castle, part of the Lednice-Valtice Complex, which I strongly recommend you to visit.
It was originally a Gothic castle, which later turned into a residence for the ruling prince of the Liechtenstein family. It remained like this from the end of the 14th century, until the post-war confiscation.
Following its expropriation in 1945, Valtice has been in the possession of the Czech state and is administered by the National Heritage Institute. Just like Lednice, Valtice Castle was also added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
You can get your online tickets from Valtice’s official website.
Moravský Kras Caves
A famous karst region lies in Moravia, not far from Brno. This hilly land, about 100 km2 in size, is made of ancient limestone from Devonian times. The landscape’s appearance has been shaped by running water since it was once covered by the sea in long-gone epochs.
This active water has sculpted the surface with deep valleys, sunken watercourses, and underground features like caves. Explorers have uncovered tens of kilometres of galleries and domes, but much remains hidden. Despite this, a few caves have been chosen for public access from the many that have been discovered over time.
You can learn more about the caves and book a ticket to visit them through their official website.
Veveří Castle is one of the largest and oldest castles not just in Moravia, but also in the entire Czech Republic.
Veveří was made into a stone castle perhaps before the mid-13th century, and one of its purposes was as a place of royal supervision over the settlement of territories upstream of the river Svratka.
The historical town of Mikulov is located in South Moravia, just a few kilometres away from Brno near the border of the Czech Republic and Austria. We didn’t get to visit it, but I wanted to include it in this Brno itinerary as it looks absolutely magnificent in photos!
It’s a perfect place to visit for wine lovers. Nestled atop the last slopes of the Pálava Mountains and encircled by lush vineyards, Mikulov is in the heart of a vineyard region. There’s also a lot of historic and cultural sights to visit here, so it really is the perfect day trip for anyone.
All in all, Brno is an incredibly interesting destination that I’d recommend to anyone. I hope this travel itinerary helped you plan your trip to Brno more easily. If that’s the case, be sure to leave me a comment below!
F.A.Q about Brno
How is Brno pronounced?
Brno is pronounced as “br-noh.” The “r” is lightly rolled, and the emphasis is on the first syllable “br.” It’s a two-syllable word with a short “o” sound like in “not.”
Is Brno worth visiting?
Absolutely yes! Brno impressed us so much more than we could imagine and we keep recommending it to people around us as a must-visit destination.
Is Brno expensive?
Compared to other places in Western and Central Europe, Brno is on the more affordable side. Of course, whether Brno is expensive or not strongly depends on where you’re coming from and what standard you’re used to. As someone, coming from Eastern Europe, I found Brno to be quite alright when it comes to prices in supermarkets, restaurants etc.
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