How to spend some fantastic days in Brno, Czech Republic

I just got back from Traverse 22 which took place in Brno, Czech Republic. Traverse runs influencer conferences, social events, and skills workshops as well as helps brands and agencies work with online content creators. After two fellow bloggers recommended Traverse to me so highly, I had to take the opportunity to take part in the next edition which happened to be in the second biggest city in Czechia. So this post is about how you can spend some fantastic days in Brno.

Brno Old Town, Brno, Czech Republic

Things to do in Brno

While there are so many free things to do in Brno, we’d recommend going a bit deeper and opting for a tour of some of the many interesting historical and architectural highlights of the city. However, no matter if you decide to spend some money on tours or not, you will have great days discovering Brno’s legends, mysteries, stories, and lifestyles!

Walking tours in Brno

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One of the best ways to explore a town is by joining a walking tour. In Brno, you’ll have plenty of choices. I joined a tour named “Brno – city of legends” highlighting different legends (and maybe some true stories) contributing to Brno being the charming place it is today.

If you decide to do a walking tour on your own, make sure you spot the dragon, the wheel, the Old Townhall, the Vegetable Market, the astronomical clock at Náměstí Svobody, pay attention to the noon bells at 11 a.m., and ask why do the noon bells ring at 11?

If you decide to opt for a guided tour, which we recommend as it’s always better to have a local tell you the stories, you can get in touch with MyTourBrno. They organize a free walking tour (donation-based) on demand. Or you can join Brno: Historic Downtown Walking Tour.

Brno Old Town, Brno, Czech Republic

Labirynth under the Vegetable Market

When you pass by the Vegetable Market on your Brno walking tour, you might notice an entrance that leads underground.

The Labyrinth Under the Vegetable Market is an underground system with maze-like pathways and tangled passages that make it a fascinating experience. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or simply looking for an unforgettable photo opportunity, the Labyrinth Under the Vegetable Market is well worth a visit.

Brno’s Vegetable Market is a historic square, first mentioned in the 13th century as Horni trh. The square was given its current name in the 15th century but has always been a bustling place for vendors. The labyrinth under the market was originally a wine cellar, food cellar, and storage the vendors at the market used.

Brno’s underground cellars are located six to eight meters under the surface of the city. The cellars are considered to be of high architectural and historical value. There are audio guides available in five languages and group tours are also available.

Labyrinth Under the Vegetable Market, Brno, Czech Republic
Photo credit: https://www.gotobrno.cz/

10-Z Bunker tour

Definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Brno is to visit 10-Z Bunker. The Bunker is located in the city center under Spilberk Castle. It was built by the Germans during World War II to protect the city from American bombs. After the war, the Bunker was used as a wholesale wine store.

The Czech army was in control of the 10-Z bunker until 1993. During that time, it was classified as top secret. When the war ended, the army turned the bunker over to the city. The city then worked out an arrangement with the Americky Fond, an independent non-profit organization founded by the American Fund for Czech and Slovak Relief, to turn it into a museum. The museum opened in 2016. The bunker contains 65 rooms that are connected by long, brick-lined tunnels.

Visitors are able to walk through the shelter and learn about the history of the building. The exhibit includes hidden QR codes that lead to additional information and materials. In addition, the entire facility is Wi-Fi-enabled. The exhibit includes tours of the most interesting parts of the shelter, including the Polasek functionalist tables where Adolf Hitler and other communist leaders sat at. The museum also features a cell door from the former Regional Prison at Cejl, where prisoners carved messages.

We strongly suggest taking a guided tour of the bunker to learn from its experienced staff and volunteers. If you think you can handle it, you can also stay a night or more in 10-Z Bunker.

Brno’s Vilas

One of the most famous attractions in Brno is Villa Tugendhat. This building, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is considered to be one of the most beautiful houses in the world. It features straight lines and a simple, yet elegant style. The architecture is functional rather than ornate and is a perfect example of international style.

If you’re interested in history, the Tugendhat family’s villa has a rich history. During the Second World War, it was used by the Soviet army as a horse stable, and in the 1950s, it became a ballet studio and medical rehabilitation center for children. In 1992, the political leaders of former Czechoslovakia met in this villa, and they signed a document that formally divided the country. The villa was reopened as a museum in 1994.

Other beautiful villas to visit to admire architecture and history in Brno are Villa Stiassni and Villa Jurkovic.

Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic
Photo by Marek Omasta on Unsplash

Janáček National Theater

I had the pleasure to be part of a Traverse midweek experience which took the mesmerizing behind-the-stage activities at the National Theater in Brno. Led by a dramaturgist with a long experience at the theater, we went through many different rooms starting from the make-up rooms (where we could get professional stage make-up), the main rehearsal room, the stage, the orchestra, and even under the stage.

The theater has a remarkable program and will definitely be a great way to spend an evening in Brno if you’re into opera, ballet, theater, and other performance arts. You can check out the current program and get tickets here.

Brno Ossuary

The Ossuary in Brno is a massive burial complex. It is said to contain the remains of more than 50,000 people. Previously, they were piled neatly in rows, but as water and mud entered the underground ossuary, they became mixed.

Originally, this cemetery was built under a church. In the early 13th century, it was closed for hygienic reasons and had to be expanded more than once. However, this cemetery was not enough to accommodate the city’s population and eventually became overcrowded. As the population of Brno grew, the cemetery was forced to introduce a new burial system. Previously, a body occupied the same grave for ten or twelve years before it was replaced by a newly-deceased body.

The Ossuary in Brno is an interesting and important part of local history. It contains thousands of human remains and is considered the second largest in Europe, after the Catacombs of Paris. In 2001, the city underwent a major renovation project near the Cathedral, and a recent archaeological dig uncovered the ossuary. The Ossuary was used to bury victims of the plague, cholera, and the Thirty Years’ War. In 2012, the Ossuary was renovated and reopened to the public.

The Ossuary in Brno is now a popular tourist attraction. It is an eerie sight, with countless skulls and skeletons preserved remarkably. A tour of the ossuary also features art pieces and music. The skulls and bones have been preserved in the most ethical and respectful way, as our guide reassured us, in their original order, and are now on display for visitors to see.

Brno Ossuary, Brno, Czech Republic

Night sky observation at Brno Observatory and Planetarium

The Brno Observatory and Planetarium is one of the most popular attractions in Brno. It is a state-of-the-art venue that provides a truly immersive experience. The Exploratorium is interactive and features fossils and extraterrestrial rocks. The Planetarium has a highly professional staff and exhibits that range from the earliest man to the present. Although the skies were cloudy and we couldn’t observe them through two of their gigantic telescopes, the visit to the observatory was of high educational and entertaining value.

There are an observation deck, a science trail, and interactive exhibits. Visiting Brno Observatory and Planetarium is a great way to educate yourself on astronomy and other science topics. They also offer tours and educational programs for school classes. The programs teach fascinating facts about our planet, our solar system, and the distant universe. It also hosts lectures and concerts that are open to the public.

Spilberk Castle

When visiting Brno, it is worth visiting the Spilberk castle, a medieval fortress located on a hilltop. You walk about 15-20 minutes on cobblestone alleys in the park or can take a taxi directly to the castle’s main gate. The castle is home to the Brno City Museum and is considered one of the cultural centers of the city. It was certified as a national heritage site in 1962.

The Spilberk castle was built on a promontory in the 13th century and has served as a fortress and a prison. Today, the castle serves not only as the city museum but also as a great venue for the best events – that’s why the Traverse Opening Gala happened there and we could enjoy the event while watching the sunset over the city, walking the castle halls and terrace, tasting amazing local food and enjoying a great program.

Eating vegan in Brno

Having in mind that Czech cuisine is not particularly vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, I was concerned with what I would eat during my time in the city. But it turned out that all the worries were in vain and there were plenty of places that catered to my diet. So here is the list of all the places to eat out in Brno that I tested and loved.

  • Forky’s – one of the most popular vegan places in the heart of the Old Town
  • Pizzapunk – one of the best vegan pizzas I’ve ever tried
  • Vegalite – they even have some traditional Czech dishes in plant-based option
  • Cafe Placzek – they have some great vegetarian and vegan breakfast and brunch ideas
  • Die Küche – they have daily and weekly special dishes featuring seasonal produce
  • Fabrik Urban House – many of their dishes are tastefully vegetarian and vegan
Traditional Czech vegan food, Brno, Czech Republic

Day trips from Brno

Not very far out of the city of Brno you will find plenty of things to do and attractions to visit. Getting to most of those places would take 1 hour or less which makes them the perfect options for day trips from Brno. If you’re doing a road trip in the area, make sure you include some of the below highlights.

Play golf at Golf Resort Kaskada

Golfing enthusiasts can visit Golf Resort Kaskada, a picturesque golf complex situated near the historic South Moravian city. The golf complex features 27 holes and a 300-meter driving range, a spa, a restaurant, a conference center, and a wellness center. The golf complex has received many awards and is a member of the World of Leading Golf.

And I got to finally play golf! After some failed or canceled attempts and a few mini-golf games in the last few years, I managed to improve my game at the driving range and learn about the golf environment and golf equipment. Everyone in our group managed to try the basic golf posture, and practice swing and shot, and we even had a small tournament at the end.

The whole complex is so picturesque that even if you’re not a golfer and just want to absorb lovely views and tranquility, you’ll feel great there. You can stay at Hotel Kaskáda and diversify your experiences from city tourism.

Boat trip on Brno Lake and visit Veveri Castle

One of the most popular day trips from Brno is to visit Veveri Castle and take a boat ride in Brno Lake. The castle sits high above on a hill, surrounded by the Podkomorske woods. The castle is a Gothic royal fortress that was used as a hunting lodge and is now home to numerous cultural events. It’s a great peaceful place to explore and be sure to charge your camera as you’ll need it a lot.

Another popular day trip is a boat trip on the city’s reservoir or Prygl. This ten-km-long reservoir is easily accessible by public transportation (tram from the city center) and is popular with visitors. There are several beaches along the lake, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular spot for recreation. From the port, you can hop on one of the boats to Veveri Castle, which overlooks the northern part of the lake and is waiting for you to hike up (just 15 mins) to explore it.

SPA at Hotel Atlantis Brno

At some point, we will remember it’s important to take care of our wellness. Located near Brno lake, the Atlantis Hotel offers an outdoor pool and a full-service SPA and it will take care of you well. Guests can also relax in the hotel’s restaurant, which serves Czech cuisine. In-room amenities include satellite TV, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has outdoor tennis courts and free parking.

Guests can also enjoy a swim at the outdoor pool, which is seasonally open. The hotel also offers a sauna, solarium, and jacuzzi. There are also table tennis and dartboard facilities. If you want to spend a night or two and relax, you can book your stay at Hotel Atlantis.

Visit Lednice Castle and Valtice Castle

If you’re looking for a romantic day trip from Brno, you can visit Lednice Castle and Valtice Castle. Both castles are located in the scenic countryside and offer a variety of activities. Guided tours of the castles are available, but you should check the timetable before you go. If you’d prefer to see them by yourself, you can ride a bike or horseback, which will contribute to the experience. You can also add a wine-tasting detour to your day.

The villages of Lednice and Valtice are close to the border with Austria. They’re also close to Mikulov and the Palava reserve. The Colonnade offers a magnificent view of Lednice and Valtice, as well as the surrounding mountains and Palava Hills.

In the middle of the 13th century, the Liechtenstein family, one of the most powerful families in Europe, bought the castle in Lednice and stayed there until World War II. In the 17th century, the family started the process of transforming their properties and gardens. The buildings were surrounded by a lush park that showcased traditional English gardens and landscapes.

Januv Hrad - part of Lednice Valtice UNESCO area
Januv Hrad | photo by Marek Omasta on Unsplash

Brno nightlife

I can’t do justice to Brno’s nightlife as it will probably take a couple of years to enjoy all the bars, pubs, discos, and breweries of Brno. Many students in town are on a mission to actually do this and I wish them luck.

Personally, I enjoyed two bars on a pub crawling meet-up, La Gaviota with its lovely terrace in the middle of Old Town, and Pivni Burza with its own version of the beer market – Beer Exchange 2.0. The beer prices vary on current supply and demand. So if there’s a lot of demand for one type of beer, its price will go up because of high demand and low supply, and the rest of the beers will decrease in price because of low demand. It’s fun to watch the market from a screen on your table!

Salina pub

Šalina Pub is a unique concept that allows you to experience Brno with two of the most typical things in the city! Šalina – tram is the most typical way of transportation in Brno used by thousands of people every day. Beer is the national drink in the Czech Republic and needs no further justification. In Šalina Pub you can experience both things at once! The tram rides the streets of Brno on special occasions and events, but you can book it for your own party with friends.

Salina pub on a tram, Brno, Czech Republic

Starobrno brewery

So if you’re a beer lover, there is no doubt that you should visit the Starobrno brewery. You’ll have the chance to walk around the facilities and taste beer made out of the best material in Moravia right in the lager cellar. Go to this website for more details and to arrange your visit.

Getting to Brno and where to stay

Although Brno has its own airport, you’re most likely to get to Brno from Prague, Vienna, or even Bratislava. All those locations are well connected to Brno with trains and buses. I took Flixbus to get from Vienna to Brno and then another Flixbus to get from Brno to Bratislava.

Brno’s accommodation can turn out to be not enough, especially when there is a big event like Traverse in town. I’m so glad that I found a cute room in an Airbnb for a really good price. in advance. Otherwise, Brno offers a wide range of budget to luxurious accommodations and you can search for the best options in Brno on Booking.com.

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