We’re not going to try and convince you that Brno is better than Prague. Nowhere in the Czech Republic comes close to Prague in terms of the amount of things you can see and do in one place. But as a city, Brno is a rising star and excellent destination for anyone looking to skip the crowds and choose a wildcard.
If you've ever been to Prague, you'll know how packed it can get. Especially in the summer when the sun pulls everyone out into the streets. And the winter when the Christmas markets are aglow with sparkly things and cosy treats!
The truth is, anytime you go to Prague you'll find hordes shuffling over Charles Bridge and stag parties flinging themselves through quaint streets.
But around 200km south is a totally different scene, no matter the time of year. Meet Brno.
Nicknamed "the hidden heart of Europe" and "Little Vienna", Brno is a city where you won't have to worry about dodging elbows or waiting in long queues for trdelník.
It's Prague downsized. Without the touristy gimmicks, and with lots of laid-back, feel-good charm.
What to See in Brno 👀
One of the best things about Brno being relatively small, is that 2-3 days gives you more than enough time to ease into local life, drink all the beer, eat all the food and wander the cobbled streets. Here are some highlights.
The Brno Vegetable Market
Nicknamed 'Zelňák', you don't need to be shopping for cabbage to visit the Brno vegetable market. Located in one of the oldest squares in the city, this place comes alive every morning with bright flowers, colourful produce and local hustle and bustle.
It's a great place to start a day - especially on the weekends when the market is at its most vibrant.
Pick up a coffee and pastry from Momenta Cafe before doing the rounds and browsing the various stalls. You'll find a beautiful Baroque fountain in the middle of the sloping square which doubles as an excellent place to take a seat and do some people watching. And when you're done, head underground to visit a secret labyrinth!
212 steps under the market square is a network of cellars, tunnels and passages that date back to the Middle Ages.
We'd love to report that this labyrinth was once used for something truly thrilling but in true Czech style, the space was built for brewing beer, keeping wine and storing food.
There is, however, a fascinating history behind the labyrinth - one that stretches from the baroque period to WW2. Joining a tour through them will be a great way to learn more about the history of Brno and its people.
Cathedral of St Peter and Paul
The giant Gothic cathedral at the top of Petrov Hill is an important icon for Brno. It's one of the most notable landmarks of the city and also found on the Czech ten-crown coin.
Locally known as Petrov, it's well worth a visit and is open Monday – Saturday from 8.15 am – 18.30 pm, and Sunday from 7.00 am – 18.30 pm.
Špilberk Castle sits on a hilltop in the centre of Brno. One of the best things about visiting this fortress is the walk you take to get there. A winding path snakes its way up lush hedgerows and well-tended grounds and, at the top, you'll be rewarded with great views of Brno (it takes about 10minutes to reach the top).
If you're lucky, Czech traditional revelries are known to take place in the castle grounds. Think, lots of beer, lots of old Czech songs - all beneath the spires and Baroque grandeur of a castle.
The castle is also home to Brno City Museum.
Great for hiking, biking, canoeing, picnicking and relaxing! Brno Lake is a great place for action or inaction, depending on your mood.
You can even take to the water on one of the steam boats that chug across the lake, dropping passengers off at different points (including the beautiful Veveří Castle). The whole lake is a popular spot with locals and located to the northwest of the city. You can reach it from the centre by a 20 minute tram.
Where to Eat in Brno 🍲
For traditional Czech food: Stopkova Plzeňská Pivnice
For Czech vegan food: Pilgrim
For trdelník: Trdlokafe
Where to Drink in Brno 🍺
Brno is a student city, and is dotted with lots of hipster cafes and cool bars. Here are some of the best places you should check out.
Best bars in Brno:
- The bar which does not exist.
- Super Panda Circus
- Pivni Burza
- Starobrno Brewery
- Vycep Na stojaka
Best coffee shops in Brno:
- Momenta Cafe
- Cafe Pilat (also a wine bar)
- Cosmopolis Café
- SKØG Urban Hub