Last updated on December 6, 2023
Brno is one of those underrated city break destinations that tourists often miss. While everyone’s busy getting lost in the cobblestone streets of Prague or waltzing around Vienna, it’s just waiting to be discovered. When planning our Czechia itinerary, we decided to give Brno a shot and it did not disappoint.
Even though Brno is the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, the moment you arrive, the crowds seem to just melt away. It also gives off a more authentic vibe than the capital city of Prague. Plus, thanks to its big student community, Brno has a lively, youthful energy that’s unique in its own right.
We took 48 hours to see what the city had in store, and that was just right to catch the main Brno attractions. Based on our time there, I’ve put together a guide on the best things to do in Brno, including top spots to eat and have a drink. By the end of this, I’m pretty sure you’ll be thinking about your own Brno adventure!
How to get to Brno
Brno is easily accessible from various parts of Europe, with several convenient options to choose from. First of all, it has its own airport, Brno-Tuřany Airport, which welcomes flights from several European cities. Brno’s central train station is also a major hub, with connections not just from Prague and other Czech cities, but also from neighbouring countries like Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. And, there are several bus companies that operate routes to Brno from different places across Europe.
I’d personally highly recommend taking a RegioJet train. Our journey from Prague to Brno took 3 hours but, depending on the time of day, you can do it in around 2.5 hours. If you upgrade from Low cost to Standard fare, you can enjoy a modern compartment with free water and coffee, as well as screens integrated into the seats, offering different forms of entertainment. A return ticket cost just under €34 per person, which was super cheap considering the value we were getting.
And, with an on-board menu like this, you don’t have to worry about getting snacks for your train ride! We decided to check it out on our way back to Prague, and it honestly blew us away. You order through an app and the stewards bring your food to your seat. I ordered a croissant with ham and cheese, a slice of cheesecake with chocolate crumble topping, and a cappuccino, and it cost me… 35 CZK (around €1.45 or £1.25)! The only downside is that it took over an hour to get our food. But, if you buy a first class ticket, you get priority service and free champagne, so we’ll definitely look into it next time 😉
Looking for day trip ideas from Brno? Check out these guides:
Best things to do in Brno
1. See the burial site of Capuchin friars
Tucked away in Brno’s city centre is the Capuchin Crypt that serves as a burial spot for the friars that arrived in the city in the 17th century.
The Capuchins led very simple lives and took a poverty vow, which they stuck to even after death. After the main funeral ceremony, their bodies were taken down to the crypt and placed on the ground. Only those who stayed in the monastery for over 50 years had the privilege of being buried with a simple wooden cross above their heads.
The composition of the soil and the dry air gradually mummified their bodies which remain on display to this day. For a small fee of 150 CZK (around €6/£5.30), you can visit the crypt and pay your respects. If you’re looking for an eerie experience to start off your trip, this is definitely it!
2. Visit the Brno Ossuary
Following on the topic of burial sites, there’s yet another place that you shouldn’t miss. After Paris, Brno is home to the second-largest ossuary in Europe located beneath the Church of St. James, being the final resting place of over 50,000 people!
Back in the day, cremation was not allowed for religious reasons, so people were buried in the nearby cemetery. However, after the Thirty Years’ War, as well as the outbreaks of the plague and cholera which claimed many lives, they started running out of space. After a new decree came into force prohibiting the burial of people in residential areas, they exhumed the bodies and moved the bones over to the ossuary.
The place was eventually forgotten about, until 2001, when it was accidentally rediscovered during a survey of Brno’s underground. To offer you some perspective on the scale of this place, what you can see now is only 10-15% of the initial discovery. They buried the rest of the remains in the Central Cemetery in Brno. While most of the bones have been rearranged, there’s one part that was left in the exact state it was found.
The entrance fee is 160 CZK (around €6.50/£5.60), and it’s certainly one of the most fascinating places you can visit in Brno!
3. Explore the Labyrinth under the Vegetable Market
If you thought that was the end of the secrets lurking in Brno’s underground, you’d be wrong! For a fee of 180 CZK (around €7.30/£6.40), you can go 8 metres deep under the city’s main square and explore its history dating back to the Middle Ages.
You can learn how these underground cellars were used for storing food, beer, and maturing wine when there were no refrigerators, and see an old alchemist’s laboratory. (If you’re into this kind of stuff, definitely check out my Prague guide for more!)
But the most striking place for me, personally, was the madman’s cage. Back in the day, it was believed that mentally ill people were actually possessed, and that by making them as uncomfortable as possible, you could get those evil spirits to leave.
So, they would put these people in low cages and place sharp objects on the ground, making it impossible to stand upright, sit, or lay down. After they learned it did nothing to cure mental illnesses, they removed the sharp objects and used these cages to lock up drunk people roaming the streets of Brno instead. Don’t worry, though – they eventually stopped this practice too. These days, you can only get in for a photo 😉
4. Catch a marble from the Astronomical Clock
Did you know that Brno is the only place where noon comes one hour early? Now, let me explain… During the Thirty Years’ War, when Brno was under the Swedish siege, a Swedish general made a pact with the citizens. If the Swedes weren’t able to conquer Brno until noon, they would surrender and leave. So, the tricky locals turned back the clocks and saved the city!
To commemorate this victory, the bullet-shaped Astronomical Clock was erected near Freedom Square (although I wouldn’t blame you for thinking the shape resembled something entirely different 😉 ). Every day at 11 am, it releases a marble through one of the four openings. If you want to stand a chance of catching it, though, you have to get there super early. When we walked past around 9 am, 2 locals had already claimed their spots!
5. See the Brno Dragon
An actual dragon in Brno? Yes, that’s right… or at least that’s who the citizens thought was once tormenting their city.
According to a local legend, the creature went around killing the people of Brno and their livestock. Nobody knew how to put an end to this terror, until a butcher from far away came to the rescue. He filled an animal carcass with a large amount of caustic lime and tricked the dragon into eating it. The beast got very thirsty afterwards. He drank his weight in water and the lime in his stomach expanded, causing it to burst.
If all of this sounds too similar to other legends you may have heard, such as the famous Wawel Dragon tale, that’s because it does. And, while Kraków has a metal dragon sculpture by the entrance to the cave, Brno has an actual body to prove it 😉
If you visit the Old Town Hall, you can see a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling. The truth is, well, far from mythical. The dragon may have actually been a crocodile gifted by a visiting foreign dignitary. Either way, you can see where the legend got its start, and it’s a funny little tourist attraction in Brno 😉
6. Catch a hockey game
Hockey is more than just a national sport in the Czech Republic; it’s a passion, a tradition, and a way of life. So, if you happen to be visiting Brno around the time there’s a game on, I’d highly recommend you go.
We were actually on our way to the 10-Z Bunker when we spotted lots of people wearing hockey jerseys. It turned out there was a Czech Republic vs Finland hockey game happening in an hour and a half. There were tickets still available, so we snapped them right up!
I’ve been to a hockey game before, but never on such a big scale. Even if you’re not a die-hard hockey fan, you’ll get swept up in the atmosphere. The roar of the crowd, the clashing of sticks, and the thrill of the puck zipping across the ice are electrifying. Or maybe it’s the fact that they chose Måneskin and Foo Fighters for their warm-up playlist that had me cheering on the Czech team… Take your pick 😉
7. Visit the 10-Z Bunker
The 10-Z Bunker was originally built during WWII as an air-raid shelter. After the war, it briefly served as a wine store, until the CSSR took over and turned it into a nuclear fallout shelter for the chosen few.
Interestingly enough, it remains fully usable to this day, with the ability to house around 500 people. If you’re after that once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can actually sleep inside the bunker. There’s a hostel, complete with a Soviet-style milk bar, and a somber sign on the door which says it’s “free in case of a nuclear attack”. Thankfully, they never had to run that promo.
Or, if you’re not feeling that adventurous, you can either opt for a guided tour or explore on your own. We paid 180 CZK (around €7.30/£6.40) for the second option, which included an audioguide.
As we’d been to Albania the year before (check out my Tirana guide for advice on which bunker to visit best and what to expect), there was no element of surprise. Still, I’d highly recommend it if you’ve never been to a bunker before, or would simply like to get a glimpse into Brno’s dark past. Plus, if you really want to get into character, there are a few places in the bunker where you can play dress-up!
8. Walk around the Špilberk Castle grounds
From the 10-Z Bunker, it takes a short uphill walk to reach one of the biggest tourist attractions in Brno, the 13th-century Špilberk Castle. It has served a handful of purposes over the years, from a fortified royal residence to the harshest prison in the Austrian empire. It’s also the place where they kept military prisoners and objectors to the regime during both world wars.
These days, it houses a museum where you can learn more about the city’s history. Or, if you’re exploring Brno on a budget, you can enter the castle grounds for free to enjoy great panoramic views of the city.
9. Eat your way around the city
Brno’s food scene is as vibrant and diverse as its history, and eating your way around the city is another great way to explore it.
If you’ve read my Prague guide, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the most popular Czech dishes. The Moravia region, with Brno as its capital, brings its own unique local dishes to the table, often featuring pork meat, flour, cabbage, and fruit such as plums.
Moravian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the street markets, and the Zelný trh, or Vegetable Market, in Brno is a prime example. It’s been around for a whopping 850 years! In the mornings, you can find a bit of everything there, from savoury sausages to fresh produce. In the afternoons, it’s where the street food trucks set up shop and the locals come to chill in deck chairs with a cold beverage in hand.
After a few days of eating Czech food, when we arrived in Brno, we needed something else for a change. Mexican food is our ultimate comfort food, so we visited La Piňata, located right off the Vegetable Market.
I’ve never actually been to Mexico, so I have no way of comparing the food. Still, it was one of the best burritos I’ve had to date, and the lavender lemonade was perfectly refreshing – would totally recommend!
If you’re on the hunt for the best dining spots in Brno, you can swing by the information centre and grab a free copy of the Brno Gourmet Guide. They give it a fresh update every year, ensuring you’re always in the know about the hottest local dining spots.
But, most importantly, you can’t come to Brno and not try the local Moravian wines. Pop into any wine bar around, and you’re in for a real treat!
10. Have breakfast at Eggo Truck Brno
Whether you’re an “eggspert” or just someone who enjoys a good yolk, you should totally stop by Eggo Truck Brno for breakfast when you’re in Brno.
What started as a food truck serving meals on the move, Eggo Truck Brno has now settled into its own restaurant, continuing to whisk up a great reputation for its egg-centric breakfast and brunch items.
What caught my eye was that the coffee list was longer than the breakfast one, really highlighting their focus on freshness. When we dropped by, they had a menu with just 6 dishes, with the option to ask for some off-menu items.
But, even with the limited choice, not once did I find myself in a scramble to pick something to eat 😉 And, the coffee’s great too! The only downside is that the place itself is rather small and they don’t take reservations, so you may have to wait for a while for a free table.
11. Enjoy specialty coffee at Rebelbean Coffee Roastery
Whenever I plan a new trip, one of my priorities is finding the best specialty coffee shops in the area. I absolutely love drinking coffee and buying some quality coffee beans to bring back home instead of a souvenir. Sadly, we didn’t have too much time to explore Brno’s coffee scene, but we did manage to pop into Rebelbean Coffee Roastery for a cup of joe and some cake.
Any coffee shop that has nitro cold brew on the menu is an instant winner in my book, and this was no exception. Seriously, if you’ve never tried it, you just have to. Even though I never ever take my coffee black, I could easily have several glasses of nitro cold brew one after the other. Plus, the cakes were amazing too, and the coffee shop on Přízova 5 street had plenty of space for you to chill or do some remote work.
12. Play the cocktail game at Super Panda Circus
Now, I left the best for last… I’ve been to a bunch of cocktail bars in different countries, but none as unique as Super Panda Circus in Brno. Even though it’s located on a street right off the main square, it’s not an easy find. If you type the name into Google Maps, the app will lead you to an unassuming door. Ring the buzzer, and someone will come to let you in.
And that’s when things begin to get even more interesting… Instead of a traditional menu, you’re presented with a choice of characters. Each character is your gateway to a unique “choose your own adventure” game – with a side of cocktails, of course! I won’t spoil the rest for you, but if you’re ever in Brno, it’s totally worth a go!
Sure, the cocktails are definitely on the pricier side as compared to other bars in Brno. You can expect to pay around 240 CZK for one cocktail (around €9.70/£8.50), but I promise the experience is worth every penny. We’ve been thinking about it and recommending it to our friends ever since. And, the best part about Super Panda Circus is that the way it’s been created, you can keep returning and discover something new each time!
Which of these Brno attractions are you most excited about? And what is the most unique bar you’ve ever been to?