The second part in my mini-series about exploring the Czech Republic, and this time we are taking a look at Brno!
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and is the capital of Moravia. Despite this, it is still not a city that is very popular for tourists. If you are looking for an urban getaway in the Czech Republic that is not overrun with tourists, Brno is your place.
My girlfriend and I had a day off work and decided to make the best of it by taking a trip down to Brno! We left Prague in the evening before so that we could then spend all of the next day exploring Brno. I wish we could have been there longer, but you have to work with what you got.
Getting to Brno is not hard at all. Transportation between Prague and Brno is very efficient and quick. We chose to take the train because it was the same price as a bus, and honestly I was a bit sick of taking buses at this point. Not that buses are bad options, but the train was definitely more enjoyable. It was comfortable, and we did not have to worry about traffic delays. It took us about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get there.
Just being there for a day, we knew that we would only get a taste of Brno. And I mean that in a semi-literal sense as we were determined to try as many cafes as possible in one day. We also tried hitting as many of the main attractions as we could.
To start our mini café tour, we first stopped at V Melounovém cukru, a great little café not far from the train station. They didn’t have much in the way of food, but the coffee and service were excellent.
After our coffee break, we headed towards the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. And, wow, what a cathedral it is. You can actually find an image of the cathedral on the reverse of the 10 crown coin. Now you know! It really was a spectacular church inside and out. I would have loved to climb up the tower, but it was simply too hot for that many stairs. Plus, I was hungry.
Luckily, there was a farmer’s market just down the hill from the cathedral. After browsing the various stands, we decided on some tasty looking strawberries. The strawberries in Europe always seem to be better than the ones in the United States. Darn our demand for out-of-season fruits and tolerance for GMOs.
While walking through the town and eating strawberries, we passed by the Old Town Hall. We didn’t go in, but hear there are some interesting things in there, as well as a way up the tower. But again, I was in no mood for tower climbing. Instead we just admired the deformed spire on the entrance to the town hall. Apparently, a legend says that it is like that because the mason wasn’t paid enough so he exacted his revenge by make a deformed spire. So they say. I just thought it looked kind of funny, but cool nonetheless.
At this point, we needed some real food. Strawberries and coffee were not enough. We had heard that there was a cool, Scandinavian-themed café not far, so we decided to make our way towards that. SKOG Urban Hub was everything we had hoped for and more. The interior was beautifully decorated to give it a modern, Scandinavian hipster look. The coffee was delicious, the lemonades were refreshing, and they had a vegetarian menu! Maybe some of you carnivorous readers won’t be intrigued by that, but I found it refreshing after living on the meat-heavy Czech cuisine. All in all, it was probably my favorite café that we visited. As an added bonus, it had air conditioning! A welcome relief during a day of intense sun and 30+ degrees temperatures.
After our brief stay in the oasis of SKOG, we headed over to the area around the street Veveří. We were told this was the hippest area in Brno and the unofficial student neighborhood. Sounded good to us! Unfortunately, the bakery we wanted to go to was closed because of summer holidays, but we still found the neighborhood quite lively. It had lots of bars, cafes, shops, and people. There were also a number of parks that we relaxed in.
While not on the top of our list of things to do, we had heard that Vila Tugendhat was interesting for those who enjoy architecture. Completed in 1930, the Tugendhat was designed by the famous German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. We found ourselves close to the villa and decided to go check it out just for fun. We weren’t able to take the tour of the house because you have to book those far in advanced since there are limited numbers of English tours. However, we could still appreciate it from the outside and enjoy the views of the city from the hill that it is perched on. Plus, the surrounding neighborhood of Černá Pole is very nice, so not all was lost. If you are interested in architecture, I would recommend trying to take a tour of the villa. I’m sure it is impressive.
At this point, we had been walking all day. Brno is not that big of a city (the center of the city anyways), and it wasn’t torturous to walk all of the time. The heat, however, was a bit oppressive, but I guess that won’t always be the case. We were hungry again and decided to make our way back to Veveří to eat at a café called Kafec.
Kafec was not as hipster as SKOG was. That reflected nothing on the quality though. It was a little bit too late and too hot to be ordering coffee, but the lemonades were delicious. What were even better were the Belgian waffles that they served all day. Oh my, those were tasty indeed. The waffles were loaded up with the toppings of your choice. It was like having dessert for dinner, but, oh, it felt so right. Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we decided to walk off our food comas and hike up to Špilberk Castle.
It was a bit of a hike to get up to the castle, but it was through a pleasant, well-shaded park, so it was still enjoyable. Špilberk Castle is much smaller and less ornate than Prague Castle, but it is impressive nonetheless. The walls around the castle are tall and imposing, and the inner part of the fortress looked suitably difficult to breach for attacking forces. The views of Brno from the castle are also worth the hike up the hill. I would definitely recommend making time to visit the castle, and if you have time then taking a tour of the museum in the fortress would be interesting.
Our time in Brno was drawing to a close, but we still wanted to make one more stop on our food tour of Brno. Well, this one was not exactly a food stop, but a drink stop. We had heard of a few cocktail bars worth checking out. Even though we couldn’t check out the bars at night, we still wanted to make sure we got the experience while we were in Brno. Bar, který neexistuje was where we decided to go, and it did not disappoint. The cocktails were great and the ambiance was even better. The bar felt very swanky, like something out of the 1920’s. I did feel a bit under-dressed wearing shorts, but I was not the only one in the bar dressed like that. I’m sure the bar would be even better at night. Sigh, next time I suppose.
After we had a few drinks, it was time to go catch our train back to Prague. Luckily, we weren’t far from the train station, and we had no problem getting there in time. The ride back was smooth and uneventful, just how I like my train rides.
Brno is probably top on my list of places to visit while staying in Prague. I thought it had a great vibe and lots to do. Some elements of the city are similar to Prague, but there are also many unique things to do in Brno. I wish I would have had more time in the city. My recommendation would be to stay there for at least a weekend. I did my trip in a day, but I felt it was too short. A weekend or more should give you ample amounts of time to explore the city and still relax and enjoy the laid back nature of the city.
If you don’t have any plans this weekend, consider hopping on a train to Brno! I promise it won’t disappoint.
As always, if you want to know more about travel options in the Czech Republic, check out our travel section at The Spot. We will help you plan a trip!
Comment below with any experiences you’ve had in Brno or any questions you may have!