Okay! So, for whatever reason, you’ve decided to go to Brno. Congratulations! Despite what anybody might tell you, Brno really is a splendid town. (Though perhaps a little boring in the summertime.) I loved Brno for its friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Here, old folks sit on benches around the fountain in the square, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the music of the lone busker in the shady corner. A few streets away, bearded and bespectacled youngsters in checkered shirts hang outside bars, chatting and laughing. In Brno, it seems, the weather is warmer, the wine is fuller, the food is tastier. Life seems better here. But I digress.
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From Prague, take the Student Agency coach. They leave every hour and manage to make even a bumpy ride on bad Czech roads quite enjoyable with free wi-fi, hot beverages, and a selection of movies and TV shows as well as local magazines and newspapers. The ride to Brno takes about 2.5 hours, but with all that entertainment it’ll fly by!
Once in Brno, you’ll need to replenish your strength and prepare for an afternoon of exploration. Head over to one of the town’s many quaint bistros for a lunch special. The places that most intrigued me were Bistro Franz (for their seasonal menu prepared with locally sourced produce), Castellana (for their cosy interior and interesting menu), Cattani (for their genuine home-made pasta), and Café Atlas (for their creative vegetarian fare and crazy décor). Save your espresso for one of Brno’s superb cafés such as Café Tunsgram or SKØG Urban Hub, which will most likely be a stone’s throw from where you’ll be lunching.
After that, it’s time to take on the town! Brno is tiny so it’s really easy to see everything on foot. Take a tour of the underground to learn a bit about the history and then admire the rooftops from the Town Hall Tower. (Don’t forget to smile at the Brno Dragon – actually a crocodile – hanging in the passageway, on your way in.) Stroll over to the gothic St. Peter and Paul Cathedral and – if you feel up to it – climb the hill to Brno’s most prominent landmark, the Špilberk Castle. If you need a break on your way up or down, stop by the delightful Café Podnebí, located right at the foot of the woody hill. Be warned, however, that you might never want to leave this garden paradise with their delightful lemonades and refreshing beer!
When it’s time for dinner, allow Brno to show off its fine dining charms to you. I’ve heard good things from locals about Restaurant Pavillon (Mediterranean), Il Mercato (Italian) and Koishi (Japanese and very, very good as well as very, very pricey). For those who just want good grub, head over to East Village, Brno’s one and only American style diner, or Skanzeen, a no-joke, chalet-style restaurant serving traditional Moravian fare.
If you’re looking to enhance your experience with some culture, head no further than Sono Centrum, Brno’s spanking new music club. (So spanking new, in fact, that many locals still don’t know thethe y have it.) The building is worth seeing for its architecture alone, but you’re sure to find interesting events happening inside, as well, the Brno Jazz Festival being a popular event featuring interesting guests throughout the spring and summer.
Brno truly comes to life at night. Being a student town, the streets are alive with youngsters spilling in and out of numerous bars and pubs. Probably the best place you’ll encounter is the “Bar that doesn’t exist” (Bar, který neexistuje), whose owners have travelled the world in search of the best cocktail recipes. Their selection is genuinely astounding, and the quality of the drinks (served in cut glass tumblers) as well as the stylish yet relaxed ambiance contribute to one of those experiences that you’ll want to hold on to for a long time to come. And should you get those midnight munchies, their burgers are definitely a great fix!
After a full day of new experiences, you’re going to want to lay your head down somewhere comfy. While Brno offers a handful of nice hotels in various price ranges, my accommodation of choice would be the Barceló Brno Palace. A gorgeous hotel located on a quiet square within the centre, it wows with its modern yet cosy interior. The beds are gigantic, and the buffet breakfast is an opulent feast featuring a selection of traditional Spanish dishes.
With breakfast in your belly, you can set out to the Museum of Romani Culture. It’s not secret that the vast majority of Czechs are unabashed racists when it comes to the Roma, so visiting this museum is not just an opportunity to learn more about the culture and the history of the Roma, but also to make a statement – however personal and insignificant – against the ongoing harassment of this community.
Not far from the museum you’ll find one of Brno’s most sought-after landmarks – the Villa Tugenhat, a functionalist gem from the late 1920s designed by Mies van der Rohe. Tickets are hard to come by so make sure to book a tour well in advance. However, don’t fret if you don’t make it, and visit the functionalist café Era instead.
Brno’s many quaint shops and boutiques definitely deserve some time to be explored, as well! The Marináda Store is both a shop and a bistro selling regional delicacies, while Pokojík offers lovely designer items for the home. The Rosebud flower shop is famous for its décor as much as for its lovely flowers.
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So much for the rough itinerary! Of course, it goes without saying that these are just suggestions – ready to serve you in case you get stuck or can’t make a decision. There’s no need to feel like you have to check out everything! (I certainly didn’t.) The most important thing is for you to enjoy yourself and to explore the town at your own pace and discover it with your own eyes. Enjoy!