As the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno is one of the country’s attractions. It is easily accessible either by train or by flight. Remarkably enough, the city isn’t made of tourist attractions like the famous capital Prague. Tourists don’t come to Brno for its major highlights, but for its pleasant atmosphere that makes the city such a popular place to explore. We spent three days in Brno when travelling around the Czech Republic, but we already recommend visiting this gem if you could only spend one day in Brno. We collected the best tips for visiting Brno and will tell you all about them. If you only have one day in Brno, what sights to visit, what things to do and where to find the best food?
Staying in Brno
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Brno, make sure to find one in the heart of the historic city. You can easily recognize this area on a map, as it is surrounded by a green city park and railway lines on one side and the castle hill Spielberg on the other. We chose a nice apartment for our baby in the heart of the city, between the charming squares and the best restaurants. There are many accommodations in this area, so there is plenty of choice. We can highly recommend:
- Wake Up Wellness Hostel near the station with both private rooms and dorms
- Best Place and Comfort Apartments for a design apartment in a central location
- 10-Z Bunker where you sleep underground in one of Brno’s top sights
- Barceló Brno Palace for a luxury stay if you have a slightly larger budget
- Anybody Hotel with a different film theme for each room
How to spend one day in Brno: the best sights and things to do
We already mentioned that Brno is glued together by big sights and historical monuments, like many European cities that are worth visiting as a traveller. The historic centre of Brno is nevertheless a wonderful place to explore with a lot of atmosphere and plenty of beautiful things to do. Stroll through the streets and charming squares to soak up the pleasant atmosphere of the city, see the beautiful monuments and have a drink on one of the sunny terraces.
The Brno squares and astronomical ‘clock’
Brno has several large squares. One of the more famous squares is Náměstí Svobody (also called Place de la Liberté). The square has a large fountain, a kitschy baroque plague column, beautiful historic buildings and a very special astronomical clock. It is referred to as an astronomical clock, like the one in Prague and Olomouc, but it actually isn’t. In fact, you can’t even tell the time. It is a work of art of black stone in the form of, well, a rocket? Or a penis? Every morning at 11:00 a glass ball is released from the artwork in one of the four openings on the side. That is the reason you’ll probably see people standing around the clock early in the morning people, claiming one of the openings to make sure they have one of the four chances to catch a ball at 11 am. There are actual collectors of the Brno balls and they come here regularly. It’s quite a strange sight: four adults with their hands in a penis-shaped monument trying to catch a marble.
Why exactly at 11 am? According to a legend, a bell-ringer in Brno tricked the Swedish army by ringing the bells at 11 am instead of 12 am. Because of this, Brno could win the Thirty Years’ War. The bells of the cathedral ring as well at 11 am because of this legend.
The best viewpoints in Brno
Be sure to visit too Spielberg Castle on Spielberg Hill. Even if you don’t want to visit the castle itself, it’s worth climbing up for a beautiful view of the city. You could climb the watchtower of the castle (and you’ll need a ticket for that), but you also have beautiful views from the castle hill itself. And there are more viewpoints in Brno, as the city has many towers open to visitors. Some of the best viewpoints are:
- the St. James Church (Kostel sv. Jakuba) tower of 92 meters
- the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul tower of 84 meters
- the Old Town Hall (Stará radnice) tower of 63 meters
The Brno underground world
But Brno isn’t just about heights. Actually, it’s the opposite! One of the best sights of Brno is its underground world. Almost the entire city has caves underneath the squares, buildings and streets. There are several places where you can explore the Brno tunnel system. A great place to visit is the Brno Underground Ossuary with a charnel cellar that was discovered in 2001. Bones used to be stored in a charnel house. But when too many people died in a short time during the Thirty Years’ War, bones were stored here. You can even see the bullet holes in some soldiers’ skulls.
You could also choose to visit the Brno Underground Labyrinth under the Vegetable Market, where you can take a guided tour of one hour. The vegetable market – Zelný trh in Czech – can be found on the square with the Parnas fountain. The locals have been coming here to buy their fruit and vegetables since the fifteenth century. We have been told that that monumental Parnas Fountain was the main source of water in the city at the time.
Another underground attraction in Brno is Bunker 10-Z. Yes, we already mentioned it as a special place to sleep in Brno. The bunker was mainly used in the communist era when its existence was a secret for the local people in Brno. It was constructed earlier though, as a bomb shelter against American and Russian bombings during the Nazi occupation. The bunker now has a bar – Marcel Ihnacak Milk Bar – and you can spend the night here.
Other Brno sights
Other highlights in Brno include Villa Tugendhat for an award-winning piece of modern architecture, the Old Town Hall with a crocodile hanging from its ceiling in the portal, the light show in the fountain in front of the theatre and the Moravská gallery with a remarkable statue of a long-legged horse in front.
Drinks and foods in Brno: best hotspots and food trucks
Brno is a great place for foodies. The city is filled with trendy hotspots, food trucks and sunny terraces. We especially love the small carts throughout the city with food and drinks. They are a bit like food trucks, though they have the size of a tuk-tuk. They often have their own terraces and seating areas. We highly recommend looking for Kofi Kofi, as it’s one of the best coffee spots in Brno.
Another unique thing about Brno is its white wine, as the city is located in South Moravia, the wine region of the Czech Republic. You can order a glass of wine everywhere, but there are also special wine shops in this part of the Czech Republic. Just walk into a ‘vinoteca’ and immerse yourself in the local specialty.
- Monogram Espresso Bar for breakfast and coffee
- FRYENDS for vegan food to go
- SKØG Urban Hub for breakfast and coffee
- Forky’s for an extensive vegan menu
The best day trips from Brno
Brno is the largest city in Moravia, making it the perfect place to stay even longer than one day and use it as a base to explore the area.
We highly recommend visiting the colourful and historic town Olomouc, which is often referred to as a small version of Prague. It is filled with monuments – only Prague has more protected monuments than this small town – like the astronomical clock, churches and fountains in the city centre. The historic centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Another highlight in South Moravia is the small town Mikulov in the heart of the wine region. It’s known for its castle, beautiful sunset and white wine. It is a fairytale village with a castle high on the white rocks, pastel-coloured buildings, cosy terraces and narrow streets.
Not far from here is the Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, one of the largest landscape parks in the world and protected on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Two impressive palaces were built here in the huge landscape park, one in Valtice and one in Lednice. Around and in between those palaces is an enormous park with a castle ruin, Roman aqueduct, ancient greenhouse, temples, hunting lodges, forests, chapels, a Moorish minaret, ponds, streams and so on.