The best and most unusual things to do in Brno on your visit
Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, is the younger brother of Prague, the country’s capital but many travellers never seem to make it here which is a huge shame! So I wanted to write this article to show you a few of the best things to do in Brno. Because of its huge population of university students, Brno is compact, walkable, and has a youthful vibe. Brno is a very cool city that is well worth a visit if you enjoy smaller cities and want to get away from the traditional European tourist traps, no expensive beer here!. It’s a great place to stop on a longer central European tour because it’s only three hours from Prague and two hours from Vienna. Many of the characteristics that distinguish Brno are not immediately evident to the tourist new to Brno which is why I wanted to include some of the more unusual things to do in Brno in this article, because they are certainly worth finding out. For your next trip to the Czech Republic, learn about the top things to do in Brno so you too, can be one of the privileged few to travel through this hidden gem in Europe.
The Astronomical clock
The city’s major centre of activity and interest is Freedom Square (Náměstí Svobody in Czech). It’s also on the list of the best things to do in Brno. A variety of outstanding Renaissance and functionalist style structures surround the triangular square. Any architecture fan will be delighted!
Despite the fact that it is not an astronomical clock, this modern timepiece in Freedom Square in the centre of Brno is known by a variety of unofficial titles, the most of which allude to its ‘standout’ design. It’s made of polished black granite, and it’s a mystery how you can tell the time with it. At 11am each day a single glass ball drops from the clock for a lucky recipient to keep, if you want to try your luck make sure you go early to get a spot to catch the ball!
Labrynth Under Zelni Trh
There are a number of underground passages and cellars beneath Brno’s oldest plaza, Zelni trh (the cabbage market). Originally designed to keep food, brew beer, and age wine, alchemists, doctors, and pharmacists utilised them to conduct experiments. Some vaults were even set aside for the incarceration and torture of criminal suspects. A short guided tour of the labyrinth is available and worth checking out..
Check out the tour here.
The former nuclear fallout shelter at the bottom of the hill, directly beneath Spilberk Castle, was opened to the public as a museum. It has been renovated after being abandoned since 1993 to represent how it would have looked during the Cold War, when it could hold 500 people for up to three days. The bunker’s convoluted hallways lead you through the diesel generator room, the air filtration room, the telephone switchboard centre, and other living and sleeping spaces on a self-guided tour. At different spots along the path, audio-visual exhibits describe the history of the bunker from diverse perspectives. You can even stay here in some super imaginative accommodation.
One house stands out in Brno’s Cerna Pole neighbourhood, which is full of functionalist buildings and a display of the 20th-century villa society era. Villa Tugendhat is the sole modern construction among the 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Czech Republic. The architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created Villa Tugendhat, which was finished in 1930 for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat, a Jewish industrialist family who owned textile, sugar, and cement enterprises. The Tugendhats left Brno in 1938 to avoid World War II, and the villa, which is a key part of Brno’s Jewish heritage, was restored to its original appearance in 2012, as was Greta’s family home across the street, the art nouveau style Löw-Beer Villa. For more information or a tour reservation, visit their website.
Spilberk Castle is positioned high above the city of Brno. It appears to be beckoning guests from above. Pay a visit by winding your way through the neighboring park’s serpentine pathways. Once you’ve submitted your work, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over the city, particularly from the castle’s tower. Built in the 1300s, this whitewashed castle has cheerful red rooftops.Spilberk Castle, wasn’t always such a desirable location. In fact, it served as a prison for much of its history. It even has a reputation for being Europe’s most brutal prison. Hardened criminals were incarcerated in large cells with up to 200 other inmates and were condemned to hard labour. Spend your afternoons here with a drink in hand from one of the several cafes and take in the views of the city.
Vida! Science centre
Head just a little way out of the centre to find the brilliant Vida Science Centre.Launch a hydrogen rocket, appear on the weather channel, freeze your own shadow, experience an earthquake, cause a tornado to erupt, and reach the Bermuda Triangle’s bottom. All of these adventures, and many more, await you at the VIDA! science centre. Playful explorers of all ages will find more than 177 interactive displays spread across roughly 5,000 square metres near the Brno trade fair complex, giving them a greater understanding of the world around them. The Planet, Civilization, Man, and the Microworld are the four theme components of this one-of-a-kind exhibition. There are captions in Czech, English, and German for each exhibit. You can explore more here.
Brno features Europe’s second-largest ossuary, after Paris. It is thought that around 50,000 people are buried here. As early as the beginning of the 13th century, the Church of St James had a churchyard. The churchyard’s capacity quickly became insufficient to meet the needs of the expanding city, necessitating the adoption of a unique burial method in which graves were opened 10 to 12 years after burial and the remains were removed to make way for another body. You can also book a tour here.
The bodies of monks and benefactors were kept in this monastery in a way that turned them into mummies. The mummified bodies may now be seen and information about their lives can be learned. However, be aware that you will come across many dead bodies, which should be treated with respect. It is, without a doubt, a sobering experience, If not a little gruesome. For a tour or more information, you can visit their website.
This neo-Gothic cathedral is famous for the bells that always ring noon at 11am., a tradition that dates back to a 1645 siege by the Swedes. This is another example of how you are able to get up close to stunning architecture without hoards of tourists.
Along with all these options. Brno makes a great spot to base yourself in to see some of the rest of Europe, there are some great food, drink and stay options to be found. All at reasonable prices.
Depending on where you want to eat Brno has so many great places. Here are a few of my favourites:
If you are looking to stay in Brno there are some great options. Without a doubt my favourite place to stay is Hotel Anybody, you can read about my experience here.
If you are after a budget stay, check out:
As you can see, Brno is a hidden gem in the centre of Europe and has many attractions to keep you busy throughout your stay. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Brno and if you have already visited this unusual city then let us know what you got up to in the comments.