One of the most up and coming destinations in Central Europe and places to keep on your radar is Brno, the Czech Republic’s second largest city. Ask many locals and they will tell you that Brno is giving Prague a run for its money. With tons of amazing things to do in Brno from exploring the food scene, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, admiring the modern and historic architecture, to visiting the nearby landscape and wine scene you can’t go wrong.
We recommend checking out these 10 things to do in Brno for a first time visit and making time to visit Brno on your Czech Republic trip outside of Prague.
When in Brno, consider taking this historic walking tour with a guide in the historic city center. You can book your tickets in advance here.
One of the best things to do in Brno is visit one of the dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites the country has to offer. This is one of the more unique UNESCO sites since it doesn’t quite look like it’s from the same century as many of the other UNESCO sites in the country because it isn’t.
This historical home is located in a ritzy neighborhood of Brno and is one of the first fine examples of modern architecture in Europe. Villa Tugendhat was built in the late 1920s for the Tugendhat family and symbolizes the movement of modern architecture making its way to Europe.
The villa is minimalist with a sleek design and honestly reminds us of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The Tugendhat family was Jewish and only was able to live in the house for 8 years before having to flee the country in 1938 to Switzerland.
The villa has served as many different things over the decades from being an apartment, office, and even dance studio to name a few. The house was confiscated in 1939 and was damaged during WWII and it wasn’t until 1993 when locals put together the cause to save and restore the villa before becoming a UNESCO site in 2001.
This is what to do in Brno if you enjoy architecture and love seeing UNESCO World Heritage sites like us. However, to visit Villa Tugendhat you need to prepare in advance. You must make a reservation well in advance, they even suggest months in advance on their website. You can do so by contacting at +420 515 511 015 / 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Our next pick for what to do in Brno is also one of the most creepy and unique things to do in Brno. The Brno Ossuary in Kostnice u sv. Jakuba or the Church of St. James is the second largest ossuary in Europe behind the Paris catacombs. Much like the popular day trip from Prague, Sedlec Ossuary near Kutna Hora there is a large display of human remains in an artistic pattern.
The Brno Ossuary is home to over 50,000 bones from human bodies in the cellar of the Church of St. James. Explore the three different chambers to beautiful music being played in the ossuary by a Czech composer.
Why are the bones on display like this? The common burial practice in the Czech Republic since the 13th century was that bodies would remain in a grave for 10-12 years after this time period passed the bones and remains would be moved to an underground area or ossuary to make room for a new corpse to be buried in the gravesite. You can imagine back then that these gravesites filled up quickly with the common plague and cholera epidemics.
To visit you enter the staircase outside of the Church of St. James entrance, the ossuary is open every day except for Mondays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Cathedral of St Peter & St Paul
One of the most iconic things to do in Brno is visit the picturesque and easily recognizable Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. The cathedral is perched on Petrov hill and is the epicenter of the entire city. The cathedral itself is considered one of the most notable pieces of architecture in South Moravia.
The cathedral has a Gothic Revival architecture, a style that we are absolutely in love with here in the Czech Republic and the interior is done in a gorgeous and delicate Baroque style of architecture.
If you’re anything like us you may like to appreciate stunning pieces of architecture both inside and out. Besides just admiring from the exterior from all over the city of Brno, be sure to visit the inside to admire the detail.
Old Town Hall Tower
If you find yourself wondering what to do in Brno then you can make your way to the Old Town Hall where there’s not only an amazing viewing tower but the city’s information center for tourists. The information center can help you find the best things to do in Brno best suited for you and afterward you can climb the tower for an amazing view of the city, castle, and cathedrals.
The courtyard also has a cafe and if you follow along the signs to the toilet there is a free restroom located here. If you’ve been traveling in Europe long enough you know how rare of a find that is!
One of the most underwhelming things to do in Brno is also a must see if you find yourself in Náměstí Svobody around 11 am. The Astronomical Clock in Brno, which is actually just a clock, is a strange black vessel shaped monument that is supposed to represent a bullet shape in Náměstí Svobody, or Freedom Square parked right in front of the modern Omega building.
The clock symbolizes the defense of the city of Brno against the Swedish Army. I have no idea how to tell time on the clock, but apparently, there are instructions next to the clock that tell you how to determine the time. Every day at 11 am, the clock does its daily routine of releasing a little glass ball out of one of the four holes on the sides.
However, there are people parked here for up to an hour if not more the catch the lucky ball. Only one is released so if you find yourself parked in front of one of the holes you only have a 25% chance of getting the glass ball. We quickly realized that the people who got here early will sell the marble afterward and this is a way for them to earn a living. This is what to do in Brno is you’re looking for a unique souvenir, but you will really have to prepare and plan for it unless you’re willing to just buy it off the lucky person who won it that day.
Checking out the food, nightlife, bars, and cafe scene is what to do in Brno and one of the best things to do in Brno if you’re a foodie. For the size of the city the food scene is large! From plenty of options for vegans, international cuisine, to some of the finest food you can have for a very reasonable price.
Some of our favorite stops included local and traditional dishes at Stopkova Plzenska Pivnice. Amazing coffee, beer, and vegan bites at SKØG Urban Hub and a fun bar and cocktail experience at The Bar That Doesn’t Exist.
Another unmissable thing to do in Brno is visit Špilberk Castle on the hill overlooking the entire city. Dating back to the 13th century you get one of the best views from the city and the skyline of Brno including the cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul from the fortification walls surrounding the castle.
You can easily spend an hour up here just walking the castle grounds and enjoying the views. There are even castle goats and miniature horses below the hill of the castle. Besides being a castle, Špilberk was also a military fortress through the 17th and 18th centuries as well as one of the harshest prisons in Europe during the 18th century.
Explore More of Brno’s Underground
If you’re a fan of the underground then visiting the Labyrinth under the Vegetable Market and The Mint Master’s Cellar is what to do in Brno for you. Besides the ossuary, there are a few things to do in Brno in the underground.
The Labyrinth under the Vegetable Market is located below the Vegetable Market, hence the name. The winding maze of the underground cellar includes a visit to an alchemist lab, wine cellar, and an interesting background of how food and drinks were stored below the city centuries ago as well as a bunker or hiding place during war.
The Mint Master’s Cellar in Dominikánské náměstí, or the Dominican Square is a museum of coin making and mint for Moravia below the streets!
If you love the outdoors and adventure then this is what to do in Brno for you. Around 30 km from Brno is the Moravian Karst, an expansive cave system with 5 different caves and a beautiful gorge at Macocha Abyss and cable car you can visit.
This is one of the best things to do in Brno if you want to see a bit of the natural setting of the Czech Republic and don’t mind leaving the city to experience it.
You can either get a bus or drive to the Skalní Mlyn Information Center where you can buy tickets for a train shuttle or the cable car for the abyss. From here you can explore the Moravian Karst. The easiest cave to visit is Catherine’s Cave and most likely doesn’t require a reservation in advance like many of the other caves. Catherine’s Cave is a 5-minute walk from the information center and has daily tours you can hop on.
The most popular caves to visit ar the Punkva Caves which has a boat that goes through the caves for a unique experience. This is one experience you need to reserve for in advance, you can do that here. We were advised to do that at least a few weeks before especially in peak season.
If you plan to see any more of the caves, it will require a bit of planning and you will want to plan on spending the day here. You can find more information here.
Take a Day Trip to South Moravia
Being in Brno and South Moravia means you’re just a hop and skip away from the country’s fantastic wine country. One of the best things to do in Brno is take a day trip to Mikulov and the surrounding wine region. If you have time, we recommend just moving here from Brno so you can spend the day into the night drinking wine from the cellars of chateaus and tasting rooms.
Besides drinking wine in Mikulov there is also the gorgeous chateaus of Valtice and Lednice just a short drive away from Mikulov. Both chateaus are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the region and both were owned by the Lichtenstein family and are incredibly preserved and worth visiting.
Valtice Chateau has a gorgeous interior as well as the Wine Salon, one of the best experiences to enjoy in the Czech Republic where you can sample the 100 best wines in the country in the cellar of the chateau.
Lednice Chateau also as a beautiful interior with exquisite and perfectly preserved woodwork from the 19th century, elaborate castle gardens, and stunning views.
Don’t miss the chance to experience one of the most underrated wine scenes in Europe and what to do in Brno if you’re a wine lover like us.
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