Brno (German: Brünn, Štatl in the local dialect) is the major city of Moravia (a historical region in the Czech Republic). It is the largest city in Moravia and the second largest city in the Czech Republic by population and area. It was founded around the year 1000; and since the 14th century, the city served as the capital of Moravia. Brno is the heart of Moravia and its cultural hub, it's home to many institutions related to Moravian history and culture. At the same time, Brno represents the administrative center of South Moravian region. It has a population of around 380,000 people, and it's located in a beautiful natural environment between South Moravian vineyards and the Moravian Karst.
The city was founded about 1000 years ago, it received city status in the year 1243, and for centuries it served as the capital city of Moravia, until 1948 when communists abolished autonomy of Moravia. The city flourished mainly during the 19th century. Today's Brno is a mixture of many different architecture styles, there are many beautiful places. But still, it's a home to great culture, and countless beautiful buildings, the city has the second largest historic preservation zone in the country (the biggest one is in Prague, the 3rd one is in Olomouc). There are three castles, Špilberk (former royal castle, and former seat of rulers of Moravia), Veveří castle (near the Brno dam lake), and the Líšeň Castle.
For some reason, Brno is not particularly well known by tourists so you can easily avoid crowds and overpriced services.
Brno is the cultural hub of Moravia, it's the home to a number of notable Moravian institutions, e.g. Moravian Gallery, Moravian Museum, National Theatre Brno, Brno City Theatre, etc. It's a city with a long tradition in motor racing (on the Masaryk Circuit), huge exhibitions and trade fairs (in the Central European Exhibition Center), and as vibrant university city. There are about 89,000 university students in Brno, a city with 380,000 inhabitants, it makes it the country's largest student city by percentage of population. Since 1998, there is also an international firework competition held annually at the end of May and beginning of June - Ignis Brunensis, it attracts about 100,000-200,000 visitors every day it's being held.
The most interesting places in Brno includes the Brno Underground, a labyrinth of underground cellars which includes the second biggest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris), the two (or three) castles in Brno, the cathedral on the Petrov hill (pope Benedikt XVI. visited the cathedral in 2009), the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady in the Old Brno District, the St. Jacob's Church, the Moravian Museum (the biggest museum in Moravia and the second biggest in the country), Lužánky Park which is the oldest public park in the country, Denis Gardens, and various historical squares, churches, palaces, and other interesting buildings.
There are also many places which might be worthy of visit outside of the city centre, like an old Jewish cemetery in Brno-Židenice (by area, the biggest one in Moravia), or the Marian Valley in Brno-Líšeň, it's which is a cascade of lakes between forested hills. From the north, Brno is surrounded by hills and very pleasant nature, probably the most notable place is the Moravian Karst.
Brno lost its status of the capital city but it still behaves like a "cosmopolitan" capital, there is a rich variety of various cultural events, clubs, pubs, etc., and several excellent museums and theatres. Also there are two interesting things about theatres in Brno, Reduta Theatre is the oldest theatre building in Central Europe, and Mahen Theatre (part of the National Theatre Brno) is the first theatre in the entire Europe which was illuminated by Thomas Edison's electric light bulbs (in that time, it was only four years old invention). Brno also serves as the capital of judicial authority of the Czech Republic (it's the seat of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court) as well as many other state authorities, the rest of it is located in Prague.
Brno is an important stop on the Prague–Vienna and Prague–Bratislava–Budapest railway line; all IC and EC trains stop here. For some trains originating in Prague, it is a terminal stop.
- Prague: 2¾h, hourly IC/EC trains
Standard tickets are expensive when bought at train station (CZK 333 first person, CZK 200 second, CZK 166 others), but you can get a great discount (up to CZK 180) if you buy them online, see SporoTiket Česko at Czech Republic#Train tickets. Currently (Jan 2012) there is also a special PROMO fare of CZK 200.
- Olomouc: 1½h, every 2 hours
Be careful that you get in to the proper train, because another train to Brno via Břeclav departs at around the same time which will add 2 hours more to your trip.
- Ostrava: 2¼h, hourly
- České Budějovice: 4½h, every 2 hours
- Vienna: 2h, EC trains every 2 hours (depart from Wien Meidling station, though you can also depart from other stations further from the city center)
Brno hlavní nádraží (Brno Main Station) is located close to the city center; almost all attractions are just within a few minutes walk. These attractions are to the north of the station, to the left coming out; follow the sign marked "Centrum," not the one marked "Centra."
Using highways - Ostrava, Bratislava, D1 highway from Prague or using any of the national roads. For the highway you have to buy a toll sticker.
There are coach services from various European destinations including Prague where frequent buses run touting assorted amenities and stops (such as Prague Airport). You can find the timetable for all buses including international on . The page is in Czech, English and German.
- Bohemian Lines. Is a Brno based company. Buses roll off to Scandinavia every couple of days headed for Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and a slew of more exotic smaller towns. Copenhagen €57(1500 CZK), Stockholm €67(1750 CZK).
- Student Agency. started by students, but offers service with free coffee, newspapers, and movies to everyone. Brno is the main hub and buses travel across Europe, and are known for their high quality. Vienna €8.
- Tourbus, a.s.. is also based in Brno and serves many destinations and is particularly cheap to some international destinations. Vienna €5.
- Eurolines CZ/Touring Bohemia, s. r. o.. International and domestic routes. Some services include free newspapers, magazines and bottled water, some even have wifi. Book ahead for best price.
Try to avoid getting taxi on the street (public transportation is always the better option in Brno) and if you have to, try to negotiate the price in advance. If you take taxi on the street, you should know that maximum price set by the city council per kilometre is 30 CZK/km (approx €1.30). It's advisable to call one of the major Brno Taxi services:
(IATA: BRQ) Although it has a limited amount of destinations Brno Airport is highly convenient and boasts an extremely impressive structure. Those interested in modern architecture may want to visit even if they are not lucky enough to fly into the airport.
Ryanair flies 7 times a week to London-Stansted and 3 times a week to Bergamo (advertised as being close to Milano), twice a week to Alicante. Wizzair flies to London-Luton 3 times a week, Rome twice a week and from December 2011 twice a week Eindhoven. Czech Connect Airlines flies 4 times a week to Moscow and twice a week to Saint Petersburg. UTair flies three times a week to Moscow-Vnukovo. CCA flies once a day - Monday to Friday to Prague as a codeshare of CSA Czech airlines and beyond and Czech budget airline Smart Wings fly to several seasonal vacation destination. Bus 76 runs every 30 minutes from about 4:30AM–11:30PM to the bus and train stations in the city center. Fare is CZK 22, and you can buy your ticket beforehand in the information centre or the ticket machine in the airport.
(IATA: BTS) The airport is the largest in the Slovak Republic and the home base of Danube Wings, though the budget airline Ryanair flies the vast majority of seat capacity (80%). Additional carriers are Aeroflot to Moscow, CSA to Prague, Sun d'Or to Tel Aviv (seasonal, budget flights), and LOT to Warsaw.
Prague Ruzyne Airport
(IATA: PRG) There are buses to Brno operated by Student Agency. You must change buses at Florenc station in Prague.
Vienna International Airport / Wien Schwechat
(IATA: VIE) It is located near the town of Schwechat in Austria, after which the airport is named. The airport is the home base of the flag-carrier Austrian and the budget airline Fly Niki. Most European airlines and a significant number of international airlines have direct connections to Vienna from their respective hubs. Direct transfer options:
- Student Agency. offers 4 direct daily coaches. It is much cheaper to take the Viennese train S7 to Praterstern and catch the same coaches from there, for some reason the trip to the airport costs double, so it is much cheaper to take the Austrian public transportation. €16.
- Tourbus, a.s.. offers 1-2 direct daily buses to Brno. €8.60.
An unconventional, but beautiful way to get to Brno (well, from just outside town) is to take a boat from Veverská Bitýška village, which takes you (in summer season only) on a trip across Brněnská přehrada (Brno dam lake) to Brno-Bystrc.
The Integrated Transport System of the Southern Moravia Region (IDS JMK) covers public transport over Brno and major part of the Southern Moravia Region; it includes local trains, trams, buses and trolleybuses. Daytime transport ends up at 11PM, the night buses go hourly and have central transfer node at Main Station.
For journeys within the city, a short transfer ticket (valid 15 min, Kč 20) and long transfer ticket (60 min, Kč 25) are available. Tickets are available at yellow ticket vending machines at bus and tram stops, and also at railway station counters. You can buy the 60-minute ticket at driver for Kč 35.
South Moravia Region is divided into tariff zones, Brno itself consists of two zones. IDS JMK tickets are valid in all buses and local trains (category Os, Sp and R), the price varies on number of zones you travel over.
One-day network ticket cost Kč 86 for Brno and Kč 190 for the whole region. On weekends up two adults and three children can travel on a single network ticket.
The city center is full of historical buildings, old churches, theaters, fountains, sculptures, clubs, restaurants, etc. It is very compact, so one can just walk around most of the places of interest.
- Tourist information centre, Nádražní 8 and Radnická 2 (The first lies just opposite of the main station entrance), ☎ . 9AM–5PM.
- Freedom Square (Náměstí Svobody) forms the heart of the city. It's shaped into big reversed "A". Many cultural events take place here and there are always a lot of people here. It is closed for most cars and trams running through the middle. Also most of the interesting places in the city center are within 10 minutes walk from the Square.
- Špilberk Castle (Hrad Špilberk), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. May–Sep 9AM–6PM, Oct–Apr 10AM–5PM. Formerly the major royal castle in Moravia, the seat of Margraves of Moravia (Moravian rulers), and once the seat of the King of the Holy Roman Empire (King Jobst of Moravia). Later it become a famous fortress which was for a long time used as one of the most feared prisons in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Many people have been tortured here from all around Europe, mostly during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Currently it's the city museum with restaurant and there's a nice park around it, open for walks and beautiful sightseeing, the castle and the park are parts of the national cultural heritage of Czech Republic. Permanent exhibitions Kč 120, casemates Kč 70.
- Petrov Cathedral, Petrov Street. Cathedral: 8:15AM–18:30PM; tower: May–Sep 12PM–6:30PM, Oct–Apr 12PM–5PM; crypt: Tu–Su 11AM–5PM. St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, known as Petrov forms a dominant silhouette of Brno skyline. (Petrov is the name of the hill which the cathedral is built upon, not the cathedral itself.)
- Church of St. James, Jakubské náměstí. This church is doubtlessly one of the most notable churches in Brno, it's a big gothic church, it was founded in the 13th century and since 17th century it stayed unchanged (which is quite rare). Beneath the church, there is the Brno Ossuary, the second biggest ossuary in Europe (after the Catacombs of Paris). The ossuary is not yet opened for visitors, however, it's planned for year 2012.
- Old Town Hall, Radnická 8 (between Náměstí Svobody and main station). See beloved Brno symbols the Brno Dragon (Brněnský drak) and the Wheel. Also notice the lopsided tower above the entrance. Legend has it that the city council stiffed the mason who built it and he made the crooked ornament in a fit of pique.
- Moravian square (Moravské náměstí) is the biggest square in Brno, it's dominated by the Church of Saint Thomas which is the last resting place of Jobs of Moravia, German King and Margrave of Moravia, the nearby former Governor's Palace offers permanent exhibitions of the Moravian Gallery. The square is located in the historical centre near the Freedom Square.
- Denis gardens (Denisovy sady), it's one of the most beautiful parks in Brno, there is an obelisk and a colonnade, and it offers a nice view on the city, including the Špilberk castle and the cathedral, also it is the oldest public park in the country which was founded by public administration authorities. It's located in the historical center, between the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul and the Špilberk Castle.
- Lužánky park (Park lužánky), the oldest public park in the country and the biggest park in Brno. There is an artificial brook with living fishes and a number of similar nice things. It's located north to the historical centere, about 15 minutes by walk, or 2–3 minutes by tram.
- Tugendhat Villa, Černopolní 45 (tram stop „Dětská nemocnice”), ☎ . The villa is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Designed by Mies van der Rohe, it is seen to be a classic example of Bauhaus architecture, and was also the location of the meeting which decided upon the Velvet Divorce that separated the Czech and Slovak republics in 1992. It is possible to visit the Villa by guided tour; tours are led hourly and must be booked in advance (see the Villa website). The building reopened in March 2012 after an extensive restoration.
- Capuchin Monastery (Kapucínský klášter), Kapucínské náměstí 5, ☎ . 15 Feb–14 Dec Tu–Su 11AM–4:30PM, May–Sep also in Mo. The monastery 17th Century lies right in the city center. Tourists love to visit the church, because of its Baroque statues and a mummified monks exhibition in an underground tomb. Kč 60.
- Veveri street (Ulice Veveří), it might sound strange that some street is actually interesting but on Veveří, there is a group of outstanding Art Nouveau buildings called Tivoli (tram stop Konečného náměstí), and a number of baroque and other beautiful historical buildings. Nearby, there is also one of three botanical gardens in Brno. It street goes from the historical center and leads to the north.
- The Moravian Museum (Moravské zemské muzeum), Zelný trh 8, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–Sa 9AM–5PM. It's the second largest and oldest museum in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1817 by Emperor Francis I and, today, has collections with millions of objects from different fields of human history. Apart from the main building in Dietrichstein Palace at Zelný trh the museum has various branches: Kč 130.
- The Moravian Gallery, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. We–Su 10AM–6PM. The second largest art museum in the Czech Republic. Mainly exhibits Moravian art and applied art throughout history. Most recommended is its exhibition of modern Moravian art. The gallery consists of three buildings: Admission to all three buildings Kč 300.
- Pražák's Palace (Pražákův palác), Husova 18. Kč 120.
- Museum of Decorative Arts (Uměleckoprůmyslové muzeum), Husova 14. Kč 150.
- Governor Palace (Místodržitelský palác), Moravské náměstí 1a. Kč 140.
- The Mendel Museum of Genetics, Mendlovo náměstí 1a (tram stop „Mendlovo náměstí”), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu–Su 10AM–5PM. The most famous biologist in the history of genetics worked and died in Brno. This interesting museum commemorates his revolutionary research. Information in English available. Kč 60, admission free every last Wednesday in a month..
- Museum of Gypsy Culture (Muzeum romské kultury), Bratislavská 67 (tram stop „Tkalcovská”), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu–Fr, Sa 10AM–6PM. A museum dedicated to the Gypsy minority in Moravia. Kč 40.
- Brno Zoo, U zoologické zahrady 147/46, ☎ . Daily 9AM-4PM. A great zoo set in a nice area with hundreds of animals such as polar bears, seals, tigers, chimpanzees and more. Kč 100.
- Ignis Brunensis. There are four firework competitions on the dam lake and at least two in the town centre. The fireworks begin every evening at 10:30PM. The show lasts about 22 minutes. Public transport runs longer and more frequently at these times. During the festival there are nights of theatres and museums. Entrance is free, but expect crowds.
- Brno Trade and Fair Centre (BVV), Výstaviště 1 (tram stop „Výstaviště”). The largest trade center in the Central European region with many important fairs. The largest are Autosalon, MSV (International Engineering Fair), Invex (International Fair of Information and Communication Technologies), IDET (International Exhibition of Defence and Security Technologies and Special Information Systems) and of course a Vinex (International Wine Fair) and Pivex (International Beer Fair).
- One World Brno. Documentary film festival on human rights held every March.
- Treasure Hunt Brno, Čechyňská 8, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Treasure Hunt Brno is a dynamic team competition, that makes use of modern technology and GPS-enabled tablets and let's you visit a wide range of Brno's historical monuments in a record time. Suitable for larger groups and companies.
- Vaňkovka Gallery, Ve Vaňkovce 1 (Just between train station and central bus station). A large shopping centre converted from an old industrial center dating to the beginning of the 19th century. Many of the historical industrial buildings were saved and integrated into the new shopping center.
Czech food is mostly based around pork and potatoes. Another Czech favorite is smažený sýr, fried cheese, which is available at many restaurants and fast food stands. A good option is to visit one of the many pubs or restaurants that usually offer traditional Czech food all day long. You could easily find a restaurant where you get a meal and a drink for around €5, even in the city center. Many of these places also offer cheaper special (limited, pre-prepared) menus at mid-day. Cafés offer a nice selection of rolls and pastries if you're looking for breakfast food. Visit the cukrárna near the House of the Four Idiots on nam. Svobody and try a rakvička ("little coffin", small pastry covered with cream). This is the only place in the Czech Republic to find the chocolate ones.
The traditional Brno beer is Starobrno, a traditional non-alcoholic drink is kofola (a very different but captivating kind of cola). Both must be tasted in draught form! Although Czechs are famous for their love of beer that love is mostly focused on pale beer, dark beer (černé pivo) is sweet and not very often drunk here. There's quite a few small breweries in the city, among them a small private brewery named Pegas, a block west from the steeple of St James Church (sv. Jakub). The pub is equipped with modern brewing technology, beer is made right in front of the guests' eyes. For a list of other breweries look at this list.
The go-to bar is the cramped and smoky Charlie's Hat (know to most locals simply as Charlie's), east on Koblizna street from the north end of Freedom Square (50 Kč entry, includes drink voucher). A cluster of more down-tempo bars frequented by students can be found along Dominikánská (Kavárna Trojka - students caffee and bar)and Starobrněnská just west of the Zelný trh (cabbage market square). Around the main square you can find a lot of clubs, pubs, restaurants, coffee houses and lounge bars.
In recent years a number of bars have sprung up in and around Dvořákova street in the city centre, including:
- Bar, který neexistuje, Dvořákova 1. Cocktail bar featuring a huge menu of rums and whiskies
- Lokál U Caipla, Kozí 3. Traditional pub, featuring lots of typically Czech dishes and beer served from big metal tanks
- Zelená Kočka Pivárium, Dvořákova 3. Beer speciality pub - serving Dalešice beer (made in a brewery 60km famous for appearing in the film Postriziny) as well as a selection of beers from around Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria which changes every day.
- ROTOR, Dvořákova 12. Cosy little bar with good wine, spirits and coffee
- Výčep Na Stojáka, Běhounská 6. Probably the most popular bar in Brno during summer, where locals and foreigners alike drink cold Chotěboř (lager type beer) soak in the evening sun in the square.
There are many hotels all around Brno city.You can compare and choose hotels on Brno Hotels Directory.
- Hostel Fléda, Štefánikova 24 (tram stop „Hrnčířská”), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12PM. Low-budget hostel, 10 minutes walking from the centre, possible discounts in the nearby club Fleda. Dormitory from Kč 300/person, double from Kč 800/room..
- Hostel Mitte, Panská 11 (tram stop „Hlavní nádraží”), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12PM. Nice little hostel in the very centre. Dormitory from Kč 490/person, double from Kč 1100/room. Price includes breakfast..
- Hotel Garni Vinařská, Vinařská 5 (At the Masaryk University student dormitory area, tram stop „Lipová”), ☎ , fax: +420 549 492 702, e-mail: email@example.com. Hotel Garni: double from Kč 980, triple from Kč 1620, quad from Kč 2060/room. Student dormitory (15 Jun–9 Sep): double from Kč 500.
- Penzion Brno, Preslova 90 (trolleybus stop „Marie Pujmanové”), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Double from Kč 800, triple from Kč 1200/room.
- Hotel Santander, Pisárecká 6 (bus stop „Pisárecká”, 10 minutes walk from the fairground BVV), ☎ , fax: +420 547 220 375, e-mail: email@example.com. Offers a luxurious accommodation in 13 double rooms, 1 single room and 1 suite with a fireplace in a comfortable environment of a new restored stylish villa dating from the beginning of the 20th century. The villa has an enclosed parking lot on the hotel premises. Single Kč 1590, double Kč 1990/room. The price can rise during important trade fairs..
- Hotel Continental Brno, Kounicova 6, ☎ , fax: +420 541 211 203, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Single Kč 1700, double Kč 2300/room. 10% discount if booked online. The price can rise during important trade fairs..
- Hotel Slavia, Solniční 15, ☎ , fax: +420 542 211 769, e-mail: email@example.com. Single Kč 1750, double Kč 2100, triple Kč 2600/room.
- Apartments Brno No1, Křížkovského 33 (Near city center and exhibition center), ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. If you prefer an apartment, choose Apt No1. Stylish, renovated rooms, bottle of wine, free tea and coffee available. Cable TV and free wifi internet. Low season Kč 2000, high season Kč 3500/night.
- Hotel Royal Ricc, Starobrněnská 10, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very nice romantic hotel. Single from €80, double from €90.
- Holiday Inn, Křížkovského 20, ☎ , fax: +420 543 246 990, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 1PM. Good if you are visiting the exhibition centre, otherwise you will need a taxi to centre.
Avoid the main train station after dark as it attracts a number of unsavory characters, the usual caution applies. Also keep a keen eye out when using Automated Teller Machines in the immediate area for similar reasons. The area is also known be actively visited by pick-pocketers. Also avoid the Cejl street during dark hours for the same reasons. Take the tram or a bus between the stops Malinovského náměstí and Tkalcovská.
Moravia has a dense cluster of nearby sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Olomouc: a fine historic university town, with an impressive Plague Column (1,5 hour trip)
- Telč is one of the prettiest towns in the Czech Republic (2 hours trip)
- Lednice-Valtice is one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe dotted with Palaces and Follies (1 hour trip)
- Třebíč has one of Europe's best preserved Jewish areas (1,5 hour trip)
- Žďár nad Sázavou contains a fine pilgrimage church (1,5 hour trip)
- Kroměříž: an impressive baroque chateau and formal flower gardens (2 hours trip)
- Beautiful caves near Blansko  with a boat trip inside the cave (45 minute trip)
Places near Brno - trips less than one hour
- Battlefield Austerlitz (City Slavkov u Brna)
- Castles: Pernstejn, Bucovice, Slavkov u Brna