As the second largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno is often overshadowed by Prague. However, the city has a rich history and plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained. And I’m not just talking about the unique cathedrals and castles. The town has a thriving nightlife, and plenty of green spaces, and is even home to the largest ossuary in Europe. So, if you’re looking for the best things to do in Brno, here’s my list of the top 21 activities.
Best Things to Do in Brno
1. Stop by the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul
Ask any local what the most famous landmark in Brno is, and they’ll likely say the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. This massive Baroque cathedral is located on top of Petrov hill, making it one of the highest points in the city. The church is visible from almost anywhere in Brno due to its splendid architecture.
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul dates back to the early 18th century, though most of the buildings you see today date from the 19th century. Highlights include the two massive towers, each 84 meters tall, and the beautiful interior with its numerous frescoes and paintings. Also of interest is the crypt, which is the final resting place of several notable personalities.
If possible, I suggest arriving at the church before the midday bell ringing. This happens every day at 11 am and is a spectacle not to be missed. I know you’re probably wondering how the midday bell ringing is done at 11 am. Well, legend has it that the early ringing tricked Swedes soldiers into thinking it was midday, allowing them to end their siege. I don’t think they would have been fooled for long, but it’s still a cool story.
I should mention that the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is free to enter. However, a small fee is charged if you wish to go up the twin towers for panoramic views over the city. I think this being one of Brno’s top attractions, it’s worth paying the extra fee to enjoy the views.
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2. Visit Brno Ossuary
Arguably one of the most unusual things to see in Brno is its ossuary, which is located next to the Church of St. James. This small, dark room is filled with the bones of approximately 50,000 people who died during the 14th-century plague and later wars.
The bones were exhumed from overcrowded cemeteries in the 18th century and arranged into intricate designs and patterns by a local woodcarver. The ossuary was then forgotten about until it was rediscovered in 2001.
Today, the ossuary is a popular tourist attraction in Brno, and many visitors find it both interesting and slightly unsettling. It’s definitely not for everyone, but I think it’s worth seeing if you’re curious.
A visit to the ossuary is included as part of a tour of the Church of St. James, which is a beautiful Baroque-style building in its own right. The tour also covers the church’s unique history, which is well worth learning about.
3. Tour the Spilberk Castle
If you’re looking for things to do in Brno that are a bit more historical, then a visit to Spilberk Castle is a must. This massive castle complex has an interesting past, having served first as a royal palace in the 13th century before being transformed into a notorious prison in the 1600s.
Today, Spilberk Castle is open to the public and houses Brno City Museum. This museum was established in 1904 and provides visitors with a fascinating insight into the history of the castle. Permanent exhibits of the museum mainly focuses on the castle’s history, with displays of cells, shackles, and other grim artifacts. Temporal exhibitions are also held, and these include various topics such as art, archaeology, and natural history.
Guided tours of Spilberk Castle are available in several languages, and I think this is the best way to learn about its fascinating past. However, audio guides are also available if you’d prefer to explore at your own pace.
During summer, you can also enjoy a Shakespeare play performed in the castle courtyard. These are always popular, so be sure to book your tickets in advance if you’re interested.
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4. Learn About Moravian History at the Moravian Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and culture of Moravia, a visit to the Moravian Museum is a must. This large museum is one of the oldest and most prestigious museums in the Czech Republic, and it houses an impressive collection of artifacts related to Moravian history.
The museum is located in a beautiful Baroque palace in the city center, and it consists of several permanent exhibitions as well as temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibitions cover topics such as archaeology, ethnography, natural history, and displays relating to WWI and WWII. And the temporary exhibitions focus on various aspects of Moravian culture, from music and dance to traditional crafts.
It took me a couple of hours to see everything, but I could easily have spent longer here. If you’re short on time, I suggest you focus on the Anthropos Pavilion. This exhibit covers the history of human settlement in Moravia, and it’s really well done.
5. Admire the Architecture at Villa Tugendhat
Villa Tugendhat is one of the most iconic buildings in Brno and a prime example of modernist architecture. This villa was designed by world-renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and was built between 1928 and 1930.
The villa is located on a hill in the city center and offers stunning views over Brno. It’s also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in architecture or history.
The highlight of this villa is its open-plan living room, which was one of the first of its kind and is considered an important milestone in architectural history. The large panoramic windows offer stunning views over the city, and the whole room is flooded with natural light.
Unfortunately, due to its fragile state, only a limited number of people are allowed inside the villa at any one time. After all, it’s one of the most popular Brno tourist attractions. So if you want to visit, be sure to book your tickets well in advance. You can do this online, and I highly recommend you do as tickets often sell out months ahead of time.
6. Unwind in Luzanky Park
After all that history, it’s time for a bit of fresh air. And there’s no better place to enjoy the great outdoors in Brno than Luzanky Park. This large park is located just north of the city center and is a popular spot for locals to relax and unwind.
There’s plenty to see and do in Luzanky Park. You can take a leisurely stroll through the manicured gardens, have a picnic on the sprawling lawns, or relax with a book in the shade of the trees. And if you’re visiting with children, they’ll be sure to love the park’s playground.
I spent a few hours exploring Luzanky Park, and I have to say I was really impressed. It’s a beautiful spot and a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. So if you’re looking for things to do in Brno that are a bit more low-key, then I definitely recommend a visit to Luzanky Park.
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7. Shop at the Vegetable Market
For a real taste of Czech culture, be sure to visit Brno’s famous Vegetable Market. This lively market has been in operation since the 12th century and is still going strong today. It’s the perfect place to stock up on fresh produce, and you’ll also find a great selection of cheeses, meats, and breads.
In addition, there are also plenty of food stalls serving delicious hot meals. This is the perfect place to try traditional Czech dishes such as svickova na smetane (beef sirloin in a creamy sauce) and smazeny syr (fried cheese). In addition, there are benches spread out around the market where you can sit and enjoy your time while people-watching.
You can visit the Vegetable Market any day of the week. However, I think it’s most atmospheric on Saturdays when it’s at its busiest. So if you’re famous places to visit in Brno on the weekend, be sure to add this market to your list.
8. Explore 10-Z Bunker
For something a bit different, I recommend checking out 10-Z Bunker. This is a WWII bunker that was built in the 1950s as a refuge for Czechoslovakian government officials in case of a nuclear attack. It was designed to accommodate up to 500 people and was fully stocked with supplies. However, it was never actually used for its intended purpose.
In 2016, the bunker was opened to the public as a historical technical building. Today, taking a guided tour of the bunker is possible, which takes you through all the different rooms and gives you an idea of what it would have been like to take refuge here. The tour also covers the history of the bunker and its construction. If you’re not interested in a guided tour, you can also explore the bunker on your own.
The 10-Z Bunker is a really cool place to visit, and it’s definitely one of the more unique things to see in Brno. Its location in the city center also makes it a great option if you want to combine it with other Brno attractions.
9. Explore Nature at the Brno Zoo
Are you looking for things to do in Brno with kids? Then a visit to the city’s zoo is sure to be a hit. Established in 1953, this zoo is spread over 65 hectares and home to more than 400 animal species. Highlights include the giraffes, tigers, polar bears, lions, and gorillas. The zoo is also well known for its breeding program and has successfully bred several endangered species, such as the Przewalski’s horses, giant Hispaniolan Galliwasp, and Sumatran tiger.
In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo is also a popular spot for birdwatching. More than 100 bird species live in the zoo, many of which are quite rare. So you can take a walk along the zoo’s bird trail, and you’re sure to spot some interesting feathered friends.
If you’re visiting with young kids, they’ll also love riding the miniature train and spending time in the petting zoo.
10. Visit the Capuchin Church and Crypt
The Capuchin Church and Crypt are other of the most popular Brno’s tourist attractions. This church was built in the early 1600s and is notable for its striking Baroque interior. The highlight of the church is undoubtedly the crypt, which contains the remains of 24 monks. These monks were members of the Capuchin order and died between 1680 and 1784.
The crypt is quite small, but it’s nonetheless an eerie and fascinating place. The monks’ remains are arranged around the walls and may be somewhat shocking for some visitors. So if you’re not sure if this is something you want to see, maybe it’s best to give it a miss. In addition, there is an open casket containing the body of Franz Baron Von Trenck. He was a Prussian military officer who was imprisoned in Spilberk Castle.
This is definitely one of the more unique things to see in Brno, and it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re interested in history or religion.
11. Visit Veveri Castle
For another dose of history, make your way to Veveri Castle, which is located just a few kilometers from the city center. This beautiful castle was built in the early 11th century above the Svratka River and served as the seat of powerful citizens.
Today, Veveri Castle is open to the public and has a number of interesting exhibits. Highlights castle includes its fine frescoes, beautiful tapestries, and stunning furniture. The castle grounds are also worth exploring and feature a lovely garden and a pond. It took me around two hours to tour the castle and grounds, but you could easily spend longer here if you’re interested in learning about its history in depth.
And since the Svratka River flows right below the castle, you have the opportunity to enjoy the views aboard a ferry cruise that departs from the city center.
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12. Discover the Culinary Scene
Another of the best things to do in Brno is to discover its thriving culinary scene. As the second largest city in the Czech Republic, Brno has no shortage of excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars to enjoy.
To get a taste of the local cuisine, I recommend heading to one of the city’s many traditional Czech restaurants. Here you’ll find hearty dishes such as svickova (beef sirloin in cream sauce), goulash, and vepro-knedlo-zelo (roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut).
For something a little different, there are also plenty of international restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. Whether you’re in the mood for Italian, Indian, or Japanese food, you’ll be sure to find something to suit your taste in Brno.
13. Learn about the Battle of Austerlitz at Slavkov Castle
Just a short drive from Brno is Slavkov Castle, which is best known as the site of the famous Battle of Austerlitz. This significant battle took place in 1805 and was a major victory for Napoleon Bonaparte against the Austrian army.
Today, Slavkov Castle is open to the public and houses a museum dedicated to the Battle of Austerlitz. The museum features various exhibits on the battle, as well as the castle’s history. You can also see a short film on the battle, which I think is really well done.
My trip here was actually quite last minute, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Our guide was very knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the castle and the battle, which made the experience all the better. So if you’re interested in military history, Slavkov Castle is definitely worth visiting. Even if you’re not, it’s still a beautiful castle set in picturesque surroundings. Either way, it makes for a great day trip from Brno.
14. Explore the Moravian Karst and Caves
The Moravian Karst is a limestone region located northeast of Brno. This area is home to more than 1,100 caves and chasms, making it one of Europe’s largest and most fascinating karst regions.
The most popular cave in the Moravian Karst is Punkva Cave, which can be found near the village of Blansko. This cave is known for its magnificent stalactites and stalagmites, as well as an underground river that runs through it. Visitors can explore the cave on a guided tour, which includes a boat ride along the river.
Also of interest is the Macocha Abyss, a 138-meter-deep sinkhole that was created when the roof of a cave collapsed. This natural wonder can be viewed from viewing platforms and footbridges that have been built around it.
And being one of the most popular Brno attractions, you’ll need to book your tickets in advance if you want to take a tour. So plan ahead.
15. Enjoy Brno’s Nightlife
If you’re looking for things to do in Brno at night, then you’ll be happy to know that the city has an excellent nightlife scene. There are plenty of bars, clubs, and pubs to choose from, so you’re sure to find somewhere to suit your taste.
For a truly unique night out, I recommend heading to Namesti Svobody, the city’s main square. This is where you’ll find some of Brno’s most popular nightspots, including pubs, clubs, and restaurants. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere and a chance to meet new people, then Namesti Svobody is the place to be.
And since I’m a beer lover, I opted for Vycep Na Stojaka, a beer bar where you can enjoy some of the best Czech beers. This is a great place to try a variety of different beers, and the staffs are always happy to make recommendations. There were many locals and tourists enjoying the beers, which was a great opportunity to socialize and enjoy the night after all Brno sightseeing.
16. See a Play in One of the Theaters
Brno is well known for its lively theater and arts scene, so it’s no surprise that there are several excellent theaters to choose from. Whether you’re interested in classical opera, modern drama, or something in between, you’re sure to find a performance to suit your taste.
Two of the main theatres located within the city center are the Mahen Theatre and Janacek Theatre. Mahen was established back in 1882 and is renowned for its excellent opera productions. It was also the first theater in Europe to use electric lighting. The much newer Janacek Theatre was opened in 1965 and is named after the famous Czech composer, Leos Janacek. This theater mainly focuses on producing drama, but also puts on the occasional ballet or opera performance.
I had the opportunity to see a play at Janacek Theatre last year, and it was an excellent experience. The theater itself is very modern and comfortable, and the performance was excellent. If you’re interested in theater, I recommend checking both theatres’ schedules to see what’s on during your visit.
17. Learn About the City’s History at the Moravian Gallery
Founded in 1961, the Moravian Gallery is the second largest art museum in the Czech Republic. This impressive museum is spread over five buildings, focusing mainly on Czech and Moravian art from the 14th to the 20th century.
The main building of the Moravian Gallery is the Prazak Palace, which dates back to the 19th century. This beautiful Baroque building is worth a visit in itself, and you’ll also find a selection of paintings and sculptures. Another satellite building worth visiting is the Jurkovic House. This 20th-century building is home to the interesting work of Dusan Jurkovic, one of the most significant Slovakian artists of the 20th century.
The other buildings of the Moravian Gallery are also worth checking out; between them, they house a comprehensive collection of paintings, sculptures, graphics, photographs, and more. If you’re interested in art, this is one of the top tourist attractions in Brno to visit.
18. Explore the Underground at the Labyrinth and Mint Master’s Cellar
Brno is home to a fascinating network of underground tunnels and passageways that date back to the Middle Ages. And the best way to know more about this is by taking a guided tour.
You can start with the Labyrinth, a series of spooky caves and tunnels located beneath the city. These were once used as cellars and storerooms, but today they’re open for public tours. I must say, however, that the Labyrinth isn’t for everyone as it can be quite dark and claustrophobic in places. But if you’re up for a bit of adventure, it makes for a fun and interesting experience.
For something a little more light-hearted, you can also visit the Mint Master’s Cellar. This is located underneath the Old Town Hall and was once used for storing silver and gold. Today, it houses a small museum with interesting displays on the history of money and minting.
I suggest you combine these two as they complement each other nicely. And both are suitable for all ages, making them great places to visit in Brno.
19. Attend Brno Moto GP
Every year in August, Brno plays host to the Czech Republic MotoGP. This is one of Europe’s most popular motorsport events and always attracts a large crowd. If you’re a fan of MotoGP, then attending this event should definitely be on your list of the best things to do in Brno. Even if you’re not particularly interested in motorsport, it’s still worth checking out as it’s a great opportunity to experience the city’s electric atmosphere. And who knows, you might just end up enjoying it more than you thought.
20. Wander Around the City Center
If you’re wondering what to do in Brno on a day when the weather is nice, then simply take a leisurely stroll around the city center. Brno’s compact city center is easily explored on foot and is home to a number of interesting sights, such as the Old Town Hall, the Moravian Square, and other beautiful Baroque buildings.
The Old Town Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in Brno, and its striking blackened facade is impossible to miss. This Gothic building dates back to the 13th century and was used for local government administrative offices until 1935. Today, it’s one of the top attractions in Brno, known for its interesting exhibitions covering topics such as history and art.
The main street (Masarykova) that runs through the city center is also worth a stroll. This street is lined with cafes and shops, making it the perfect place to take a break and do some people-watching.
21. Visit the Museum of Romani Culture
The Museum of Romani Culture is dedicated to the history and culture of the Romani people, also known as Gypsies. This fascinating museum is one of the most popular attractions in Brno and provides visitors with a unique insight into the lives of this often misunderstood minority group.
The museum features more than 25,000 exhibits, including traditional Romani clothing, jewelry, and musical instruments.
There’s a library and reading room on site, which is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about Romani culture. The museum also offers a range of educational programs and workshops. And if you’re interested in Romani music, be sure to check out the museum’s regular concerts.
I admit I was a bit hesitant about visiting Brno at first. But after spending a few days exploring, I quickly fell in love with the city and its many charms. I hope this list of the best things to do in Brno has inspired you to add it to your travel plans. There is a lot to see and do in this Czech city, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to enjoy!
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Brno