My Prague friends told me there is not much to see in Brno. I didn’t believe them as Brno is the second biggest city in the Czech Republic.
They were right that it is small. There are things to see, but unlike Prague, it won’t take you a week. I would say, to see everything touristy it might take 2 days- over the weekend as the castle isn’t open during the week.
This attitude was attributed to the fact that there has been a rivalry between the two cities, but the touristy part of Brno is small. If one lived there or would like to experience it as a local, I’m sure there are plenty of things to do such as different restaurants, cafes, and parks to stroll through.
I liked Brno. It was very walkable. There are two statues that seem to represent the city due to their shapes. That was the only thing I heard about the city and the castle. One is a clock that represents a moment of Brno history- when there was a siege and the city tricked it’s attackers by ringing the bell at 11 for noon. The attackers then left. So unlike other clocks, this one performs at 11. The second statue is of a famous citizen who is rumored to have hated horses.
It used to be a big commercial hub in the medieval ages and one of its cool attractions is the underground labyrinth. They had cellars under the square/market to store goods, but as the commerce increased so did the size of these cellars and eventually they were all connected. Some of the rooms were big enough for a cart/carriage to drive through! The tours are only in Czech with a guide, but they give you an audio guide of the language of your choice.
The view from the castle would have been amazing, but the days I was there it was cloudy and foggy. I was still able to enjoy it though. I was also there during the week and couldn’t see the castle interior.
Another landmark is an old church- Petrov. It is quite beautiful and the view of it from the city center is amazing. However, I found the Minorist church was the most beautiful in Brno. It wasn’t listed on my tourist map nor in my tourist book. It is definitely worth seeing.
The old town hall is just one tower, but it’s very nice. There’s a hanging crocodile, which is Brno’s dragon. I don’t remember the legend, but apparently it was given to the city in the 1600s.
All the main squares were getting ready for the Christmas markets!
My hostel was ideally situated. Hostel Jacob. It was a bit more than others, but it gave free towels and free buffet breakfast. They were also great with giving me places to go for tourist or for personal errands.
One of these errands, I was looking for a black pen. I went to several stores, but either they didn’t sell pens or they only sold ones with blue ink. It is now my mission to find a black pen. I had a 5 minute conversation with a security guard. He didn’t speak English and I didn’t know black in Czech so it was a lot of hand gesturing.
There were two people at my hostel that were long term guests. One was studying abroad there from Russia. She was learning to be a Russian language teacher- more literature classes. We laughed as we shook hands- colleagues :) The other, just moved to Brno from Spain and still had not found an apartment, but worked during the day. I also met some other great people such as a girl from Australia who is on the same travel path as me- Brno to Vienna then to Croatia.
On my map it listed a chocolate place. Death by Chocolate. It was a bit expensive, but they were very good! The lady also didn’t speak English, but thank you to my 4 Czech lessons during my TEFL course, I was able to order in Czech. I’m very happy to be learning a language again. It makes traveling so much fun.
I was sitting in one of the squares in Brno when 4 children come up to me speaking Czech. I told them I didn’t understand and said goodbye. They persisted and kept telling me 3 in Czech. I had no idea why 3. I kept telling them bye while making sure that I had everything close to me. Finally I had to walk away as they were not leaving me alone. The receptionist at my hostel had no idea what they were doing.
I still have some urges to speak in Spanish. Actually, as I write this I am in Vienna and I said Hola to a grocery store worker instead of Hallo. But, after spending 6 weeks in the Czech Republic, I also am saying Czech words- thank you in Czech versus German.
From Brno, I took a bus to Vienna. From Prague it’s 2.5 hours by bus and from Brno it’s 2 hours. I took Student Agency both times and they are great. Good leg room. Free wifi. A free drink along with a television. They also had an attendant who gave it free newspapers and headphones.
Brno is also in the wine area of the Czech Republic. Beer is still king, but they also appreciate wine here. I wouldn’t mind returning to do day trips to the different wineries. There was one wine spot in Brno that my hostel recommended, but it was closed.