One Day in Brno: An Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal

It’s not easy playing second fiddle to the fairytale city of Prague but Brno is emerging from the shadow of its more famous neighbour. The second-largest city in the Czech Republic (Czechia) is packed with culture and history and is a far less touristy alternative to Prague, Vienna or Bratislava.

But what are the best things to do in Brno in one day?

As I spent four nights here as part of a train trip through Central Europe, this is where I can help you. Make sure that you don’t miss the must-see sights with my 1-day Brno itinerary.

white buildings and a clock tower in a small square with a sign saying brno

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A 1-Day Brno Itinerary + Map

A jam-packed day in Brno is enough time to see many of the city’s highlights. However, if you have more time, I recommend spending at least two days here.

But life isn’t always perfect and if you have just one day in Brno, either as a day trip or staying overnight, this itinerary will give you the jump start that you need. Simply tweak it according to your interests and available time.

To help you on your way, I have custom-made a map of the route that this Brno itinerary follows. It covers a distance of just over two miles (3.7 km).

Think of this as a free Brno self-guided walking tour. For an interactive map with walking directions, or to send to your phone, click here or on the image.

a map of a brno walking tour showing the best places to see in one day in brno
Best Places to Visit in Brno in One Day. Map data @ Google 2024.
  • Morning: Start your day by walking up the hill to Špilberk Castle for a dose of history and a panoramic view of Brno. Take a fascinating journey back to the Communist era at the 10Z Bunker before visiting the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.
  • Afternoon: Stroll around Cabbage Market Square before exploring the historic Labyrinth. Reflect on life and death at the Capuchin Crypt before climbing the Old Town Hall’s tower for views of the city. Don’t forget to say “hello” to the Brno Dragon.
  • Evening: Before dusk falls, take a look at the unique Astronomical Clock, Europe’s second-largest ossuary and an equestrian statue like no other
empty benches in a park overlooking the city of brno
My morning walk to Špilberk Castle

MORNING IN BRNO

entrance bridge to spilberk castle in brno

Start your day in Brno at the hilltop Špilberk Castle. This is the city’s most iconic landmark and has a history stretching back to the 13th Century.

In 1560, the castle was purchased by Brno’s burghers on behalf of the city. It was later rebuilt as a fortress and served as a prison under the mighty Habsburgs in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, Špilberk Castle is home to the Brno City Museum. You can easily spend a few hours exploring its extensive permanent collection which traces the history of both the castle and the city.

stone carving of the head of a figure with his eyes shut
Carving from Brno’s Jewish Gate at the City Museum

Figure out what you want to see before you arrive. Although it’s free to wander around the castle’s grounds and courtyards, you will need to pay for anything else.

Špilberk Castle is a pleasant uphill walk through parkland. From the castle, there are lovely views of Brno.

equipment from an old telephone exchange in 10 Z bunker in brno

Step into Brno’s 20th-century history at the 10-Z Bunker.

10-Z was the codename of this nuclear fallout shelter from Czechia’s Communist era and it could shelter up to 600 people for three days. Until 1993, it was classified as top secret.

Engrossing videos with English subtitles guide you along a one-way route through the 10-Z Bunker. Its crucial air filtration room –  without it, those sheltering there would have perished – is still functional.

statues of st peter and st paul outside cathedral

This twin-spired cathedral dominates Brno’s skyline.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul started life in the 1170s as a Romanesque rotunda and underwent one Gothic and two Baroque renovations. Its distinctive Neo-Gothic towers are the work of August Kirstein and were added in 1909.

Admission is free and the cathedral is worth visiting for its glorious pulpit and stained glass windows. If you have a head for heights you can climb one of its bell towers for one of the best views in town.

carved wooden pulpit in cathedral of st peter and st pail in brno
large cobblestone plaza lined with medieval buildings and with a stone fountain in cnetre

Brno’s vegetable market has been a fixture since the 13th Century. It took its current name, Zelný trh (Cabbage Market), in the 15th Century.

The Baroque Parnas Fountain in the centre of the square symbolises a cave decorated with allegorical statues representing Babylonia, Persia and Greece. Built between 1690 and 1695, the fountain was fed by a pipeline from the River Svratka.

a brno cabbage market 8 parnas fountain

Cabbage Market is home to some of Brno’s most beautiful buildings, including the Reduta National Theatre. This is one of the oldest theatre buildings in Europe and was where 11-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed.

AFTERNOON IN BRNO

green bottles in a rack in the underground labyrinth in brno

Brno was creaking at the seams in the 14th Century. Its population had soared to 7,500 and a growing number of merchants, tradesmen and noblemen were demanding more room to store goods and foodstuffs. The only solution was to extend downwards.

An entertaining 40-minute tour takes you through the labyrinth of cellars 6 – 8 meters beneath the cobblestones of Brno’s Cabbage Market. I loved the alchemist’s den with a dead canary.

Officially, tours are in Czech only and English speakers are handed a written guide. However, if there are enough English speakers in the group the guide can conduct the tour in English at his or her discretion (this was the case when I visited).

Find out more here.

stone sculpture of an angel and a plaque with a latin inscription at the capuchin crypt in brno

The Capuchin Crypt has the potential to be ghoulish but I found it a moving reflection on the transience of life.

This is the final resting place of 153 Capuchin monks and 52 benefactors of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor, buried here between 1656 and 1784. Purely by accident, the dry, well-ventilated conditions of the crypt were excellent at turning dead bodies into mummies.

white frontage and clock tower of old town hall in brno

Parts of the Old Town Hall date back to the 13th Century, making it Brno’s oldest secular building.

Highlights include the portal designed by Anton Pilgram with its wonky late Gothic turret. Legend says he deliberately skewed the turret in retaliation for not being paid for his work.

You can climb the tower of the Old Town Hall for birds-eye views of Brno.

red rooftops of brno
View from the Old Town Hall in Brno
stuffed crocodile suspended from roof of whitewashed passageway
The Brno Dragon

The vaulted passage of the Town Hall shelters two Brno icons: a wooden cartwheel and the so-called Brno Dragon. In fact, the “dragon” is a stuffed crocodile.

EVENING IN BRNO

large bullet shaped astronomical clock in brno czechia

Visit Brno’s Freedom Square to see an astronomical clock like no other.

Hewn from black granite, it was installed in 2010 by the sculptor Oldřich Rujbr and his student Petr Kameník. Its bullet shape evokes the defence of the city against the Swedes during the Thirty Years War.

brno st james ossuary 5

Did you know that Brno is home to the second-largest ossuary in Europe after the Catacombs of Paris? It is thought that more than 50,000 people were buried here.

Modern sculptures stand next to those created with bones, including a somewhat bizarre column. Tours are self-guided with an English information sheet provided.

modern sculpture in front of a stack of human skulls
column made from human skulls
brno equestrian statue of a soldier on horseback

Central Brno is dotted with several statues but this bronze sculpture of a knight on an unusually long-legged horse is one of the most striking. Standing 8 metres high, the Equestrian Statue of Margrave Jobst of Luxembourg was created by the sculptor Jaroslav Róna in 2015 and is an allegory of courage.

However, many sightseers don’t make a beeline for this sculpture for its artistic merits. If you stand between the horse’s front legs and look up at its head you’ll see why.

the long legs and tail of the brno equestrian statue

You’ll find it on Moravské náměstí (Moravian Square).

How to get to Brno

Brno’s massive main train station is a major international rail hub with regular services to neighbouring cities. It was my stopping-off point between Salzburg and Bratislava.

The railway station is on the southeastern edge of the historic centre, a five-minute walk from the Cabbage Market.

  • Prague – 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Vienna – 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Bratislava – 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Budapest – 4 hours
  • Salzburg – 4 hours

Buses also connect Brno with Prague, Bratislava and Vienna. Most of these services depart from Brno’s central bus station, Zvonark, which is located behind the main train station. Other services, including Flixbus and RegioJet, use the Grand Hotel Bus Stop in front of the train station.

Getting Around Brno

I did not need to use public transport when I was visiting Brno. As its main attractions are clustered in a small area, it is a walkable city.

The one time you may need to use the city’s integrated public transport system is if you visit the Bauhaus-style Villa Tugendhat. Find out more about Brno public transport here.

Where to Stay in Brno

Luxury apartment: Luxury Oasis, Sauna, AC and Free Parking

I stayed in this quiet yet centrally-located spacious apartment. Its kitchen had a dishwasher and washing machine and I loved relaxing in its sauna in the evening.

king size bed in a apartment with green and white bedding
kitchen and table and chairs in an apartment

Luxury hotel: Grandezza Hotel Luxury Palace

Located slap bang on the Vegetable Market, this 5-star hotel offers a selection of opulent rooms and suites, most of which overlook the square. The hotel lobby’s hand-painted glass ceiling has that wow factor and I can recommend the cake and coffee in its café.

The reviews from other travellers are stellar.  

Mid-range: VV Hotel & Apartments

Choose between a hotel room or apartment at this highly-rated 4-star property near the main train station. Free breakfast is included in all nightly rates.

Is Brno Safe for Solo Travellers?

Czechia is one of the safest countries in the world and I didn’t feel uncomfortable during my visit to Brno, even at night. But as with any travel destination, a little bit of common sense goes a long way. Remain vigilant, keep your belongings close to you and safely store your valuables at your hotel or apartment.

statue of st paul in brno

Why I Think One Day in Brno is Worth It

With its friendly locals, inviting cafes and interesting attractions, Brno is well worth a 24-hour visit.

It’s a convenient stopover between Vienna or Budapest and Prague but I recommend spending at least two days in Brno. This will allow you to hit its highlights with ease or take a day trip to the vineyards of South Moravia.

Whilst Brno lacks Prague’s storybook charm, it makes up for this in its affordability and lack of crowds. And that has to be a good thing.

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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