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.
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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.
This is how your day in Brno looks
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.
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.
Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul
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.
Cabbage Market (Vegetable Market)
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.
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.
Labyrinth Under The Vegetable Market
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.
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.
Old Town Hall
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.
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.
Freedom Square and the Astronomical Clock
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.
Ossuary at the Church of St James (Kostnice u sv. Jakuba)
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.
The “Courage” Statue
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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