Michal Kašpárek’s Guide to Brno, 2014-2016 edition

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Living in Brno, Czech republic since 1984 and working as a journalist since 2005, I’ve decided to write and publish this guide to capture everything interesting I know about the town. Its purpose is clear: to help you enjoy every single day in the town and hopefully make you love Brno as much as I do.

The guide is as independent as it gets—I’ve personally tried everything I write about. Nobody has ever paid me for listing his or her business. True story.

If you’re curious about anything I haven’t mentioned in the guide, feel free to ask me at . Also, keep up with for tips about upcoming events.

Enough about me. Let’s start exploring the city.

Yours sincerely, Michal Kašpárek

Part I: The Bourgeois Lifestyle Handbook

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Coffeehouses and pâtisseries

Brno has been known as a home to great coffee shops since the early 20th century, but don’t expect to enjoy your cup of coffee in a place with 100 years of tradition like in nearby Vienna. During the World War II, Nazis confiscated the cafés belonging to Jewish owners. Soon after the war, communists confiscated cafés belonging to everyone else. Not a single of the well-known coffeehouses has relaunched to its full pre-war glory after the Velvet revolution. Fortunately, some great places opened in the 2000s and 2010s. Apart from espresso, most of them also offer more sophisticated ways of brewing, including French press, aeropress or vacuum.


Industra is the most out-of-the-way café on the list but it is worth the travel: Petra Střelecká and Adam Obrátil definitely know how to prepare a great cup of coffee. The two young entrepreneurial baristas learned their skills in London, which is also where the coffee comes from — Square Mile Coffee Roasters precisely.

It is easy to get lost on the way to Industra. Located close to the cycle track running along the Svitava river, it may be reached by a bike. Also, tram stop Kovářská (line #12) is just five minutes away. In both cases, you have to walk through blue gate marked “Mrazírny” to get inside.

Apart from the coffeehouse, Industra centre also hosts an independently financed gallery, a community garden, and a group work site (under construction as of September 2014).

Coffee Fusion

Michal Kocman is one of the best known Czech baristas and there is a good reason for that: he is an inexhaustible coffee geek, avidly answering every question. His neat café is as friendly as he is.

Try out the cascara — coffee cherry tea.


The oldest place on the list, actually the one that launched the local coffeehouse renaissance back in the late 1990s. No background music, waiters with bow-ties, timeless furniture: in Spolek, it is hard to tell whether it is 1914 or 2014.

Hungry? Have a local specialty: a strudel filled with spinach and cheese.

Also, treat yourself with some coffee beans roasted by Prague-based company Doubleshot. It’s definitely worth 100 CZK for 100 grams.


A tiny café serving also as a reception desk of a hostel of the same name. There is always some backpacker looking for a new friend in Mitte.

Caffé del Saggio

Although Caffé del Saggio opened in 2010, it provides unique pre-war atmosphere. Out of all local cafés, this one has the widest choice of coffee blends, every single one of them roasted in-house.

Tři ocásci

My love. Owned by three young social entrepreneurs, Tři ocásci is not just a coffeehouse, it is a pâtisserie (gluten/lactose-intolerant friendly!), a concert venue, a bookstore, and also a pop-up grocery.

The DIY interior is inspired by the Budapest “rom kocsmas” — ruin pubs.

How to spend a nice afternoon in Tři ocásci: first, relish one of their wonder soups, then have a cup of coffee, then a sweet treat, then another one, then another one, then a glass of slivovitz or absinthe. Mission accomplished.

V Melounovém cukru

Simple wood & concrete style, great coffee, refreshing sodas, lovable waiters and the main train station just three minutes away: this coffeeshop is made for meetings.


You can easily recognize that this place belongs to an artist, photographer Vojtěch Sláma. Flexaret regularly hosts exhibitions and concerts and there are many photography books and magazines to browse through while enjoying your cake.


Actually the most popular group working centre in the town, even though the place isn’t labelled that way. Fast wireless connection, affordable drinks and great location close to Veveří St. make Falk popular among both independent professionals and students.

Cukrářství Martinák

After driving a truck professionally for twelve years, Vít Martinák launched his dream business: a pâtisserie. This small shop is an encyclopaedia of traditional local desserts. Try out Martinák’s kremroles, věnečeks, laskonkas, macarons, Sacher tortes… well, Martinák’s anything: the man is an artist.

In one sentence

Various coffeeshops throughout the town sell cakes made by two talented young pastry cooks working under labels Kokino (you have to have their chocolate cake with sea salt) and Republika (excellent macarons). (, | Martin Hrdina, the town’s most disctinctive young architect, has designed four beautiful cafés: Alfa, Tungsram, Atlas and Art. (4 Poštovská St., 7. Kapucínské náměstí Sq., 6 Žerotínovo náměstí Sq. and 18 Cihlářská St.) | Údolní street is a home to four cozy coffeehouses: Podnebi, Mezzanine, Kafe do Vany and Zahrada. (5, 15, 31, 33 Údolní St.) | Kafec offers great coffee and even better breakfast. (10 Veveří St.) | The best café on the Eastern bank of Svitava river is Zastávka, also as a bakery. (232 Táborská St.) | Café Placzek is bit more expensive but exquisite. (4 Minoritská St.) | Three points for Park Lane: it’s close to Lužánky park, it has a nice playplace for children, and it employs great waiters and waitresses. (4a Lužánecká St.) | The clean design of both Klafé and Cafe Steiner attracts “bobos”, “bourgeois bohemians” living in the pricey neighborhood, yet pretending to be modest folks. (1a Klácelova St., 38 Gorkého St.) | If you need a nice cup of coffee but don’t have the time to sit down in a coffeehouse, grab an espresso at one of Kofi-Kofi’s, bicycle-based stands throughout Brno. ( | Tutti Frutti is another nice pâtisserie offering some desserts Martinák doesn’t, i.e. almost forgotten “kávové zrno” (“a coffee bean”). (1a Jiráskova St.) | You can buy some freshly roasted coffee at Gills or Malena. (9 Veveří St. and 104 Palackého třída St.) | Chocolate shop Minach is a great place for dates. (6 Poštovská St.)


There wouldn’t be much sense in sorting restaurants by their prices. Even the most expensive places in Brno offer fairly affordable lunch menus for around 200 CZK (€ 7.50), which is about the price of a dinner in an ordinary pub. I’m going to merge the venues into three chapters by a different key instead. First, we’ll explore restaurants, i.e. decent places with white cloths, courtly waiters always approaching you from the right side and everything else that goes with it. Then we’ll visit the town’s hottest bistros and taverns with less formal atmosphere. Finally, I’ll show you the best places to go if you want to try out meals of some of the ethnic minorities living and working in Brno.

Let’s start with the best restaurants in the town:

Borgo Agnese

Since the mid-1990s, Michal Prachař has worked at many great places, some of them gone now: U Kastelána, Brabander or Café Fischer. Then he left for Prague and Brussels, just to return to Brno where he would become a chef of Borgo Agnese in 2008. Mediterranean cuisine, timeless interior, great service: no one has ever been laughed at for booking a table at “Borgo”.


“Fish and sushi”: a simple concept profiting from sophisticated workmanship. While Borgo is a good place for spending “old” money, “Koishi” is a good place for spending “new” money. The first venue is just perfect for a wedding anniversary of a lawyer and a cardiologist; the later for celebrating a promotion in an advertising agency.

The founding sushi master Tadayashi Ebina was recently replaced by Norita Sayto, while the kitchen is still being managed by chef Petr Fučík.

It would be a good idea to book your table a week or more in advance.


What an intriguing history, both of the building and the people! The beautiful early modernist Café Pavillon was built in 1925, torn down in 1964 so it could be replaced with a monumental Janáček theatre, and then rebuilt again by the old project plans in 1994 on a different place with a different brand. In 2012 it was bought by a local benefactor Igor Fait, modernised, rebranded again as Pavillon and staffed with gifted cooks from the legendary “U Kastelána” restaurant, including Michal Göth. Soon after, Göth left and was replaced by a young star chef Jan Kaplan, trained by Gordon Ramsay. Beautiful place, excellent food, slightly more affordable prices than in Koishi and Borgo Agnese.


One of the oldest venues in the whole guide, established back in 1996. It is quite out of reach, located in distant Heršpice quarter near D1/D2 highhway intersection, so you’d better get a taxi.

I’ve had the best beef sirloin with cream sauce of my life at Valoria. The restaurant is pricey but worth it.

La Bouchée

A French restaurant mantaining a delicate balance: it offers formal, yet relaxed atmosphere, conservative yet still entertaining menu, and a ready to please yet not pushy staff. La Bouchée hosts many great parties, including wine-tasting sessions or degustation menus of well-known chefs.


A tiny flower pot with fresh herbs on every table, a short menu influenced by Mediterranean cuisine and regular insect-tasting evenings — what an open-minded place. Great value for money.

Il Mercato

Pasta, sea fruits, fishes — a proper Italian restaurant. Managed by celebrity chef Riccardo Lucque, it’s an expensive one too. From the beautiful interior of an early 20th century bank building, you can enjoy a view of the vegetable market — that’s where the name “Il Mercato” comes from. It is easy to believe that the place has a tradition of hundred years, yet it’s three years younger than Bitcoin.


The only restaurant in Brno providing a panoramic view of the city.

Sunset is lost in the 1990s architectural nightmare of “IBC Centre” administrative building. Follow the signs carefully, they will lead you to the roof with a heliport. Twenty years ago, many people in the country believed they would own a helicopter soon. Of course nobody flies to IBC Centre now, so the place is used as a shelter for Sunset.

The meals are OK; it is the view of Špilberk castle and all the church towers that you are going to remember.


Owned by the same guy as Na Stojáka pubs, Forhaus was established with the same great attention to detail. Everything points to the Austro-Hungarian Empire: the shape of the lights, the black and white photographs, and, of course, the menu. Have a tafelspitz or roast duck legs with cabbage, a glass of beer or local wine and feel free to daydream about good old central Europe.


A cozy New York-style steak house. It doesn’t even pretend to be local and authentic but that’s alright. The beef is excellent both in steaks and burgers, and all the details — ambient jazz music, cooks wearing baseball hats — are a welcomed change.


The only local part-time restaurant hosted in a private apartment. Two to three dinner parties take place every week. Just check out their website, pick up a menu that suits your tastes and sign up. Owned by two young guys, the place is far from a Michelin star, yet it offers great meals and, of course, a lot of fun.

In one sentence

L’Eau Vive restaurant right below the cathedral is managed by nuns from famille missionnaire Donum Dei — if you’re lucky, they will sing you a nice gospel. (2 Petrov St., | It is sort of vulgar to describe Sushi Ya as “Koishi for the poor” but it’s also quite exact — and I mean it as a compliment. (4 Moravské Sq., | Every May or June, most of the good restaurants bring their special menu items to Špilberk castle for the Špilberk Food Festival. (

Bistros, gastropubs and food booths

This is where the locals hang out for a dinner when they are hungry, not celebrating grandma’s birthday:

Bistro Franz

Placed in a fin de siècle tenement house designed by František (Franz) Pavlů, it may easily surprise you with its the modern, clean interior. The family-owned bistro is one of the best known projects of the young architect Martin Hrdina (also: Morgal, Art, Alfa, Atlas and Tungsram cafés).

Your passion for food will be as well satisfied as your passion for design. Everything on the menu is local, fresh and simple. The chickens lived their short but happy lives at the farm of Němec family and the cows mooed at Mitrovsky farmstead. Check out their web or ask the staff for more details.

Sometimes Franz hosts parties, flea markets or author readings. Sometimes the owners hire Michal Rachad Hromas, the hipster celebrity chef and a bold evangelist of Jewish and Levant cuisines.

Kabaret Špaček

A true cabaret, owned and managed by a well-known cycling activist Martin Špaček. (By the way, “špaček” is the Czech word for a starling, that’s why they have a bird holding a pot in their logo.)

The place has the widest menu ever, offering different meals every day — from Czech specialities to Korean and Japanese meals.

Friendly atmosphere, good beer and wines and a great show every other night: well done, Mr. Špaček.

Castellana Bistro & Trattoria

As close to Naples as you can get in Brno, thanks to Sergio Bellini and Radim Procházka who launched this wonderful pizza and pasta spot. Relaxed atmosphere, fresh ingredients and wonderful staff: is there more to ask from an Italian bistro?

The original Castellana is quite out of a way, but in June 2014, Mr. Bellini opened a new trattoria right in the historic centre at Novobranská St.

  • 61 Bělohorská St. (bistro), 4 Novobranská St. (trattoria),

Don Pintxos

From the outside, the place looks too cold and maybe too expensive but opposite is true. Don Pintxos is a neat Basque tapas bar with welcoming waiters, good wine and, first and foremost, a wide choice of delicate small meals. It would be a perfect dating spot, if not for the tasteless radio music.


This tapas bar is the one-man-show of Robert Janíček, a cook schooled in Spain. The place coexists in a great symbiosis with the Ocean 48 fish store located next door: fresh tunas and sardines go well with Spanish olives and wines.


What an ugly military barrack in the beautiful “park of National Resistance”. In this case, don’t judge a place by its exterior: inside, Šelepka is a modern and clean gastropub serving some excellent examples of Czech cuisine, from various pork-based “fat bombs” to braised fishes and vegetable salads.

Travelling with kids? They will love the big playground outside. (A great networking spot for parents, by the way.)


Together with Pavillon, ERA was one of the first modernist (functionalist) cafés designed and built in inter-war Czechoslovakia. After a decades of decay, the beautiful building was bought by Igor Fait (the same Igor Fait who owns Pavillion) and then reopened in 2011.

ERA offers simple meals based on local recipes. I guess the best proof of quality is that my wife and I hosted a wedding lunch there in 2013.

Růžová slepička

Many of my friends swear by Franz and Špaček but they do not know about “The Pink Little Hen” bistro. What a pity! This neat place sticks to the same fashionable concept: informal atmosphere and meals cooked with a great portion of passion and fantasy.


This charming place could be listed as well among cafés or clubs — but what I really recommend it for are the meals. And the atmosphere, too: owned and run by the same family as Franz Bistro, it was once again designed by architect Martin Hrdina.


It may seem stereotypical to give a pasta bar the name of a TV detective fighting the mafia, but to me, it’s just funny. Both Cattanis (due to great success, a new bistro opened at Josefská St. in 2014) are popular for fresh home made pasta and affordable prices.

U Semináru

Although this place opened just a few years ago, it seems to me that nothing has changed here since the 1950s or 1960s. A tasteful interior, quiet music, friendly staff and great meals known from socialist-era cafeterias: it is actually an ordinary Czech restaurant, but I wish that more restaurants could be ordinary in this way.

In one sentence

Giraffy bistro offers great burgers and its food delivery service supplies office workers with much more delicate meals than the usual pizza. (35 Kounicova St., | Calvera’s Original Hotdog booth located between the terminal of tram line #12 and Technological Park has tasty burgers, too. (95 Purkyňova St.) | Le Social bistro has a treat for vegetarians: a tofu burger, and even nicer treat for parents: big playroom. (80 Úvoz St.) | Soul bistro offers good meals and quiches — but it doesn’t have as much soul as Franz or Špaček do. (7 Jezuitská St.) | Café Wellington is way out of way but if you stay close to Řečkovice quarter, it’s definitely the best place to go for lunch. (21 Vážného St.) | The climb up to Špilberk castle is worth it both for the view of the town and for the snack at Babinský bistro, be it a bowl of soup or a glass of wine. (1 Špilberk St.) | Tivoli café provides you a perfect view of fin-de-siècle Tivoli palace and some tasty Mediterranean meals. (6 Konečného náměstí Sq.) | Jakoby restaurant has a nice garden at Jakubské náměstí Sq. and good value/price ratio (heck: every place on this list does). (6 Jakubské náměstí Sq.) | The Sicilian guys from Caruso not only deliver their pizza around Brno, they will also let you eat it in their garden. (6 Bayerova St., | If you are looking for a small snack, try out a “chlebíček”, a traditional Czech open sandwich — EMA has some tasty varieties. (4 Pekařská St.) | If you get hungry at 3 am, there is no better place to go than M-Gril booth (8 Kobližná St.) | The first Street Food Fest event was hugely popular in August 2014, so we all look forward for the next one. (

Ethnic cuisine

Hosting a small community of Greek refugees since the 1950s and a larger community of Vietnamese workers and businesspeople since the 1990s, Brno has been a multicultural place since even before the fall of communism and the advent of globalisation. However, the ethnic cuisine scene started booming only recently:


This small Japanese pub (“izakaya” is the exact name of the genre), run by Yuhi “fancied-by-everybody-in-town” Che, is a great place to go for a light lunch or a party, with live music on some nights. The wonderful home made kimchi (spicy fermented vegetables) is now also available for take away.

Thuan Lien

The largest bistro located in the Vietnamese market at Olomoucká St. may be surprisingly hard to find. The first step is to get to the market, which can be done by a trolley bus from the main station (10 minutes ride with lines #31 or #33 to stop “Olomoucká - U školy”) or by a car (free parking at the market). In both cases, you have to pass through a huge gate with a big sign VINAMO. The second step is to find the one-floor building with all the bistros: at the gate, turn right, and after a few meters the bistros will show up at your left side. Thuan Lien is the last one, located furthest from the gate.

Phở bo (big bowl of strong beef soup) is a must-try for any newbie: if you are not used to coriander, you may ask for a smaller dose (“málo koriandru”). Bún tôm (shrimp soup) is my long-time favorite, followed by bún chả (grilled pork with noodles).

Bánh mì (Vietnamese baguettes) are an enjoyable take away snack.

  • 61 Olomoucká St.

Bún Cá Hải Phong

What I adore about this bistro, located next to Thuan Lien in the Vietnamese market at Olomoucká St., is its owner. A chatty Vietnamese lady and a great business-owner that always makes me buy a glass of home-made kimchi or a pack of tea. She speaks good German and is keen to practice the language.

The place has three specialties: bún cá (fish soup) that gave the bistro its name, bún ốc (snail soup) that only a few people find enjoyable (I do!), and a set of small dishes with rice (ask for number eight — or “nummer acht” — and pick what you like at the bar).

  • 61 Olomoucká St.


A small “Indian” restaurant — “British curry house” is a more accurate term — run by an excellent cook named Shiva. Great lunch menus, always with a vegetarian option.

Afraid of chilli? Try out korma sauce, based on keshu and cashew and therefore sweet. Advanced eaters can take a step up with madras. Experts will continue with vindaloo and aces with the torturous but still tasty fal.


Another popular British curry house, similar to Buddha in every aspect except for two. Annapurna is located on a more reachable place closer to the main station. On the other hand, they won’t let you have three different lunch menu meals on the same plate.

Taverna Athena

Finally a Greek place that doesn’t fake it: simple fresh meals, small tables, a caring owner. If you want to have a nice romantic date and can’t spend too much, the goddess of wisdom is the name to remember.

Carmel Cuisine

You must be already tired by the remarks of friendly cooks and owners but… the staff in this small Near East bistro with just one table and a bar for two gives me the kind of attention I expect in much bigger and more expensive restaurants. Best falafel (chickpea balls) in the town. Great gyros, stewed chicken livers and salads.

Abu Rami

Kebab, sheesh kebab, baklava and lamb stew. Two venues on the south-west and north-east edge of city centre, both open up until night.

  • 20 Pekařská St., 47 Lidická St.


The best strictly vegetarian restaurant in town, inspired mostly by Near East cuisines. Good pide (Turkish pizza) with 100% vegetarian cheese (made with non-animal sources of rennet).


Small budget-wise Russian restaurant with a grocery store. Solyanka, borscht, pelmeni and varenyky when you are hungry, kvas when you are thirsty, vodka when you are feeling blue.

  • 5 Koliště St.


The only “running” sushi restaurant in Brno. For 300 CZK, you can eat what you want from a tableside conveyer belt for two hours. Of course, the sushi is not on the par with what you will get in Koishi but I’d still recommend Bento for a date.

  • 25 Josefská St.

In one sentence

The third bistro at the Vietnamese market, the one located closest to the gate, is not bad at all — but on the other hand, I’ve never found a reason why to go there instead of Thuan Liend and Bun Ca Hai Phong. (61 Oloumoucká St., beneath Vinamo gate) | There are two Thai restaurants in Brno: Sabaidy and Pad Thai, the later has brighter and more modern interior. (29 Kapitána Jaroše St., & 124. Palackého, | Zlatá miska (Golden bowl) and Chutné štěstí (Tasty luck) offer good “European Chinese” cuisine. (14 Marešova St., 38 Lidická St.) | Tradiční brněnský gyros (The traditional Brno gyros) is probably the smallest booth in town with only one thing on the menu: juicy pork gyros. (7 Masarykova St.)

Pubs and breweries

Czech beer: there is something hypnotic about those two words. If you are looking for affordable, cold and refreshing pale lager, you’re in the right country. But luckily, that isn’t the only available type of beer anymore. Sweet and strong Vienna lager? Yes. Ales? Yes. Weizenbier? Of course. Made in craft breweries throughout Moravia, Bohemia and Bavaria and sold for €1.20-2.50.

When you get hungry, grab some “chuťovka”, a small snack: “nakládaný hermelín” (camembert, oil and bread), “chleba s tvarůžkem” (bread with ripened soft cheese) or “nivová koule” (small snack from blue cheese and butter). The later two chuťovkas have a disctinctive smell, but almost everybody will get used to it.

Na stojáka

As the name “Standing pub” suggests, this place has no seats as all. You are supposed to have your beer — mostly local lagers — standing, talking to your friends or to strangers. Everybody was suspicious about this concept back in 2013, but Na stojáka is probably the most popular place in the town now, attracting hundreds of people on warm summer evenings, drinking their beers all around Jakubské náměstí Sq. A newer pub at Pekařská St. is less crowded, which may be both an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on your preferences.

Ochutnávková pivnice

“Degu pub” was established in 2013 by two beer loving friends and became a hub of the local beer aficionado community. Up to eight beers on tap: two or three lagers, one or two ales, at least one weizenbier. Every type will come in the right glass — or a mug — and cooled down to the right temperature.

My tips: try out anything (everything!) brewed by Matuška, Nomád, Tři růže and Falkon.

U Alberta

The coziest pub in Brno, located in a family house right on the foothill of Špilberk and equipped with a fireplace. There are three different beers on tap every day, always from small and yet undiscovered local craft breweries.

My tips: Zlatý Josef, Slavkov, and Beskydský pivovárek.

U Poutníka

The ultimate melting pot: U Poutníka is the pub where businessmen and underemployed, young and old, conservatives and anarchists sit by the same table. Or, more likely, stand at the same spot in front of the pub. The street gets crowded and loud every night — and that’s why Poutník has been facing threads by authorities for more than a year. Get a glass of Poutník beer (brewed in the town of Pelhřimov) before they will make it close for good!

  • 18 Starobrněnská St.

U Sedmi švábů

Probably the most hidden place in the town: you have to pass through a long, scary passage and then walk through even scarier door to get to a small, family-run pub with great atmosphere. Don’t be too disappointed when it’s closed on Saturday evening: the operating hours are a mystery to me.

The name “Seven Schwabians” reminds one of the oldest and largest tenement houses of Brno, standing across the street until 2006.

  • 11 Leitnerova St.

U Proutníka

Somehow similar to U Alberta: a cozy, family-run place offering beer from various, often undiscovered, breweries from around the region. If you are lucky to spot anything from “Kozlíček Horní Dubenky” brewery, don’t hesitate to have a glass. Open during the work week only.

  • 1 Smetanova St.

U Bláhovky

The oldest pub on the list, with a cult following since the late 1990s. Excellent Plzeň (Pilsner lager) on tap and great roast pork knee. If you want to eat — or just to sit down — you should come in early afternoon. Standing in a crowd on the street is the only option for those who come late.

  • 54 Gorkého St.

Na Božence

A tiny family house repurposed as a pub with two versions of Poutník (“čisté” and “špinavé”, filtered and non-filtered) on tap, with the third tap reserved for various tasting sessions. Tomáš and Zdeněk are among the funniest waiters in Brno. “Boženka” provides diverse atmosphere, as it’s popular both among Zbrojovka football club fans and managers from nearby IT companies.

  • 18 Boženy Němcové St.

Zubatá žába

Not even a family business, just one man’s pub: a small place with good beer from various breweries (Polička, Břevnov, Tlustý netopýr etc.) and wonderful sandwiches with smoked meat, ripened cheese or bacon.

  • 33 Jungmanova St.

Pivárium Zelená kočka

A bit more pricey than the rest of the listed pubs but still worth a visit. Dalešice beer was the best beer you could get in Brno in the 2000s and is still more than enjoyable. They also run degustation courses with famous brewers (thought not all events are English-language friendly).

  • 3 Dvořákova St.

Pegas Brewery

The oldest brewery restaurant in Brno, established back in 1992. Good beer (they brew lager, weizenbier and sometimes ale too) and OK Czech meals (goulash, pork with cabbage, usual die-by-a-rupture stuff).

In one sentence

Lucky Bastard brewery is the most progressive and the smallest of all Brno-based breweries: you can try it out at Ochutnávková pivnice or Na Božence if you are lucky. ( | In autumn 2014, U Jeníka moved to a more intimate place in Slovan passage but still has the cold and bitter Choťeboř lagers we all like it for. (23 Lidická St.) | The first and oldest non-smoking pub in Brno, Hluchá zmije, has two venues: one located downtown, one in Černá Pole quarters. (55 Veveří St., 96 Merhautova St.) | U Srdcí is the only pub on the list that allows smoking, which actually suits its hard rock style. (12 Poděbradova St.) | Zámecké pivo z Bratčic (“castle beer from Bračice”) may be enjoyed in U třech čertů restaurant. (8 Dvořákova St.) | There are several beer gardens in Lužánky park. | If you travel to the Brno dam lake, refresh yourself at Včelínek (“Small Bee Hive”) bistro next to the U Přístaviště tram station, offering honey beer and honey snacks. (Přístavní St.)

Bars and wine bars

According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, Brno is supposed to be a “wine town”. What a piece of… wishful thinking, at best. Most of the local wine bars will sell you undrinkable keg wine. Luckily, several recently opened places finally offer the level of quality you would expect from an international city located close to a promising wine region.

Bar, Který Neexistuje

“The Bar That Doesn’t Exist” opened in 2012 and it was, indeed, a mirage. What an entrepreneurial idea: two young guys rented a former bank office and transformed it into a beautiful three storey bar: you can take an elevator to the bathroom. Great selection of spirits — you won’t make a mistake with anything from Žufánek distillery — and affordable cocktails. Hungry? The bar has probably the best burgers in town.

The place is completely crowded almost every night; you’d better make a reservation. Dress code: smart casual.

Cohiba Club Conti

This place is unknown even to many locals, probably due to the high prices and discreet location in Continental hotel. The classiest — or most Mad Men-like — bar in the town, with sofas and high chairs, live piano music and bow-tied waiters. Smoking is allowed. If you forgot your cigar, you may pick up one from their humidors. Dress code: smart casual+.

Super Panda Circus

Small semi-secret bar (look for a stripped yellow/violet curtain at the corner of Husova St. and Šilingrovo náměstí Sq.) vastly inspired by East Asian aesthetics and cuisine. Great exotic drinks, psychedelic music, mango kimchi and soya beans as snacks. If you want to dazzle and delight your date, Super Panda Circus is a great choice.

Petit Cru

For those who want to try local wine or a nice glass originating anywhere in the world, Petit Cru is the place to go. Located in the same building and owned by the same guy as Koishi restaurant, Petit Cru stages many tasting events and parties.


This “vinotéka” (wine cellar) offers great value/price ratio which makes it popular both among students and seniors. For €3 per liter you can take away good wine made by Mr. Očenášek in Moravský Žižkov. Or, for a slightly higher price, you may spend a nice evening here, drinking, eating and, finally, probably even singing.

  • 2 Žižkova St.

Vinná Galerie

I go Vinná Galerie any time I need a nice bottle; these folks always make a good recommendation. Unlike other wine bars, it actually looks like a wine cellar: a good place to go hide on a hot afternoon.

The Immigrant

The local hub of expats from the British Isles. English breakfast in the morning, Czech beer throughout the day, Scottish and Irish whiskeys in the evening. Local speciality: pulled pork burger. Everybody speaks great English here, which is still not quite standard. A piano is available for those who dare.

Air Cafe

More a cocktail bar than a café, more a museum than a cocktail bar. The owner is a collector of World War II memorabilia, especially of any stuff that reminds Czech pilots serving in Royal Air Force, fighting with Luftwaffe over La Manche. Uniforms, posters, luggage and even a boat hanging under the ceiling: order a glass of rum — they keep a great collection — and travel back through time.


An absinthe den. Don’t expect mad artists boiling the liquor on a spoon over a lighter. At Naproti, absinthe is served the way it should be served, with cold water dripping from a beautiful vintage fountain. Great staff: they will explain everything even to a total rookie without being smug. The venue allows smoking.

4 Jana Uhra St.,

Poslední Leč

“The Last Trap” is an appropriate name for this spot: you never start your evening in Poslední Leč but sometimes, when the night is really long, you end it there. Open until sometime between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., it doesn’t offer any special drink or service, except for a jukebox and the chance to get wasted while other people are waking up and travelling to work.

5 Jakubské náměstí Sq.

In one sentence

The East Village bar is popular for its charming American waiters, original Louisiana-like interior and good prices. (2 Jaselská St.) | After a dinner at Pavillon, just walk downstairs to Runway, a nice airplane-themed bar designed by Daniel Piršč. (6 Jezuitská St., | Degu wine bar offers a great tasting menu of wines from the best Moravian wine makers. (6 Annenská St., | While most cafés and bars in Brno are influenced by the scene of Berlin and Budapešť, Transistor is very French and very chic — too bad they close at 10 p.m. (7 Bayerova St.) | Two more “vinárnas” (wine bars) locals like: Akademická Kavárna and U Mnicha. (11 Gorkého St., 70 Pekařská St.) | Duck Bar in the Kamenná kolonie quarter has a diverse patronage of local artists, slackers, students, architects and tourists. (10c Kamenná kolonie St.) | H46 is the oldest gay bar in Brno, founded 20 years ago. (46 Hybešova St., | Áčko is a pub for “friendly homosexual, heterosexual or yet-not-sure people”. (80 Pekařská St.,


I don’t like the fetish of eating local, fresh and sustainable: buying in these stores won’t make you a better person, being kinder to people will. So, why bother then? Because it’s insanely delicious!

My Food Market

A large, well-supplied grocery store I visit any time I need to get something good for myself or my friends. There is nothing I’ve ever disliked in My Food Market: neither the cheapest wine, nor an ordinary yoghurt. The staff is helpful and the opening hours are long. What I enjoy the most about the place is the meat counter: they employ two butchers that wear ties and process the meat with care and joy.

In September 2014, My Food Market opened slightly smaller but more reachable store right in the middle of the Vaňkovka shopping mall.


Inspired by the grocery stores of inter-war Czechoslovakia, Koloniál is a poetic, family-run place that, contrary its name, sells only regional food. The charming owner will let you taste anything unpacked. Yet again: a great meat counter, especially the “tlačenka” (salceson). The small red apples, fresh bread, cider and (bottled) ice coffee are also hard to resist.

Dobrej Špajz

Similar stuff as in Koloniál but a more modern interior. Dobrej špajz is far from downtown but well reachable from the northern part of Brno. Also handy when you want to have a snack in nearby Wilson park.


Back in 2009, Sklizeno was the first grocery store in Brno focused on selling food made by local farmers. Since that time, they expanded to two more cities. In Brno alone they have six stores now. Not everything is local any more, but I don’t mind that.

Sklizeno at Josefská St. is just three minutes far from the main station, which makes it a great place to go when you have just ten minutes left in Brno and you still don’t have any souvenirs for your family and friends.

  • 47 Křídlovická St., 14 Josefská St., 23 Říčanská St., 93 Palackého třída St., 10 Dvořákova St., 770 Netroufalky St.,

Čočkův Biojarmark

Now that’s what I call punk! Small, almost unlabelled store selling stuff coming from local farmers only. Good prices, funny staff, yummy products: honey, eggs, milk… If you miss anything, just try asking for it and wait for a few days.


The list of everything-at-one-place grocery stores couldn’t be complete without the European wholesale chain. You will need a Czech business licence, a car, and a big fridge, as you can’t buy a single pack of milk, only 10 to 20 at once. On the other hand, you may enjoy wholesale prices, probably the widest selection of goods in the town, and two huge cooling boxes with meat and fishes (bring a sweater).

Market at Zelný Trh Sq. (or Moravské náměstí Sq.)

This fruit/vegetable/herb market has a tradition so old that the square it resides is named after it: “Zelný trh”, i.e. the cabbage market. Dozens of booths offer much more than the cabbage itself but you should be careful about who you buy from, as only the booths with green label are run by farmers themselves. Red label is for dealers who buy their vegetables and fruits in wholesale stores. Yellow label signalizes a mix of both.

For 2014 season, the market moved to Moravské náměstí Sq. due to a reconstruction of Zelný Trh Sq. The new location is quite popular, and we all hope that some of the booths will stay there for 2015.

  • Zelný trh Sq.


The brand itself explains the #1 rule: everything in this chain of fresh fish stores comes from the ocean and nothing is older than 48 hours.

The oldest Ocean48 store at Minská St. hosts a grilling party every Friday afternoon all year long. Great meals and good wine — you just have to settle for eating while standing.

Marks and Spencer

Technically speaking, this store is not even located in Brno but in Modřice. It’s still worth a trip (take a free bus to Olympia shopping mall from Úzká St.) for a foodie. Potato chips, sodas, processed sauces, biscuits- things I consider to be disgusting everywhere else, I really fancy in this British chain.

Koření od Sindibáda

Since I was a young boy, I have been enjoying the wonderful aroma of this spice and herbs shop pouring through Alfa passage. Take your time and be picky: they sell many ingredients you won’t get anywhere else (not easily at least), but on the other hand they have many glutamate-based “just spill it over the chicken” mixes too.

  • 5 Pekařská St., 10 Náměstí Svobody Sq.

Hải Đăng

The largest grocery store in the Vietnamese market, right next to Thuan Lien bistro. (Path to the market is described in the chapter on Ethnic cuisine.) Countless types of rice, rice noodles, fish sauces, soya sauces and chilli sauces, fresh coriander, fennel and chilli and some delicious Vietnamese “microwave dinners” packed in a banana list. My friends have spotted even a balut (fertilized egg) and a durian (fruit known for its disgusting smell and being toxic when combined with alcohol), but I never have been so lucky.

Beside groceries, they sell woks, choppers, rice cookers, soup bowls and other stuff, including “ghost money” for burnt offerings.

  • 61 Olomoucká St.

In one sentence

For red meat (including “špekáčky”, a traditional Czech wurst made for grilling on a stick over an open fire) visit the Steinhauser butchery. (3 Joštova St., 4 Minská St.) | If you are looking for chicken or beef, Mr. Vepřek is your man. (28 Minská St.) | Mikrofarma butchery successfully tries to challenge the dominance of both. (4 Selská St.) | There are two nice stores with (mostly local) freshwater fish: Rybena and U Šopíka. (26 Orlí St., 6 Božetěchova St.) | J. Gruber Delikatessen offers great pretzels and many more Austrian products. (11 Radnická St.) | Dairy shop Gran Moravia doesn’t stop at fresh milk: the yoghurts, whey, butter and cheeses are really recommendable. (19 Zelný trh Sq.) | The cheese shop at Minská St. provides personal treatment, a nice selection of wines and some great spicy sauces. (6 Minská St.) | For Ukrainian specialities, go to Oděssa, for Russian, to Samovar, for Japanese, to Koisi shop, for Hungarian, to Maďarské speciality. (18 Cejl St., 5 Koliště St., 11 Údolní St., 51 Palackého třída St.) | U Damiány is my favorite “healthy food” store, with great sweets and herbal teas. (118 Veveří St.) | The Candy Store is exactly what the name says: it sells American and British brands of candies, sodas and snacks. (8 Bayerova St.) | Hipsters will meet their lightly carbonated heaven in soda store Limotéka: I recommend Vostok (“taiga in a bottle”) and Fritz Cola. (53 Koliště St.) | Vom Vass has anything and everything on tap: from oils and vinegars to liquors. (6 Solniční St.) | In the beerstore U Modrého lva, avoid the beer stored in the windows (a crime!) and get a nice bottle from one of the two fridges: Matuška, Nomád or Harrach breweries won’t be a mistake. (21 Česká St., | My favorite beer store Pivní lékárna (“Beer pharmacy”) is quite out of hand and open only for a few hours every day, but on the other hand, the guys know what a good beer is. (19 Kořenského St., | Ochutnávková pivnice and U Alberta pubs have well-supplied fridges of bottled beer, too.

Live music and clubbing

The clubbing season in Brno starts and ends with the academic year: don’t expect many concerts and parties from mid-June to mid-September.

Most clubs and venues offer a discount if you buy the tickets in advance in Indies store at 2 Poštovská St. or at the Student Agency booth in the House of the Lords of Lipá at 17 Náměstí Svobody Sq.

Kabinet múz

“Kaboš” has been the coolest venue in the town for a year or two. This small club hosts some kind of performance almost every night, be it a concert, a party, a theatre or a display of vinyl records. Grab a bottled Chotěboř beer and feel the beats.

The club operates as a café and bistro in the morning and afternoon.


“Brüner Fledermause” cabaret was established in 1911 and later became the first place in Brno to host a jazz concert. Its modern reincarnation, Fléda, is the largest club on the list, comfortably taking in more than 800 people, and probably the one with the largest international fame. Lamb, Kid Koala, Soap&Skin, Swans and other acclaimed artists have performed at Fléda. For commercial reasons, Fléda has became a slightly less progressive and slightly more mainstream recently — but it still hosts great events several times a month.

Stará Pekárna

This tiny club located in a brick-walled cellar hosts a jazz, blues or rock concert almost every evening. One night, you can listen to promising local young musicians, the other, to renowned jazz players from New Orleans, New York or San Francisco. Unfortunately, Stará Pekárna allows smoking during some events.

Sono Music Club

Nicknamed “the Death Star” due to its similarity to the space station from Star Wars, the Sono hotel and music venue has been attracting attention since early on. The ball-shaped concert hall hosts performances of various genres.


Hard rock, punk rock, metal, grunge, death metal, gore: put your leather jacket on!

Metro Music Bar

A venue located in the basement of Alfa passage hosts numerous big band jazz concerts and many performances of “revival bands” (i.e. cover bands).

Skleněná Louka

Since the late 1990s, “Skleněnka” or “Sklo” has been an unmatched cultural centre: a four floor tenement building hosting several venues plus a pub and a tea room. “Sklepní scéna” (“the cellar venue”) relaunched in 2014 and became one of the top places in Brno for experimental music.


Back in the early 1990s, Mersey was on the very edge, hosting some of the first techno and house parties in Brno. Several times each year, the old glory returns. Much more often, Mersey hosts plain oldies parties and cover band concerts.

Kunštátská Trojka

The Renaissance House of the Lords of Kunštát shelters Trojka club; it’s quite a democratic place: the drinks are cheap, the performers — from musicians to kabuki actors — are passionate, and the piano in the yard is there for everyone who wants to jam. “Trojka” hosts several flea markets and small festivals every year.


The tiny auditorium of this smoke-filled pub has a diverse program: from Women’s Day cabaret to Protestant services, from jazz jams to punk rock concerts.


Since the late 2000s, the owners of this beautiful factory complex have been claiming that they would tear down the buildings “next year”. Each year, the project gets postponed. In 2012, halls of Vlněna hosted first “Vlna” party that was supposed to be the very last one. It wasn’t. In the last three seasons, Vlněna has been hosting a party or a concert every few weeks. (Which, of course, will stop the next year.)

In one sentence

The Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and Janáček’s Opera Theatre aren’t “clubs” per se but they provide excellent musical experiences. (1 Rooseveltova St., & 8 Komenského náměstí Sq., | Apart from Vlněna, two more industrial zones are repurposed as concert or festival venues from time to time: the Zbrojovka factory (7 Lazaretní St., and the Malá Amerika storehouse (1 Hybešova St., | Traubka and Mýdlo are the last two clubs that still posess the atmosphere of the 1990s. (3 Traubova St., 8 Traubova St.) | Alterna club hosts a few good (predominantly jazz) concerts every year. (48 Kounicova St., | Owners of Fléda launched a smaller club, Eleven, in 2013. (11 Dominikánská St., | If you aren’t really interested in the latest trends in post-dubstep or shoegaze hip-hop, Two Face is the place to go: an “authentic” Eastern-European disco, with a small swimming pool. (1 Biskupská St.)


Stores of international fashion chains concetrate in four places: at Česká street (low-end brans like H&M or Zara), around Panská and Radnická St. (high-end brands like Max Mara), in Vaňkovka shopping mall (next to the main train station) and inthe Olympia mall (the largest shopping zone in the country, available by a free bus departing from Úzká St.).

I think it would be silly to leave Brno with a souvenir that could be bought anywhere else in the world, so let’s explore some local shops:


“Beautiful things for your life” — if you’re a woman. Fashion designer Andrea Lojkásková was the first brave person to open a small (Pokojík means “little room”) boutique with products of local dressmakers and designers. Nice stuff, affordable prices.

Naše věci

Mr and Ms Dvořáks run a neat boutique “Our things” with some pieces of their own and some items from other designers and makers: bags, scarves, toys or kaleidoscopes. In 2014, they opened “Naše Malé Věci” (“Our Little Things”) with kids’ clothing, books and biscuits at Čápkova St..


Beloved by the local hipster scene, Wolfgang offers pricey clothing and accessories both for men and women. I may recommend the “Playbag” brand of leather bags.


A “design & book shop” selling the usual stuff, plus: inspirational overseas magazines, film cameras, blown glass products and valuable books on architecture. Convenient location, right in the Brno House of Arts.


In some European countries, including the Czech Republic, an infamous symbol of lozenge with a vertical strip inside is often used as a vulgar visual sign of a… vagina. (By the way, back in the 1960s, Milan Kundera wrote a play The Blunder with the same symbol being a main subject.) Mimimon is a fashion brand that produces only accessories that are lozenge-shaped or vagina-inspired, my favorite one being the bracelet with a word “kundička”, i.e. a “little cunt”. Punk’s not dead, obviously — but the only showroom closed in 2014 so you have to visit the studio.

Alfa Antikvariát

The largest used bookstore in Brno has a well-equipped section offering English, German and French books and magazines. They also sell old postcards and photographs, celebrity autographs, maps and prints.

AB Antikvariát Petr Bouda

A small used bookstore with great atmosphere, many 19th to 20th century postcards, maps, prints and vinyl records.


A claustrophobic furniture bazaar, well supplied by tasteful and affordable mid-20th century furniture. Open only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.


A cute florist shop, conveniently located on Gorkého St. — if you have date in any café or restaurant in the trendy Veveří quarter, grab a rose in Rosebud.


“The first Czech clothing library”: those who want to dress well but can’t afford a new stylish dress every week week may subscribe for CZK 390 a month and then rent up to 12 pieces of clothing. One-time rentals are possible for CZK 100-450.

  • 17 Jaselská St.

Kabinet Toma Holiče

“The studio of Tom the Hair-dresser” hasn’t been winning awards but it is definitely the most entertaining service of this kind all around. While your hair gets cut, you can listen to great DJ sets and sip Club Mate soda or beer. The guys are funny and the place has became a sort of a neighborhood club.

  • 19 Kotlářská St.

In one sentence

LUTA store sells hand-made folklore products: toys, tableware or home textiles. (22 Česká St.) | The souvenir shop run by the town’s official tourist agency TIC sells stuff that goes from tasteless kitch to actually really neat gifts, including a model of the shell-clock from the main square for CZK 1,111. (10 Radnická St., 5 Kapucínské náměstí Sq.) | Three times a year, the Stadion venue hosts the Factory Fashion Market, a folksy event with a diverse range of sellers. (22 Kounicova St., | If you visit the Kamená kolonie quarter on a weekend day, don’t miss Sixty Stone Space, a design store located in one of these tiny houses. (60 Kamenná čtvrť) | A renowned fashion designer Denisa Nová has a beautiful showroom designed by architect David Zhoř. (4 Veselá St., | Aleš and Bára Šelig run a fashion label Alešbáry and have a nice showroom, too, designed by architect Renáta Kučerová. (5b Pellicova St., | The smallest fashion studio of them all: Elajediova, run by Eliška Judová. (34 Grohova St., | The oldest Czech bookstore in Brno, Barvič a Novotný, has half a floor dedicated to music scores. (13 Česká St., | Florist brand Efemér produces original bouquets made strictly from local and seasonal flowers. (online orders only, | The handy folks of Novoretro restore old furniture, especialy from the mid-20th century. ( | Love Music sells t-shirts and various souvenirs inspired by Brno. (17 Pekařská St., | Music collectors will enjoy the Musica store with old records and scores. (12 Kobližná St., | Hikers and adventurers looking for reliable gear should visit the “Army store — les, lov, turistika a tábornictví” (“woods, hunting, tourism and camping”). (5 Jezuitská St.) | Downtown antique shops that sell beautiful things: Baru, Josef Sinajský, U Madony, Papilio, Stanislav Lysoňek (2 Dominikánská St., 12 Dvořákova St., 9 Dominikánské náměstí Sq., 71 Veveří St., 69 Minská St.) | If you want to get rid of clothes you don’t wear any more, bring it to the Salvation Army. (25 Mlýnská St.)

Galleries, street art and cinemas

Any time a year, you may easily learn about the current events from a handy “Artmap” map, available for free in cafés and restaurants throughout the town and online at

Brno House of Arts

The building of Künstlerhaus reshaped by architect Bohuslav Fuchs hosts a gallery that rose to international importance in 2010s. The exhibitions focus mostly on contemporary visual art, while showing some appreciation for the 20th century art, too.

Exhibitions of promising young artists take place in associated G99 gallery.

There are two more projects by Brno House of Arts worth your attention. The first one is the “Sculptures in the Streets” festival taking place every two years (2013, 2015, 2017), bringing various experimental installations into the public space. The second one is Brno Architecture Manual, both printed and online guide to 1918-1945 architecture (

Tugendhat Villa

One of the most precious jewels of modernist (“functionalist”, to be exact) architecture in the world reopened after a grand restoration in 2011. Listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites, the villa designed by Mies van der Rohe in the late 1920s is enormously popular: you should book the tour at least two months in advance. Did you miss it? There are two last-chance options. The first one is to visit the garden. However, the “point” of the building is that it looks very modest from outside, while the interior is as luxurious as it could get in 1928. So the second and better option is to check out the website for movie screenings taking place in the villa. A strict dress code is applied during the screenings, which may be a problem for tourists.

Galerie Architektury

A good place to learn something about the work of contemporary Czech architects. Nice photographs and 3D models, regular social gatherings.

4AM Fórum pro architekturu a média

In an old, soon-to-be-demolished building in the plains of the “southern centre”, 4AM is a subversive institution covering contemporary architecture, urbanism and digital culture. The place is open to public during events only, so visit the website first to avoid unnecessary journey into the wild.


Far from any other point of interest, Industra is a “space” that aims to build a neighborhood of its own. A café, a gallery, a community garden, a space for social events like the Street Food Festival, and a soon-to-be finished shared office, Industra is the most ambitious project of its kind in Brno. What I admire about Industra is that they avoid both European and state funds and run totally independently.

Again, it’s better to check before whether there would be anything going on on the time of your visit.

Timo’s work

My favorite gallery of visual art is open 24/7. For more than a decade, grafitti writer TIMO has been writing his poems and visual jokes throughout Starý Lískovec and Bohunice quarters, as well as in the town’s centre. His signature works are huge signs appearing and disappearing on walls and pillars of transport infrastructure: “NEBOJ” (“don’t be afraid”), “TICHO” (“silence”), “MÁŠ NA MÍŇ” (“aim for less”), “B JAKO BRNO” (“B as in Brno”), VŠECHNO BUDE (“we’ll have everything”).

Due to the law-and-order approach of local authorities, Timo’s work disappears quickly and therefore we have no reliable map. However, you can explore the unofficial Facebook group dedicated to Timo’s art and soon you’ll find yourself recognizing his works everywhere around you.

Scala cinema

The most successful single screen cinema in Moravia gained its popularity through smart marketing. It offers afternoon screenings for parents with kids, with dim lights and quieter sound. It allows dogs inside, as long as they don’t bark. It screens live relays from the Metropolitan Opera. And it hosts “Scala naslepo” (“blind Scala”) screenings where you don’t know in advance what are you going to see — you pay after the film, so you don’t have to be afraid of wasting money on something you’ve already seen.

Art cinema

“The cinema for a demanding audience”, as it had been called before 1969, has a youthful spirit despite its age: apart from Kubricks and Antonionis, you can enjoy overnight TV series marathons at Art.

There are two screens and up to 10 screenings every day, with the peak coming with the regular festivals: Brněnská 16 (an international competition of short films), Cinema Mundi (a selection of the best movies of last year), Mezipatra (movies covering gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics) or Jeden svět (documentaries about human rights — or rather about violations of human rights).

There is a high concentration of cinephiles in the Art café and the Artěk bar. Also, a small gallery in the foyeur is worth attention.

In one sentence

One more gallery focused on the work of contemporary Czech visual artists: Galerie Ars. (39 Veselá St.) | There are several street galleries or “window galleries” in Brno: Umakart, Anne Frank Memorial, Nadveřegalerie, Šaufenstr. (40 Lidická St., 22 Orlí St., 27 Kamenná čtvrť St., the court of Pražák’s palace at 18 Husova St.) | The Faculty of Fine Arts at Brno University of Technology runs its own gallery Aula (19 Údolní St., 4 Radnická St.) | Off/Format is small, independent gallery, opened on Tuesdays and Saturdays only. (41 Gorkého St.) | Cinema goers should support Lucerna, the last surviving small cinema in Brno. (19 Minská St.,

Museums and family attractions

I won’t lie to you: almost every place listed has lots of room to improve. The venues could be more interactive, with more labels in foreign languages, more affordable admission prices… The main reason why I go to the museums in Brno is to recall my childhood years. Only a few things have changed since the early 1990s.

Technické Muzeum

I loved the Technical Museum as a kid and I still enjoy the top floor with interactive toys that explain various physical phenomena. Other interesting stuff: big stereoscope showing vintage 3D pictures, a “cabinet of mechanical music”, cars manufactured in Brno before the World War II and a detailed copy of pre-war shopping mall with several stores and a small pub (open only for special occasions).

Mendel’s Museum of Genetics

Gregor Mendel was a 19th century scientist and monk that made some early experiments in genetics years before Charles Darwin’s ground breaking works. Mendel died almost unknown in 1884; he was discovered and appreciated only in the decades after his death. The museum, run by Masaryk University, presents his life and his work in interactive, entertaining way, without unnecessary simplifications.

Leoš Janáček Memorial

A twist of fate brought the two best known men from Brno together in a strange way: young Leoš Janáček, who would later become a world-famous composer, conducted the orchestra at Gregor Mendel’s funeral.

Although Janáček’s music is still popular, his fans may be disappointed by how his legacy is treated in Brno. You can visit the original study of the composer with his piano but that’s all. You’d better hope the Philharmonic Orchestra has some of his works in the current repertoire.

Anthropos Pavilion

“The Descent of Man” is the title of the exhibition placed in a beautiful pavilion standing in a middle of a lively park. The three floors present prehistory through many detailed models, the best known being a life size mammoth.

On special occasions, Anthropos shows the original Venus of Dolní Věstonice, a 25-29,000 years old figurine of inestimable value, discovered at Dolní Věstonice in 1925. (A copy is on regular display).

Moravian Museum

Apart from Anthropos, the institution manages several other buildings. Dietrichstein Palace with enormously boring and outdated exhibitions of minerals or medieval Moravia, Bishop’s Courtyard hosting aquariums with fresh water fish, and Palace of Noble Ladies, displaying temporary ethnographic exhibitions.

  • 8 Zelný trh Sq. (Dietrichstein Palace), 1 Muzejní St. (Bishop’s Courtyard ), 1 Kobližná St. (Palace of Noble Ladies),

Museum of Romani Culture

The only such museum in central Europe that covers history and habits of the Romani nation, living in diaspora and facing harsh prejudice almost everywhere. Apart from the exhibitions, the museum hosts many events such are author readings, concerts and movie screenings.

Lama Centre Hády

What a funny attraction this is, hidden in an abandoned quarry at Hády Hill (bus stop Velká Klajdovka and then a 10-15 minutes hike): a herd of lamas you can play with or learn about from the keepers. Kids love this place.

Brno City Museum

Located in Špilberk castle, it’s quite understandable that the most popular exhibition of all is the infamous prison, in use as late as in the mid-20th century. Apart from this frightening and depressing space, the exhibition of modernist architecture and and the collection of the 20th century paintings (once again!) are worth visiting.

St. James’ Ossuary

Rediscovered by archaeologists in the early 21st century, this place, filled with skulls and bones from a nearby cemetery, was supposed to become Brno’s number one attraction. It didn’t. The ossuary is quite small, compared to Sedlec near Kutná Hora, let alone the Paris catacombs. The tickets are expensive (140 CZK) and they let will you in only two times every hour. However, if you are interested in such a mysterious place, you still may enjoy the experience.

Brno ZOO

If you are a demanding visitor, you’d better go to Olomouc or Líšná near Zlín. Brno ZOO garden is vast and hilly, most of the runs and pavilions are old and ugly. As the zoo specializes mostly on ungulates (e.g. camels, buffalos, deers), there are only a few really entertaining animals: chimpanzees, bears and ravens. (I’m not kidding about the ravens; they are so damn smart!)

In one sentence

Two places kids may like: The Museum of Puppets and The Museum of Toys (29 Cejl St., & 7 Měnínská St., | The interiors of the Old Town Hall aren’t particularly beautiful but visitors may walk up to the tower, providing great outlook. (10 Radnická St.) | The Capuchin crypt shelters mummies of dead monks is another point of interest for death freaks. (5 Kapucínské náměstí Sq., | Brno University of Technology finally opened its Computer Museum to general public: you can visit it every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (1/2 Božetěchova St., | Avoid the “Labyrinth beneath Zelný Trh Sq.” — for 160 CZK per person, the only thing you will see is a cold cellar. (

Part II: Understand Brno Like a Local

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Frequently asked questions

Some of the most common questions asked by real people via my website

What should I expect from Brno?

Don’t expect a love on the first sight: both the train and the bus stations are dirty, the navigation is non-existent, and people don’t speak much English. But then you’ll discover Brno is a neat town with a nice historic centre, marvelous parks, many cultural facilities and a blooming food scene.

What’s the best season for visiting Brno?

There is a lot of things going on in May and early June: the Ignis Brunensis street festival and fireworks competition, the nights of open museums and churches, and Festival of Masks.

Contrary to Prague, Brno gets less crowded in summer, as it’s more a student city than a tourist destination. Most clubs are closed from June to September but if you don’t mind that, you can enjoy everything else.

Hotels get more expensive during the MotoGP race weekend (usually the third weekend of August). Avoid this event, unless you are a fan of motorsports.

Whenever you go to Brno, visit for a list of recommended upcoming events.

How safe is Brno? Are there any places to avoid?

If you follow some basic common sense rules, you’ll be safe. Hide your wallet deep in your bag, don’t leave your luggage or your camera on display in your car, and avoid being annoying-troublesome-drunks.

Some locals may advise you to avoid the area around Cejl St. for safety reasons. Don’t worry. The quarter is indeed poor and unattractive, but I have been walking through the place several times a week for several years, and I’ve never experienced anything unpleasant, let alone dangerous.

Don’t hesitate to dial #112 (they should speak English and German) when anything goes wrong.

Do the venues accept credit cards or Euros?

Only hotels and better restaurants do. Even many boutiques listed in the chapter on shopping are cash-only.

Is there any kind of “Brno card” I could use in museums?

No. I’d like that too.

Is there any full-fledged city-wide bike rental service?


Is there any free municipal wi-fi network?

No. But at least there is free wi-fi connection in most cafés and restaurants. Check out for passwords.

How does the public transport system work?

Exceptionally well except for one thing: Brno has only one ticket machine accepting credit cards, located in a booth at the intersection of Česká and Joštova St. You’ll need Czech coins in the machines available at major tram and bus stops. If you only have banknotes , most any nearby newsstand can help.

There are many different tickets but on most occasions, one-hour ticket for 25 CZK is the best choice. If you plan to travel a lot, 24 hour ticket costs only 90 CZK and on non-working days, it may be used by two adults and up to two children below 15 years of age.

The timetables have been imported to Google Maps ( so you can use the service for finding the perfect connection between two or more places. Also, a map of lines may be handy:

Special night lines come from all the suburbs to meet at the main station at 11 p.m., 11:30 p.m., 12 p.m., 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 5:30 and then to continue on to the opposite side of the town. That means you can travel between any two places in Brno quickly and with only one switch at max.

What if I need a taxi?

Just get one waiting at the airport, main station, Náměstí Svobody Sq. or Česká St. Taxi scams are much rarer than in Prague. Lidotaxi is one — not the only one — well-established company: call (+420) 542 214 221.

Where should I park my car?

A hotel’s parking lot is always the best choice. But if there isn’t any or you travel to Brno for one day only, you have other possibilities too:

The shopping mall Vaňkovka on the south side of the centre (Ve Vaňkovce St.) offers an hour of free parking, then you have to pay CZK 20-25 CZK per hour. On Saturday afternoons and on Sundays, the parking is free of charge. You just have to leave before 11 p.m., just like any other day.

Parking in “Rozmarýn” garages at 14 Moravské náměstí Sq. is slightly more expensive but you can leave your car parked overnight there. The garages are tiny and it may be tricky to park a large SUV.

You can also leave your car somewhere in the streets near the historic centre for free. However, finding a parking spot may be a tough issue.

Is the city friendly to those with disabilities? Minorities?

Thanks to its redevelopment of the last twenty years, moving around the city in a wheelchair is no more the agony it used to be. A big exception is the area around the main train station, which was designed without consideration for those with disabilites, so there are many stairways and almost no elevators. Also, remember that the city of Brno is quite hilly and therefore walking to Špilberk castle or around the zoo garden may be exhausting for people with poor health.

For an Eastern European country, Brno is quite gay and lesbian friendly. Yet it’s no Stockholm and the sight of two men holding hands in public is still rather rare.

Racial and religious hatred is still an issue in the Czech Republic, pointed especially towards Romani people and Muslims. Contrary to the 1990s, violent acts are virtually non-existent these days. However, folks that don’t fit may find it much harder to rent an apartment, for example. I am deeply sorry about that- if you face any behavior that doesn’t belong to a liberal, tolerant society, let me know at .

How much time do I need for exploring Brno?

The historic centre can be explored within an hour or two. If you want to visit galleries and take a rest in a restaurant or a café, a day could be enough. During a weekend you can enjoy almost everything pleasant Brno can offer. A longer stay makes sense especially if you want to take a trip to other South Moravian tourist attractions, such are Lednice, Kroměříž, Mikulov, or Třebíč.

What is the tipping etiquette in Brno?

There aren’t any tip jars in most places. In pubs, cafés and bistros, just round up your bill by 10-15 percent and say the number aloud to the waiter or waitress (or just say “that’s okay” if you don’t want any change back). For example: when you pay a 135 CZK tab with a CZK 500 CZK bill, say “one hundred and fifty”.

In better restaurants, they will bring you the bill in a folder. Insert banknotes, let the staff take the folder away, and when they bring you the change back, you finally leave the tip in the folder.

Important dates from the history

1243 a.d.

After only several thousand years of permanent settlement, Brno was finally granted the city privileges by Václav I, King of Bohemia.


In the final stage of Thirty Years War, the local Catholic army, led by Louis Raduit de Souches, defeated the Swedish Protestant forces. Having surrendered, we could now possibly have had the Scandinavian gender equality, a rich welfare state and great taste in design. Instead of that, we have a parade each August, commemorating de Souches.


Franz Joseph I of Austria declared Brno should no longer be a closed fortress. The fortification would be taken down in the forthcoming decades and replaced by wide boulevards and palaces, inspired by Vienna’s Ringstrasse.

The town also opened economically and ethnically in the second half of the 19th century: Jews were finally allowed to settle and do business in Brno, beside Germans and Czechs.


Soon after Czechoslovakia gained independence from the Austrian-Hungarian empire, two important things happened in Brno: “Greater Brno” was created administratively by attaching two neighboring towns (Královo Pole and Husovice) and 21 villages to Brno. The population jumped twofold overnight to quarter-million people. Also, Masaryk University was founded in 1919, named after the first president of Czechoslovakia, philosopher Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. It would later become the second hub of Czech academia after Charles University in Prague.


The spectacular Brno Exhibition Centre was built to commemorate the first 10 years of Czechoslovakian independence. Since the 1950s, International Engineering Fair has been the most important event hosted in the venue every year.


The first Grand Prix race was held at “Masaryk circuit” in the western part of the town. The dangerous road track was replaced by a safer closed one in 1987 and has hosted the World Motorbike Championship every year since. The event is still a huge source of pride for many locals, although only a few of them have ever paid for the tickets themselves.


In March, Brno was occupied by Nazis, who quickly began their persecution of local Jews. Some, including the well-known Tugendhat or Stiassny families, managed to leave, but thousands of other Brno Jews were transported into concentration camps; only a few survived.


After the city was liberated from the Nazis by the Soviet Red Army in April, many Czechs worked to forcible expel ethnic Germans from the country. By the end of May, the entire ethnic German population of Brno (20,000+ people) has been forced to leave their property and the town for Austria or Germany.

In less than six years, Brno lost two of the three ethnicities that had made the town great: the 1940s were Brno’s darkest era ever.


The Velvet Revolution ended the four decades of communist totalitarian rule that had made Brno suffer both economically and culturally.

Located halfway between the Czech capital Prague and the Slovak capital Bratislava, Brno hosts negotiations regarding division of the federative country in vila Tugendhat in August 1992.


After the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia, Brno became the “capital of justice” of the Czech Republic, providing home to the Office of Public Defender of Rights, The Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and, most importantly, the Constitutional Court.

Despite of everything positive that had happened, there was a price to pay for the liberalisation: many local factories couldn’t compete at the free global market and went bankrupt. The 1990s were tough for many families in Brno.


Around the time the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004, Brno had already bounce back, and took aim at international success in the knowledge economy. With several universities and research institutions, many IT companies and a good position halfway between Prague and Vienna, the town bloomed once again.

Ten famous men and one famous woman of Brno

“Brno is just a wet paper towel where you put a seed to germinate,” my friend Honza says. This list of famous folks of Brno proves his words. Only Franta Kocourek spent his whole life in Brno; for the others, the town was just a stop on their way.

Jean-Louis Raduit de Souches (1608–1682)

In 1645, this field marshal needed just several hundred men to defend Brno against a crowd of 30,000 Swedish soldiers. According to a made-up legend, a smart trick helped him to save the city. On the day of the final battle, his spies found out that Swedish soldiers would try their luck before noon only — so de Souches decided to ring the cathedral bells an hour earlier to confuse the enemy.

For me, this event was somehow ironic. De Souches defended the Catholic city of Brno against the Protestant army despite being a Protestant himself. Even stranger, he had actually deserted the Swedish force before joining the Imperial Army.

You can give a salute to his coffin in St. James’ at Jakubská St. or to his bust in the park next to Špilberk castle, from where he still looks at the city.

Although the bell legend was made-up, the cathedral bells ring noon at 11 a.m. every day and many people in Brno consider eleven to be their lucky number. Did you notice that most chapters in this guide have eleven tips?

Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–1884)

An abbot of the Augustinian Abbey of St. Thomas who discovered the basic laws of genetics. Due to bad luck, he died believing his experiments had failed. He never knew his discoveries would nourish a new field of science after his death.

The remains of the glass house where Mendel experimented with various plants in the 19th century are freely accessible in a court of the abbey, next to the Starobrno brewery, together with Mendel’s Museum.

Leoš Janáček (1854–1928)

Imagine: Gregor Johann Mendel is dead, the coffin is descending slowly into the grave, a music is playing, and the orchestra is being conducted by… Leoš Janáček.

The young man was to become the best known Czech composer of the 20th century. Although he was born far from Brno, in Hukvaldy, he moved to this city to study and to work. In 1919, he started an art school, now bearing his name. And in this city, he also died and was buried in 1928, now resting not far from Mendel.

Viktor Kaplan (1876–1934)

The Austrian engineer and inventor of a revolutionary water turbine lived on Údolní St. and gave lectures at the University of Technology. His bust can be seen at the crossing of Údolní and Úvoz streets.

Robert Musil (1880–1942)

Before becoming a renowned writer, Musil had attempted to study technical sciences in Brno. His opus magnum, the novel The Man Without Qualities, was set in Vienna, but the sleepy atmosphere of “Kakanien” country could be inspired by Brno as well.

A memorial plaque marks the house where Musil lived at 10 Jaselská St.

Arnošt Heinrich (1880–1933)

At the early age of 24, Heinrich became the editor in chief of the Lidové noviny, the newspaper that later formed the face of then young, democratic country of Czechoslovakia. Under his management, the nation’s cultural elite concentrated in Brno: Rudolf Těsnohlídek, Jiří Mahen, Stanislav Kostka Neumann and Karel Čapek were among the contributors of Lidové noviny.

Heinrich used to work in the restaurant U Stopků at Česká Street. There’s no memorial plaque there to commemorate him. A pity.

Maria Restituta (1894-1943)

A nun born as Helena Kafka in Husovice (then an independent village, now a part of Brno) who bravely resisted the Nazi terror up until her execution. In 1998, she was beatified by pope John Paul II. A church carrying her name will be built in Lesná quarter soon.

Kurt Gödel (1906–1978)

“The greatest logician after Aristotle” was born at Šilingrovo náměstí Sq. The German Jew never considered Brno – which became a part of Czechoslovakia in 1918 – to be his true home. He left for Vienna, Austria, in 1924, and then for United States. In his new home country, he made friends with Albert Einstein. Sadly, Gödel suffered from deep paranoia and finally died of starvation since he was afraid that someone could poison him.

In Brno, Gödel is commemorated by a plaque at 8a Pellicova St. A hall of Brno University of Technology and a building of Brno Technology Park carry his name.

Bohumil Hrabal (1914–1997)

Both the life and work of this writer is connected to Brno in two ways. He was born and raised at 47 Balbínova St. in Židenice quarter. There is a small memorial located at the top of the street, citing a nice description of the neighborhood from a book by Hrabal.

One of his most famous short stories was set in Kohoutovice quarter on the opposite side of the town. “The death of Mr Baltasar” describes the fatal crash of the motorbike racer Hans Baltisberger in 1956. Nowadays this place (approx. 49°11’41.93“N, 16°31’21.97”E) carries a small memorial of Baltisberger.

Milan Kundera (*1929)

The most successful author born in the Czech Republic was growing up, at least according to the historian Miloš Štědroň, in a villa at 6 Purkyňova St. He left the town in his early adulthood and now lives in France, considering himself to be a French, not Czech, writer.

His cousin Ludvík Kundera (1920-2010) lived in Brno until his death and wrote numerous poems about the town.

František Kocourek (1947–1991)

A muscleman and an actor, known internationally as “Boris the Tiger”, was one of the characters who helped Brno gain the reputation of being a weird place with a strange sense of humor. Kocourek died of an unexpected heart failure at a young age and he is now buried at the Řečkovice quarter cemetery.

Undervalued attractions

I’m not implying that paying a visit to the cathedral and the castle is lame, but why should I send you to the same places every guide does? Let’s explore some undervalued sights instead:

Brno astronomical clock

“Brněnský orloj” at Náměstí Svobody Sq. is very different from the much better known astronomical clock in Prague. It was constructed in 2010 and immediately caused a huge controversy, particularly for two reasons: its shape resembles a sex toy, and it’s almost impossible to tell what time it is by looking at the clock.

Sculptors Oldřich Rujbr and Petr Kameník claim that the clock they designed should rather resemble a bullet. That makes a sense: the piece of art commemorates the 1645 siege of Brno by Swedish army. As a celebration of the victory, a small glass ball is released by the clock every day at 11 a.m. Don’t expect you could get one: people start fighting for a good position even an hour or two before the ball goes out. You can still buy a similar ball — or a model of the clock — in a nearby souvenir shop at Radnická St.

If you want to impress your friends, learn how to read the time from the cryptic display with this manual:

  • Náměstí Svobody Sq.

The observation deck at House of the Lords of Lipá

“Dům pánů z Lipé” hosts a small observation deck on its roof, allowing you to see all important landmarks of Brno: the cathedral of St. Peter and Paul at Petrov hill, Špilberk castle, St. James’ church as well as the Old City Hall. Free admission.

  • 17 Náměstí Svobody Sq.

Kamenná kolonie

Built illegally in the 1920s by poor workers in an abandoned quarry, “Kamenka” is a mesmerizing, romantic village, populated by students, artists and various “round pegs in the square holes” since the 1970s. Although the place lies just fifteen minutes away from Mendlovo Náměstí Sq., it feels like a different world. Thanks to a strong neighborhood community, various festivals are held in the (two) streets of Kamenka throughout the year. Friday evening is a good time to visit the place — have a drink standing in front of Duck bar and enjoy the atmosphere.

Other local slums of the 1920s and 1930s lack the bohemian community of Kamenka but they are still quite neat. You may pay a visit to Divišova čtvrt, also called “Shanghai” (around Divišova St. in Lesná quarter), Písečník (around Písečník St. between Lesná and Černá Pole quarters), and Podstránecká (around Podstránecká St. between Líšeň and Slatina quarters).

The 1920s and 1930s modernist architecture

After the Czechoslovak declaration of independence in 1918, one of the goals of the newly created democratic state was to differentiate itself from the old Austrian empire. Modernist — or particularly “functionalist” — architecture was one of the agents of progress. Brno, along with Hradec Králové, built many new buildings in the era. Not everybody loves the simple, angular style, but for me, they are symbols of liberty and equality, together with Janáček’s Sinfonietta and not any less moving.

This topic is so vast that I’m going to politely forward you to the Brno Architecture Manual, freely available online at A few highlights for those who lack internet connection:

  • Vila Tugendhat, a breathtaking house listed as a UNESCO World Herriage site. See more in the chapter about arts.

  • Buildings designed by Bohuslav Fuchs (1895-1972). Most notably the ultra-narrow Avion Hotel at 20 Česká St., Pavilon café at 6 Jezuitská St., Alfa passage at 4-10 Poštovská St., Moravian bank (now Komerční banka) at 21 Náměstí Svobody Sq., or the post building right next to the main train station.

  • “Nový dům” (“New House”) neighborhood designed by various architects, built in the 1928 to demonstrate how modern architecture could improve the quality of life of ordinary people. (around Bráfova St., Žabovřesky quarter)

  • The Exhibition ground with several beautiful pavilions is open to general public during various fairs — however, some of the most beautiful buildings are closed.

  • Vila Stiassny, designed by Ernst Wiesner for entrepreneur Alfred Stiassni and later used as a hotel by the communist regime, hosting the Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1972. After a reconstruction, it should open to public some time in 2015. (14 Hroznová St.)

  • Various vilas in Žabovřesky and Pisárky quarters. Before going for a walk, download an audio guide and a map from the Architecture Manual at

  • The “Centrum” shopping mall at 24 Kobližná St. was supposed to be the tallest skyscraper in Europe back in the 1930s, reaching up to 100 meters. Due to construction problems, only seven floors were eventually be built.

Lesná quarter

Back in the 1960s, Lesná was a ground breaking urban development project. Architects František Zounek, Viktor Rudiš, Miroslav Dufek and Ladislav Volák designed a brand new quarter of apartment buildings from scratch, trying to achieve as high quality of life as possible. The neighborhood itself is one huge park with tall trees between buildings, quiet streets, many valuable sculptures, and various leisure time facilities. In the 2000s, the houses got new facades which spoil the aesthetic impression. However the point of Lesná keeps fine: living in panel buildings doesn’t have to suck.

  • Čertova rokle tram stop

Central Cemetery

If all the dead people in Central Cemetery woke back to life, it would become the second largest Czech city. That by the way means there are more dead people in Brno than the living ones.

Let’s start with the crematorium, easily accessible from the tram stop “Krematorium” (lines #6, #7, #8). It was designed by Ernst Wiesner and built of red bricks between 1925 and 1930. The hall inside has a glass ceiling, so if tou look up during a funeral, the sun tickles your nose. A strange sensation. Almost enjoyable. Almost.

Now enter the cemetery and walk straight to the “honorable circle” where most of the most prominent men and women of Brno are buried. Notably:

  • Jan Skácel (1922–1989), a poet

  • Lev Blatný (1894–1930) and Ivan Blatný (1919–1990), father was a playwright, son a poet

  • Oldřich Mikulášek (1910–1985), a poet

  • Gustav Brom (1921–1995), a conductor

  • Eduard Milén (1891–1976), a painter

  • Bohuslav Fuchs (1895–1972), an architect who gave modern Brno its face

  • Arnošt Heinrich (1880–1933), an editor-in-chief of Lidové noviny

  • Karel Absolon (1877–1960), an archaeologist

  • Jiří Mahen (1882–1939), a playwright

  • Karel Vaněk (1866–1924), the first Czech mayor of Brno

  • Leoš Janáček (1854–1928), a composer

Looking for the grave of the founder of genetics Johann Gregor Mendel? He was one of the first “residents” of the burial-ground in 1884 and so he lies in an Augustinian grave in the North-East corner of the cemetery, not in the honorable circle.

A concrete memorial to dead Red Army soldiers in the southern part of the cemetery is the most Soviet-like place in Brno: not only due to its tour-de-force architecture but also for the pale, yet still visible portrait of Josef Stalin. It’s a miracle the painting survived both de-Stalinisation during the communist era and de-communisation after 1989.

With an irony typical to Brno, not far away, in the western corner of the cemetery, a burial ground of the Wermacht soldiers killed in the world wars can be found. The place is unknown even to locals. Why should anyone go there, right? I will tell you why: it’s a beautiful spot, a simple green field covered with white crosses, each for three dead soldiers. Since it’s the least visited part of Brno, I bet no one will disturb your meditation there. Yep, meditation. As a small memorial plate states there: the death of these poor boys should teach us to think, and to be able to forgive.

Cejl and Zábrdovice quarters

Avoided by many locals for their pitiable anti-Roma sentiments, Cejl and Zábrdovice are romantic industrial quarters at the banks of Svitava river. There is something about the place that reminds of me Berlin or poorer parts of Prague before gentrification occured in those cities. My favorite places: the corner of Hvězdová and Bratislavská St., “Afro Bar Semba” at Körnerova St. and a former prison at Soudní St., hosting cultural events every now and then. Street festival “Ghettofest” is held every June around Bratislavská St.

  • Tkalcovská tram stop.

Professional sport clubs

…because nothing will tell you more about your date than how does he or she behaves when the referee is a total asshole:

  • Women basketball team IMOS is the most successful sport club in Brno, winning the top league for 14 times and the European league once, in 2006. (Rosnička hall, 7 Horákova St.,

  • Kometa ice hockey club has the most active fans among top league teams, which turns its matches into an entertaining experience, even for those who don’t particularly enjoy the sport. Tip for the folks who haven’t been to an ice hockey game before: dress warmly. (Rondo Arena, 34 Křídlovická St.,

  • Zbrojovka is the only fully professional soccer club in the town, qualifying for the top league again in 2012. (Stadium at Srbská St.,

  • There are two highly competitive baseball teams in Brno: Draci and Technika. (,

  • Speaking of sports, the racing circuit Automotodrom Brno located in the woods near the Žebětín quarter provides great racing entertainment. The most prestigious event hosted at the venue is a MotoGP World Championship race, held every August. Almost every weekend from April to October, you can find something going on at the circuit. Several times a year, the track is opened to amateur drivers. (

Abandoned stadium “Za Lužánkami”

Once the largest soccer stadium in the country, attracting 40,000+ spectators as late as in the 1990s, it was abandoned in the early 2000s and has been decaying since. Nowadays, it is nicknamed “Pripyat” after a town near Chernobyl power plant — when you see the vast area turned into wilderness, you’ll understand. While it’s technically possible to get inside, the stadium is a) dangerous, b) a private property, so I suggest looking through the gates only.

  • 4 Sportovní St.

Open air salsa sessions

Held every Thursday from late spring to early autumn at Denis gardens, this event is, not surprisingly, popular among pairs.

Moravian Library

Not precisely a sight, but if you intend to stay in Brno for more than one week, you may find this tip handy. The largest library in Moravia has seven floors stuffed with inspiration. The foreign library is probably the most important service for people from abroad, hosting an American corner, English library, Deutsche Bibliothek, and Österreich Bibliothek with thousands of novels and magazines for rent.

Jewish Brno

Contrary to many smaller South Moravian towns, e.g. Třebíč, Boskovice or Dolní Kounice, Brno lacks a genuine “Jewish quarter”. The reason for this is simple: in the middle of the 15th century, the folks of Brno expelled the Jews from the city to get rid of creditors and business competitors. The Jews could not come back for four hundred years: they only got their full civil rights back as late as 1849.

In the next few decades, the Jewish community became the social elite of Brno, contributing to its rapid industralisation and modernisation. Let’s mention at least the family of Löw-Beers, whose daughter Greta married Fritz Tugendhat (“the” Tugendhat), architects Otto Eisler and Ernst Wiesner, the entrepreneur and builder Alfréd Stiassni, actor Hugo Haas, rabbi Richard Feder…

In the 19th and 20th centuries, most of the Jews in Brno lived and worked around Křenová St. where they built several temples. Nowadays the New Orthodox synagogue at Skořepka St. is the last remaining one.

It actually doesn’t look like a synagogue. When I was a kid, I thought it was a gym. You can order a guided tour in the 1936 building – the only one in Moravia still serving its original purpose – at number (+420) 544 509 651.

Built in 1855, the “Great Synagogue” was located in front of the Vlněna factory, close to the nowadays Vaňkovka and Tesco shopping malls. The Nazis burned it down the very first day after the March 1939 invasion. The tragedy is commemorated by the modern name of the street: Spálená, literally meaning “Burned down”.

The “New Synagogue”, opened in 1906, was severely damaged during the war. Most members of the Jewish minority in Brno who were lucky enough to survive the Holocaust left Czechoslovakia for Israel sooner or later, so the synagogue stood abandoned. For decades, the place was used as a storehouse. Several architects created ambitious plans to revive it in the 1980s – it could have been transformed into a theatre, for example. But finally, the synagogue was torn down in 1986 to make space for the new building of a nearby hospital.

So the most important place commemorating the Jewish community of Brno is…:

The Jewish Cemetery

You’ll find the place in Židenice, next to the tram stop “Židovský hřbitov”, reachable by trams #8 and #10 within seven minutes from the main station. There is no admission charge, just remember to bring a hat or a cap if you’re a man, as they won’t let you inside without a head cover. Note that Saturday is a closing day.

The cemetery in numbers: established in 1852 (5623 of the Jewish calendar), it covers three hectares, has 40 sections, nine thousand tombstones, eleven thousand graves and a thousand trees.

The cemetery in impressions: trees whisper above roughly tooled, ivy-covered tombstones. Notable places: the huge tomb of the Löw-Beer family, the grave of actor Hugo Haas covered with stones and flowers, the unique – since it violates the Jewish tradition of not showing the portraits of lost loved ones – a life-size statue of a young girl, Terezka. Many stones carry “194x” as the year of death; they don’t need any other message to make you shake. The small 1950 Holocaust memorial is surrounded by old tombstones from abolished Moravian cemeteries.

It’s hard to meet anyone here and easy to forget about the time. Before 4 p.m., a bell will return you back to reality – if it doesn’t, the cemetery keeper accompanied by a huge dog definitely will.

For more information, visit the website of the Jewish community of Brno at

One day journeys

Seven UNESCO world heritage sites are located less than two hours away from Brno (not including Prague and Vienna). That makes Brno a perfect base for a week-long vacation spend by exploring the jewels of Moravian and Bohemian history.

When you go to Olomouc, Kroměříž, Lednice, Třebíč, Ždár nad Sázovou or Kutná hora, take a train: find the best connection at (you can switch to English or German at bottom of the page). Although there is also a train connection to Telč or Litomyšl, the bus is much quicker; find yours at


Having been the former capital of the province of Moravia and left almost untouched by WW2, Olomouc is one of the most beautiful and largest historic cities in the central Europe. Baroque Holy Trinity Column is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites but there is more: St. Wenceslas Cathedral that witnessed the murder of Czech king Wenceslas III in 1306, Olomouc Museum of Art, and the Church of St. Maurice with an observing tower. Olomouc has one of the most beautiful and entertaining ZOOs in the country; you’d better explore it on a separate day.


The castle built by the archbishops of Olomouc shelters “The Flaying of Marsyas”, a late painting by Titian. The huge English landscape garden hosts a small ZOO (with a free admission) and the French garden (“Květná zahrada”) will mesmerize even those who don’t particulary like flowers. Don’t skip the gallery of Max Švabinský, a prominent Czech modernist painter.

Lednice–Valtice Cultural Landscape

In the end of the 18th century, the family of Liechtenstein started developing a landscape complex that would later be known as the “Garden of Europe”. Their castle got surrounded by both French and English landscape gardens, a system of artificial lakes and several other pavillions and attractions, the most popular one being a 62 meters tall minaret (the only one in Moravia and never used for religious purposes).


The Jewish quarter of this small town on Jihlava river still possesses the kind of atmosphere that Prague or Český Krumluv lost after being discovered by the mass tourism industry. Don’t miss the Jewish cemetery: it’s worth the 10-15 minutes walk from the old quarter.

Žďár nad Sázavou

Žďár itself is neither particularly nice nor lively but it’s still worth a visit for the pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk, the final work of the Baroque genius Jan Santini Aichel.


This tiny town has the most beautiful plaza in the Czech republic, with colorful Renaissance and Baroque houses. The castle is also worth a visit. Probably the least comfortable journey of all — the road is winding, so if you have serious problems with motion sickness, take your pills before the ride.


Of course there is the fairy-tale-like castle where composer Bedřich Smetana spent his childhood. However, Litomyšl is better known as the Czech capital of contemporary architecture, and as a town with an unusually high quality of life.

Kutná Hora

The train ride is rather exhausting (almost three hours) but Kutná Hora is a charming old town. Ossuary of Sedlec is probably the most frightening tourist attraction in the country: everything in the place is made of human skulls and bones. The monumental St. Barbara Church was once again designed by Jan Santini Aichel.

Kutná Hora is quite close to Prague and listed on many “Czech Rep. in 24 hours” tracks, so the town gets crowded especially on summer weekends.

An anecdote instead of an afterword

Two writers meet on a street in Prague:

“According to the last Host magazine, you are a bourgeois buffoon without a character, and your writing sucks.”

“So what should I do?”

“Move to Brno.”

(Short story “In Prague” by J. R. Pick, as printed in literary magazine Květen in 1956.)


Michal Kašpárek’s Guide to Brno, 2014-2016 edition

Self-published by the author in October 2014.