A few weeks ago, we decided very last minute (like the day before we left) to take a quick weekend trip, and didn’t know where we wanted to go. I always see the signs for Praha/Brno as I am driving around town, and thought Brno might be fun to check out. Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic, the capital of Moravia, and just 100km north of Vienna. But I asked around and couldn’t find anyone who had been there. We decided to give it a shot anyway, and what a pleasant surprise! Brno is a wonderfully charming town with plenty to see and do, and it is super close, making it a perfect weekend trip from Vienna.
Forhaus | If you want to learn about the Austro-Hungarian Empire while eating beautifully prepared Austrian and Hungarian cuisine and drinking good wine, this is the place. It was less than half a block from the Barcelo Hotel, and our favorite meal in Brno.
Pegas | This restaurant was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel after we asked for a very traditional Brno dining experience, and it didn’t disappoint. Although if you are a vegetarian, this is not the place for you. We ordered two traditional dishes, both of which were basically pork prepared a bunch of different ways, with a bit of bread and dumplings on the side. This is not a fancy place by any means, but it is delicious. If you are traveling with little ones, it is best to go early, as it looks like this place would get quite rowdy later in the evening.
Barcelo Brno Palace | The ceiling of the Barcelo Brno Palace is all glass, and looks nearly identical to the Boscolo Budapest, which we loved, so this was an easy choice. Our room was on the top floor and had skylights for windows, which was very unique and fun, and there were blackout shades to cover the skylights, which were nice for getting the little ones to sleep in a bit. The hotel is in a perfect location, less than a 10 minute walk from the train station, steps away from St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and right off of Cabbage Square.
SEE & DO
An icon for modern architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Villa Tugendhat was designed in 1928 by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat. The Tugendhats only lived there for 8 years before they had to flee Czechoslovakia for Switzerland, and the villa was confiscated by the Gestapo shortly thereafter. In 1992, the treaty that divided Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia was signed in the villa, and then in 1994, it was opened to the public as a museum run by the city of Brno. The villa and the gardens are fascinating, and well worth the trek up there. If you would like to go on a tour of the entire villa, you must get reservations approximately 2 months in advance. To view only the gardens and the exterior of the villa you do not need reservations, simply ring the buzzer at the front gate.
The Špilberk Castle is surrounded by beautiful grounds, and houses the Brno City Museum. While the castle itself is not especially spectacular, the view from the lookout tower sure is. And the walk up to the castle gave the kids plenty of time to run around and play in the grass.
The twin spires of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul on Petrov Hill are the most prominent feature of Brno, and are even pictured on the Czech ten Koruna coin. The cathedral bells chime at 11am, instead of at noon, commemorating the 1645 end of the thirty years’ war. According to legend, the Swede’s announced that they would retreat if they had not taken the city of Brno by midday. The leader of the army ordered the bells to be rung at 11am instead of noon, and the Swedes retreated in defeat. The trip up one of the 84 meter high spires is a must, just don’t look down as you are climbing the creaky wooden spiral staircase. My 5 year old made it to the top herself, but I carried my toddler, as I definitely wouldn’t trust little ones on these stairs.
Denisovy Sady Park is the oldest public park in Moravia and Bohemia, and wraps around the back side of The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul. At night, it is filled with music and young people, almost all of whom had their own bottle of liquor. Basically an American teenager’s dream.
Museums | We happened to be in Brno for Museum Night, when for a one-time fee of 20 CZK ($2 USD) you could visit any of the museums in Brno between the hours of 6pm and midnight. My 5 year old loves museums so we set out to see as many as we could before she basically fell asleep walking. (She made it until 11pm!) We visited the Moravian Museum, Dietrichstein Palace, Moravská Vesnicka, Diocesan Museum, and Stará Radnice. Had it not been Museum Night, we probably would have only done the Stará Radnice, because that includes a trip to the lookout tower. But the Moravská Vesnicka, which is a complete miniature motorized village, is a great stop if you have kids.
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