The Czech Republic is undoubtedly one of the best country’s to visit in Europe for the young and the young at heart. And I’m not talking about spending 2 days in Prague, although I would never complain about “having” to do that. Beyond Prague, the country has several other fabulous cities which are worth visiting, Pilsen, Karlovy Vary, Ceske Krumlov, and Ceske Budowice to name a few highlights. And recently I discovered the allure of the country’s second largest city, Brno, in the southeast corner of the country, just an hour and a half by train from Bratislava or Vienna.
Some things which make the whole of the Czech Republic appealing for younger visitors include:
1. Much cheaper prices than in nearby Germany or Austria
2. An abundance of outdoor sporting opportunities and an extensive bicycle network
3. The popularity of sophisticated cafes, both new and old
4. The large number of breweries, both big names and regional
5. Availability of free walking tours in most major cities
6. Nightlife fueled by university students, featuring imaginative cocktails & rum bars to feed the Czech’s obsession with rum
The university town of Brno serves up all of this and more. Here are a few of the highlights I discovered during a 2 day visit… after reading this, you might want to add Brno to your travel plans while visiting the Czech Republic!
Spilberk Castle – Every respectable old town must have a castle; Brno’s is located on a small hill overlooking the city. It is a 13th century castle built to protect the city and was later used as a prison. Honestly, there isn’t anything too unique or outstanding about this castle, but it is pretty, and taking the short hike up the hill offers a nice view back over the city. I’d recommend heading up there at sunset.
Prazak Palace – The palace is a modern art museum with a slide inside. Although the indoor slide is certainly reason enough to visit, there is also Czech contemporary art on display; some interesting, some not so interesting, all thought provoking though. Also, admission is free!
Moravian Gallery – If modern art isn’t your thing, you can find the work of old master’s at the main building of the Moravian Gallery in the center of town. I enjoy this style of art a bit more, and there is a nice collection here of religious and historical paintings. Again, entry is free which is great!
Older art – creepy Medusa head
Cathedral of St Peter & St Paul – What makes this church interesting is its location, perched slightly above downtown like a guardian angel overlooking the old part of the city. Climbing the tower to the top provides a pretty cool view of the city as well. The massiveness of the structure, constructed in the 14th century, is also impressive.
SKOG Urban Hub – Okay so when sightseeing, it is always important to fuel up with quality coffee and sustainable energy from food. This place serves the best coffee that I had while in Brno… and of course, they offer alternative dairy-free milk options. The interior features minimalistic design and it has a reputation as a hipsters paradise. I can confirm this reputation after watching a stylish young guy in a 3 piece suit complete with a pocket scarf, bow tie, and hat sip his coffee slowly and read a book at one of the bar stool seats by the window. Also, I fueled up on a delicious veggie burger while in a country famous for heavy meat stews and sausage. So there’s that.
Vycep Na Stojaka – While in the Czech Republic, it is essential to drink some of their famous beer and why not do it while standing up in the ranked best pub in the Czech Republic? This place was packed, but we crowded in to a communal table to order thirst quenchers from a regional microbrewery, served with plenty of foam, of course. The friendly atmosphere and yummy beer make it a place worth returning to.
Mikrofrarma – The chili burger. Wow. It was actually spicy! And full of flavor. And supposedly sourced locally but who cares when it tastes so good?! At this place you can order from a range of creative sandwiches and wash it down with local beer. I would go back for that chili burger.
Lucky Bastard Brew House – Ok, back to the beer. Go here, if not for the name, then for the unique beer and the tasty bar snacks. Although for breakfast and lunch on both days I ate like a health coach, for dinner I ate like a frat boy. Sausage, fries with dip, and aged cheese did the trick here. The brew house is a bit out of the way, but worth the walk for the local feel.
Fresh Freaks – This is one of the cafes where it is possible to eat breakfast or lunch like a health coach. I had scrambled eggs with salad and toast, fresh orange juice, and a cappuccino with soy milk. They have a good music playlist and laid back vibe, you could definitely sit here with a book or a laptop for a couple of hours.
Cubana rum bar – As I mentioned, the Czechs really love their rum. In fact, the best rum bar I’ve ever been to has to be a tie between one in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico, and an amazing one in Prague, although this one was pretty cool as well. This place was blasting songs in Spanish on the radio and presented us with a rum menu that resembled a book. I picked one from Cuba, of course. If you like rum, this is a great place to sit and taste a few different varieties from all over the world.
U Bileho Beranka – We popped into this place entirely by accident, since it is very difficult to see from the street that this is anything other than a neighborhood pub. But it fact it is a very old restaurant which serves a cheap but delicious lunch menu. I had schnitzel, mashed potatoes, and a beer for about 4 euros and it was pretty good too.
And here’s the thing – I experienced this awesome collection of cafes, breweries, and art galleries during a short weekend getaway to Brno. There’s definitely enough to see, do, eat, and drink in this town to keep you easily occupied for a few days. In fact, I missed out on a couple of other museums and cafes because my visit was so short. I visited in winter in order to experience the beautiful Christmas market spread throughout the old town, but I’d like to go back in summer to lounge at a cafe table in the square, rent a bike to cycle out of the city, and cool down with a tasty local beer.
In Brno, I discovered free art museums, sophisticated cafe culture, a creative craft beer scene, and contagious energy which comes as a result of the 80,000 students living there. This city just further proved the awesomeness of the Czech Republic (even though I had no doubts about this country in the first place) now I just have one more good reason to recommend a visit to the Czech Republic to other travelers.
What are you waiting for? Book your plane ticket! And if you need help planning an itinerary of fabulous things to do in the Czech Republic, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss Taylorised Travel planning options.
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