Brno is one of the oldest cities in this part of Europe, founded around 1030, but it flourished especially in the times of Austria-Hungary and most of its greatness that can be admired now comes from that period. Right after arriving to the city by train you are welcomed by the beautiful train station that was built in 1839. It’s just the preview of what Brno is like and it gets better and better as soon as you enter the Old Town (that is located just across the street from that station building).
Even if Brno is the second biggest city in Czech Republic it didn’t feel that way. I found it cosy and charming yet with magnificent architecture that can serve as a best example of the golden 19th century. When I was wandering around the city (and not only the Old Town but also surrounding areas) I had this impression I could as well be in Sarajevo, Graz, Cracow or Zagreb. The same style of architecture, the same intellectual vibe, the same excellent cafe culture… Brno has everything that a perfect Central European city should have yet for some reason it still is undiscovered by tourists who prefer to go to Prague, Budapest or Vienna. And when they travel between these three Brno almost always is on the way but not many stop there. Huge mistake! With so many picturesque buildings, churches, squares, sculptures, fountains, details it just couldn’t be any prettier! I fell in love with it, big time!
Brno is also the city of students. There are almost 90.000 of them, getting their education at one of the six well known universities. That makes Brno a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a cool and relaxed vibe. Even if I was there at the exams time the city was full of young people enjoying the beautiful summer days. That was actually one of the reasons why I felt so good there and didn’t really want to leave! Also, due to the big number of students the choice of great cafes, pubs and cheap eating options is overwhelming!
The mix of Austria-Hungary tradition and students’ needs resulted in an excellent cafe culture in Brno! I’ve been to only couple of places and peeped into few more but I know I could spend at least a week there, only discovering new cafes! Some of them are made in the intellectual manner to make a perfect vibe for the conversations about the meaning of life, others have been opened every day since 1936 and are a meeting point of old-fashioned ladies. With the big number of cafes in Brno everyone will find something for themselves. My favourites were Cafe Falk and Trojka, both are highly recommended when you visit Brno!
To boost my feeling of the old Austria-Hungary times I happened to be in Brno during the anniversary of the local public transport comany. There were old buses, trams and trolleybuses driving all over the city. Especially the last ones are the symbol of Central Europe for me! All these vintage vehicles seen in the cobbled streets, surrounded by spectacular buildings made me transfered back in time! There was also a display of the fire fighters’ cars and how they’ve changed over the years. Even if I’m not interested in cars that was pretty cool and the excitements of people got into me too!
I’ve heard from many people that 2 hours are more than enough to see Brno! Well, maybe if you want to rush quickly through the main streets of the Old Town. I’ve spent there 24 hours and there are still so many places I really wanted to see yet I didn’t have enough time! I only wandered around the charming Old Town over and over again, I climbed to the Spilberk castle to admire the beautiful view over the city, I spent way too much time in numerous cosy cafes. But I didn’t have a chance to follow the functionalism route that would have led me to Villa Tugendhat, placed on UNESCO World Heritage List. I also didn’t go to the dam, a leisure area of Brno that would be a perfect option for such a lovely sunny day like the one I was there… Not to mention the Moravia region that is one of the prettiest and most underrated in Europe and lies at the foot of the city. There’re so many reasons to come back to Brno and I’m sure that I will return there sooner than I think!
If you’re looking for more information about Brno or you want to find out about other cool places in Czech Republic make sure to visit Cool Czech Guide and download their free app for Android or iPhone that will surely be a great help when exploring Czech Republic! Don’t forget also about Use-It maps! They’re free, you can find them in many Czech cities and they always have the coolest tips and places to check out! That’s how I found most of my favourite spots in Czech Republic!
What’s your favourite Central European city? Would you like to visit Brno?
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