A local’s guide to Brno, Czech Republic: ‘How do you like your pilsner poured?’



Czechia has some superb national dishes: my favourite is šulánky s mákem, a doughy, sweet dish made from potatoes sprinkled with poppy seeds, sugar and butter. Pub/restaurant Lokál U Caipla near the cathedral is the place to go fortraditional classics such as svíčková na smetaně – sliced beef in a creamy sauce with bread dumplings, whipped cream and cranberry sauce. Hearty plates like this go perfectly with a cold pilsner, and here there are three pouring styles to try: the hladinka has a thick foamy head but is mainly beer, the šnyt is predominantly dense foam with a little beer and the mlíko (milk) is almost entirely creamy foam with a tiny amount of beer. Those not into beer needn’t worry: Brno has a great coffee scene. Spolek is a minimalist place with no piped music, and Buchta C is a modern espresso bar with delicious Czech-style buchty (sweet filled buns).


Villa Tugendhat.
Villa Tugendhat. Photograph: CTK/Alamy

There’s lots about the city’s culture and heritage at Muzeum Mêsta Brna (Brno City Museum), Romany culture at Muzeum Romské Kultury or the Moravia region in Moravská Galerie v Brně. Villa Tugendhat is Czechia’s only monument of modern architecture and is on the Unesco world heritage list: tours need to be booked well in advance, as they sell out quickly. Brno is also a creative city, and being an actor, I have to mention our incredible theatres. The ornate pink-hued Husa na Provázku (Goose on a String) puts on fantastic plays with English subtitles. Feste is an independent theatre group that tackles political and social issues. They do perform in Czech but Industra, the place where they usually perform, is worth checking out. It’s an industrial-looking creative space that promotes projects with positive social, cultural and economic impact – art exhibitions, plays, cinema and educational workshops.



The coolest neighbourhood is Kamenná Kolonie (stone colony), a scattering of 130 traditional houses in an old quarry by the Svratka River. In the past it was a working-class area inhabited by brickyard workers, but it became an enclave for artists and bohemians in the 1970s. Nová Zbrojovka is another interesting place: a former munitions factory is being transformed into a modern community with flats, office space and amenities.

Green space

The karst landscape north of Brno has spectacular caves.
The karst landscape north of Brno has spectacular caves. Photograph: CCat82/Getty Images

The best way to explore Brno is by bike. The city is surrounded by nature, and there are a lot of green spaces in the centre too. The Denisovy Gardens, close to St Peter and Paul’s cathedral, is for me the most beautiful. About 20 minutes’ drive away, the lake created by Brno dam is a lovely place to spend the day reading alone or with family and friends: kids love the fully functioning steamboat. The Moravian karst landscape, north of the city and accessible by public transport, has spectacular caves: the 130-metre-deep Macocha Abyss (booking essential) is one of Czechia’s natural wonders. Mountain bikers should check out the area around the small town of Jedovnice for trails that snake through the luscious Czech landscape.

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Super Panda Circus.
Super Panda Circus has performers telling stories. Photograph: Kevin Rushby/The Guardian

Brno is a university city, so it comes alive at night. I’ll often spend an evening on the wooden deck at Goose on a String’s lovely internal patio. My favourite spot for a beer is Pivnice U Poutníka, a traditional beer hall with a wide selection of ales. For live music, Alterna, Metro, Sono and Fleda host nights from dance and electro to international performers and local bands. And no one should leave Brno without visiting Super Panda Circus, an eccentric cocktail bar with performers telling stories and inviting guests to role play.


The Royal Ricc (doubles from €90 B&B), in Brno’s historic centre, is a classy hotel in a 16th-century building with antique furniture, stained-glass windows and lavish palatial interiors.