Brno, Czech Republic: A Budget Visit

Most visitors to the Czech Republic begin and end their trips in Prague, sometimes never leaving the cosmopolitan capital city. While Prague is the undisputed gem of the country, the city of Brno also deserves attention. As the urban center of the historic Moravian region, Brno is the perfect place to see timeless architecture, dine in superb restaurants, party all night, and understand the Czech way of life from a less harried, less expensive vantage point. A budget visit to Brno will help you get beyond Prague and expose you to the Czech “second city” on the cheap.

Getting to Brno from Prague

Brno is easily accessible from Prague, and most visitors usually take a train or bus. Round trip train fares for the journey between Prague and Brno vary depending on where/when you buy them, whether you already have a Eurail pass, and whether you’re eligible for a student discount. As a rough guide, though, a rail ticket shouldn’t cost much more than $50-70, round trip. Of course, bus tickets for the three-hour journey are slightly cheaper, and the ride is just short enough to be comfortable by coach. You can catch buses to Brno, which depart almost hourly during the day, from the main station in Prague. If you fly to into Prague on Czech Airlines, you may even be able to take advantage of a Brno-bound mini-bus offered by the airline at a discounted rate to passengers. Inquire when purchasing your plane ticket or while still at the airport.

Budget Accommodations in Brno

To keep a tight budget that leaves enough money for fun (including notoriously cheap pints of beer), you’ll want to stay in a hostel or a very spartan hotel. Here are thee recommended hostels in Brno where the staff speak enough English to make Americans comfortable:

Pension Eugenie, at Preslova 90. Though not in the heart of the city centre itself, this guest house provides inexpensive accommodations which include breakfast and even airport pickup (from the Brno airport, though it’s unlikely you’ll be using it). You can walk to most attractions in 15-25 minutes or take transit. If you stay for at least three nights, you’ll also earn a discount on the already reasonable room rate. A single bed can be as cheap as $20.

Travellers Hostel, at Janska 22. For an incredibly cheap stay, this place offers beds for only $12 a night within spitting distance of transportation and tourism. The catch? It’s only open two months out of the year: July and August.

Penzion Pohada, at Vinohrady 29. If you don’t mind a 15-minute tram ride to Brno’s city centre, this hostel is another viable option. It includes more attractive rooms and what they describe as a breakfast “smorgasbord.”

There are other “penzions” available in Brno, but unless you speak Czech (or possibly German), it’s harder to get your questions answered.

Public Transit in Brno

Brno has trams, trolleys, and buses that are inexpensive. Even though Eastern Europe was considered backward by many Americans for a long time, one thing these former communist states developed was solid, extensive public transit in large cities. The fares are cheap, but the city is divided into zones which can make ticket purchasing confusing for those who don’t speak Czech or know the city. A month-long tourist coupon, good in all three zones, is about $22. Allowing unlimited rides, the coupon can be especially budget-friendly if you use it for the duration of your trip and then sell it to someone new at your hostel for the remainder of the month at a prorated price. You’ll recoup some of the loss without having to worry about individual tickets and zones.

Brno Museum Passport

One way to save money during your Brno visit is to purchase the Museum Passport. For about $14 (or 333 CZK), you can gain admission to all participating sites, most of which are museums. Since you’re likely to visit several museums and other historical sites during your visit, the pass is worth your while. The Brno Museum passport is best obtained at one of the museums themselves and is valid until the end of a calendar year, as the program was designed for residents as much as for tourists.

The following are just some of the attractions participating in this special program:
�· Brno City Museum with expo at Spilberk Castle
�· Moravian Gallery, Prazak Palace
�· Mendel Museum [For you non-science types, Mendel is considered the father of genetics.]
�· Brno Cultural Centre Galleries and Tour

Top Tourist Attractions in Brno

Of course, museums are not the only sights to see in Brno. Here are some other attractions which can be tackled on a budget:

Ã?· Freedom Square: Food, commerce, art, and more – all in one ever-evolving town square.
�· Old Town Hall: An architecturally interesting tower with sculptures.
Ã?· Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul: “The” church in Brno.
�· Cabbage Market with Parnasus Fountain: Old outdoor market selling more than just food. Look here for lace, a Czech handicraft specialty.
�· Augustinian Monastery: Founded in the 14th century to promote the ascetic lifestyle.
�· Minoritska Street: Dotted with Art Nouveau buildings

If you’re spending a week or so in Prague, Brno is worth at least two days. The somewhat slower pace, the smaller crowds, and the cheaper prices all make this an excellent diversion for the visitor to the Czech Republic seeking a well-rounded budget experience.

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