Brno Christmas Market is a great place to visit if you’re thinking about spending a Christmas in Czech Republic. It’s not as obvious a choice as some Christmas Market breaks, such as Vienna or the wonderful Prague Christmas Market.
Christmas in Brno Czech Republic is a considerably quieter affair than in Prague. The Brno Christmas Markets are spread across just two squares in Brno Old Town, with a brilliant ice rink a five-minute walk away.
Then there’s the fairytale setting of one of the loveliest hidden gems of Europe, full of gorgeous medieval cobbled streets, Art Nouveau townhouses and Gothic spires on the skyline. It’s a magical place to experience Czech Christmas traditions, and a great introduction to European Christmas markets in general.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Brno Christmas Market, and what to do in Brno besides (hint: plenty). We’ll also offer advice on the best Brno hotels, or how to go about planning a day trip from Prague or a day trip from Vienna if that’s all the time you have available to visit Brno.
BRNO CHRISTMAS MARKET – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Brno Christmas Market is spread over two sites a minute’s walk apart.
The main market is on Namesti Svobody Brno – Freedom Square, the hub of the Old Town
A smaller market is a minute’s walk away on Dominikanske namesti (Dominican Square), next to St Michael’s Church and the New Town Hall
The Dominikanske namesti Brno Christmas Market is the more atmospheric of the two
There is a life-size carved wooden re-creation of the Nativity scene, with the Holy Family, Three Wise Men, angels, animals and more, at the top of Dominican Square Brno
There is also an open-air ice rink outside St Thomas’ Church and the Moravian Gallery, five minutes’ walk or a minute’s tram ride away (the stop at which you need to alight is Česká)
Brno Christmas Market dates tend to be similar each year, from late November to the 5th or 6th of January
Brno Christmas Market opening hours tend to be 1000 until around 2200 until December 23rd
The Market is only open for a few hours a day thereafter – usually the morning of December 24th (Christmas Day in the Czech Republic) and afternoons until the last day of the Market, with the exception of New Year’s Day, when it’s closed
WHERE IS BRNO?
Brno is the capital city of the region of Moravia, in the south-east of the Czech Republic. It’s an hour north of the border with Austria, and a similar distance from the border with Slovakia.
It’s 205 km (127 miles) south-east of Prague and 136 km (85 miles) north of Vienna, Austria.
WHAT IS BRNO LIKE?
Brno Moravia is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. We had been tipped off by an old friend that it was rather special, but it blew the both of us away. It’s a gorgeous city with a stunning Gothic cathedral on top of one hill and a medieval castle on the summit of another. There is also plenty of exquisite Czech architecture from medieval to Baroque to Art Nouveau to functionalist, and some great Brno restaurants and bars to discover.
IS BRNO WINTER WEATHER COLD?
The Brno temperature in winter is similar to most other parts of Central Europe. We visited Brno in December and January, with maximum temperatures around 5°C and minimum night temperatures dropping to -6°C.
It does sometimes snow in Brno, but as several locals mentioned to us, as a result of climate change this tends to happen much less frequently than before.
WHAT OTHER THINGS TO DO IN BRNO ARE THERE?
The Old Town is a couple of minutes’ walk from Brno train station, and another five minutes from Brno bus station. The first of the Brno sights you see on your left is Brno Cathedral, a soaring Gothic edifice on a hilltop overlooking the Old Town.
You also get a great view of the cathedral from Zelny trh, or Cabbage Market Brno, a splendid open square just off Masarykova, the main street linking Namesti Svobody with the two Brno stations.
The other hill in Brno is dominated by Brno Castle, also known as Brno Špilberk. This formidable medieval castle which also served as a prison under the Habsburg Empire.
One of the more recent Brno attractions is Villa Tugendhat, one of the most ground-breaking buildings of the 20th century. It’s a superb example of modern functionalist architecture, and was designed by the famous German architect Mies van der Rohe. Tours interior are usually booked out several months in advance, but you can still turn up and visit the garden for a small fee (50 CZK).
If you’re travelling with kids, make time to see one of the best Brno museums, Vida, around 2 km from the city centre. It’s also known as the Brno Technical Museum, and is brilliant for kids, with over 50 hands-on experiences and experiments to try out. Our Little Man’s favourite was flying a balloon.
WHAT CAN YOU BUY AT THE BRNO CHRISTMAS MARKET?
Most of the Brno Christmas Market stalls sold food or drink. You can find an amazing range of Czech food, including some Moravian specialities. Otherwise there were many stalls selling Czech variants of mulled wine (gluhwein) and also some excellent Czech beer.
The market map we looked at seemed to say there were a small number of craft stalls in Freedom Square Brno, but we went there several times, and there were none. So the Market is not the place to do some last minute Christmas shopping.
WHAT OTHER CZECH CHRISTMAS MARKETS ARE THERE?
The Prague Christmas markets are by far the biggest and most popular Czech Republic Christmas markets. They are absolutely fantastic, especially the one on Prague Old Town Square. If you’re keen on photographing Prague, the Christmas Markets are an amazing spectacle. They run from late November to January 6th each year.
Otherwise possibilities include the Cesky Krumlov Christmas Market, the Olomouc Christmas market and the Ostrava Christmas Market.
HOW TO GET TO BRNO?
If you’re not planning to visit any other Czech Republic destinations, it may well make sense to fly to Brno Airport. Ryanair fly to Brno from London Stansted throughout the year. Brno Turany Airport is only a 20-minute bus ride from Brno city centre, costing just 25 CZK (1 euro).
Otherwise it makes sense to visit Brno Christmas Market if you’re planning to visit several Christmas markets in Europe on the same trip. The Vienna Christmas Market is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and trains and buses from Vienna to Brno only take between an hour and a half and two hours.
If you’re spending Christmas in Prague and want to explore another Czech Christmas market, the Prague to Brno train takes around two-and-a-half hours. A Brno day trip from either would entail a long day. It’s also possible to combine a trip to Brno with Bratislava Christmas Market, which is also around two hours away.