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Not too far from Prague, Brno is sometimes called the Czech capital's "little sister". Its architecture is a mix of Austro-Hungarian grandeur, Gothic churches with fairy-tale spires and a sprinkling of contemporary buildings. The city has several landmarks, including the 13th-century Špilberk Castle, but the true joy of visiting Brno lies in exploring its local markets, wandering through its picture-postcard streets and soaking up its laid-back atmosphere. It's located in Moravia, the Czech Republic's important wine-growing region.
Hostels in Brno range from a Cold War bunker, to 1980s-themed accommodation, to a former Art Nouveau cabaret venue or one of the city's oldest buildings. As well as a dash of history, you can expect extras like free Wi-Fi and shared kitchens where you can make new friends over a Czech beer or two. If you're heading here for the lively nightlife, take your pick of Brno hostels in the city centre. You'll also find plenty of quieter options just a short walk away.
Brno has 29 city districts but most visitors tend to stay within the old town (Brno-střed). This area has the city's busiest hub, Liberty Square, with an ingenious astronomical clock, historical buildings and monuments. It also has a lively café culture and bar scene. Outside the city, Brno-Líšeň's Marian Valley has scenic lakes and forests. Another popular getaway for locals is a day trip to Brno-Bystrc, with Veveří Castle and sailing and biking around the Brno Reservoir.
The old town is packed full of sightseeing spots. On Petrov Hill, a street of Art Nouveau buildings leads up to the soaring twin spires of the Cathedral of St Peter and Paul, which you can climb for city views. The 13th-century town hall has its very own 'dragon' hanging from the ceiling. Underneath the city's streets you'll find one of the world's largest ossuaries (a room filled with human skeletal remains), dating from the 17th century. There's also an extensive labyrinth of passageways and cellars under the Cabbage Market.
From the modern Brno-Tuřany Airport, you can take a bus to the city centre (20 minutes). There are direct buses to Brno from Vienna International Airport and Václav Havel Airport Prague. You can also catch the train from Vienna city centre (1.5 hours) or Prague (2 hours). Public transport in the city includes buses, trams and local trains; there's also an extensive bicycle lane network and two bike-sharing services that visitors can use, Rekola and Velonet.