Summer in Brno is a flash of paradise. It’s our brief reward for surviving the grey funk of autumn and winter and the guilty feelings of those warm spring days when we goofed off instead of meeting school and work deadlines.
But now, in July and August, school is out, and work deadlines are…more like suggestions, really. Because in a country where most buildings don’t have air conditioning, it’s a crime (or at least it should be) to make anyone sit for too long in a stifling office, or in front of their computer screen at home.
Especially when just outside the window a breeze is whipping the sunlight through linden leaves, and from the corner café you hear the murmur of human beings having more fun than you.
So here are five good excuses to leave work early, get outdoors, and enjoy the bright summer skies of Brno while they last.
And if you get into trouble with your boss, remember that neither I nor the Brno Expat Centre can be held liable for encouraging you to have an awesome summer.
1) Have a drink (and a meal) outside
The golden glint of a beer mug in the sunlight – for me, that’s the official color of summer (although I will acknowledge the pale yellow sparkle of white wine, and the neon orange of an Aperol spritz, as close runners-up).
If you’re a sucker for the many aesthetic pleasures of outdoor drinking, you’ll have no trouble finding a spot to do it in. In the city center, most of the streets have been narrowed by several meters on either side, as bars and restaurants set out their summer tables.
You can join the boisterous crowds outside Na Stojáka in Jakubské náměstí, but my favorite spots are U Tomana, on the main square, and U Dřevěného orla, conveniently located beneath the Expat Centre offices. They both have a great beer selection.
You’ll also notice folks spreading out picnic blankets in Lužánky and the other city parks and popping open bottles and cans there, or just strolling around the city with a plastic cup of booze in hand. This might surprise you if you’ve just arrived in the Czech Republic from a less enlightened place (like many cities in the US) where it’s illegal to walk around with an open container of alcohol.
But you can relax. Even though it IS technically illegal to drink alcohol in many public places, and occasionally the city cracks down when the revelry gets too loud, no one will bother you about drinking outdoors unless you’re really causing trouble. (I mean, if police actually enforced the rule against drinking within 50 meters of a playground, the entire social culture of parental-age Brno would collapse.)
If you want to soak up the booze with some BBQ, but don’t have your own grill, then you can rent one of the public electric grills in Lužánky or Špilberk. Here’s the detailed info on how to do that. That page is only in Czech, but a few years ago the Expat Centre published this handy article with helpful details about public picnicking and drinking in Brno, so take a look if you’d like more tips.
2) Sit by the sea (but leave your phone in your pocket)
Yes, you read that right – Brno now has a “sea” – at least, that’s what everyone is calling the new water feature in Moravské náměstí, a wide, shallow pool with gushing fountains and misters.
Of course, the only waves in this sea are from the happy children splashing around in it. But if you walk by at a less chaotic moment, you can catch a reflection of tall clouds in the water, and if you squint a bit, you can imagine that the spire of the St. Thomas church is actually the mast of a big ship coming to sail you away.
Or you can just grab a coffee or beer from the Parq cafe, plop yourself down on the long wooden benches that surround the “sea,” and enjoy the people-watching.
But be careful with your belongings! As lovely as the new benches are, they have one serious design flaw – they have slits that are just the right size for capturing phones and thin wallets. I’ve already heard a few reports of people dropping valuables down into the benches.
If you happen to walk by and find that the “sea” has suddenly dried up, replaced by a stage, stick around! It means some musicians are about to perform there as part of the Uprostřed festival, which is going on all summer long. You can find the festival program here.
And if you or the kids need a deeper “sea” to swim in, there are several glorified watering holes around town. The big pool complex at Kraví hora and the water park at Riviera are all-time favorites – but the “city spa” in Židenice is also worth a visit for its cool 1930s architecture and its giant wave pool.
3) Watch a movie (but bundle up)
There are dozens of “summer cinemas” (letní kina) around Brno – and at least seven of them are showing movies in English. So if you fancy a film in a kind of garden party setting, this is your thing.
Each of the letní kina has a slightly different vibe.
Scala and Kino Art, at two different locations each, are showing mostly new summer blockbusters (like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), with some popular films from the last several years mixed in. Both are charging 120-150 Kč.
Finally, there’s the Vlněná office park, which will show a film for free every Thursday. Most of these films are Hollywood classics – although in August they’re showing the great Czech film Samotáři. They don’t say on their Facebook page whether it will be shown with English subtitles – but if it is, definitely go; it’s a nice introduction to the weirder side of Czech cinema.
All the summer cinemas start at 9 pm or later, just as it gets dark. As romantic as a movie under the stars might sound, keep in mind that even at the height of summer, it can get breezy, buggy, and downright cold as the evening wears on. Most of the cinemas offer blankets to wrap up in, but it’s best to come with your skin already covered (and ideally with someone to snuggle up next to).
The Expat Centre has made this handy compilation of all the English-friendly summer cinema showings, with links to where you can buy tickets online.
4) Watch a baseball game (but watch out for foul balls)
If you were asked to name a big Czech sport, you probably wouldn’t say “baseball.”
But in the last several years, this country has embraced the great American pastime, and Czech players and fans of all ages are learning what it means to “be behind in the count” and “go to the bullpen.”
If you want to enjoy the homegrown and wholesome atmosphere of a Czech baseball game, there’s no better place than Brno, which is home to three teams in the highest Czech league. Two of Brno’s teams are still in the running this season – the Draci (Dragons) and the Hroši (Hippos).
The Draci are the likely champs, so if you want to play it safe, go and cheer for them at their home field in Komárov. You’ll pay 100 Kč to get in at the gate, but 50 Kč of that is a cup deposit that you’ll get back when you leave. You’ll also have a comfy seat in a proper stadium.
If you want to root for the underdogs, go cheer on the Hippos at the Sportovní areál Hroch in Jundrov. The games are free, and although the “seats” are just stacked up wooden pallets, the atmosphere is more fun. You can order a beer from a boat, and if you get tired of baseball, you can walk a few feet to the beach volleyball courts, and get some sand where the sun don’t shine.
Here’s the schedule for the remaining baseball games this season.
5) Take a spin (and a swing) on the outdoor dance floor
In 2019, a new “dance gazebo” (taneční altánek) appeared in the park behind the Anthropos museum. It was a project proposed and voted on by Brno citizens through the city’s Participatory Budget (which I wrote about for this blog last year).
In summer, the city’s many dance schools and clubs put the open-air floor to thumping good use. On almost every weekend night from July through September, there’s a “tančírna,” open to anyone – where experienced dancers will show the group a few moves, and beginners can jump in and learn the steps.
The world of dance will be on showcase – with different nights featuring salsa, son, bachata, zouk, kizomba, tango, swing and more. On some nights there will be live music.
Anthropos is not the only outdoor summer dance venue – the Swing Wings group will be hosting tančírny all around town (check their schedule here), including at the pretty colonnade in Denisovy sady, which has a great view over the city. And in August, the Ritmo Factory group and the Escola de Samba will be putting on Brasil Fest Brno, which will bring Carnival dancing and drumming to downtown.
And why stop there? In summer, every empty piece of ground can become your own private dance floor (or bar, or picnic table, or sports field, or movie theater).
So Brno, enjoy every inch of your outdoor multi-purpose paradise while it lasts!
Pictures courtesy of the City of Brno.