A Tale of Two Cities
Life in Brno vs. Prague
Comparing living in Brno to living in Prague is like comparing apples and oranges. While both are stunningly beautiful places, there are some major differences between life in the Czech Republic’s two biggest cities.
To start, size really does matter when it comes to life in Brno versus Prague. Despite being the second largest city in the country, Brno still manages to exude small town charm with its friendly locals and walkability. Much like Prague, Brno has an excellent transportation system, but unless you live on the outskirts of town or are heading to IKEA, you may be surprised by how little you’ll need to use it.
Even with its magnificent gothic cathedral and historic castle, Brno has somehow managed to more or less stay off the tourist trail. The city’s eccentric astronomical clock simply doesn’t have the same draw as Prague’s medieval masterpiece. The noticeable lack of tourists is felt most strongly in the city centre and at the top sights. You’ll rarely encounter long lines for coffee at the Starbucks on the main square, and a stroll up to Spilberk Castle won’t involve fighting off hordes of tour groups. No dodging selfie sticks here.
Life outside the capital, and fewer tourists, means cheaper prices on almost everything including accommodation, food, and nights out. Don’t be surprised to find your favorite Pilsner for half the price than it is in Prague. Even with lower beer prices, you’ll be unlikely to run into a pack of Brits on a stag do in Brno. The large student population has created a young, vibrant nightlife scene, but it doesn’t have the chaotic atmosphere of Prague.
While living in Brno does have its perks, small city life isn’t for everyone. Many big-name shops like Tesco and H&M can be found throughout Brno, but some of the brands you’re used to might not be as easy to come by. The same can be said for food. While Brno has some excellent dining options, it has nowhere near the variety of cuisines offered in the Czech capital. If you’re craving Afghan food or need something from The Body Shop, you won’t have much luck outside of Prague. You should also expect to travel if you need something from an embassy or certain administrative offices. Luckily, the two cities are well connected by regular buses and trains.
View of Brno
Photo by Norbert Aepli
Prague’s dramatic cityscapes are a main draw for visitors, so if you aren’t living there, you’ll likely have to make the trip if any friends or family come to visit. While it can be stressful at times, the city’s tourism industry does have its benefits. As a result, you likely won’t have too much of an issue if you don’t speak Czech as there are an abundance of shops and restaurants in the city-centre prepared to deal with foreign visitors. The large expat community in Prague also means that there is a bigger selection of English language services readily available, from exercise classes to pub quiz nights.
Whether you prefer the convenience of Prague or the tranquility of Brno, you can’t go wrong living in either. Both cities, full of history and tradition, have plenty to offer anyone wanting to immerse themselves in the Czech way of life.