Journi Guide | Thinking of Prague? Try Brno instead

Brno is a beautiful town in the Czech Republic, with many of the charms of Prague but with more local flavor!

When travelling to a famous international destination, we tend to have high expectations. Breathtaking views! Great food! Cultural exchanges with friendly locals! But too many times, our lofty aspirations are met with the harsh reality of dirty, overcrowded streets and pricey hotels. Local flavor? It's nearly impossible to find in many of the world's most touristy destinations. That's why we've created Journi Guides.

Journi Guides tell you where to beat the crowds, experience something authentic, and get the best 'gram of your life.

Check out this week's Journi Guide below to get our top recommendation of places you might not have heard of, but definitely should get to know.

When you think of the Czech Republic, Prague is usually the first city to come to mind. While Prague is a beautifully unique city that's drawn tourists to the Czech Republic for decades why not visit the lesser known Brno instead? There are still plenty of tourists roaming the streets of Brno, but this much smaller city is far less crowded and easier to navigate than Prague. It's also home to breathtaking views, a medieval underground market, and the republic's best bar.

In the city you'll find the old town area full of beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and medieval cathedrals. Stop for coffee at an open air cafe, roam the charming streets, and shop at the market square. If you're more of a nature lover, head to the countryside. Just outside of Brno, you'll find golden fields and rolling green hills.

Brno is the perfect place to visit if you're looking for a European city with old world charm and modern nightlife without the hefty price tag.

Read on for the best places to stay, eat, drink, and explore to help you get the most of out of your trip.

1.) Stay at The Grandezza Hotel

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Grandezza Hotel Image: Grandezza Hotel

The Grandezza Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Brno, at the Cabbage Market Square. It's one of the city's best hotels and full of traveling expats and tourists. You'll find rooms with beautiful interiors and great city views. Prices start at $170 a night.

For more affordable accommodations try the Fairhotel. This beautiful boutique hotel boasts a finnish sauna, rooftop bar with city views, and modern, pastel colored rooms. Prices start at $90 a night.

2.) Have your morning coffee at Cafe Podnebi

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Cafe Podnebi Image: Cafe Podnebi

Start your day at Cafe Podnebi for coffee and a local pastry. You'll find this cafe in the charming surroundings of Spilberk city park on Údolní 5. Order an Illy coffee, quality ronnefeldt tea or genuine belgian hot chocolate. It's the perfect place to enjoy the morning while people watching and planning the rest of your day.

3.) Visit the Cathedral of St.Peter and Paul

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Cathedral of St.Peter and Paul Image: Joutrip

Also known as Petrov, The Cathedral of St Peter and Paul is an architectural jewel in the middle of Brno. It was original built in gothic style during the 13th century but has been rebuilt several times since then. If you're feeling up to walking the 130 steps to the top of one of the towers, you'll get stunning views of the entire city.

The most curious thing about the cathedral is that the bells of the tower ring at 11am instead of noon. Why? In 1645 during the siege of Brno the Swedish army promised troops that if they didn't conquer the city by noon they would retreat. Brno defenders decided to increase their odds and turn back the clocks. The plan was a success and Brno remained unconquered. The bells still ring at 11am instead of noon.

4.) Eat Lunch at Soul Bistro

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Soul Bistro Image: Yelp

Head to Soul Bistro in jezuitska 7/10 for lunch. This local bistro serves international comfort food in a casual intimate setting. You'll also be able to find fresh, healthy options like farm to table style salads and vegetable bowls. You can't go wrong with the goat cheese and beetroot salad or classic fish and chips.

5.) Shop at Cabbage Market Square

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Cabbage Market Square Image: Zoutrip

Shop for local goods at The Cabbage Market Square, one of the oldest preserved city squares in Brno. You'll find flowers, vegetables, local goods, and sweets for sale in the bustling streets. Or head underground. A medieval maze of tunnels and chambers sit underneath cabbage market square. In 2011 the underground tunnels were opened to the public to explore. Take a 40-minute walking tour and explore the 13th century tunnels.

6.) Have Dinner at U Richarda

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic U Richarda Image: U Richarda

Stop at U Richarda for dinner. You'll be able to order fancy Czech dumplings and unfiltered and unpasteurized local beer. If you're feeling adventurous try the venison pate with onion jam or the pork belly paste. For dessert indulge in some sweet fried bread.

7.) Grab a Drink at Super Panda Circus

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Super Panda Circus Image: Super Panda Circus

Super Panda Circus was voted number one bar in the Czech Republic, beating all the bars in Prague. Keep your eyes peeled for the hidden mystery entrance on Husova Street. You'll be able to spot the door man outside, but not much else. Inside you'll find cocktails served in unusually ways, like a baby's bottle or alcohol frozen into lollipops. Stay past midnight and you're in for a wild and crowded night.

8.) Hike to The Macocha Abyss

Travel Guide Brno Czech Republic Macocha Abyss Image: Trip Adviser

Nurse a late night in Brno by heading to the countryside for some fresh air and stunning views in the morning. Just outside of Brno, the countryside is filled with rolling green hills and fields of flowers. Hike to the beautiful Macocha Abyss for a family friendly attraction.

Brno is a city definitely worth spending one or two days in. Since it's close to Prague and Vienna, it's the perfect place to fit a weekend trip in between visiting neighboring cities. Head to Brno and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and charm this lesser known city has to offer.

Looking for more Journi Guides? For your next destination fall for Newfoundland, instead of Iceland.

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Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!

Travel Tips

8 of the Best Donut Spots In the United States

Celebrate National Donut Day with our favorite treats across the country.

November 5th marks one of 2020's two National Donut Days.

Occurring in both June and November, National Donut Day allows fans of those delectable yeasty treats to embrace their sweet tooth. But like any niche food group, people often take their donuts very, very seriously, and there are countless places to get your fix.

Below, we've rounded up some of the best donut spots across the country. From coast to coast, these bakeries are sure to impress even the pickiest donut-heads.

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop – Modesto, CA

Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop

If you ever find yourself in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's worth taking a short trek out east towards Modesto for some of California's best donuts. Mr. T.'s Delicate Donut Shop has remained family owned since its opening over 30 years ago, providing both tried-and-true classic donuts as well as experimental flavors and holiday specials. Even their 24-hour service doesn't diminish the line that trails out the door most mornings.

Dough — New York, NY

Dough \u2014 New York, NY

Donuts might not be the first circular, doughy treat you think of when it comes to New York City. If you've had your fair share of bagels, the Big Apple also boasts some spectacular donuts at Dough, a go-to spot for both tourists and locals alike. Here, you'll find a host of Latin American-inspired flavors that are hard to come by anywhere else; their Dulce de Leche flavor is a customer favorite, while the tangy Hibiscus donut is just as good for Instagramming as it is for eating.

Blackbird Doughnuts — Boston, MA

Blackbird Doughnuts \u2014 Boston, MA

Boston's Blackbird Doughnuts is a no-frills donut spot specializing in both brioche "raised" donuts and old-fashioned cake donuts. With a small menu of year-round donuts and a rotating cast of seasonal flavors, Blackbird keeps it simple and classic. Why mess around?

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop — Brooklyn, NY

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop \u2014 Brooklyn, NY

For over 60 years, Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop has been calling the quaint Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint home. Since then, the bakery has remained a popular spot for both regulars and new visitors passing through the area. Here, you won't find uber-trendy decor or gimmicky recipes, just damn good donuts that prove the power of long-standing local businesses.

Pip’s Original — Portland, OR

Pip\u2019s Original \u2014 Portland, OR

In both their mobile catering van and brick-and-mortar locations, Pip's Original is a staple for small, sweet treats in Portland. They're known for their tiny donuts that come in inventive seasonal flavors like marionberry-lavender and mango ghost pepper. But even if you opt for one of the more traditional flavors, Pip's Original proves good things can come in small packages.

Round Rock Donuts — Round Rock, TX

Round Rock Donuts \u2014 Round Rock, TX

Founded in 1926, Round Rock Donuts—located just north of Austin—are impossible to miss. These donuts' distinct yellow-orange color, caused by fresh eggs in the original recipe, make them stand out among the crowd. While this classic outpost can easily churn out hundreds of dozens of donuts a day, they also offer Texas-Sized Donuts, which are just as ginormous as you'd imagine. Round Rock Donuts are not only delicious and easily recognizable, but they're a slice of Lone Star history.

The Holy Donut — Portland, ME

The Holy Donut \u2014 Portland, ME

In Maine's Portland, you might not find tiny donuts or a decked-out catering van, but you will find a slightly healthier alternative. The Holy Donut was founded on the premise of creating tasty donuts that used all-natural ingredients to make a treat you could feel good about eating. The secret ingredient is fresh, mashed Maine potatoes, which make these donuts delectably moist without sacrificing flavor.

Donut Friend — Los Angeles, CA

Donut Friend \u2014 Los Angeles, CA

As expected of a city so focused on entertainment, Los Angeles' Donut Friend puts an edgy spin on their inventive donut flavors. Their year-round menu features donut flavors with names like Green Teagan and Sara, Fudgegazi, and Bacon-182 that are sure to delight the rock music nerds. For everyone else, the delicious donuts speak for themselves.