Brno Family: A Train Adventure for the Kids with Beer for the Parents
Image: Stock picture/ Freepik.
Many things fascinate my children. The girl likes princesses. The boy likes construction vehicles. Both recently got into dinosaurs.
Books and bedtime stories are the main sources for their appreciation of these themes, although my wife has spent a lot of time standing on sidewalks so that my son could watch bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks rebuild Brno from his stroller. Castles are a good way to access princesses. Dinosaurs? We’ve read a library book a hundred times and we’re going to in the DinoPark in Vyskov soon.
Luckily both of my kids are also fascinated by trains. That is something I can do something about.
Choo choo trains are a classic fascination for toddlers. They are simple toys and they make sense to a young brain. They appear randomly when you move around town — “Look a train!” — as welcome sights.
This is why trains are a good idea for a family trip. Plan it right and the trip can also include an excellent beer as a reward for the parents.
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I recently took my children on a train trip to Tišnov, a small town just north of Brno.
The cost was minimal, just a 42kc tram ticket that you validate on the platform. The kids were free. They got a colorful Detsky jizdenka, which the conductors treated with the respect of an actual ticket.
We left Brno dolní nádraží in the late morning of a workday. It is good to travel during off hours and against the rush-hour crowds. Try to get an actual train and not a glorified tram, like the RegioPanter.
The train ride is great for kids because it is not jarring. Turns are smooth. The amount of movement is just enough to appreciate the power.
The trip to Tišnov offers a particularly interesting tour through Brno. The buildings and streets are recognizable but the different point of view is fun (mostly for the parents). The neighborhoods are bigger. There are surprising train routes that cut through the city. You see locations you’ve always heard about, like the Zbrojovka factory that is being torn down and the forests just north of Rečkovice. Stopping at the different stations — Brno-Židenice, Brno-Lesna, Brno-Kralovo Pole — reminds you that Brno is a real city with some size to it.
Make a game of listening for the whistle that announces when the train is ready to leave each station.
Train trips also offer you a good way to model behavior for future long car trips and transatlantic flights. In my case, my kids had a near-empty train car to run around in for half of the trip. Then they practiced sitting (kind of) when other passengers joined us.
Tišnov is the end of the line. You can practice reading signs because each station along the way has a sign pointing to Tišnov and another pointing to Brno. Plus, the terminus makes it easier to get off (and the return train is generally waiting for you to more easily board).
We arrived in Tišnov in 40 minutes. Not too long, but long enough to be meaningful.
Then the next phase of fun begins. Wherever you go, print out a map beforehand so that you have some idea of the layout of the place. Do some online research through mapy.cz or maps.google.com to find the public playgrounds and other places of interest. Jot down the return times for the train. Pack snacks and drinks, of course.
And, most importantly for mom and dad, figure out where the local brewery is. In Tišnov, you can walk about a kilometer to a neighboring town named Předklášteří and the Monastery of Porta Coeli, which dates back to 1233 and still has a community of Cistercian nurses.
More to the point, the monastery has a new brewery with Pilsner-type lagers. The beer has received rave reviews. It looks like a really great place. (Pro Tip: Check the open hours for the parental highlight of your trip, especially if you go on a weekday — and especially if you go on your birthday on a hot summer day when you really really want to taste some monk beer.)
Here are some other local destinations if you want a reasonable day-trip for your family:
Slavkov u Brna
There are currently not many direct trips between Brno hlavní nádraží and Savkov u Brna. Most start with a bus trip to Brno-Slatina, then a 20-minute train ride. That’s more of an annoyance than a learning experience. If you catch one of the few direct trains, it is a 39-minute trip. The Slavkov u Brna train station is a bit far from the center, but there are sidewalks and it is manageable.
The chateau has a great park to explore. Slavkovský pivovar is a nice brewery with good food.
The best connection is listed at an hour and four minutes. Třebíč has an interesting downtown core, a river and the Jewish Quarter is a Unesco site. I highly recommend a visit with kids or without.
Podklášterní pivovar Třebíč makes good beer; it is located behind Bazilika svatého Prokopa.
Břeclav is a major train junction so there are a lot of different kinds of trains that go through it. International trains take about half an hour, but it may be difficult to find seats on one. Local trains can take between 40 minutes and an hour because they stop more often; these will probably have more space to stretch out — which is more comfortable for a leisurely family trip.
The trip is not as exciting because the rails are straight and cut through flat farmland. Břeclav, however, does have a lot of public playgrounds. Zámecký pivovar Břelav is basically a straight-shot through the center of town and brews Kanec and Beran beer.
If you want a more complicated trip — which means you have to transfer at Skalice nad Svitavou — Boskovice has elements that could be worth the extra hassle. The center is beautiful.
If you do want to deal with a Dinosaur phase with a visit to DinoPark in Vyškov, the train ride would start at Brno-Židenice and take about 30 minutes. It is about a 300-meter walk to the Vyškov Zoo, where you buy tickets and take the Dinoexpress to the DinoPark. Pivovar Vyškov is the local brewery.
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