• 16 February 2020

Prague, in the Czech Republic, is known as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’, because of its abundant Gothic buildings and old-world charm. But, around Christmas time, it might as well be called the ‘city of a hundred Christmas markets’. Seemingly every square or street is lined with festive cheer. The snow-covered rooftops make it the perfect winter wonderland to spend a Christmas getaway.

It’s a perfect stop on any winter tour of Eastern Europe. And to prove it, we’ve compiled a list of unmissable things to do, should you spend a few days of winter in Prague. 

What to pack for a Prague winter holiday

Make no mistake, it gets cold in Prague in winter. In December, the temperature averages around 4°C. So, it’s advisable to pack lots of warm layers. At the very least, make sure you remember these: 

  • Weatherproof walking boots
  • A heavy jacket
  • Warm hat 
  • Thermal underwear
Packing like a pro for your Prague tour in Winter
Packing like a pro for your Prague tour in Winter

Things to do in Prague in winter

Now that you’re packed, it’s time to enjoy the amazing atmosphere of the city and its people. 

1. Roam the 1,000-year-old Prague Castle

More than 1,000 years old, the Prague Castle complex is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. But, over the years it’s been the home of emperors, kings and presidents. Prague Castle is also a famed UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Prague Castle complex
Prague Castle complex
2. Pay respects at St Vitas Cathedral

Within the castle complex, is the old Roman Catholic Cathedral that is known in part for containing the tombs of many patron saints,  ancient kings and emperors. It is the largest temple in the city. 

St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle complex
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle complex
3. Attend a concert at St. George’s Basilica

Another religious building steeped in Roman and Catholic history,  St. George’s Basilica was originally built by Prince Vratislav in 920AD. Today, it serves as a museum of fine art and concert hall for classical performances.  

St. George's Basilica
St. George’s Basilica
4. Shop and socialise at Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square is where you want to be. You’ll find major brands and smaller specialist shops here, as well as the national museum. At night, the area comes alive with bars and pubs. And yes, it is named after the king and patron saint from the popular Christmas carol.   

Wenceslas square and National Museum in Prague
Wenceslas Square and National Museum in Prague
5. Stroll along the Charles Bridge

If you’re going to cross a river, you’d want to use a bridge like this one. Along its 500 metres, you’ll find street performers, musicians and statues. There are also many legends and myths associated with the bridge, like the one about the builder who mixed raw egg into the mortar.  

The famous Charles Bridge in Prague
The famous Charles Bridge in Prague
6. Take a cruise on the Vltava River

Why would you take a boat cruise in near-zero temperatures, you ask? Quite simply, it’s an experience like no other, offering a breathtaking view of the city and its landmarks. It’s also a wonderfully romantic date idea, especially if you take a dinner cruise at sunset. 

A view of Old Town Prague and the Charles Bridge across the Vltava River in Prague
A view of Old Town Prague and the Charles Bridge across the Vltava River in Prague
7. Pay respects at the Jewish Museum

Prague carries a painful and tragic legacy from World War II, especially for the Jewish community. The Jewish Museum, established before the war in 1906, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world and provides a moving experience to visitors. 

It is committed to preserving and recording the history of the Jewish community in Bohemia. Some of its most prized exhibitions involve items that were rescued from the synagogues destroyed during the occupation. 

The entrance of Jewish Museum in Prague
The entrance of the Jewish Museum in Prague
8. Tilt your head for a view of the Dancing House

You’re not going to walk past the Nationale-Nederlanden building without a double-take. Its design is so whimsical and unique,  it’s been dubbed Fred and Ginger, or more commonly The Dancing House.

The buildings in Prague are known for their classical gothic or Roman design. But the modern Dancing House seems to be swaying, as if in a dance. From a certain angle, you might even think it’s collapsing! It’s not.

Nationale-Nederlanden building known as The Dancing House
Nationale-Nederlanden building known as The Dancing House
9. Have fun in the park at Petřínské Sady

This park has a number of fun things to enjoy (besides occasional snow). Hitch a ride on the funicular, wander around the mirror maze, or go up in the lookout tower for a terrific view of the city.   

Building of the Petřín maze, popular children's and tourist attraction in Prague
The building of the Petřín maze, popular children’s and tourist attraction in Prague

Special things to do in Prague in December

Besides the beautiful and historical monuments, the Prague December offers its own specific gifts to the Prague winter visitor. 

10. Find a Christmas market and make a memory

Christmas in Prague is all about markets. Many of the city’s squares host Christmas markets all the way through December. There’s little to compare to wandering the stalls and little shops while enjoying a delicious mulled wine and a gingerbread man. 

There’ll be food and bakes to try, street performances to watch and a generally festive atmosphere that’s hard to beat. Find larger markets at Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square and Republic Square.  

Christmas Market in Stare Mesto old square, Prague
Christmas Market in Stare Mesto old square, Prague
11. Chuckle at the Mikuláš Antics 

For the Czech people, St. Nicholas Day on December 6th marks the start of the Christmas season. The previous day, December 5th sees a celebration in the form of an odd bit of dress-up. 

St Nicholas, an angel and a devil roam the streets, quizzing kids (or trying to scare them), and then giving them candy. Most of the Mikuláš festivities take place around the Old Town Square in the early evening. Bring candy.

Dressed in the costumes of devils and angels and St. Nicholas
Dressed in the costumes of devils and angels and St. Nicholas
12. Enjoy the  music

While Prague does not forget its proud classical history, there’s music for all tastes in December. Around the city – especially at the Rudolfinum – you’ll find classical concerts galore, many Christmas-themed. There’s also Magnetic, an electronic dance music festival if you’re feeling up to a workout. And don’t forget all the street musicians! 

See the street musicians play music on the Charles Bridge
See the street musicians play music on the Charles Bridge

Special things to do in Prague in January

13. Watch the New Year’s Day fireworks

Besides the traditional celebration at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Prague celebrates New Year’s Day itself with a fireworks display in the early evening. Festivities centre around Letna Park. 

Fireworks illuminate the sky over St Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle
Fireworks illuminate the sky over St Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle
14. Walk with the three kings

January 6th is The Epiphany in Christian culture. In many European cities, a procession depicting the Three Wise Men or kings from the east who visited the infant Jesus takes place. The three kings ride their camels from Malostranské Náměstí to the Old Town Square. 

People dressed in costumes take part in a street performance dedicated to festive ceremony of meeting Three Magi
People dressed in costumes take part in a street performance dedicated to festive ceremony of meeting Three Magi

Prague is the perfect city for fans of old European culture. It might be the combination of the crisp winter air and the thousands of lights in the trees around the Christmas markets. It might be the tall Gothic spires or even the whimsical feeling of the public celebrations on special days. 

Whichever, Prague delivers on a promise of a memorable winter holiday, especially over Christmas time. So, pack your coat and a pair of boots, and start planning Prague winter getaway.  

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