Christmas in Prague is simply magical and wonderful! Numerous tourists, despite the cold weather, visit the city for its wonderful Christmas markets (vánocní trhy).
Prague is a popular destination for its rich history, historical palaces, ancient monuments and elegant buildings; this beautiful city is also known as the ‘City of Spires’ and is a destination that offers many things to do, especially during the Advent period when the atmosphere in the city is truly magical as it is decked out with decorations in the Christmas spirit.
Among the things to do during a stay in Prague during the Christmas period is a visit to the main Christmas markets, which offer numerous delicacies as well as original gift ideas.
Prague ‘s atmospheric Christmas markets are held on the city’s main squares: Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Republic Square and St George’s Square (near Prague Castle). Here, elegant wooden chalets, which are decorated with Christmas decorations and lights, sell not only handmade items related to Czech tradition, but also numerous delicacies of traditional local cuisine. This is the right place to find original gift ideas as there is a wide selection not only of Christmas decorations but also toys, jewellery, winter clothing and accessories.
Old Town Square is the true heart of Prague and a must-see on a trip to explore the city. From mid-November, the square hosts a Christmas market that is famous for being the main market in Prague. Here you can enjoy some special Christmas events and live performances such as concerts or dance performances. Children can participate in numerous creative workshops or admire the display of traditional arts and crafts.
There are also numerous kiosks selling warming drinks such as hot chocolate or spiced mulled wine. In the centre of the square is a mighty Christmas tree that is selected each year from a different region of the Czech Republic. The tree is decorated with numerous balls and lights and every day at sunset there is a lighting ceremony accompanied by traditional music.
A few steps away from Old Town Square is Wenceslas Square, one of the main squares in Prague’s New Town district. The square is named after Wenceslas who is the patron saint of Bohemia and this area is often chosen as a venue for events, celebrations and other public gatherings. Another of the city’s most popular (and oldest) markets is set up here. Started as a small Christmas market on the square in front of the National Museum, over time the display area has grown bigger and bigger.
Now a Christmas tree is also set up on Wenceslas Square and shows and light displays are organised every evening after sunset. As far as items for sale here are concerned, there are not as many options as on Old Town Square, but the vendors on Wenceslas Square generally specialise in wooden items. At this market, therefore, you can buy handmade items that are often unique and original.
The Christmas Market on Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky) is located in front of the Prague Municipal House. This market is smaller than the others but is less crowded and frequented especially by locals. Here, in addition to a wide selection of Christmas items, there are many little houses offering a wide range of local food and products. This is why many locals like to visit this market to get something to eat in peace, stroll around and enjoy the authentic Christmas market experience without too many crowds.
The Christmas market in Náměstí Míru (Peace Square) takes place in front of the Church of St. Ludmila. Here more than 60 stalls present a wide selection of traditional Christmas items such as wreaths, Advent calendars, ornaments and candles. In addition to these, there are handmade items including nativity figurines and wooden puppets. There is also no shortage of little houses selling children’s clothing and toys.
In addition to the items, you can also find traditional Christmas delicacies such as roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and typical Czech Christmas sweets. In the centre of the square is a Christmas tree, smaller than the one on Old Town Square, but beautifully decorated and flanked by a hand-painted nativity scene.
Prague Castle, one of the city’s main attractions, hosts a beautiful Christmas market within its walls. The market is held on St George’s Square near the Castle Stables, where around 70 stalls offer a selection of high-quality Christmas items as well as Czech food and drink. A large Christmas tree with sumptuous decorations is placed in the centre of the square, making the atmosphere truly magical.
Coming here is also recommended because you can drink a glass of mulled wine or eat a trdelník (typical Czech sweet) while admiring a beautiful view of St Vitus Cathedral. Moreover, from the Castle you can contemplate one of the most impressive views of the entire city from above, and being able to admire it illuminated by Christmas lights is a truly unique experience.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Czech cuisine is varied and appeals to all palates. When visiting the main Christmas markets, you can sample various traditional dishes. For a quick meal you can try barbecued sausages (klobása), boiled sausages or flat bread (langoš) seasoned with garlic and cheese. Alternatively, there are stalls selling Czech Christmas soup (rybí polévka), which is cooked in a large cauldron.
As main dishes, one must try roast duck accompanied by smoked bacon dumplings (Pecena Kachna) or sweet dumplings (sladké knedlíky). Meat is very present in Czech cuisine, which boasts breaded and fried pork cutlet, smoked pork and meat stew (gulas) always accompanied by dumplings. There are also numerous cheese dishes such as Pivny Syr, which is cheese marinated in beer and eaten with black bread.
Moving on to desserts, you can find typical pancakes (palačinky), spicy gingerbread (perníčky) and the famous trdelník also known as Bohemian manicotto. This typical Hungarian dessert is made from a rolled dough baked over an open fire and topped with a sugar mixture to which chocolate or hazelnut cream may be added.
Meals can be accompanied by an excellent Czech beer such as Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar. Alternatively, those looking for something warm can choose from mulled wine (svařák), hot chocolate, honey wine (Medovina) or grog (a drink made of rum, water, lemon and sugar).
The Christmas period is definitely one of the best times to visit Prague. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the city is finely decorated with decorations and illuminations and the atmosphere, especially in the evenings, becomes truly magical. In addition to visiting the Christmas markets set up in various parts of the capital, it is recommended to visit the Old Town Tower from the top of which you can admire a spectacular view of the whole of Prague. Another wonderful view can be obtained by climbing to the top of the Charles Bridge Tower.
Those who love skating can find several skating rinks, some even free of charge, but the best experience can be had by skating on the Vltava River (or Vltava), which generally freezes over during the winter season. Opera lovers will find a rich programme of performances in Prague. The Czech capital has a long tradition of opera and in December the great classics such as ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘The Nutcracker’ are staged. However, more modern performances can also be found in the city’s various theatres. Organ or classical music concerts are also organised in many churches.
If you want to see the Czech capital from a different point of view, you can take a cruise on the Vltava River, which will allow you to visit all the main sights and admire the city lit up by Christmas lights. Finally, if you want to try a truly original experience and treat yourself to a few hours of relaxation, you can book a session at the Beer Spa. In this particular spa you can immerse yourself in a wooden tub filled with various natural extracts usually used to brew beer such as hops, yeast and malt.
Those looking for some Christmas presents will find plenty of great ideas at Prague’s Christmas markets. Here, in fact, you will find numerous handicrafts and articles of jewellery and costume jewellery with precious stones such as garnets. The blood-red Czech garnet, in particular, is the national gemstone and is considered among the most precious in the world. The Czech Republic has a historical tradition of Bohemian crystal, from which glasses, cups, vases, bottles, sculptures, ornaments, chandeliers and also a wide range of costume jewellery are made. This is the Prague souvenir par excellence, as crystal has been worked here for more than seven centuries.
There are also numerous craftsmen who work with wood and make children’s toys such as toy trains, cars or puppets. In addition to numerous objects, it is also possible to buy food and drink. Among the most popular Czech drinks is apple wine and Becherovka, which is a typical herbal liqueur that was invented in 1807. Finally, among the most curious products to be found are beer-based cosmetics. In particular, soaps and creams made from hops, which is considered not only an antibacterial but also an antioxidant.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.