Christmas in Prague
While it’s great to travel in summer some destinations are even more charming in the winter, and spending Christmas in Prague is a magical experience.
At any moment of your Prague trip, you could imagine tripping over a glass slipper and seeing Cinderella running by. This is the scene that Prague sets for visitors; a fairytale city where Rapunzel’s hair might tumble out a tower window or Prince Charming could sweep you off your feet.
The Czech Republic’s capital is as beautiful as expected; countless castles and cathedrals are nestled amongst spectacularly beautiful buildings which have remained immaculately intact through years of war and political turmoil.
Visiting The Prague Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets are one of the top reasons visitors come to Prague at Christmas time. The stalls here sell delicious warm comfort food, Christmas delicacies, drinks, and crafts. I treated myself to delicious potatoes with sauerkraut and pure, unadulterated hot chocolate and cream – total bliss on a cold Christmas Eve morning.
The famous Christmas Markets were packed with seasonal tourists, the actual locals could be spotted from a mile away in their real fur coats – identified by dangling tails, legs or other body past still attached.
Must-See Sights In Prague
Not far from the Christmas markets you will find Prague’s cherished Astronomical Clock is a must-see sight in Prague. This infamous clock puts on a delightfully nostalgic show on the hour, every hour. Like a giant Cuckoo Clock, doors open and figures pop out, a skeleton dances and a designated trumpeter lets the locals of Prague know if they’re late from the top of the tower. Every time I saw this little show over the next few days I spotted another novelty or aspect of the performance.
A short walk from the clock, cobbled streets take you to the City Centre. At the time I visited a sea of red candles had been left as a shrine to ex Czech president Vaclav Havel who passed away just days before. I must admit I came to Prague and expected it to be seedy and unsafe. I was almost disappointed to find the city is modern, safe and civilized; mostly it seems because of Havel who led the Velvet Revolution and brought the country out of its communist era.
However, the country’s dark and rich history is evident in the many elaborate gothic castles, cathedrals and horrendous torture chambers. But more than anything Prague is a beautiful city of decadent design and charming streets. There are many church services available on December 24th and 25th if you would like to visit a service while spending Christmas in Prague.
Celebrating Christmas In Prague
The Europeans celebrate Christmas on December 24th so expect for businesses to be closed from around midday. You will also see many sellers with tanks of Carp, traditionally eaten at Christmas in Prague.
While the locals celebrated Christmas with their families we tourists spent the evening at a near-empty restaurant catching up over cherry mulled wine and a bottle of amaretto, at the shockingly affordable price of just £3.00 for a liter. The next day we crossed one of the city’s many bridges and explored the many historical sites before heading out to a traditional Czech pub.
Christmas dinner in Prague consisted of mulled wine, pork goulash (a meat stew served in a pop of bread) garlic soup, bread dumplings and an entire pig on a plate. At just a few pounds each for three courses (and several rounds of drinks) it was an absolute bargain for Christmas Day dinner.
Tips For Spending Christmas In Prague
- Dress for the weather – it can be very cold in Prague at Christmas, and as walking is the best way to see much of the city you should be prepared for outdoor temperatures.
- Do your research – some sites in and around Prague are open in the summer only, including some castles. Make sure you won’t miss any of your bucket list locations by visiting in the winter.
- Be prepared for most businesses to be closed from midday on December 24th – ask your hotel concierge for help finding open restaurants.
- Don’t miss the Christmas markets – they are one of the best reasons to visit in the winter!