The ultimate guide to Christmas in Prague (2023), including attractions, weather, opening times, getting around & packing guide.
Prague is a magical city to visit any time of year, but during the Christmas season, it becomes even more enchanting. From the twinkling lights and festive decorations to the traditional Christmas markets and comforting Czech food, spending Christmas in Prague is an unforgettable experience.
In this blog post, I’ve put together everything you need to know to make the most of your Christmas trip to Prague, from the best places to visit to the must-try foods and activities. So, grab a warm cup of mulled wine and let’s explore the magic of Christmas in Prague!
How many days do you need in Prague at Christmas?
How many days you need in Prague, largely depends on what you’d like to do in Prague. Bear in mind, that if you arrive on the actual Christmas 24-26 December, some tourist attractions, large shops and non-touristy restaurants will be closed for Christmas. There is still plenty to do in Prague, but you might need a few extra days to fit everything in.
The average amount of days that tourists spend in Prague is 3-4 days, but it’s a good idea to take an extra 1-2 days to have plenty of time to see everything and experience the festive season without rushing or missing out on things.
If you want to experience the festive atmosphere before Christmas, the advent weekends (first, second or even third advent weekend) are a great time for this. The travel tickets (plane, coach or train) tend to be more expensive as you get closer to the actual Christmas and New Year, so visiting Prague during the first part of December is a smart thing to do if you are travelling on a budget.
How do you say Happy Christmas in the Czech Republic?
The phrase is – Vesele Vanoce – and you pronounce it with long ‘e’ at the end of the ‘Vesele’ and with a long ‘a’ for ‘Vanoce’.
Things to do in Prague during the Christmas season
Since this would be a super long list, I’ve put together my favourite 25 festive things to do in Prague at Christmas, including Christmas Markets, food festivals, concerts and exhibitions.
The Prague outdoor ice-skating rinks are open during the Christmas season and most stay open until the end of January or February.
What to do in Prague on Christmas Day
The Czech tradition is to celebrate the 24 December (Christmas Eve) more than the 25 and 26 December. This means that many tourist attractions are closed on the 24 December or close early in the afternoon (1-2 pm).
Whilst the 25 December is named as a ‘first Christmas Day’ it’s not celebrated in a special way. It’s just a day off, like the 26 December and most people visit their families or stay at home.
If you want to eat out on the 24 December, make sure that you pre-book your table as most restaurants outside the main tourist centre will be closed.
Most of the Prague Christmas Markets will be open, such as the Old Town Square, Peace Square (Náměstí Míru) and Andel, where you can also see the carps being sold for traditional Christmas dinner.
You can also attend the Festive Christmas Concert in Smetana Hall at the Municipal House at 17:00 or the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Mozart Dinner at the Boccaccio Hall in Grandhotel Bohemia Prague at 19:00.
What are the opening times at Christmas? What’s closed & what’s open?
24 December 2023 – Sunday – shops, attractions etc will have Sunday opening times and close at lunchtime or early afternoon, some museums, such as the National Museum are closed today
25 December 2023 – Monday – Public Holiday – shop are closed, but museums and attractions are open, public transport will run Sunday timetable with longer intervals
26 December – Tuesday – Public Holiday – shop are closed, but museums and attractions are open, public transport will run the Sunday timetable with longer intervals
27-30 – December 2023 – Standard opening times for shops, museums and tourist attractions, but some private museums, coffee houses or shops might decide to close for the holidays.
31 December 2023 – Silvester – Sunday – Normal Sunday opening times and Sunday service for trams, trains and underground (longer intervals)
1 January 2024 – Monday – Public Holiday – shop are closed, but museums and attractions are open, public transport will run Sunday timetable with longer intervals
How to get around Prague during Christmas
I find that the best way to get around Prague during Christmas is by using public transport and then walking in the historic centre of Prague.
The public transport operates a Sunday service timetable on 24, 25, 26 and 31 December 2023 and 1 January 2023 and longer intervals between each ride. This can be up to 20 minutes for trams and underground and 30 minutes to 60 minutes for buses and trains if you are heading out of Prague.
Prague has an extensive and efficient network of trams, buses, and metro lines that can take you to all parts of the city. The metro system is particularly useful for getting around quickly and it operates from 5 am until midnight every day.
You can buy one ticket (from 40 CZK for 90 minutes) that covers all trams, buses and underground and the easiest way to do that is at any metro station, from ticket machines, or via mobile apps.
The only exception is the Petrin HIll Funicular which costs 60 CZK one way unless you have a day travel card, which costs 120 CZK. It’s no brainer to buy the day travel card on the day you are travelling up the Petrin Lookout Tower and then visit other sites that are perhaps not in the centre of Prague to make the best use of your travel card.
If you want to do something a little different you can travel on the old-fashioned historic tram number 42, which has a lovely shade of red and looks amazing against the snow and the backdrop of the houses in central Prague.
During Advent and Christmas, Prague transport also decorates a special Christmas tram with lights and colourful paintings and you can ride it using the regular tram/underground ticket.
You can also rent a bike or a scooter, although I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you have a bit of experience and are happy to ride over cobblestones (which are everywhere in the middle of Prague). If the weather is cold the street surface can be icy, so you need to be extra careful.
Local taxis and app taxis such as Bolt or Liftago are also available, but they are more expensive than public transport and will charge a premium during Christmas and not just on the public holidays (24,25,26, 31 December and 1 January 2024). It pays to double-check first.
READ MORE ON HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND PRAGUE
- Getting from Prague airport >>
- Using public transport >>
- The full guide to the tram network in Prague >>
- Comprehensive guide to Prague underground >>
- Florenc Main Bus Station >>
- How to buy a train ticket >>
- The main Prague Train Stations >>
- Guide to Hlavni Nadrazi – The Main Train Station >>
How long does Christmas last in the Czech Republic?
This depends on how you look at it, but the Christmas Advent starts 4 weeks before Christmas, which is usually the last weekend in November. The 12 days of Christmas start from the Christmas Day and continue to the 6 January.
For a lot of Czech people the actual Christmas starts on Christmas Eve (24 December) depending on how much time they have. Whilst Christmas Eve is the traditional celebration of Christmas in the Czech Republic, it’s not actually an official public holiday (aka day off!).
The children usually have 24 December off as they break from school a few days beforehand, but adults either have to take a day off or sometimes their work finishes at mid-day or later in the afternoon depending on their employer.
The official days off are 25 and 26 December which are called the 1st and 2nd day of Christmas.
How long are Christmas decorations up for in Prague?
The Christmas decorations are usually put up on the first Sunday of Advent, but increasingly the larger shops and shopping malls have Christmas decorations from mid-November.
Christmas decorations are then kept until 6 January as it’s considered to be bad luck if you take them down beforehand. But I’ve seen many Christmas Decorations displayed well into the middle of January and sometimes until the 2nd of February, which is also one of the Czech Christmas traditions which some people still follow.
What traditional Czech Christmas foods are best to try?
If you want to try something a bit different, taste some of the delicious Czech food available at Christmas. You can get all of these in the Christmas Markets, restaurants or local supermarkets in the centre of Prague and you can even try the traditional Czech Christmas dinner of fried carp and potato salad.
The traditional Czech self-service restaurants will also have more festive dishes on their menus and you can try something a bit different each day. I also like that the local artisan bakeries add Vanocka to their daily bake and the festive flavours found their way to the best breakfast cafes in Prague, which makes eating out just that extra special.
Traditional Christmas Sweet
- Vanocka – a light brioche-style bread with almonds, and dried fruits, which is similar to Easter Mazanec and often eaten for a festive breakfast with coffee or tea.
- Stola – Stollen cake – slightly heavier sweet dough with marzipan, almonds, raisins and dried fruit (much richer than vanocka)
- Pernicky – Gingerbreads decorated with lemon icing – my absolute favourite
- Vanocni Cukrovi – small Christmas biscuits or cookies – different flavours & styles, such as Vceli Uly (traditional Beehive cookies) which are made with egg nog filling or linzen cookies (vanilla shortbreads layered with red-currant jam), vanilla crescents (vanilla dough with icing sugar), medvedi pracky (chocolate & walnut dough in a shape of bear paws)
- Caramelised Almonds & Nuts – you can get these at any Christmas market (just be careful with your teeth as they can be quite hard to eat)
- Breaded Fried Carp and cold Potato Salad – the traditional Czech Christmas Dinner since the 1960s. If you try it, be careful as the carp has a lot of small and very sharp bones.
- Breaded & Fried Chicken or Pork with Cold Potato Salad – alternative to the Christmas dinner. If you are not keen on the cold potato, have it with boiled potatoes and pickled cucumber. You can also have chips or mashed potatoes with it.
- Fish soup – traditional soup on Christmas Eve usually made from carp fish (but it doesn’t usually have bones in it)
- Roasted Duck, stewed red cabbage & dumplings – the traditional Czech Christmas dinner for upper classes at the beginning of the 20th century (and now coming back as main dish for Christmas)
- Roasted Chestnuts – you can get these at any Christmas market
- Svarak – Mulled wine (with or without alcohol)
- Hot Honey Mead – warmed (and sometimes spiced) honey mead – very sweet and alcoholic
- Hot Apple Juice with cinnamon (with alcohol or without)
- Grog – the Czech version is often made with tea, lemon, sugar and rum
- Hot Pear Juice with spices (with alcohol or without)
- Egg nog – light and creamy sweet alcohol drink
- Hot Chocolate with Cream and marshmallows + festive flavours, such as mint, cinnamon, salted caramel etc.
Does it snow in Prague at Christmas?
Whilst there is always some snow in Prague in the winter, Christmas – as of 24 December are usually without it. The longer you stay in Prague around Christmas the more chance you have to actually see snow. On average, Prague gets around 47 days of snow, with the maximum ever recorded 100 days in 2010. These days are spread across the whole winter – December, January and February, but they can easily stretch into spring. What I normally see is that the heaviest snowfall is in January and February and December and especially Christmas gets snow very rarely.
The amount of snow can also vary from a light dusting to a few centimetres. Most of the time the snow doesn’t last very long, because Prague is much warmer than the Czech countryside.
Snow disappears quite quickly from the streets and pavements, but if you visit any of Prague’s larger parks (such as Stromovka or Letna) you can experience a beautiful winter wonderland for a bit longer.
Is Prague cold at Christmas?
Yes, the weather is particularly cold at Christmas and New Year. The official statistics mention that there are on average 31 days a year below 0 Celsius. The maximum was 70 days, but that was back in 1963.
Most of these cold days would be spread across the later part of December, January and February (and possibly into early March too).
The average temperatures in December and at Christmas are around 0 Celsius, but it gets even colder in January – 2 Celsius and in February -1 Celsius (during the day).
What to wear to Prague at Christmas?
If you want to be in everyone’s pictures, wear a red coat! But on a serious note, apart from the general packing advice make sure that you have warm walking shoes, warm fleece or jumper and a winter jacket.
I tend to go for warm layers, so I pack a warmer body layer with a long sleeve, fleece and a jacket or a coat.
If the weather is warm (for whatever reason), it might rain instead of snow, so bring an umbrella or rainproof jacket.
If it’s very cold and I decide to wear a shorter jacket I also wear a pair of leggings, especially under jeans. Jeans are one fabric that doesn’t actually make your body warm, so leggings or warm tights are a must (for me, anyway!).
I also bring a winter hat or a cap as it gets colder in the evening and the wind can be quite freezing.
You’ll also need warm gloves and a scarf, depending on how much you feel the cold.
If you feel cold, I really recommend walking shoes with thick rubber soles (that keep your feet off the ground), thick socks (or two pairs of socks), leggings or thick tights under good warm trousers, a long winter feather down jacket, scarf, gloves and a winter hat that covers your forehead.
I find that by stopping the cold from getting into my body through thin shoes and stopping it from escaping by wearing a winter beanie hat, I always feel nice and toasty!
If you are planning to do longer day trips, it’s a good idea to bring a good day backpack and add an extra layer, hat or extra pair of socks for when the temperature drops in the evening.
My emergency supplies for extra cold days are spare shoe insoles (or even a couple of thick cardboard cut-outs in the size of the shoe), loose trousers ( to fit at least 2-3 layers underneath), neck warmer and two hats if needed (one thin one, one slightly thicker).
No matter how careful you dress, your face will feel the cold, so applying a good thick face cream (and leaving it to soak in) is a good way to protect your skin.
If you like taking photos with your phone, like me, you might like to get one of those special gloves that have magnetic touchpoints. These types of gloves are a game changer because I’m forever trying to get the right angle before I take my photos and my hands get cold really quickly.
This blog post was originally written on 14 November 2023 and last updated on 14 November 2023
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