July is traditionally the hottest month of summer, but June and August are also very hot, especially at the end of June and the beginning of August.
If you decide to visit Prague during the summer and you happen to arrive during a heat wave, here are my top tips on how to stay cool (and comfortable) in Prague and still enjoy your holiday.
The hot summer weather & me
I’m naturally pale-skinned and pretty much any exposure to sun can leave me with sunburns. No matter how strong suncream I use, I still get affected by sun, so I have to be really careful about how much my body can take.
I never had such a huge problem with the sun, when I was growing up. I’ve never used any sunscreen (nor did I know such a thing existed!) and I was fine. But in 1998 I moved to England and since then I’ve become less and less used to sun (and especially hot sun and weather in general).
The first cruel reminder that something has changed, has come after a day walking in the Moravian mountains in the summer. My legs were so burned that I had blisters and I couldn’t stop shaking.
The only thing that seemed to worked was an olive oil to cool down the skin and a couple of paracetamols for the headache. Since then I know that sun and me don’t get on as well as we used to…
The weather in summer and how to read the weather forecast
Most days in July can be very hot: up to 20-30 Celsius (68 – 86 Fahrenheit) in the shade, but easily up to 35-45 Celsius ( 95-113 Fahrenheit) on a direct sun.
The hot weather can also bring rain and thunderstorms, so that’s also something to bear in mind if you are coming in the summer. The summer rain can cool down the temperature a bit, but unless it’s longer rain or thunderstorms, the temperature drop will be only very temporary one.
If you check the weather forecast each day, this will give you a good indication of what to expect during the day. Don’t forget that all temperatures are in Celsius and all temperatures are listed as ‘in the shade’. This means that on the direct sun, the temperature will be higher by 10-15 Celsius. Anything over 20 C will be very warm and over 25 C very hot.
MY TOP TIPS ON HOW TO STAY COOL IN THE HOT CZECH SUMMER IN PRAGUE
Book an accommodation suitable for a summer heatwave
If you are coming any time between June – August, it’s always worth checking if your hotel has air conditioning, as this is not the norm in Prague.
If your hotel doesn’t have air conditioning, then the next best thing is to find accommodation in an old 1900s townhouse. These kind of hotels are usually refurbished old houses and have very high ceilings and thick walls, so even without air conditioning, these are much colder at night than modern houses or hotels.
You can also check if your hotel window opens on to the courtyard or the street. The courtyard is generally cooler and less dusty then street side. You’ll also get less traffic or street noise so that you can open your windows at night and get some fresh (and cooling) air in to your room.
It might be also worth checking if your room is on the top of the hotel or at least 3 floor and above. The higher you are the less noise and dust you’ll get, which again is better for opening your windows at night.
Pack practical summer clothes
It might be tempting to walk around in shorts, a strappy top and flip-flops all day in the heatwave, but unless you are very used to the sun, you might regret it the next day!
In my experience, I’m better off being under cover of loose clothing as I burn even when I put on high sun cream block. Here is what I normally pack and wear on a very hot day in Prague.
- Long linen trousers or skirt (or at least light cotton, but never synthetic material)
- Long sleeve linen white shirt
- Or very long cotton or linen dress with long sleeve linen shirt on the top
- Summer hat
- Comfy walking shoes (light trainers) with cotton socks (to prevent blisters)
- Light cross bag (instead of back pack, which can make my back too hot)
- Small umbrella – this is great for creating your own shade if you need to walk around in direct sun
Visit parks and gardens
If you can’t be next to the cooling river, then the next obvious place to keep cool is a park or a garden with trees and greenery for shade.
There are plenty of public parks easily accessible from the centre of Prague (Vrtba Garden, Kampa Island) or some only a few stops away (Kinsky Garden or Letna – both are up the hill, so that’s something to consider too).
Stromovka is probably the best park just slightly outside the centre, but it’s large, flat to walk around, with plenty of trees and also borders Vltava River and the canal. If you are feeling energetic, you can walk all the way to Prague Zoo or Prague Botanical gardens (although the gardens are on a very high hill).
Stay out of the sun during 1-3 pm
If you get easily sunburned, I’d recommend to plan your day, so that you do some indoor activity between 1-3 pm. This is the time when the sun is at it’s hottest.
Walk in the shade
When the sun is shining it can be very hot in the direct sun (easily up to 45 Celsius), so try to stay in the shade if you can.
Go shopping in the old (and new) shopping arcades & centres
If you are thinking of going shopping whilst you are in Prague, you can’t go wrong with visiting the new shopping centres during a very hot summer’s day. All new shopping centres, such as Paladium (Republic’s Square – Metro line B – walking distance from the Old Town Square) or New Smichov (Andel – Metro Line B – close to Kinsky Garden & Petrin Hill on Ujezd) are air-conditioned and will make you feel much cooler straightaway.
If shopping is not on your list, you can also visit the shopping centres for a bite to eat, cup of coffee or even to see a film!
If you still want to do some light sight seeing whilst staying cool you can explore the old shopping arcades of the Wenceslas Square. They have a great history, shops, coffee places and cinemas too!
Catch up on the latest film
Instead of going to see a film in the evening, go and see the latest film during the day, when it’s the hottest temperature. The new cinema complexes in the shopping centres (Paladium, Smichov – there are two main cinemas, Slovansky House) are air-conditioned and have films on during the day and afternoon.
In the late afternoon and evening you can also visit the more independent cinemas in Prague and see the latest films or a Czech film with English subtitles.
Visit a museum
All the main museums are in old large buildings with very high celings and thick walls. What this means, that even if the museum is not necessarily airconditioned, it will be much cooler inside then outside in the heat of the day.
Be realistic about how much you can see & adjust your travel plans
I know how precious time is, especially if you have just a few days to explore Prague and you want to see everything that you wanted to see.
A heat wave can make such plans quite tricky to follow as everything will take much longer (heat, people, holidays etc.) and some elements of your trip might just not be sensible to do.
For example a guided walking tour around the centre of Prague might not be very enjoyable, if you can’t choose where to go and stand – if there is no shade.
Be kind to yourself and try to do as much walking in the morning or evening and add some indoor activities in the middle of the day.
Use airconditioned trams or the metro to travel around Prague
Whilst normally I love to walk everywhere, if there is a heatwave, there is nothing more cooling than the Prague Metro (underground). Unlike the Victorian London underground, which is very hot, busy and overcrowded in the summer, the Prague Metro (built only in mid 1970s) is cool and with plenty of breeze wind as you wait for your train.
If you prefer to use the trams, look out for the more modern trams (usually with various adverts and colours), which are airconditioned and very comfortable to use even in the heatwave.
Drink plenty of water and eat light food
Make sure that you carry water with you at all times. Water is better than sugary drinks as you can use it for cooling down or washing your face as well as drink it!
I find that it’s best to carry a re-usable water bottle and top it up either with drinking water in your hotel (water in Prague is perfectly fine to drink, but double check with your hotel as it depends on their own water supply) or buy water in 1 or 2 lts bottles. You can leave these in your hotel and just top up your re-usable water bottle when you need to.
Water can be as expensive as regular drink if you are anywhere in the centre of Prague, so it’s worth bringing your own.
To eat, I prefer having light meals, or sometimes only just drinking yoghurt drinks or kefir. These have a plenty of energy, but are light and easy to carry around. You can buy these in any large supermarket in Prague in the fresh dairy section.
The warm evenings are also the perfect opportunity (or an excuse !) for a stroll tasting Prague’s favourite ice creams as you explore Prague historic town.
Visit the Vltava islands to stay close to the cooling water
The other day, when it was nearly 30 Celsius in the shade, I started my walk with a delicious Mango & Vanilla Icecream at my favourite deli on the corner of Andel Bus Station and then walked in the shade of tall town houses to the Vltava River until I got to the Naplavka.
You might know Naplavka as one of the most famous Prague’s farmer’s markets, but you might not know that Naplavka is on both sides of Vltava River – the Vysehrad one has the farmer’s markets and it’s usually very busy and the Smichov one is much quieter, but still has cafes and places to sit and enjoy the river.
The private historic Vltava boat crossing is situated there (20 KCZ one way to cross the river) so you can explore both sides of the river if you like.
You can then walk towards the centre of Prague, in the shade of some amazing old houses, see the historic bridges of Prague and visit several islands on the way – The Children’s Island and the Shooter’s Island are the closest ones and take you all the way to the National Theatre or you can continue through Kampa Island to the Charles Bridge and then either up to the Prague Castle or over the bridge to the Old Town Square.
Spend the day at the natural water swimming pools and spas
There are many outdoor swimming pools in Prague, but if you are looking for one that’s naturally cold and not that busy, head for the natural swimming areas in Yellow Spa (Podoli, Prague 4), Motol Lake (Prague 5 – close to the Motol hospital) or Sarka Pool in Sarecke Udoli – Valley (close to the airport in Prague 6).
If you really want to escape the crowds, you can also visit my home town (village really…) of Cernosice and go to the outdoor swimming area in the river Berounka close to the Cernosice train station. Cernosice is 15 minutes by train from Smichovske Nadrazi ( Train Station) in Prague 5 or 20 minutes from Hlavni Nadrazi (the Main Train station).
You still need to pay to enter the natural swimming areas, but it’s much lower than regular swimming pools. For example, Motol is about 50 KCZ which is less than £2 or $3.
Get up early to explore the town
I’m not a morning person, but even I can get up early in the morning if it means that I can escape the Prague crowds and the summer heat!
The sunrise in June is just before 5 am and it’s getting light from 4.15 am. This gives you plenty of time to explore the town before everyone else wakes up and the heat of the day start around 10-11 am. You can easily walk most of my suggested day in Prague walk in that time. And if you feel like having an lunchtime siesta back at your hotel, I won’t blame you!
This way you’ll still fit everything in to your day, stay cool and also get magically better photos of Prague by default! (Morning light is perfect for nicely lit photos without strong shadows that you have at mid day and in the afternoon – the same goes for the evening and just before the sun goes down, in case you really are not a morning person).
STAY IN TOUCH
Hope this blog post inspires you and as ever I’d love to what you think! Let me know in the comments below or catch up with me over on Instagram.