December is a magical month to spend in Prague. The festive season starts at the end of November and continues into the first week in January. There are Christmas Markets, food festivals and exhibitions and if you are lucky the snow comes too!
If you are thinking of visiting Prague in December, then I’ve put together practical travel tips, my favourite places to go, plenty of things to do in Prague at Christmas and festive events to help you plan your trip to Prague.
Is December a good month to visit Prague?
Yes, absolutely! December is just a most magical month in Prague, especially if you love Christmas, old-fashioned traditions and plenty of comfort food!
But, be prepared to be cold! The weather is much cooler than in November, so you’ll need warm winter clothes and good shoes.
Prague attractions continue to be open as usual with state co-owned attractions closing on Mondays. Private museums and attractions are often open on Mondays, so there are still plenty of places to visit.
Most attractions outside of Prague such as museums and castles are already closed for winter, but some do open for the advent weekends and prepare special Christmas viewings when the whole castle is decorated in festive colours and decorations. If you want to escape the crowd then a day trip from Prague to visit a Christmas decorated castle is a real treat!
Daylight in December
In the morning the sunrise is from 7.39 am at the beginning of the month and from 7.54 am by the middle of December. By the end of December the sunrise moves to 8.01 am.
The sunset is at 4.02 pm at the beginning of the month, moving towards the 3.59 pm by the middle of the month and to 4.08 at the end of December.
You also have an extra 30 minutes maximum after the sunset when you can easily see and you can carry on exploring the town. This I would say is on a good sunny day. If it’s raining, snowing or overcast it can start feeling dark by 2 or 3 pm.
This means that in December you have just over 8 hrs of day light each day to plan your activities in Prague, which is not a lot. Saying that it’s a great time to spend the long evenings at leisurely dinners, going to cinemas, theatres or late night gallery openings.
If you want to plan any day drips, it’s worth getting up earlier in the morning as by 3-4 pm it can be virtually dark or very grey.
When it’s the best time to visit Prague in December?
Prague is very busy during December, especially as you get closer to the Christmas. If you want to get the Christmas feel, but still make it back home for your own Christmas, then the 2nd or 3rd Advent Weekend is probably the best time to visit. I’ve put together a separate guide to spending Christmas in Prague as there are different opening times and it’s slightly different to the rest of the December.
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What’s the December weather like?
Most years, Prague and Czech Republic’s December weather is very cold with temperatures dropping well below 0 C.
During the night the temperature can drop down to -3-10 C and during the day (and if it’s sunny) might hover around 2-3 C. You might get lovely sunny days in December, but it will feel chilly at the same time and especially when the sun comes down in the afternoon.
Towards the end of December you can also expect snow in Prague and if you venture out for a day trip to the mountains, you can easily get snow on the ground at the beginning of December.
If the weather is warm (for whatever reason), it might rain instead of snow, so bring an umbrella or rainproof jacket.
If you are unlucky you might get days when the sky is grey and permanently cloudy. It will feel like it’s getting darker even sooner than 2-3 pm if it’s cloudy and raining, so definitely plan some indoor activities.
In the morning the sun (or light) appears just shortly after 7.30 am. The sunset in December is very shortly after 4 pm and by 4.30 pm is completely dark. This means that the day has about 8 hrs of light (or sun if you are lucky!).
One important thing to mention about the cold in Prague. It might be below zero, but because this cold is ‘dry’ it doesn’t feel as cold as if it was 0 or even 2-3 C in London or UK.
This is because of relatively low humidity. The reason why I’m saying this is, as long as you are sufficiently wrapped in good warm clothes and have decent winter shoes, you don’t have to worry that you’ll be cold!
What to pack for your visit to Prague in December
Apart from the general packing advice make sure that you have warm walking shoes, warm fleece or jumper and winter jacket.
I tend to go for warm layers, so I pack a warmer body layer with long sleeve, fleece and a jacket or a coat.
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 could be quite freezing.
You’ll also need warm gloves and a scarf, depending on much you feel the cold.
If you feel the 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 a good warm trousers, 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!
An umbrella is also handy unless you have a good waterproof rain jacket.
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.
Instead of a water bottle, I often take a hot coffee flask with me on my day trips. I’ll still stop for a coffee or a tea during the day, but you never know if there is going to be a suitable place open where you are heading.
This is especially useful if you are thinking of travelling further from the centre in the afternoons or weekends.
How to get around Prague
I find that the best way to get around Prague is by using public transport and then walking in the historic centre 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 that 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.
My preferred way of getting around is to walk as many of the historic Prague attractions are within walking distance of each other in the centre of Prague. The centre doesn’t have much of a public transport anyway, but trams tend to get fairly close to the centre and then you only need to walk few streets to get to the middle.
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.
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 cobble stones (which are everywhere in the middle of Prague).
Local taxis and app taxis such as Bolt or Liftago are also available, but they are more expensive than public transport.
READ MORE ON HOW TO TRAVEL AROUND PRAGUE
- Getting from Prague airport >>
- Using public transport >>
- The full guide to 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 >>
Important dates in December
6 December – St Nicholas Day
This was my favourite day before Christmas when I was a child. We woke up very early in the morning to discover a Christmas stocking filled with sweets, chocolates, oranges, bananas and walnuts in our rooms.
We knew early on that this was our mum’s doing and not St. Nicholas as we were told to believe, but we could never catch her doing it! I remember we would try to wait for the door to open and the stocking being hung on the door handle, but we’d always fall asleep before that happened. So, in the end, it was a bit of a mystery after all!
St. Nicholas day has never been a national day off, so we would always go to school a bit bleary-eyed (since we got up about 5 am) and high on sugar!
On the 5th of December, you can see a trio of St Nicholas (dressed as an archbishop), an angel and a devil who visit children in their own home and give them treats if they were good or potatoes or coal if they were bad last year. Traditionally children need to sing a Christmas carol or say a little poem to ‘deserve’ the treats.
If you start to detect similarities between this and the stocking hanging by the fire on the 25 December in the morning in England, going carolling and Santa’s naughty or nice list, you are not wrong.
24 December – CHristmas Day – Christmas Eve
The main Christmas event is celebrated on Christmas Eve in the evening. Bizarrely, the 24th of December is not a national holiday (day off), but a normal working day!
But over the years, banks, shops and offices would start closing a bit earlier to allow employees time to get home to their families.
The Christmas markets and other shops will still be open in the morning and there’s enough time to get your Christmas tree and a carp to take home to eat.
Most churches will have morning carol singing or a mass and also an afternoon service for children. You can also attend Midnight Mass in many churches, just check out your local one.
25 & 26 December – St. Stephens Day & Second Christmas Day
Most people are with their families or visiting their in-laws during the two Christmas Days. Most shops, banks and offices are closed and the 2 days are official national holidays.
But, unlike, say in the UK, if the 25 & 26 falls on the weekend, there is no ‘replacement’ day on Monday and Tuesday! This goes for any Czech national holiday, not just the Christmas days.
Most public transport in Prague will run reduced Sunday service and some train services will not run at all, so just double check your travel plans if you intend to travel during the holiday season.
31 December – St. Silvestr
The last day of each year is celebrated in the Czech Republic like anywhere in the world. It’s again a normal working day, but by night time every restaurant, pup or club venue will have some sort of event on.
All weekends in December
The last weekend in November is usually the first Advent Sunday marking the 4 weekends before Christmas. Most shops and venues will start to put up their Christmas decorations and food venues will begin to introduce festive twists on their regular offerings.
Outdoor markets and other festive celebrations will start to take place during the last November weekend, so keep an eye on the local news for updates on what’s happening around you.
Things to do in Prague in December
Angels processions (3, 10, 17, 24 December 2023)
The theatre artists from the Long Vehicle Circus group will walk the streets of central Prague dressed as large angels on high stills and interact with people around them.
An angel is not only a symbol of Christmas but also of hope, safety, and protection. The idea behind the project is to experience Advent ‘under angel’s wings’ and start slowing down or pause for a while and contemplate.
There is also a light installation in the Klementinum, where more actors perform usually with light or simple props.
Location: Marianske Square, near Old Town Square (usually start and finish)
Christmas exhibition at the Botanical Garden (1-31 December 2023)
This is one of my favourite places to go to soak up a real traditional Czech Christmas atmosphere. Each year, the Botanical Garden in Prague 2 puts on a Christmas exhibition focusing on different element of the Czech traditions around the festive times. There is also a little stall with handmade decorations, garden magazines and books.
If you are looking for an antidote to the shiny and noisy portrait of what Christmas has become, this place will transport you back to when Czech Christmas traditions were part of people’s everyday’s life. It’s a real treat, I promise! I don’t think that the organisers ever thought that international visitors will be interested enough to visit, so unfortunately all signs are just in Czech language, but if you scan it to an online translate app, you should be able to follow everything just fine.
Entrance ticket is 120 CZK. The exhibition is just one large greenhouse, but there is a lot packed in, so I usually stay a good hour or so. You can also take a walk in the garden and park surrounding the greenhouses before you head back to the centre of Prague. There are no refreshments, but toilets (payable) are available (side building as you walk in from the tram stop).
Location: Botanical Garden, Na Slupi 16, Prague 2 – trams 2, 14, 18, 24 stop Botanicka Zahrada
Visit Christmas exhibition in museums
There are so many museums in Prague on so many topics, that I’m sure you’ll find one that interests you. During the festive season, most museums have a festive theme or exhibition that’s linked to Christmas.
You can also visit the free Army Museum in Zizkov District of Prague which despite it’s name is actually pretty interesting place and has newly re-designed exhibitions about history and weapons through the centuries with interactive displays. It’s also a very impressive building and the cafe has an amazing views of Prague.
Christmas Lamplighting on Charles Bridge (2-23 December 2023)
If you happen to be around the beautiful Charles Bridge as it starts to get dark, come and watch the old-fashioned tradition of lighting up the gas lights on Charles Bridge.
It’s done by an official gas lighter dressed in a period costume who walks across the bridge and lights up all the gas lights. It’s definitely a one-off experience and a lovely tradition, too. The lighting starts from 4 pm and the lighting starts from the statue of Charles IV in front of the church and the Gothic bridge tower on the Old Town Square side of the bridge.
Visit Prague Castle & Christmas Market (2 December 2023 – 6 January 2024)
You can easily spend a whole day at Prague Castle (both inside the various buildings and outside walking around the different squares and little lanes), which is why I think it’s a perfect solution for a cold day. The whole castle area is one of the free things in Prague to enter and you only need to pay for the various exhibitions indoors and art galleries.
There are plenty of coffee shops and restaurants within the Prague Castle complex, which means you can really spend the whole day exploring the area at your leisure.
The Christmas Market at the back of the St.Vitus Cathedral and it’s open every day from 9 am to 6 pm (weekdays) or 7 pm (weekends).
Enjoy a Christmas Concert
Each year, you can find many Christmas themed concerts in the church venues in the centre of Prague, including St.Nicholas, St.Salvator, St. Martin in the Wall, Klementinum or Spanish Synagogue.
If you want to try something very traditional (and Czech) go for a Christmas Mass by F. Ryba, who was a music teacher and this mass was his masterpiece.
Prague Symphony Orchestra Concerts (1-14 December 2023)
The concerts will be held in the beautiful Smetana Hall at the Municipal House.
Location: Municipal House, Republic Square 5, Prague 1 (nearest underground Namesti Republiky).
Nativity Scene Display at the Church of Our Lady Victorious and The Infant Jesus of Prague (25 November – 24 December 2023)
The nativity scene in front of the church is always very colourful and before Christmas there is also added live donkey and other animals to for the children to feed and pet. You are also welcome to visit the church where you can find out more about the legend of the infant Jesus of Prague and spend some time in quiet space of the church.
Location: Church of Our Lady Victorious – Helichova stop on tram number 22, 20, 12 close to the Malostranske Square, Prague 1
Go for a coffee in a cosy old-fashioned coffee house
There are so many amazing coffee places in Prague and winter is the perfect opportunity to sit indoors, relax and enjoy some nice hot drinks.
Prague Christmas Markets (25 November – 24 December 2023 & 6 January 2024)
From the first advent weekend – the end of November – you’ll find outdoor markets, festivals and other events starting to appear to celebrate the start of the festive season. The markets are open from 10 am til 10 pm every day and whilst the smaller markets close down on the 24 December, the Old Town Square Market stays open until the 6 January (to mark the arrival of the three kings).
The Christmas markets are held in these areas:
- Old Town Square
- Wenceslas Square – close to the Mustek Metro – Underground
- Peace Square – Namesti Miru – in front of the St. Ludmila Church
- Namesti Republiky – Republic Square – in front of the Palladium shopping centre
- Andel – next to the Angel Metro – Underground
- Prague Castle
- Marianske Square
Nativity exhibition at Bethlehem Chapel (25 November 2023 – 3 january 2024)
This is my favourite places to go around Christmas, but the exhibition usually opens during the first advent weekend and it’s open throughout the Christmas period until the first week in January.
It’s beautifully set out in the chapel’s crypt with different sets of nativity scenes – some very old and traditional made from wood, some modern made from textiles, glass or even gingerbread.
There is usually carol singing on the 24 December in the morning (which is when Christmas is celebrated in the Czech Republic). Entry is 60 KCZ (children 30 CZK) and there is always a little stall with handmade christmas decorations from this year’s exhibitors and you can also take a hot drink to walk around the exhibition. It’s magical!
Location: Betlemske Square, Prague 1, close to Old Town Square
Taste Czech Christmas
If you want to try something a bit different, taste some of the delicious Czech food available at Christmas. You can get most of these in the Christmas Markets, restaurants or local supermarkets. The traditional canteen style restaurants will also have more festive dishes on their menus and you can try something a bit different each day.
- Vanocka – a light brioche style bread with almonds, dried fruits, which is similar to Easter Mazanec and often eaten for breakfast with coffee or tea.
- Stola – Stollen
- Pernicky – Gingerbreads decorated with lemon icing
- Vanocni Cukrovi – small Christmas biscuits or cookies – different flavours & styles, such as Vceli Uly (Beehive cookies) which are made with egg nog filling
- Breaded & Fried Carp & Potato Salad – the traditional Czech Christmas Dinner
- Breaded & Fried Chicken or Pork with Potato Salad
- Fish soup – traditional starter on Christmas eve
- Svarak – Mulled wine
- Hot Apple Juice with cinnamon
- Hot Pear Juice with spices
- Egg nog
Get your skates on (25 November 2023 – 6 January 2024)
Each year there are many pop-up outdoor ice-skating rinks; often with a beautiful backdrop of old houses in the middle of the Prague.
You can borrow ice-skates at the rink, so all you need to do is to just to came along and be dressed appropriately (few layers, gloves, hat, but not too warm as you’ll get warm skating around the ring).
The largest ice-scating ring is in Letna (opposite the Sparta Footbal Stadium – tram stop ‘Sparta’ or you can walk there from the Letna park) and the smaller one is in Smichov (14 October Square – Namesti 14 Rijna) behind the St. Wenceslas Church. Entrance is free and renting ice-skates start from 50-100 CZK. The ice-skating rings are open every day from 10 am til late (usually until 9-10 pm).
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This blog post was originally written on 22 October 2021 and last updated on 25 September 2023