Winter is my favourite time of year and, if you ask me why, the answer is simple: Christmas! I just love how magical it feels when you walk around a city and everything has a different kind of sparkle to it. Especially in Prague where there are so many ways to get into the festive spirit.
Prague may be known for its chilly temperatures and snow during winter, but this time of year brings an entirely different kind of magic to the Czech Republic. You can experience everything from Christmas markets and gorgeous light displays to tours through Prague’s Old Town Square while you take in all of this magical city has to offer!
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It’s the perfect time of year for exploring and taking in this incredible city. There are a number of things to do in Prague in December, and I’ve put together a list to get you started. I’ve even included some info on where to stay, what to pack and what to expect from Prague in December.
- What makes Prague so magical in December?
- Things to know before visiting Prague in December
- My top tips for visiting Prague in December
- Things to do in Prague in December
- 1. Go shopping at one of the Christmas Markets
- 2. Go ice-skating
- 3. Visit Prague Castle
- 4. Take a horse drawn carriage ride through Old Town Prague
- 5. Gaze at the Lights at the Old Town Hall
- 6. Watch a festive show
- 7. Get historical at Prague’s Museums
- 8. See Charles Bridge all lit up
- 9. Take a cruise on Vltava River
- 10. Ring in the New Year
- 11. Feast on traditional Czech food
- 12. Try a Czech beer
- 13. Explore the city on a walking tour
- 14. Take a day trip out of the city
- 15. Take a hot air balloon ride over the city
- Conclusion to Things to do in Prague in December
What makes Prague so magical in December?
There really is no bad time to visit Prague, but picture this. The snow is falling, people are getting ready for the holidays and there are Christmas lights around every corner! If you’re looking for a festive trip to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, then Prague may be perfect for you.
The holidays bring a completely different kind of magic to the city in general. The streets come alive with festive decorations and lights in a time when no other city can quite match up, except maybe Paris or Rome. Prague’s beauty is unparalleled when it comes to Christmas markets, caroling in the streets, strolling by ice skating rinks, and other festive activities.
December is the best time to visit one of Prague’s many Christmas markets. Here you will find all kinds of goodies from local vendors as well as wonderful food and drinks! There may be a chill in the air but it won’t stop visitors from exploring everything that these markets have to offer.
This time of year tends to be expensive for most – you’ve got Christmas parties to prepare for, gifts to buy and New Years to plan for. The great thing about Prague is that it’s cheaper than most European countries. You’ll find you get more for your money in Prague when it comes to accommodation and eating out.
Unfortunately, just because it’s incredibly cold, doesn’t mean you’ll have a white Christmas. but when it does snow, the cobble stoned streets and alleys become beautifully blanketed in white. The city is incredibly picturesque when it’s covered in snow and ice, so don’t forget your camera gear!
Things to know before visiting Prague in December
The temperature in Prague in December is COLD! We’re talking highs of about 4 degrees Celsius and lows around -3 degrees Celsius. But December isn’t even it’s coldest month – January and February sees even lower temperatures!
While it may snow when you’re visiting Prague, the temperatures can rise in a heartbeat, leaving a messy slush through the streets. It’s not the prettiest of sights and not exactly the winter wonderland you’re dreaming of, so just bear that in mind.
All that said, if you’re from Europe, or somewhere else that has cold winters, you’ll be ready to hit Prague in the winter. Before you travel, you’ll be able to check out the weather on AccuWeather.
For funny and accurate weather information around the globe, download What The Weather!
Where to stay
I’ve been to Prague a few times and have stayed in both budget accommodation and more upscale hotels. Each has their own advantages, but the best hotels to stay at in December will be located either in Old Town Square or Wenceslas Square.
You’ll be within walking distance of a lot of the winter attractions, especially the Christmas markets and they are both safe areas to walk around, even if travelling solo.
The Roadhouse Prague – if hostels are your go to choice, the Roadhouse is a whole lot of fun! Right by the river and just a few minutes from Charles Bridge, some have said this is the best hostel they’ve ever stayed at!
Mostecká 12 Residence – just a few steps from the historical Charles Bridge, the Mostecká 12 Residence is only a 15 minute walk from Old Town, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle.
Dream Hostel Prague – quirky but modern, some of the rooms even have swing chairs in them to relax in after a long day exploring.
MEDIUM TO HIGH RANGE ACCOMMODATION
Radisson Blu Hotel Prague – The Radisson is located right in the heart of Prague City Centre and just steps away from Wenceslas Square. There is also a metro stop only 2 minutes away by foot so you can get around easily.
Hotel CUBE Prague – While some like to stick to the usual hotel chains I often like to choose somewhere I’ve never heard of before (albeit, having looked at and being satisfied with reviews). This hotel has incredible facilities and the staff are really friendly and helpful. It’s also within walking distance of all famous attractions.
Alcron Hotel Prague – the Alcron is an Art-Deco 5 star hotel right in the middle of Prague city. While it may be over your budget, they often have offers and if you get the chance to book with a good offer, I highly recommend staying here. It was originally opened in 1932 but all rooms have been upgraded and are fitted out with the usual luxuries.
What to pack
While December is known for snow, it’s not always guaranteed that there will be white stuff on the ground, but dress appropriately either way.
I’m a cold person (not my personality, just my average temperature). My sister calls me a lizard. Every Christmas I’m practically sat on top of the fireplace with all the clothes in the house on me. But for that reason, I’ve got quite the collection of winter clothes for travelling.
Here’s what you’ll need when visiting Prague in December (and this list will be much the same for most cities on your European bucket list for winter).
FOR THE FEET:
Waterproof walking shoes – these are essential. If you have nothing from the rest of the list – well you’ll probably freeze, but waterproof walking shoes are a MUST for Prague in December. As I mentioned, you may encounter snow and ice on the streets, or slush. My go to for waterproof walking shoes is always my Salomon hiking boots. They go well with jeans or leggings, keep the cold and wet out and have a good grip for slippery paths.
Thermal socks – I don’t know about you, but once my feet get cold, that’s it for me. I’m doomed! While I use my thermal socks mostly for hiking in cold temperatures, they’ve also been great for Prague and when I went in search of the Northern Lights in Finland (if you think Prague is cold…).
FOR THE HEAD:
Beanie – In cold weather, hats are often seen as absolute essentials. They keep the heat in, don’t they? I much prefer to wear a cute beanie than to have to wear my hood up to protect my head and hair from the cold.
Ear muffs – Ok, ear muffs are not just for 5 year olds. Let’s just clear that up. If I’m super cold, I’ll wear them over my beanie, if it’s just a bit chilly, I’ll wear them on their own. I have literally owned ear muffs throughout my entire adult life and don’t intend to ever grow out of them.
FOR THE BODY:
Thermals – not the sexiest of clothing choices but did I mention how cold Prague is? Thermals are great at keeping the cold out while still being comfortable. They’re also not bulky, which is ideal for layering up on extra cold days.
Fleece lined leggings – the versatility of these leggings itself is a no brainer for me. You can wear them either on their own, over your thermal bottoms or under a pair of jeans to keep you toasty while out and about in Prague.
FOR THE OUTSIDE:
Gloves – I actually use two pairs of gloves when travelling in winter. One is a glove liner that I can use my phone easily if I need to take pictures. And the other is this pair or ski gloves which I wear over the liners for extra warmth. Some activities call for an extra pair of gloves, such as a winter river cruise in Prague.
Puffy jacket – my choice is Jack Wolfskin down jacket. It is absolutely perfect for keeping warm in low temperatures. The best thing about a down jacket (other than the incredible warmth) is that you can squish it down into a tiny size for packing.
Raincoat – because down jackets aren’t waterproof, I always have my raincoat with me too, which fits over the down jacket. This is only necessary when it’s raining or snowing or just for an extra layer if you’re really feeling the cold.
Scarf – I often feel a bit claustrophobic when I wear a thick bulky scarf and I actually don’t feel they help with keeping me warm, so I usually just wear this thin cashmere scarf which doesn’t feel restricting on my neck but still offers protection against the elements.
Umbrella – when it’s snowing heavily, you’ll be glad to have an umbrella. Typically anywhere in Europe, it’s best to have an umbrella with you, given how the weather likes to surprise visitors – will it be a sunny day, rainy, or giant golf ball sized hailstones today? Maybe if it’s the latter, stay indoors that day…
Sunglasses – the winter sun be just as strong as the summer sun and especially if it snows, the glare of the sun can be harmful to your eyes. So don’t forget to pack sunglasses for your Prague winter trip. I have pretty sensitive eyes so I like a wrap around when I’m going somewhere snowy.
Power bank – did you know that in colder temperatures the battery on your phone or camera will run out faster? I didn’t, until I started researching what I needed to bring for my Kilimanjaro trip. Now, I’ll always have at least one (often more) power bank with me when I travel anywhere with winter temperatures. Considering I usually have my phone, gopro, camera and tablet with me, I need to make sure I’m fully charged at all times!
My top tips for visiting Prague in December
- Make sure you have travel insurance – I can’t stress that enough. No matter where you travel to, you should always have travel insurance
- Bring a power adaptor – in Europe they use the three pin adapter but personally I always just carry a universal power adapter
- If visiting especially for the festivities during December, it’s best to stay near Old Town or Wenceslas Square so you don’t miss out on anything
- If you’re planning on staying for New Years Eve, note that hotels get booked up pretty quickly and the prices often go up for this night too
- If you’re in Prague for a few days and want to see a lot of the sights, pre-book a Prague City Card for discounts and skip the queues!
See more of my travel tips here.
Ok! Now that you know absolutely everything about visiting Prague in December – how to prepare, what to pack, where to stay – let’s get started on some of the most magical things to do in the city during this time of year.
Things to do in Prague in December
1. Go shopping at one of the Christmas Markets
The Prague Christmas markets usually run from the end of November until the beginning of January. The markets are the crowd favourite for festive activities during December.
The Christmas markets in Prague stay open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve so if you’re there over Christmas itself, you’ll always have somewhere to go when you venture out.
The main Christmas markets are located at:
- Old Town Square – this is the largest of the Prague Christmas markets and it has the tallest Christmas tree in Prague, which stood at 18 meter in 2020. You’ll find craft stalls where you can buy some festive souvenirs and food stalls dotted around the square
- Wenceslas Square – it might not be quite as famous as the Old Town Square but if anything that might be a good thing as it is usually less crowded. Every evening there is a tree lighting ceremony and there are many activities for kids to enjoy too
- Prague Castle – for the best view of this Christmas market, especially if you’re lucky enough that there’s been snowfall, make your way to the top of Prague Castle. It’s probably the most scenic of the markets in Prague, given it’s surroundings, but there are also many stalls for shopping, eating and drinking here
One fantastic thing in recent years is that all the markets have become more eco-friendly, with cups, plates and cutlery that you get at the food stalls all being biodegradable and most of the food is locally sourced too – yay for eco friendly!
2. Go ice-skating
One of my favourite festive activities, but perhaps one I shouldn’t keep doing as I fall over a lot, is ice-skating. But if you’re brave enough to venture out onto the ice and turn your body into a one-person Zamboni, you can go ice-skating in many places around the city including:
- Na Frantisku, Prague Old Town – ice-skating here is until late in the evening (you can either rent skates for a fee or bring your own). This is one of the most picturesque places to ice-skate in Prague, being next to the Vltava River and the Jewish Quarter
- Letna Field – this is operated by Prague City Hall so there is no charge to skate (although you may pay a fee for skate rental). It’s set next to a beautiful park and you can skate here from 9am until 9pm every night during winter months
- The Galerie Harfa Shopping Centre Roof – have you ever ice-skated on the roof of a building? This is definitely one of the most unusual places to skate in Prague, being on the roof of the shopping centre
3. Visit Prague Castle
I always love to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site wherever I go. There’s usually just something so special about them. And Prague Castle complex is no different. The castle is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
In order to get into the castle, you must go through security and bag inspection first. This can get mind-numbingly boring when waiting in line for a long time. The best thing about visiting Prague Castle in December? Shorter lines! The majority of tourists to Prague visit during the summer months.
Visiting Prague Castle in December also means you get to see the Christmas market located there also.
4. Take a horse drawn carriage ride through Old Town Prague
There’s no better way to see the city of Prague – especially when you pass by a beautiful Christmas market right outside one of the most famous buildings in the world.
Horse drawn carriage rides always make me think of Christmas, cosying up with a blanket in the back. The carriage ride will give you a chance to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the crowds of people who typically flock to this area.
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5. Gaze at the Lights at the Old Town Hall
Every year, Prague puts in a lot of effort to light up their city in December, and it always looks spectacular! One of my favourite places to admire this magic is at the Old Town Hall Tower.
This tower is located on the Old Town Square – the largest of the markets in Prague and a fantastic place to visit in December. Every year, they decorate around the tower for Christmas with beautiful lights. As you look up at the tower from the square below, it looks absolutely stunning!
6. Watch a festive show
The theatres in Prague put on wonderful shows every year during December. It is definitely worth checking one of these shows out to get you in the festive spirit.
Some of the best festive shows each year are:
- Swan Lake at the Hybernia Theatre
- The Nutcracker at The Hybernia Theatre
- Vivaldi Christmas in Clementinum
- Mozart Dinner at Boccaccio Ballroom
- Czech National Symphony Orchestra at the Municipal House
- Festive Christmas Gala in Old Prague
7. Get historical at Prague’s Museums
The National Museum – almost every city has one and Prague is no different. The National Museum in Prague features many exhibits, the most famous being the Zoological Exhibition, the Moulin Route Exhibition and the Paleontological Exhibition.
The Frank Kafka Museum – One of the Czech Republic’s most famous writers, this museum is all about the life and work of Frank Kafka. While the museum itself is small and interesting to visit, outside is pretty questionable. The sculpture is titled “Piss” and is of two men peeing into the fountain!
The Sex Machines Museum – speaking of questionable, who doesn’t love a weird and wonderful museum, something different that’s out of the box? Well the Sex Machines Museum in Prague is exactly that. At times scary, you’ll find the most bizarre mechanical erotic contraptions, as well as chastity belts on display here.
The Karel Zeman Museum – I had never heard of this film director before visiting the museum, but it turns out he’s pretty famous and you might even recognise some of his movies. This is a really fun museum to visit, with interactive games, trick photography and special effects.
The Museum of Communism – this small Prague museum is home to a collection of things dating back to the Communist era, such as photographs and replicas of factory working conditions, school classrooms and an interrogation chamber.
The Jewish Museum – this museum may not be for everyone and if you’re not ready for an emotional day, maybe give it a miss. It brings you through harrowing tales of victims and survivors of the Holocaust, old photographs of the era, as well as manuscripts.
8. See Charles Bridge all lit up
One of the most popular attractions in Prague, Charles Bridge is always a beautiful sight to behold—but this time of year, it’s even more magical.
With Christmas lights and decorations constantly changing throughout December, there is never a shortage of beautiful things to see on Charles Bridge. It’s the perfect place for taking scenic winter photos for the ‘gram!
One of the absolute best things to do in Prague in December is to watch the man, dressed in traditional clothes, who lights up the gas lamps every evening – the lamplighter. Charles Bridge is the only bridge in the world that still uses gas lamps!
9. Take a cruise on Vltava River
If time isn’t on your side and you only have a short period in which to see all the sights of Prague, I highly recommend taking a river cruise.
The Vltava River provides stunning views (and photo opportunities!) of the city during any time of year, but in December, it’s especially magical.
With Christmas lights and gorgeous winter scenery lining the river banks, this is one date night (even if it’s just a date with yourself) that will absolutely warm your hearts.
10. Ring in the New Year
I absolutely LOVE being abroad for New Years Eve and experiencing it in a different country. And Prague is just as magical on New Years Eve.
There’ll be fireworks over Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square, traditional food markets, and lots of fun things to do in Prague on New Years Eve.
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11. Feast on traditional Czech food
Prague has plenty of great restaurants for any occasion, no matter how fancy or casual your tastes run. If you want something more traditional than just typical western fare, there are plenty of options to satisfy your tastes.
Czech food is simple but delicious, and many restaurants offer traditional dishes that are sure to warm your hearts. Some of the Czech specialties are:
- Fried cheese (who doesn’t love fried cheese? !)
- Beef Ghoulash
- Czech sausages
- Fruit dumplings
You can generally get a taste of all of these foods by taking a food tour of Prague. Or alternatively at any of the Christmas market stalls.
Two traditional Czech restaurants are Lokál Dlouhá and Sisters Bistro. Both are affordable but also offer plenty of delicious dishes that are sure to spice up any dinner conversation.
12. Try a Czech beer
After all that traditional Czech food, you’re going to need a Czech beer to wash it all down!
For those who are REALLY into their beers who want to do something different or learn all about Czech beer, you can visit Prague Beer Museum, hop on a Prague beer bike tour, take a beer bath with unlimited beer (yup!), or do a traditional Prague pub crawl.
13. Explore the city on a walking tour
There really is no better way to see a new city than walking through the streets and getting intimate with it. While it will be cold in Prague in December, it will be 100% worth walking around and seeing the festivities on each corner.
You’ll find Christmas Carolers, decorations, Christmas markets, lights at night. Here are some of my favourite walking tours in Prague:
- Prague Old Town & Jewish Quarter
- Franz Kafka Game & Self-Guided Tour
- Old Town, Medieval Underground & Dungeon Tour
- Ghosts & Legends Walking Tour
- Communism & Nuclear Bunker Tour
14. Take a day trip out of the city
Prague is a beautiful city and it’s well worth spending a full day inside the city walls.
But if you’ve got more time (and I hope you do!), opt for a day trip to one or more of the following destinations. These are often forgotten about when people visit Prague but they’re a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse in more culture and history of the Czech Republic.
- Terezin Concentration Camp – obviously not for the feint hearted but an important part of Czech history, many people feel it’s necessary to visit these kinds of sights in order to really understand the history. Travel back to WWII times, see the monuments, and hear stories of how 33,000 people perished in the camp. Terezin is just one hour drive from Prague city
- Bohemia and Saxon Switzerland Park – the natural beauty of the Czech countryside is just incredible. This day trip will take you to the spectacular Kamenice Gorce and have you walking across the River Elbe on the historic Bastei Bridge
- Kutná Hora and Bone Church – learn about the history of Bohemia and visit St. Barbara’s Cathedral and the Ossuary which is famous for its bizarre decorations made out of 40,000 human bones
- Cesky Krumlov and Ceske Budejovice – explore the stunning Czech countryside in these two picturesque towns in southern Bohemia. Cesky Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has over 300 historical buildings and Ceske Budejovice is lined with beautiful Renaissance and Baroque houses
15. Take a hot air balloon ride over the city
This is something I NEVER thought I would do. And at the time I did it, I was terrified of heights. But then again, I never thought I would skydive either…
If there’s anywhere and anytime to ever do a hot air balloon ride, Prague and December are those. Especially if it’s snowing (which I was lucky enough to witness).
Unfortunately, I did this when I was in Prague the first time, long before I had a phone with a camera and have since no idea where the original photos I took are.
What I do have is the memory of waking up really early for the sunrise ride over the city, the spectacular views looking down on the snow covered city and a really strange ritual by the organisers whereby you kneel down in front of the guy, receive a certificate for hot air ballooning, have some of your hair burnt off, followed quickly by water thrown over your head (yeah I obviously didn’t read the fine print).
This company is no longer doing tours (make what you will of that!) but my friend recently did the tour (minus the hair burning) with this company and enjoyed it just as much.
Conclusion to Things to do in Prague in December
If you’re looking for a place to go in December, you must consider Prague – it’s the perfect time of year for exploring this beautiful city. These things to do in Prague in December will keep your spirits high with its festive atmosphere around every corner.
Have you visited Prague during the winter? What were your favourite things to do in Prague in December?
See below for my go to sites when planning a trip!