Known for its rich history and fairy-tale architecture, Prague has become one of the greatest destinations in Europe – let alone the Czech Republic! Take a walk through history as you explore the cobbled streets, castles and abundance of museums. In fact, there is so much to do you could visit over and over again, and still not cover everything. We could write an entire book on all the things Prague has to offer, but on this occasion we’ll be sticking to all things festive.
The Christmas Markets are a key ingredient of the festive magic in the city – bringing locals and tourists together to enjoy a true winter wonderland. You’ll find average temperatures of 2°C in December, but can sometimes drop below this and snow showers a frequent – perfect for those searching for a white Christmas!
You can still get last minute return flights in December for around £100, which will get you to Prague in approximately 2 hours. Our friends at London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Southend, and Bristol Airports all offer direct flights 7 days a week.
So, what should you expect to find when you get there? What are the best spots at this time of year? And how much will it all cost you? Keep reading, we’ve got it all covered…
As soon as the weather turns cold, Christmas Markets start to spring up on every corner – so it’s hard to miss them. But which ones are really worth a visit? Here are our favourites:
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is one of Prague’s two main squares. Dating back to the 12th century it began life as a central marketplace for the city, and over the years has been decorated with Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic buildings. During the Christmas period the square is home to the official Prague Christmas Tree, brightly decorated wooden stalls, and even an animal stable complete with sheep, goats and a donkey. Nestled around the Jan Hus statue, the market stalls sell everything from glassware and ceramics, to scented candles and embroidered lace. Of course, it isn’t all about the shopping – there’s more delicious food and drink than you could consume in one visit! (We’ll cover the best food & drink later).
This year, the market is open from 20th November – 6th January with a daily musical performance as the Christmas lights are turned on at 4:30pm.
Once you’ve taken in all that the Old Town Square has to offer, take a five minute walk over to Wenceslas Square for another joyous market. Being a slightly smaller market gives this one a cosier, intimate atmosphere. There are still plenty of market stalls, food, and drink options. If you start to feel the chill, head over to the blacksmith where you can warm yourself by the fire while taking in the glorious decorations around the square. This market is also open from 2nd December – 6th January.
Namesti Republiky Square
Another popular market in the city centre, with fewer stalls but more space. Located on the cobble stoned area in front of the Paladium shopping mall, only 200m away from the Old Town and Wencesles Square. Open from 2nd December – 30th December, you’ll still find a similar range of offerings in terms of gifts, food and drink – but on a smaller scale. This one is worth a visit for its more local feel and gorgeous surroundings – nearby the Art Nouveau Municipal House and the Gothic Powder Tower.
Christmas Farmers' Markets
Venture outside the city centre for these ones! It’s something a little different as you may not have heard of them before, but they are well worth the trip. Serving a wider range of local produce including fresh bread, handmade cheeses and organic meats to name a few– these markets offer an authentic taste of Czech culture. A much smaller scale and, being lesser-known, less crowded. There are a few farmers markets to discover, so research which is nearest to you. A personal favourite is the Naplavka farmers market, located on the banks of the river. These markets are open every weekend throughout the year, but take on a festive feel during the advent weekends.
Food & Drink
One thing that is really important to note, is that when buying market food you should always check the price list to see if it is a ‘fixed’ price or ‘pay-by-weight’. For foods that are naturally portioned such as a single hotdog or donut, you can expect a fixed price. But when ordering a dish of something, never order a ‘portion’, you must specify the weight you would like. As a rough guide, 100g is considered a snack, 200g a starter, 300g or more would be the equivalent of a main course. Always clarify with the seller before placing an order, so you won’t have any surprises! We’ve included average prices of each dish to help you plan your budget…*
- Roasted ham, usually served with bread –expect to pay around 90czk (£3.15**) per 100g.
- Barbequed sausages (fixed portion, 60 CZK = £2.10)
- Langos – Fried flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup – expect to pay 60czk (£2.10)
- Bramborak – Grated potato, egg, flour, garlic and marjoram fried into a thick pancake – expect to pay 60czk (£2.10)
- Halusky – Gnocci served with bacon and sweet cabbage, quite a filling dish so opt for a smaller portion (around 150g is ideal), expect to pay around 55czk (£1.95) per 100g
- Trdelnik - long, cylindrical-shaped strips of dough that are covered in sugar and almonds and rotated over piping-hot coals; regular weight is 120g which will cost 50-60czk (£1.75 – £2.10)
- Famous Czech beers: Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen or Budvar – prices can range from 20-40czk (£0.70 - £1.40)
- Medovina – ‘honey wine’. A traditional local tipple, the sweetest member of the winter drinks family 50-70czk (£1.75 – £2.45)
- Svarene Vino – mulled wine, Czech style! A traditional take on mulled wine, with more citrusy hints from orange or lemon to balance the sweetness. 50-70czk (£1.75 – £2.45)
*All prices are estimates based on our own research, and should be used as an average guide only.
**CZK to GBP conversions have been made using our online rate, correct as of 18/12/17 at 11:00GMT