There is no bad time to visit Prague. Each season has its own charms, and there are plenty of things to do in Prague throughout the year. Prague can get very cold in winter, but the snow brings a magical white blanket to the city. I didn’t mean to visit Prague in winter, I went in the middle of March, but this year the weather was particularly brutal, and I found myself in Prague with sub-zero temperatures and snow. Here are some suggestions for what to do in Prague in winter, and why you should visit Prague during the winter!
Winter Weather in Prague
Winter in Prague usually lasts from December to February, with January typically being the coldest month. Temperatures often dip below freezing, and in January the average daytime temperature hovers at around 0°C, with the night temperatures much colder. I visited Prague in March, and although I missed the -15°C temperatures brought on by unseasonably cold weather, it did drop to around -7°C, with a bitter wind. While this might not sound appealing, when the snow fell, Prague became even more magical. Snowfall is fairly common throughout the winter, but rarely affects day to day life in Prague too much.
What to Wear in Prague in Winter
Layers, and lots of them! I was wearing a pair of tights under my jeans, a t-shirt, 3 thin cardigans, a thick woolly jumper, and a coat with a scarf, hat and gloves and I still felt cold at times! On your Prague packing list you will need a good windproof winter coat, and I also suggest some thermal layers to keep you well insulated. Comfortable walking shoes or boots are also essential, especially if it does snow, as areas can get very slippery underfoot.
Something else to bear in mind is that in sub-zero temperatures, phone and camera batteries die very quickly, so take a portable charger or spare batteries with you so you don’t miss out on beautiful snowy photos!
Why Visit Prague in Winter?
It is quieter! Prague is one of those cities whose popularity has exploded in recent years. Thousands of tourists flock to Prague every year, and over-tourism is becoming an issue during the busy summer season when the famous Charles Bridge is packed with tourists, selfie sticks and souvenir sellers. During the winter, Prague is still a popular destination, but there are noticeably fewer tour groups, stag (bachelor) parties and screaming kids.
Things to do in Prague in Winter
Christmas Markets in Prague
Visiting Europe in winter has the added bonus that Christmas is in the air. From early December till January 6th Prague’s squares fill up with gorgeous Christmas market stalls selling Christmas decorations, gifts, souvenirs and deliciously warming food and drink. You’ll find some of the best Prague Christmas markets at the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Peace Square and at Prague Castle.
Photograph the Beautiful City
The best photo spots in Prague are even more beautiful in winter.
I took one for the team here and got up at 6.30am braving below freezing temperatures to take some gorgeous photographs of Prague when it was blissfully quiet, and covered with a light dusting of snow. There were still several people like me snapping photos on the famous Charles Bridge, but usually you will have a split second to take some shots without anyone in it. Annoyingly just as I had the bridge to myself my phone decided to die (see previous warning about having a portable charger with you) and by the time I had plugged it into the charger I had company again! Ah well, you can’t have it all.
After crossing Charles Bridge, I walked along the riverside to Letná Park where you can climb up to a viewpoint which overlooks the city, and all the bridges in Prague. There was no-one around when I went up there, and the fresh snow crunched beautifully beneath my feet. Anywhere I can go and get some time on my own in a busy city like Prague gets my vote!
I didn’t come up here when it was snowy as I went to Letná Park instead, but the views from outside the castle walls are incredible. Prague castle is the largest castle complex in Europe, and I learned from my Eating Prague Tour Guide that the castle is lit at night thanks to the Rolling Stones who coughed up the cash for the spotlights. You can also grab a coffee from the Starbucks to warm you up, or just use their convenient terrace to take some photos!
The Old Town Hall
Everyone talks about the clock tower in Prague, but sadly it was being renovated when I was in town so I missed the spectacle. You can still climb up the clock tower located in the Old Town Hall for views of the Town Hall square and the rest of the city. I went up for sunset, which wasn’t spectacular on that particular day, but if you get lucky it will be mind-blowing!
Take a Prague Tour
Walking tours of Prague continue throughout the year, and as long as you wrap up warm it is well-worth exploring Prague on foot. You can arrange walking tours with Prague City Tourism for 300 CZK or you could try a Prague free walking tour or even a Ghost Tour! I had a tour of the Old Town Hall arranged by Prague City Tourism which was fascinating; you can go and take a look around for free, but the paid tour takes you to other areas including the cellars downstairs.
Check out these tours of Prague in winter with GetYourGuide:
Visit Some of the Museums in Prague
Prague is literally brimming with history, and has some fascinating museums to explore. Try the National Film Museum, The National Gallery, and even the Apple Museum which has more than 450 Apple products from 1976 to the present time. More unusual museums that may be more popular among bachelor parties in Prague include the Sex Machines Museum, and the Prague Beer Museum.
Eat All the Czech Food You Can
I loved Czech food! Traditional dishes like beef in a creamy vegetable sauce, or goulash with dumplings are made for the cold weather, and I loved sampling as much Czech cuisine as I could. I took an Eating Prague Food Tour with Eating Europe (more on that soon) which also took me to different areas of the city I hadn’t seen before.
When it is cold outside, there is nothing better than warming yourself up in a nice warm bar or restaurant and enjoying a drink or a bite to eat. Seasonal specialities include zelňačka which is saurkraut cabbage soup (a traditional hangover cure on New Year’s day!) and svařák mulled wine, served piping hot with spices like cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to warm you up.
Explore the Rest of the Czech Republic
Before I visited Prague, I spent a few days exploring the Czech Republic’s second-biggest city, Brno, which I really enjoyed.
Another popular destination is Cesky Krumlov, a fairytale town in South Bohemia, which has been beautifully restored to its former glory, and looks just like it would have done several hundred years ago. The snow-topped rooves in this pretty town add an extra magical touch. Many people suggest taking a Cesky Krumlov day trip from Prague, but I suggest spending the night there, you won’t be disappointed!
New Years’ Eve in Prague
As anywhere, hotels for New Year’s Eve in Prague are likely to be more expensive, and you might struggle to find availability at your chosen hotel in Prague. If you want to attend a party or event, purchase your tickets online as early as you can, as they tend to sell out. Usually, there are free fireworks displays in Old Town Square and around Charles Bridge, which of course draw huge crowds, but the atmosphere will be worth it. Just be sure to wrap up warm!
The Downside of Visiting Prague in Winter
Aside from the cold temperatures, the only real disadvantage to visiting Prague in the winter is that some opening hours may be shorter than from spring to autumn, and some tours and attractions may not be open at all. Similarly, for other destinations in the Czech Republic such as Cesky Krumlov and Brno I found some things were closed in the winter, such as the Castle Museum in Cesky Krumlov. Check what you want to do in advance and decide if the benefits of visiting Prague during the winter outweigh the disadvantages!
Where to Stay in Prague
I stayed at the fabulous Post Hostel Prague (full review coming soon), and you can find plenty of hostels in Prague on Hostelworld. If you have a bigger budget, then check availability for hotels in Prague Old Town so you are close to the action.
Have you been to Prague in winter? I’d love to hear your recommendations for things to do in Prague in the winter! Share your comments below.
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