Christmas holidays in Prague

Prague is by no doubt one of the most romantic places to visit, especially during Christmas time. The city becomes a Christmas wonderland with markets and gigantic Christmas trees, street artists, mulled wine and cinamon roll stands on literally every corner in the old town and beyond.

by Judy Hsieh, creative commons licence

Trdelník at the christmas market

But besides strolling along the shopping streets and going from market to market, there is a lot to do in Prague that will add to your Christmas feeling and make your holiday here unforgettable.

The compulsory Christmas markets – through a local eye

The Old Town Square gives place to the official Christmas market in Prague, which is of course always beautiful but in the same time it is the most crowded and most touristy place you could possible be find in December. If you want to see some less frequented, yet just as amazing markets, here are a few suggestions to you,

Náměstí Míru is by far my favourite place in Christmas time. It is not in the very centre but easily reached by tram or metro in a few minutes. This is one of the places where even local people go to experience the Chrismas feeling, and this is also reflected in the prices that are a bit lower than on the old town square. You will find much less of the touristy kind of souvenirs they sell throughout the whole year in the old town, and much more of handmade things such as christmas decoration, pottery, clothing and of course lots of food.

There are also plenty of pop-up markets during the days before Christmas where you can buy all sorts of local designer goods you can imagine. The Dyzajn Market is organized between the two buildings of the National Theatre usually two weekends before Christmas, while the Holešovice fashion market also hosts a special Christmas edition.

If you are coming to Prague during your winter holidays but not exactly for Christmas, do not worry as you will not miss a thing! The Old Town Square market as well as plenty of others are open until the first week of January, so you can prolong all the joys of Christmas till the new year is here.

Food!

On the streets and of course in the markets you will find plenty of local specialities to eat – be careful though! Prices can go really high in the markets, and you would also be happier to spend that extra 100 CZK on three more beers in a restaurant than on that one plate of cabbage noodles in the old town. Here are some smaller snacks you should definitely try out in the markets besides the all-known sausages, however, for really filling main meals you may want to find a cozy pub or restaurant a few streets away.

Trdelník: freshly baked cinammon rolls with a soft yeast though and a crispy caramel crust. This sweet roll can be bought any time of the year in the old town, but it tastes especially good in winter time. If you are lucky you get a really fresh one just off the fire, and not one of the cold ones that have been standing at the counter for hours. This is why I would recommend to buy this in the most frequented markets – the warmth and freshness is worth the few korunas extra you will pay for the location. Fun fact: the trdelník is not really an old Czech specialty, despite what you may read on the advertisements. It is a food present in the traditional cuisines of most of the Eastern European countries, and it originally comes from Transylvania, Romania.

Lángoše: this is a Hungarian pastry that the Czech street food culture hypes recently. It is a donought-like dough deep fried in oil, served with various types of toppings. It is not the lightest snack you can eat, but will definitely make you full and warm you up for a while! Traditionally, Hungarians eat it with sour cream and lots of garlic, but in Prague you will find toppings that are more compatible with the public, such as ketchup, cheese, sour cabbage, or even cinamon sugar!

Life outside the Christmas markets

If you ever get bored of live jingle bells and the crowds of people on the markets, go a bit further out of the old town and take a walk in Letná Park that runs along the river and to the Castle, offering a beautiful view of the rooftops, towers, and bridges of the old town. Petřín hill is an even greater park on the other side of the Castle that also hosts the local version of the Eiffel tower and will give you a just as breathtaking view of the city. If you are not afraid of heiths, go to the TV tower on Žižkov hill, and have a coffee 66 meters hight in their café and restaurant, overlooking the whole of Prague.

Look out for hidden passages in the centre! Prague is full of hidden inner yards, gardens, and passageways that are waiting for you to discover. Some of them will even surprise you with cinemas, restaurants, or gorgeous cafés such as Lucerna or Světozor, right next to Wenceslas square. If you like art nouveau interior, definitely check out Lucerna!

Prague has lots of old Viennese-style cafés where you can sit in to warm up as well. Check out Café Louvre, close to the National Theatre, where you can choose from lunch menus and really awesome cakes, and even play pool while you are waiting. Just on the other side of the river is Café Savoy, an even more posh café where you will definitely feel important due to excellent service and great food.

Check for ongoing events, for instance on www.expats.cz, and go to concerts of classical music in one of the old churches of the city or visit a puppet theatre, the Black Light Theatre, the Laterna Magika, or a jazz concert.

And in case you’ve had enough of Prague (which is very unlikely to happen), or you have a day to spare, visit some other cities not far from Prague such as Kutná Hora, Karlovy Vary, or Liberec, and compare the Christmas feeling they provide to that of Prague’s!