6 Reasons to Visit Prague at Christmas
“Prague, with its Gothic spires and cobbled streets, looks like a Christmas-card scene come to life – even more so with a sprinkling of snow. Glowing shop windows and traditional markets mean the capital of the Czech Republic twinkles during the dark days of December.
Browse Prague’s Christmas Markets
There are Christmas markets dotted all over Prague during December. Framed by historic buildings and the famous Astronomical Clock, the Old Town Square Market is the biggest and best known. It has a towering Christmas tree at its heart and dozens of stalls selling sparkling Christmas decorations, candles, jewellery and wooden toys.
Market stalls pack Wenceslas Square near the National Museum, too, and at Republic Square near the Palladium Shopping Centre.
The larger markets can get crowded. So for something a little more subdued, try Prague Castle, with its beautiful views of St Vitus Cathedral. Or cross Charles Bridge to romantic Kampa Island where the small market has a delightful setting on the shores of the Vltava River.
Keep the cold at bay with a glass of svařák, the local mulled wine, and soak it up with traditional gingerbread. Many markets open late and have music and dance performances to entertain the crowds.
Christmas market on Old Town Square, Prague 2006 – By Hynek Moravec – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2250092
Magical Prague for Christmas Carols
Prague’s most historic and beautiful churches provide atmospheric settings for Christmas music concerts.
The Klementium Mirror Chapel, with its Baroque mirrors, gilded stuccos and ceiling frescoes, is even more magical filled with classical and organ Christmas music. So, too, is the early Baroque St Salvator Church by Charles Bridge, also part of the Klementium complex of historic buildings. St Martin in the Wall Church in Old Town Prague is the perfect place for carols and classical Christmas music in 12th-century Gothic splendour.
The Baroque interior of St Nicholas Church in the Old Town Square is well known for its acoustics. And 13th-century St Giles Church, with its centrepiece 3,500-pipe organ is an impressive spot for Christmas carol concerts.
See Prague’s Christmas Lights
Prague’s traditional towering Christmas tree welcomes all to the Old Town Square Christmas Market, and its ceremonial switch on marks the opening of the festive fun.
Hourly every afternoon, the tree is the backdrop to a light and music show – so do pop by for a hit of festive cheer. And while you’re there, climb the Town Hall Tower for magical views across the market and the sparkling spired city.
As dusk falls, stroll along the banks of the Vltava River and cross the Gothic 14th-century Charles Bridge. More climbing will give you wonderful views of the City of 100 Spires from its two towers. For something truly memorable, walk alongside the uniformed gas lamplighter as he brings the area to light.
Wenceslas Square by Studio Sarah Lou -CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) – https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/8374107258
Dine Like a Local in Prague
Freshwater carp is the traditional meal for Czechs at Christmas. As the festive season approaches, barrels of live carp appear on Prague’s main streets, in particular in Republic Square in front of Kotva Department Store.
Traditionally, Czechs took home the live carp so it could live in the bath until just before cooking. But if you don’t fancy sharing your Prague hotel bath with a fish, many city restaurants serve the traditional Christmas dish of fried carp and potato salad.
Visit Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral
The highlight of a trip to Prague Castle, the cathedral is the final resting place of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia – best known to carol singers as Good King Wenceslas. In life, he was responsible for building a Romanesque rotunda dedicated to St Vitus where the cathedral now stands.
His remains are in the cathedral’s St Wenceslas Chapel and are studded with more than 1,300 semi-precious stones, which you can see from the doorway of the main cathedral.
_Di Alvesgaspar – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52660920_A Taste of Prague at Christmas
A Prague Christmas for locals means biscuit baking. Traditionally, families spend December weekends baking varieties of tiny vanilla-infused biscuits. Crescent-shaped ones doused in icing sugar and Linzer biscuits – jam sandwiched between two biscuits with a star, flower or heart cut out of the top – are the classics.
While you’re in town, try some of its classic Christmas eats. A tradition since the Middle Ages, vánočka is a plaited Czech Christmas bread with raisins and almonds that symbolises the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Trdelník is a hollow round of cinnamon-flavoured pastry, sometimes it’s stuffed with ice-cream and chocolate. A little calorie heavy but, hey, it is Christmas.
You can pick up either – or both – at street stalls, bakeries and coffee shops around the city.
Find somewhere to stay by checking out our selection of hotels in Prague.
#### Photo Credits
Cover pic: Christmas Market Prague, Czech Republic by Travis Wise – CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) – https://www.flickr.com/photos/photographingtravis/46656017232“
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