10 Things to Do in Prague in the winter

The Czech capital has a very special magical charm in the winter season: the markets, the lights and the general festive atmosphere make it an ideal season to get to know Prague.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

11 min read

10 Things to Do in Prague in the winter

View of Prague | ©R Boed

Although Prague is an enchanting destination no matter what time of year you travel, you should visit at least once in winter.

In addition to almost all the city tours, during this season you can enjoy unique events and celebrations such as carnival festivities and magical Christmas markets. When planning your vacation, take into account the list below and make as many plans as possible.

1. Admire the Prague Castle in a blanket of snow

Prague Castle| ©Govisity
Prague Castle| ©Govisity

No matter what time of the year you visit Prague, a trip to Prague Castle is a must on your list of things to see and do in the city. However, visiting this important historical monument in winter can be even more special than you can imagine.

For one thing, you will find that there are very few tourists, which allows you to enjoy the beautiful interiors of the complex much more. Additionally, in Prague during the month of December one of the most luxurious Christmas Markets in Prague takes place in the Castle Complex with the most exclusive products and the most delicate handicrafts.

Finally, there is the fact that, with the winter snowfall, the Prague Castle is dyed in a beautiful white mantle that offers a dreamy postcard. Book your ticket to Prague Castle and bring your camera! At the end of your tour you can take a tour of the Hradčany Quarter to get to know one of the most beautiful areas of the city.

Book tickets for Prague Castle

2. Enjoy the best time to take a tour of the museums and historical cafes

Entrance to the Museum of Communism| ©Dimitrij Ovčinnikov
Entrance to the Museum of Communism| ©Dimitrij Ovčinnikov

Winter in Prague is, without a doubt, my favorite time to take a tour of the historical cafes that invade the whole city and also to enjoy the museums. The reason is that having plans to do indoors andescape from the cold streets will always be a wonderful plan; additionally the low tourist influx in these days allows you to really sit in a cafe for a while or you can go to the museums without feeling rushed.

The best museums in Prague

  • National Museum of Prague: Located in the historic Wenceslas Square, the National Museum integrates one of the most impressive zoological collections.
  • Mucha Museum: If you like the Belle Epoque you can not miss the museum dedicated to the life and work of Alfons Mucha.
  • Prague Museum of Communism: Historical museum dedicated to the oppressive years of the regime in the Czech Republic.
  • Franz Kafka Museum: As peculiar as his own work, the best part of the Kafka Museum is the intense and confusing exhibition on his work The Metamorphosis.

Prague's historic cafes

  • Kavárna Slavia: Popular for being the oldest café in the city, you can find local artists performing Czech opera on stage.
  • Café Savoy: It has one of the most beautiful interiors you will ever see in a café.
  • Café Louvre: Famous for being the favorite place in Prague of historical figures such as Kafka and Einstein himself.

Book your ticket for the Museum of Communism in Prague

3. Attend the lighting ceremony of the lamps on the Charles Bridge

Lighting of Charles Bridge| ©.martin
Lighting of Charles Bridge| ©.martin

Although almost all of Prague has been electrically powered since the 1950s, the Charles Bridge and another 700 lamps in the older areas of the city continue to use the gas system. Throughout the year this system lights automatically, but with the arrival of winter a beautiful historical tradition is resumed: the lighting of the lamps by the lamplighter.

Historically, the task of the city's lamplighter was assigned to the tallest man in the city, who had to go from torch to torch, lighting the lights on the road. From the last week of November until December 23 you can witness this romantic little spectacle.

The tradition is to light up the entire King's Walk, so it starts at the Powder Tower in Stare Mesto, runs through the streets on its way to the Old Town Square and from there to the climax at Charles Bridge. I recommend that you book a guided tour of Prague and enjoy the illumination of all these wonderful sights.

Book a guided tour of Prague

4. Explore Prague's Christmas Markets

Prague Christmas Market| ©Bruce Tuten
Prague Christmas Market| ©Bruce Tuten

Prague boasts the longest Christmas market season in Europe and also one of the most beautiful. The markets usually start on November 27 or 28 and end after January 6. In the beautifully decorated houses with glitter, lights and colors, it is possible to find everything: traditional Czech food, hot drinks, handicrafts, souvenirs, shows and entertainment.

My recommendation for you not to miss this wonderful tradition is to book a guided tour of Prague where they will inform you of the most important and can give you information on how to get there. In addition, you are sure to pass by the most central ones during the tour.

  • Old Town Square Market The most vibrant and popular market of the city is located in the Old Town Square. At the stalls you will find food, handmade gifts, mulled wine, toys, jewelry, and entertainment.
  • Wenceslas Square Market A market specializing in handmade gifts made of wood and steel. You will also find food stalls and hot drinks.
  • Republic Square Market Here you will find a wide collection of Christmas products, everything you need to make gifts and decorate the home; mistletoe, advent wreaths, scented candles, toys and more.
  • Prague Castle Christmas Market The vendors at the Prague Castle Christmas Market are carefully selected to offer the public top quality Christmas products.

Book a guided tour of Prague

5. Don't miss the traditional winter ballroom dancing in Prague

Ballroom Dancing| ©Ardian Lumi
Ballroom Dancing| ©Ardian Lumi

The tradition of ballroom dancing has not been completely lost in Prague. Therefore, one of the most awaited social events is the traditional Opera Ball, which is held year after year in winter, usually in the month of February. Everyone who wants to be seen in Prague will attend this important event, and although it lacks the prestige and international fame of the famous Vienna Ballroom Ball, the reality is that the ostentatious glamour will always be the protagonist of the evening.

The celebration is attended by people of all ages and each year a different theme is chosen, which the guests and participants must strive to fulfill. This event always takes place in the best venues in Prague, the most luxurious and elegant halls. Favorite locations are the Lucerne Palace or the Marble Hall of the Prague State Opera.

The basic ticket for the general public usually costs more than 100 € and includes unlimited food and drinks. To purchase tickets, it is necessary to be attentive to the official portals where details are shared on the nearby dates. And if you run out of seats, I recommend you to book tickets for a concert in the Mozart hall with dinner and do not miss the pleasure of classical music in this wonderful city.

Book tickets for a concert at the Mozart hall

6. Admire the talent of actors and dancers at the Prague Winter Festival

Prague National Theater| ©Lynx1211
Prague National Theater| ©Lynx1211

The Prague Winter Festival began its traditional performances in 1972, during the years when the Czech Republic was under communist rule. It is held every year in January, usually at the beginning. January in Prague is synonymous with the coldest month of the year, so the Winter Festival is a perfect way to stay indoors enjoying the enormous talent of Czech artists.

Performances include opera, ballet and classical music concerts. You can expect the festival to open in the first week of January, but to be on the safe side it is worth checking the official Prague Winter Festival website for details of the performances taking place this year.

The events take place in several venues with the main ones being the National Theater in Prague, the State Theater and in the Dvořák concert hall at the Rudolfinum. The common feature of all these venues is undoubtedly the sumptuousness of their interiors. Remember that an alternative musical plan is to book tickets for a concert in the Mozart hall with dinner.

Book tickets for a concert in the Mozart Hall with dinner

7. Enjoy Festival Bohuslav Martinů

People playing classical music| ©Vlada Karpovich
People playing classical music| ©Vlada Karpovich

Usually starting in the month of November in Prague, the Bohuslav Martinů Festival exhausts a concert calendar that runs until the second third of December. If you are visiting Prague at this time and are interested in classical instrumental music with a modern twist, this is an event you should attend.

The most important performances are usually held in the last days of the festival (which usually lasts about four weeks). These last performances feature the talented artists who are winners of the Bohuslav Martinů Prize of the eponymous foundation.

The Bohuslav Martinů Festival occupies the most beautiful stages and concert halls in Prague such as the various venues of the Liechtenstein Palace, the Rudolfinum, and the Prague Castle. Due to the various locations of the event, the Festival's organizing foundation delegates ticket sales directly to the box office (virtual or physical) of the venue reserved for each performance. It is advisable to check in advance the schedule on the website of the Bohuslav Martinůc Foundation.

8. Participate in the Prague Winter Race

Winter Run| ©Camilla B
Winter Run| ©Camilla B

Although most usually associate running with better weather times such as spring and summerin Prague, every year at the end of February, the Winter Run, also known as Winter Run, takes place, focused on all lovers of the sport.

Running during the cold winter is more difficult than you might imagine and may require more physical exertion than expected. However, overcoming the challenge will make you feel great and I bet you will do it again as soon as you get the chance. It is wise to check the official Winter Run website to have all the details linked to registration and exact date. As for the location of the event and the circuits, the following are generally held:

  • At Ladronka Park: an 8.4 km cross-country race for adults and a 4.2 km cross-country race for adults.
  • At Ladronka Park: a children's 800 m. and a 400 m. race.

9. Join Masopust's celebrations

At the Masopust| ©Donald Judge
At the Masopust| ©Donald Judge

During the winter season in Prague, almost always in February, you will have the opportunity to join the Masopust celebrations, the Slavic name for the Carnival period and similar in concept to the popular Mardi Gras, a fun activity if you visit Prague with children.

Check the calendar in advance and if your visit to beautiful Prague coincides with the Masopust celebrations, attend one of the traditional parades and celebrations that take place throughout the city. Shrove Tuesday or Masopust is the day that concludes a period that spans five days of celebration. During the season, several events will take over the city. Here are the highlights:

  • Parade on Jiriho z Podebrad Square: The most important and eye-catching parade takes place on Jiriho z Podebrad Square, located in the Zizkov Quarter. This is where the ceremonial parade of the masked characters takes place. There is no shortage of monstrous figures in the form of demons, farm animals or other unique characters. Beautifully decorated floats will also parade through the area, all accompanied by music and dance.
  • Mardi Gras in Letná: The National Technical Museum in Prague offers a varied entertainment program including theater performances, music and dance, traditional food and carnival parades with masks.
  • Mardi Gras in Mala Strana: One of the most fun Mardi Gras celebrations takes place in the Mala Strana district, starting at Loretanska Square and concluding in the Kampa Park area.

10. Get to know the city's ice skating rinks

Ovocny trh rink| ©Donald Judge
Ovocny trh rink| ©Donald Judge

It's no secret that the Czechs are very fond of ice sports, especially field hockey. That's why one of the most fun and anticipated activities in the winter season in Prague are the ice rinks that open all over the city when the temperatures start to drop. An added bonus to see and do on your visit to Prague.

You'll find both indoor and outdoor rinks in both the old and modern areas of the city. The best part? You don't need to bring skates because many of them have equipment rentals available.

  • Na Frantisku Rink: Located in the Jewish quarter of Josefov is one of the most popular rinks in the city where you can ice skate surrounded by medieval buildings. Size: 40 x 20 meters. Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5:30 pm and weekends from 10 am to 7 pm. Price: 3 € entrance fee, skate rental 3 €.
  • Zizkov Tower Rink: Located right next to the elegant MIMINOO restaurant, when you get tired of skating you can sit at their tables and enjoy a hot chocolate. Size: 30 x 14 meters. Hours: during the week, from noon to 7 p.m.; on weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Price: about 5 € and 3 € to rent skates.
  • Ovocny Trh rink: Another favorite rink of the locals is located in the very center of Prague, being managed by the city council, it is free of charge. Size: 30 X 14 meters. Hours: Every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Price: Free, skate rental from 3 €.
  • Rink at the Harfa shopping center: A very special rink located on the rooftop of the shopping center offering fantastic views of the city of Prague. Size: 30 X 20 meters. Hours: Every day from 1:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Price: Approximately 3 € for access and 3 € for skate rental.

Temperatures in Prague in winter

Prague under snow| ©Dario Garavini
Prague under snow| ©Dario Garavini

The city of Prague is characterized by its continental climate, which means polar temperatures. Winters are very harsh and cold, while summers are really hot.

During the month of December in Prague, temperatures start to drop, but it will be the warmest month of the three, as well as the one with the most activities. The coldest month of the winter in Prague will be January with a historic low of -4 degrees; in February things start to warm up but it will still be colder than December.

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What to bring to Prague in winter

When packing your suitcase, keep in mind that winter in Prague is not only cold and low temperatures, but also snow, ice on the streets, hailstorms and rain.

You should be properly prepared to face all these scenarios by including in your suitcase the complete winter survival pack: wool sweaters and coats for the cold, waterproof clothes, warm and waterproof shoes, leggings, thermal underwear, jeans, gloves, winter hats, scarves and an umbrella.

Book a tour of Prague

Prague's winter tourist flow

Prague Port in Winter| ©Cecilia Rodriguez
Prague Port in Winter| ©Cecilia Rodriguez

The tourist flow in Prague during the winter season is the lowest of the whole year, except in the weeks around Christmas when the flow of tourists, both domestic and international, increases to visit the Christmas markets.

In the months of January in Prague and February in Prague the city is a paradise of tranquility and an excellent time for those who prefer to enjoy the city without the hustle and bustle or are looking to save money on their vacation. Only if you tolerate the cold well this season could be the best time to visit Prague.

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