Prague is a wonderland at any time of year, with its charming Old Town and fairytale buildings. But at Christmas this stunning city steps it up to a whole new level. Sparkling lights, spicy gingerbread and carol-singing choirs – the Prague Christmas markets are the ultimate festivity.
Open every day from the end of November to the beginning of January, the markets are located within the heart of the city so you can still admire the sights as you sip on some svařák (mulled wine). So whether you want to experience the larger traditional Prague Christmas market or prefer somewhere you can escape the crowds and shop the stalls, this insider’s guide has the perfect market for you.
Old Town Square Christmas market (Staroměstské náměstí)
The largest of the Prague Christmas markets, the Old Town Square market can be recognised by the iconic 22-metre tall Christmas tree, beautifully decorated with sparkling lights and lavish ornaments. Take a photo in front of this stunning centrepiece before checking out the traditional nativity scene below it. As you wander around, keep an eye out for St. Mikuláš (St. Nicholas) who often visits the square at this time of year.
Wooden lodge stalls are dotted all around the square offering a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs, from glass baubles to pots of frankincense. And you can’t forget the traditional Czech treats on offer! We recommend the delicious trdelník – a warm hollowed pastry covered in cinnamon sugar and nuts, often topped with cream or ice cream. End the day with a mug of mulled wine, or hot chocolate for the kids, as you watch one of the Christmas concerts on the open-air stage.
Wenceslas Square Christmas market (Václavské náměstí)
Just a short stroll from the Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square is home to another one of the most popular Prague Christmas markets.
Get lost among the crowds as you peep between shoulders at the quaint little craft stalls. Watch handmade wooden and steel gifts be crafted before your very eyes, and pick up a unique gift for someone special – maybe some gold-sprayed mistletoe? At night you will be dazzled by the light displays as the Christmas tree lights are switched on and the National Museum is lit up, casting a festive glow across the square.
Havel’s Christmas market (Havelske trziste)
In between Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square, you will find one of the oldest shopping markets in Prague, Havel’s Market. Dating back to the 1200s, this market is open all year round but adds some festive flare during the winter season. Alongside the usual goodies available such as wooden toys, puppets, flowers and local produce, at Christmas the stalls also have lots of hand-crafted ornaments and decorations to buy. A hub for both locals and tourists, you can also purchase the perfect souvenir to take home with you.
Republic Square Christmas market (Náměstí Republiky)
If larger crowds aren’t your thing, then Republic Square is the ideal Prague Christmas market for you! Situated in front of the Palladium shopping centre, the market is slightly smaller than the others and usually a bit cheaper too. It’s a great alternative for both locals and tourists as you still get the authentic Czech Christmas market experience.
The Republic Square Christmas market is also foodie heaven with the best selection of snacks and treats. From large hams roasted on spits (pražská šunka) and barbequed sausages (klobása), to pancakes (palačinky) and spicy gingerbread. Tempted by a tipple? Grab a Czech beer such as Pilsner Urquell. Or if you are after something more warming, you can enjoy a mug of grog – a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar.
Christmas market at Prague Castle
For the most idyllic Prague Christmas market setting, venture up the hill to Prague Castle. With views over the city and a handful of stalls selling a range of festive local produce, this market is not one to miss. You can enjoy melt-in-the-mouth apple strudel under the Christmas tree, as you listen to carols and admire the stunning sight of St. Vitus Cathedral in the background. A picture-perfect moment.
Peace Square Christmas market (Náměstí Míru)
A local favourite, the Peace Square Christmas market takes place slightly earlier than the other Prague Christmas markets, opening during the last two weeks of November. The beautifully crafted wooden stalls offer an authentic experience of the Czech Christmas. With traditional food, beverages, and craftwork, you won’t be disappointed by the charm of this market.
But why end the festivities at the Prague Christmas markets, when there are so many other things to do in this winter wonderland? Below are some experiences for those feeling extra festive:
1. Winter views
Grab a ticket to the top of the Old Town Tower for a gorgeous birds-eye view of the city. And as it’s the Christmas season, you will be able to see all the lights and markets bustling below you. Whether you walk up or take the lift, this is a picture-perfect scene worth snapping.
2. Christmas in a carriage
Everyone deserves a Cinderella moment. So why not complete your Czech winter fairytale with a horse-drawn carriage ride around the most historic parts of the city? A truly festive adventure.
3. Decorated streets
Head to Parizska Street to admire the gorgeously lit trees and designer display windows of Bulgari, Gucci and Cartier. And in case you are tempted by something on your Christmas wish list, they all have late opening hours throughout December.
4. The nutcracker
For the ultimate luxury Christmas experience, secure a ticket to the Prague National Theatre’s performance of The Nutcracker. Hurry though, as tickets are limited.
5. Prague at night
There is nothing quite like Prague at night, when the whole city is lit up and comes to life in a radiant glow. Add all the festive Christmas lights, and the view is quite breathtaking. So stroll along the Vltava River towards the Charles Bridge, and take in this magical scene.
Posted: 27th Nov 2019.