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Why visit Prague at Christmas?


Snow-sprinkled spires, bewitching backdrops and more markets than you can shake a candy cane at... Christmas and Prague are a match made in city break heaven. Read on to see why this is the best place to celebrate all things advent.

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Prague oozes spellbinding charm all year round, but during the holiday season, it comes alive with feel-good festiveness. Unique traditions? Moreish menus? Snow-globe scenery? The Czech capital ticks all the boxes for a cracking Christmas break.

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Magical markets

Thanks to medieval squares illuminated by twinkling lights, towering bauble-studded trees and wooden chalets selling traditional trinkets, Prague’s Christmas markets are some of the best. The largest can be found in the Old Town and Wenceslas Square, set among a stunning setting of Gothic grandeur.

But if you’re looking to escape the crowds, Republic Square Christmas Market is your best bet. Situated in front of PALLADIUM shopping centre, this market is on the smaller side and offers a more relaxed space to soak up some holiday cheer. It’s also a foodie haven, with a fabulous selection of tasty treats to try. 12 days of Christmas? Try 40 days, as the markets here are open for over a month!

Further afield, the nearby cities of Brno and Hradec Králové both offer their fair share of merry magic. The former’s all about live music and seasonal snacks, while in the latter, you can buy last-minute stocking fillers while sipping on piping cups of hot chocolate.

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Dreamy day trips

The area around Prague is dotted with historic towns and fairytale castles that are primed for a winter wander! Just over an hour’s drive from the capital is the UNESCO-stamped town of Kutná Hora. The crown jewel here is St Barbara Cathedral. The outside’s decorated in a gloriously Gothic style while the inside’s filled with 15th-century frescoes. The town also has a fascinating silver-mining background, so why not visit one of the old mines and delve deeper into its history?

A few hours south of Prague, the chocolate-box town of Ceský Krumlov is waiting to enchant you with its turret-topped churches and storybook castle. December is the perfect time to explore, when the summer crowds are long gone, and you can discover its postcard-perfect panoramas all to yourself. Its compact size makes sightseeing a breeze and there’s no end of cosy riverside cafés to warm those chilly toes.

As the Czech Republic’s second-biggest city, Brno is also well worth a visit! It boasts some knockout cultural credentials, from beautiful basilicas to modernist marvels, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied! It’s home to one of the country’s largest universities too, so you can expect a creative art scene and lots of places to sip and sup.

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Timeless traditions

Christmas in Prague provides visitors a unique insight into Czech culture. Traditionally, advent was a time of fasting and, although this is no longer practised, other centuries-old customs are still celebrated today. If you’re travelling with tots, they’ll love getting involved in Mikulas (St Nicholas Day), which is held on 5 December. Venture to Old Town Square and you’ll see three dressed-up figures, an angel, a devil and St Nicholas. If children have been well behaved throughout the year, they’ll receive a gift!

If you head to Charles Bridge at 4pm throughout December, you’ll also witness another fun tradition – a lamplighter in traditional clothing lighting the gas lamps by hand. This curious custom harks back to the 19th century when most of Prague’s public lighting had to be manually turned on each day.


In the city for the big day? You can join many of the locals who attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The priest usually gives a special speech before the church is filled with the sound of Christmas carols. St Vitus Cathedral is one of the most popular places to experience this, but if midnight’s a little late for you, there’s also an open-air mass held on stage at the Old Town Square at 9pm.

Prague knows a thing or two about celebrating New Year in style, so it’s a great choice for an end-of-the-year getaway! Fireworks are the main draw here, with dazzling displays to see throughout the city. Find a spot on Charles Bridge and get ready to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ as the sky sparkles. It’s a fantastic opportunity to sample some of Prague’s world-famous nightlife too. We’re talking pub crawls, jazz cruises, boat parties and so much more.

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Festive food

‘Tis the season of heart-warming dishes and steaming spirits, so it’s no surprise that foodies flock here to indulge in some festive fare! Trdelník should be top of your munching menu, a pastry spiral sprinkled in cinnamon and sugar, that’s great for an on-the-go snack. The sweet treats don’t stop there though, as fruit-filled palačinky (pancakes) and spiced perníčky (gingerbread) are two other droolworthy delights!

At the markets, you’ll smell the stalls selling melt-in-the-mouth meats before you see them. So, follow your nose and choose from local favourites like Pražská šunka (Prague ham) or klobása (barbecued sausages).

When it comes to traditional tipples, becherovka, is often labelled Christmas in a cup, because of its hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and pine. Svařák is the Czech take on mulled wine and is the ideal antidote to frosty fingers.

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Standout scenery

If you thought Prague’s baroque domes and Gothic squares couldn’t get any more striking, then just wait until you see them in all their winter wonder. For eye-popping views, grab a ticket to the top of the Old Town Tower and witness the city dressed to impress in its Christmas best. A river cruise is another great way to see the sights. Choose a quick one-hour tour or enjoy an evening cruise, which often includes live music onboard. As night falls, there’s nothing better than taking a leisurely stroll along the Vltava River towards Charles Bridge. Prepare to be dazzled as the city twinkles in technicolour.

Prague’s cobbled walkways turn their good looks up a notch at this time of year too. Meander down Parizska Street and feast your eyes on the designer displays in the windows of shops like Gucci and Cartier.

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Seasonal shows

From street musicians to operas, Christmas in Prague is an audible affair. Can you think of anything better to kick off your Christmas countdown than watching The Nutcracker at the National Theatre? No, us neither! If you enjoy classical music, Smetana Hall hosts a medley of orchestras throughout December and there are daily performances at Lobkowicz Palace. Many of these shows are incredibly popular, so make sure to have a look at the schedules and purchase your tickets in advance so you don’t miss out!

Posted: 5th Oct 2022. Updated: 19th Mar 2024. Jet2 Holidays Jet2 City Breaks Jet2 Villas