If you didn’t already know, I love Christmas. It’s my favourite holiday of the year – the decorations, carols, food, gifts, the excitement. The best thing is, however, when you can combine Christmas and travel. I haven’t spent any Christmas abroad since my childhood (well, actually I was supposed to spend a magical Christmas in Edinburgh with a friend once, but our flight got cancelled because of a snowstorm and we got stuck in Finland). Instead, I’ve taken pre-Christmas trips to European cities – the Christmas market tradition is something that I truly love (you should also check my guide to Stockholm Christmas Markets). The other year I had a lovely Christmas market trip to Prague – and now I am telling you why it should be on your bucket list, too!
It was also my first time in Prague – the capital of the Czech Republic. I really liked the Prague markets, and the city is a very budget-friendly option for Christmas trips. It is pretty and atmospheric itself – but around the Christmas-time, I was able to feel some special magic.
In Prague, you can find not just one or two but many different Christmas markets. The whole city is filled with Christmassy lights, carols and decorations and the delicious smell of local festive treats. You can easily feel that you have landed in a Christmas Wonderland.
The Old Town Square Christmas Market
The Christmas market in the Old Town Square of Prague is the largest and the most famous. It’s also the most touristic one of the markets.
You can find handicraft items such as ceramics, embroidered lace, wooden toys and hats and gloves, Christmas decorations, and local food and beverages.
There are also many stalls selling snacks, like Prague ham or cinnamon rolls (Trdelník). And of course, you can warm up with a cup of mulled wine (svařák) – there are stronger ones and ones without alcohol. The local honey wine (Medovina) is also worth trying hot – and obviously makes a great souvenir, as well. It is good to know that the food stalls don’t usually sell alcohol and vice versa, so it makes sense to buy the drinks first before queuing for the food.
The Old Town market has also the big festive Christmas tree. The lightning of trees takes place daily in the late afternoon (2018 at 4.30 PM). A nice detail is that the organizers look for trees that are in danger of being chopped down to minimise the environmental impact!
If you are travelling with children, the market often has some animals to pet.
The Wenceslas Square Christmas Market
The Wenceslas Square holds a smaller Christmas market – it’s only a 5-minute walk from the Old Town Square. It is not as crowded and you can find similar items to those in the Old Town.
There is also a Christmas tree at Wenceslas Square, and this year the daily lightning is at 5 PM.
Other Christmas Markets
A little further away from the city centre, you can find smaller Christmas markets. You should check for example the Republic Square (Namesti Republiky) in front of the Paladium shopping mall, and the square in front of St. George’s Basilica at Prague Castle (which opens earlier than the main markets, on 23rd November 2018).
All-year held Farmers’ markets at Jiřího z Poděbrad square are also worthy of checking. You can find products from Czech farms, and the food is usually cheaper there than in the city centre. In December it is packed with more Christmassy items and local treats. Besides, they often have live music and not just carols from a CD.
Other Christmassy Activities
If you are taking a Christmas trip to Prague, there are also many other activities that you could try. For example, you can find different kinds of tours e.g. Christmas dinners and private market tours. If you are interested in culture, you should check the National Opera in Prague which has a wide repertoire and affordable prices.
Visiting the Prague Zoo (that has been voted several times among Top 10 Best Zoo around the world) is also an interesting experience in the holiday season.
Ice-skating is also a nice activity, you could try for example Na Frantisku outdoor ice-skating area. It’s next to the Vltava river and the Jewish Quarter in Prague’s Old Town, so you can enjoy the historical atmosphere. But there are many ice rinks around the city, so you have plenty of options to choose from.
On Christmas Eve, there are several Christmas masses around the city, also an open-air mass at the Old Town Square.
Many museums, cosy cafés and the nostalgic Christmas spirit will guarantee you a nice trip to Winter Wonderland!
Practical information about Christmas Markets 2018
According to Prague Experience, this year the Christmas markets are open every day from 01st December 2018 to 06th January 2019 between 10 AM – 10 PM, including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Prague Castle market starts one week before the main markets, on 23rd November.
Daily lighting of the Christmas Tree is at 4.30 PM at Old Town Square and 5 PM at Wenceslas Square.
Have you been to Prague Christmas Markets or would you like to visit one day? Do you like Christmas markets?