We just got back after spending the holidays in Prague and I’m convinced this could be ideal for you too! While Prague is beautiful any time of the year, the holiday season might just be the cherry on the cake to celebrate the end of a year. With a sprinkle of snow. Yes, snow, if you’re really lucky – you might even get a white Christmas.
This is coming from someone who absolutely HATES the cold. Even with those 4 layers, winter boots and a woollen hat on my head, I’m not the biggest fan of winters. I don’t shiver because of sub-zero temperatures, that’s fine, it’s the cold winds that get to me. The winds are what give you a Rudolf nose, a migraine or a dull ache down my back. I may sound old, but am sure you (yes you… the lazy girl who wants to conquer the world) understand what I am talking about.
After that long prelude about winters and how much I hate them (I live in Switzerland by the way), I still want to tell you my 4 reasons of why you should visit Prague in winters and what you should while you’re over there.
Reasons Why Prague Is A Must Visit: Lively Christmas Markets
So this is a thing! It’s a thing all over Europe, where countries compete against each other for the highest ranked Christmas markets or “mela” as we call them in India. The basic idea of this market is consistent: the holiday spirit takes over us soon after Thanksgiving. And the weather gets messed up, so you need to find other ways to enjoy life. All the markets have hot wine (cinnamon flavoured sweet wine in a variety of flavours), meat and sweet on the stick, and potatoes (in their unhealthiest form). And if you dare say, it’s all just too unhealthy, you will hear, “it’s the holidays after all”. I gave up a year ago. Now I love my rosti as much as I love fondue and mulled wine.
So Prague ranks among the top 5 Christmas markets to visit and I can vouch for the festive treat that it is! It takes place in the Old Town Square amidst all the historical architecture which is lit up.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when visiting Christmas Markets in Prague:
- It’s very crowded out here, you can lose your children. Passports, money etc. is ok, but then don’t lose your children for Christ’s sake.
- It’s got a huge Christmas tree in the centre, it’s pretty and all… well, even my tree at home is pretty, I did not understand the huge platform they made for the tree viewing. The tree does a song and dance routine too, so watch it especially if you’re that Christmas sucker and you own 5 ugly Christmas sweaters.
- Try the food, it’s yummy! Eat the famous Trdelnik which is a popular street pastry along with other savoury street foods.
- Buy Christmas souvenirs and other pretty little things, it’s not called a market for no reason.
- Ride the horse carriage or one of those vintage cars which give you a mini-tour of the old town.
- Walk around the square listening to street artists and performers. There’s even a small stage set up which has a Christmas concert as soon as the sun sets.
So there are plenty of things to do, in and around the Old Town square especially during this season, so I give the Christmas markets a big thumbs up!
Reasons Why Prague Is A Must Visit: The Cafe Culture And Local Beer
Most of the European cities have no shortage when it comes to cafes, restaurants and spirits. If it’s sunny you see the locals drinking beer as early as 8 AM. On chilly days, the tables are littered with numerous espresso shots. Prague imbibes the European spirit, and I love it. But what’s far more interesting than what’s on the menu is the history, culture and architecture attached to these quaint little places.
Though am a wine person, the local beer in Prague is a must try! During this season, the hot wine keeps you warm and can be picked up from any street corner. Some of the places that I recommend when you’re there the next time are – Café Louvre for breakfast (this is where Kafka and Einstein spent hours), La Bottega for coffees, beverages and desserts. I found Hotel Pod Věží adjacent the Charles bridge for a perfect lunch and Mistral for an early dinner. Another interesting food spot is The Gingerbread Museum which displays gingerbread cookies in its most artistic form and is great if you’re with kids (like me).
The food is reasonably priced (especially when you’re coming from Switzerland), and if you’re looking for pocket-friendly options I highly recommend street food which can be found in old town streets.
Reasons Why Prague Is A Must Visit: Walking Around The City Is A Dream Come True
Well if you’re in Prague, you will want to take a walk around town. At any time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, we tried our customary hop-on-hop-off city bus tour, but it was a big fail. I do not recommend this for Prague. The main spots can be explored on foot and that’s the best way to do it.
The Prague castle is beyond beautiful and I leave you with a few pictures to soak in the magnificence. An audio guide or an actual guide is useful if you have some hours to spare.
Another place that I highly recommend is the Klementinum Library which is again very close to the Old Town Square. There are guided tours which one must take to enjoy the experience and this lasts around 45 minutes. It involves a little bit of an exercise as you need to climb a lot of steep staircases to the library and the astronomical tower. The exercise is totally worth it, as the view from the top of the tower is nothing less than treat!
Our tour was in English and without the guide, it wouldn’t have been the delight that it was!
You cannot miss the historic Charles Bridge, even if you want to ‘coz it’s so popular in Prague. While there are 4 parallel bridges of this sort, this one seems to be the most popular. The bridge is filled with tourists and street artists of all kinds and is a must do to soak in the city. If you have an end of the year wish that you want to ask for, you must go and rub the 8th statue on your right! There is a queue in front of it so you won’t miss it. I wished for something of course! (I am not telling you though :))
And lastly, there is the famous Lennon Wall, which is the most overrated and exaggerated point on the list. However, it provided a great picture opportunity and what’s interesting about the wall is that the graffiti on the wall never looks the same two weeks in a row.
If you don’t like walking, try cycling or Segway tours – these guided tours are easy to find but exploring the city with maps and areas of interest has its own charm.
Reasons Why Prague Is A Must Visit: Jazz Concerts, Local Performances and Puppet Shows
Prague has some great Jazz concerts all over the year but during this time, it is obviously rather special. You can go to jazz bars or even attend jazz concerts over the cruise with a 3-course meal, a great option for the perfect Christmas dinner. The other very special feature which is available only during the holiday season is the Christmas concerts and traditional puppet shows.
We attended a Christmas concert (in Czech) which was a cross between an Opera and carolling and it was thoroughly heartwarming.
Where We Stayed
There are plenty of options to choose from. However, our family of 3 stayed at Holiday Inn Prague Congress.
I’ve had no complaints so far but you can check out the reviews for yourself.
Commuting In Prague
Another important tip – we used Uber to commute between our hotel and the city centre and it worked perfectly – both in terms of saving time and affordability.
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed exploring Prague this holiday!
If we haven’t already said so, Be for Beauty wishes you a very happy and fruitful 2018.