Updated: November 5th, 2019
Christmas markets attract many travellers to Europe in winter and the Christmas markets in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, are often mentioned as one of the best.
If you are around at the end of the year, you shouldn’t miss this enchanting experience.
We have been living in Prague for a few years and we have visited the local Christmas markets many times – and we still enjoy their festive atmosphere.
Prague is a beautiful city but it becomes even more magical during the holiday season – especially if there is some snow!
This is all you need to know to make the most of the Christmas markets in Prague.
The Christmas markets (vanocni trhy in the Czech language) in Prague are spread all over the city and you can find them in many squares and streets.
The most popular markets are located in the historic centre of the city, which is fairly compact and flat, so it’s easy to stroll from one market to another.
There is no need to use public transportation – it’s quicker to walk than to take the metro or tram.
For example, it takes just a few minutes to walk from the market in Old Town Square to Wenceslas Square or Republic Square.
The most popular Christmas markets, which you shouldn’t miss, are the following:
- Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti) – one of the best Christmas markets in the world – don’t miss the first ceremonial tree illumination
- Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti) – located in the heart of the city
- Republic Square (Namesti Republiky) – in front of the Palladium Shopping Centre (one of the biggest shopping centres in the Czech Republic) and near the Old Customs House (Stara Celnice)
- Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad) – great views of the city on the way up
But there are also many smaller local Christmas markets around the city that you should visit if you look for more authentic (and less touristy) experience, for example:
- Peace Square (Namesti Miru) – usually the first market of the season, located in the Vinohrady district just off the ‘Namesti Miru’ metro station
- George of Podebrady Square (Namesti Jiriho z Podebrad) – another market in the Vinohrady district, next to the ‘Namesti Jiriho z Podebrad’ metro station
- Tyl’s Square (Tylovo namesti) – a small market in the Vinohrady district, ‘I. P. Pavlova’ is the closest metro station
- Andel – located just off the ‘Andel’ metro station, next to the Novy Smichov Shopping Centre (also one of the biggest shopping malls in the Czech Republic)
Christmas markets are very popular with both the locals and tourists and that’s why they can get very busy – try to avoid weekends (especially in the evening) and visit in midweek if possible.
Typically, the bigger markets are open from early December to early January and the smaller ones from late November till late December, so check the market dates online before you book your flights.
It’s really cold in Prague in December (below zero degrees Celsius / 32 Fahrenheit) so dress accordingly.
If you manage to avoid travelling during peak times at Christmas and New Year and travel before or after the holiday season instead, you can get great flight deals.
The Christmas markets are open every day, even on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
In comparison with the Christmas markets in other countries, especially in Germany, the markets in Prague are smaller, which makes them more charming and picturesque.
The prices of merchandise, food and drinks at the Christmas markets in Prague are also lower than in Germany or Austria, which makes them a perfect place for buying original Christmas gifts or decorations – and the Christmas markets are free so you don’t have to pay to get in.
Go to the smaller local markets out of the city centre for even lower prices.
Christmas markets play an important role in the Christmas tradition throughout the Czech Republic so you can find them in many cities around the country.
You can learn a lot about the local traditions there – how to prepare local food, how the typical Christmas decorations are made, or just listen to Czech carols.
The Czech Christmas tradition is different from the one in Western Europe – for us, the most important day of Christmas is the Christmas Eve (24th December) when we have a family dinner (fried carp with potato salad) and kids get their Christmas presents from Baby Jesus (not Santa Claus).
Typical Christmas markets consist of wooden stalls situated around a decorated Christmas tree, with a wide variety of local Christmas products (most of them handmade), traditional food and drinks on offer.
The most popular products are:
- Christmas tree ornaments and decorations
- Toys (especially puppets and wooden toys)
- Winter accessories (hats, scarves, gloves)
- Candles, etc.
Bring some cash with you – some stalls might not accept credit cards, especially if they are just small vendors.
The usual shops are closed from the afternoon of the 24th throughout 25th December with many shops re-opening on the 26th for sales.
Traditional local food is a big part of the Christmas market experience.
Czechs love their Christmas cookies (cukrovi) and each family has their favourites – the smaller and prettier, the better. Try the typical Czech Christmas braided cake (vanocka) – it’s yummy.
While exploring the city centre you will see the trdelnik shops everywhere – it’s a sweet pastry made from rolled dough. This is wrapped around a metal stick (trdlo), then grilled over an open flame and sprinkled in a sugar and cinnamon or walnut mixture.
Even though it’s presented as a typical Czech product, it is not, it’s more a product created for tourists. But it’s nice so check it out.
Meat lovers should try roasted ham (sunka) or barbecued sausages (klobasa). They are usually served with a slice of bread and mustard.
Gingerbread (pernik) products are not only tasty but can also be a great gift.
You may get very cold after being outside for a while, but there are many drinks that can help you to warm up.
Mulled wine (svarene vino or svarak), Christmas punch (punc) or mead (medovina) will soon get you into the festive mood, while well-known Czech beer (pivo) is a perfect accompaniment to any meal.
Many Christmas markets (for example, the Old Town Square market) include a small stage where performances, especially concerts, take place.
You can usually see some craftsmen in action (blacksmiths, etc.) and learn more about how various things are made.
Also, there might be a small animal stable at some of the markets so that children can stroke and feed a sheep, donkey or goat.
The festive atmosphere becomes even more special after the sun goes down and all the lights are turned on.
Walk around the Christmas markets but also take a stroll to Charles Bridge for amazing views of Prague Castle.
There are always so many things to do in Prague – you can visit some of the many Advent concerts that are held in churches or other historical buildings.
You can also enjoy the winter atmosphere in one of the outdoor ice-skating rinks – try the one in the Fruit Market (Ovocny trh), which is located in the heart of the city, or the one in Letna, which is the biggest ice-skating rink in the city.
Where to Stay
We recommend that you stay in the historic city centre (Prague 1) to be close to the Christmas markets.
But if you find the area too busy or your budget is very limited, it’s a good idea to stay close to any metro station as the metro will get you to the city centre quickly and there are connections every few minutes.
Airbnb is another option for those looking for more authentic local accommodation.
We hope that we showed you that the Christmas markets in Prague are worth visiting, it’s a great experience and we can’t wait for this year’s markets.
If you like a festive atmosphere you will find it in Prague in December – browse the charming Christmas markets, explore the stunning historic city centre, enjoy the Czech traditional food and drinks, and most importantly, slow down – it’s the Christmas time!
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This mobile app comes with a GPS map and it works offline so you don’t need to worry about internet connection or a data plan.
Learn more about the Christmas markets in Prague in our Ultimate Guide.
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