Prague In Winter: Planning The Best Cold Weather Itinerary

February 10, 2024
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What to Do in Prague in Winter: An Awesome 3 Day Itinerary | Prague (Czech Republic) in winter is magical, boasting Christmas markets & fewer crowds...here's everything you need to know for an amazing winter Prague itinerary! Where to stay, things to see, how to take great photos, where to eat, what to skip & more! #prague #czechrepublic #wintertravel #weekendbreak

Some cities grab you by the throat (or…by the heart? let’s go with that, less violent).  I fell in love with Prague on my first visit back in 2009, but we only had just over a day there.  And for over a decade I’ve been plotting a return trip, but they kept falling through.

But I finally made it this past December, and I’m excited to share with you the beautiful, moody, CHILLY vibe that is the city of Prague in winter!

What to Do in Prague in Winter: An Awesome 3 Day Itinerary | Prague (Czech Republic) in winter is magical, boasting Christmas markets & fewer crowds...here's everything you need to know for an amazing winter Prague itinerary! Where to stay, things to see, how to take great photos, where to eat, what to skip & more! #prague #czechrepublic #wintertravel #weekendbreak

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Prague already feels like a fairytale, but winter adds another layer…you’ve got the twinkling lights and scent of mulled wine from the Christmas markets, the gargoyles of St. Vitus Cathedral throwing up ice, flurrying snow settling on the pointed Gothic buildings, and the cold gives a good excuse to pop into every cafe in the city for a treat.

I had three days in Prague in winter, and managed to see a LOT of the city.  Could I have spent more??  Sure, there were a few neighborhoods and spots I didn’t get to visit, especially given much shorter days.  But Prague lends itself well to a two- to three-day exploration, a perfect weekend break.

So let’s talk about how to plan your best winter Prague itinerary!

What to Do in Prague in Winter: An Awesome 3 Day Itinerary | Prague (Czech Republic) in winter is magical, boasting Christmas markets & fewer crowds...here's everything you need to know for an amazing winter Prague itinerary!

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Where to stay in Prague

With only a few days in Prague, I wanted to stay somewhere central, and I found that Prague has a lot of affordable beautiful hotels.  After a lot of research (and dithering, since there were so many great choices), I ended up at Allure Hotel and really loved it.

The location was great and central, without being right in the thick of the tourist crush.  I could easily walk to Old Town and the Jewish Quarter.  The staff were so welcoming and helpful, the bed was super comfortable, and the rooms and main areas were beautiful.

The other hotels on my short list were Augustine Hotel (beautiful, built in a 13th-century monastery near Prague Castle), Design Hotel Neruda (also near Prague Castle, a beautiful boutique hotel), and the funky, modern, yet cozy Mosaic House.

Where to stay in Prague - Allure Hotel was great

Where to stay in Prague - Allure Hotel was great

Where to stay in Prague - Allure Hotel was great

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What to wear in Prague in winter (to not freeze!)

I wasn’t sure what I’d be dealing with when it came to Prague winter weather, so prepared for a few things.  Ultimately, you’ll want to have layers and a good coat, along with nice winter boots that can provide traction on slick sidewalks.  But you’re not dressing for the Arctic and don’t need lots of specialized gear.

I ended up with lots of slush and some packed snow, and occasionally quite slick walkways.  They had gotten some snow a day or two before I was there, which the Czech folks said was really unusual for this time of year.  Yes, it was quite cold, but not that bad most of the time.  I actually would get quite warm in my layers and coat at times.

So here’s what I brought (and used) the most on my winter Prague visit:

  • Coats:  I brought a slimmer puffer coat that didn’t take up much space but was still really warm, and that’s what I wore.  I was plenty warm, wearing a couple thinner layers underneath.  I did also bring my more intense winter coat, but felt it was overkill and didn’t use it.
  • Footwear:  I brought two pairs of boots—my real Sorel snow boots (which I wore most of the time, they’re lighter weight and cute but still really warm) and some cuter suede booties which was dumb because…slush.  I should have brought my regular boots instead.
  • Tops:  I brought my merino wool thermal tops as well as normal lightweight athletic ones for layering under sweaters.  I also brought my merino wool sweater and some regular ones.  I actually got pretty warm walking around, so ended up just wearing a regular sweater, lighter underlayer, and my lighter coat.
  • Bottoms:  I wore both fleece-lined jeans and thicker fleece-lined leggings…both were cute, and I stayed warm enough.  I have a deeper post on my fave fleece-lined leggings for different types of travel.
  • Other gear:  This hat was warm, comfy, and cute!  Next time I’d maybe try a pretty headband, everyone there was wearing them.  I also used these gloves, brought one of my many travel scarfs, and wore merino wool socks (these and these were my go-to’s…sometimes I only wore one pair, other times layered).

The other thing you need to remember is skincare!  A good facial moisturizer is key as well, due to the dry, cold air.  I also brought my go-to clean makeup, which protects and moisturizes (and looks great!!).

And yes, I packed all of this in my trusty carry-on suitcase!  (with strategic “wear on the plane”…)

I stayed warm in Prague in winter with the right clothes, and still looked cute! Girl smiling in navy hat, burgundy coat, navy scarf

snowy winter sidewalk in Prague

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Getting around

I was a bit surprised to find that Uber is the official taxi at airport.  You can do it on the app or via kiosk at the airport…it gives you a PIN and then you go to the head of the Uber (taxi) queue and show the driver that PIN.  It was half an hour from the airport to my hotel.

As far as getting around Prague, your best bet is your own two feet—it’s a super walkable city!  One thing that was funny to realize was that sometimes you could cut through buildings as though they were streets.  Some of the sidewalks were totally clear, and others were slushy or slick packed snow.

Ice isn’t the only thing you have to look out for on the sidewalks…they just leave their dog crap everywhere, which is bizarre for a is otherwise really clean city.  Keep an eye out!

Beyond walking, there’s good public transportation available.  Trams 22 and 17 are good for sightseeing, you can get on on and just ride them around to key sights.  I didn’t realize til partway through my visit that you can actually use Google Maps to navigate the public transit.  Just choose the metro/tram option (vs. walking or driving) and it’ll tell you which trams to take, what time they come, and more.

As far as rideshare, it wasn’t my fave.  They have Uber, but it was SUPER annoying, major time bait & switch—they’d take my ride and tell me a car was 4 minutes away and then once I’d committed change it to like 20 minutes.  Grr!  My Czech coworkers said that’s normal.  I found Bolt (a European company) a bit easier to use, though still not always reliable.

Prague's metro and tram system are great ways to get around, especially in winter

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Some general Prague tips

Beyond transportation, here are a few other details that may be helpful:

  • Although the Czech Republic is part of the EU, it uses the Czech koruna (or Czech “crown”) as its currency.
  • Credit cards are widely accepted, but not everywhere (and not at most of the Christmas market stalls), so make sure that you have some cash as well.  I took out 3000 CZ for three days and it was about perfect.
  • You should tip, but it’s not an intensive tipping culture like we have in the US.  You should be good with around 10% in most places unless you’re in the super touristy restaurant (in which case, US rules apply).
  • For tipping, you have to ask them to add the tip amount BEFORE they do the credit card charge.  Usually you can say something like “can you add 10%?” or just tell them the total amount including tip.  But some places will only accept cash tips.
  • Public restrooms are rare and you can only use the bathroom in shops or restaurants where you’ve purchased something, so take the chance to pee whenever you have it!
  • I strongly recommend making dinner reservations if there’s a place you want to eat at, and even the nicer cocktail bars required reservations.  Make them at least a week ahead of time if you can.
  • Be advised that the Jewish Quarter museums are closed on Saturdays and Jewish holy days.

Flying into Prague in winter with snow on the ground

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Tips for photographing Prague in winter

Prague is a magical city to photograph (and here are my tips for city photography), but winter does present some challenges.  It was gray and overcast a lot, which makes photos appear dull and uninteresting if you don’t make some adjustments.  Plus, you’re in a lot of super crowded places.

I played around with long exposures in a lot of the crowded places—a tip not only for winter, but especially for the busy summer season.  You’ll see these throughout the post, but places like Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, and even fun nighttime ones like the Dancing House were perfect for this technique.  Turn on Live photo on iPhones, and later you can make those into long exposures.

Also, Prague is amazing at night (more on that later), so make sure to walk around and snap pictures with the lights glowing and maybe even a flurry of snow.

I did something I almost NEVER do, which is play around with the built-in filters that the iPhone camera has.  They make me think of the early Instagram days, but I found that a less-intense application of them brought warmth and depth to the historical buildings.

And then one of the best ways to photograph Prague is in moody black-and-white shots.  I couldn’t resist sharing some of my faves below, before we dive into my Prague itinerary advice.

How to get great photos of Prague in winter - lean into the moody vibe with black and white photos

How to get great photos of Prague in winter - lean into the moody vibe with black and white photos - Old Town Hall

How to get great photos of Prague in winter - lean into the moody vibe with black and white photos - a touch of sepia on Prasna Brana

How to get great photos of Prague in winter - lean into the moody vibe with black and white photos - a retro looking long exposure of Dancing House

How to get great photos of Prague in winter - lean into the moody vibe with black and white photos - Wenceslas Square

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What to do in Prague in winter

Okay, let’s get into it.  You can do most of the same things in Prague in winter as you would any other time of year, but you’ll have less daylight, and will need to have backup plans for bad weather (like rain) or for when you get too cold.

In addition to soaking in the city’s gorgeous Gothic architecture and history and visiting famous sites like Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, you may have charming Christmas markets (in early winter), can pop into the city’s many cafes, take a food tour, sample the local breweries, immerse yourself in Jewish Quarter, learn about the city’s World War II and Communist history, and SO much more!  Prague is also the perfect type of city for a walking tour (small group or private).

You can read about my first visit to Prague here!

Prasna Brana (Powder Tower)

The obvious first place is either Charles Bridge or Old Town Square, but I’m gonna zag because I couldn’t figure out where else to fit this in.  Nearby is Prasna Brana, the Powder Tower.  It’s a cool looking Gothic tower that was one of the original city gates.

It’s right next to the Municipal House, an Art Nouveau building where the creation of Czechoslovaki was announced in 1918 (but doesn’t photograph particularly well).

Things to do in Prague in winter - Prasna Brana or the Powder Tower

Things to do in Prague in winter - Prasna Brana or the Powder Tower

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Charles Bridge

Like everyone else, I’m obsessed with Charles Bridge.  You can see quite a few pics from my first visit back in 2009, and it just keeps getting more and more crowded.  So my solution in photographs was to play around with moody long exposures.  They turned out beautifully!

This iconic bridge dates back to the 1300s and is lined with statues of saints, and flanked on either end with dramatic fortified towers.  The bridge is still packed with people during winter, though will be less crowded the colder it gets.  You can also have it largely to yourself around sunset or at night, which I’ll show later.

Before walking across, make sure to soak in the view of Prague Castle across the river.

Things to do in Prague in winter - long exposure of the entrance to Charles Bridge

Things to do in Prague in winter - entrance to Charles Bridge

Things to do in Prague in winter - the entrance to Charles Bridge

Things to do in Prague in winter - view from Charles Bridge over to Prague Castle

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Here you can see how the long exposure provides a more interesting photo than just snapping a regular picture.

What to do in Prague in winter - long exposure on Charles Bridge

What to do in Prague in winter - tourists on Charles Bridge

What to do in Prague in winter - long exposure on Charles Bridge

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Old Town Square 

We’ll come back to Charles Bridge in a bit, but for now let’s pivot to Old Town.  This is probably the most crowded area of Prague, but definitely worth some of your time—just keep a close eye on your valuables!

The square is anchored on one end by the iconic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, and Old Town Hall on the other end.  The hall was established in 1338 as the seat of the city’s administration, and has a beautiul Gothic tower in addition to Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock (known as the Orloj).  The clock has been performing a quirky little show hourly since 1410.

The Church of Our Lady Before Týn is one of Prague’s most iconic landmarks, with its Gothic spires dominating the city skyline.  I haven’t actually ever gone inside the church, but I’ve heard it’s magnificent and worth the time.

Prague winter itinerary ideas - walking toward Old Town Square

Prague winter itinerary ideas - Astronomical Clock

Prague winter itinerary ideas - Astronomical Clock on Old Town Hall

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A memorial to Jan Hus and his followers also dominates the Old Town Square.  Martin Luther gets all the hype, but 100 years before Luther started the Protestant Reformation, Hus was burnt as a heretic after refusing to renounce his reformist ideas.

He is one of the most important personalities in Czech history, a university dean and religious reformer who criticized the Catholic Church for selling indulgences.  The Pope excommunicated him but he continued teaching and gathered quite a following.  His death led to a wider rebellion called the Hussite Wars in the 1400s, though the rebellion was eventually put down.

I’ve always loved this statue, where you can really get a feel for the uncompromising man willing to sacrifice everything.

Prague winter itinerary ideas - the statue of Jan Hus in Old Town Square

These next few pics show some of the charming colorful buildings you’ll see if you walk from Old Town Square toward Charles Bridge.

Prague winter itinerary ideas - the charming walk from Old Town Square to Charles Bridge

Prague winter itinerary ideas - the charming walk from Old Town Square to Charles Bridge

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Explore Prague’s Christmas Markets

I know we’re jumping around a bit, but that’s because it’s impossible to untangle some of these Prague winter itinerary ideas into a linear narrative.  So now is a great time to talk about the Christmas markets.  (Full disclosure: I don’t celebrate Christmas so for me it was more about the cultural experience vs….Christmas.)

One of the best things to do in Prague in December (or parts of November) is to wander all the Christmas markets.  There are three or four major ones and then a handful of smaller ones all over the city.  I’ll speak to all the ones I visited below, starting with the Old Town Square market which is the biggest.

I ended up here a few times, both during the day and at night.  It is CRAZY busy.  I sipped mulled wine and hot medovina (honey wine, like mead), sampled different street foods, and looked for fun souvenirs (though didn’t really find much).  Make sure you have cash, as many stalls don’t take credit card.

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Old Lady of Tyn Church

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Old Lady of Tyn Church

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - palacinky stand

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The vibe is totally different at night, and even busier.  To me, this view with the spires of Tyn Church lit up, is absolutely iconic.

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Old Lady of Tyn Church at night with Christmas tree

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets at night

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My *favorite* market was Namesti Maru’s Christmas market, and many locals will tell you the same thing.  It was still very crowded but had a cooler, less-touristy vibe.

I came here both during the day and at night as well, and loved it.  It was chiller during the day, and pretty magical at night.

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Namesti Maru market at night

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Namesti Maru market at night

Czech ceramic crafts at Christmas market stand

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Namesti Maru market at night

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I munched dense cinnamon sugar donuts, traditional langos (fried pizza dough with ketchup and cheese), and sipped more mulled wine to warm me up.

Getting food can be a bit slow, but that’s because they’re really rolling it out, cutting the dough, etc. by hand back there—this is real human food prep!

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Namesti Maru market with mulled wine

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets - Namesti Maru market with traditional snacks

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Then there’s Wenceslas Square Christmas market, which was not my fave.  It was insanely crowded, with everyone funneled through a very narrow path of stalls.  It stressed me out, to be honest.  I did grab a cup of sour cherry honey wine, and desperately needed it to warm me up after hours out in the cold.

As far as other Christmas markets are concerned, typically there is one at Prague Castle but for some reason they didn’t have it in 2023.  And then I occasionally ran across tiny neighborhood ones…there was a cute tiny one just under the Charles Bridge in Lesser Town (on the Prague Castle side in Certovka), where I grabbed some almond honey wine.

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter is visit the Christmas markets, but the one at Wenceslas Square isn't my fave

Wenceslas Square

different types of honey wine (medovina) at Christmas markets in Prague

the buildings of Wenceslas Square at night in Prague

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Get out early in the morning!

This is true any time of year…getting out early means you can have the most famous sights all to yourself.  And “early” in the winter (as far as sunrise is concerned) is really quite a palatable time.

I loved seeing the Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock at sunrise, then quickly walked onward to my main goal—Charles Bridge.

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Old Town Square to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Old Town Square to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have the tourist areas to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have the tourist areas to yourself early in the morning

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In winter, you don’t have to get up quite as early to have Charles Bridge all to yourself, even 8:00am will do.  Nighttime is also a great option, though sometimes more challenging to photograph.

Compare the pics below to my super crowded ones earlier!

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning

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As a slightly-overcast sunrise developed into a briefly-sunny morning, I snapped TONS of photos of the bridge, without having to fight with people for positions.

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning - long exposure on Charles Bridge

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning

What to do in winter in Prague - you can have Charles Bridge to yourself early in the morning

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My favorite statues along the bridge actually aren’t statues but some of the bronze reliefs at the base of them.  Both are on the right-hand side if you’re facing Prague Castle, which is also the best view.

The first is of Jan (John) of Nepomuk being thrown from Charles Bridge into the water to drown.  Legend has that he was killed by the king because he refused to divulge the contents of the queen’s confession (he was her spiritual confessor).  He’s a super famous figure in Czech history.

The second is on the left side of the base of an actual statue of St. John of Nepomuk.  This statue is maybe the famous…no one is quite sure why there’s a dog here, but it’s believed that rubbing the knight’s dog brings good luck.  Such a good doggo.

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - bronze relief of St. John of Nepomuk on Charles Bridge

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - view of Prague Castle from Charles Bridge

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - bronze relief of knight and dog under statue of St. John of Nepomuk on Charles Bridge

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Lesser Town

At the opposite end of the bridge is this Gothic tower, with the entrance into Lesser Town and up to Prague Castle.  If you hang a left right before this gate, you’ll be able to explore Certovka (more on that in a bit).

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - tower entrance to Lesser Town

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Prague Castle

It’s insane that I haven’t talked about Prague Castle yet, but I did warn you that it’s hard to figure out the right order of things 🙂  This is the world’s biggest ancient castle, and you could spend a half day deeply exploring the courtyards, palaces, church, and more.

That’s not really my style, but I definitely planned to spend at least an hour or two here.  However, I happened to visit when there was some kind of state funeral happening (complete with TV station vans) and so St. Vitus Cathedral was closed to visitors and some of the great photo ops weren’t there.

One thing to know is that the whole Prague Castle complex stays open until 10:00pm in winter (and after 4:00pm Golden Lane is free), so you can come up and visit without the crowds and with beautiful nighttime lights.

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

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St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the beating hearts of Prague’s history.  Aside from religious services, the church has been the site of the coronations of Czech kings and queens over the centures and is als othe burial place of various patron saints, sovereigns, and archbishops.

The current Gothic cathedral dates from the 1300s, but wasn’t actually finished until more recent times due to interruptions in the construction.  I can’t speak to the inside of the church because of that funeral, but it’s supposed to be awesome.

I was obsessed with the intricacy of the carvings on the cathedral’s facade, and also loved the icicles being vomited out of the gargoyles’ mouths 🙂

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - close-up detailed carvings on St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - close-up detailed carvings on St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - close-up detailed carvings on St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

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In one courtyard around back, you’ll find a great angle on St. Vitus’s that is very reminiscent of Notre Dame, with the way the Gothic flying buttresses connect.  I had to get creative with my camera angles since there were TV vans parked at the base of the church.

On the opposite side of the courtyard is the beautiful light red Romanesque-style St. George’s Basilica.  It’s the oldest surviving church building within the Prague Castle complex, founded in 920 (though it burned down in the 1500s and had to be rebuilt).

Usually there’s a Christmas market here as well…I was disappointed that it wasn’t happening, but there was at least a mulled wine stand so I could warm my hands.

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - back side of St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - mulled wine where the Prague Castle Christmas market usually is

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - mulled wine where the Prague Castle Christmas market usually is

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - St. Vitus Cathedral

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I had entered the Prague Castle complex from a weird direction, but did exit through the iconic “Gate of Giants” entrance.  Annnndddd I accidentally walked right into the changing of the guard, so tried to tiptoe to the side as subtly as possible.

Just outside this gate is a great view of the city, not to be missed.

Prague in winter itinerary ideas - entrance to Prague Castle complex

Winter view of Prague from just outside of Prague Castle

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More Lesser Town

I was going backward, since I’d Ubered up to Prague Castle to save time (and my feet).  So I walked back *down* through Lesser Town, finally stopping for the famous trdelnik.

This pastry spiral sprinkled with cinnamon sugar is NOT traditionally Czech, and really only became popular due to tourists in the past several years.  But you’ll find the aesthetically-pleasing treats everywhere.

This area is supposed to be really cute and great for exploring, but I was running out of daylight and so decided to keep moving.

What to do in Prague in winter - exploring Lesser Town

What to do in Prague in winter - try a trdelnik

What to do in Prague in winter - try a trdelnik

What to do in Prague in winter - try a trdelnik

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Certovka (Prague’s “little Venice”)

Now we’re getting off-the-beaten-path a bit…Certovka is a little area of canals and waterways is located on the left side of the river in Lesser Town, right past Charles Bridge and as you’re headed up toward Petrin Hill.  I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this (though think it’s probably a bit cuter in warm weather), but I had no idea it was here prior to this visit!

Similarly, I didn’t really get what the fuss was about Kampa Island…worth taking a look if you’re in the area, but don’t go out of your way.

What to do in Prague in winter - check out Certovka, Prague's "little Venice"

What to do in Prague in winter - check out Certovka, Prague's "little Venice"

I did find a few Christmas market stalls in Certovka and grabbed some traditional honey wine (medovina) with almond flavor, to warm myself up.

girl in in navy ski hat and sunglasses with mulled wine

tiny local Christmas market in Certovka, Prague in winter

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Strahov Monastery & Petrin Hill

Here’s where things went off the rails for me.  On my first visit to Prague in 2009, we visited both the monastery (for a lovely lunch with a view) and Petrin Hill, so I wanted to do both again.  But BOY was that a mistake!

The paths between them all and leading back down to Prague were ENTIRELY snowpacked and super slick and steep.  It took me ages to get back down safely and was a miserable extra hour or two that could have been better spent.

Honestly Strahov Monastery is kind of a waste of time unless you plan to eat here and it’s on a nice day.  And similarly, you’re not missing much by skipping Petrin Hill (if you do decide to visit, do it with the funicular from the main city, vs. trying to walk from Prague Castle in winter).

I probably just got unlucky since they’d had snow a few days before, but those trails were seriously icy and quite dangerous.  I breathed a major sigh of relief once I finally got back down, having only fallen a few times.

Things to do in Prague in winter - climbing the hill up to Strahov Monastery

Things to do in Prague in winter - climbing the hill up to Strahov Monastery, view to Petrin Hill

Things to do in Prague in winter - climbing the hill up to Strahov Monastery

Things to do in Prague in winter - icy paths between Strahov Monastery and Petrin Hill

Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Somehow I’ve ended up here at twilight on both visits, and I think that’s actually perfect…it lends an appropriate ambiance to this heartbreaking monument.  If you’re anywhere in the area, I do recommend a quick stop at the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

It’s dedicated to those who were arrested, shot, exiled, and otherwise brutalized as victims of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1989, with a very evocative statue with the man being progressively carved and eroded away until he’s almost nothing.  It symbolizes the effects of Communism on the whole Czech people.

Things to do in Prague in winter - Memorial to the Victims of Communism

The Dancing House

Also known as “Fred and Ginger”, this unique double building was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic, in cooperation with Canadian architect Frank Gehry.  I think I’ve read that Czech locals are mixed on it and a lot don’t like it, but I absolutely love this building!

However, I found that it looked super drab during the daytime in winter (though kind of cool in black and white).  So my #1 recommendation for seeing the Dancing House in winter is to go at night—I’m obsessed with my long exposure photos with the jewel colors and lights popping.

Things to do in Prague in winter - in winter, nighttime is when the Dancing House is most beautiful

Wander Prague at night!

Just like the early morning can be magical, Prague really shines at night.  This is somehow extra true in the winter, but I couldn’t tell you why.

One night it flurried as I was headed to dinner…the swirling flakes reflecting the light gave a whole other level of charm.  But even without the snow, the dark sky with bright lights shining on the famous landmarks is just amazing.  Seriously, I couldn’t get enough.

Things to do in Prague in winter - snowy view of Charles Bridge

Things to do in Prague in winter - snow falling at night

Things to do in Prague in winter - Prague at night is beautiful

Things to do in Prague in winter - Prague at night is beautiful

Things to do in Prague in winter - Prague at night is beautiful

Eat your bodyweight in traditional Czech gingerbread

I didn’t know where to put this one because it was both the very first thing I did in Prague, and also the very last.  But I didn’t want to just relegate it to the “where to eat and drink” section…this is special enough to deserve its own shout-out.

One of the best things to do in Prague in winter—or really, any time of year—is to visit Perníčkův Sen, a tiny gingerbread shop owned by sisters-in-law that has single-handedly revived Prague’s historic gingerbread tradition.  I stopped here like…four or five times on my 3-day visit??

They have all sorts of delicious baked goods like ginger cake, kolaches, etc, but the real star is the Czech gingerbread.  Czech gingerbreakd is typically softer and less sweet, and lacks both ginger and molasses (it’s made with honey and the spice mix is a bit different, often featuring a mild anise flavor.

I especially loved their gingerbread man sandwiched with apricot jam, but their linzer cookie with raspberry jam was also buttery, delicate, and amazing.  I tried to recreate the gingerbread man myself when I got home and was pretty darn successful!

It’s a tiny shop with no place to sit.  They also have cookie cutters and stuff which can make cool souvenirs.  Pro tip:  once you grab your gingerbread, head a couple doors down to the tiny, charming OneSip Coffee for some of the best coffee I found in Prague.

Things to do in Prague in winter - you have to try traditional Czech gingerbread at Pernicku Sen

Things to do in Prague in winter - you have to try traditional Czech gingerbread

Things to do in Prague in winter - you have to try traditional Czech gingerbread at Pernicku Sen

Things to do in Prague in winter - you have to try traditional Czech gingerbread

Explore Prague’s cocktail culture

Y’all know I love a good cocktail, so I tried to sample a few of the cool bars on my visit.  Buuuuuttttt I mostly failed since apparently you need reservations for most bars??  I’ve never run into that before, and I don’t know if it was becuase it was the holiday season, only on weekends, or just all the time.  But be forewarned.

With that in mind, I tried AnonymouS Shrink’s Office, which 1) is super hard to find, and 2) was booked up for more than a week out.  It’s a speakeasy kind of concept, so you go into Bulletproof Bar and then find a brick door with a red button which you push, so someone comes out to get you.

So then I hit up Hemingway Bar and was able to snag a seat at the bar though you also need reservations here for the most part.  I had some crazy and interesting cocktail made with absinthe, pear brandy, apple something, black tea, and some other stuff.  It came in this giant absinthe-like carafe.  Super interesting.

I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I was told that Black Angel’s Bar is cool.

Things to do in Prague in winter - explore the cocktail scene at Hemingway's Bar

Things to do in Prague in winter - explore the cocktail scene at Hemingway's Bar

Immerse yourself in the Jewish Quarter

Also known as Josefov, this once-walled Jewish ghetto has a number of beautifully-preserved synagogues, museums, and the historic cemetery that together serve as a haunting reminder of the experiences and resilience of Prague’s Jewish community.

You should definitely consider joining a walking tour to really get a full understanding.  The Jewish Museum is one of the oldest in the world (established in 1906), and uniquely is dispersed among four of the synagogues.

Fascinatingly and heartbreakingly, the reason all of these sites survived the brutal Nazi occupation of Prague was that they wanted to keep Josefov as a “museum of an extinguished race”.

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter - Ceremonial Hall

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter & stop by the Franz Kafka Memorial

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter - Spanish Synagogue

You guys know I’m not a big fan of tours, but this is definitely the type of place where I’d recommend joining a really good walking tour to learn more about the Jewish Quarter’s history and the Jews’ experience over centuries (including World War II).  Consider a walking tour like this one or this one, a 3-hour private tour that’s surprisingly affordable, or a more specialized more specialized private tour.

I didn’t get around to this area on my first day so made the absolute amateur mistake of not realizing that all the Jewish Quarter sights would be closed on the sabbath.  So I ended up doing a mediocre self-guided tour of just the exteriors instead.  Don’t make my mistake!

Whether you’re joining a tour or not, some of the main places to see include:

  • The Old Jewish Cemetery
  • Old-New Synagogue (first pic below), which is the oldest active synagogue in Europe
  • Maisel Synagogue (second pic below)
  • Ceremonial Hall (that delightful fairytale building that’s the first pic above)
  • Spanish Synagogue (third pic below), the newest of the bunch, from the late 1800s.  It definitely stands out with its Moorish design, influenced by the Spanish Alhambra.
  • Franz Kafka Monument, also pictured above
  • Don’t forget to explore Paris Street and LOOK UP to enjoy the beautiful ornate building decorations

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter - Old-New Synagogue

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter - Maisel Synagogue

Things to do in Prague in winter - take a tour of the fascinating historic Jewish Quarter & nearby Paris Street

Before moving on to a couple great tours I took, I have a few random notes that don’t really fit anywhere naturally.

If you want to find a great view of Charles Bridge, one place is this little bumpout along the road before you hit the bridge.  If you put in “Bedrich Smetana Museum” into Google Maps, it will take you there, and you can get a nice angle on the bridge.  It would be great at sunrise, sunset, or at night!

Things to do in Prague in winter - look for great views of Charles Bridge

I had planned to visit the Klemintinum, but the line was crazy long right when they opened.  After reading the reviews (including the fact that you can’t actually go in the amazing library, just peek from the door), I decided to skip it.

things to do in prague in december,prague in winter,prague during winter,things to do in prague in winter,winter prague itinerary

Soak up the pretty buildings!

Prague is a wonderland of gorgeous buildings with fun colors and fascinating architectural details.  Make sure you’re paying attention as you walk around, and (as my “11 best tips for any trip” post tells you), LOOK UP!

Here were a few of the ones I loved…

Things to do in Prague in winter - famous pink building in Prague

Things to do in Prague in winter - enjoy the beautiful colorful buildings

Things to do in Prague in winter - enjoy the beautiful colorful buildings

Things to do in Prague in winter - enjoy the beautiful colorful buildings

Things to do in Prague in winter - enjoy the beautiful colorful buildings

Things to do in Prague in winter - enjoy the beautiful colorful buildings

Sip your way through Prague’s cafés (old & new)

Prague’s cafe culture dates back a couple hundred years, to the height of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  The city’s artists, writers, and intellectuals would gather to discuss their ideas over a cup of coffee and slice of cake.

Today, Prague’s cafe culture is considered one of the best in Europe, and the city’s historic cafes are a great way to experience a taste of that Bohemian lifestyle.  They’re also a great way to escape the cold during winter in Prague!

You’ll find everything here, from beautiful Art Nouveau architecture to cute modern hipster cafes.  So grab a pastry and a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into some of the options…starting with the historic cafes.

Cafe Savoy opened in 1893 and has a gorgeous neo-Renaissance interior (particularly the ceilings).  I definitely recommend reservations if you want to come here for dinner, and maybe even lunch.  I snuck in right before dinnertime for a quick Savoy hot chocolate (legit, but like diabetes in a cup) along with a delish ricotta and beetroot open sandwich.

We also stopped at Cafe Louvre for the last part of our food tour.  This is one of Prague’s most iconic cafes, with past clientele including Kafka and Einstein.  Louvre has both a dining room and the actual cafe (more casual), and it’s supposed to have some of the city’s best svíčková and goulash.

I didn’t get to try them, but you should look into Cafe Slavia and Cafe Imperial as well.  The former has live piano music, while the latter is located in a beautiful resored Art Nouveau building and is owned by a Czech celebrity chef.

What to do in Prague in winter - stop in and enjoy the historic cafes, such as Cafe Savoy

things to do in prague in december,prague in winter,prague during winter,things to do in prague in winter,winter prague itinerary

What to do in Prague in winter - stop in and enjoy the historic cafes, such as Cafe Savoy

When it comes to more modern cafes, there are a ton of cute ones to choose from as well.

  • I loved the ambiance at Cafe Letka (north of the river), but there were sadly no seats available
  • Chloe’s Cafe is super instagrammable, very pink and feminine
  • Liberia Cafe was warm and welcoming…I got a great chai latte
  • More of just a coffee shop as there’s basically no seating (and I don’t can’t remember if they have pastries), OneSip Coffee (right by the gingerbread shop) had the best coffee

What to do in Prague in winter - stop in and enjoy the cafes, such as OneSip Coffee

What to do in Prague in winter - stop in and enjoy the cafes, such as Cafe Chloe

What to do in Prague in winter - stop in and enjoy the cafes

Take a food tour

Food tours are a great way to get to know a new city—its layout, its history, and its cuisine!  I’ve been a huge fan for years, since my first food tour in Istanbul, and I often use them as a first-day activity to orient myself to a city and mentally bookmark places to return to.  I looked at several food tours in Prague and ended up on this Eating Europe one with our guide, Zach.

We met on Lod Pivovar, a boat brewery on the river, and sipped dark beer & Nakládaný Hermelín (“pickled weasel/cheese”).  It’s a popular Czech bar snack that’s (often slightly spicy) marinated cheese with onions, usually served on bread.  It and the beer were delicious, and a great intro to Czech cuisine.

From there we popped into my favorite gingerbread shop for some cookies, sat at Vinograf to sip Czech red wine and soup, took a detour past the Jerusalem Synagogue and Wencesalas Square, then noshed traditional open-faced sandwiches at Sisters (both the beetroot and goat cheese and the roast beef and curry celeriac were great).

We finished at the historic Louvre Cafe (mentioned above) for vegetable pancakes and apple strudel.  Throughout the evening Zach did a good job of providing local color and history (even though he’s not Czech), and it was a fun group of people to hang with for a few hours.  They were able to accommodate my dietary restrictions ahead of time (pork and shellfish) as well.

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking food tour

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking food tour

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking food tour (& stop in at historic Cafe Louvre)

Take a unique local’s World War II tour

Speaking of tours, I went outside my comfort zone and booked *another* one in Prague…this time with a very special lens.  I’m a big history nut, and World War II in the European theater has always been a focus of my insatiable reading.  As I was skimming through Airbnb Experiences I happened upon Jiri’s WWII history tour.

This is a World War II history tour of Prague that very much immerses you in the LOCAL experience.  Jiri was born and raised in Prague and is a young Czech historian and journalist who does these tours as a side project.  He really brought us into the experience of Prague during the Nazi annexation and occupation.

I don’t want to spoil too many of the locations and stories, but if you love learning about this time period or just enjoy getting a glimpse of a truly local perspective, Jiri’s tour is a great option.  It is a walking tour and you’ll definitely get your steps in (and in winter, make sure to bundle up or you’ll be chilled to the bone by the end of it!).

From lesser-known stories of famous St. Wenceslas Square, to the role of the radio in the Czech uprising, to a famous Nazi leader’s assassination, and a heartwarming story that went viral a couple years ago about a man who saved hundreds of Jewish children, this tour is a great option for things to do in Prague in winter—or any time of year, for that matter!  One note, Jiri also offers guided tours to the Terezin concentration camp.

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking history tour of WWII experience in Prague

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking history tour of WWII experience in Prague

What to do in Prague in winter - take a walking history tour of WWII experience in Prague

Wander the Vinohrady neighborhood

Most articles you’ll read about things to do in Prague will tell you that you have to get over to Vinohrady for a more off-the-beaten path experience.  The neighborhood has elegant Art Nouveau architecture, beautiful tree-lined streets and parks, and a lovely relaxed atmosphere along with a great foodie scene.

And I’ll say that that’s…kind of true for Prague in winter.  Vinohrady is definitely worth some time exploring, and it DOES have great food.  It’s also where the Namesti Maru Christmas market is located.  However I do think that the “wander around and enjoy the ambiance” factor is diminished somewhat in winter without leafy trees and sunlight.

I did walk up and down some of the streets and take in the beautiful buildings, and on a blue-sky day it would have been beautiful (but they’re not much different than you see in the rest of Prague).  I tried popping into Miners Coffee but they didn’t have any tables to sit at, and then did pop into Vinoteka Noelka, a tiny wine shop where you can try Czech wines by the glass.  I also had dinner in this area one night.

One thing I didn’t get to try and would be great on a nice day is climbing up Vitkov Hill, which has nice views of Prague’s cityscape and would make a lovely sunset spot.

What to do in Prague in winter - if you have extra time, explore Vinohrady neighborhood

What to do in Prague in winter - if you have extra time, explore Vinohrady neighborhood

What to do in Prague in winter - if you have extra time, explore Vinohrady neighborhood

Where to eat & drink in Prague

Food and drink already take up a disproportionate amount of my travel time and energy, and that’s especially true when traveling in winter—there are fewer things to do, less daylight, and I need to warm up frequently!  So here are my thoughts on some of the coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants I visited.  Note, I’ve covered cocktail bars further up in the post.

Traditional Czech cuisine is very “meat and potatoes and bread” (and often, that’s boiled bread like dumplings).  I found it pretty heavy and after a couple days was craving something else.  And craving VEGETABLES.  Our food tour guide joked that there are no veggies in Czech cuisine unless they’re snuck into soups or sauces, and he was not wrong.

I’ve covered cafes and coffee shops already, for the most part, so will just note that the gingerbread place (Perníčkův Sen) paired with OneSip Coffee a couple doors down was to me the perfect coffee/pastry combo.

Additionally, I tried Bakeshop (tons of selection on pastries and some lunch options) and my food experience was a bit mixed.  I grabbed a decent cinnamon bun at Arctic Bakehouse (everything there was HUGE!), and of course I’ve mentioned a few spots like Liberica Cafe (great option), Chloe’s Cafe (very instagrammable), and I’d definitely try to get into Cafe Letka if you can find a seat!

I highly recommend Marthy’s Kitchen (there are two locations) for breakfast or lunch.  This was a recommendation from a Czech co-worker when I said I was craving Czech pancakes, and it was a winner!  I got here at 9am on a Saturday morning and was able to snag a table.

It was really hard to choose from their menu and I eventually went with a cold apricot clove and cinnamon lemonade, a chai latte, pancakes with caramelized plums, and a brie and gorgonzola galette (more like a crepe).  Everything was delicious.  Recent reviews aren’t great but they seem to center around it being cash-only…which I didn’t know but thankfully I had cash.  So just know that going in.

What to do in Prague in winter - pancakes at Marthy's Kitchen

things to do in prague in december,prague in winter,prague during winter,things to do in prague in winter,winter prague itinerary

When it came to hearty lunch and dinner, I tried to sample traditional Czech food when I could.  I was really bad about making reservations, though, and that did limit me.

Restaurant Mincovna was my first dinner.  The place is pretty packed and nuts as it’s right off Old Town Square, but it was on my list of where to try great traditional Czech dishes.  Service was quick (as one person I was able to squeeze in at a bar table) and I tried their special starter of fried fish bites and their goulash with a dark beer.

The next night I tried out U Bulinu in Vinohrady.  This was a cool local place, and I tried the marinated cheese (nakládaný hermelín) and the traditional roasted duck with cabbage with a raspberry lemonade (flavored fizzy lemonades were very popular all over Prague).  That duck breast was ENORMOUS.

By my third day and night I was feeling quite heavy from Czech dishes (and my gingerbread obsession), so I zagged and went Asian.  For lunch I’d tried to hit up Cafe Letka and failed, and was starving, so four Curry Palace just a few minutes away for an Indian lunch.  Then I stopped in at Erawan and bellied up to the bar for a delicious Thai dinner.

I’ll just mention a few spots I didn’t get to, but wanted to try:  Etapa for brunch, Sisters for open-faced sandwiches (beyond the food tour), and Mlejnice for traditional Czech food.

things to do in prague in december,prague in winter,prague during winter,things to do in prague in winter,winter prague itinerary

things to do in prague in december,prague in winter,prague during winter,things to do in prague in winter,winter prague itinerary

Prague day tours or overnights to consider

There are some great day trips from Prague that you should consider if you have more than a few days.  Many of them can be reached by train, though for some renting a car or taking a guided tour may be better options.

Some of the closer ones are the Terezin Concentration Camp, the cute spa (hot springs) town of Karlovy Vary, imposing Hluboka Castle, and the fascinating bone ossuaries of Kutna Hora.  A trip to Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park is another popular day trip tour that I really would have loved to do (not positive what it’s like in winter).

The beautiful UNESCO World Heritage town of Cesky Krumlov is one I’d highly recommend, and while it CAN be done in a day trip, I’d strongly recommend against…given the 3-hour travel time and how charming this town is in the evening, it makes a much better overnight trip.

As you can see, there are SO many things to do in Prague in winter!  With just two or three days you can really immerse yourself in this beautiful eastern European city.

Other (mostly Scandinavian) winter city explorations you’ll love:

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What to Do in Prague in Winter: An Awesome 3 Day Itinerary | Prague (Czech Republic) in winter is magical, boasting Christmas markets & fewer crowds...here's everything you need to know for an amazing winter Prague itinerary! Where to stay, things to see, how to take great photos, where to eat, what to skip & more! #prague #czechrepublic #wintertravel #weekendbreak

Comments (1)

  • Elaine Kirkbride

    March 2, 2024 at 4:39 am

    Please recommend Lidice a village raxed to the ground by nazis it’s amazing and being improved all the time

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