December in Prague is a magical time. The city comes alive with twinkling lights, gorgeous Christmas markets and a festive atmosphere that is sure to capture your heart.
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From the picturesque cobblestone streets lined with beautiful buildings and the gorgeously decorated Christmas tree in the middle of Old Town Square to the aroma of freshly baked treats and mulled wine wafting through the air, visiting Prague in December is truly a memorable holiday experience.
While I’ve visited Prague in both the summer and winter, I have to say that December in Prague was by far my favourite time to visit this beautiful city. It’s an enchanting city any time of the year, but the Christmas festivities add an extra layer of magic and make it an experience not to be missed.
December in Prague: What to Expect
December in Prague can be busy. While summer is the most popular time of year to visit, the famous Christmas Markets mean that December is also a busy time for tourists. Don’t let that stop you though, because it’s still an amazing time to experience Prague.
It’s worth noting that December is the darkest month of the year, as it is in most of the northern hemisphere. The sun sets around 4:30 pm, but that just makes it more magical and festive when visiting the Christmas Markets in the evening.
Why Visit Prague in December
As I mentioned earlier, December in Prague is absolutely magical.
Yes, the weather can be chilly and the sun sets early, but the twinkling lights of the Christmas Markets make for a cozy atmosphere.
The Christmas Markets in Prague are known to be some of the best in Europe. Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, which are beautiful any time of the year, are even more impressive under the twinkling lights and festive decorations. Prague Castle and Charles Bridge are stunning as well, illuminated in the warm glow of holiday lights.
And while the Christmas Markets are popular, December in Prague is less crowded than the peak tourist seasons of spring and summer. This makes for a more enjoyable time exploring the city.
Where to Stay in Prague in December
There are so many options for accommodations in Prague, and the city has different neighbourhoods, that it can be hard to know where to stay.
Staying in the Old Town is more convenient for seeing most of the main attractions, but it is also more expensive and busier. There are also great accommodations in the New Town and Mala Strana.
We stayed just outside of the Old Town in Vinohrady at the Clarion Hotel City, which was an easy walk to both the train station and Wenceslas Square. And, one of the smaller Christmas Markets was right in front of the hotel!
December in Prague: What’s the Weather like?
In early December, the temperature averages 4°C (39°F) but will drop to an average of 2°C (36) by the end of the month. About 1/3 of the month will be sunny but expect most days to be grey or cloudy. While the heaviest snowfall doesn’t occur until later in the season, there is a chance of snow during December.
We visited in early December and woke up a few mornings to snow dusting the streets. While the snow didn’t stay on the ground, it did make for a magical experience to see the snowflakes falling while sipping on a hot mulled drink in the evening.
What to Pack for Prague in Winter
December in Prague will be chilly and damp. Layers are key and will keep you warm and dry while you explore the city. Here are some essentials that you will want to pack:
- Warm boots. Chances are you’ll be walking a lot and you want your feet to be warm! We recommend boots that are waterproof and comfortable enough to walk through the cobblestone streets of Prague. My kids wear Bogs, which are rated to -40° and are light enough that they can walk for hours without clunky boots weighing them down.
- Wool Socks – Warm socks are important, but a wool blend is best, as it will keep your feet cozy and dry. The wool also minimizes smell, which is helpful when you’re travelling and need to wash them out in the sink. These ones are warm and comfortable and have lasted my guys a few winters now.
- Warm Coat – A winter coat is necessary when visiting Prague in December. The first time we went to the Christmas Markets in Germany, I made the mistake of thinking I could get by with a fall jacket and warm sweater (we had been travelling for 6 weeks already and I didn’t want to bulk of a winter jacket), but two days in, I had to buy a warmer coat! Don’t make the same mistake I did and be sure to pack a warm coat. A warm, waterproof coat is a good idea, as it can be rainy this time of year. I like this lightweight puffer-style jacket, which also folds up small in a convenient carrying bag, and my guys also have warm, but lightweight puffer jackets.
- Gloves, scarf and a warm hat. – Don’t forget about keeping your hands and head warm!
- Base Layer – Layers are key to staying warm when you’re out exploring Prague in December. Wool is a great choice for base layers, as it’s warm, even when wet and it’s naturally anti-microbial, which means it doesn’t smell even when wearing it a few days in a row. We wear a base layer on top under a sweater, as well as on the legs. The boys wear these base layers from Decathlon, which are really inexpensive yet amazingly warm.
- Sweater – You’ll want a comfortable sweater to wear under your coat, but one that’s warm enough to keep you cozy while outside. Wear this overtop of your base layer and you’ll be set to head out and explore.
We found the weather to be comfortable (but keep in mind, we’re from Canada, so temperatures were about the same), and as long as we were dressed appropriately, we were fine to stay out exploring most of the day.
Top Things to Do in Prague in December
1. Experience the Christmas Markets
Prague is famous for its Christmas Markets, which are the highlight of the holiday season.
(I’m not going to lie – I’m a huge fan of Christmas Markets and this was the main reason we visited Prague in December.)
While there are several markets throughout the city, the two main Christmas Markets are held in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.
Here you’ll find stalls adorned with twinkling lights, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and vendors selling everything from local crafts to traditional Czech food and drinks.
Sip on a cup of hot mulled wine, known as svařák, or try some perník, traditional Czech gingerbread and the delicious trdelnik, a sugary rolled pastry.
For more information on markets, including dates and locations, as well as what to expect and what to buy, be sure to check out this post on the best Christmas Markets in Prague.
2. Explore Old Town
Prague is known for its rich history, stunning architecture and charming cobblestone streets. And the best place to experience this is in the Old Town. It’s a must-see for anyone visiting Prague.
Wander the narrow streets, admire historic buildings and soak up the medieval charm that embodies the Old Town.
Visit the Old Town Square, where the Church of Our Lady before Tyn dominates one side of the square, and climb to the top of Old Town Hall for a fantastic view of the square below.
There are several other towers you can climb in the Old Town, including the Powder Tower, Old Town Bridge Tower and Lesser Town Bridge Tower.
Throughout the month of December, you’ll also find Prague’s biggest Christmas Market in Old Town Square, as well as several smaller markets and vendor stalls set up throughout the Old Town.
3. Climb the Old Town Clock Tower
For the best views of the Old Town, climb the 70m high clock tower.
It’s worth the climb to be rewarded with panoramic views of Old Town Square.
See the market from above, with the twinkling lights, decorated stalls and people milling about the market below.
The clock tower is open in the evening and the view from above with the market lit up is worth the entry fee!
4. See the Astronomical Clock
One of the main attractions in Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock proudly sits on the side of the Old Town Hall.
It was constructed in the 15th century, and while it’s been restored a few times, it’s still working.
Every hour, on the hour, there’s a parade of 12 figures that circle the clock, and there’s also an interesting skeleton to keep an eye out for!
Be early to ensure a spot as it does get crowded! It’s been said that it’s the second most overrated tourist attraction in all of Europe, after the Mona Lisa.
But even if it’s overrated, it’s still worth seeing – and it’s free, so why not?
5. Cross Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is an iconic symbol of Prague.
Built in the 14th century, this is the oldest bridge in Prague and links the Old Town, Stare Mesto, to Malá Strana, “Lesser Town”.
This pedestrian-only bridge is lined with statues of saints and martyrs and is a popular spot to see street performers, even in the winter months.
The best time to stroll across the bridge is first thing in the morning when the crowds of tourists aren’t out yet, or in the evening when the bridge is lit up at night.
6. See the Lamplighters
Each evening at dusk during the month of December, a lamplighter dressed in period clothing makes his way across Charles Bridge, lighting each of the lamps as he goes.
Beginning at dusk, or approximately 4 pm, the lamplighter begins at the Old Town side of Charles Bridge and continues across the bridge to the Mala Strana side, lighting the lamps as he goes.
It’s a fun and unique thing to see, and if your kids are anything like mine, you might have to go back and watch it every day you are in Prague!
Pro Tip: Just under the Charles Bridge on the Mala Strana side, there’s a fun playground for kids. If you’re following the lamplighter across the bridge, stop in at the playground and let the kids run off some energy, while adults can admire the illuminated Charles Bridge from below.
7. Visit Prague Castle
Visiting Prague Castle is a must anytime, but it’s especially magical in December.
Sitting high on a hill overlooking the city of Prague, this magnificent castle is a must-see any time of the year, but it’s even more enchanting in the winter months when twinkling lights and festive decorations add to the experience.
The castle, or hrad as it’s known to Czechs, is the largest ancient castle complex in the world and has been occupying this site for over 1000 years. Within its walls are historic buildings, museums, galleries, and ancient churches.
The iconic St. Vitus Cathedral is impressive, with its soaring spires and gorgeous stained glass windows. There’s also the smaller Basilica of St. George, with its bright red facade that dates from the 10th century.
The grounds are free to wander through, and you can see the impressive and historic architecture while strolling through the grounds, or purchase a ticket and take a tour of the castle.
The castle grounds offer some spectacular views over the city and the Vltava River, and the changing of the guard happens every hour, on the hour.
In December, the courtyards are also home to one of Prague’s best Christmas Markets, which are set against the backdrop of St. Vitus Cathedral.
Whether you tour the castle beforehand or just visit to experience the Christmas Market, Prague Castle is a must-see when visiting Prague in December.
8. Experience Mikuláš Day
Mikuláš Day is a popular holiday celebrated in early December, and it has to be one of the most interesting traditions we’ve experienced.
Similar to St. Nicholas Day in other parts of Europe, Mikuláš is dressed as Father Christmas, with white hair, a long robe and a staff and hands out sweets and small gifts to children.
People dressed as St. Nicholas walk around town and in Prague, Mikuláš is also accompanied by an angel, who writes children’s names down in a book, and another character named Krampus.
The story of Krampus originates in neighbouring Austria, and this character has fur and horns and typically wears bells on his feet. He smears soot on children’s faces, and if they’re not good, legend says he will snatch the children away.
Mikuláš Day is a big celebration in Prague, and you’ll see people dressed as Krampus and Mikuláš all throughout the town, as well as many kids and adults wearing headbands with glowing red horns. It’s quite a festive evening!
9. Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is one of the must-see spots in Prague any time of the year, but during the month of December, the historic square turns into a festive wonderland. Wooden stalls sell souvenirs, gifts and treats and there are delicious smells of roasting food, all set against the backdrop of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and twinkling lights.
While it’s technically one Christmas market, there’s one section at the lower end of the square selling mostly food and drinks, and another area of wooden stalls near the National Museum, offering a mix of food and souvenirs.
10. Visit the National Museum
The National Museum is one you can’t miss in Prague. Located at the top of Wenceslas Square, this impressive museum recently reopened after renovations that lasted a few years.
The museum boasts a vast collection of over 14 million items, including everything from medieval art to puppets and weapons, and exhibits on Czech history, art and natural history.
There’s something for everyone in the family and it’s a great place to learn about Czech culture, especially on a chilly December day.
11. Ride the Christmas Tram
While Prague’s tram system is extensive and you can ride any of the trams around the city, the Christmas Tram is a festive way to see the city!
Beginning the last week of November, Routes 2 and 22 have festive trams decorated with tiny lights that circle through the city before heading up to Prague Castle.
If you’re planning to visit Prague Castle or the Christmas Market there, the Christmas Tram is a perfect, and festive way to get there.
There’s also another tourist tram, Lines 42 and 43, which although not as festively decorated as the Christmas Tram, is still a fun and warm way to see the city’s sights.
These tourist trams travel in a scenic route through the city and pass by important landmarks, including Charles Bridge, the Powder Gate and Prague Castle.
12. Go Ice Skating
Skating is a classic winter activity and it’s a perfect way to enjoy winter in Prague.
Lace up your skates and glide across the ice while enjoying the festive atmosphere and being surrounded by the historic buildings of Prague.
And if you don’t have your own skates, don’t worry! At most of the outdoor rinks, you can rent skates, which is great for tourists like us!
You’ll find rinks throughout the city, including Ovocny Trh in Old Town, a free skating rink by the City Hall and another below the Zizkov TV Tower.
13. See Festive Concerts and Performances
Prague is renowned for its rich cultural scene, and during December, you can enjoy a variety of festive concerts, performances, and shows that celebrate the holiday season, like the classic Nutcracker Ballet.
From classical concerts in historic churches to performances on outdoor stages throughout the Old Town, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sounds of the season.
14. Try Traditional Czech Food
Winter is the perfect time to indulge in some traditional Czech cuisine, which is known to be rich and hearty, perfect for keeping warm during the winter months.
Try some traditional Czech comfort food like guláš, which is different from the Hungarian goulash, roasted pork, garlic soup or fried cheese.
You’ll also find sausages, roasted ham and potatoes on a stick being served at food stalls and at the Christmas Markets, alongside sweet treats like trdelnik – with or without ice cream, sweet pastries and palačinky, a Czech-style pancake.
15. Visit a Museum
If you’re visiting Prague in December, chances are you might want to warm up and a perfect way is to head indoors and visit a museum.
Prague has some great museums to explore, including the Kafka Museum, the Czech Museum of Music, the Museum of Communism, the Prague City Museum, and of course, the National Museum, which is one of the iconic symbols of Prague.
And if you’re travelling with young kids, they will love the LEGO Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of LEGO Exhibits.
Other Year-Round Things to Do in Prague
16. Go on a Free Walking Tour
I always love to do free walking tours in a new city, as it gives me a good overview of the main tourist attractions and ideas on what I want to come back to see. Plus, the guides are usually really knowledgeable and you’ll hear some great stories and a bit of history about the city.
Prague is no exception.
There are several free walking tours to choose from, which explore Old Town Prague and Prague Castle. Highlights include the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the National Theatre and the unique Dancing House.
There are also hop-on-hop-off bus tours that take you to the main sights if you’d rather ride in comfort and warmth!
17. Or Take a Self-Guided Tour
If you’re not up for doing one of the free walking tours, there are several self-guided tours that you can do.
A popular route is the Royal Way, which leads from the Powder Gate through Old Town Square, along Karlova and across Charles Bridge before climbing up to the castle. This is the ancient processional route that Czech kings would take to St. Vitus Cathedral for their coronation. Today, it’s a popular tourist route, but it passes by many iconic Prague buildings and landmarks, and is a good way to see some of the top sights in Prague.
There’s also a less popular route that leads from the Powder Gate along Celetná, past Tyn Courtyard and through Old Town Square, before heading into Little Square and the New City Hall.
In this square, be sure to stop in the Library for a look at the Tower of Books, one of the most unusual things to see in Prague. Then head past the Klementinum to Old Town Bridge Tower and cross Charles Bridge.
For more self-guided tours, check out this self-guided scavenger hunt and walking tour.
18. Prague River Cruise
See Prague from a different perspective on a river cruise. With the Vltava River running through the center of Prague, a river cruise is a great way to see some of the city’s beautiful sights, while sitting back, learning about the historical monuments and avoiding the crowds of tourists in the Old Town.
There are a number of options available, some including lunch or dinner, and varying in length from 45 minutes to 3 hours. This 50-minute night cruise passes by many of Prague’s attractions, like Charles Bridge, Petrin Tower, the Dancing House and the historic fort of Vyšehrad, as well as Prague Castle, while this other short 45-minute cruise offers mulled wine and traditional gingerbread in the winter.
19. Explore Children’s Island
Even though it can be chilly in December, Children’s Island is a fantastic spot to visit with kids.
It’s a small island in Vltava River that’s dedicated to kids, with plenty of fun playground equipment for both toddlers and older kids (and I’m not going to lie – I tried the zip line too!). Read more about the best playgrounds in Prague here.
20. Climb Petrin Hill
Petřín Hill, originally one of King Charles’ vineyards, is now a large green area overlooking Prague, and one of the city’s most popular attractions.
Sitting 318 metres above the Vltava River, it’s a steep climb to the top, or you can take the Petřín funicular, which runs from the Újez tram stop to the top of Petřín Hill.
Tickets for the funicular are the same as the public transportation tickets, and you can purchase a 24-hour ticket, which would allow you to take the Christmas Tram mentioned above, or any other tram rides throughout the city.
You can also make the climb on foot, which takes about 20-30 minutes. We suggest taking the funicular up and then walking down.
Once at the top of Petřín Hill, head to the top of the Petřín Observation Tower for fantastic views of the city below. The tower looks like a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower, and there are 299 steps to the top, or you can take the lift (admission fees apply).
There’s also the Mirror Maze, which looks like a castle from the outside, but inside it’s filled with mirrors that create optical illusions and change your appearance in weird ways. Tickets can be purchased separately, or combined with an entrance ticket to the Petřín Observation Tower.
It’s an easy walk down from the top of Petřín Hill, and although there’s no direct route, there are various paths that lead down the hill. Just before reaching the bottom of the hill, there’s another great playground that kids will love to stop at.
21. Keep an Eye Out for Unusual Art
Prague is known for its impressive architecture and historical buildings, but there are also some more modern and unique things to see in the city.
Keep your eyes peeled for some unusual art installations, including an upside-down horse, giant crawling babies, penguins on a bridge or a large rotating sculpture of Franz Kafka’s head.
And don’t forget to look up – you might see some hanging from the rooftops too!
22. Visit Vyšehrad Castle
Prague’s other castle, Vyšehrad, lies 2km south of the Old Town. Built on a hill overlooking the Vltava River, the castle dates back to the 10th century and once rivalled Prague Castle.
Over the years, it’s been a royal castle and a military fortification, but now the ruins are open to the public. It’s a great place to relax and get away from the busy centre of Prague, and it’s free to visit.
It’s also one of the best viewpoints in Prague, with views of Prague’s bridges and Prague Castle.
23. See the Dancing House
One of Prague’s most interesting buildings, the Dancing House sits just beside the Vltava River, about a 20-minute walk from Charles Bridge.
This uniquely curved building resembles a dancing silhouette and is sometimes called the Fred and Ginger building, after the famous dancing couple. You can take a peek inside, but only the top floor is open to the public, or just view this unique building from the outside.
Tip: If you walk to the front doors of the building, be sure to look up – there’s an interesting art installation overhead.
24. Take in the Views from Letna Park
A popular park in the summer with a beer garden, Letna Park is also a great spot to walk in the winter. Here you’ll find some of the best views of the city, as well as a children’s playground and a giant metronome, standing 75 feet tall.
25. Visit Zizkov Tower
Another great view in Prague is from the Žižkov Television Tower.
At 216 m, it’s the tallest building in the city and there’s a viewing platform at 93m, boasting 360° views over Prague and the surrounding area. Admission fees apply.
It’s definitely a unique contrast to the beautiful buildings in Prague’s Old Town.
FAQ’s: December in Prague
Absolutely! December in Prague is magical and the Christmas Markets make it a great time to visit the city. Plus, Prague’s Christmas Markets are open until the beginning of January, which is longer than in some other European countries.
While you could see Prague in 2 days, we recommend spending 4-5 days, to really experience the best the city has to offer.
While Prague will be chilly in December, it doesn’t get very cold. The average temperature is 4°C (39°F) but will drop to an average of 2°C (36) by the end of the month.
Compared to other Western European countries, Prague is less expensive to visit. Prices will be cheaper in the winter than in the peak summer season, however, prices in December will rise a bit with the popularity of the Christmas Markets. Overall, Prague is cheap to visit in December, especially when compared to visiting Vienna’s Christmas Markets or other popular German Christmas markets.
While there is a chance of snow – and it snowed lightly on our first night in Prague, you won’t typically see large snowfalls in December.
Final Thoughts: December in Prague
December in Prague offers an unforgettable blend of festive magic, historical charm and architectural delights. Whether you’re visiting the city to admire the architecture and take in the history of Prague or to experience the Christmas markets and Czech traditions, a visit to Prague in December is a fantastic experience and one that you won’t regret!
For more inspiration and tips on visiting Central Europe, be sure to check out these posts:
- Best Christmas Markets in Prague
- Best Playgrounds in Prague
- Prague with Kids
- Things to Do in Vienna with Kids
- Best Christmas Markets in Vienna (plus Highlights for Kids)
- 17 of the Best Playgrounds in Vienna + Parks for Families
- Bratislava Christmas Markets
- How to Spend 2 Days in Bratislava
- 25 Awesome Things to Do in Bratislava with Kids