Night view from Prague Castle over the city after a snow storm

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The Best Things To Do In Prague During A Winter Visit

Prague, it’s magical whether you visit in the the summer or the winter. But something happens to this city in the winter months; it slows down just a bit and takes on a little less touristy persona. Although there is no longer an off-season for travel to Prague, the winter months are a bit less hectic. Yes, you will still have hordes of tourists posing at Prague Castle day and night, but the crowds don’t linger quite as long; maybe it’s the cold.

Sure, we all like to visit places during the long, sunny days of summer. Walk the gardens and take in nature, but you can’t visit a Christmas Market in July or ice skate in August. So in the end every season has something amazing to offer visitors in Prague.

Charles Bridge in Prague after a December snow storm
Charles Bridge

Winter Weather In Prague

The first thing everyone will ask is what the weather is like in Prague and the Czech Republic during the winter. It varies; depending on when you visit, you will have different weather. But one thing is certain: unless you are extremely lucky, you will have a lot of cloudy days. On my recent visit, I did luck out and had two rather sunny days out of 4, which was a total surprise.

Average temperatures in December are highs of 40° and lows of 32°; January tends to be the coldest month with highs of 37° and lows of 29°, and in February, it starts to moderate a bit with highs of 41° and lows of 30°, and by the end of winter in March the highs are 50° and 36° for the low. But remember, these are monthly averages, and it is usually warmer in early December than later in the month. But plan on cold weather and be prepared.

Can you expect snow? Not normally; the driest months in Prague tend to be the winter months. So you won’t see a lot of snow; the average amount of snowfall in January is only around 2 inches. But when it does snow, Prague is a magical city. But on the brighter side of things, it is less likely to rain during the winter months than it is during the summer.

During the winter months, it gets dark early in Prague; during the shortest days in late December, the sun rises around 8 am and sets not long after 4 pm. Keep in mind that Prague is farther north than most of the United States, at about the same latitude as Vancouver, Canada. 

View of of Prague and the Vltava River
What To Pack For Prague In The Winter

Now that we have outlined the weather, what should you wear? Well, be prepared, you could have every kind of weather during a 3-4 day visit, from rain to snow, clouds to sun, cold to mild, so bring layers. The essentials are good such as waterproof shoes with some traction. When it does snow or ice in Prague, the sidewalks and the crosswalks are treacherous. Unlike many US locations, the sidewalks are not cleared as easily, and the famous Prague mosaic cobblestone sidewalks are very slippery when covered in snow and slush. 

Be sure to have a coat that will work both on frigid days and more mild afternoons. I suggest something waterproof and possibly with a removable liner. Hats, gloves, and a scarf are not only practical but they are very stylish in Europe. 

Prague is a casual country. You won’t run across a lot of overly dressed people in the city. But style is important. Jeans are everywhere, and footwear is casual, but not gym shoes. But don’t worry about everyone thinking you are a tourist; they already know you are. Be practical and dress for exploring during the daytime.

What Is The Cost Of A Visit To Prague

Although a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic does not use the Euro. Instead, they use the Czech koruna or crown. This actually makes Prague a relative bargain compared to its neighboring countries. You can find a decent meal for under $50 US dollars for two people. Prague Castle Tours are $11 per person, and a full-day pass on the public transport system will set you back a mere $5.50 per rider. 

The Top Tourist Sights in Prague During the Winter

Regardless of what season you visit, certain attractions will be must see. These are the most photographed sights in Prague, and you will be familiar with many of them. 

Prague Castle

No visit to Prague is complete without a visit to Prague Castle. The iconic symbol of this city looms large on the hill overlooking the city and the Vltava River. By many accounts, the Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Built during the 9th century, it occupies nearly 750,000 square feet. A visit to the castle will satisfy any history buff.

You can opt for a number of tour options, but the two I would consider are the Basic Circuit or a Basic Circuit with a Prague Castle Guide. The latter option is best for visitors who want the whole story, love history, and want the details. The first is for the casual explorer interested in a self-paced tour. With either ticket, you can explore the Old Royal Palace, St George’s Basilica, St Vitus Cathedral, and Golden Lane. Keep in mind this is an ancient palace, not Buckingham Palace or even Schönbunn in Vienna, so don’t expect opulent rooms and furnishings. 

Ticket prices are 250 czk, which comes to just over $11 US, which is a bargain in my book. If you are traveling with a family, you can get a ticket for 500 czk that covers two adults and up to 5 children under 16 years of age; that’s a full day of exploring for under $25! 

Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral
Charles Bridge

The best way to get to the Prague Castle is to cross the famed Charles Bridge. This medieval stone arch bridge crosses the Vltava River and was finished in 1357. It is one of the symbols of the city of Prague. Lined with 30 mostly Baroque statues, this is a great place to snap a few photos. This bridge will lead you to many notable sites, including the St. Nicholas Church and Prague Castle. Plus, the bridge leads from Old Town to Lesser Town, which is a great area for shopping and sightseeing.

Old Town Square

Old Town Square, or Staromestské Námestí, is the center of Prague. Founded in the 12th century it is the site of many of the main tourist attractions in the city. Every hour from 9 am to 11 pm, the Astronomical Clock, located at the Old Town Hall, puts on its short but must-see show. Twelve apostles appear in windows that open, and they move in a circle. But the show isn’t limited to just the apostles; there are a number of other figures on the clock, each symbolizing different things. The most notable is the Skeleton or the Grim Reaper, with an hourglass ringing a bell. Look for the Rooster at the top of the clock, the Vain Man figure holding the mirror, and the Miser, each having its own significance. 

You can take a tour of the Old Town Hall, which includes access to the Chapel where you can look into the inner workings of the Prague Astronomical Clock. It also includes access to the Romanesque Gothic underground, and you can climb the tower. 

The Old Town Square is also home to the Church of Our Lady before Tyn. Which is open for touring during select days and hours. Keep in mind it is not open to tourists during masses. While in the square, also check out the St Nicholas Cathedral and the National Gallery.

Prague Old Town
Jewish Quarter

Adjacent to the Old Town is the Jewish Quarter, formerly referred to as the Jewish Ghetto. It’s a fascinating area to explore. Most of the old Jewish quarter was destroyed in the late 1800s during an initiative to model the city on Paris. But what remains are 6 synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall, which are all part of the Jewish Museum in Prague. The best way to explore is to purchase a museum ticket and tour the remaining buildings. The Old Jewish Cemetery is particularly interesting.

St. Nicholas Church

There is more than one St. Nicholas Church; this church is located in Lesser Town, which is just across the Charles Bridge below Prague Castle. It is often described as the greatest example of Prague Baroque and is a beautiful place to visit. It took over 100 years to complete this amazing building. Tickets to tour the church are available on-site and cost just over $6 a person. If you are lucky enough to visit when a concert or performance is planned, try to get tickets.

Vysehrad

As you look down the Vltava River from Prague Castle, you will see two tall spires on a hill overlooking the river. They are worth exploring. Either make it a destination of a long walk (which is what we did, and it’s about 1.5 miles from the Charles Bridge) or hop a tram and explore this fascinating section of the city. Considered the oldest seat of Czech princes, the local settlement was established in the 10th century. It offers stunning views of the city; the park area is home to some great architectural treasures, including the neo-Gothic Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a fascinating cemetery, and underground casements (which houses some of the original statues from the Charles Bridge). 

Church in Vysehrad
Petrin Tower

Located on a hill opposite Prague Castle, the 208-foot-tall tower can be seen from all over the city. Built in 1891 and inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, you can climb the 299 steps to the top (or take the elevator, but climbing the steps offers a number of good viewpoints if you can do it). Views encompass the entire city and are worth the climb. The park area offers some great paths for walking, even in the winter months.

View of Prague Castle from the Petrin Tower

Only In the Winter 

There are some things that winter visitors can experience that summer tourists will have to miss. Here are two standouts.

Ice Skating

The city of Prague has at least a dozen ice rinks during the winter months, some indoors and many outdoors. It’s a great way to experience a treasured pastime in the Czech Republic (remember, this is a country obsessed with ice sports, including hockey). A great outdoor rink to check out is the Capadlo ice rink on the waterfront. It offers views of the river and Prague Castle. Most venues have rentals available, and many offer food and beverages.

Christmas Markets

All over Europe, you will find Christmas markets. In fact, this is what brought me to Prague in December. The Prague Christmas Markets are not as elaborate as those in Austria or Germany, but they are definitely worth a visit.  Although markets are spread out across the city, the two top markets are easily reached in the tourist areas.

The largest and most impressive is the Old Town Square market, with a beautiful tree and wonderful market stalls. The other is the Wenceslas Square market. Both markets are within a 5-minute walk of each other. They are open daily from early December until early January. Food is the focus at the Prague markets, with delicious sausages, lots of cheesy things, and, of course, sweets. No market visit would be complete without a mulled wine or hot punch to warm you up. If you are in Prague in December or early January this is one of the best things to do in Prague in the winter!

If you are interested in other European Christmas Markets, check out my post, Top Tips For First-Time Vienna Christmas Market Visit.

Christmas tree in Old Town Square Prague

Explore or Take a Tour

Day Trips

If you have time during your trip, make a day trip or two outside of the city. Two of the most popular during the winter months include Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary. 

Cesky Krumlov is a spectacular medieval town just a few hours south of Prague. In the summer, it has become overrun by tourists, but in the winter, it is much more manageable. If you visit in December, you will find a charming Christmas market. Although the castle interior is not open in the winter months, the grounds and tower are still worth a visit. The easiest way to organize this trip is with a guided day tour, which makes transportation easy. 

The town of Karlovy Vary is known for its spas and thermal springs. After exploring the beautiful city, soaking in a hot spa and enjoying a Becherovka cocktail (there is a museum dedicated to this herbal liquor here) sounds perfect. Organized tours are the best way to explore this destination in one day from Prague.

Explore Traditional Czech Food

You will find a fantastic food scene in Prague. When you are looking for authentic Czech food, you will inevitably find goulash! You will also find schnitzel, dumplings, lots of pork, potato pancakes, and, of course, sausage. As you walk around the old town, you will start to think that Trdelnik is the most traditional Czech dessert, but it isn’t traditional Czech. That doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty; it’s just not a traditional food. If you are looking for a good goulash or other traditional dishes near the old town square, try Restaurant Mincovna. The food is good, and the prices are quite reasonable.

Take in a Prague Food Tour

When I visit a new city, especially one in a different country, I always book a food tour. I try to do it on the first day or two so I can learn where some of the nontouristy places are to eat. I have never been disappointed by these tours, and I often return to the places they take me to later in my trip. So, if you want to explore the culinary scene in Prague and try different places all in the span of a few hours book a tour, it will be the highlight of your visit. I recommend Taste of Prague Tours.

Toasting with Czech beer in a restaurant in Prague
Drink Some Czech Beer

The Czech Republic hands down drinks the most beer per capita of any other country on earth. In fact, they have held this title for nearly 3 decades. They consume almost twice what the US does. Beer is also very inexpensive here; you will hear the story of how beer actually costs less than water when you buy it here. So, when you visit Prague, you really need to check out the beer. One of the more unique places to grab a beer is at the Lokal Dlouhááá, where you will get great beer and food along with a little taste of what beer halls were like during the communist days. The decor is vintage communist Prague, and it is an interesting visit.

Take a River Cruise

Hop on a boat and cruise the Vltava River and explore Prague from a different angle. You can choose from a short daytime cruise to full-dinner cruises that take in the city lights in the winter. It may seem touristy, but don’t let that discourage you; remember you are a tourist, and touristy things are what tourists do.

Powder Tower in Prague at night after a December snow storm
Go Museum Hopping

Prague is filled with museums to explore. From the traditional variety, such as the Jewish Quarter Museum, the National Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Franz Kafka Museum, and the Mucha Museum, to the more niche museums, such as the Prague Beer Museum, Museum of Communism, and the Sex Machine Museum. There is something for everyone in Prague. And it’s a great way to stay warm on a cold winter day.

Get Lost (take a walk)

Prague is a compact, small city. So it is perfect for embarking on a wander. Pick a destination and just walk through the city neighborhoods and get a feel for Prague outside of the tourist areas. Try walking from Prague Castle to Petrin Tower, it’s not that far, and you can wander a local neighborhood. Another favorite is walking from Old Town Square to Vyswhrad. Prague is a very safe city, and if you get tired on your wander, there is always a cafe or a beer place to rest.

Act Like A Local

Shop

There is a lot of shopping to be had in Prague. From high-end, luxury boutiques on Parizska Street to local independent shops and, of course, lots of malls. You could spend an entire day shopping in Prague, just be sure to bring enough money!

Pass Some Time In a Cafe

Prague is filled with some great cafes. In the winter it’s the perfect time to enjoy a coffee or my personal Czech favorite a hot chocolate and just watch the city life go by. One of my favorite places to do just that is the Mysak pastry shop, a Prague tradition since 1911. Be sure to try the Vetrnik, a traditional Czech dessert. Without a doubt, this is one of the best things to do in Prague in the winter!

Travel Tips For Prague Visit

Getting There

If you arrive via the airport, be aware that the only public transport from the airport to the city center involves a bus ride and then a transfer to the Metro (subway). Although you can travel cheaply to the city center on public transport, I actually think this is one of the few European cities were taking a taxi or Uber makes more sense, it eliminates the transfer and the need to buy a bag ticket for your luggage.

If you arrive by train, the main station is very centrally located, and you may very well be able to walk to your hotel. One tip on train travel to Prague: since so many tourists include Prague in their plans when you purchase your train ticket, pay a little extra and reserve a seat. On my train from Vienna, it was very crowded, and many people were moved out of their seats to make room for people with reserved seats. If you are not on a tight budget, it makes life easier.

Getting Around

The best way to get around Prague and experience the Best Things To Do In Prague During Winter is on foot. It is a compact city that is very easy to walk. But some trips can be a bit longer and uphill, so consider the public transport. The metro and the tram system are excellent and very inexpensive. You can get almost anywhere you wish to go on the Metro or tram. If you plan on using the transport system a lot during your stay, consider buying a 24, 48, or 72-hour pass. Also, download the app; it makes using the system much easier, and there is no need to validate your tickets (which is often a missed step by tourists and can cost you serious fines).

Crossing a bridge in Prague with Prague Castle in the background
Should I Get A Pass

There is a Prague Visitor Pass, which includes entry into over 60 attractions for free and unlimited public transport. The passes are for 48 hours, 72 hours, and 120 hours and cost range from approximately $95 to $160 per person. I don’t think this pass is a good value. If you consider that many of the top attractions cost between $10-$20 for tickets and the metro is relatively cheap, you have to visit a lot of attractions each day just to cover the cost of the card. But some people like the convenience. It also offers a skip-the-line feature for many attractions, which is nice when crowds are large (but in the winter, you won’t have nearly as many tourists).

Lennon Wall in Lesser Town Prague
How Many Days To See Prague

You can get a good feel for the city in 2-3 days. I think 4 days is the perfect amount of time to explore, But you could spend a week or more and never run out of things to see and do. If you plan on doing day trips, you will want to stay longer.

No matter what time of year you visit, Prague is a magical city. The architecture, food, beer, wine, and people make it unforgettable. Check out all the amazing things on this list of the best things to do in Prague in the winter, and add a few of your own. 

Below are links and resources to help you plan The perfect trip

Travel Resources

  • HOTELS
    Booking.com and Expedia.com are great resources for accommodations around the world. Book almost any hotel directly from these links.
  • TOURS
    The best places to book tours and activities are Viator or Get Your Guide . From great food tours to guided hiking adventures to local walking tours, you will find great experiences to add to your travels here.
  • FOOD EXPERIENCES
    EatWith is a great resource for authentic culinary experiences with passionate locals worldwide. Connecting travelers with hosts in over 130 countries, providing unique, intimate, and immersive experiences in private homes and exclusive venues.
  • TRAINS
    Trainline is Europe’s leading train and coach app. They work with over 210 rail and coach companies to help their customers travel to thousands of destinations across 45 countries. 

The links above contain product affiliate links. We may receive a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links. But your support of Fork & Wander is greatly appreciated!

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