Visiting Prague in winter? Here is everything you need to know about winter in Prague, from amazing things to do, what to wear, where to eat, and more!
Prague is often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, but Prague in winter is especially magical. Visiting Prague in winter is like stepping into a real-life fairytale – I loved getting lost in the labyrinth of cobblestone streets, lined with charming historical buildings.
There is so much to do and see in winter in Prague, from visiting the city’s festive Christmas markets (added bonus that they stay open into January), admiring the gorgeous city views, checking out the city’s many museums…and so much more!
Oh sure, it’s freezing cold (especially for this California girl), but it was absolutely worth it to be able to experience the fairytale vibes and magic of Prague in the winter (especially if it snows!). But hey, that’s just an excuse to feast on tons of hearty Czech food and warm up with some Czech beer!
Wondering all the best things to do in Prague in winter? Here is everything you need to know about winter in Prague!
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Weather and What to Pack for Winter in Prague
FACT: Winter in Prague is cold AF, often below freezing. Snow and rain are possible, although the city only sees about an inch of precipitation in the months of December, January, and February.
Average temperatures for winter in Prague are as follows:
- December: High 40° F (4° C) / Low 32° (0° C)
- January: High 37° (3° C) / Low 29° (-2° C)
- February: High 41° (5° C) / Low 30° (-1° C)
I visited in December. Not gonna lie, as a born and bred California girl (who grew up in Los Angeles, moved to San Francisco, and then escaped the fog in Orange County), those temperatures scared me! Even though I somewhat acclimated to the winter temperatures in Munich before heading to Prague, Prague was another level of cold.
The best way to explore Prague in winter is on foot, so you’ll want to be prepared for the cold weather by bundling up. Dressing in layers is key, so you can easily peel them off when indoors (which tends to be heated up pretty warmly).
Here are some suggested items to pack for Prague in winter:
- Warm winter coat: I packed a waterproof winter jacket like this one, but if you want to be extra classy, a wool trench coat also works.
- Warm, waterproof, and comfortable boots: I packed these boots as my only pair of shoes for a week of winter weather in Europe, and they were perfect, even as I was walking over 30,000 steps a day! They kept my feet warm, and dry even though I encountered rain and snow.
- Sweaters: To add extra warmth on those chilly days/nights. I packed this and this. A sweater dress is super cute and keeps you warm as well!
- Flannel button-down: Makes a perfect layering piece for winter inPrague.
- Cardigans: Also a perfect layering piece for winter in Prague, especially because you can get them on and off easily.
- Fleece-lined leggings: Perfect under your sweater dresses, or as an extra layer of warmth under your jeans.
- Lightweight thermals: I packed a bunch of these ones.
- Beanie: I also packed a knitted headband to switch it up a bit.
- Warm Gloves: These also allow you to use your touchscreen smartphone without taking them off.
- Wool Socks: These will keep your feet nice and toasty (and will wick moisture)!
- Scarves: I packed a thick infinity scarf, as well as a blanket scarf (this one is my FAVE).
- Power Adapter: If coming from outside of Europe.
- Power Bank: To keep your devices charged as you explore Prague in the winter! I never travel without this one – one charge will give five full charges to your devices.
- Reusable water bottle: I like traveling with this one because you can roll it up when you are done.
Arriving in Prague in Winter
Václav Havel Airport (PRG), Prague’s international airport, is located 17km (~10.5 miles) west of the city center. The airport serves as the main international gateway to Prague, and connects the city to many other European destinations, as well as North America, and select cities in Asia and the Middle East.
The airport has two two terminals: Terminal A is used primarily for flights from outside the Schengen Zone, and Terminal B is used for flights arriving from Schengen Zone destinations.
From here, you have several options for getting into the city:
- Taxi: You will find plenty of taxis lined up each terminal. This is often the quickest way to get into the city center during winter in Prague, UNLESS you are arriving during rush hour, in which case you may encounter lots of traffic. Fares range between 500-700 CZK ($22-31 USD). The drive takes about 25 minutes.
- Uber: Uber service is offered in Prague, and is cheaper than taking a traditional taxi. Another benefit is that you can input exactly where you are headed directly into the app without any communication issues. The fare is ~400 CZK (~$18 USD) for an Uber X ride. Follow the instructions in the app to meet your driver.
- Bolt: Another ride sharing service similar to Uber. I used Bolt to get to the airport because I had trouble finding an Uber, and found that Bolt had cars much more readily available. It is also a little bit cheaper – I paid 325 CZK (~$14.50)
- Airport Express Bus: The most direct public transportation option to get into Prague’s city center. The Airport Express picks up passengers outside arrivals of both terminals, and connects them to Praha hlavní nádraží, the city’s main train station. Buses run every 30 minutes, and the trip takes 35 minutes. The cost is 60 CZK (~$2.70 USD).
- Line 119 Bus: The cheapest way to get into the city center. The bus station is right in front of Terminal 2 – take exit D. The line 119 bus connects you to the Nádraží Veleslavín metro station in 20 minutes. From here, you must take the metro line A (green) to connect to the city center. The fare is only 32 CZK (~$1.40).
By Train or Bus
Prague is connected via rail to many cities in the Czech Republic, Central Europe, and beyond. If you take the train to visit Prague in winter, chances are you will arrive at Praha hlavní nádraží, the city’s main train station.
From here, it is only a 5 minute walk to Wenceslaus Square, or 15 minutes to the Old Town. Otherwise, you can take metro line C, the tram, or bus to connect to your final destination.
I took an overnight Flixbus into Prague from Munich, and arrived in Prague early in the morning at Praha hlavní nádraží. I called an Uber to get to my accommodations. You can request a Bolt car as well.
If arriving by bus, you may also arrive at the Florenc station, which is Prague’s main bus station. Florenc sits just east of the city center – it is a 17 minute walk. Otherwise, you can take the metro or tram to connect to your final destination.
Getting Around Prague in Winter
The best way to get around Prague in winter is on foot. Yes, even in the cold – just bundle up and you’re good to go!
Much of the highlights within central Prague are located within walking distance of each other, so I found that walking was the easiest way to get around when visiting Prague in winter. Plus, this is the best way to see the beauty of the city – you’ll be oooh-ing and aaah-ing the entire time!
Just remember to wear comfortable, flat (and warm!) shoes. Prague is full of cobblestoned streets – those high-heeled boots are a no-go here!
To get to those points of interests outside of the immediate city center (or if your feet get tired – mine definitely did after walking something like 30,000 steps), Prague has a relatively easy-to-navigate and CHEAP public transportation system.
Prague has three, color-coded underground metro lines. Line A (green) serves most tourist areas in the city. Trains operate from around 5am to midnight daily, and run every 2-10 minutes depending on time of day.
The city is also served by 24 tram lines, which cover the entire span of Prague. Most tourists will end up on the 22 or 23 line, which stops at many of the city’s top attractions, such as the Prague Castle and National Theater. Keep a close watch on your belongings, as pickpockets are notorious on these lines!
Prague also has a network of buses; however, these mostly serve the outskirts of the city, so you will probably not make much use of them.
There are several ticket options, depending on how frequently you plan to take public transportation. A basic ticket costs 32 CZK (~$1.40), and is valid for 90 minutes of unlimited travel. For shorter trips, there is a single-use 30-minute ticket for 24 CZK (~$1 USD); however, you are not allowed to transfer between metro, tram, or bus.
If you see yourself taking public transportation frequently while visiting Prague in winter, consider purchasing a 1 or 3-day pass for unlimited travel on the metro, trams, or buses. A 1-day pass costs 110 CZK (~$4.90 USD), and a 3-day pass costs 310 CZK (~$14 USD).
Ticket machines are located at major metro, tram, and bus stops – look for the yellow coin-operated machines. Make sure you stamp and validate your tickets before getting on board! Look for the yellow validating machines on board trams and buses, or near the escalators in metro stations.
Ride-sharing services are also available in Prague. Uber does operate in Prague, however, I found that cars were not that plentiful. If you plan on using ride-sharing, I suggest you download the Bolt app before arriving in Prague. Bolt operates similarly to Uber, but has more cars available and is a bit cheaper.
Other Things to Know Before Visiting Prague in Winter
The official language in Prague and the Czech Republic is Czech, which is a relatively difficult language to master. Many people in Prague speak English, especially those in the main tourist areas, and young people.=
However, I still suggest picking up a few basic Czech phrases as the effort is appreciated by locals. Some helpful words and phrases below:
- Dobrý den (dob-ree den): Hello
- Ahoj (ahoy): Informal way of saying both hi and bye
- Nashledanou (nas-klehdanoh): Goodbye
- Děkuji (dye-ku-yi): Thank you
- Prosím (pro-seem): Please
- Ano (ah-noh): Yes
- Ne (neh): No
- Mluvíš anglicky? (mloo-veesh an-glits-kee): Do you speak English?
- Nemluvím česky (nem-loo-veem chehs-kee): I don’t speak Czech
- Promiňte (promynite): Excuse me
- Kolik je to? (koh-leek toh stoh-yee): How much is this?
- Kde je…? (kdeh yeh): Where is…?
Currency and Money
Unlike in many other European destinations, the Euro is not the official currency of Prague and the Czech Republic. The official currency in Prague (and the Czech Republic) is the Czech koruna (CZK). This means that if you are coming from destinations that use the Euro, you will have to take out some Czech korunas as well.
While many tourist-frequented establishments accept credit cards, you will need some cash on hand for smaller restaurants and shops. You will also need cash for the vendors at the Christmas markets (one of the best things to do in Prague in winter!).
It is best to get cash out of a bank ATM rather than a currency exchange booth, as the rates are much more favorable. I usually withdraw cash as soon as I arrive in a country – usually at an airport ATM, but since I arrived via Flixbus, I used the ATM at the central Hlvani Nadrazi train station.
Not sure if it was just the specific ATMs in the station, or if this is common at other ATMs in the city (or at the airport), but the service charge was exorbitantly high. I took out 2000 CZK (~$85 USD) and there ended up being over 300 CZK tacked on as a service charge (bringing the total to over $100 USD).
Nonetheless, Prague is a very affordable city compared to the rest of Europe, so 2000 CZK was plenty of cash to last me for two days. I used my credit card at bigger establishments, and cash for smaller transactions.
Tipping is commonly expected from tourists, although gratuity is sometimes automatically included in your bill. If not, tip 10-15%.
Safety in Prague
Prague is a relatively safe city, and violent crime is rare. While violent crime is extremely rare in Prague, petty crimes do occur.
Pickpocketing is common in Prague, especially on tram lines 22 and 23, on the subway, and in crowded tourist areas such as Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. ALWAYS keep a close watch on your belongings!
Leave your valuables behind in your hotel safe, and never, ever leave anything out unattended! Make sure that your bags are zipped, and don’t leave stuff in your back pocket. If you are sitting down at a restaurant or cafe, hold on to your bag, and don’t leave things, like your phone, out on the table.
I always like to keep my important belongings in a crossbody (I carried this one during my time in Prague in winter) that stays on my person at all times, and I always keep an extra hand on it, especially if I’m walking through crowded areas or on public transportation. For extra security, carrying an anti-theft bag (like this crossbody, tote, or backpack), or a money belt may be a good idea.
I visited the city as a solo female traveler, and felt very safe in Prague. That said, you should always exercise common sense and take basic precautions: don’t walk around alone late at night (especially outside of the main streets), don’t go anywhere with strangers, don’t get too intoxicated, and always watch your surroundings!
As with the rest of Europe, Germany uses 230 V Type E power plugs. If you are coming from the United States, you will need to use a power adapter to use your electronics.
Where to Stay in Prague
You’ll find a wide range of accommodation options in Prague, from luxury hotels, hip boutique hotels, Airbnb apartments, hostels, and more.
The best part about visiting Prague in winter is that accommodation prices are very affordable. If you feel like splurging on a luxury hotel, Prague is the perfect place to do it – I was finding rooms at 5-star hotels for around $150 USD a night! (Unfortunately, the one I wanted to stay at was sold out since I was procrastinating and all.)
Staying near all the major tourist attractions will save you a lot of time (and money), allowing you to get around the city on foot. Because of this, I recommend staying either in Prague I (which will put you next to Old Town and the vicinity), or Prague 2 (near the Prague Castle), especially if it is your first time visiting Prague.
I stayed at the Vintage Design Hotel Sax, mostly because I was drawn to the fun, colorful design of the property. This is an ideal place to stay for any budget – they have tiny bunk bed rooms with shared bathrooms down the hall for those on a budget, and suites for those who want to splurge, with standard room types in between.
It is also conveniently located – a 7 minute walk to the Prague Castle, and 20 minutes to Old Town.
Here are some other recommendations for places to stay in Prague:
- Hostels: Sophie’s Hostel (upscale hostel with modern furnishings and a lively social scene), Little Quarter Hostel (conveniently located between Prague Castle and Charles Bridge)
- Budget: ICON Hotel & Lounge (trendy boutique hotel, 12 minute walk from Old Town), Miss Sophie’s Hotel (Chic hotel in an Art Nouveau building, with vintage-inspired rooms)
- Mid-range: Maximilian Hotel (low-key design hotel located close to the Jewish Quarter), Design Hotel Jewel (charming boutique hotel located a 6 minute walk from Old Town)
- Luxury: Grand Hotel Bohemia (where I would’ve stayed! Stunning rooms in a 1920s building), Iron Gate Hotel & Suites (elegant rooms featuring fresco ceilings and warm colors, located just 4 minutes from Old Town)
- Airbnbs: Check out available Airbnb properties in Prague here.
Magical Things to Do in Prague in Winter
Visit the city’s festive Christmas markets
One of the best things about winter in Prague (and Europe in general) is being able to check out all of the Christmas markets in the city! Seeing all of these festive markets pop up all over the city really put me into the holiday spirit and made visiting Prague in winter so much fun!
While Prague is magical at any time of year, the city especially comes alive during the Christmas market season. You’ll find twinkling lights, festive decor, and holiday cheer. If you’ve never visited an European Christmas market, then you are in for a treat (I had never been to one until I visited Munich in winter, and I am now completely convinced that Europeans win Christmas)!
One huge advantage about the Christmas markets in Prague is that many of them stay open into January. So, if you are visiting Prague in winter after Christmas, then you can soak in all that festive holiday magic for just a little while longer!
Prague’s Christmas markets are filled with festive wooden stalls selling handmade ornaments, trinkets, jewelry, and much more – it’s the perfect place to shop for local souvenirs when visiting Prague in winter.
Plus, you’ll find plenty of food vendors selling traditional Czech street food, such as slow-roasted Prague ham, grilled sausages, fried cheese, and potato dumplings. Be sure to grab a super-Instagrammable trdelnik pastry as well (although it turns out, they are not technically Czech).
Of course, you must also grab a cup (or uh, several) of svařené víno (aka mulled wine, aka one of the best things about winter in Prague)!
Here is a list of Christmas markets to check out in Prague in winter:
- Old Town Square (Staroměstské Náměstí): The biggest and most famous of the city’s Christmas markets is a must when visiting Prague in winter. You’ll find hundreds of booths set up in the bustling square. You’ll encounter the most crowds here, but seeing the breathtaking Christmas tree at the center of the square makes this one a must-visit when visiting Prague in winter. (cancelled for 2020 – Christmas Tree will still be placed in square)
- Wenceslas Square: Located just a five-minute walk from Old Town Square. A bit less known and less frequented than the main market in Old Town Square, but just as charming. You’ll find a good selection of handicrafts and food here – go here to escape the crowds. (cancelled for 2020)
- Prague Castle Christmas Market (Pražský hrad): It doesn’t get much more magical than a Christmas market located at a castle. You’ll find 70 stalls at this market, located in St. George’s Square, with the stunning St. Vitus Cathedral as a backdrop. There’s a beautiful tree as well as incredible views overlooking the city, so this one is a must!
- Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky): This market is located right outside the Palladium shopping mall, and is one of the smaller ones in the city. As such, you’ll find far fewer crowds and cheaper prices than at the markets listed above. You’ll still find a good selection of food and drinks, plus festive decorations and traditional handicrafts sold here. (cancelled for 2020)
- Peace Square (Náměstí Míru): Located in front of the St. Ludmila church in Prague 2, this Christmas market is where all the locals hang out. This one is also a good one to visit if your winter in Prague trip is earlier on in the season, as it usually opens first before all the others.
Wander around the charming Old Town
While Prague in winter as a whole is pretty magical, there’s just something truly special about its Old Town, also known as Staré Město. Just walking through it gives you the feeling as if you’ve stepped back in time. It also has major fairytale vibes, and it’s hard not to be enchanted by the beautiful cobblestone streets and historic buildings.
You can easily spend an entire day getting lost in the charming streets here, but at the very least, you must spend at least a few hours in Staré Město when visiting Prague in winter. The heart of the Old Town is the Old Town Square, which has been the city’s main meeting point since the 12th century.
The square is surrounded by exquisitely preserved historic buildings and monuments, including the iconic Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Týn, which dominate Prague’s skyline.
In front of the Old Town Hall is the oldest-operating astronomical clock in the world (and third oldest in general), which was first installed in 1410. At the top of every hour, it chimes and a mechanical procession of the Twelve Apostles sets it into motion.
An absolute must when visiting Prague in winter is climbing up the 70 meter (~230 feet) tall Old Town Hall tower. This was one of my favorite views in the city! You’ll be able to gaze down at all the historic buildings in Old Town Square, as well as the prominent towers of the Church of Our Lady before Týn. You’ll be able to see how beautiful the city is, with its sea of orange rooftops (especially magical if you catch them with a dusting of snow)!
Stroll across the Charles Bridge at sunrise
The iconic Charles Bridge connects the Old Town with the Castle District, and is one of Prague’s most famous sights. The bridge dates back to 1357, and is lined with statues of saints that look down on people walking by.
I happened to be able to catch the sunrise at the Charles Bridge and it was definitely one of the most magical sunrises that I’ve ever seen. Seeing the beautiful pink and purple shades in the sky, and then seeing the sun come up over the historic bridge was an absolutely stunning sight.
One advantage of catching sunrise when visiting Prague in winter is that it falls between 7:30-8am, so it’s not tooooo early. Plus, you’ll be able to avoid the crowds by visiting arguably Prague’s most popular tourist attraction first thing in the morning!
There were a few people out and about at sunrise (probably more than I expected), but it was nothing compared to the giant crowds I saw when I crossed the bridge again later that day (yes, there are crowds even in winter in Prague!). It was so nice to be able to take in the beauty of the bridge, the surrounding buildings, and the river without dealing with a giant swarm of people surrounding you.
Trust me, seeing the Charles Bridge at sunrise is absolutely worth the early wakeup call (and the fact that it is absolutely FREEZING – seriously, I’ve never been so cold in my life)! It was absolutely one of my favorite memories about visiting Prague in winter.
Explore the magical Prague Castle
The Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world, and dates back to the ninth century. It’s the official seat of the present of the Czech Republic, but it’s also basically a real-life fairytale.
The 45 hectare (111 acres) complex is made up of historical palaces, offices, churches, gardens, and picturesque spots. There are a few ticket options, depending on how much of these buildings you’d like to see (note: currently only the Circuit A option is offered)
If you want to see just the highlights of the Prague Castle, the Circuit A option costs 250 CZK (~$11 USD) and includes entry into the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, Golden Lane, and St. Vitus Cathedral. This is the option I chose, and I thought I was able to see plenty!
If you wish to see more attractions within the Prague Castle complex, there are several other circuits available, as well as guided tours (which allow you to skip the long ticket queues!).
The absolute highlight of visiting Prague Castle for me was seeing the St. Vitus Cathedral. The stunning church, which started construction in 1344, was built over 600 years and is an absolute architectural marvel. The extraordinary Gothic details on the incredible exterior are absolutely mind-blowing. Seriously, I stared at it in awe, mouth open, and could not stop snapping photos!
The interior of the cathedral is also equally impressive, filled with gorgeous stained-glass windows, paintings, and sculptures.
Because I am such a sucker for colorful facades, I also enjoyed strolling down Golden Lane, a picturesque cobblestone street lined with charming 16th century houses, originally owned by goldsmiths.
Obviously, I loved the pastel colors of all the houses, but I also really enjoyed being able to peek into some of them. A number of the houses on Golden Lane are filled with period scenes, displaying various antiques and artifacts that depict the lives of their occupants.
Some of the most interesting ones were Franz Kafka’s house (#22), and the residence of amateur film historian Josef Kazda (#12), who hid thousands of films from the Nazis here.
Finally, take some time to soak in the stunning views from Prague Castle. You’ll find some stunning vistas overlooking the city within the complex and they are not to be missed!
Go ice skating in the heart of Old Town
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I never say no to ice skating, especially if it’s at a magical outdoor rink (also that part of me still wants to be the next Kristi Yamaguchi).
There are many ice skating rinks during winter in Prague, but the most magical is at the Ovocný Trh fruit market in the heart of Old Town. You’ll be able to glide on the ice in the midst of a fairytale setting – what more can you ask for?
It is free to skate at Ovocný Trh, but it costs 100 CZK/hour (~$4.50 USD) to rent skates….unless you’re that person who likes to travel with skates (aka me).
Another option for ice skating in Prague in winter is at Na Františku, nestled in a quieter part of Old Town, just next to the Jewish Quarter. This one boasts a pretty large size (40×20 meters), and gorgeous views of the Vltava River.
Admission to the Na Františku rink is 50 CZK (~$2.25 USD), with skate rental costing another 50 CZK.
Unfortunately, I *just* missed the opening of the rinks while I was in Prague – literally just by a day! I was pretty sad about that, but that just means I’ll have to return for another trip to Prague in the winter in the (hopefully near) future!
Feast on some hearty Czech food
My travel motto is “will travel for food,” and trying the local cuisine is always at the top of my list in any given destination. Prague was no different – one of the things I was looking forward to was trying some traditional Czech cuisine.
While often considered unglamorous and somewhat indulgent, traditional Czech food is hearty and filling for both the stomach and soul. I found that the rich stews, braised meats, and filled dumplings to be hearty, filling, and comforting. Feasting on some traditional Czech dishes is the perfect way to warm up while spending time in Prague in winter.
Here are some traditional Czech dishes to try in winter in Prague:
- Guláš: While goulash tends to traditionally be associated with Hungarian cuisine, it is very much a part of Czech cuisine and is one of the best things to eat during winter in Prague. The Czech version tends to be thicker, with chunks of braised beef spiced with caraway and marjoram, flavored with beer. They also usually come accompanied by Knedlíky, or bread dumplings, perfect for soaking it all up.
- Svíčková: Similar to goulash, with Sirloin steak braised in a broth made of carrots, parsley roots, and celery, with heavy cream. It usually comes served with cranberry compote, and Knedlíky to soak it all up.
- Pečená kachna: Roast duck, commonly found on the menus of many Czech restaurants throughout the city. Usually served with red cabbage and dumplings. Wash it down with a Czech beer!
- Koleno: Roasted pork knuckle marinated in beer. Traditionally served with pickles, horseradish, and mustard. Usually comes with a side of cabbage and dumplings, or roasted potatoes and sauerkraut.
- Smažený Sýr: A slab of cheese that is breaded and deep fried. Yes, it’s heavy and YES, it’s delicious. It’s a popular beer snack, but some vegetarians eat this as a main course.
- Pražská šunka: Brined, stewed, and beechwood-smoked Prague ham – it’s crispy on the outside, but falls off the bone. It is legally protected and only found in Prague! A popular street food.
- Halušky: Small dumplings made with flour and finely grated potatoes, with various toppings such as bacon, cabbage, onions, cheese, or butter. I found these at the Christmas market and loved these – they are super hearty and perfect for the cold winter in Prague weather!
For a good introduction to all of the traditional Czech foods, I recommend doing a Prague food tour. This will allow you to try some of the most popular items in Czech cuisine, while learning more about the city from a local guide!
A few of the Czech restaurants I enjoyed are:
- Mincovna: Mincovna serves traditional Czech food with a modern twist. I stopped in for lunch and ordered the goulash – it was the perfect way to fuel up after a busy morning of exploring. They have an extensive selection of local beers and wines here, so wash it down with a glass (or two). The building that Mincovna is located in has an interesting history as well – coins were minted here back in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Staroměstské nám. 930/7, 110 00 Josefov)
- Lokál: A traditional Czech pub with a contemporary twist. Lokál is a great spot to snack on some Czech-style pub food (like fried cheese) while washing it down with some local brews. Find hearty Czech favorites that are made with quality, local ingredients. The focus here is the beer, so you must try at least one! (Dlouhá 33, 110 00 Staré Město)
- Mlejnice: Another place that has amazing goulash, which comes in a bread bowl here! You’ll find tons of other authentic Czech dishes here, with plentiful portions. It’s got a cozy vibe. Mlejnice fills up quickly, so come early or make reservations!
Warm up with some Czech beer
Upon my arrival in Prague, my Uber driver told me that Czechs love two things: sex and beer. As it turns out, Czechs drink the most beer per capita than any other country in the world. Nearly everyone here, including famous authors and politicians, is obsessed with beer, and it is a matter of national pride.
So, having a pint of two (or more, hey, I ain’t judging) of Czech beer is a must when visiting Prague in winter. It’s also the perfect way to warm up from the cold, and hey – it’s even cheaper than water here!
The Czech Republic is especially known for its Pilsner, which originates in the city of Pilsen (Plzeň) and is one of the most popular styles of beer in the world. It is a pale lager, with a light flavor with crisp, refreshing finish. It also tends to be poured with a lot of foam.
The oldest brewery in the Czech Republic is located in Prague at the Břevnov Monastery, which dates back to 993 AD. Beer was often brewed by monks, who were allowed to drink beer while fasting. The brewery is still operational today – you can tour the facilities and taste its beers in this tour! (This was highly recommended to me by several friends but I ran out of time. Just means I will have to return!).
One of the things I enjoyed doing most in winter in Prague was this Czech beer culture tasting tour. Our guide was super fun and informative, and we learned all about the history of beer, a rundown of the brewing process and the most popular types of Czech beer, and how beer fits into Czech culture. We made stops at three different pubs and sampled beer at each, as well as some goulash. All in all, a fun evening, and highly recommended!
You can also check out the Czech Beer Museum, which will give you more of an insight into the history and brewing process of Czech beer. Included in your museum admission are four ¼ liter samples of beer! You also have the opportunity to bottle your own personalized bottle of beer, which makes a fantastic souvenir!
And if you still can’t get enough beer, Prague has a number of beer spas, at which you can soak in a 30-minute beer bath. Each tub also has a personal keg of beer within arm’s reach, so you can enjoy a cold one while you soak.
Yes, it’s one of the most unusual things to do in Prague in winter, but it’s said to be relaxing, and promote increased circulation and metabolism, along with softer hair and skin. You also have the option for adding a massage for extra relaxation!
Admire the views from the top of Petřín Lookout Tower
Prague has no shortage of incredible views, but one of the best is from the top of the Petřín Lookout Tower. The tower was built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891.
If it kinda looks like the Eiffel Tower to you, that’s no accident – the design was loosely inspired by the iconic Parisian landmark. The Petřín Lookout Tower stands 63.5 meters (~208 feet) tall, which doesn’t seem so high until you factor in that it stands at the top of a giant hill in Petřín Park, making it roughly the same altitude as from the real thing.
The Petřín Lookout Tower is located about a mile from the Prague Castle. You can either walk and climb up the hill to get to its base, or just take a funicular.
From there, it is 299 steps to the top…or you can just take the elevator, which is an extra 60 CZK (~$2.70 USD) (on top of the 150 CZK admission fee). Seriously though, after who-knows-how-many-days of walking 30,000 steps a day, this was the best 60 CZK that I spent on my trip…even though the elevator guy was totally judging me and kept joking that he was going to refuse to let me up.
Whatever method you use to get up to the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views once you get there. You can pretty much see the entire city of Prague from here, from its bridges, and an endless sea of orange rooftops. Absolutely worth it, and one of the best things to do in Prague in winter!
(note: The Petrin Lookout Tower is temporarily closed)
Learn something new at one of Prague’s museums
One of the best things to do in winter in Prague is to visit one of the city’s many museums. It’s a great way to learn something new, and to escape the cold for a few hours!
There’s a museum for everyone in Prague, covering anything from Czech history and art, to the more unusual ones, such as the Sex Machines Museum.
Here are some museums to check out in Prague, from the more traditional to the quirky:
- The National Museum of Prague (temporarily closed): Prague’s most famous and well-known museum. The National Museum has six departments housing over 14 million artifacts, covering Czech and natural history. (Václavské nám. 68, 110 00 Nové Město)
- Franz Kafka Museum (temporarily closed): Houses a collection of original manuscripts, letters, photographs, diaries, and other personal artifacts of the famed writer, who was born and raised in Prague. (Cihelná 635, 118 00 Malá Strana)
- Jewish Museum in Prague (temporarily closed): Exhibits one of the largest collections of Jewish artifacts in the world, chronicling the history of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. (U Staré školy 141/1, 110 00 Staré Město)
- Museum of Decorative Arts (temporarily closed): Displays elegant historic and contemporary arts and crafts, including glass, porcelain, jewelry, clocks, and toys, in a stunning Neo-Renaissance building. (17. listopadu 2, 110 00 Josefov)
- Museum of Communism: A small museum that displays a collection of items from the post-World War II Communist era in Prague. (V Celnici 1031/4, 118 00 Nové Město)
- Apple Museum (temporarily closed): Houses the largest private collection of Apple products in the world. (Husova 21, 110 00 Staré Město)
- Sex Machines Museum (temporarily closed): The first museum of its kind in the word, exhibiting over 350 mechanical erotic appliances, and more. (Melantrichova 476/18, 110 00 Staré Město)
- Museum of Alchemists and Magicians: A small, offbeat museum showcasing the history of alchemy and magic. (Jánský vršek 8, 118 00 Malá Strana)
- Museum of Torture: Displays various instruments and devices once used to torture suspected witches, political rebels, scapegoats, gluttons, heretics, and other so-called enemries of the state in Europe. (Celetná 558, 110 00 Staré Město)
Visit the Klementinum, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries
I am always a sucker for visiting gorgeous libraries and bookstores (like at Trinity College in Dublin, and the Livaria Ler Devagar in Lisbon), so I was excited to see the Baroque Library at the Klementinum, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.
The library was opened in 1722 as part of a Jesuit university housed in the Klementinum complex. It houses over 20,000 books, mostly foreign theological texts, spanning hundreds of years from the 17th century to modern times. It is also the home of the Latin coronation Gospel Book, which at 40 million Euros (~$47.5 million USD), is one of the most expensive manuscripts in the world.
The interior has remained largely unchanged since the 18th century, and is a stunning example of Baroque architecture, with stunning ceiling frescoes. In the center of the hall is an amazing collection of geographical and astronomical globes, created by the Jesuits.
The only way to see the library is through a guided tour of the Klementinum. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed due to regulations by the Ministry of Culture, which owns the library – but it is still worth seeing!
Also included in the guided tour is a visit to the top of the Klementinum’s astronomical tower, which has a beautiful view of Old Old Town Prague, and the Our Lady of the Tyn church.
Check out some of Prague’s quirky attractions
Prague is not only one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, it also has a quirky, offbeat side. Not only does it have some strange museums (see above), it also has some rather unusual buildings, art pieces, and attractions scattered around the city. Checking out at least a few of these is a must when visiting Prague in winter.
Prague is known for its fairytale architecture, but standing in stark contrast to that is Frank Gehry’s Dancing House. The renowned architect designed the house with Czech architect Vlado Milunić, and is located at the corner of Rašín’s waterfront and The Square of Jirásek.
The fluid curves on the house are supposed to symbolize a “dance over the end of totalitarianism,” and mimic a couple dancing. I don’t know if I exactly see it, but it is definitely one of Prague’s most interesting buildings, and definitely worth checking out when visiting Prague in winter.
Another one of Prague’s quirkiest attractions is a rotating sculpture of Franz Kafka’s head, which stands in a busy downtown shopping center. Designed by Czech artist David Černý, the metallic sculpture features 42 individually rotating layers of steel, which is supposed to represent the ever-turning pieces of the writer’s mind.
The layers twist into the shape of Kafka’s face for only a few moments, until it disintegrates again. The mechanism uses gears inspired by traditional Czech clockwork, like those found in the famous Astronomical Clock found in Old Town Square.
Located a short walk away from the sculpture of Kafka’s head is the only Cubist lamp post in the world. Cubism flourished for a short time in Prague in the years leading up to the World War I. This lamp post, which also doubles as a chair, is a prime example of that era. Made of reinforced concrete, the lamp post features angles and zig-zag motifs, with a geometric shape and rectangular notches.
At first glance, the John Lennon wall looks like just another wall filled with colorful graffiti. But look closer, and you’ll notice that the wall is covered with images of the famous musician, as well as spray-painted graffiti featuring lyrics from his songs.
The wall was originally used as a means of protest during Prague’s communist days, when Western music was frowned upon by the authorities. The wall kept getting erased, but the graffiti would always reappear.
These days, the John Lennon wall is owned by the Order of the Knights of Malta, who have just let the graffiti be. People today come by and add their contribution to the wall, but even if you don’t feel like tagging, it makes one of the best photo ops when visiting Prague in winter!
Hang out in Prague’s beautiful cafes
Prague has a long and storied history of cafe culture, dating back centuries. Not only is sitting in a cafe one of the best ways to escape the cold, you’ll be sitting in some of the very same cafes that Prague’s most famous actors, poets and writers once hung out in.
Prague’s cafe culture dates back to when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and takes cues from the cafes of Vienna. Its heyday was between the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, when the city’s writers, artists, and intellectuals gathered to discuss their big ideas over a slice of cake, a cup of coffee, or a pint of beer. Prague’s cafes were where its history and art were shaped.
During its communist years, the cafe was no longer used as a meeting place for ideas. However, after the Velvet Revolution, cafes enjoyed a resurrection again, and many of the old standbys were restored.
Today, Prague cafe culture is considered to be one of the best in Europe, and the city has everything from beautiful historical cafes, to modern hipster cafes. They are the perfect places to escape the cold in winter in Prague, while sipping on a coffee, eating a pastry, and perhaps reading a Kafka novel.
Here are some of the most notable cafes in Prague:
- Cafe Savoy: Quite possibly the prettiest cafe in Prague. Cafe Savoy opened in 1893, and has a stunning neo-Renaissance interior, with a painted stucco ceiling. I came for breakfast and really enjoyed it – you can order a breakfast platter with a selection of eggs, pastries, and even Prague ham. Everything was absolutely delicious, but you really cannot go wrong with the setting here! If you come for lunch or dinner, they have a selection of traditional Czech dishes, and even a tasting menu. (Vítězná 124/5, Vítězná 5, 150 00 Praha)
- Cafe Louvre: Another one of Prague’s most iconic cafes. Cafe Louvre’s famous clientele once included Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein, and was adopted by the city’s literary movers and shakers as a makeshift office. It eventually extended into a wine cellar and jazz club. In 1948, Cafe Louvre was ransacked by the communist forces, but was restored and reopened in the 1990s. Cafe Louvre is said to have some of the city’s best svíčková and goulash as well! (Národní 22, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia)
- Cafe Imperial: Cafe Imperial boasts a stunning Art Noveau interior, which has been beautifully restored to their original grandeur. The tile work is especially stunning! Cafe Imperial dates back to 1914 and was a very popular cafe until World War II, when it was taken over by German soldiers. Today, it is owned by Czech celebrity chef Zdeněk Pohlreich and is a very popular spot for lunch. (Na Poříčí 1072/15, 110 00 Petrská čtvrť)
Relax on a river cruise
One of my favorite ways to see a city is from the water, and one of my favorite things to do in winter in Prague was taking a river cruise on the Vltava River. There’s just something extra magical about being able to see some of Prague’s most famous sights, while relaxing on a boat.
It’s also a great way to relax and rest your feet after a long day of sightseeing (I was up at 30,000 steps by the time I got on the boat), and to escape the cold when visiting Prague in winter – you’ll be on a glass-enclosed boat with a heater. Light snacks and beverages are available for purchase on board, and cruising by all the beautiful sights with a Bailey’s hot chocolate was the perfect winter in Prague activity!
You’ll be able to see some of the most iconic attractions in Prague from a different perspective, and the panoramic views cannot be beat. One of my favorite parts about the cruise was being able to see the Charles Bridge from underneath! I also loved being able to see the Prague Castle, perched on top of a hill, from the river. I enjoyed the informative commentary as well, and learned lots of new fun facts about Prague!
Slurp on a bowl of pho noodles
No, seriously. I know what you’re thinking right now – Vietnamese food in Prague, like REALLY?! When I first started researching for my trip, I had that same initial thought when I kept reading recommendations to eat Vietnamese food.
After all, I come from California and am surrounded by amazing Vietnamese restaurants – why would I go all the way to Europe to eat Vietnamese food?
This was not originally on my list of things to do in Prague in winter. However, after 5 days straight of eating meat and potatoes every meal (the stars in both Bavarian and Czech cuisine), I was craving a bowl of soupy noodles.
As it turns out, the Czech Republic, and specifically Prague, has a sizable Vietnamese population. Today, the Czech Republic boasts a Vietnamese population of nearly 60,000, making it the third largest ethnic minority group behind Slovaks and Ukrainians. This is because many Vietnamese immigrants came to work and study because of an agreement between Czechoslovakia and Vietnam during the Communist era – many of them settled in Prague.
So, you’ll find some authentic Vietnamese food in Prague. Slurping on a bowl of pho will definitely hit the spot when visiting Prague in winter – it is the ultimate comfort food!
Here are some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Prague:
- Pho Vietnam Tuan & Lan (15, Anglická 529, 120 00 Praha 2): A hole-in-the wall with some of the most authentic Vietnamese food in town. Very basic but efficient, and often has a line outside the door.
- Remember Vietnamese Food (Biskupská 1753/5, 110 00 Petrská čtvrť): One of the consistently top rated Vietnamese restaurants in Prague. It’s a tiny spot, but their food is solid.
- Muc Dong Vietnamese Restaurant (Křižovnická 97/8, 110 00 Staré Město): You can’t beat the location of this spot, located just next to Old Town. You’ll find authentic food at great prices, with a warm, casual vibe.
Have you been to Prague in winter? What are some of your favorite things to do in winter in Prague?
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