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Christmas is coming quickly and there is no better place to enjoy the festive spirit than in European Christmas markets.
When planning your next winter getaway, why not visit one of the most beautiful markets in the world?
The Prague Christmas market in the Czech Republic with their magical atmosphere, local Christmas traditions, great shopping and delicious food are one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
As Czechs, who have been living in Prague for a few years, we visited the Christmas markets in the Czech capital many times. And we are planning to go there again this year because it’s a big part of Czech Christmas tradition.
Also, it never gets boring!
It’s a great place to unwind from the pre-Christmas shopping madness, get into the festive mood and have a cup (or two) of mulled wine.
Why Choose Prague for Christmas Markets
But why should you travel to Prague when there are so many Christmas markets in Europe?
The most popular markets are located close to each other and you can easily walk from one to another, there is no need to use public transportation.
You can also find a great selection of Christmas products, gifts, food and drinks accompanied by festive-themed entertainment here.
In general, prices in the Czech Republic are lower than in Western Europe so you will get much better value for your money in Prague at the Christmas market.
And we aren’t talking only about prices of Christmas merchandise or food. The end of the year (except for Christmas time and New Year’s Eve) is considered as the low season so you can grab a bargain on your flights or accommodation to Prague.
Not to mention the stunning historic center, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, that you can explore when you get tired of Christmas carols.
You can get inspired by our one-day itinerary.
When to Go to the Prague Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets in Prague (‘vanocni trhy’ in the Czech language) start well before the holidays so you have plenty of time to get into the merry mood.
There are many markets spread across the city, they are open daily, the entry is free, and they are one of the best things to do in Prague.
Typically, the biggest and the most popular Prague Christmas markets at (Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Republic Square) start at the beginning of December and last until the beginning of January.
The smaller markets (Peace Square, Tyl’s Square and others) already start at the end of November but finish at Christmas Eve.
Where are the Best Christmas Markets in Prague?
Christmas markets are an important part of Christmas tradition in the Czech Republic and a must do in Prague, and that’s why you can find them in most cities and towns across the country.
Those in Prague are the biggest and they offer the best selection of Christmas merchandise.
You can find them in many places (especially squares) all over the city, the most popular markets are located in the districts of Prague 1 and 2.
You shouldn’t miss the following markets – these are the best Prague Christmas markets, the biggest and most popular, but also the busiest as most tourists head here:
Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti)
The largest and most crowded Christmas market in Prague is spread around the Jan Hus Memorial near the Old Town Hall and Astronomical clock.
Closest metro stations: Staromestska, Mustek
Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti)
Held at the lower part of Wenceslas Square, just a short walk from Old Town Square.
Closest metro stations: Mustek, Muzeum
Republic Square (Namesti Republiky)
One part of the market can be found in front of the shopping centre Palladium, the other near the Old Customs House (Stara Celnice). Within walking distance from both Old Town and Wenceslas Squares.
Closest metro station: Namesti Republiky
Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad)
Located at St. George’s Square (Namesti sv. Jiri) behind the St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala sv. Vita).
Closest metro stations: Hradcanska, Malostranska
If you want to see where local people go, check out some of the smaller Christmas markets for more authentic experience, for example:
Peace Square (Namesti Miru)
Held in front of the Church of St. Ludmila (Kostel sv. Ludmily) in the Vinohrady district. This is usually the first Christmas market of the season.
Closest metro station: Namesti Miru
Tyl’s Square (Tylovo namesti)
Another small marketplace in Vinohrady.
Closest metro station: I. P. Pavlova
These are just some of the most popular Christmas markets in Prague but there are many more of them as every city district usually holds their own.
What do Czech Christmas Markets look like?
Czech Christmas markets are usually nestled around a decorated and lit Christmas tree, and one of the nicest things to see in Prague.
The biggest and the most well-known is the one in Old Town Square.
There is even a competition held annually when people can send their suggestions for the right Christmas tree and the person who found the chosen tree wins some money.
The lighting of the Christmas tree during the first evening of the market is a big event that starts the particular Christmas market. If you can, don’t miss the first ceremonial tree illumination in Old Town Square.
You can usually find some form of a Nativity scene, either static or live, and it’s usually located near the Christmas tree.
Christmas markets consist of wooden stalls or huts decorated with Christmas ornaments, where various Christmas products (usually handmade) or refreshment are on offer.
The most typical items are Christmas tree decorations, handicrafts, glassware, wooden toys, winter accessories, gingerbread, sweets, etc.
We like to drop into some of the refreshment stalls to get a roasted ham or sausage. Petr washes it down with Czech beer (try Pilsner Urquell), while Kat is a fan of mulled wine.
There are many entertainment options coming with Prague Christmas markets – from concerts performed mainly by children or various choirs who sing Czech Christmas carols, family-oriented performances to local craftsmen showcasing their jobs (blacksmiths are the most common and their stalls are also the warmest – just saying!).
Most Christmas markets are family-friendly and there are plenty of activities for your little ones.
They can pet sheep, goats or donkeys in animal stables, get busy in child workshops, enter various competitions, taste Christmas sweets and so on.
You don’t need to spend all your time in Christmas markets, there is always so much going on in the festive season – don’t miss some of the Advent concerts performed in historical buildings or churches, theatre, opera, ballet or exhibitions.
You can even find a few outdoor ice-skating rinks across the city – visit the one in the Fruit Market (Ovocny trh) in the Old Town.
What to Buy at the Czech Christmas Markets
You might be overwhelmed by the great selection of Christmas merchandise in the markets because it all looks so pretty and it’s hard to decide what to get.
The following are some of the typical items that you should check out (not only) because they make perfect Christmas gifts:
- Christmas tree ornaments
- Christmas decorations
- Advent wreaths
- Wooden toys
- Scented candles
- Winter accessories (scarves, hats, gloves)
- Gingerbread products
What to Eat & Drink at the Prague Christmas Market
Don’t miss out and try this typical Czech food, which is offered in most Christmas markets:
- Spit-roasted ham (sunka)
- Barbecued sausages (klobasy)
- Salty potato pancakes (bramboraky)
- Traditional Czech Christmas braided cake ‘vanocka’
- Christmas cookies (vanocni cukrovi)
- Gingerbread (pernik)
While visiting Prague, you will see ‘trdelnik’ around every corner. It’s a sweet pastry made from dough that is wrapped around a metal stick (trdlo) and grilled over an open flame.
It’s presented as typically Czech but it’s not entirely true, it’s common in most of Central Europe.
‘Trdelnik’ got heavily promoted in Prague during the last few years and you can find it in most touristy places.
However, you should still give it a try – you can have it empty, sprinkled with sugar, or with a filling (ice cream is the most popular).
You can watch ‘trdelnik’ being made in most markets and standing by the fire will also warm you up.
The following Christmas drinks will help you to keep warm too:
- Mulled wine (svarene vino or svarak)
- Mead (medovina)
- Eggnog (vajecny konak)
Czech Christmas Traditions
Czech Christmas traditions are different from those in Western Europe.
For us, the most important day of Christmas is Christmas Eve (24th December), especially the evening, when we have family dinner, children get their presents and some families go to a midnight mass in the local church.
For Christmas dinner we enjoy fish soup and fried carp with potato salad – that’s why you can see big tanks with fish for sale in many places a few days before Christmas.
Homemade Christmas cookies are a big part of the holiday in every household and each family has their own ‘secret’ recipes for the best cookies.
There is a Christmas tree colorfully decorated and lit in every house.
The main figure of Czech Christmas is Baby Jesus (Jezisek), not Santa Claus (even though you could see Santa in most shops).
During Christmas Day (25th December) and St. Stephen’s Day (26th December) Czech people like to visit family and friends.
Christmas is the time when families come together and enjoy a lot of good food and also fairy tales (there are many Czech fairy tales on TV during Christmas and we love watching them every year).
Shops are usually closed from the afternoon on 24th December until 25th December, some of them open on 26th December (sales time!).
Hot Tip: St. Nicholas Day in Czech Republic
If you are in the Czech Republic in the evening of 5th December (a day before St. Nicholas Day), you will probably meet St. Nicholas (Mikulas) accompanied by an angel and a devil in the streets.
They ask kids if they behaved during the year – if so, they give them a small present (usually a bag of sweets).
If the kids were naughty, they get a lump of coal or potatoes instead (they still get some treat so that they aren’t too sad).
How to Make the Most of Prague Christmas Market
We hope we convinced you that the Christmas markets in Prague should be on your bucket list. It’s a great way to start the festive season and get some original Christmas gifts or decorations.
It’s cold in the Czech Republic in December (expect temperatures below zero degree Celsius / 32 degrees Fahrenheit), so dress warmly.
The Prague Christmas markets are very popular worldwide and that’s why they can get crowded, especially in Old Town and Wenceslas Squares.
If you can, try to visit the markets during weekdays to avoid the crowds (that’s what we do).
As locals, we prefer the smaller markets for more authentic experience and lower prices. But if it’s your first time in Prague you shouldn’t miss the big markets too – it’s just up to you how much time (and money) you will spend there.
Most stalls don’t accept credit cards as they are just small vendors, so bring cash with you (the local currency is Czech koruna, not Euro).
We like to visit the Prague Christmas markets after it gets dark and the stalls light up, it’s a truly magical experience (especially if it snows).
There is nothing like soaking up the unique atmosphere of medieval Prague, browsing the wooden stalls, listening to Christmas carols, enjoying Czech traditional food and sipping mulled wine.
If you are looking for memorable experiences, Prague always delivers.
Planning a Trip to Prague
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Have you visited the Christmas markets in Prague yet? Do you have any other tips on what to do in Prague?