Prague in winter is one of the nicest cities in Europe. Actually, the city is beautiful all year round, but the winters in Prague are quite special. The city is in the heart of Europe. The Vltava River runs through it. Throughout its 1000-year history, Prague grew over valleys, hills, and terraces.
All you have to do is walk about Prague to enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the surroundings. Go up the hills, and you will understand why it’s nicknamed the City of 100 Spires. Stroll along the river, and you will see Prague’s Castle presiding over the city.
To us, no other city in the world has such diverse and grand architecture. Today, the city is liberal, vibrant, and cosmopolitan. We’ve been to Prague countless times in all seasons and have selected our favorite things to do in winter. We hope you enjoy the city as much as we do!
Why Visit Prague in Winter
We don’t want to complain or anything. After all, we are travelers ourselves! However, the crowds in Prague in summer and spring are simply too much. We are guilty as charged. But what can we say? Everybody wants to see one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Over 8 million people visited Prague before 2020. As you can imagine, the bulk of that number visited in summer. You can’t imagine how crowded the city’s streets used to be. It made it very hard to admire Prague’s landmarks properly! No wonder the locals were starting to get annoyed.
We all know what happened in 2020, so let’s not even talk about it. Things are going back to normal, but fortunately, not quite like before. In all honesty, we believe this winter is the right time to visit Prague. You will have tons of space, peace, and happy hosts!
As any experienced traveler knows, fewer people mean lower prices. As you can imagine, hotels and restaurants can charge pretty much what they want in summer. The city is gorgeous, the sun is out, and you are having fun, so you go ahead and pay. Sometimes, quite a lot.
Everything changes in winter. Since there are fewer tourists but the same number of hotels, these have to lower their prices. That’s why staying at a luxurious hotel is what to do in Prague in winter. The city has some of the best in Europe, and prices in winter are irresistible.
Restaurants and bars charge kind of like the same all year round. However, you can choose your favorite place and enjoy it. There’s no need to elbow yourself to order or to wait for a table. The same applies to museums and cultural venues. You will enjoy them so much more alone!
Things to Do in Prague in Winter
Visit the Prague Castle without the Crowds
Of all the things to do in Prague in winter, a visit to the Prague Castle is mandatory. The 9th Century Castle provides the perfect backdrop for the city. The castle is perched on a hill in the center of the city. Thus, the views from there will take your breath away.
There’s more. With an area of 750,000 square feet (70,000 sq meters), a length of 1870 feet (570 m), and a width of 430 feet (130 m), the structure is the biggest castle in the world. Though extremely crowded in the summer, you can spend hours enjoying it with space in winter.
You have two courtyards to discover. The first temple you will see is the Cathedral. The one behind is the incredible St. George Basilica. The parks and terraces around the Castle are great to walk about. Go in the afternoon, and you will never forget the views over the city.
Roam the Streets of the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter is one of the nicest in the city. To get there from the Castle, cross the Vltava River through Cech Bridge. Don’t rush and stop at the 1908 beauty for pictures. Impressive sculptures by local artists decorate the only Art Nouveau bridge in Prague.
Every single street in the quarter is worth your time. Since you will be in Prague in winter, you will be able to walk at your own pace. You have 8 splendid synagogues to visit! Our favorite is the Spanish Synagogue. Completed in 1868, it’s also the newest.
The oldest is the Old-New Synagogue. The 1270 temple is the oldest synagogue active in Europe. The Old Jewish Cemetery is next door. Once there, don’t forget to check the Pinkas Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial. Walk to the other side of the quarter to the Jerusalem Synagogue, one of the nicest in the world.
Visit the Famous Main Square
No matter how many main squares you’ve seen in the world, Prague’s Old Town Square is like no other. Since the huge plaza is in the center of the Old Town, you will pass it several times. Practically bursting in the summer, you’ll be able to spend time and enjoy it in the winter.
Incredible buildings in different styles line the plaza. Every single one of them is interesting. One of our favorites is the Church of Our Lady before Tyn from the 1450s. The coffee houses overlooking the plaza are packed in summer. Come winter, sit and enjoy people watching.
The statue in the center of the plaza is of Jan Hus, one of the world’s most influential philosophers. Another landmark is the Memorial to the martyrs executed by the Habsburgs in 1621. The original Mariam Column was built on the plaza in 1650. It was demolished in 1918 and rebuilt in 2020.
Climb a Historic Tower or Two
The Astronomical Clock from 1410 is the oldest of its kind in the world. The tower presides over the city’s main square. Everybody flocks to the tower on the hour from 9 AM to 11 PM to see it work and chime. Then you can climb to the top to enjoy epic views.
Walk 5 minutes east to the Powder Tower, one of the original city gates. The original tower from 1475 was thoroughly reconstructed in 1876. You have to climb 160 steps to see the famed 100 spires! The Music Hall next door from 1911 is also worth your time.
Walk to the river and climb the 138 steps to the viewing platform of the Old Town Bridge Tower. Emperor Charles IV built the monumental gateway in the mid-14th Century. Another fantastic place to enjoy killer sunsets. Then stop for views and coffee next to the river at the Charles Bridge Café.
Discover the Unique Czech Cubism
Prague is known around the world because of its architecture. Very few cities have such diversity in styles. From Neo Classic to contemporary, Prague has it all. However, there is a style that was born in the city. Czech Cubism flourished in the country before and after World War I.
We wrote a comprehensive text on Czech Cubism. Though you can see cubist buildings all around the city, we will focus on the ones in the center. Begin your tour in the first one: The House of the Black Madonna. The Museum of Czech Cubism and the Orient Café occupy the building.
The Diamant House is nearby. Walk to the area beneath Vysehrad to check 4 buildings. Begin at the Triplex Family House. The most famous cubist house in the city is nearby, Villa Kovarovica. Go to Neklanova Street to see a cubist apartment building. Finish your tour at the Hodkuv Building on the same street.
Visit a Museum or Two
Prague has approximately 100 museums. You can spend weeks visiting them. Don’t skip the Kinsky Palace on the Main Square, home of the National Gallery. Its collection is the largest in the country. Kafka’s father had a store in the palace. The Central Gallery is in the corner.
For an insight into the recent past, head to the Museum of Communism. The Mucha Museum is dedicated to the country’s most celebrated painter. Then walk to the river to check the Museum of Decorative Arts. You won’t believe the jewels inside! The Jewish Museum is two blocks away.
If you like books, head to the Kafka Museum, across the river. Continue west to Saint Nicholas Church. There’s a fantastic museum inside the belfry. The views from there are epic too! Our favorite museum is inside a monastery. The Strahov Library is a stunning building with frescoes and an incredible collection.
Have Coffee in a Historic Palace
We believe Prague has the best coffee houses in Europe. Not only are the places beautiful, but the coffee, cakes, and food are top quality. Of course, you have to stop at the Grand Café Orient, inside the House of the Black Madonna. The views from its terrace are cool.
Walk east to the Imperial Café inside the splendid Hotel Imperial. The fancy coffee shop has been a local’s favorite for over 100 years. Kafka himself visited. Don’t forget to check the hotel’s opulent art deco lobby. For a traditional experience, we recommend Kavarna Adria, next to the Franciscan Gardens.
For coffee with river views, head to Kavarna Slavia, next to the river, in front of Strelecky Island. They play piano every evening. Though not historic, Choco Café U Cervene Zidle is a classic. Everyone in the city goes for coffee and chocolate! Take your time and people-watch.
Visit the Dancing Building
Not everything is old in Prague. As mentioned, the city excels in contemporary architecture too. The most famous contemporary building in Prague is the Dancing House by Frank Gehry. Ghery wanted to call it Fred and Ginger since the building resembles a dancing couple. The official name is Nationale-Nederlanden.
The office building opened in 1992 to worldwide acclaim. If you think it looks fantastic from the outside, wait until you get inside. You can take the elevator to the top. There’s a very good coffee shop. Get your favorite drink and cake and enjoy unforgettable views.
There’s an art gallery on the ground floor selling local art. The Dancing House is next to the river, overlooking the Jiraskuv Bridge. Be sure to stop by the bridge. You will see a mini waterfall. From the center of the bridge, you get the best views over the three islands.
Go Ice Skating
Take advantage of the weather and go ice skating in Prague! The most popular place is in the center of the city. The public ice skating rink at Ovocny square opens from December 6 all through January. You don’t need to be a pro here. What you will probably need is hot chocolate afterward!
You can also skate on Strelecky Island. The ice rink opens during December and January. Even if you don’t skate, go spend some time there and mingle with the locals. You can grab a cup of coffee too. If you are a bit more professional, explore the rinks in a couple of malls.
However, everyone is talking about Capadlo, on the riverfront. Free skating and killer views over the castle! The area around is not that developed so you get to feel nature. Another great way to take advantage of the weather is to take a river cruise. We took this one and had a blast.
Visit the Christmas Markets
If you are lucky enough to be in December in Prague, you will enjoy some of the nicest Christmas markets in Europe. As soon as winter arrives in Prague the stores shine with Christmas decorations. The trees that line the city’s streets too!
The markets open from 10 AM to 10 PM every day starting on November 26th to January 6th. Yes, they open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. The main ones occupy Main Square and Wenceslao Square, in the heart of the city. The massive 72 feet (22 m) tall Christmas tree towers above the Main Square.
Another of our favorite markets is in front of St. George’s Basilica, in the middle of the Castle! This one opens from 9 AM to 6 PM. Though smaller, the market at Republic Square in the center is pretty authentic. We liked the one on Kampa Island a lot.
Where to Stay in Prague
The best places to stay in Prague are in the center. Our favorite hotel in the city is the Imperial. You can’t beat the location, within walking distance of the city’s landmarks. The hotel is an architect’s dream. It has a gym and a sauna. The plush rooms are super comfortable.
If you are in Prague in winter, you must stay at the Hotel Kings Court, one of the best hotels in Europe. The monumental palace is in the center. Threat yourself to an Executive Room for extra space. The hotel’s spa is one of the best in the city.
If you are looking for apartments, we recommend Gold Art Apartments, also in the center. All of the units are big and come with a fully equipped kitchen. The one and two-bed room apartments are perfect if you are traveling with friends or family. Book one with a balcony to enjoy lovely views.
Moving Around Prague
The best way of moving around Prague is walking. Most of the city’s top attractions are in the center or around the Castle. You can walk from one to the other in no time. The temperature in winter in Prague is not freezing. All you need are proper shoes, a coat, and an umbrella.
Weather permitting, we strongly recommend biking. Since it will be winter, you will have more space to bike and maybe access the center. You simply can’t do that in the summer. However, it’s best to bike along the river and around the parks. Prague has incredible nature to enjoy!
The city has an extensive net of transportation that includes metro, trains, trams, and buses. You can literally go everywhere in no time. You have nothing to worry about. Everybody speaks English and will be happy to point your way. Taxis are safe and inexpensive. If you are tired, hop on one and enjoy the ride.