The Essential Guide to Visiting Prague in Winter

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Visiting Prague in winter can have a certain allure – perhaps you want to see this beautiful city under a dusting in snow or you’re keen to visit some of the many Christmas markets in December. However, heading to the Czech capital in the cooler months can have certain drawbacks and you may need to have different considerations than if you’re visiting in the spring or summertime.

There is no doubt that Prague is beautiful at any time of year, but it also does very much experience all four seasons and if you’re not prepared to deal with the lack of daylight or low temperatures while in the city, your winter trip to Prague may not be the best experience ever.

That is not to say that visiting Prague in the winter months is a bad idea. The hordes of visitors that descend upon the city in the summer tend to thin out and you’re likely to get a bit more peace and quiet in the popular areas. And yes, the weather is cold, but there are also plenty of places you can duck into to warm up and feel cosy.

So if you’re interested in spending a few days in Prague in the off-season, this guide is here to help arm you with all you need to know about the wintertime in the Czech capital.

Winter Weather in Prague

Prague winters are cold – there is no denying it. Its location in Central Europe means that winter temperatures are rarely mild and you’re going to want to come armed with a warm winter coat, a scarf, hat and gloves.

The proper cold temperatures generally start setting in around mid-November where highs will rarely climb over the double digits Celsius (< 50°F). It is also likely that the first snow in Prague makes an appearance in November.

In general, expect high temperatures in Prague during the winter months to average around 3°C (37°F) and for lows to be around -2°C (28°F). Of course, there are days that can be a fair bit cooler than this, as well, depending on the conditions.

Come December, the days begin to get very short along with the temperatures declining. Once the proper winter sets in, you can expect temperatures to hover around freezing during the day, with lows dipping a few degrees below. Because the days are short and there is not a lot of sunlight, there isn’t much of a variation between high and low temperatures.

If there is precipitation, you wouldn’t be wrong to expect it to be snow. But winter is also the driest season in Prague, so there may not be any snow when you arrive. Regardless, it’s best to be prepared with the right clothes, lots of layers and some warm walking boots.

Prague Castle in Winter
Prague Castle in Winter

Which Month to Visit Prague in Winter?

Prague in December

December in Prague is one of the best winter months to visit. The city is all decked out in fairy lights and garlands and there are countless Christmas markets in Prague to explore. Christmas in Prague is absolutely delightful and there are numerous great traditions to learn about and experience.

December is also when all of the Christmas markets open (there is at least one market in every neighbourhood) and there are plenty of ice rinks around Prague, as well. This is great for those who want to go ice skating in Prague and really feel as if they are in a winter wonderland.

The temperatures are definitely cold and there is a high likelihood of snow, but all of the festivities that adorn the city give it a certain warmth that you don’t get in January or February. The views of Prague dusted under a covering of snow with fairy lights and Christmas trees poking out is really very special.

If you plan on visiting Prague in December, note that it is the darkest month in the Czech capital. The average sunrise in December is at 8am and sunset averages around 4pm. This is something to keep in mind when considering daylight hours for sightseeing.

Weather-wise, the average high temperature in December is 4°C (39°F) and the average low is 0°C (32°F). Keep in mind that there can be more extremes on either end of these, however.

December is a good time to go on a day trip from Prague, as well, as many other small Czech towns are similarly done up for Christmas. So consider heading out to visit Karlovy Vary or Pilsen. You could even opt to go skiing in some of the mountains surrounding the city.

Prague in January

January is the coldest month in Prague and can also be a bit lacklustre when compared to festive December.

After the New Year, things tend to slow down and there aren’t as many things to go see and do in the city. There also aren’t nearly as many visitors, so if you’re not a fan of crowds, January may be the best time to visit Prague in order to avoid large numbers of tourists.

The average temperatures in January are a little bit cooler than in December, with the average high being 3°C (37°F) and the average low clocking in at -1°C (30°F).

The days in January are slightly longer on average than in December, with the sunrise being at about 8am and sunset averaging around 4:30pm. Again, these aren’t long days, so it is something to keep in mind when it comes to prime sightseeing hours.

Prague covered in snow
Prague covered in snow

Prague in February

Though short, February in Prague can end up being quite miserable – likely because all of the residents of this beautiful city are simply ready for winter to be over and there appears to be no end in sight. Temperatures are still low, daylight is still a commodity and there isn’t a leafy tree to be seen.

Like January, this is also not a popular month to visit the Czech capital, so it is likely that you may have some sites to yourself (or, at least, with significantly fewer people). Keep in mind that many attractions do, however, have reduced or amended hours throughout the winter.

High temperatures average slightly warmer, at around 5°C (41°F) and the lows are still around -1°C (30°F). Keep in mind that there can still be extremes in these temperatures and it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before you travel to know what you’re in for.

One benefit to February is that the days are markedly longer on average than those in December and January. The average sunrise in February is at around 7am and the average sunset is at 5pm, so you can get about two hours more of daylight in February than you can in the other months during winter.

Things to do in Prague in Winter

Along with all of the regular things to do in Prague while visiting, there are a few winter-specific activities that can enrich your time in the Czech capital.

Christmas Markets

Central Europe is known for its Christmas markets and Prague is no different. Throughout the month of December, the city is decked out in countless different Christmas markets (usually at least one for each neighbourhood in Prague).

The most famous of these is the one front and centre in the Old Town square, but one could easily fill an entire Prague itinerary simply bouncing from market to market throughout the city.

Here, you can get your fill of svařák (Czech mulled wine) and candied nuts while browsing various artisans’ stalls. They are the perfect place to pick up unique souvenirs or holiday gifts for friends and family.

They are also charmingly decorated, often in the shadows of large, adorned Christmas trees, and really foster a festive atmosphere.

As mentioned, there are countless markets throughout the city, but the main ones include Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Namesti Republiky. There is no doubt that heading to some of the many Christmas markets in the city is one of the best things to do in Prague in December.

Prague Christmas Market in Old Town Square
Prague Christmas Market in Old Town Square

Ice Skating

Another great thing to do in Prague in winter is to go ice skating. From the months of December until early March, ice skating rinks pop up throughout the city.

This is a great activity if you want to do something very wintry that you definitely cannot do if you’re visiting Prague in the warmer months.

Like Christmas markets, you will find at least one outdoor skating rink in each Prague neighbourhood, if not more.

The opening hours and dates of operation vary, as do the prices for entry and skate rental, but this can still be a very fun activity to do no matter your age – especially if you want to embrace the winter weather and have a bit of fun!

See a Ballet or Opera

While darkness sets in quite early in the winter months in Prague, it can be worth it to go to a cultural event to fill your evenings.

Not only will it help you keep warm, but you can get to see a side of Prague that not many do. And one of the best things to do in Prague in winter is to head to the National Theatre and see a ballet or opera.

Come Christmas time, you can generally get tickets to see Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (make sure you book well in advance!), but there is a repertoire of ballet, opera and theatre throughout the winter. If you end up going to a play – they do even offer English subtitles to the Czech language performances.

All in all, if you’re looking for a great winter activity in Prague that will keep you warm, seeing a performance at the National Theatre is an excellent option.

Prague's National Theatre in winter
Prague’s National Theatre in winter

Enjoy the Sites with Fewer Tourists

Another benefit of visiting Prague in the winter is that fewer people come to the city during this time. Yes, we’ve already established that the weather is cold and dark but if you’re prepared for this, you can get to enjoy a number of sites and attractions without as many of the crowds that descend on the capital in the warmer months.

Though it’s definitely more pleasant to spend time outside in the summertime, Prague is no less beautiful or charming in the winter (in fact, it may even be more alluring) and there won’t be nearly as many people.

This means that you likely don’t need to get as early a start and you’re not going to need to shove your way through crowds or stand in long queues just to see some major attractions such as the Prague Castle.

Keep in mind that most places do have more limited opening times in the winter, but it is still long enough to ensure you’re able to go.

Another benefit of visiting Prague in the winter means that prices for things like accommodation can be quite significantly reduced because of the lack of visitors. Though it is already an affordable city, if you want prices in Prague to be reduced even more, visiting in winter could be a good option.

Charles Bridge in winter
Charles Bridge in winter

Go to a Hockey Game

Another of the great things to do in Prague in winter, especially if you want to experience Czech culture, is to head to an ice hockey game. Hockey is one of the most popular sports in the Czech Republic and the season runs throughout the winter.

HC Sparta Prague plays at the O2 Arena in the city and you can purchase tickets to matches online, if this is something that interests you.

Even if you’re not a huge hockey fan, it can be a fun insight into one of the most popular national pastimes in the Czech Republic. This is also a fun way to get a more local experience in Prague that plenty of visitors to the city don’t get the opportunity to see.

Where to Stay in Prague

Miss Sophie’s Downtown – This boutique hotel located in Centrally located in the New Town is an excellent place to choose from when visiting the Czech Capital in the winter months. They have a number of chic, comfortable and cosy rooms available and a wonderful location for exploring all that Prague has to offer. Click here to check their availability

Grand Hotel Bohemia – For those on the hunt for a luxury option during their winter stay in Prague, this hotel is a fantastic choice. Located in the city centre within easy reach of the top attractions of the Czech capital, they have a range of elegant rooms to choose from, an on-site restaurant and bar and they even include breakfast each morning. Click here to check their availability

Onefam Miru – If you’re travelling solo or visiting Prague on a tight budget, this small hostel located in the lovely Vinohrady neighbourhood is a great choice for a winter escape. They have both private rooms and dorm beds available and a wonderful location for exploring the city. Click here to check their availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Prague hotels!

Beginning of winter in Prague
Beginning of winter in Prague

Though it can be cold, visiting Prague in winter is also a great idea. There is a lot to do and the reduction in tourist crowds make it an appealing option.Are you considering a winter trip to Prague? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

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