As the days grow shorter and the Christmas season approaches, there’s nowhere more magical to spend your time than in the fairytale city of Prague. The “City of a Thousand Spires” is filled with curving cobblestoned alleyways awash with golden light, preserved gothic and baroque buildings, and a 9th-century castle overlooking the Vltava River. This is the magical backdrop for a splendid Christmas in Prague.

Prague’s Christmas Markets

Some of the biggest attractions leading up to Christmas in Prague are the Christmas markets that dot various city squares. The main and largest Christmas market is in Old Town Square. Here, you’ll find colourful wooden huts decorated with ornaments and twinkling lights where merchants sell handicrafts like jewellery, ceramics, Bohemian glass and charming handmade puppets. The Old Town Square market also hosts a nativity scene with live animals and is home to the official Prague Christmas tree. Sip mulled wine (svařák) and enjoy juicy Czech sausages (klobása) while the sweet sound of local children singing carols fills your ears.

Local festive dishes

The other main Christmas Market is at the bottom of Wenceslas Square, the main shopping centre of Prague. With all the streets lined with lights and stores decorated for the season, just a stroll to the market feels like a festive occasion. Indulge your sweet tooth and try trdelník, a round hollow pastry coated with sugar cooked over open coals. Sip a cup of medovina, a Czech honey liqueur sold at the market’s stands. If you want to explore some of the smaller Christmas markets, check out the markets in Peace Square and on Kampa Island.

As you walk through the festive squares of the city around Christmas time, you might encounter an unusual Czech tradition. Fried carp is the Christmas meal of choice in Czechia, and fishmongers sell and prepare fresh carp in the middle of the squares. Many families buy their fish alive. If you happen to be invited to any local Christmas parties in Prague, don’t be surprised to see the dinner carp still swimming in the bathtub.

Great ways to celebrate

The holiday season brings special performances at the National Theatre and other artistic venues in the city. There are plenty of opportunities to see outstanding classical music shows and performances of classics such as The Nutcracker. In this city of Dvořák, Smetana and Mozart, your options won’t be limited.

There are lots of great places to host Christmas parties in Prague for groups. The restaurant and brewery U Fleku is famous for its traditional atmosphere and special in-house beer, brewed on site for over 500 years. The elegant, Art Deco-styled Cafe Slavia, perched on the banks of the Vltava, can host large dinner parties and features live piano music nightly. If you’d like to combine a celebration with sightseeing, you could also rent a boat and watch the twinkling lights of the city slide by while you celebrate the festive season.

There’s no more entrancing time to visit Prague than the run-up to Christmas, and no more bewitching backdrop for a Christmas celebration than the city itself. It’s the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.

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