Christmas is coming quickly and there is no better place to enjoy the festive spirit than at the top European Christmas markets.
When planning your next winter getaway, why not visit one of the most beautiful markets in the world?
The Prague Christmas markets in the Czech Republic are known for their magical atmosphere, local Christmas traditions, great shopping, and delicious food. These are just a few of the reasons why it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
As Czechs, who have been living in Prague for a few years, we visit the Christmas markets in the Czech capital a lot. In fact, it’s a big part of Czech Christmas tradition to visit the market.
Also, it never gets boring!
But Prague doesn’t have just one market, it has several, and each of them has something unique to offer. So if you’re not sure which Prague Christmas Market to visit or what to expect, this is your complete guide!
Why Choose Prague for Christmas Markets?
A Christmas Market is one of the best ways to get into the spirit of Christmas. It’s where you can unwind from the pre-Christmas shopping madness, get into the festive mood and have a cup (or two) of mulled wine.
But why should you travel to Prague when there are so many Christmas markets in Europe?
The main reason why we love the Christmas markets in Prague is that they aren’t as big as those in Germany or Austria, so they feel a lot more intimate.
You also get locals visiting the markets, not just tourists, so you can get a more authentic festive atmosphere here.
The most popular markets are located close to each other and you can easily walk from one to another with no need to use public transportation. Which makes exploring all the Christmas markets in Prague stress-free, compared to other places in Europe.
You can also find a great selection of unique products, Christmas decorations, crafts, gifts, food and drinks, as well as 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.
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 and are free to enter, and they are one of the best things to do in Prague.
Typically, the biggest and the most popular Prague Christmas markets (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 on Christmas Eve.
What are the Best Christmas Markets in Prague?
Christmas markets are an important part of the Christmas tradition in the Czech Republic and a must-do activity 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 in the city center (especially squares), but 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, as well as the biggest and most popular.
1. Old Town Square Market (Staromestske Náměstí)
The largest and most crowded Christmas market in Prague is spread around the Jan Hus Memorial near the Old Town Hall and Astronomical clock.
Nestled among the backdrop of the Gothic Tyn Church, this market is as beautiful as it is lively. The market tends to be one of the first to open, lighting its tree in late November. It usually closes on Three Kings Day, which is held on January 6th.
This market has everything that embodies a Christmas Market spirit. It has stalls selling unique merchandise, food trucks serving up traditional Czech food, and live entertainment most nights.
Any visitor to Prague must not miss this Christmas Market. It’s the longest-running Christmas market in Prague and the most vibrant one in the city with lots of twinkling lights and decorations.
Closest metro stations: Staromestska, Mustek
2. Wenceslas Square Christmas Market (Vaclavske Náměstí)
Held at the lower part of Wenceslas Square, just a short walk from Old Town Square, is Wenceslas Square Christmas Market. Because it is so close to the Old Town Market, it’s the second busiest Christmas market in Prague.
The market is set behind the National Museum, and is nearly always full of locals and tourists looking to find some unique handicrafts to get as gifts.This market isn’t so busy with live entertainment and mostly focuses on shopping.
It is the best place in Prague to pick up handmade wooden and steel gifts
It’s open quite late to accommodate those late night shoppers.
This market tends to open on December 1st and runs until early January.
Closest metro stations: Mustek, Muzeum
3. Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky Christmas Market)
One part of the market can be found in front of the shopping centre Palladium, the other near the Old Customs House (Stara Celnice). It’s not hugely busy, but its great location makes it an easy walk from both Old Town and Wenceslas Squares.
It’s one of the quieter Christmas markets which is why I love it. It’s authentic and relaxed, and a great place to sip some honey wine and enjoy the backdrop of a festive market.
Here you can shop for Christmas decorations such as Advent calendars, wreaths and mistletoe – this isn’t something all markets sell, so if you want to pick some mistletoe up then this is the market to find it.
You can also find a few hot snacks and drinks, which are a little cheaper than the Old Town Market, but just as tasty.
Closest metro station: Namesti Republiky
4. Prague Castle (Prazsky Hrad)
Located at St. George’s Square (Namesti sv. Jiri) behind the St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala sv. Vita), this market is surrounded by historic landmarks and incredible architecture.
It’s a small market, with only 70 or so wooden stalls selling your usual merchandise. This market tends to close quite early, so it’s the best Christmas Market in Prague for families traveling with kids, as it closes around 6pm on weekdays and 7pm on weekends.
Closest metro stations: Hradcanska, Malostranska
5. Peace Square (Náměstí Míru Christmas Market)
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 that opens around the 20th November.
It’s a small market that has only around 60 stalls or so, and usually sells inexpensive ornaments and decorations.
It’s a great place to pick up a traditional Advent calendar and Christmas decorations for your home, as well as stocking filler gifts such as soaps and candles, and hand-painted decorations.
This isn’t a hugely busy market, so it’s definitely up there as one of my favorite authentic Prague Christmas Markets.
Closest metro station: Namesti Miru
6. Tyl’s Square (Tylovo Náměstí)
Another small marketplace in Vinohrady, a residential area in Prague. This is a really relaxed, chilled market that the locals like to visit.
There are a few stalls selling merchandise, usually wooden toys and trinkets, as well as a few decorations.
The main reason to visit this Christmas market in Prague is for the food. You’ll find lots of different options for snacks (see below for more info about food and drink you can find at the markets).
Closest metro station: I. P. Pavlova
What Can You Expect at Prague Christmas Markets?
Czech Christmas markets are usually nestled around a decorated and lit Christmas tree, which is one of the most iconic things to see in Prague at Christmas time.
There is even a competition each year where people can send their suggestions for the right Christmas tree and the person who found the chosen tree wins some money.
The biggest and the most well-known Christmas Tree is found at the Old Town Square.
The lighting of the Christmas tree takes place on the first evening of the market and is a big event. It officially opens the particular Christmas market. If you can, don’t miss the first ceremonial tree illumination in Old Town Market Square, which is usually scheduled for the last weekend of November.
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 wooden huts decorated with Christmas ornaments, where various Christmas products (usually handmade) or refreshments are on offer.
The most typical items you’ll find on sale are Christmas tree decorations, handicrafts, glassware, wooden toys and puppets, winter accessories, gingerbread, sweets, etc.
We like to drop into some of the refreshment stalls to get a roasted ham or sausage. You can also wash it down with Czech beer (try Pilsner Urquell or Budvar), or some mulled wine.
There are many entertainment options that happen throughout the season of Prague Christmas markets – from concerts, children’s concerts, and choirs who sing Czech Christmas carols.
Many of the events are family-oriented performances dedicated 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.
Children can pet sheep, goats, or donkeys in animal stables, or 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 because they make perfect Christmas gifts (and souvenirs to take home):
- 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?
Another great reason to visit a Christmas Market in Prague is for the food. You can try many local dishes, as well as some seasonal favorites.
While visiting Prague, you will see ‘Trdelník’ 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. For example, in Budapest in Hungary it’s called a chimney cake.
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.
They are unique because they unravel when you eat them. They are sweet and delicious!
Aside from this, don’t miss out and try these typical Czech snacks, which is offered in most Christmas markets:
- Spit-roasted Prague ham (Pražská šunka)
- Barbecued sausages (klobasy)
- Salty potato pancakes (bramboraky)
- Traditional Czech Christmas braided cake ‘vanocka’
- Christmas cookies (vanocni cukrovi)
- Gingerbread (pernik)
- Russian Pelmeni (Dumplings)
- Langoš (flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup)
The following Christmas hot drinks will help you to keep warm too:
- Mulled wine (svarene vino or Svařák)
- Mead (medovina)
- Eggnog (vajecny konak)
- Hot chocolate (horká čokoláda)
Czech Christmas Traditions
Czech Christmas traditions are different from those in Western Europe.
For the Czech, the most important day of Christmas is Christmas Eve (24th December), especially in 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 its 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 of 24th December until 25th December, some of them open on 26th December (sales time!).
St. Nicholas Day in the Czech Republic
If you are in the Czech Republic on 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 or a chocolate Santa).
If the kids were naughty, they get a lump of coal or potatoes instead (they still get some treats so that they aren’t too sad).
In Czech traditions, this is the day when ‘Santa’ visits, not on Christmas Eve like in other parts of the world.
Tips for Visiting Prague Christmas Markets
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 holiday season and get some original Christmas gifts or decorations.
But before you go, we have just a few tips for visiting:
- 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. Keep an eye on your little ones if you’re traveling with kids.
- If you can, try to visit the markets on weekdays to avoid the crowds (that’s what we do).
- Think about which market is right for you. As locals, we prefer the smaller markets for a 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).
As you might be able to tell by now, 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
If you’re ready to start planning your trip, take a look at these additional resources.
Accommodation in Prague
- Booking.com has over 2,900 properties in Prague. You get free cancellation on most rooms and the best price guarantee.
Flights to Prague
- Skyscanner is a comparison website that searches millions of flights. Once you find your best deal, book directly through the airline (no extra fees). Download the Skyscanner App. It’s an all in one flights, hotel and car hire search engine app and makes it easier for you to find the best travel deals!
Car Rental in Prague
- RentalCars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking service that compares all the major brands like Hertz, Avis, Alamo, and Europcar.
Tours of Prague
- We highly recommend these attractions and tours of Prague with Get Your Guide.
Have you visited the Christmas markets in Prague yet? Do you have any other tips on what to do in Prague?