Christmas in Prague: The City of a Hundred Spires.
Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’ve heard of the historic Jewish Quarter from the novels of Franz Kafka or the tradition of good luck from the bronze plaque on the statue of St. John on Charles Bridge. These are just some reasons why Prague is known for its unique charm and historic atmosphere. Whether you’re sitting on the outside terrace of a Czech cafe or you’re walking through the Christmas markets of the Pražský hrad (Prague castle), it will be hard to miss the myriad of architectural styles co-existing throughout the capital. You’ll find the simple and symmetrical Romanesque style, the flying buttresses and pointed arches of the Gothic era, and the colorful frescoes and gilded decor of Baroque design— to name a few. Christmas in Prague is magic.
Prague is wonderfully walkable and has a fool-proof public transportation system that makes it easy to get around. Pack your bags and celebrate the Christmas holiday in the cold city streets of this vibrant town. In the words of Franz Kafka, “Prague never lets you go…this dear little mother has sharp claws.”
1:00 PM: Look over the Vltava River from the Prague Castle
Check in and drop your bags at the Czech Inn, a restored 19th-century building, nestled in between districts two and ten. At the reception desk, grab a 90-minute or a full-day tram pass, take tram 22 to the Pražský hrad stop (about 26 minutes), and walk five minutes through the village entrance.
From there, you can explore – wander around, eat a chocolate-covered waffle at the quaint Prague Christmas market, or purchase a ticketed tour that gives you access to some of Prague’s most significant cultural institutions. During my most recent exploration, I opted for the Circuit B tour, which took me through St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, and the Golden Lane with the Daliborka Tower. It cost CZK 250 (about $11 US) and took under an hour to complete.
3:30 PM: Get your Pilsner Urquell
Pilsner Urquell is one of the most famous breweries in Prague. Its signature beer was first brewed in 1842 in the city of Plzen, in the eastern part of Bohemia. Pilsner Urquell is famous for having a thick, frothy white head atop a golden and bitter pale lager. After your castle exploration, grab an afternoon snack and a beer at Malostranska Beseda (a ten-minute walk). The pub is located in the second part of the basement, accessed by a separate staircase from the entrance hall area. The style and window-less coziness resembles the traditional malostranska pub. On Fridays and Saturdays, you can expect live music later in the evenings focusing on old Czech songs and melodies.
5:00 PM: John Lennon Wall
A five-minute walk from Malostranska Beseda is the John Lennon wall. Around 1950, the wall was primarily used for people protesting the communist takeover. In the ’60s, it became known as the “Crying Wall” and was still being used for protest. In December of 1980, when John Lennon was murdered, the wall was overnight transformed into a Lennon tribute. It remains one of the only places in the capital where graffiti is legal. Tip: download your favorite John Lennon tune and plug-in as you absorb the layered wall of text and imagery.
5:30 PM: Afternoon stroll
From the John Lennon wall, cross over the historic Charles bridge to the Old Town Square and take an afternoon stroll through the cobblestone streets. The Old Town Square has been relatively untouched since the 10th century. The roads are busy with tourists, street-performances, and merchants.
The Prague Christmas markets are gleaming, serving mulled wine, sausage, and trdelnik (cake made from rolled dough). As you pass the Old Town Hall, stop by the astronomical clock and catch the show at the top of the hour. It is regarded as one of the best preserved medieval mechanical clocks in the world.
6:30 PM: An early dinner
Don’t miss out on the wonders of the Christmas Market street food. Try the Old Prague Ham, cooked over an open wood fire, or the Czech-styled Klobasa with horseradish. You’ll undoubtedly see the Langoše (pronounced “langosh”)— fried dough with garlic, grated cheese, and some tomato ketchup. My favorite is the Halušky, which is similar to Italian gnocchi served with bacon and sweet cabbage. You won’t need much; it’s incredibly filling!
Find a standing table and meet other locals or fellow travelers. Wash it all down with a paper cup filled with steaming mulled wine before heading back to Czech Inn to refresh (20 minutes on tram 22).
9:00 PM: Break your Bechj seal
Popo Cafe Petl is an underground music bar and a good place to order a beton, a famous Czech cocktail of Becherovka mixed with tonic. The liquor itself has a heavy spice and Christmas-like flavor and will undoubtedly knock you off your feet. There are five different locations: Michalská, Újezd, On Struze, Italian, and K. Světlé, throughout districts 1 and 2.
10:00 AM: Breakfast at Marthy’s
Wake up in the French countryside by visiting the cozy and humble breakfast kitchen called Marthy’s. It’s an eight-minute walk from the Czech Inn. The menu is based on quality raw materials, farm products, and original ingredients, herbs, and home processing. It’s the perfect spot for a sweet (try the french toast) or savory (try the English breakfast) meal. Enjoyed your time? Leave Marthy’s a note on your napkin, and they might post it to their napkin billboard.
12:00 PM Prague Christmas Market at Náměstí Míru
For your last hour in Prague, squeeze one last Czech Christmas Market in at Náměstí Míru, a three-minute walk from Marthy’s Kitchen. In this compact market, you’ll have a stunning view of the Church of Saint Ludmila, an 1892 neo-Gothic basilica with two tall bell towers and a portal with sculptures. Stray from the mulled wine and try the grog (rum with hot water and lemon) or the medovina (hot honey wine).
How do You Say Hello in Czech?
While you’re galavanting throughout this enchanting capital, here are a few essential Czech phrases:
Hello/Good day: Dobrý den (dob-ree den)
Thank you: Děkuju (dyeh-kooyoo)
Please: Prosím (pro-seem)
Goodbye: Nashledanou (nus-hle-dah-no)
Want to learn more? Check out a free lesson or download a full Czech course on Pimsleur.com. Or to give someone you love the gift of language this holiday season, (see details) for up to 40% OFF Storewide.