As residents of the city for years we have spent many hours exploring Prague’s Christmas Markets.
What is the best thing about December in Prague? Cozy pubs? Mulled wine? Seeing the beautiful buildings covered in a light dusting of snow? While all of these things are great, nothing screams Christmas joy like a Prague Christmas Market.
While the Czech Republic isn’t necessarily a religious country, they are indeed a traditional people and they sure know how to get into the Christmas spirit when the season rolls around.
Prague’s Christmas markets are unlike anything you’ve seen before, even if you’ve explored other Christmas markets around Europe. With traditional Czech food and drink, handmade souvenirs and gifts, and, of course, seasonal alcohol galore, Prague’s Christmas markets will show you a whole new side of the city.
We wrote this guide to help you explore ALL of Prague’s Christmas markets, and not just the largest ones in the very center of Old Town. After you read this article we’re pretty confident you will be armed with all the information to get the absolute most out of Christmas in Prague.
Coincidentally we also have a ton of other articles on how best to explore Prague, and all that it offers. Here are some other posts to help you guys get the most out of your visit to Prague –
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So without further ado, we give you all you need to know about Prague X-mas markets!!
Tips on Navigating Prague Christmas Markets
Before we get into the specifics of each of the different markets, let’s talk about some general tips and tricks to navigating them. You might think you’re in for a relaxing day of wandering around the markets spread across the city, but the experience can quickly turn stressful if you don’t have the right plan to tackle them.
Visit During Weekdays
First off, in order to avoid the crowds, visit the Prague Xmas markets – especially the bigger ones in the center – during weekdays. And, to take it a step further, visit during the working hours of the weekdays if at all possible.
Visiting during the week will ensure that you will encounter less tourists. Let’s be real: getting stuck trying to dart between large, slow-moving groups of people looking around trying to figure out what’s going on can be frustrating when you have an action plan and you’re trying to make the most of your day.
Visiting during the working hours of the weekdays will ensure that you also won’t encounter as many locals, as they are most likely going to be, well, at work. This means you have free reign to browse the stands without feeling like you have to move out of the way for the pack of people behind you looking over your shoulder at their prey. This also means you are less likely to be that bird of prey looking over someone else’s shoulder trying to fight for what you want.
Less people also means shorter lines for the food and drink stands, which also means less cranky hungry people. You do the math.
Visit the Smaller Prague Markets
Next, be sure to visit the smaller Prague Xmas markets. Obviously you shouldn’t miss the big ones in the center, but we would recommend spending most of your time at some of Prague’s smaller Christmas markets.
Why? There are several reasons. The big ones in the center are going to attract the most people, so this is just another way to avoid the crowds.
Other than that, you will get a more authentic experience at the smaller Prague Christmas markets. The markets close to the center have become fairly commercialized in recent years, with a lot of the stands being owned by the same vendors and companies.
If you venture outside to the smaller markets, you’ll be more likely to find local craftsmen and more traditional and unique products. So, you’ll be supporting smaller businesses, plus you’re more likely to get things for cheaper prices. It’s a win for all parties.
Visit the Markets After Dark
Be sure to visit the markets after dark, as well. Yes, it might be more crowded sometimes, but the atmosphere is worth checking out even if you only stay for a few minutes. Prague’s Xmas markets are beautiful after sundown as all the Christmas lights and decorations come to life and people are laughing and drinking mulled wine as they leisurely browse around.
The best Prague Christmas market at night is the one in Old Town Square, where they have the big Christmas tree right in the middle – you won’t want to miss that one lit up at night.
If you’re in town for it, we would recommend going to the tree lighting ceremony on the first night of the markets. After all, nothing screams December in Prague like seeing the tree lit up with the Church of Tyn in the background. There’s music, lights, festivity, and no shortage of holiday cheer to go around.
For the record sunset in Prague in December is around 4:15ish, so you will likely have a lot of night time hours to revel in the Christmas festivities.
Be sure to bring cash with you to the Prague Xmas markets. A lot of the stands won’t accept credit cards so if you want to buy anything, you will need to have a bit of cash on hand.
Just be sure to pay attention to what you’re buying and how much change you get back – some of the vendors will try to shortchange you or rip you off if they can tell you’re a tourist and you don’t speak Czech. Be attentive and be ready to hand over some cash.
Food and Drink at Prague Christmas Markets
Along with all the Christmas gifts and souvenirs for sale at the Prague Xmas markets, there are traditional Czech food and drinks there for you to try. Whether you’re trying to just drink while you browse or if you want to cozy up to a small standing table with a larger meal, you’re in for a treat.
Before we tell you exactly what to eat, though, there are some important things you should know. First, the food and drinks at the markets are very overpriced. Most of the food, especially of the savory variety, is stuff you could get at local restaurants outside the center for at least a third of the price at the markets. And we’ve seen Staropramen beer for sale for 60 Kč – when it’s usually around 35 or 40 Kč at some restaurants.
If you’re itching for a full meal, we would recommend eating at a pub outside the center before venturing into the Prague Xmas markets and then just getting a snack while you’re there so you’re not spending your entire Christmas shopping budget on food and beer.
Have a look at some of the best restaurants in Prague, and eat at one of them before you visit Prague’s Christmas markets in the evening.
Also, be aware that the food prices can be misleading. There are stalls offering big bowls of grilled meat, potatoes, cabbage, etc., and the signs will say something along the lines of 45 Kč. Most tourists think this will be the price of one plate of food, but when they get the bill, they are shocked by how much it costs. Turns out, if you read the fine print, the 45 Kč is for 100 grams of food, and they’ve loaded your plate with 400 grams of soggy meat and potatoes. Suddenly a budget snack becomes the price of a full-blown restaurant meal.
So now that we have the practicalities out of the way, let’s start with the drinks. Of course, there’s Czech beer available at every turn, as always. But to get you in the holiday spirit and keep your hands warm while you’re at it, try some mulled wine, hot mead, grog, punch, or eggnog. You will find all of these available at the markets and it’s all delicious. Our personal favorite is the hot mead, or honey wine, and if you really like it, you can take a bottle home with you!
As for food, there are a lot more options. There will be roasted ham, sausages, and potato pancakes galore. Or if you’re looking for something a bit sweeter, you can try vanocka, a typical Czech Christmas cake. There will also be a variety of Christmas cookies, gingerbread treats, and candied nuts and almonds to snack on. December in Prague is truly one of the best seasons for food in this city.
The Best Christmas Markets in Prague
Now that we’ve covered the basics on how to navigate the markets and what to pay special attention to, we’re ready to get into each of the different Prague Christmas markets.
Old Town Square Christmas Market
No better place to start than the largest Christmas market in Prague! This Prague Christmas market is located right smack in the center of Old Town Square, sprawled around the Jan Hus Memorial in front of the Astronomical Clock. Because of the location, this also tends to be the most crowded market, so be sure to utilize those tricks and tips we gave you for this one, and keep your bags close!
This market is the biggest and the most popular for a reason. It’s got a lot of extras that the smaller markets simply don’t have.
First off, this market hosts the Prague Christmas Tree and nativity scene. The huge, real tree is the centerpiece of the market and stands in front of the Church of Tyn so you can get some great photos. The tree is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments and really comes to life after sunset, when you can see it in all its lit up glory.
We recommend checking out the first tree lighting, which takes place the first day the markets are open and starts at 16:30 with the lights animated to music, and is repeated on a loop after that until 21:30.
The Prague Xmas market in Old Town Square also has a stage to host caroling, concerts, dance performances, and other live Christmas shows for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There are also some special events for kids as well as St. Mikuláš (or St. Nicholas to Westerners) and New Year’s celebrations.
This year, the market at Old Town Square will be open from December 1, 2019 until January 6, 2020. You can buy gifts and other trinkets from 10 am to 10 pm and you can enjoy the food and drink from 10 am until midnight.
Wenceslas Square Christmas Market
Located just a short walk from the markets in Old Town Square, the Prague Christmas market in Wenceslas Square is another one of the most popular and crowded ones in the city. The main part of this market is located in the larger space at the lower end of the square opposite the National Museum, but slowly over the years the stalls have begun to trickle further down towards the museum.
The Wenceslas Square markets also have a Christmas tree, although not as big as the one in Old Town Square. The tree also has light animations though, running from 17:00 until 21:00 every night. In front of the tree you will also find a nativity scene. As for gifts, there aren’t as many options as there are in Old Town Square but the vendors here typically specialize in handmade wooden and steel gifts, so you’re still able to find something unique.
This market in Prague is also open from December 1, 2019 until January 6, 2020 with the food and shop stands having the same opening hours as the ones of Old Town Square: refreshments open from 10 am to midnight and goods open from 10 am to 10 pm.
Havel’s Christmas Market
Located right in between the Old Town Square markets and the Wenceslas Square markets, this year-round shopping center dates back to the 1200s and is one of the oldest shopping markets in Prague. While you can shop at it all year round, it really dedicates itself to Christmas when December in Prague rolls around so it makes it on this list.
Because this market is permanent, you’ll probably find some different products at this one than you will at the other Christmas markets in the center. For example, they won’t have the same hot food options and alcoholic drinks available, but there is a produce section where you can get some healthy snacks if that’s what you fancy.
As for souvenirs, you’ll find a lot of the typical touristy stuff like mugs, jewelry, and toys but they will add Christmas ornaments and other decorations during December in Prague. And of course, they will still offer the toys they’re famous for: the screaming witches.
Havel’s Market is open daily Monday through Friday from 6 am until 7 pm, Saturdays from 7 am to 7 pm, and Sundays from 8 am until 6:30 pm.
Náměstí Republiky Christmas Market
Located right in front of the Palladium shopping mall, this market is smaller than the others we’ve mentioned so far but still definitely worth a visit. This one will be less crowded and usually is a bit cheaper than the other central Prague xmas markets.
This is a favorite of locals and visitors alike because it still provides a taste of the authentic Prague Christmas market experience without the huge crowds and ridiculously high prices. This market is known to have the best selection of food, so some people like to stop at the Náměstí Republiky market to grab some drinks and food and browse the stalls before heading into Old Town Square to see the tree.
At this Prague Xmas market, you’ll also find traditional Christmas goods like mistletoe, Advent wreaths, toys, decorations, and more.
This market is open from December 1, 2019 until December 30, 2019 from 10 am to 10 pm every day.
Prague Castle Christmas Market
Located at St. George’s Square behind St. Vitus in the Prague Castle complex, this Prague Christmas market is bigger than the Náměstí Republiky market but smaller than Old Town Square. Because it’s a bit more isolated and you’ll have to go through a security line to get into the Prague Castle complex, it’s also a bit less crowded than the central markets.
This Prague Christmas market usually boasts about 70 carefully selected stalls with all the same Czech food and drinks you could hope for with a beautiful view of the St. Vitus Cathedral in the background. With fantastic views of the city and another tree lit up right in the middle, the atmosphere of this particular Prague Christmas market is hard to beat.
This Prague Christmas market is open from November 23, 2019 until January 6, 2020 this coming winter, but beware because the opening hours will vary – so plan accordingly! Monday through Thursday this market will be open from 9 am until 6 pm, and on Friday and Saturday the hours are 9 am until 7 pm.
Kampa Island Christmas Market
Located just across the Charles Bridge in one of the most picturesque areas of the city, this smaller Prague Christmas market is worth a visit. Enjoy a hot chocolate or a grog while you browse the homemade gifts and souvenirs with a beautiful winter view of the Vltava River in the background, especially if there’s snow on the ground!
At this smaller market, you can still find all the essentials of the Prague Xmas markets, along with a few more creative stalls with straw ornaments, wooden toys, glass figurines, and clothing.
This quaint market, and it’s gorgeous views, is open during the pretty much the entire month of December in Prague.
Náměstí Míru Christmas Market
Located in front of the Church of St. Ludmila, this is usually the first Christmas market of the season, opening even before the main markets in the city center. This year, this Prague Christmas market will open on November 20 and shut down on December 24 and will be open from 10 am until 7 pm each day.
This Christmas market is one of the bigger ones in the city, usually hosting about 60 stalls full of all the traditional Christmas necessities: Advent wreaths and calendars, candles and candle holders, gifts and souvenirs. This market also has a beautiful tree and a hand-painted nativity scene and holds events for families of all ages.
It is also located on the very edge of one of our favorite neighborhoods in Prague, Zizkov. We highly recommend visiting Zizkov if you want to experience a bit of Prague off the beaten path.
Tylovo Náměstí Christmas Market
Located just a short walk from Náměstí Míru close to the I.P. Pavlova metro station, this is the smallest Christmas market in Prague – which means less people! This is the perfect place to go to find some Christmas gifts without having to fight your way through a crowd to see the stalls. You can still get the basics: wooden toys, jewelry, glass figurines and Christmas decorations, as well as some delicious food and warm drinks to enjoy while you browse.
Jiřího z Poděbrad Christmas Market
A bit farther away from the central markets, this Prague Christmas market will be cheaper than the ones in the center with a lot of the same products. Jiřího z Poděbrad hosts a popular farmer’s market during most of the year, and during December in Prague it is transformed into a festive Christmas market.
Less crowded than the center and a bit more family-oriented, the Christmas market at Jiřího z Poděbrad also hosts a regular program of events, including concerts, theater performances, workshops for kids, celebrations, caroling, and even some creative workshops where you get to create your own Christmas decorations.
Anděl Christmas Market
Located right on the pedestrian strip outside the Anděl metro station, this smaller Prague Christmas market is a bit less dressed up and therefore a bit more authentic than the ones in the center.
At this market, you’ll find a wide variety of goodies and treats just like at the other markets, but you’ll also most likely find something we haven’t mentioned yet: carp! There is a Czech Christmas tradition where they kill and eat carp for Christmas dinner, and so the Christmas markets can sell them. The carp stands aren’t terribly common as they’re a bit gruesome and smelly, but it’s definitely an authentic Czech experience.
Located at the exhibition grounds at Výstavište in Prague 7, this Prague Christmas market is less well-known since it’s a bit farther off the beaten tourist path, but it’s big! This is the only Christmas market with an admission fee, though: 25 Kč per person and the official name is Advent na Výstavište.
This market also hosts an entertainment program for both kids and adults on the weekends. Usually opened with a festive procession at the start of the Advent season, it includes markets, Christmas workshops, live music, and more.
Be sure to check out each of these Christmas markets to make the most out of December in Prague! It might be cold, but it’s beautiful and you won’t want to miss out on Prague in all of its winter glory.
Markets Elsewhere in the Czech Republic
If you’re looking to explore a little more than just Prague during the holiday season, you’re in luck. You’ll find great Christmas markets all throughout the region of Central Europe so you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to check out the ones below, which could be a day or a weekend trip from Prague depending on your travel plans!
Český Krumlov Christmas Market
From the November 29, 2019 until January 6, 2020, Český Krumlov’s picturesque Christmas markets will be in full swing! Along with the traditional Czech food and drinks available at the Prague markets, Český Krumlov’s markets will offer a variety of authentic Czech gifts and souvenirs.
In the city center there will also be a plethora of holiday events and festivities to participate in to get yourself into the holiday spirit. You can watch the performance of Living Bethlehem accompanied by song and dance, do some caroling in multiple different languages, or check out one of the many concerts and choir performances they will present during the season.
The Christmas season at this UNESCO World Heritage site is one you won’t want to miss!
České Budějovice Christmas Market
This quaint little Czech town hosts quite the Christmas market in the main square! During December, the square fills up with wooden stalls selling traditional handmade crafts and other gifts such as wooden toys, essential oils, leather goods, crafts from local artists, and more. Some stalls are even used to display and sell the work of local students, nonprofits, and charities.
As for food and drink, all the classic Czech specialty dishes will be available, so be sure to grab some sweet and savory treats! And, of course, the local Budvar brewery will contribute their fair share to the Christmas markets.
The markets in the square also have a wide variety of activities to participate in if you’re looking to do more than just shop for gifts. There’s an open ice-rink and a program for children, as well as a few traditional events. Be sure to check out the lighting of the Christmas tree or the arrival of the angel from the Black Tower, as well as the regular concerts and choir performances.
Brno Christmas Market
Just a two-hour bus ride from Prague, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city of Brno hosts Christmas markets in all three of the main squares, so there’s no shortage of things to do! Open from November 23, 2019 until December 23, 2019 from 9 am to 9:45 pm each night, be sure to make a whole day out of exploring all these markets have to offer.
From Freedom Square through the Cabbage Market, Moravian Square and Radnická Street, you’ll wander through stalls selling all the essential food and drink, along with traditional handcrafted Christmas decorations and gifts. Be sure to also check out Dominican Square, where they have a specialized Christmas market where visitors can try cuisine from all around the world.
While you’re at it, check out the daily music program in Freedom Square. This is also where the Christmas tree traditionally stands and where the nativity scene is located. Definitely worth the trip from Prague as these markets will also be a bit less crowded!
Karlštejn Christmas Market
Just a short train ride from Prague, the small town of Karlštejn and its castle come alive with festive spirit during the holiday season. Starting on November 30 with music and dancing in the square and progressing with a marketplace being built under the castle to sell goods from local artists and craftsmen, you won’t want to miss this medieval Christmas.
There is also a Czech Christmas Mass in the Knights Hall of the Imperial Palace that typically takes place the day before Christmas Eve, so don’t miss out on this cultural experience.
Other Christmas Markets in the Czech Republic
Aside from everything we listed above there are also great Christmas markets in the cities of Pilsen and Olomouc that are absolutely worth visiting if you have time in your travel schedule, or if you’re just a huge huge fan of the season and markets, in general.
Markets in Cities Near Prague
Vienna Christmas Market
If any city knows how to do Christmas markets right, it’s Vienna. Vienna held the very first recorded Christmas market in 1294 and they’ve continued it every year since then.
Today, the city hosts several huge Christmas markets sprawled across the city, and every single one of them is worth visiting. From Schonbrunn Palace to Karlsplatz, Rathausplatz to Belvedere Palace, you won’t want to miss a single one.
With a plethora of Viennese treats available, tons of handmade goods and gifts for sale, and hot drinks served in beautiful mugs, you could easily spend a few full days exploring all the Viennese Christmas markets have to offer.
They also host entertainment and music programs, crafts for the kids, and festive rides and attractions, so it will be fun for the whole family.
Dresden Christmas Market
This small historic city is home to Germany’s oldest Christmas market: the Dresden Striezelmarkt, dating back to the 15th century. The market traditionally takes place in the city center at Altmarkt Square and sprawls all the way to the main train station.
Just a two-hour drive from Prague, venture across the border to try all your favorite German festival treats – bratwurst, toasted almonds, soft gingerbread, and mulled Gluhwein. While you enjoy your tasty treats, browse through the many stalls of local handmade goods, which differ a bit from what you’ll find at the Prague Christmas markets! Common goods found at the Dresden markets include carved nutcrackers and Zwetschgenmännle, or figures made from dried plums.
Not to mention, the city of Dresden is beautiful under a soft blanket of snow and lit up with lights and holiday cheer. A lot of Czechs go to Dresden to do their shopping, so do as the Czechs do and check it out!
Bratislava Christmas Market
Prague’s neighbor to the east might be smaller, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put on one great a Christmas market! Bratislava takes full advantage of its two main squares as well as the nooks and crannies of rest of the city.
A lot of people tend to think Bratislava’s food and culture are similar to Prague’s and think they won’t find anything different there… well, think again! In Bratislava, you’ll want to try the traditional food, like lokša, a dense pancake that can be served sweet or savory, and goose paired with the local wine. They offer all your favorite hot drinks that we’ve mentioned before in this article, plus local warm winter editions of TatraTea, a Slovak spirit.
As for gifts, you’ll find locally made Slovak goodies, like beeswax candles, carved wood, and fur accessories. They also present a rich program of events for adults and children alike, including music and dance performances as well as children’s choirs.
Krakow Christmas Market
About a 6-hour drive from Prague, Krakow’s Christmas markets are a bit smaller but much cheaper and more authentic and local than Prague’s. The markets take place in the main square of the city and have started to slowly spread throughout the streets.
Unlike the Czech Republic, Poland is a very Catholic country so their markets will feature performances from more children’s choirs and churches from across the city. It also features a nativity crib contest, where people can decorate nativity cribs and they are shown to market-goers during a procession.
Krakow prides itself on keeping the markets small and local. In fact, they only allow about 80 stalls at the markets and each one is carefully hand-picked. While you’re browsing, be sure to pick up some delicious Polish food, like pierogis or Polish cheese.
No matter where you are in Central Europe during the holiday season, you’ll be able to find some Christmas markets to get you in the holiday spirit. Be sure to check out any of the ones mentioned above but pay special attention to the Prague markets!
There’s nothing quite like December in Prague so you’ll have to come see for yourself!
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