The Prague Christmas markets were at the end of our 2016 adventure experiencing the best Christmas markets in Europe. We had ventured through Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava… and one might argue that we saved the best for last. The Czech Republic, and Prague in particular, does Christmas really well.
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A Prague Christmas is nothing short of magical, and our Christmas cheer was helped along on two trips by the festive locations of the Four Seasons Prague and the Mandarin Oriental. (Before you @me for the hotel room rates, consider traveling in winter and taking advantage of their free night deals.) On previous (and subsequent) trips, we stayed at Carlo IV in the New Town, which is fine. It’s not Mala Strana or Old Town though.
You don’t have to cross the Charles Bridge for a festive atmosphere (but you should!). From the moment you step out of the Mandarin, you can’t help but be filled with holiday cheer. The shop windows and restaurants are decorated. There’s a beautiful nativity scene in one of my favorite squares. There are Christmas trees. If ever there was a place to discover the holiday spirit, the the Czech people have it figured out.
But I digress. This post is supposed to be about crossing the Charles Bridge and experiencing the Prague Christmas market at Old Town Square.
Old Town Square Prague Christmas Market
We had just left the last of the Jewish synagogues of Prague and were eager to head back to our hotel to warm up. We were cutting down Parizska when we were deposited right in the middle of the Old Town Square. Despite the fact that the day had been overcast for most of the day, the cloud broke just in time for magic hour. Between the traditional Czech Christmas treats and the beautiful decorations, I didn’t know what to do first. I skipped the mulled wine and opted for snapping pictures instead. It was, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful moments I have ever experienced in the world.
Later that night, we returned to Old Town Square, rode the elevator to the top of the Old Town Hall Tower, and snapped pictures from there. It was absolutely worth it but the December winds are even COLDER up there. Seeing the city from above is worth doing though. Throughout the month of December, there are performances in the Old Town Square, so it’s especially magical to be out there in the evening.
The giant Christmas tree reminds me of the tree in the Nutcracker, both in terms of decor and size. While I thought it was beautiful at blue hour, there was no comparison to it at night.
Other Prague Christmas Markets to Visit
I don’t remember if we ever made it to the Prague Castle Christmas market when it was open. We definitely went up there on our night walking tour, but it was starting to close up. I’ve seen beautiful photos of the Wenceslas Square market at as well, but we didn’t make it over there at all. (Everyone was sick by the time we were wrapping up our time in Prague.) As always, Lorelei has a great post on the Prague Christmas markets and ringing in the New Year in Prague. Her blog should be your one-stop-shop for all Christmas market destinations. Getting Stamped has some delightful photos of the treats on offer. (I’m still thinking about trdelnik.)