A Local’s Guide to Prague in Winter
Let’s face it, travelling in winter might be a tad more demanding than your usual summer holiday. But, it can bring you so many great experiences that it’s really worth the extra trouble. And that’s twice as true for the winter in the Czech Republic. It’s not too cold, the temperature does not stay below zero for a long time, so it is the perfect place for your winter adventure. The old Scandinavian phrase “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” explains why, even in the winter, Prague is a city that seems to never stop. Add the fact that there are fewer tourists means it will be less crowded when you go to sample some of our tips to enjoy winter like a local.
Go Ice skating
Ice skating in Prague is, put simply, one of the best things to do here in winter. You will enjoy the gorgeous architecture around you and have loads of fun while keeping yourself warm. And have I mentioned how affordable it is? Some of the ice skating rinks are completely free, and those that aren’t are dirty cheap! Also, if you don’t take your ice-skating shoes with you (which will probably be the case, right?), they are happy to lend you some. You will have to leave a deposit for the borrowed skates, from 300 to 500 CZK (12-20 EUR), which you will get back once you return the shoes. Here is a list of the best ice rinks in Prague:
This is my personal favourite, to be honest. Located at Ovocný trh, near the Estates Theatre (which is right in the heart of the Old Town) it really has a special, magical atmosphere. It is open from December through January, from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.. If you are looking for a romantic and fun evening, be sure to give it a go.
Address: Ovocný trh, Praha 1 – Staré město
Entrance fee: free
Located near the Vltava banks and the old Jewish quarter, this ice skating rink has a truly unforgettable atmosphere. If you are wandering around the Old Town, this is just the place to end your walk. Put on your skating shoes and enjoy the mesmerising view around you. It will be open from November 18 to March 15 (except December 24 and 25).
Address: Areál Na Františku, Kozí ulice, Praha 1
Opening hours: 10am – 7pm
Entrance fee: 70 CZK (3 EUR) /, children 0 – 14 years – 40 CZK (1.6 EUR)
Now, I know that this venue is not exactly in the city centre, but trust me, it’s really worth the short tram ride. From Letna Park, there is a marvelous view of the Prague Castle and the surrounding landscape, all of it while having fun on the ice. Plus, it’s also good for families with children because of the separate children’s area. Your children don’t know how to ice-skate? No worries, there are even free ice-skating lessons for them.
Address: Letenská pláň, 170 00 Praha 7 – Letná
Opening hours: 9am – 10pm
Entrance fee: free
How to get there from the centre: Take trams 8 or 26 from Náměstí Republiky to the tram stop “Sparta.” Bonus: If you stand at the end of the tram, you will have a special scenic view of the city as the tram goes up the hill. And, as this is one of the coolest Prague districts, warm yourself up in one of its many cosy local cafes.
The (in)famous Žižkov Television Tower is a unique and quirky place that is the bone of contention for all Czechs: they either love it, or really, I mean really hate it. Giant babies crawling on a 216 meter high communist-era “rocket” tower might not be everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure. But in any case, it is a staggering piece of architecture and it is really worth checking out what’s all the fuss about. Also, there is a restaurant and a cocktail bar on top that offers a magnificent and 360 degree view of the cityscape. And if you have a head for heights and are really into sleeping in the clouds, you can stay at the famous Sky suite on the very top of the tower. I must warn you though, it is rather pricey!
Anyways, if you prefer to stay on the ground, there will be an ice-skating rink right under the tower. It will be open from December 1 to March 23 so you have all winter to give it a try. After that, you can head to some of the famous Žižkov pubs to recharge your batteries.
Address: Mahlerovy sady, 130 00 Praha 3
Monday – Sunday: 9am – 9pm
Tuesday – Saturday: open all day except: 11am – 12am, 2am – 3pm, 5pm -6 pm
Entrance fee: 120 CZK (5 EUR), children up to 125 cm: free
Treat yourself in a spa
Most Prague visitors adore the cruises on the Vltava river. And how could they not? It’s one of the best ways to experience the city whose history is deeply bound to the river and its famous bridges. I wouldn’t recommend a long cruise during the winter months though, for the simple reason that it gets way too cold near the water. What you could do instead is kick it up a notch and go to a boat spa. For example, Lázně na lodi is a comfortable sauna that can seat up to 15 people at a time. As you sweat, you can admire Prague’s city centre through the large windows, including the silhouette of Prague Castle as the sun starts to set. Cool off in the shower or, if you’re feeling adventurous, with a dunk in the river.
Visiting Prague beer spas is yet another fun way to keep yourself warm in winter while soaking in the best the city has to offer. And if Prague is the world’s expert when it comes to beer, why not enjoy it in every form, right? Because what could be more enjoyable than soaking in a hot tub? Only an oak tub of beer, with a full glass of frothy lager in-hand. The unlimited consumption of beer that you’re allowed in these spas may not be so healthy, but the baths apparently are, loaded with vitamin B and active enzymes. Plus, you then get to relax on a straw bed by a fireplace. I would recommend Spa Beerland on Žitná street (with Krušovice beer), which is barely 400 metres away from Wenceslas Square, or Bernard Beer Spa (courtyard of Ungelt, Týn 10) with Bernard beer.
Sip the frost away in a cafe
Let me put this simply: Prague is literally obsessed with coffee. Cafes were the designated destinations of the artistic elite during the 1920s, so Prague has a really long cafe history. Unfortunately, during the Communist regime the coffee culture stagnated, but especially in the past decade it has blossomed like never before, so now you can find cafes on every corner. And the choice is endless: from old style artistic cafes, to new fair-trade, locally sourced cafes, Prague has it all. And they all have one thing in common: they are the perfect winter hideaways. So tuck yourself into a soft chair, let the hot mug warm you up, and look out of the window as the snowy streets of Prague. These are the cosiest cafes to visit this winter:
If you visit one cafe during your stay in Prague, this should be the one. It is a quaint, family-owned cafe that offers the best desserts in town. With the rustic, retro interior, the cosy seats and the dim light, it is the perfect place to unwind and relax. There is also a coffee museum on their premises, so they are literally coffee experts. Art-lovers will also appreciate the giant painting on the ceiling made by the visual artist Jan Kristofori. It is located just a few steps away from Letná Park, where the ice skating rink is, so it is a great idea to visit these two in the same day.
TIP:It tends to get quite crowded in the afternoons, so be sure to make a reservation here.
Address: Jana Zajíce 975/7, 170 00 Praha 7-Bubeneč
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 7.30am – 7.30pm, Saturday – Sunday (and state holidays): 10.30am- 7.30pm
Also located near Letná Park, Cafe Letka is a true gem among Prague’s cafes. With its high ceilings that remind of palace walls and the huge windows, this place is light, unique and extremely cosy. They bring their coffee all the way from Berlin (Five Elephant), and the famous local brewery Matuška is in charge for the beer. What it’s really most famous though is their brunch. So, if you want to have a relaxed, cosy morning this is the right place to go. It’s an increasingly trendy location though, so be sure to make a reservation on this phone number: +420777444035
Address: Letohradská 44, Praha 7
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 12pm, Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 12pm
You will find this cafe in the hip neighbourhood of Karlín, which is a trendy area full of cosy cafes and great bars you must visit while you’re in Prague. Můj šálek kávy is a modern coffee roastery that selects fair-trade coffee from around the world. They offer a special Doubleshot coffee. A delicious hot drink that warms you up and gives you a boost to go explore more of this wonderful city. Besides this, you can indulge in their desserts, brunches and meals, and of course, the wonderful atmosphere of the place.
As you can see, none of these cafes are in the city centre. The truly authentic and local ones tend to be in the hip neighbourhoods outside the Old Town are really worth the trip. The cafe scene in Prague is really very rich, and new places pop up all the time. To experience some of these in the company of true locals, try our Bohemian Tastes & Neighborhoods or Food by Foot tours. I hope that these tips will help you enjoy your winter trip to Prague!
December 16, 2019