Winter in Czech Republic is a really special time. Most people are reluctant to visit then – because let’s face it, the weather is frigid – and prefer going in the spring and summer months.
Yet, I challenge you to go then, and you will find a country with a special atmosphere – from the lovely Christmas Markets that dot the country in December, to the snow covered hills and mountains, and a fantastic range of things to do – from skiing to snow boarding and snow hikes, to activities suitable to those who aren’t fans of the cold weather.
Another great reason to visit the Czech Republic in winter is that you can score some fabulous travel deals! Save for the weeks around Christmas, when places like Prague are crowded with tourists wanting to visit the markets, if you go right after that you will be able visit for a fraction of the price.
Before telling you all there is to see and do during a winter trip to the Czech Republic, let me tell you a bit more about the weather and what you can expect to find – warning: it will be cold!
Winter in Czech Republic
There is no other way to put it: winter in the Czech Republic means cold days, freezing nights and high chances of snow. I visited at the beginning of December and that was certainly my experience. The good news is that it won’t always be overcast – you will be able to enjoy a sunny day or two. Besides, all that snow is great if you are planning on doing some proper winter activities, and it’s a good excuse to gorge on mulled wine to keep warm.
Anyways, to be a bit more technical – Winter here properly starts in November, which is when the first snow starts falling. Temperatures are in the range of -5° C (20° F) to -10° C (10°F) and even less at higher elevations.
The coldest months are by far January and February, whereas in March it starts to warm up and gets all the way to 10° C (around 50° F), though there still are chances of snow.
Finally, let’s take a look at the best things to do there at this time of year.
What To See And Do During Winter In Czech Republic
Visit Prague in winter
Prague remains the best starting point for a trip to the Czech Republic. A fabulous city during the spring and summer months, Prague remains charming in the winter and you will find no shortage of things to do and beautiful sights. Here are a few you should not miss:
WENCESLAS SQUARE – This 750 meters long boulevard is often compared to the Champs-Élysées. On one of the sides you will see a statue of Wenceslas, protector of the country. That’s also where you’ll find the National Museum.
OLD TOWN PRAGUE – Between the colorful buildings, the small souvenir shops, the cafés, and the 14th century City Hall, there is plenty to see. Don’t forget to stop by Prague Orloj, a medieval astronomical clock.
CHARLES BRIDGE AND MALA STRANA – One of the symbols of Prague, Charles Bridge’s construction started in 1357 and terminated in 1402. It connects the Old Town with Malá Strana, one of the most charming districts of the city.
PRAGUE CASTLE – From Malá Strana you can get all the way to the Castle where you will find Saint Vitus Cathedral. The views from there are splendid: you can see all the way tothe famous Dancing House, designed by architects Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry (the same of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the Basque Country) and completed in 1996.
LUDMILLA CATHEDRAL – In the heart of Prague, Saint Ludmilla Cathedral is a beautiful neo-gothic church built between 1888 and 1892. If you visit around Christmas time, you will also see a beautiful Christmas tree in the square in front of it, and one of the famous Prague Christmas markets.
PRAGUE CHRISTMAS MARKETS – Prague Christmas markets are scattered throughout the city, and offer some great shopping opportunities. The atmosphere is lovely.
FUNCTIONALIST BUILDINGS – This style is typical of the country and there are several examples of it in the capital city. Kostel Nejsvětějšího srdce páně church in Jiřího z Poděbrad square, built between 1929 and 1932, is one. Another is the Žižkov Tower, a TV tower 216 meters tall and that can be seen from various parts of town.
These are some of the best tours of Prague:
- Prague Beer Bike Tour
- Prague Half-Day Walking Tour
- Eating Prague: Half-Day Food Tour
- Prague Food and Culture Tour
- Market Tour & Traditional Czech Cooking Class
Make sure to check out this in depth guide about the best things to do in Prague by Prague experts Just a Pack. Here’s a full guide on where to stay in Prague and here one on the best hostels in Prague.
Visit Brno in winter
Brno is a fantastic city, though it is one of those cities you would not think of visiting. Blessed with a relaxed atmosphere (even in the cold winter months) and a friendly, international vibe thanks to the fact that it is home to the largest university in the country. It’s worth visiting in any season. Here are some unmissable sights in Brno.
CITY COUNCIL – The oldest building in Brno is where the City Council was located from the second half of the 13th century (the offices were moved to Dominikanska square in 1935). It’s main feature is the Gothic portal, and the tower from where the views are stunning.
SAINT PETER AND PAUL’S CATHEDRAL – This Romanic style basilica was re-built in gothic style.
VILLA TUGENDHAT – Villa Tugendhat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. It was commissioned in the 1930s by the Tugendhats, a Jewish couple who inherited the land and employed the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohes to design it. It’s built in Functionalist style, much like the nearby Café Era.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS – If you visit the Czech Republic in Winter, you will definitely have a chance to see Brno Christmas Markets, which are significantly less touristy compared to those in Prague.
You can book a guided tour of Brno here.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Things To Do In Brno.
Ride a steam train
Winter in when the steam train runs. Every year, around Christmas time and just for that one day traditional steam trains go around the Czech Republic, taking a (small) crowd of enthusiastic locals to more remote villages where they can attend festivals and enjoy a family day out.
The sight of the train from a distance is mighty, with the thick dark smoke against the white of the snow. The engine is a work of art. There are trains going around the country. I recommend taking the one that goes from Valašské Meziříčí, a couple of hours drive from Brno, to Valašké Kloubouky. The ride lasts little over one hour.
Visit Valašké Kloubouky Christmas Markets
If you visit the Czech Republic in December you will certainly have a chance to go around Prague Christmas markets. For more Christmas markets, head to Valašké Kloubouky, whose opening is marked by the Jarmark festival.
Visiting Valašké Kloubouky during the festival is a great opportunity to get a bit of local action. There are a lot of tourists around, but I’d say that a good 90% of them are people from the Czech Republic who are all there to enjoy the market, eat gingerbread cookies, drink Medovina (a sort of hot wine prepared with liquor and honey) and obviously do some Christmas shopping.
Get off the beaten path in Roznov
Roznov is a lovely small town at around 4 hours drive from Prague, and one of the places to visit in the Czech Republic to get a bit off the beaten path. After the crowds of Prague and the international atmosphere of Brno, it makes for a nice, welcome change.
The city is home to the incredible Wallachian Open Air Museum, founded in 1925 and where original buildings from the late 19th century have been moved to re-create a perfect Wallachian style village. This is an interesting place to learn a bit more about Czech traditions and history, and if you will see it covered in snow – just gorgeous.
Drink some good beer…
One of the best things to do in the Czech Republic is drinking freshly brewed beer. Roznov happens to be an excellent place to do that, as there is a great brewery, called Roznovsky Pivovar, that produces some excellent pilsners and ales, and has an annexed refined restaurant as well as a pub.
… while enjoying a beer spa
A beer spa is a must when in the Czech Republic! There are many spas in Prague, but if you go to the one annexed to the brewery in Roznov you are in for a real treat. You certainly know where the beer is coming from!
The spa is a truly relaxing experience, that starts with a hot beer bath, taken while sipping a good beer, and a yeast mask, and then continues with relaxation on a warm bed. It’s definitely a thing to do at the end of a cold day.
Go for a hike in the snow
Pustevny is one of the nicest places to visit in the Czech Republic. It is a lovely mountain station that can be reached from Trojanovice, at around 15 minutes drive from Roznov. In order to get there, you will have to ride a cable car which stops right at the mountain station, in front of a series of quirky looking buildings.
Pustevny is supposed to have a great view of the mountains and to be a great place to hike. I can’t really comment about the view (it was snowing when I went and the visibility was very limited) but hiking in the snow is actually a lot of fun, and one of the coolest (literally!) things to do in the Czech Republic in winter.
I guess it goes without saying, right? Skiing – including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and even ice-skating – if that’s something you enjoy you will find plenty of places to do it. Bohemian and Saxon Switzerland National Park is a winter wonderland proper.
Winter in Czech Republic means plenty of chances of trying local staples. Prague and Brno are packed with good restaurants where you can try dishes such as marinated sirloin, roasted pork, goulash and schnitzel. They are all very earthy and comforting!
What To Pack For Winter In Czech Republic
If you are going to visit the Czech Republic in winter, it’s of the utmost important that you pack the right items – you really need to be prepared for cold weather and snow. Here’s what you should take with you.
- Snow or ski pants. They may not be necessary in Prague or Brno, but whenever getting off the beaten path they will give you some much needed comfort.
- Warm pants – jeans really won’t do.
- Heavy duty winter hiking boots, and thick hiking socks– anything to keep the feet warm when spending the entire day out.
- Thermal underwear – it is not sexy, but blue skin isn’t either.
- Thermal shirts, preferably with long sleeves.
- A good, warm hat.
- A thick scarf.
- Gloves, the warmer, the better – I had to often take mine off to use the camera, and my hands froze each time. So, opt for those that allow you to use a touchscreen.
- A couple of good thick sweaters – I love Kuhl Alska.
- An extra thick goose down Artik Parka by Kuhl – I love Kuhl Skyfire Down Parka as it is certified cruelty free.
- Plenty of lip balm and hand moisturizer – the extreme cold has terrible effects on hands and lips.
For more winter travel ideas, check out my posts:
- A Winter Guide To Val Di Sole
- 10 Perfectly Good Reasons To Ski In Val Di Sole
- A Winter Guide To Cortina D’Ampezzo
- Everything You Need To Know To Visit Chernobyl
- 21 Incredible Places For Winter Sun In Europe