If you are thinking of visiting Christmas markets in the Czech Republic, it’s important to be aware that there is much more to the Czech Republic than just Prague!
In general travellers visit Prague, as it is the main destination in the Czech Republic. However, we can assure you that there are many other cities outside the capital which also offer a festive affair with the added bonus of being rather less crowded, making it an even more enjoyable experience.
Christmas markets in Prague
Let’s start with Prague, one of the most stunning cities in Europe – comparable only to Paris in terms of beauty.
Cross the Charles Bridge, one of the quintessential Prague experiences – built of stone in the 14th century on your way to visiting the Old Town Square’s Christmas market. Usually regarded as being the main attraction of the city, there you will find among other delights, ancient chapels, tavernas and quirky bars where you can taste their traditional liquor ‘Becherovka’.
The street markets are full of stalls filled with crafts, arts, wood-carved toys, puppets, Bohemian crystal, Christmas decorations and even ceramics. Enjoy the aromas while you are going for a stroll on the cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards, grab a traditional fried-dough – cinnamon roll ‘trdlo’ and wash it down with mulled wine ‘svařené víno’, there are a number of pastries mixed with various kinds of snacks that will whet your appetite. Food is an essential part of the Czech’s culture, you will encounter the traditional Czech barbecued pork, sausages and other typical dishes from the Czech cuisine. Enjoy a meal in one of the many medieval taverns.
The Czechs are famous for producing some of the finest brews in the world like the Pilsner Urquell invented in 1842. Although the Czechs are known for their beer, they also produce some amazing wines. Moravian is home to some of the best of these (mainly white).
Travelling to Cesky Krumlov by car
We rented a car as it was a more convenient way to travel within the Czech Republic, our next stop was the beautiful city of Cesky Krumlov. The road journey took us approx. 2 ½ hours, in early December we didn’t encounter a lot of snow on the road, implying the Czechs familiarity with their climate has resulted in impressive road clearing. The views from the road were breath taking, seeing trees and landscapes covered in snow. Be warned though traffic officers are very prevalent in the area, targeting speeding drivers. If you are stopped by them – the chances are they will not speak English which can be a little tricky. In fact, we were issued with a fine for going approximately 5 mph over the posted limit. However, we continued our journey until we eventually arrived in one of the most spectacularly picturesque towns in Europe – Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site making it all worthwhile.
Situated in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, this ‘fairy tale’ town is built around the Vltava river (the longest in the country) at the foot of a giant castle. The old town square with its renaissance and baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe, the Cesky Krumlov castle dates back to the 13th century. A tour here includes a visit to the castle with a traditional lunch in a tavern.
We strongly recommend you stay here for a minimum of 2 nights, it is not worth coming from Prague on a day trip , this place deserves some proper time to fully appreciate it. On day 2 we hiked in the surrounding fields, we love walking and find this a magical place.
As we suspected the Christmas market was rather small compared to Prague, but we enjoyed walking along their cobbled streets, sitting in cosy cafés and enjoying dinner in a tavern. Because the town is small, it is easy to cover on foot, so we left our car in the parking place provided by our hotel.
Setting off to Brno
We were on the road again, this time heading east to the city of Brno. This is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and it was once the capital of the province of Moravia, and what we particularly liked about it was that it’s far from over-populated, noticeably less busy than Prague. The road journey took approx. 4 hours. On arrival we checked into our hotel for the night, then went for a stroll under the glow of a thousand lights, Brno is designed for walking around in. We thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas market in Brno, while sipping mulled wine and buying presents for family and friends.
Brno is thriving with creativity, history and the future with both modern and classic design features. The churches and museums are great to see if you have the time. An interesting astronomical clock is located in the old city square Náměstí Svobody, it was unveiled in 2010 and attracts crowds very early in the morning, as this 6-metre-high black granite drops commemorative glass marbles at 11am marking the end of the 15-week battle with the Swedish invading army in the 17th century.
Whether you want a city break or a tailor made trip to the Czech Republic and Prague, please contact us.