How to spend 72 hours in Prague in December – Christmas markets, restaurants, things to do and best views of the city

Ad – this post is a collaboration with Jet2holidays – all views are my own

Prague may well have just become my favourite city in the world following a snowy trip to the Czech Republic capital this December. And if you’re looking for one last getaway of 2023, it’s the ultimate destination for a long-weekend should you wish to immerse yourself in some festive cheer, historic charm and delicious culinary offerings.

We spent a gorgeous 72 hours exploring the Christmas Markets in Prague, climbing some of the city’s iconic towers for breathtaking views, eating at some of the most recommended restaurants, discovering secret bars, and of course, ‘Czeching’ out the local beers for which the area is well known. In this post, I’ll be sharing our full itinerary to help inspire your own trip to Prague, as well as revealing some of my top tips for getting into tourist attractions for less, and the best time to visit some of the best-loved hotspots.

Friday: flights, hotel check in, and a slice of the city’s foodie scene

Jake and I are not particularly well-travelled when it comes to trips abroad. Following our trip to New York in 2018, Prague was only our second trip together in eight years. I’ve only ever typically travelled as part of university groups or well-organised hen parties with seasoned travellers, so the thought of navigating the airport and flights as ‘the lead planner’ was a little daunting, but it was actually a breeze.

We got our Jet2 flights from Manchester Airport, and were able to check in ahead of arrival, with all of the details of our terminal, flights, hotel and more all contained in the handy Jet2 app, which made everything super quick and easy, with boarding passes added to my iPhone wallet for an incredibly smooth and stress-free airport experience. 

The flight was seamless, landing in a snow-dusted Prague just two and a half hours later before checking into the centrally located Andaz Prague – a luxury five-star accommodation housed in the iconic Sugar Palace. Nestled in the heart of the city’s Old Town, the hotel served as the perfect base for exploring what the Czech capital has to offer.

Our King Room with City View looked out towards Henry’s Bell Tower – the tallest free standing tower in Prague – the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn, and Prague Castle in the distance, too. It’s safe to say that looking out of the window each morning was a sheer delight as the winter sun awoke the buildings that had seen a little more than a dusting of snow.

The facilities in the room were fantastic, with a flat screen TV, free Wi-fi and a hot drinks station, as well as a complimentary minibar that’s replenished daily by the friendly room cleaning service (who also would come around each evening around 6pm to drop off extra bottles of water, which was so thoughtful). The room was divided by a faux wall, separating the spacious King bed and lounge area from the separate bathroom and shower, with a large sink space perfect for getting ready each morning. A bathrobe, slippers, fluffy towels and hairdryer were also provided, making for a lighter suitcase, and pure convenience. 

After exploring our room and it’s many carefully considered features such as wonderfully scented shampoo, cotton buds and underfloor heating, we headed out for some food at Pizza Bertoldi Jakubská, after a recommendation from my friends Anya and Lee who had visited Prague just a week before we did. The pizzeria offers a wide variety of beautiful authentic pizzas, including meat and vegan options that cost on average £10 each, as well as an extensive drinks menu.

We didn’t need to book and were seated quickly, opting for a Quattro Formaggi (four cheese) and a Prosciutto Cotto (cheese and ham). Both were incredible with rich flavours, oils and fresh ingredients, washed down with a margarita and a pint of beer. The cosy atmosphere made it the perfect little spot for us to plan out the rest of our trip before making our way back through the illuminated streets of Prague back to our hotel, not before stopping off at Old Town Square to see the gold glittering Christmas tree where the Christmas Markets would open the following day.

Saturday: Christmas Markets, Astronomical Clock, Ice Pub, Charles Bridge, Cafe Savoy and Prague nightlife

Being our first full day in the city, we got up early and fuelled up with a hotel breakfast. Andaz Prague’s morning menu is so dreamy, with a choice of dishes you can order alongside a traditional continental breakfast. While Jake ordered the ‘meat lover’s breakfast’ every morning, I enjoyed dishes like strawberries on French toast, Turkish eggs and decadent filled hazelnut and chocolate croissants. 

We took a stroll through the streets to the lively cobblestoned hub of Old Town Square where the Christmas Markets were already in full swing, with festive music playing over the speakers, the smell of freshly baked chimney cakes and mulled wine in the frosty air. The city stalls offered a plethora of unique gifts, local crafts, and delicious treats, from nutcrackers in every colour, to roasted chestnuts and festive decorations. In the centre of the square, there’s a platform where you can get a photo in front of the Christmas tree, and overlook the markets with your drink of choice. 

Shortly before the turn of the hour, crowds will gather beneath the Astronomical Clock – the third-oldest of its kind in the world, and the oldest still in operation, which is quite spectacular. The medieval timepiece is quite a marvel, with an intricate celestial face, calendar dial and the popular ‘walk of the Apostles’ which takes place every hour where the figures and sculptures put on a show. 

We then went inside the Old Town Hall to buy tickets to see the hall and go up the Clock Tower. It cost us around £30 because we also paid extra for lift tickets, but unless you have mobility issues or need the lift for accessibility, I’d avoid paying the extra and just do the walking – it’s a slope rather than steps, so it’s a bit easier anyway and the queue for the lift can get quite long at busy times.  My other top tip for this visit is to time it well. You might think going up the clock tower for the strike of the hour will be the best plan – but the actual mechanical workings of the clock can be found on the first floor inside the Old Town Hall if you wanted to see the walk of the Apostles from the inside.

From the third floor, you can climb the Clock Tower for some incredible panoramic views of the city, as well as a bird’s eye view of the Christmas markets. It’s definitely one of the more expensive views as there are certainly some cheaper vantage points to climb, but personally I think – minus the lift ticket prices – it was worth it as you also get entry into the chapel – so you could consider it three attractions in one.

While deep into Prague-Tok, one bar kept coming up time and time again as a must-visit, and that’s the Ice Pub Prague, situated around the corner from Charles Bridge – and after our 20 minute visit, the snowy conditions outside actually felt warm. It costs 250 CZK (less than £9) and your first drink is included in the entry fee. Inside, you’re given a thermal poncho and a pair of gloves, and can choose from a range of vodka-based cocktails or ice-cold Heineken before finding a spot to sit and ‘chill’ or snap a photo in the -7°C environment.

Heading outside, we took our first walk over Charles Bridge. It’s quite busy during weekends so some travel experts suggest getting there super early if you want a more intimate experience. The medieval stone arch bridge crosses the Vltava River that divides the city, and is one of the most stunning structures in Europe. It’s lined with an avenue of 30 mostly-Baroque statues and traditional street lamps, and between admiring the sculptures and looking out across the water at Prague’s, you can find yourself taking quite some time to cross the some 500 metre stretch into Malá Strana – also known as Lesser Town.

Another highly recommended eatery that happened to be on this side of the river was Cafe Savoy. We hadn’t made a reservation so there was around a 20 minute wait for a table but once inside it reminded me a lot of Betty’s Tea Rooms in York. The café is famous for its opulent breakfast and gourmet dishes, as well as its decadent hot chocolates and cake selection. Our late lunch consisted of a wonderfully cooked steak and fries, as well as a chicken schnitzel and Frankfurters, finished with one of the famous hot chocolates which come served with chantilly cream. It’s on the expensive side, with our bill – including alcoholic drinks – totalling around £60 – but we didn’t need an evening meal after, that’s for sure.

We found ourselves retreating back to the hotel most evenings around 5pm to thaw out, freshen up or even have a little nap, before venturing out to explore Prague’s vibrant nightlife, popping into The Monkey Bar for one of their unusual cocktails and garden terrace, sipping a tipple made of gin, sage, pomegranate and black currant with a side of complimentary garlic-flavoured popcorn.

Back at Andaz Prague, we were able to unwind in the relaxing atmosphere of the Mez bar, with even more unusual cocktails to choose from. The creative menu is rooted in innovation with some very unique combinations from gin, nettle and elderflower, to bourbon, cornflake milk and lemon. Jake tried out an Adventurous, with rum, cantaloupe, lime, banana and allspice, as well as a Growing, starring blended whisky, peach, oolong tea citrus and honey. I was torn between a Playful (the one with cornflake milk), and a Socially Digital, and our attentive server helped me land on the latter of passionfruit, bubbles, vanilla and yoghurt and while it may not have been my typical cocktail order, it was a refreshing change and pushed me out of my ordering comfort zone.

Sunday: Prague Castle, Petrin Tower, John Lennon Wall, Railway Restaurant and a secret bar

After a restful night’s sleep in our King Room, we were ready for another day of adventuring, heading up to Prague Castle for the morning. The entry is 250 CZK each, but your ticket is valid for two days, meaning you can always head back to make the most of it. I booked my tickets online and exchanged the e-ticket to a paper one with one of the guides. Our Canadian guide, Steven, was only with us for a very short portion of our time there, and simply gathered us to explain the four different buildings, how to access them and a bit about them. He filled the 15 minute chat with witty anecdotes and well-informed historical insight before sending us off to explore the grounds. You would, of course, be welcome to wander around without Steven’s talk, however, it did prove very informative and enhanced the overall experience to make for a smooth visit.

We weaved in and out of the culturally significant buildings including the Old Royal Palace. St. George‘s Basilica and Golden Lane, but admired the St. Vitus Cathedral only from the outside. As it was a Sunday, the Cathedral was only open on reduced hours and during said hours the queues were quite long. The building is an architectural masterpiece, and I’d love to go back to see the interior some time. The sprawling grounds in the snow felt as though walking through Hogwarts or something equally as enchanting, and before we left, we made sure to catch the Changing of the Guards at noon.

Back in Malá Strana we bought tickets for the Funicular at Újezd station and rode the tram to the summit of Petrin Gardens, where there are several attractions to explore, including the Petrin Tower. We bought tickets to go up the lookout tower which offered amazing 360 degree views spanning the city, which makes for some postcard perfect pictures. Within the landscaped gardens there’s also a mirror maze, St Lawrence Church, and the Štefánik Observatory which we’d love to do on our return to Prague.

Walking back to the hotel, we took a slight detour to see the very popular John Lennon Wall, which is adorned with colourful graffiti and messages of peace and appreciation. They really like The Beatles in Prague, it seems, as we even passed a pub which was centred around the iconic British band.

At 4pm each night in December, the city’s lamplighter manually lights the lanterns on Charles Bridge to mark Advent. Prague is one of three cities left in the world to use lamplighters, with Jan Žákovec believed to be the tallest in the world. It’s so wonderful to see these long-held traditions being continued that certainly help get you in the festive mood. Jan – who also works at the Prague Gas Museum – seems to really enjoy this role of lamplighter, too, taking great care and pride in his work as he makes his way across the bridge each sundown.

Hungry once more, we had booked Vytopna, which has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and is one of the most unique, fun and memorable dining experiences I’ve ever had. Known as the ‘railway restaurant’, it features 14 digitally controlled machines, 900 metres of tracks and five drawbridges, with battery operated locomotives navigating a network of tracks embedded in the bar to deliver your orders. Jake and I each ordered a flight of Vytopna-own beers, including a range of brews from IPAs to dark lagers, all of which were fantastic – particularly a raspberry-infused lager.

To eat, we both ordered the roasted beef burger, watching it arrive in silver metal containers, the train stopping right in front of us to retrieve them. The bun was stacked with marinated slices of beef with mixed salad, pickled gherkin, glazed red onion and BBQ sauce, served with a side of seasoned fries. It was probably my favourite meal of the trip, combining genuinely good gastronomy with playful presentation, really bringing out diners’ inner child as they tucked into their trays.

Leaving the restaurant on Wenceslas Square, we walked around the second main Christmas Markets area where there were musicians playing, traditional Czech foods and more festive treats to behold before we tried to seek out the ‘hidden’ Anonymous Bar, which we’d booked online the evening before.

Google Maps took us to a seemingly locked archway, but we found an alternative entrance into a multi-business building. Ahead of us, there was a glass door but the lights behind it were off, only the faint glimmer of a lantern behind. We pushed open the door into the darkness and followed the path to a wooden door and knocked, being admitted entry upon giving our names.

We were seated in the underground-style lounge and offered a cocktail menu – I ordered a V’s Blood with Jake selecting a Three Waters. The bar is based on a concept that combines Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta and the Anonymous Movement, with bartenders delivering drinks wearing masks while theatrically pouring cocktails with a side of pyro, or served in blood bags. 

Monday: Old Town Tower Bridge, The Narrowest Street, Prague Beer Museum, Hard Rock Cafe and sweet treats

For our final day in Prague, we got up early and headed to the Old Town Bridge Tower on the East side of Charles Bridge. The gorgeous Gothic gateway is a great place to see Prague from yet another perspective, and it’s a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of Charles Bridge. There are 138 steps to the top where you can overlook the bridge, however, the ticket office isn’t actually until around 50 steps up, so if you wanted to, you could go around a third of the way up and take a peek out of the window. But if you go during the first hour of opening, the entry fee is inexpensive, as it’s reduced by 50 per cent – we paid 190 CZK, which is less than £7.

Crossing Charles Bridge we visited the Narrowest Street in Prague, which we had tried to do on the Sunday but the queues were very long. Instead, we arrived around 11.20am where only a handful of people had gathered, seeing as it opens daily at 11.30am. This is because the stairs down the street actually lead to a restaurant – and I’d definitely recommend supporting them by grabbing a coffee at the bottom before returning. The street is no more than 20 inches wide, big enough for only one person at a time, which means it requires its own traffic light system to allow those at the bottom back up, as it’s essentially a dead end save for the bar. Definitely try to do this one as soon as it opens, and on a weekday if you can. We found the Monday considerably quieter in Prague, which was a nice and relaxing end to the whirlwind trip.

One thing you absolutely must do in Prague is try a Trdelník, also known as a Chimney Cake – a traditional Czech pastry that’s wrapped in a cone shape and baked on an open fire. It’s a great taste of history and culture, like the Staffordshire oatcake is to Stoke-on-Trent. They cost around £5 and come filled with hot apple, fresh strawberries, chocolate or a range of other fillings before being topped with whipped cream or ice cream. They’re delicious. 

All of the exploring is some thirsty work, so we ducked into the Prague Beer Museum Pub. There’s a really chilled vibe about Prague’s mooch-worthy streets which seeps into the city’s bars and pubs, and this particular one has more than 30 beers on tap, where we could order a variety of local brews in a flight. The beers are super cheap in Prague, and are some of the best I’ve tasted, with one of the standouts being a moreish cherry beer, followed by a hoppy IPA.

Whilst sitting in the pub, we checked availability for Hard Rock Cafe next door for the final pitstop of our trip. It’s cheap, cheerful and if you’re a music fan, features a selection of memorabilia from great bands and artists from across the globe. We went for simple chicken strips, fries and onion rings to share and it felt like a fitting end to a diverse and fulfilling 72-hour adventure in the city.

Whether you’re seeking festive charm or historical wonders, Prague has it all, and if you’re thinking of booking flights to Christmas markets this year, it really is a magical experience – particularly in the snow. The Prague Christmas markets are on until January 6, but you can enjoy winter city breaks with Jet2holidays to a variety of destinations too, such as Vienna, Copenhagen or Berlin, which are sure to be equally as dreamy this time of year.

With a heart full of memories and a suitcase filled with souvenirs, I was able to return to Manchester Airport having ticked off a real bucket-list city. Our long weekend was a perfect blend of Christmas spirit, rich history, culture and naturally, a few cocktails and with Jet2CityBreaks it couldn’t have been smoother, with our flights, accommodation and 22kg baggage all wrapped up in one hassle-free, ABTA and ATOL-protected package. Now all that’s left to do is plan our next break for 2024.


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