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Prague at Christmas?

Hi all:

In the early planning stages for Christmas 2015... we will start in Nurnberg around 12/18, and then move to a new place on 12/23, to spend 4 nights... We were thinking of going to Strasbourg, then up through Paris to Belgium for the next week...

But Prague is also on our list of places to visit - and I didn't realize how easy it was to get there from Nurnberg! So now I am thinking we will maybe do that... how is Prague over Christmas? We would be there like 12/23-26 or 27...

And if we do that (saving Belgium for a summer trip...) - where would be a good place (places) to spend the next week? What else is good in winter? (not Munich, we just did that this summer - and probably not Italy since we did most of that too)... where would be good and relatively easy to tack on after Prague?

Thank you!!
Kim

Posted by
868 posts

Opinion 1:
Prague is always magical and romantic. One of the best preserved cities of Europe, and the Christmas markets add to the flair. You will love it.

Opinion 2:
Prague is very crowded, especially at Christmas. And the Christmas markets aren't authentic. This is no Czech tradition, and these Christmas markets were only introduced 20 years ago to promote tourism.

Opinion 3:
Nuremberg, Prague... if you really want to experience Christmas you have to visit the Ore mountains, Germanys Christmas country, where most of the traditions come from. The Ore mountains are halfway between Nuremberg and Prague, and you can read more about it here, here, here, and here.

;-)

Posted by
17907 posts

Kim,
You might look more to what you will do on the 24th and the 25th. Most (some, all) of everything will be closed by noon or shortly thereafter on the 24th and at best will not open again until the night of the 25th if not the next morning. So look at locations where you can do something you enjoy – despite the holiday. We have spent a few Christmas’ in the region, although not specifically Prague and we always have a good time at the non-traditional-made –for-tourists-Christmas-Markets. But even those will close Christmas eve in most locations. So then what? There are always some really nice restaurants open for Christmas. This year we have a great one picked out/reserved for the 24th and another for the 25th. We always rent an apartment so we can open presents around the space heater (fireplace) just like when we are home. There are also a few concerts, operettas, operas and ballets going on. The Opera house in the town we will be in this year has afternoon performances on both the 24th and the 25th and I would imagine there are a few church concerts if I looked. Oddly enough, towns where bath houses are popular generally operate the bath houses both days as well. So pick your Christmas day town based upon what you want to see or do beyond just the Christmas Markets our you could find yourself sitting in your room for 36 hours or more.

http://www.hostelworld.com/travel-features/157363/10-christmas-markets-in-europe-not-to-miss

http://www.pragueexperience.com/events/christmas_planner.asp
http://budapestchristmas.com/
http://www.travelandleisure.com/trips/yuletide-in-vienna

Posted by
162 posts

I've spent the last two Christmases in Prague and I'll be there again this year. Yes, the Christmas Markets in the Squares are a bit touristy and sort of crowded, but just walk a block outside of that and its almost NO tourists. Its seems that a lot of places close down by the early afternoon on Xmas eve (if theyre open at all), but there are still places open to get a good dinner, grab a beer, etc. Remember that Christmas services at the churches are open to the public too--last year I went to a sparsely-attended midnight mass (in English) at a Catholic church in Mala Strana, then popped down to a pub (The Blue Moon? Something like that) and had some beers with drunken singing Czechs! Fun times!

Btw the weather was unusually warm for Christmastime too, I was told. Temps were in the upper 40s, low 50s! Have fun whatever you decide, but go for Prague! You wont be sorry!

Posted by
4637 posts

I was at several Christmas markets and cannot say if one is more authentic than the other. They mostly sell kitsch (in Germany more than somewhere else), hot beverages and some local food. Christmas market in Old Town Square in Prague IMHO has the best ambience (thanks to architecture around) especially if it's snowing (which happened in 2010 when I was there). Crowds were nothing comparing to summer. They started with Christmas markets after fall of communism but better would be to say they restarted because they had them in 1968, 1969 and before WWII. The same about Ore Mountains in Germany. They are located in the area which belonged to former DDR (East Germany) so they also restarted after fall of communism. Now they have Christmas markets not only in Prague but also in smaller towns. Try Cesky Krumlov. It's in higher elevation so likelihood of snow will be higher than in Prague. Christmas markets and snow go very well together. Another thing to realize is that December 26th is also holiday there. Public transport still possible but longer gaps. I wish you snow instead of rain. Christmas in Prague (and elsewhere) is so much more magical with snow. I was lucky in 2010.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hubs/christmastravelguide/8133517/Europes-best-Christmas-markets.html
http://golasteurope.about.com/od/pragueshopping/p/praguechristmasmarket.htm

Posted by
868 posts

The same about Ore Mountains in Germany. They are located in the area
which belonged to former DDR (East Germany) so they also restarted
after fall of communism.

Not true. Christmas markets are a essential part of German Christmas, especially in the Ore mountains, and the German Commies weren't that stupid. The Christmas markets in the GDR were just less diverse, since private businesses weren't allowed and the wooden Christmas toys from the Ore mountains, and the glass baubles from the Thuringian Forest, were all sold to Western Germany. But of course they existed in the GDR.
According to Radio Prague Czechia had Christmas markets when the country still belonged to Austria and had a seizable German minority. After 1918 they were considered un-Czech and seen as a symbol of the Germanification of Czechia, and died very quickly. They only reappeared after 1990 when clever people in Prague noticed that they help to promote tourism. From Prague they spread to other parts of the country, but again mostly to promote tourism. The Czechs itself apparently didn't miss them much before 1990.