The best time to go to Prague


Prague is arguably Europe’s prettiest capital.

Travelers come in droves to stroll the cobblestones and admire the many historic buildings whose architectural styles stretch back some eight centuries. The view to Prague Castle from statue-lined Charles Bridge is breathtaking. The narrow alleyways of the Old Town spill out onto the grand Old Town Square, where a 15th-century Astronomical Clock keeps time to the rhythms of the Middle Ages.

It’s no surprise, then, that Prague has evolved into one of the continent’s most-popular destinations, and much of its medieval charm can quickly evaporate on a hot day in summer when those pretty backstreets are choked with thousands of other people.

Fortunately, it’s possible to time your visit in order to experience some of the city’s magic for yourself.

A hand holds up a rainbow flag as a parade of people walk past a large statue of a man on horseback
Prague Pride draws thousands to the city in August © Tatiana Diuvbanova / Shutterstock

June to August is high season when it’s hot, sunny and crowded

Most visitors come during the Czech Republic’s short summer, when the weather is warm and the days reliably sun-drenched. All the attractions are open, parks and gardens are in full bloom, cafes and restaurants have put out sidewalk seating, and daylight stretches as late as 10pm near the summer solstice. The downside is that Prague is packed to the rafters. Expect higher prices for lodging and meals and long waits to see A-list sights like St Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Jewish Museum.

June brings plenty of sunshine, but without being uncomfortably hot. As July hits, daytime highs reach the mid-30°Cs (upper 80°Fs and 90°Fs). The city empties out the first week of the month as locals decamp to summer cottages to enjoy the public holidays of St Cyril and Methodius Day (July 5) and Jan Hus Day (July 6). In August, which continues to be hot, thousands of people from around Europe come to attend the annual Prague Pride festival, a week of parties and happenings at venues across the city.

If you’re visiting during these high-season months, double-check your accommodations have air-conditioning – not everywhere does.

Tourists milling around the red facade of St George Basilica in Prague Castle in the Czech Republic on a sunny June day
Summer in Prague is hot and busy, so expect to encounter crowds at all the main sights © Roman Babakin / Shutterstock

April to May and September to October are better times to visit

The spring and autumn months draw fewer crowds to Prague but offer the possibility of sunny days and warm weather (though bring a jacket and umbrella just in case). April and May are particularly beautiful as trees and flowers bud and bloom. Book in advance during the busy Easter holiday, which heralds the unofficial beginning of the tourist season, when a festive, three-week Easter market takes over Old Town Square. In May, days are comfortably warm but the nights are cool. On May 1, couples traditionally climb Petřín Hill to toast their romance with flowers. The city’s ambitious festival season kicks off in mid May with the annual Prague Spring Music Festival, the high point of the cultural calendar.

September brings the best of all worlds: warm days, but without the summer crowds. The familiar rhythms of city life return as schools start up, theaters and concert halls reopen, and the first cool rains break the grip of the summer heat. Sidewalk cafes remain open as long as the weather holds. Days grow noticeably shorter and cooler through October, but it’s still a good time to visit, particularly for lovers of live performances – the concert and theater seasons are in full swing and this is the best month to hear classical music or opera.

One person walks across a bridge lined with large sculptures based on the human form on a winter's day
In January, you might have the Charles Bridge to yourself © Jonathan Stokes / Lonely Planet

November to March are best for budget travelers

The pace slows considerably through the winter months, which bring on weeks of gray skies and cold, rainy and (occasionally) snowy weather. Some parks and gardens close for the season, though most attractions and museums remain open year-round. The downsides of cold temps and mid-afternoon darkness are compensated by lower prices for hotels, fewer throngs on the squares, the undeniable delights of a cozy Prague pub, and the chance to see Charles Bridge covered in snow.

November marks the start of winter, and on All Souls Day (November 2) locals visit cemeteries to lay flowers and light candles. The cool, dark evenings are tailor-made for a night in the pub. Book restaurants in advance on St Martin’s Day (November 11), when chefs traditionally scrap normal menus in favor of plates of roast goose and dumplings. Winter snows start to fall in December and big Christmas markets on Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square get rolling, running through to New Year’s.

New Year’s Eve festivities on Old Town Square linger well into the early morning of January 1; later in the day, the city holds its annual fireworks display. In February, residents tend to leave the city for ski holidays or huddle in pubs or cafes. The winter blues are broken up by annual Mardi Gras festivals – Masopust in Czech – where people come out onto the streets in costume to sing, parade and roast pigs. The popular Saturday-morning farmers markets around the city, including the best-known one at Náplavka on the Vltava, start up by mid-month. March continues to be overcast and chilly, possibly with snow, but it also sees the first shoots of sunshine that remind us that nicer days are coming.



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