What to do during winter in Prague – Part 1
After all the summer and Christmas rush, it is time for winter to show real beauty of Prague. Now, I am not saying one shouldn’t visit our beautiful city in July and August. However, there are certain sides of Prague that can only be fully experienced and realized in peace. The peace I am talking about is that pleasant feeling of not being stuck in the traffic or surrounded by hundreds of people trying to take a photo of Prague Castle. So winter in Prague seems perfect, right?
It is great to experience winter in Prague, indeed. Everything slows down a bit and you get a chance to take it all in in more completely. And there is a bonus of fluffy snow further enchanting already magical scenery.
In February, Prague is all about carnival. Czech version of Mardi Grass is locally known as Masopust, and its tradition has been around for centuries. It has been rejuvenated recently, to have each major part of the city host its own Carnivale procession.
These are epic events, mind you. Processions are led by costumed stilt-walkers, followed by merry locals singing, dancing and drinking beer. Literally everyone gets involved in the tradition, as pubs, restaurants, museums and markets organize carnival events. People dress in creative, sarcastic and silly costumes, and the whole city becomes one huge celebration of culture.
Whether you are in the amazing Old Town, the hipster siblings of Vinohrady and Žižkov, or the up-and-coming Holešovice, do not miss these very different, but equally spectacular and fun processions.
Ice-skating in Prague
Winter in Prague is about ice-skating too. If you are up for something more active, you are definitely encouraged to visit one of Prague’s numerous ice rinks.
People of Prague love their outdoor activities, and it seems their favorites have to do with ice. Visiting an ice rink for an ice-skating session is a good way to experience some of the local spirit. Plus, you might meet some locals. We at Sir Toby’s Hostel recently visited the rink at Ovocny Trh and had huge fun.
The rink next to the famous Žižkov TV tower might be the most attractive one. It is a decent-sized one, open daily, and allows you to rent a pair of ice-skates for a small fee. Plus, it is situated in the lively district of Žižkov, so you can finish your skating with a cheeky beer in some of the coolest pubs in the city.
A very nice ice-skating rink is the one at Na Františku as well. It is a part of a large sports centre, located next to Vltava river. This rink is fairly large, but the location in the very centre is what really sets it apart. It is just minutes away from anything in the Old Town, and quite close to Sir Toby’s Hostel as well.
Walk along Vltava river
Another thing that will make you appreciate Prague even more, is a simple walk along Vltava river. Vltava is a majestic river. It is surrounded by beautiful nature, old and new architecture and lively local life. All of this makes walks along her banks an amazing experience.
What strikes a visitor to Vltava first, apart from the impressive view on the Prague Castle, are the bridges of Prague. There are 17 bridges crossing Vltava in Prague, including the celebrated Charles Bridge. Other bridges’ stories, however, deserve their share of attention as well. Negrelli’s Viaduct, a one kilometer stony bridge is one of them. It was built by Alois Negrelli, an author of the Suez Canal project, to connect Karlin with Holešovice district. And it earned Negrelli a title of the knight of Vltava and Labe river as well.
Several of Prague bridges are more than 100 years old, such as Manes Bridge and Čech Bridge. Manes Bridge is famous for decorative fountains and gargoyles on its sides, as well as its Walk of Fame dedicated to Czech composers. Meanwhile, Čech Bridge is a protected technical monument as the only Art Nouveau bridge in the country. It features particularly interesting art decorations in form of bronze statues of torchbearers and six-headed creatures with Prague coat of arms.
Another very old bridge, dating back to 1901, is the Railway Bridge. It connects the area below Vyšehrad fort with Smichov district. In Smichov you can check Staropramen brewery for their guided tour and a glass of their delicious beer.
It is a story of romance and power, and one can feel both by walking on the high fort walls above the river and admire the view, or resting in the fort’s park among huge statues of Czech legendary heroes.
The fort was first built in 10th century, and each new century contributed to its expansion. The fort finally reached its current shape in 19th century as a fortified Baroque residence. It was a home to kings, princes and emperors throughout its history. Today hosts Basilica of St Peter and St Paul and Vyšehrad Cemetery where famous composer Antonin Dvorak and painter Alphonse Mucha were buried.
Our Richard’s No Umbrella Thursday Tour offers a great view on Vyšehrad, and Richard will be happy to share some of the fort’s history and secrets with you.
Naplavka Farmers' Market
Should you decide to go for a river walk on Saturday or Sunday morning, be sure to stop by Naplavka Farmers’ market, just next to Palackeho Bridge. The market is a quite unique experience. It stretces over one kilometer and offers wide range of fresh products, homemade food and pleasant chatter of locals. The best of all, it is located just in the perfect spot to give you a beautiful view of the river and Prague Castle