Coming into a Prague Winter
Winter in Prague is anything between November and February and it’s a great time to visit. Mikulas celebrations on 5th December, Christmas Markets, the main day on 24th December and of course New Year. February is historically the quietest time of the year.
How Cold does it Get in A Prague Winter?
In a Prague winter, actual temperatures will vary but “Zero” degrees C in the centre of the city would be fairly normal. You can reduce that by another 4 or 5 degrees for wind chill. If you are lucky it will be cold but sunny. If not so lucky it will be cold and windy or sleet in which case try a few hot drinks.
Does it snow in Prague?
Yes it does. Sometimes it’s the heavy free-falling stuff of fairy tales or it might be blowing around in the wind. You may see a lot of rooftops covered in snow but it’s still pretty rare for it to lay on the ground before New Year.
What Clothes Should I Bring?
Hats and gloves are recommended but also try and wear layers that you can take on and off as you go in and out of buildings. If you are susceptible to the cold then consider thermal underwear (especially leggings). Bring good boots or walking shoes.
How Can I Warm Up?
This what’s great about a Prague Winter. You just hop from one place to the next enjoying hot drinks along the way. Most of the following are covered in my Six Hot Alcoholic Drinks post. A favourite Prague winter warmer is “Grog” which is a measure of Rum in boiling water (great with a little sugar and a slice of lemon). There’s “Svarak” which is also known as Mulled Wine and can also be in a variant called “Punc” (pronounced “Punch”). If you don’t fancy alcohol then try a hot chocolate. Read about my own favourite cafes.
What if I am Driving?
For most people “Prague winter” starts back in late October after the clocks have gone back and it’s time to get the summer tyres off and put the winter tyres on. Bear in mind if you are not doing this yourself that you’ll need an appointment at a garage as they will be busy. Or as some people do just wait for it to snow and then change your tyres. If you are doing it yourself for the first time you’ll notice that winter tyres have arrows on them to denote the direction of travel.
Do winter tyres make a difference? you betcha! without them we probably could not get out of the village on snow and certainly not on ice. Forget “all weather” tyres as they are a waste of time in the winter if the ground is covered by snow and you have to negotiate any slopes. You are required to have Winter tyres until the end of March.
The next part of the fun is loading your car up with those little necessities like tyre chains, small shovel, overalls, knee pads, ski suit, chocolate bars, usb phone charger etc. Actually you wish for some snow because it’s easier driving on snow than ice. You’ve got the shovel not for yourself but to dig out the charlie in front of you who is blocking the road because he’s still on summer tyres. Overalls and knee pads are for if you have to use the tyre chains as they are not the easiest to fit and will probably be disgusting when you take them off.
A tip for driving down hill is to approach in a low gear, don’t change gear, don’t touch the brake or the clutch. Going uphill keep the gear in second and give enough power to prevent a stall. On the motorway stay in your lane as the dicey bits are crossing the lines where the snow has built up. In town allow more time for cars on the junctions as I guarantee they’ll be spinning their wheels and allow more time for stopping especially where you have ice on cobbles or tramlines.
Did you know that in a Prague winter in the villages outside of Prague, people get an allowance for keeping the roads clear so in a bad winter the farm tractors will be out all the time. If it’s a good driver he’ll do both sides. If not so good he’ll only do the middle. That’s why you’ll see coloured sticks on the verges in winter so as to tell where the ditch is located. When it get’s really bad and the continual clearing of the roads banks up the snow on the sides and up people’s fences then the only way of clearing it is to use a JCB and dig the stuff out to load onto trucks to dump it outside the village in the fields. You can also read about Frozen Pond Fishing.