I come from a place there is one season that never ends: summer. And though I’ve previously lived in cooler climates and experienced the full spectrum of annual seasons, I’ve never appreciated them quite as much as I do living in Prague. With each season, Prague transforms into a completely different city, each somehow more adorable and charming than the last. Every season brings different traditions and experiences.
I moved to Prague in the summer and discovered an exciting city of festivals and outdoor activities. During the summer, restaurants and bars set up outdoor terraces with tables and chairs, so you can enjoy all your meals and drinks outside. People flock to the river where they can drink beer and listen to music on the banks of the Vltava, watching the throngs of tourists up on the bridges above. You can even rent paddle boats and enjoy a cold beer from your very own plastic swan. During the summer, you can also enjoy the city’s pools for some sun and the best mojitos in the world.
The summer is also a time for festivals. Prague celebrates everything and they do it constantly. There are weekend festivals every weekend (and weekdays) featuring local breweries, restaurants, artists, musicians, you name it. From Prague Castle to the city’s largest parks and the quietest residential neighborhoods, there’s always something going. You like Prosecco? There’s an entire weekend dedicated to it. You like Mexico? Throw on a sombrero and go eat tacos in Vinohrady. You like music? We got world-class composers, classic acts, contemporary bands, traditional Czech music, mariachis! And if you just take a walk anyway, the most talented buskers in all of Central Europe will give your gorgeous summer day a soundtrack.
People hang onto summer as long as they can. But when the winds start picking up and the temperatures start dropping, the tables and chairs start going inside and the outdoor festivals get less frequent. But it doesn’t matter because fall is Christmas season! Christmas starts in Prague in early October and ends in January. There’s no Thanksgiving here and Halloween is a one-night afterthought, so Santa Claus comes to town super early.
With an increasing intensity of cheer, streets and storefronts start decorating, and before you know it all of Prague has exploded into a world of Christmas markets. It gets dark at 4 pm, but it doesn’t matter because there are enough Christmas lights on every night to simulate daytime. Fall is a time when people eat homemade holiday cookies, drink mulled wine, and start going to bed at 10 pm. It’s cozy, delightful, and full of happiness.
But late in December, the snow starts to fall and by January, the Czechs have no holiday cheer left to give. I thought that winter would be harsh and depressing, but that’s because I didn’t know about winter sports. From January to March, you can enjoy ice skating all over the city. It’s not uncommon to see people on the tram with ice skates draped over their shoulder. This year it was cold enough for a reservoir 40 minutes south of the city to freeze, which made for an even more exciting ice skating activities.
But the makeshift winter parks in Prague are actually not the main event during the cold months, the ski resorts around the country are. Though you can always take a sled to a park or go cross-country skiing, most people opt to leave Prague for their winter fun. There are dozens of places to go skiing and snowboarding within an hour or two of Prague. And those places get packed full of happy Czechs enjoying the powdery snow. If you’re up at 5 am in January, everyone you see on the streets (that isn’t still at the bar) is heading for a day on the slopes.
Then the snow starts to melt and the temperatures start to hit the 50s. This is in and of itself the most exciting thing, because Prague winters can be brutally cold. Do you know what 3 degrees Fahrenheit feels like? Neither do I! Because I haven’t left my house in two months. So I’m thrilled that I can go outside now without having to wear two jackets, snow boots and every scarf I own.
Soon, Prague will be in bloom, and it’ll be the best time of year to enjoy the city’s lush gardens. You can get a head start on your summer body by hiking up to Petrin Hill to see the flowers emerge for the first time all season. The view is also pretty grand, especially when paired with a nice glass of wine. Spring is also a popular time to visit the city’s botanical gardens and vineyards. And to get lost in the hedge maze of Troja Palace.
No matter what time of year it is, Prague’s unique seasons always give you something to look forward to. It’s like pumpkin-spiced lattes, but better.