Things to do in Prague in spring 2020
Many people will tell you that the best time to visit Prague is the summer. The weather is nice, restaurants have sidewalk seating, and music is heard everywhere. The only trouble is that you might not be the only tourist who wants to enjoy the city in its warmest season. Although the weather is undoubtedly at its best during the summer months, the mobs of tourists might ruin your dreams of an idyllic holiday in Prague.
If crowds are not exactly your thing and you prefer mild temperatures over extreme conditions, you should consider visiting Prague in the spring. Who said it cannot be just as alluring as summer, anyway?
From mid-February until the beginning of May, Prague witnesses a period of relative touristic stillness. The temperature is gradually rising and the city is gathering strength for the next wild summer. That does not mean there is nothing to do! Quite on the contrary, spring is loaded with events and festivities just as any other season of the year, only with fewer visitors around.
Local climate and how to prepare for it
A weather forecast has more of an aesthetic value in the Czech Republic, as the climate tends to be highly unpredictable. You might easily find yourself wearing a warm jacket in the middle of July while sweating in a T-shirt in late October. One March you are ice skating on a river, the next one you come there to take a swim. Although the temperatures seem to be generally on the rise each year, we still get extremely cold days from time to time. This instability might turn out as an obstacle while planning a trip to Prague and you shouldnʼt rely only on average weather statistics when packing your suitcase. (Read more about what to pack for Prague here.)
While summer and winter are yet relatively stable in terms of temperature, it is spring and autumn that tend to be the most inscrutable. That means you can expect almost anything from freezing cold to the wind, rain, snow, sun, and warm days as well. One also needs to realize that the season comprises 3 months and it is a major difference whether you are travelling in March or in May. In any case, you should be ready for all eventualities; it is no exception here to spend the morning in heavy rain and the rest of the day under bright skies. Make sure to be equipped with multiple layers including at least one that is waterproof.
Holidays and traditions
Spring is rich in celebrations and holidays that will allow you to truly experience the local culture. Probably the most popular of these is Easter. This year, the Easter weekend falls on April 11-13 and it offers not only a great opportunity to witness some of the Czech folk traditions but also to visit the renowned Prague Easter markets. There will be several of them throughout the city, but you will probably want to visit the main marketplace in Oldtown Square, a stoneʼs throw from the astronomical clock that you need to visit anyway. The markets open on March 23 and they present a range of traditional hand-made products, souvenirs, and clothing, as well as delicious street food and drinks.
The last day of April is devoted to the tradition of burning witches. The original purpose of this ancient habit was to celebrate fertility, but today it is more like saying goodbye to winter. You will come across bonfires all over the city, with people, music, and a good mood all around.
The 1st of May is an international day of labor, but more importantly also the day of love in the Czech Republic. This is a tradition inspired by the Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha, whose popular poem “Máj” describes the evening of May 1st as a highly romantic time. You will probably encounter young couples kissing under blooming trees all over the city, especially in Petřín Park, which is definitely worth visiting at this particular time. You may read more about the way Czechs express love in one of our previous articles.
Matějská pouť fair
Spring is also traditionally connected to what all Czechs know as Matějská pouť (Matthewʼs Fair). From the end of February until late April, this fair has become an indispensable part of Czech culture. It follows the tradition of pilgrimage festivities that used to take place by the Church of St. Matthew in Dejvice.
As of today, Matějská is situated on the outdoor exhibition grounds of Výstaviště Holešovice in Prague and it comprises a temporary amusement park. This is a perfect place to explore something truly local, especially for those travelling with young ones, but not exclusively. For more tips on things to do in Prague with children, check our list of tips.
Classical music and festivals
At the end of March, a three-night musical festival called Žižkovská noc takes place in the neighbourhood of Pragueʼs Žižkov and the surrounding areas. This annual event is a great way to experience the cityʼs nightlife. It is a multi-genre event with a rich program and over 50 contributing venues. Although Žižkovská noc is primarily about music, you will also have the chance to witness various dance performances, alternative theatre or poetry readings.
What you definitely donʼt want to miss is the international music festival Prague Spring, which takes place from mid-May until the beginning of June. Hosting outstanding performers, orchestras, and ensembles from all over the world, this unique event is a must for all classical music lovers. It is an unrivaled experience and something truly special to remember from Prague, the city where numerous world-renowned composers conducted their works.
Open house events and other cultural festivities
The end of spring is the time of various cultural events that will allow you to explore Prague from a new perspective. These include the Open House Praha festival on the 3rd weekend in May that offers free tours and open access to both historical and new buildings throughout the city that are not usually open to the public. Another one is the Night of Churches the following weekend, which opens up over a hundred churches and chapels in Prague and allows the visitors to experience the Czech Christian spirit through music, art, and performances. And finally, the beginning of June brings the Prague Museum Night, a popular event that offers a free entrance to 77 museums and galleries throughout Prague during one night.
If you want to experience something truly special, you should definitely check out the Baroque St. Johnʼs Celebrations NAVALIS in the middle of May. This unique event follows a three-hundred year tradition and it is a great source of entertainment as well as a lesson from our history. It starts at the St. Vitus Cathedral on the Prague Castle and follows a route through the historical centre towards its culmination on the Vltava River near Charles Bridge.
As I have already mentioned, spring in the Czech Republic is very unpredictable in terms of weather. But if you are lucky, Prague might be able to offer some of the sunniest and most beautiful days of the year at this time. In that case, why not explore the city on some eco-friendly vehicle, such as a bicycle or an electric scooter? For a start, you can try our Retro Bike Tour, which will teach you some of the bike traffic basics while showing you around Prague at the same time. You will also come across pink bikes all over the city. These can be rented via an app called Rekola for a very nice price. If you feel like scooter instead, try Lime.
Spring is a perfect time for exploring the numerous parks throughout the city. My favourite ones include Letná, Stromovka, Petřín or Riegrovy sady. There is also a cute little island on the river called Střelecký ostrov, which is perfect for a sunny-day hangout. From there, you might head towards the Kampa island, explore local art, and stop by the nearby John Lennon wall for a super cool Instagram picture.
If you are visiting for more days and you get tired of the city, you might venture outside of Prague and get to know its surroundings. A nice one-day trip might be to the city of Kutná Hora, a beautiful historical city with a bizarre church built out of human remains. You might also take a train to Karlštejn, a picturesque Gothic castle southwest of Prague. For beer fans, check out our brewery day trips blog.
February 24, 2020