When planning my winter break 2020 trip, I knew I wanted to visit Prague. It’s one of the cities high on my European travel bucket list and it seemed amazing. Not only that, but I wanted to spend New Year’s 2020 in Prague. Luckily, I made it happen. Here in this post I will write about how I spent New Year’s 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic. If you’re interested in what to do and see in this city, keep reading.
Accommodations in Prague are generally not too expensive. However, whenever you’re traveling during the holidays the prices skyrocket. This was also the case in Prague. I stayed in Sophie’s Hostel and normally it costs $11 a night. Pretty great, right? For New Year’s 2020, it was over $60 a night. While planning my trip, this was what stopped me from staying in Prague another day, because I was trying to be budget friendly.
So, definitely book your accommodations early. However, no matter how early you book them, just be aware and accept if you plan to travel during New Year’s or another major holiday, that prices will be more. Overall Sophie’s Hostel was great. I didn’t enjoy my stay there too much, but that was less to do with the hostel and more to do with the people in my dorm. I stayed in a 6-bed mixed hostel dorm and one of the guys in particular made me and others very uncomfortable. Luckily this hasn’t been a recurring experience in hostels for me, but it did make me a tad eager to leave Prague, to get away from the awkward rooming.
Before heading into what I did in Prague for New Year’s Eve and Day, I just wanted to point out the language. Prague was the first place I’ve traveled to where I didn’t know how to communicate anything in the native language. I’ve been to Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French speaking cities and since I study two out of four of those languages and they’re all Latin languages, it was easy to get by in the others as well.
It’s wise to try to learn basics wherever you travel – hello, thank you, please, sorry, excuse me, etc. But for some reason my brain wouldn’t retain anything in Czech. However, this was also one of the first places I traveled where I heard more foreign languages than the native one. In restaurants and sights, the workers defaulted to English and not Czech, unlike at other places. Not just for me, but for others as well. Therefore, if you know basic English travel language, you should be fine.
Another quick tip on the weather. It was cold. Really cold. But not the worst I’ve experienced, especially as a New York native who spent four years in college in upstate New York. It was extremely cold, however if you’re used to cold weather, just prepare yourself like you would at home. If you’re not accustomed to cold weather and want to visit Prague for New Year’s, bring a good coat, gloves, hat, scarf, warm pants (my one mistake because I live and breathe in leggings), sweaters, etc. You’ll be fine, just prepare smartly.
On my way to see bigger, more major attractions I had to pass by the Dancing House. It’s a curved building that is almost an optical illusion. Now it’s mainly a bunch of office buildings inside, so most people just admire from the outside. It’s a cool looking building and definitely cool to see.
Charles Bridge (and other bridges)
Definitely stop by Charles Bridge. It’s absolutely full of tourists and peddlers during the day, but it’s beautiful and gives you nice views of the city. There are several bridges in Prague that give you amazing views, but Charles Bridge is the most popular. For New Year’s fireworks, Charles Bridge and the nearby ones are quite popular so you can look at fireworks with the castle in the background
Talking about fireworks, in Prague for New Year’s 2020 they didn’t have official city fireworks. Instead, in the early afternoon the city displayed a video of fireworks on a screen in one of the squares. LAME. Who wants to celebrate New Year’s in the afternoon watching a pre-recorded video? Instead, I decided I would head to the bridge near the Dancing House to watch the fireworks.
This bridge was still packed with people, but not as much as Charles Bridge, it was closest to my hostel and it still had a great view. Since I was solo traveling, I didn’t have to worry about getting there so early because I was able to squeeze in. I got there about 10-15 minutes before 12 and was able to get a spot right at the front of the bridge overlooking the water.
One thing I was expecting having watched the ball drop in Times Square my entire life was a big countdown. But there was no organized countdown, perhaps because the city wasn’t officiating the event. Instead, people began counting (in many languages!) and it was kind of all over the place. Them for the next 20-30 minutes I stayed on the bridge watching the fireworks over the water and near me.
Since the city was not officiating the fireworks, that meant normal people/tourists were. This also meant that there were a bunch of drunk tourists with fireworks. Uhh… made me a little weary. As soon as I arrived to the bridge drunk people were acting like idiots, yelling, screaming, etc. Once the fireworks started it only got worse. People were setting them off, quite closely to other people. And while there were no accidents (while I was there at least) there definitely could’ve been.
Additionally, when you’re surrounded by lots of people (especially if you choose to watch the fireworks on Charles Bridge) be cognizant of pickpockets. Walking to and from the bridge, I didn’t feel too unsafe, but I was definitely not listening to music and had my guard up just in case any drunks were heckling me. Be cautious and vigilant and you should be fine. Also, try not to stand next to the drunks setting off fireworks.
Should you spend New Year’s in Prague?
All in all, I loved my time in Prague. Despite the hiked up prices, crowds and cold, awkward hostel situation, I loved the city. In fact, this may be one of my favorite cities that I’ve visited so far. Definitely in my top 3! What cities have you spend New Year’s in?