The Czech Republic is a landlocked country located in moderate geographical latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The climate of the Czech Republic is mild but variable locally and throughout the year.
The climate differs markedly among the various regions of the Czech Republic, depending on the height above sea level. Generally speaking, the higher you are, average temperatures may drop more and rainfall is more likely. Many other factors also play a role in this. The border mountain ranges, for example, significantly influence ground-level air flow and rainfall.
Various height levels of the sun during the year cause the changing of the seasons, differentiated from each other mainly by the development of temperatures and precipitation. Similarly to the whole moderate northern band, the beginning of the year in the Czech Republic is also characterized by a cold winter. After this comes spring, followed by a warm summer and chilly autumn. The alternation of the seasons has a marked effect, above all on vegetation.
The weather at any given time may differ significantly from the long-term average. This variability of the weather is caused mainly by the changeable location and magnitude of two main pressure centers: the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. Mainly during the warm middle of the year, it can generally be said that expansion of the high pressure projection into the territory causes warmer and drier temperatures, whereas the Icelandic Low manifests itself with a greater number of atmospheric fronts, which bring more clouds and precipitation.
The climate of the Czech Republic can then be labeled as moderate, of course with great local diversity seen throughout the year.
Find out more about the climate and weather in the Czech Republic on the web site of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute.
Some of the main factors about the climate are the geographical latitude, height above sea level and distance from the ocean. Differences in geographical latitude are negligible in the Czech Republic. The northernmost point is only 2.5 degrees further north than the southernmost. The most important factor in the diversity of the Czech climate remains the varied topography, thanks to which the climate varies among individual regions of the country. The average air temperature is strongly dependent on the height above sea level. When the temperature on the highest mountain in the Czech Republic, Sněžka (1,602 meters), is only 0.4 °C , the lowlands of southeast Moravia can experience temperatures of almost 10 °C. The highest average air temperatures have also been recorded in Prague, where the effect of the city climate has a warming effect – the “heat island” phenomenon. The annual rainfall is also markedly dependent on the height above sea level. If we want to find the rainiest area in the Czech Republic, we would have to look to the highest mountain range with steep slopes facing northwest. The average total rainfall there is in excess of 1,200 millimeters. On the other hand, the driest region of the Czech Republic, apart from the lowest-situated, southeast Moravia, is northwest Bohemia, which is shaded in this direction by the Krušné Mountains.
December, January and February are counted as the winter months. The coldest of these is January, when even in the lowlands, the average monthly temperature falls below 0 °C. If there is any precipitation in winter, it is usually snowfall in the mountains. In the lowlands, it can alternately rain and snow. Snow coverage usually lasts for several months at higher altitudes above sea level, which attracts winter sports enthusiasts. Snow can remain for several days, even in the lowlands, although most winters it is rather slushy.
One of the most delightful images one can catch is of Prague, the morning after a snowfall with the sun shining. The view of the Little Quarter rooftops is quite magical. Unfortunately, Prague is not the best for comfort during the winter months. The weather is quite changeable with foggy days and temperatures which can quickly drop below freezing. Smog is often trapped just above the city due to Prague's geographical position in the Vltava basin. There are plenty of winter activities however, as the theater season reaches its peak at this time. Balls and dances are also held during these colder months. Peaceful demonstrations take place around Wenceslas Square on November 17, celebrating the Velvet Revolution. As Christmas holidays near, the town squares fill with carolers and Christmas trees adorn the city. Christmas markets are a big draw selling decorations, gifts, carp and hot wine punch. Swimming competitions begin in the freezing waters of the Vltava, and New Years celebrations occur in Wenceslas Square.
During March, April and May, there is a sharp increase in temperatures. We can get an idea of the character of individual months from the following saying: “Březen - za kamna vlezem, duben - ještě tam budem, máj - půjdeme v háj“ (“March – we get behind the stove, April – we’ll still be there, May – off we go to the garden”). Snow coverage usually disappears in the mid-spring, even in the highest mountains of the Czech Republic, so even there, the swift growth of vegetation so typical for spring can occur.
Czech rivers are at their fullest in spring as a result of the melting snow.
There are many Czech folk traditions connected with this period. As the first rays of spring sunshine falls on Prague, the city comes alive with a mass of colorful blooms and cultural events which makes this one of the most desirable times of the year for visitors. The city's gorgeous parks and gardens open their gates after a long winter.
The city's entertainment also increases with the rise in temperatures and is dominated by one of the most popular events, the Prague Spring Music Festival, a busy program of concerts, ballet and opera performances from May 12 to June 3. The main venue for these events is the Rudolfinum. In early April, boats begin to run up and down the Vltava River.
May brings the traditional holiday of Labour Day (May 1) which is marked by many cultural events. Also on May 1, the city's gardens mark their opening day with regular summer concerts. On May 8, the Day of Liberation from Fascism is recognized as a holiday by laying wreaths on graves of soldiers at Olsany cemeteries. Following this is the Prague International Book Fair which takes place the second week of May.
If you love heat, the best time to visit the Czech Republic is July, when the average temperature is 20 °C warmer than in January. Summer arrives with frequent and often very heavy showers and thousands of tourists. The city becomes so crowded that many locals set out for hiking trips in the country in the surrounding hills, or may simply rent country cottages to escape the throngs of visitors. Inside the city is a wealth of entertainment including street performers, buskers and classical orchestras which perform daily in local churches. Many restaurants open tables outdoors to allow you to enjoy a local brew of beer while taking in the outdoor entertainment.
The hottest daily temperatures can be in excess of 30 °C. Days such as these can be pleasantly spent near the water, which truly heats to a suitable temperature for swimming in the second half of summer. Another way to escape the sultry summer heat is to take a trip to the mountains, where the average daily temperatures are just over 10 °C.
The hottest months are also those with the most rainfall as the hot air brings the highest level of moisture to the Czech Republic. Summer brings the Mayoral Boat Race on the first weekend in June when rowing races are held on the Vltava.
The anniversary of the murder of Reinhard Heydrich's assasins is held on June 18, marked by a mass of remembrance at the Church of St. Cyril and St Methodius. The first week of June hosts Golden Prague, an international TV festival of prize winning programs. Battle reenactments are held in many palaces and gardens. In the first week of July, a celebration of Mozart takes place where international orchestras play his works at the Lichtenstein Palace. During the last week of June, Dance Prague takes place, an international festival of contemporary dance at the National Theater. On July 6, the anniversary of Jan Hus's death is celebrated as a public holiday where flowers are laid on his memorial. During all of August, there is a theater and puppet festival on Theater Island.
The first of the autumn months is September, which is still relatively hot and markedly drier than the preceding month. The period of good weather that usually comes in August is known as Indian Summer.
The average daily temperatures usually fall once again below 10 °C around the start of October, which is when the leaves on the trees begin to change into a multitude of colors and fall to the ground: This is why the Czech word for November is derived from the words for falling leaves. The first light frosts can also occur at this time, announcing the nearness of the coming winter.
The gardens below Prague Castle take on a lovely hue of gold and red as many visitors flee the city. Autumn also marks the time of the traditional mushroom gathering season when you will encounter people holding overflowing baskets of freshly-picked mushrooms. Fruits and vegetables flood the markets and the tree-lined hills above the Vltava shine with autumn hues.
An international classical music festival called Prague Autumn is held at the Rudolfinum in early September.
Kite competitions abound, a sacred music festival is held for St. Wenceslas and a 10 km road race called the Bohemia Championship takes place on the last Sunday in September. September and October still boast a number of warm, sunny days, but November frequently holds the first snowfall. In October, a symbolic locking of the Vltava takes place with a key until the arrival of spring, the International Jazz Festival takes place attracting musicians worldwide, and the Day of the Republic (October 28) is still celebrated. Fall also sees football fans begin to fill the stadiums.
Below are charts showing annual temperatures, rainfall, and hours of daylight: