Have you ever been to Prague? It is one of my top 5 European cities. It is relatively small and absolutely stunning and is one of these places where you feel surrounded by history! In short, a perfect European destination to spend a weekend with the family. Prague is yet again one of those cities I visited several times before having a kid and have not been to since. I was really happy when one of our readers Diane wanted to write about it who travels all over Europe with her family. Prague really stood out as a place that is very child friendly and fun for everyone no matter what age, so Diane has decided it was time to share her hard earned knowledge with all of us!
Petrin Hill – Located above Mala Strana, Petrin Hill is a great place from which to view the city. For even better views, take the elevator to the top of the mini Eiffel Tower located on its grounds. Note that the elevator cannot accommodate strollers. A mirror maze located on the grounds can be fun for kids of all ages. Even getting to Petrin Hill can be fun for kids – take the funicular and enjoy the ride up. Remember, you can’t spell funicular without fun!
Prague Castle – no trip to Prague would be complete without a visit to Prague Castle. A whole afternoon can be spent wandering around the grounds. Much of it may not interest your kids but stick around for the changing of the guards, as that should grab their attention.
Vysehrad Castle – Prague’s other, less visited castle has on its grounds a beautiful church, a cemetery containing the remains of famous Czechs like composers Dvorak and Smetana, and a well-stocked playground perfect for children bored by sightseeing.
Astronomical Clock – Located in the middle of Old Town (a must see as well) is the enormous astronomical clock. It is worth sitting down in a nearby café for a snack and waiting for the top of the hour to see what happens.
Kralovstvi Zeleznic – Located in the basement of a building in Novy Smichov, this train museum offers lots of model train sets of different varieties whizzing by miniature cityscapes and countryside. If your child even remotely likes trains, they will love this museum. Plus, it is entirely indoors, so it is a great rainy (or snowy) day activity. Your kids will recognize the Thomas train sets and older folks will appreciate the more historic trains, including the ones with “Czechoslovakia” written on the side. For the youngest visitors, there is a room set aside with Thomas trains and other age appropriate toys.
Zoo Praha – Like most zoos, Zoo Praha offers a wide array of animals on display. What makes this zoo stand out is its extensive children’s area complete with a petting zoo, playground and small train that children can ride (with parents, if necessary). There is a café on the grounds. The zoo is a bit off the beaten path but can be reached by taking the metro and then a bus.
Komunitni Centrum KAMPA – During our travels we always try to give our children an opportunity to interact with others their age by seeking out age appropriate classes and inquiring as to whether we can pay for one or two visits. At the Komunitni Centrum KAMPA, we were able to pay for our daughter to attend a “Kids in Motion” class. This English-speaking class involved music, movement and every toddler’s favorite, bubbles. After class, everyone heads next door to Kampa Park for its playground and views of the Charles River.
Hergetova Cihelna – This restaurant is about as child friendly as one can get, yet it manages to retain the ambiance of a fine dining establishment. The high chairs available are the kind found in a home and not the small, wooden sort found in most US restaurants. Even the bathrooms are child friendly, with a comfortable changing table (with cushion) in place of the usual Koala table. To keep children entertained, the staff will provide a box full of coloring books and crayons. While your child colors, you can enjoy a delicious meal and a spectacular view of the Charles Bridge.
Vytopna Restaurant – A must for any child who loves trains. Not only does the restaurant have a train theme, but also all drinks are delivered to your table by small trains that run on tracks laid out across the entire restaurant. It also has the distinction of being the only restaurant where a family wants to sit next to a large party intent on ordering a tremendous amount of beer. Luck out and sit next to such a party and your child will be entertained (as ours was) throughout the entire meal as a bright blue Thomas train passes your table on its way to deliver its cargo. The restaurant also has a children’s menu and provides crayons and coloring paper. The finished product can be hung on a bulletin board located by a play house set up to entertain kids when (or if) the trains start to bore them.
Ambiente Pizza Nuaova Restaurant – Another restaurant that manages to provide the ambiance and food adults want while being completely child friendly. Enjoy the all you can eat pasta and pizza options while your children play in the large play area that comes complete with a television. The restaurant also has a wonderful changing area (baby wipes provided) for those dealing with diapers. During our visit, balloons were handed out to children as they left. Ordinarily I groan inwardly when this happens (who wants a half-deflated balloon hanging around for weeks?) but the sight of my young daughter clutching a balloon as she moved through Old Town made for a lovely souvenir photo. For those traveling with a stroller, use the elevator in the office building next door to access the restaurant’s second floor location.
Bohemia Bagel – For those wanting a simple salad or sandwich for lunch, Bohemia Bagel fits the bill. A US-Czech venture, it has all the hallmarks of a western sandwich shop, plus typical American breakfast fare like pancakes. With three locations in Prague, you are never far from one of their branches.
Marionettes Rici Marionettes are a big thing in Prague. They are sold seemingly from every third storefront in Old Town. A child will either love them or fear them. Regardless, any parent will fear their prices. The marionettes are beautiful (or beautifully ugly) and very expensive as they are being sold in the middle of one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. To combat the price gouging, leave the city center and go to the maker of the marionettes. Marionettes Rici sells its products from its workshop, located a few metro stops away from Old Town. The shop can be a little hard to find but it is well worth it for the opportunity to buy the same marionettes sold in Old Town at a bargain. As a bonus, the shop is located a few blocks from Prague’s other, less visited castle so you can combine sightseeing with good old-fashioned bargain shopping.
Sparky’s Toy Store – Sparky’s has a wide array of toys for all ages and is the perfect place to pick up a “must have” souvenir for little kids – Krtek the Mole. Krtek is an extremely popular cartoon character in the Czech Republic and his likeness is on just about anything and everything you can think of. Krtek has made it to space (he rode aboard the space shuttle Endeavour before its retirement) so he might as well make it into your home.
Country Life – Country Life is a small, organic and health food shop located in Old Town. For those in need of specialty items such as soymilk, this is the place to go.
Apartment Rentals – When traveling with kids, consider staying in a rental apartment if you plan to visit for a week or more. Svoboda & Williams is one of the larger rental companies in town. Their English-speaking agents handle all aspects of the rental and will meet you at the apartment to show you all of the amenities. They can also arrange airport transfers (with car seat, if necessary).