6 Amazing, Kid Friendly, Fun Days in Prague
Back in 1999, I was fortunate enough to spend an amazing semester living, working, and studying in Prague. I was 20 years old and Prague was only ten years into its latest adventure into capitalism and democracy. The Velvet Revolution still resonated with its citizens and everywhere you looked you could see the remnants of the city’s communist past.
I fell in love. I fell in love with the café culture of the city’s writers, with the crisp evening air and the empty bridges I would cross every night. I was mesmerized by the thousand spires in the city’s skyline, the cobbled streets, and the old trams. I remember thinking that Prague was like Disneyland for adults. Not in the commercialism and let’s buy a hat and t-shirt kind of way, but in the way it’s beauty and architecture made me feel as though I was living inside of a fairytale.
I walked through underground chambers in Prague Castle, learned how to speak enough Czech to thrive, and became comfortable ordering food from a menu I never fully understood. As the months wore on, I started to feel Czech. My communist era apartment felt more “homey” with each passing day, I eventually forgot what soft toilet paper felt like, and my clothes and food brands bore the labels of my host country instead of my passport.
The Spring of 1999 made me fall in love with Prague. But, eventually, I had to leave. It was with a heavy heart that I turned down a local full time job offer and went back home to finish my college degree.
Two years went by before I was able to return to Prague. When I did, something had changed. There were more people crossing my old bridge, there was a vibe I didn’t quite remember, and everything just felt more expensive. I chucked it up to the season (I went back in the peak of summer) and enjoyed getting settled into my old Prague- for a few days. I promised myself I would return as soon as possible, but life happened.
It’s been fifteen years since that last visit to Prague. Instead of that wide-eyed twenty year old, I am now the adventuresome mother to a wide-eyed ten year old. I have traveled to Africa, Asia and Europe several times since my stay in Prague, but no place has felt so foreign as that first time I was there. It’s amazing how our minds process our lives, and our first experiences living in a completely foreign language (My first time living abroad was in America, but I spoke English fluently. My first time living in Europe was in Paris, but I was conversant in French and therefore it didn’t feel as foreign).
And now here I am, in Prague, in 2016, with my child and husband in tow. This is the first time either of them have been here. They have both heard me go on and on about how charming and beautiful the city is and Andy has always said that he wants to visit Prague because I paint such an incredible portrait of my time here. No pressure Prague.
After a smooth and uneventful flight from Amsterdam, we landed in Prague and took the bus and metro into the city. My heart was racing as we reached the Malostranska metro stop, then headed up the escalator, and then… Prague. The moment I saw the pastel colored buildings, the bridge I crossed at least once a day, tram #22 pulling up to its stop, I felt like I was home.
Inevitably, comparing the reality and the memory is a recipe for disappointment. So, why do I start this experience with my memories of Prague? Well, because I wasn’t disappointed.
Prague has certainly changed a lot since my very first visit. Even in March, the city is packed with visitors. I can’t blame them. After all, they are here for the same reason we are: to experience this beautiful city. Of course, it also happens to be Easter week. Note to anyone planning to visit Prague: March is not a month to travel to Prague if you want to avoid the crowds. I’m guessing to reach that goal you have to visit in January. And you should, Prague is enchanting when it is covered in a blanket of powdery, white snow.
So, what does a one time resident of Prague do on a return visit?
First, you find an amazing landing spot. Few things are more important to my daughter, and less important to me, than where we lay our heads at night. The kiddo likes comfort and a “pretty” place, the mommy just wants it to be clean and safe. It is with these requirements that I went online in search of the perfect Prague home for our six nights in town. And boy did I ever find it!
I am happy to share that the most amazing apartment for a visit to Prague can be found on AirBnB. While it is technically a one bedroom apartment, it has two full size beds in one private bedroom and a comfortable futon in the large living room. The apartment can easily and comfortably fit a family of six.
For the three of us it felt like a huge home, with a view! And built in exercise. The apartment is on the fourth floor (the top floor) of a charming old building a block away from Charles Bridge. You could not ask for a more central location or an easier walking friendly place. But, being on the fourth floor of an old building means no elevator and a spiral staircase. Is it worth it? YES! No doubt, Yes!
As an added bonus, half a block away in three directions, you can find mini markets to stock up your fridge and kitchen (or you can take the tram to the Tesco). The hosts were super responsive and helpful and even accommodated our late departure. As a mom, I always look for family reviews for our accommodation options. If you are the same, consider this a five star rating for this amazing apartment in Prague. And, just to be completely clear, I have not been compensated in any way for these words. The hosts did not ask me to write this (they actually have no clue). I just wish I would find more places where real families have stayed and shared their own experiences and so I write this to help others like me.
Of course, once you have the whole “where are we sleeping?” issue solved, it’s time to take in the city!
Fun, Child Friendly Activities in Prague:
Prague is an amazing destination offering up a myriad of cultural, music, and child friendly activities. It is one of those places where you can only get as bored as you want. With six days to relax, enjoy, see, and experience, we tried to balance out our daily adventures. Here’s a sample of what we chose:
Church of Our Lady Victorious– Holy Child of Prague: Just a short walk away from our apartment and offering Easter services in English and Spanish, this church is beautiful and houses The Holy Child of Prague, a statue of the infant Jesus who is dressed in richly decorated vestments donated by faithful benefactors and changed according to the liturgical calendar.
Charles Bridge: No visit to Prague is complete without walking across this 15th century bridge. At 2,037 feet long, Charles Bridge offers visitors amazing views of Prague Castle and the surrounding architecture in Prague- and the time to take it all in. Of course, that’s assuming you are not mesmerized by the 30 continuous statues that line the bridge itself.
Prague Segway Tour (3 hours): The kiddo has yearned for a Segway tour for years but has always been bellow the required minimum riding age- until Prague. This fairytale city allows riders as young as 8 to ride a Segway and as soon as I learned this fact I went to work and found a tour we could enjoy with Mackenzie. It did not disappoint. The amount of ground we covered in three hours was amazing. Plus, we had a blast. As an added bonus to this worldschooling mom, our tour guide was a young man from Russia who, in his twenties, spoke five languages fluently. The kiddo did a double take when he spoke to us in English and then seamlessly switched to Spanish. Great teachable moment on how the rest of the world approaches language acquisition. We enjoyed, among other places: Prague City Hall, Old Town Square, the John Lenon wall, Mal Strana, Petrin Hill, Kampa Park, Jewish Quarter, the Strahov Monastery, the Castle grounds, Wenceslas Square, and Art around the city! Segways are definitely a great choice when traveling with kids.
Food shopping: My favorite part of renting an apartment on a trip is the ability to go food shopping. I know that many people would not consider a trip to the supermarket fun, but I do. It’s amazing to see the variety of products, the items available in different locations, the prices and sizes, and all the new foods. Of course, it’s also fun to see all the similarities between a new country and home.
Old Town Square: Astronomical Clock, Church of Our Lady of Tyn, and amazing architecture. No visit to Prague is complete without walking to the Astronomical Clock and taking it its charm. In six days we probably witnessed the pomp and circumstance that it has to offer six different times. The clock has been keeping time continuously since 1410 making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world. You can view the Astronomical Clock in action here.
Trdelnik: is a traditional sweet pastry made from rolled dough and topped with sugar and walnut mix. You can find stands selling this treat everywhere in Prague and oftentimes you can even add chocolate, ice cream, apple strudel, or a variety of other “toppings”. It is delicious and a “must have” when you visit the Czech Republic.
Communism and Nuclear Bunker Tour: Andy found this to be one of the highlights of his visit because our local guide gave a phenomenal explanation of communism and its impact on the city before we got to tour the underground nuclear bunker on the outskirts of the city.
Underground Prague Tour in Old Town: Once upon a time, the streets of Prague were more than twelve feet bellow the current cobbled roads. Continuous floods led to the rising of the city and the ground floor of many Old Town buildings became forgotten basements. Today, you can tour these underground chambers and explore an old prison or the household of a wealthy merchant. Some of these areas are dilapidated and forgotten, some have been turned into bars or art exhibit spaces, and some are just vast rooms where you can let your imagination roam.
Wenceslas Square: Once the site of the Prague horse market 650 years ago, Wenceslas Square is now a bustling center of commerce. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, a hidden garden, and within easy walking distance of pretty much anything, this square is a fun place to people watch or catch a tram to the outskirts (to explore lesser known areas).
Prague Castle Tour A: With access to six different castle areas, Tour A promises to be the highlight to any Prague visit. Unfortunately, we found the open areas to be limited and would have been just as happy accessing the parts that do not require this “all-inclusive” ticket. That said, we did love our time visiting Prague Castle and its grounds.
Walk from Prague castle down to Mala Strana: With spectacular views and a downhill, child friendly walk the whole day, this is an easy way to enjoy some mental relaxation on the way to dinner.
Easter Markets (at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square): One of the benefits of visiting Prague on Easter week is the ability to enjoy the Easter markets, their crafts and wares, and the food. They were up all week and we partook in the fun on more than one day.
Art throughout the City: While there are amazing museums and a myriad of opportunities to enjoy art in Prague, taking a walk around town can easily turn into a wonderful art experience as well.
The Historical Chamber Pot and Toilet Museum: From the moment we picked Prague as our destination I have been looking forward to the moment I could tour this museum. I have a long standing fascination with toilets, and toilet paper. This out of the way museum did not disappoint. We HIGHLY suggest a visit to this museum.
Imaginarium: There are some things you do for your children because you love them, but you fully expect them to be a waste of your time. I honestly thought Imaginarium was going to be that experience for me. Boy was I wrong! I went in expecting to roll my eyes and came out with a smile from ear to ear. We went through the fun mirror maze several times (I lost count), laughed as we stood in front of the shift shape mirrors more than once, were awed at the kaleidoscope movie screening, and enjoyed the various displays and light/ camera tricks throughout the displays. I thought we would spend twenty minutes inside and we ended up enjoying almost three hours of Imaginarium fun!
Tram #22: While all the trams offer great transportation and fun views throughout the city and its outskirts, tram #22 passes through some serious sightseeing musts (including the Prague Castle area and Mala Strana). I would suggest jumping on at any of its stops and riding it from one end of the line to the other. It’s just fun to see who gets on board and what the city looks like from its windows. We never managed to take video on Tram 22, but we did while returning from the outskirst of the city center and on Tram #24.
Our Prague Family Friendly recommendations:
- We absolutely loved the Segway tour! Mommy is a klutz and was very afraid she wouldn’t be able to ride and control the Segway and it turned out to be much easier after the first five minutes. We covered so much ground and saw so much we would do it again in a heartbeat. We wanted to do it in other cities but the minimum age is usually 12/13 years old. In Prague, 8. Awesome!
- Prague is a perfectly walkable city. We spent hours “getting lost” and finding new and interesting corners of the city
- Trndel is delicious. Offered pretty much everywhere (though that might be in part because we were there the week of Easter), we gained weight just from eating this little treat
- The Prague castle tour was not worth it. The access you gain is minimal and disappointing. We would have been just as happy taking the free self walking tour around the complex
- March is already crazy busy in Prague! 18 years ago March was nice and easy to get around. This year, we shared the Charles Bridge with a lot of other visitors. I recommend visiting in January/ February instead. Prague is beautiful in winter and I’m sure less crowded
It was a fairytale week in Prague and we can’t wait to go back and explore more of the city (or maybe even turn it into our next base:)
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