Prague is a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit. We travelled in February and although the weather was chilly, we found the city warm and inviting. When travelling with kids we find it important to combine awesome historical and cultural sites with fun local adventures. We love finding the little stories to a place that will peak the kids’ curiosities and enhance the overall experience making it a trip that they will not only enjoy but remember and learn from. Below are my top ten sites based on our winter adventure and some tid-bits to enhance the experience along the way.
- Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge was an amazing display of Czech history detailed through statues lining the pedestrian walkway. One of the most interesting to find is St. John of Nepomuk’s statue. He apparently had the misfortune of knowing the queen’s secrets. When he refused to give them up, the king had him thrown from the bridge. Today, touching the bronze on the base of his statue with your left hand is said to give you good luck.
- Petrin Hill
When visiting a new city, one of our favorite things to do is explore the parks. We always plan a day just to play and let the kids pretend to be children growing up in that city. The largest park in Prague is Petrin Park and sits beautifully on a hill overlooking the Castle. We walked toward the Hunger Wall which encloses the park. The wall was built by the Emperor Charles IV during a long famine. His people were out of work and starving. Instead of giving free handouts, he empowered his people to work building the wall then paid them well. The walk to the park also led us past the Tribute to the Victims of Communism.
To get up the hill to the top of the park we rode a funicular, a highlight itself as we zoomed straight up the hill.
At the top, we made our way toward the Petrin Tower, a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower. There is a nice little playground right before you get to the tower. You can climb all 299 steps or ride to the top via the lift. The views were beautiful and gave us a great idea of which way to head in the park as we spotted a bigger playground on the other side at the bottom of the hill.
The walk down the hill was beautiful and we just established a leisurely stroll as the kids explored and played. One of the main paths was lined with beautiful series of the Stations of the Cross.
At the bottom we were rewarded with the great playground we had spotted from the tower.
- Eat Trdelnik
This is our traveling with four kids secret…find a local delicious treat and pump them full of it whenever they begin complaining about walking too much!
In Prague this treat is the delicious Trdelnik, fondly called by our kids: circle donut things. Imagine rolled dough wrapped around a stick and slow roasted over coals then coated with sugar. Yum. Now imagine coating the middle with warm Nutella on a cold February Prague day. Divine! These are sold everywhere and some were cooked over electric heat and some coals- go for the coals!
- Old Town Hall and Astrominal Clock
Old Town Hall is a lovely town square filled with entertainers of all sorts. You can pose with them for a price but we enjoy watching their silliness from comfortable benches under gorgeous statues. Unfortunately, the Astominal Clock has under repair during our visit, but it is a must see and scheduled to be completed by August 2018. The ‘Walk of the Apostles’ is an hourly occurrence. The Apostles and other moving figures, including a skeleton said to represent Death that strikes the time, entertain visitors on the square hourly. As per Wikipedia: According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year's night.
- See a marionette show
Marionettes have a special place in Czech history and culture and what a better way to really explore an area than to partake in part of that beautiful culture. What kid doesn’t love a good puppet show?! There are several choices for viewing a show but we opted for the very authentic Spejbl and Hurvinek Theatre. The play was performed in Czech but since the traditional Czech folklore was similar to Pinocchio we were able to follow the story. The kids loved it! The theatre is a bit out the tourist zone of Prague (which was a plus for us) and an easy tram ride. The kids had been begging for a ride on the electric trams that pulse through the city so it was a win-win. After the performance the kids were keen to try their hands at marionettes. They are sold everywhere throughout Prague and you could easily buy an inexpensive one made in China or find one handmade by local Czech artists.
- Prague Castle
The main tourist attraction in the city and the gorgeous castle and cathedral that dominate the city skyline. Arrive at noon and you can watch the changing of the guard ceremony. It happens hourly but the one at noon is the most lavish and includes a marching band.
Inside the castle walls is sort of a complex of buildings and interesting sights. The Cathedral is the largest and most visible. It is simply gorgeous inside and worth a view. The kids loved the gargoyles outside as we were fortunate enough to arrive as the snow was melting and the gargoyles were dipping the melted snow out their mouths and down below functioning as the gutter system that they were designed to be.
There is also a wonderful statue of St. George slaying a dragon located in the courtyard. I mention it because it provides an excellent opportunity to add a bit of local folklore that your kids will love. The story goes that a town was plagued by a dragon and in response the king decided to place all the townspeople’s names in a bowl, choosing one every year at random to sacrifice to the dragon. This worked for many years until one year the king’s daughter was chosen. The king knew that he must continue with tradition and sent his daughter for the dragon. She was dressed in beautiful wedding clothing and when St. George happened upon her crying in the forest he decided to defeat the dragon and save the princess. The story gets better…check out this (or many others) youtube video that your kids will love to find the ending: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YuVzOK89EA
There are several museums, including a tower filled with torture devices from medieval times (a real hit with my older children) and the Old Royal Palace great for imaging royal balls of long ago (a hit is the younger ones). Golden Lane is also within the castle walls and worth a visit. Imagine entering a small world seemingly made for Hobbits! Golden Lane is a row of colourful houses once local residences but redesigned to showcase life in the 17th century.
- Lennon Wall
In the 1980s this once normal wall became a testament of the call for political freedom from the youth of Prague and was covered in graffiti with slogans of love and peace inspired by John Lennon and often containing numerous Beatles quotes. The then Communist regime painted over it several times and each time the youth of the city recreated it. Finally, the regime gave up and allowed the wall. Come armed with chalk and add your own piece of love and unity.
- Peeing Statue
Hidden in the winding streets of Mala Strana is the Peeing Statue. As you can imagine, your kids will love this. The statues are standing in the shape of Czech. The sculptor created this shortly after the Czech joined the EU. You can guess his opinion on that matter.
- Children’s Island or Detsky Ostrov
We happened upon this peaceful island while walking through the city. In February, it was quite and provided peaceful views of the city along with some obstacle courses for the kids to wear off some extra energy. Apparently in the summer months you can rent paddle boats from here which would be quite wonderful.
- Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square, really much more rectangular in shape 😊, is a bustling business area full of shops, cafes, and hotels. At one end is the Czech National Museum and an enormous statue in tribute to Good King Wenceslas. Much Czech history has happened in this now very commercial and social area of the town, from proclamations of independence in 1918 to Nazi mass demonstrations to a student setting himself on fire in 1969 during a protest of the Soviet invasion.
Others worth mentioning that we didn’t get a chance to see but heard wonderful things about
Museum of Miniatures