In Prague with kids
Prague, in all of her grandeur and history, is still an amazingly approachable and enjoyable city for kids. There are innumerable outdoor playgrounds and parks for children, many kid-friendly restaurants, and several museums geared toward children.
Among the best ways to get out your kids’ energy and let them have the most fun are the outdoor activities for families in Prague! The Prague Zoo is world acclaimed. It was listed as the 7th best zoo in the world in Forbes Travel Magazine 2007 and still lives up to this expectation, even post-2002 flood damage.
The zoo sprawls over a large area beside the Vltava river. From the expositions on the hilltop, you have a lovely panoramic view of the city. The top part also offers an outdoor eating area with adjoining playground. You can even purchase mini American-style donuts and coffee from one of the stands.
With nearly 5,000 animals from all over the world, the Prague Zoo gives you plenty to see and learn about – lions, tigers, and bears (the Polar bears are always a favorite). Birds like penguins and flamingos have their own areas, but many jungle varieties flit around in differing enclosures where you can walk among them. This year a new India culture and religion themed Elephant Exhibit opened with numerous beautiful elephants, miniature temples, and a good luck pool.
Perhaps, though, the most special element in the Prague Zoo is the jewel animal, Przewalski’s Horse. An endangered species, the Przewalski’s horse originates in Mongolia and the grandson of the last caught in the wild Przewalski is now a stud in the Prague Zoo as part of the ongoing project to reintroduce these short, strong horses back into the wild.
The Botanical Gardens of Prague are equally beautiful and have a unique arrangement of plants. Even though they weren’t established until 1968, from that time 4 gardens within the grounds have been cultured and developed, making for a lovely stroll. Admission fees range from 50-120 CZK/adult and 25-60 CZK child over 5yrs. Opening hours for both the Fata Morgana (Tuesday – Sunday) and Open air Expositions (daily) are basically 9 – 16 with extended hours in warmer seasons.
Prague’s Dinopark is located right off of the metro station Vysocanska on the top level (the roof really) of a shopping center for easy access. With moving dinosaurs to see and touch, a “time-travel tunnel” and a dig site where kids can imagine themselves as archeologists, this makes for a fun couple of hours.
On Petrin hill, there is the “little Eiffel tower” for climbing and a mirror labyrinth for getting “lost”. At the center of the maze you will find a large picture of a famous battle during the 30 Years’ War – the Bohemians against the Swedes on Charles Bridge. In the monastery area, you can walk through beautiful, sweet-smelling rose gardens and visit the nearby planetarium. While it keeps unusual opening hours, it is possible to go inside and view the skies with your own eyes.
Of course, with the wonderful Vltava running through town, there are also multiple boat rentals and big boat rides for your little sailors to explore the river. The docks are located right on the riverbanks which divide Old Town and Lesser Town. And, just off of the Charles Bridge there is a very nice playground on Kampa Island where your kids can see and smell the river while they climb and slide. The playground is visible off the right side of the Charles bridge when facing Lesser Town. To get there, walk down the stairs on the Charles Bridge and then pass beneath it. The playground is ahead and to the right.
Don’t let the rainy autumns or snowy winters deter you from enjoying the city with your young ones. There are plenty of museums aimed to please children – and their parents! There is the Ghosts and Legends Museum full of fascinating stories from Prague’s magical past. The amazing and huge Kingdom of railroads is the largest miniature train set in the Czech Republic and is working its way to being one of Europe’s grandest model trains. It is a few minutes’ walk from Andel metro station. For your engineers in training, there is the Lego Museum with hands on expositions and a building room for kids to put their imaginations into action. This private collection is the world largest exhibit of Lego models, making it impressive even for parents who have seen every imaginable creation their kids have designed.
Kids have a whole world of culture open to them in Prague. This city is world renown for her marionette puppets. While Don Giovanni is classic, it may be a too dark or too long for small children. But, at Divadlo Minor they have marionette puppet performances for kids during the day and early evening. Other famous Czech marionettes, a father/son pair named Spejbl and Hurvinek, are classic child entertainment. They are located in their home theatre in Prague 6 – Dejvice. Their performances in English are limited, so check their online schedule ahead of time. Plus, there are the black light theatre performances to enchant the whole family. They blend glowing moving, morphing neon lights with fascinating stories to create an unbelievable fantasy world that the whole family will enjoy.
Of course, families have to eat and, luckily, Prague has so many restaurants and cafes that are kid-friendly! Look for little signs in the windows that have a red line through a cigarette for a smoke-free zone. Many places also post on their doors “Detsky koutek” or “Kids’ Corner” where they have kid-sized table and chairs, toys, books, or some coloring materials.
Now that you know where to go and what to look for to find the kid-friendly places, go out and explore with your kids. Prague is looking forward to meeting the whole family!
Written by Rebekah Sramkova