Weekend in Prague with Kids
Our trip to Prague got off to an interesting start. The normally dependable NS Intercity Direct from Rotterdam Central to Schiphol was more than 10 minutes delayed. We had plenty of time but we were all worried it was an ominous start to our trip.
We flew out of Terminal M, a new terminal at Schiphol for us. While other gates’ security lines ran around the airport, terminal M remained mostly empty. We worked our way through and found ourselves in a large “departure lounge” as they are called here. This lounge had two cafes and ample seating. You are encouraged to hang out here until your flight receives a gate assignment.
There isn’t much to do here for kids, but they have built a slide into the seating. The kids loved this little slide. It’s fast and you can climb up the stairs. As the crowds for the flights increased so did the kids playing on the slide. The boys made a few friends.
Meanwhile, Jeff and I were approached by someone who recognized us from House Hunters International! Ha! It was fun to meet someone who had seen the show and hear what they liked about it. They were excited to meet our little little who was in my belly during filming.
The flight was short and uneventful, just the way we like them. Landing in Prague the only problem was getting into the city. We came in on EasyJet to terminal 2. Our 2012 guidebook had suggested using a shuttle service that no longer existed. Instead we hooked up with some really nice Ryan Air flight attendants who had us take the city bus into the city and transfer to the tram, which dropped us off a block from the Marriott.
While we typically love to seek out family-friendly local lodging, sometimes the Marriott is just a good bet. The Marriott Prague has a prime location and the price was right! We were upgraded to a suite and had ample space for everyone to sleep.
We also have access to the club level which makes eating with the kids easy. (Including grabbing a drink and some snacks when we arrived.)
Once we were settled from the flight we headed out to see some of Prague. The kids were itching for some freedom. We walked to the Franciscan Garden in the center of Prague. There is a large playground that the kids enjoyed. Jeff found this playground in his usual way – he looks on Google Maps using satellite view to spot parks with playground equipment. Some cities and organizations list playground locations but when we are going to be staying in a city, it only takes a few minutes to scan Google Maps and we can find most every outdoor playground in a city.
Once the sun started to dip down a bit and temperatures dropped we headed to the Lego Museum, which houses the world’s largest private collection of Legos. The boys had a blast looking at all the Lego sets.
There are several areas where you can build your own creation. If you build something you really love the museum will let you purchase your creation based on its weight.
Who wouldn’t want to slide into a pool of Duplos? Our big little had a lot of fun in the pool of Duplos. It also made me think this could be a good way to store them at home!
Personally I’m a fan of all the fun Lego people.
The boys laughed at the “vintage” sets. Jeff and I remembered a few of them from our childhood.
The working vehicles were by far the boys’ favorites. The switches on the wall operate the trains on a particular track. Our kids love trains, Legos and buttons, so it was a huge win. We likely could have stayed here all day.
The museum also has the obligatory “we built this landmark out of Legos.” They have a lovely display of the Charles Bridge that takes up a full room and phases through times of the day. It has a little “eye spy” game on the wall too that you can play.
We left the Lego museum in time to see the Prague Astronomical Clock at 5pm. The clock was installed in 1410 making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world. (It is the oldest still in operation!) The clock has a portion which shows the position of the sun and the moon in the sky, a calendar dial and the walk of the apostles as the clock strikes the hour. The clock tells the time according to the sun, so once the time changes it will be off by an hour for six months. Beware pickpockets, tourist scams and overpriced restaurants in this area.
We enjoyed a few minutes in the square before heading back to the hotel.
While I got the kids settled Jeff popped over to the Communism Museum since it is open late.
The next morning we met our tour guide at 9am for a three-hour private walking tour. (We booked through Prague Walker.) We weren’t quite sure where she was going to take us, but it turned out to be a city overview including walking us through the Jewish Quarter. It was one of my favorite parts of our visit. It’s hard with the kids to get all the information on the go that I want, but private guide prices in Prague are quite low. Expect about 20-30 Euros per hour for a guide.
We started in the Jewish quarter. In the Jewish cemetery we learned what the symbols on the gravestones meant and the kids went on a hunt to find the stacked stones left by visitors to a grave.
The tour guide pointed out historic buildings throughout the city. This amazing VJ Rott Building, that now houses the largest Hard Rock Cafe in Europe was a hardware store of sorts. The facade depicts the many tools that would have been sold here.
We made a stop at the John Lennon peace wall, with its colorful graffiti.
The tour guide’s talk was also full of Prague folklore that the kids loved. This troll waiting ominously to collect money from those passing over the bridge was one of their favorites.
Our tour guide was kind and handled the million questions the Big Little had with grace, despite most of them being ridiculous. She even walked us over the Charles Bridge explaining the statues that line the bridge.
Our tour ended on the other side of the bridge and we grabbed lunch at Malostranska Beseda as suggested by our guide. The food was delicious. Without her guidance we would have ended up somewhere touristy under the bridge, but instead we got a fantastic, relatively cheap, relaxed meal.
Then we headed to a lovely little playground under the Charles Bridge. You can see it from the bridge but to get to it you have to just stay right as you exit the bridge (away from the Old Center) and keep staying right! It’s a winding path, but it seems to keep the park to mostly locals.
Next we hopped the tram up to the top of the hill. From our tram stop we followed a walking path to the top of the hill.
Here we walked up to the tower, finding several playgrounds on our way.
We also tried out the Mirror Maze at Imaginarium Praha.
The mirror maze was so fun with the kids. We got in a bit of trouble for being too loud – the kids were all shrieking with joy!
We walked down the mountain through the Strahov Monastery property.
We paid to go visit the library. The rooms are stunning. There are also several shelves of weird collectables like seashells and skeletons that are reminiscent of a natural history museum. We also peeked into the church, which is barred off and pictures are prohibited. The painted ceiling though makes it worth taking a peek.
The hike back down to the city takes 20 min, but provides stunning views of the city (mostly downhill).
Once you empty out onto the street there are a bunch of great shops to peek into. This marionette shop was one of our favorites.
We also grabbed a local treat, a trdelnik. These rolled dough treats can be found all over town served in a number of different ways.
Although the internet loves these cones full of ice cream (just check out this Buzzfeed article about them) our tour guide told us the addition of the ice cream is recent. The trdelnik is best enjoyed hot, right off the roller with no filling or just chocolate inside.
The kids had been so good that we decided to treat them to an after-dinner trip to Hamley’s toy store. This place is incredible and has a variety of free and paid attractions. Going in the evening gave us the store basically to ourselves (closes at 8pm, check hours).
We got a card to do a few of the paid things, like drive the cars and play with the excavators in the ball pit. Honestly though the card system is overly complicated. You pay a deposit to get the card and then put money on the card. When you’re done, you can return to Customer Service to return your card and get your deposit back.
While the big slide was good for our four year old the smaller slide of the treehouse play area was better for our little guy (free).
We were all endlessly amused by the giant Light Bright (free) and Play-Doh stools.
The water table is excellent and our kids were totally soaked by the end, another great reason to end your day here (free)!
We also did some “window shopping” in the Playmobile section. This guy has a birthday coming up and wanted to check out all the available sets.
There are also tons of Legos to play with here (free). They have a special ramp where you can build and race your Lego car creation.
The Middle Little was more excited to drive the Duplo bus then build with Legos. There were also some bikes and scooters laying around he tried out (all free).
There are so many more things I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention. (Yes that is a carousel in the store.) You really could spend an afternoon here! We were happy with the evening we spent here and the kids were exhausted when we left and easily went down to sleep.
The next morning we set out by public transportation to try out some of Prague’s coffee culture with a stop at I Need Coffee! I had a lovely cup of coffee sitting in the window while my toddler threw himself on the floor for no apparent reason. We also sampled some of their breakfast treats.
We walked by the dancing houses and had our own little dance party celebrating “Fred and Ginger” while we waited for the lights to change.
Just down the block there is a little bridge where you can cross onto Children’s Island.
There is a lovely little playground here. (It is not the playground you can see from the dancing houses, that one is a private playground.) There also appears to be a small train that runs in the warmer months (suitable for toddlers).
We had tentatively planned to grab lunch at the Vytopna Railway Restaurant. They deliver beer to your table by model train and despite the terrible food reviews we thought it would be something the kids would enjoy. We arrived at opening and found a completely empty restaurant. We were told we needed to purchase a ticket for each person to get into the restaurant even if we wanted to order food and drinks. Your ticket price is not deducted from your purchase. We decided we were not willing to pay for the chance to order bad food and left. The staff seemed incredulous.
Instead we walked a bit further up the road, crossed over the railway tracks and ended up at the amazing Hashashira Bistro. The food was excellent and they went out of their way for our kids. They split a smoothie and entree for the boys and brought their food out right away. The menu is fresh and authentic!
After lunch we headed back across the Charles Bridge to check out Prague Castle. This is the largest castle in Europe and can be very overwhelming. We purchased tickets for the short tour, which was plenty for the kids. In between inside visits we let our kids run around in the open courtyards. Although it was crowded an afternoon visit vastly reduces the crowds.
St. Vitus Cathedral was our first stop. This impressive cathedral was the coronation place of Prague’s Kings and Queens.
The inside of the cathedral is full of side rooms and interesting art pieces. The big little loved how the angels were holding up the cloth.
The afternoon light was so pretty illuminating the ceiling of the cathedral.
Next we popped into St. George’s Basilica and the Old Royal Palace.
Our favorite stop though was Golden Lane. Golden Lane has a series of houses that each depict the life of a different person who lived there during different time periods. We loved learning about different people and seeing the tiny homes nestled into the castle wall. The end of the lane has a stunning view of the city.
We crossed over the Charles Bridge one last time.
One of the guide books had suggested we stop for tea in Prague. We went to the recommended Dobra Cajovna.
We took off our shoes, sat on the floor and enjoyed a traditional cup of tea. I’m pretty sure it was user error, but the tea was terrible. Maybe we don’t know how to use this three cup system… anyway, it was an experience. The kids had a juice that they really loved.
We said one last goodbye to Prague’s beautiful architecture as we walked back to the hotel for the evening.
The next morning we took the tram to the bus to the airport. It was much easier this time since we had a good grasp of the transportation system. The Prague Airport is quite kid friendly. In the departures hall before security there is a large Lego version of the airport with working buttons.
Once we made it through security we followed signs for the play area (kids using blocks on sign in background) only to find it missing. The baby room though was outfitted with some toys.
The boys played here for a bit while we changed diapers and fed the Little Little. Then we headed to our gate for an easy flight home.
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