Prague. One of our very favorite destinations in Europe, it is also an excellent place for young kids. And not just to live. Even for tourists, not many places offer so much that both adults and kids will enjoy. Other features we love:
Many of the most significant attractions are outdoors. Yes, there are museums and beautiful buildings, but you don’t need to spend all day inside them. The city is very compact, but if something isn’t within walking distance, public transportation is top-notch. And all around the city, there are bustling squares for your little one to run around in while you people watch. (Or chow down on snacks if you’re there for the Christmas or Easter markets.)
So what should you do if you are visiting Prague for the first time and you’ve got a young child with you? Here are our suggestions for 2-4 day visits that will allow the adults to fully experience the city without losing the kid’s attention.
With two days
A.M.: Take a walking tour through Old Town*
It’s incredible how much you can see in 3 (or fewer) hours, IF somebody knowledgeable helps you out. Left to your own devices, however, you could spend six months wandering around trying to find a particular church mentioned in your guidebook. (Or maybe that’s just Heidi.) So do yourself a favor and join one of the many walking tours that depart from Old Town Square and take you through Old Town (and often part of the Jewish Quarter).
These used to meet in front of the Astronomical Clock, but according to the interwebs, most of them currently depart from the corner of Pařížská street (near Cartier). Check online for more current information, including departure times, or just go to Old Town Square and look for the tour group leaders carrying umbrellas and waiting for tourists.
Practical Tips: If you’d like to book your tour in advance, consider Sandemans. Tours depart at 10, 10:45, 12, and 2. Technically these are “free” tours, but you should tip your guide. Not sure how much? One tour operator recommends CZK 200.
P.M.: Wander across the Charles Bridge and around Malá Strana*
While Old Town really packs in the sights, none of them is as iconic as the Charles Bridge. After all, when someone says “Prague,” what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? I suppose it’s possible that it’s the Astronomical Clock or Prague Castle in the distance, but most likely you picture this sculpture-lined bridge.
Connecting Old Town to Malá Strana, this statue-dotted bridge is often crawling with tourists, but is relatively peaceful during the week and especially in the off-season. As you cross over near Malá Strana, the river below will be replaced with the island of Kampa. If you decide to take a detour, you’ll find quirky art, a playground, and an excellent restaurant with beautiful views of Old Town on the island.
Not unlike the bridge itself, Malá Strana can be a little too crowded and overwhelming. But you don’t have to veer too far off the main road to catch your breath. And once you do, you’ll find that this area is more beautiful than you imagined. There are gorgeous old buildings, a church with a famous baby Jesus statue, playgrounds, and even beautiful gardens hidden behind walls. Indeed, the first afternoon I let myself get lost in Malá Strana, I found myself muttering every two minutes, “How did I not know this was here?”
Practical Tips: If you would like to see the Infant Jesus of Prague, the church is located at Karmelitská 9 and the museum is open 9:30-5 Monday-Saturday and 1-6 on Sundays. (The church is open longer hours, but if you’re going, it’s worth stopping by the museum.) For park ideas, including opening hours and other details, check out this post from The Little Adventurer.
A.M.: Visit Prague Castle*
Situated at the top of the hill is the enormous Prague Castle complex. Although massive, at first glance it might not seem that impressive. (As I saw it, with mostly “small” palaces for lesser nobles, it is no Windsor Castle.) But in addition to beautiful views of Prague, there are a number of things to see, including the famous Mucha window at St. Vitus’ Cathedral and the Romanesque St. George’s Basilica. Also, if you are visiting in spring or summer, we recommend a meander through the neighboring summer gardens.
Practical tips: Visit Prague Castle in the morning. By afternoon it is usually packed, and with the buildings closing at or before 5 p.m., you’ll likely run out of time to see everything. To reach Prague Castle, you can either walk up the hill from Malá Strana (only 10 minutes, but it’s rather steep) or take Tram 22 (which will drop you off at the gardens). You can rent audioguides for CZK 350 for 3 hours per device. Guided tours that last approximately 1 hour are available for 100 CZK/hour/person in languages other than Czech. (Price for Czech language is lower, currently 50 CZK/hour/person.)
P.M.: Check out Strahov Monastery*
I like to think of Strahov Monastery as a “mini Sistine chapel.” Truth is, it has little in common with the Sistine Chapel, but it does have a lovely frescoed ceiling in the library that makes Strahov Monastery a “best-kept secret” in Prague. Next time we’re visiting, we will try to book a guided tour so that we can really get the most out of the experience.
Practical Tips: The Monastery’s library (the main tourist attraction) is open 9-12 and 1-5. Price is CZK 120. Multilingual written texts are available when you arrive. For a guided tour, contact [email protected] The onsite church (Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary) is not open to tourists except upon prior request, but you can usually peek inside—it looks beautiful!
Have three days? Add:
A.M.: Tour the Jewish Quarter
You likely walked by this area during your walking tour on the first morning. Josefov is one of the best preserved former Jewish ghettos in Europe, thanks to Adolf Hitler’s grand plan to create a “Museum of an Extinct Race” here. It is free to walk around, but well worth the admission fee so that you can enter the synagogues/museums. If you don’t have time to see everything, at least go to the Old Jewish Cemetary, the Pinkas Synagogue (containing a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust), and the Spanish Synagogue with its unexpected Moorish-style design.
Practical Tips: Although you can walk around at all hours, most sights are open from 9 to 4:30 or 6, except on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. The Old-New Synagogue is open from 9 to 5 or 6 but it closes an hour before the Sabbath begins on Friday. All sights are included in the admission to the Jewish Museum of Prague except the Old-New Synagogue. Admission to the Jewish Museum of Prague is CZK 330 for adults, CZK 220 for children 6-15, and free for children under 6. Admission to the Old-New Synagogue is CZK 200/120/free. Guided tours of the area are available for CZK 80 per person. Or you can rent audioguides for CZK 250 for adults or CZK 200 for children under 15 and students under 26.
P.M.: Wander (more) around Old Town or visit Vyšehrad
This afternoon you have two options. If you want to go back to places that you walked by during your Old Town walking tour on the first day but didn’t really get to see, take the afternoon to explore that area more. If, on the other hand, you want to see one of the most underrated sights in Prague, go to Vyšehrad.
High above the banks of the Vltava River, Vyšehrad features numerous monuments (including a castle once inhabited by the first King of Bohemia). Today most visitors go to enjoy nature and the impressive views of the city. Vyšehrad is, after all, one of the most tranquil places in the city. But within the fortress, you will also find the imposing Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul with its unforgettable, colorful doors. Behind the church is a cemetery where many famous Czechs are buried, including the artist Alphonse Mucha and composer Antonín Dvořák.
Practical Tips: Vyšehrad fortress is open 9:30 to 5 or 6. A 90-minute guided tour is available if you book at least one week in advance; cost for the tour is CZK 120/person with a ten person minimum. If you would like to see the interior of the church, it is open most days from 10 to 5 or 6. Admission is CZK 50, free for children under the age of 6, and free for families with children on Sundays. There is also a playground in the park designed for kids three years of age or older.
Have four days? Add:
Day 4: Day trip to Kutná Hora
There’s always more to see in Prague, but you’ve now seen the most significant sights. So if you have more time, get on a train and take a little side trip to Kutná Hora. A mining town that was one of the wealthiest in Bohemia, the main reason to go to Kutná Hora is what’s probably the coolest (if creepiest) bone church in Europe.
If you’ve never heard of an ossuary, it’s basically a way to save space—put dead bodies in temporary graves and after they’ve sufficiently decomposed, move the bones to a different place. That place might be as simple as a box or, in the case of the Sedlec Bone Church, as complex as an ornately decorated chapel complete with a bone chandelier.
There’s no way around it. The Sedlec Bone Church is creepy. But it’s worth a visit. And while you are in the area, continue up the hill to visit the Cathedral, the art museum, and a vineyard where you can enjoy a glass of wine.
Have five or more days?
If you have five or six days, skip Kutná Hora and drive to Český Krumlov instead. Some say this can be done as a day trip from Prague, but it would be a VERY long day. So go for at least one night. Two would be better.
If you have even more time, consider visiting another country. Yes, there are more great experiences to be had in the Czech Republic, such as this wine tour in Moravia. Nevertheless, in the interest of collecting as many countries as possible, I’d probably go to either Vienna or Bratislava. Both are about 3 hours by car from Český Krumlov.
Attractions with one star (basically, the two-day itinerary) are each on either Heidi or Fernando’s top two list.
Practical Tips for your Prague Holiday
Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport is located approximately 30 minutes from the city center. There are some budget ways to get from the airport to your hotel, but taxis and Ubers are very reasonable. If you need a car seat, a taxi is probably the better option. Most companies can have one available on request.
Running roughly north to south through the city is the Vltava River. If you look west and up the hill, you’ll see Prague Castle keeping watch over the city. Straight down from the castle and across Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is Old Town, with Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock at its heart. Just north of Old Town Square is the Jewish Quarter, also known as Josefov. Southeast of Old Town Square is Wenceslas Square, which is also the gateway to New Town. (Incidentally, Charles Square is in New Town, and not near the Charles Bridge. And “New Town” isn’t that new; it was founded in the 14th century.) If you continue walking southeast through Wenceslas Square and past the Wenceslas statute, you will find yourself in Vinohrady. Vyšehrad is south of New Town along the Vltava.
Where to Stay
Hotel Leonardo—Located close to the river and only a ten-minute walk from Old Town Square, I’ve been told this inexpensive hotel is quite comfortable. And, of course, the location can’t be beat.
Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel—If you want to splurge on accommodations, this is a great option. This luxury hotel is part of a monastery dating back to the 13th century. It’s unlikely that you’ll see any monks during your stay as they live in an adjacent building. But you can drink their beer in the hotel’s Refectory Bar.
The No. 46 Residence—Our former home, Vinohrady is an ideal residential neighborhood for visitors to Prague. Wenceslas Square is about a 10-minute walk away and Old Town Square about 10 minutes beyond that. Also nearby is Náměstí Míru (Peace Square) and the neo-Gothic Church of St. Ludmila. At Náměstí Míru, there’s a subway station and you can also catch the tram to Prague Castle.
Old Town Square Apartment—Many much more affordable options are available on Airbnb, including several family-friendly options in or near Old Town. Here’s one that looks nice for a family.
Where to Eat
Lokál—Looking for Czech pub fare with a classic Pilsner Urquell to wash it down? Lokál is the place for you. The food is good, and with five locations around the city (including one in Old Town), it is unlikely that you will have to walk very far to get to one.
Café Savoy—If there’s one thing missing from the recommended itinerary above, it’s the tour of the art nouveau Municipal House. But L could not handle it, and I suspect your little one wouldn’t be able to either. But even if you can’t experience that beauty, you can get your art nouveau fix at the swoon-worthy Café Savoy in Malá Strana. And don’t worry, we’re not telling you to go to a tourist trap with crappy food. Although they don’t serve French toast (for that go to La Bottega di Finestra) the breakfast is good and the vetrnik (choux pastry) is said to be the best in the city. (Reservation required.)
Sisters—Want to eat Czech food that isn’t super heavy? Then get yourself to Sisters for some chlebíčky. Yes, there are plenty of other places around Prague where you can get these very typical open-faced sandwiches and many (most?) of the offerings at those other places will be more traditional. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be as good as the bright, beautiful offerings at Sisters. And the one with potato salad and ham is not only delicious, it’s typical Czech.
Alcron—If you’re able to secure a babysitter, treat yourself to dinner at this one Michelin star restaurant at the Radisson Blu in Prague 1. When we started our tour of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants, we assumed this would be our least favorite. The food is French, not Czech; the atmosphere’s a bit stuffy for Prague; and Alcron’s sister restaurant in the hotel had not impressed us. But despite that, Alcron blew all the other contestants out of the water with impeccable service and food, including the best steak tartare in a city with a LOT of steak tartare. Oh, and if you happen to have a child between the ages of five and eight who understands Czech, they offer cooking classes. (Reservations required.)
Sansho—I hesitated to put another non-Czech restaurant on this list. (This one is Asian-inspired.) But I couldn’t not do it since after every meal we had at Sansho, Fernando and I would both comment that it was one of our best meals ever. And we never even got to try the steak tartare. Plus, at least at lunch, it’s casual enough that you should be able to get away with taking a young child there. (Reservations required.)
Prague is a dream to get around. Extremely walkable, when that’s not possible, the public transportation system is top notch. And free not only for children but—and this is amazing—also one guardian if the child is under three.
If you can choose between a tram and the metro, choose the tram. Many of the metro stops have VERY long escalators, and while I’ve heard of people taking strollers down them, I would be terrified. Also, just because a station is “accessible” doesn’t mean you won’t have to go down a flight of stairs to get to the elevator. (What’s the point?)
One thing to be aware of if you are planning on taking a stroller: there are cobblestone streets everywhere. And while lovely, not all strollers like them. This is one of the reasons why we love the Mountain Buggy Nano—it rolls over the Prague cobblestones almost as smoothly as our travel system. But I probably wouldn’t bother with a traditional umbrella stroller. If that’s what you have, wear a carrier or make your LO walk as much as possible.
Currency and Cost
Although the Czech Republic is part of the European Union, the local currency is the koruna (or crown), not the euro. It is usually abbreviated CZK or Kč. At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is CZK 1 to US$0.05 or €0.04. For a quick-and-dirty currency conversion, just estimate CZK 25 to US$1 or €1.
The Czech Republic is an incredibly inexpensive place to travel. “Mid-range” travelers will find that the average daily cost is about US$100/day. Many meals will cost less than US$10/adult, and you can get dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant (including wine) for under US$300/person, making it a (comparatively) inexpensive place to treat yourself.
A Note on Seasons: Opening Hours and Weather
You probably noticed that many places above gave two possible closing times. The earlier one is for “winter” and the later one is for summer. For these purposes, winter usually means November to March and summer means April to October. Average temperatures are quite cold November-March (below 40°F/5°C) and more “spring-like” the rest of the year (even in July and August, average high temperatures don’t exceed 73°F/23°C, although there will likely be a handful of hot days in August).
Have you been to Prague? What were your “top two” places to see?