Eight years ago, one of my closest friend and I agreed to have a rendezvous in Prague. She was there for 5 days and since Vienna is just 5 hours away by train, I thought of meeting her there. Unfortunately, her trip fell on the month when I’ve just given birth to our second son. I wasn’t able to see her…
So for this visit, I had been thinking of what might have Prague been during her visit. The city is charming, that’s given. Architecture-wise, it has a feel of Vienna – having been an important city for the Habsburgs during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city obviously also has a touch of Rome – having been once the capital of the Roman empire, the influences are obvious. Yet, it still has a distinct fascination all its own.
As mentioned, the trip was about 5 hours. We boarded the train on a Friday, half an hour before 5 o’clock…the kids still had to attend school and hubby left the office a bit earlier. We met up at the train station around 4…That’s at Wien Meidling at Vienna’s 12 district — and from there we had to pass by our district again…too bad they don’t stop at one of the stations nearer our place. Since it’s gonna take us 5 hours, I readied my camera for a lot of drive by shooting. (You’d see those shots on my other blog.) And packed enough snacks and drinks for the kids when they get hungry.
We arrived exactly at the expected time, went to find the local trains and it was not hard to do. We just had to get some change since they still use Czech crown and not Euros. I withdrew a thousand which is about 40Euros (woot! feels like pesos) but we only needed coins for the tickets (32 for adults for 90 minutes and kids below 10 years are free, yes, free ride in Prague for my kids hihi).
There are a lot of stores at the Praha hlavní nádraží (English: Prague main railway station, abbreviated Praha hl.n) still open so it was easy to get a change, I bought some postcards and Lays, because we don’t have them in Vienna lol. Worrywart me easily comes out when travelling at night so the people who keeps looking at me like they wanna rob me or something takes a clear look of don’t you dare from me. Chos! I just stay away and be alert. hihi. Most of the store attendants speak English and others speak German so conversing isn’t much of a problem.
Exploring Prague With Kids : Things To Do and See
Our first morning was cold but lovely, we walked and walked and walked as far as our shoes can handle the friction…It’s a crowded city alright, but you can always find a quiet spot for you to be by yourself. Enjoy watching the swans, the water reflection, the beauty of a river that lies quietly.
Prague is a big city but the city proper is walkable enough and there are many things to see and do. For the kids, it’s a good thing that they are used to walking and gawking at insects. (We go around gardens and our neighborhood to photograph them on macro mode). Exploring Prague with the kids wasn’t so difficult and they did have fun. Here are some of the things we did and see.
Vyšehrad means “upper castle” in a Czech, rightfully names so as it is a historic fort in Prague that’s located over 3 km southeast of Prague Castle, on the east bank of the Vltava River. You have to go up to see it. Exploring Prague with kids mean walking more than when at home. ^_^ There’s a wall fortress you can walk on that would give you a good view of the city spires.
Or Karlův most in Czech is a medieval stone arch bridge in Prague that crosses the Vltava river. It’s about 516 metres (1,693 ft) long and nearly 10 metres (33 ft) wide, it’s a really long walk and that’s why locals have been doing their businesses on it to entertain and attract tourists. Before you are able to cross Prague’s Lesser Town to the Old Town, you’re more likely to have bought souvenirs, listened to buskers, danced a little, and perhaps had your caricature or portrait painted.
The kids enjoyed looking around the merchs and ducks and swans in the river, but we made sure to keep an eye on them as it could get crowded there. Exploring Prague with kids mean being vigilant too, you have to brief the kids about safety before you go about the city.
Prague’s Old Town is a mix of old and new architecture, of historical and modern culture. It’s very charming – cobblestone streets, old buildings, a big square where people gather. The buildings there turn so golden during sunset, it’s mesmerising.
The Orloj, the world’s third-oldest working astronomical clock is also displayed at the Old Town square, installed at the Old Town Hall to be exact. It is now 601 years old!
Tour the Old Town Hall and get up to the tower to get a first-hand bird’s eyeview of the Old Town.
Prague zoo was opened in 1931 and is listed often in the Top 10 Zoos of the world. They house a lot of our four-legged friends, and even have playgrounds for the kids. There’s also a chairlift that operates in the area which kids below 6 can ride for free.
The Dancing House is a deconstructivist building in Prague by the Vltava river…while it’s a private building, kids can get a lesson from being unique. It stands differently from its surrounding, to which caused its criticism, nevertheless, it received awards from many architectural citations.
Prague Castle and Museums
My kids learned much of Austrian history because I try to bring them to different museums around the city along with the school trips too. Nothing is better than seeing artifacts, references, papers and records when learning history.
Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and the office of the President of the Czech Republic.
How to get to Prague Castle? You can reach the Prague castle by taking tram No. 22, get off at Pražský hrad, cross to the left and you will see a street called U Prasneho mostu, go straight until you reach a bridge – there should be the gate that leads to the 2nd Courtyard of Prague Castle. The grounds are free to enter, you can marvel at the gothic and baroque architecture of the buildings inside, watch the changing of the guards, and even see the Golden Lane (Zlatá ulicka) particularly house #22, once the home of Franz Kafka’s sister, and where he wrote some of his writings.
You can cruise the Vltava river or you can rent a boat, a cycle boat, or a catamaran and enjoy the views of the city from the river. We never got to try this although it was on my list of things to do, hopefully we would next time we visit.
Try a Baumkuchen/Trdelnik
Czech cuisine resembles Austria’s and other neighboring countries’ dishes a lot, probably being under the same empire at a certain point in time. Guláš is their Goulash which is beef, pork or game with onions and spices. Traditional Czech dishes are served in many restaurants.
We also recommend trying the Trdelnik (Baumkuchen in Austria/Germany), a spit cake filled with sweets – nutella or cream but is also yummy as is, rolled in sugar and crushed walnut. While other countries also claim that it originate from them, we have only tried the ones in Prague and loved it! It can also be filled with ice cream, like cones (see photo in below gallery).
Petrin Tower is Prague’s version of the Eiffel Tower, albeit not as tall, it sits on top of a hill giving one a good view of the city skyline from above. Walking up the hill is a good exercise, but you can take the chairlift (the same one that passes by the zoo) to reach the hilltop, you still have to go atop the tower for the best view of Prague.
Enjoy the Playgrounds
There are many open parks and playgrounds (fenced) for kids to enjoy in Prague. There are also indoor playgrounds, but seeing stuff means cutting out time to play on those. When we get to see a playground with equipment, sandpit, and play area, we let the kids play, even sit by the benches to enjoy a snack or two. This is essential for them, as exploring Prague with kids – walking around a lot isn’t so much the same as playing.
(To my dear friend Barb, sorry, I’m 8 years too late, but I know we’d see each other in another lovely city soon.)
Update: Barb and I met in London in 2015.