For Children: Petřín Plus
Things to do in Prague with your kids - Part 1
I know many people living here who complain that there’s nothing for children to do in Prague. My response: Don’t be lazy!
Prague offers parks, museums, walks, a river, paddle boats, a lively theatre scene, chateaus and an almost endless range of other attractions, so there’s no reason to stick your child in a multiplex cinema in a sterile shopping mall having their brain slowly dissolve, their imagination fester, and their stomach turn to the tune of Big Ron and his McMorons.
So, here are a few tried-and-tested suggestions that can be slightly adjusted for all but the worst weather.
1. Petrín Plus
Begin with a decent cup of Ebel coffee and a brownie at
Bohemia Bagel (Újezd), cross the road and begin the short ascent to the Lanovka (funicular) that saves the long walk to the top of Petrín Hill. I don’t want to tire my child early – there’s plenty of walking to come. At the top, take a few minutes to admire the splendid view of the city and castle.
Petrín Hill is home to a strange collection of buildings, which you can take in according to taste and your child’s age.
First, for sheer fun, take a short walk to Zrcadlové bludište (the Mirror Maze). First built as a pavilion for the Czech Tourist Club at the 1891 Jubilee Exhibition, it was later moved to Petrín Hill and turned into a mirror maze. While “maze” may be too strong a word, the mirrors are fantastic fun and the building itself is interesting. The diorama of the "Battle of the Praguers with the Swedes in 1648 at the Charles Bridge" is also quite impressive.
Just a stone’s throw away from the maze and also built for the 1891 Exhibition is Petřínská rozhledna (Petřín Tower), a one-third scale model of the Eiffel Tower. Constructed out of recycled railway tracks in a remarkable 31 days, there are 299 steps to the top. The climb is worth the effort, giving you beautiful views and a sense of accomplishment for both you and your child. (My daughter had little trouble doing it at three-and-a-half.) Watch out during high winds, though: the tower sways a lot.
After descending the tower, a visit to the Jára Cimrman exhibition is recommended. Rarely listed in travel books, it is a little treasure if you have even a slight interest in the absurd or the surreal, which children tend to be more open to than us. The exhibition is an odd collection of artefacts and photos, dedicated to Cimrman, a Czech inventor, detective, skier, architect, and oddball (oh, and completely fictitious too). Quixotic, with some sexual content, you may want to exercise some censorship when taking a child around.
The Štefánik observatory is located on the other side of the funicular and has excellent weekend astronomy programs (in Czech) for children.
Apart from these attractions, Petřín offers many lovely walks, fruit for picking (depending on the time of year) and, once the snow comes, good sledging for all ages, from gentle slopes near the bottom to some more extreme runs for older and more daring kids.
A few hours can be eaten up quite quickly on Petřín, and I would suggest finishing with the fantastic walk through Lobkovická and Strahovská gardens, leading to Úvoz street. Start heading down towards Malá strana and stop for either lunch or dinner at the excellent U zavešeného kafe pub. It’s reasonably priced with a large menu full of excellent food and a good atmosphere.
To finish the day, take a leisurely stroll down picturesque Nerudová street to Malostranské namesti or through the castle grounds to the Malostranská metro station.
Part 2: Stromovka and Prague Zoo
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