Prague’s charm and beauty grabs you from the moment you arrive. It’s a city blessed with a long interesting history with many attractions which help tell the story. Is all this history going to be boring for small kids? It doesn’t have to be… Prague is a very family friendly city and there are many ways to tailor your itinerary to ensure everyone in your family has a great time.
Here is how we spent six full days in Prague with kids (aged 2 & 4):
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THINGS TO DO IN PRAGUE WITH KIDS
On the first day after a trans-Atlantic flight, we like to get outdoors for lots of sunshine to help us overcome jet lag. Located on the north side of the Vltava River, Letna Park was a perfect choice. It wasn’t far from Old Town and it got us up high enough to give us some exciting first views of the city of Prague. We like getting up high early in any trip as it helps us get the lay of the land.
We crossed the river at Stefanikuv Most and immediately began walking up a pathway into the park. The park is a big hill, so all paths into the park go upwards, but they generally aren’t too steep. Once you get to the top of the park, it becomes a long flat path popular with joggers and off-leash dog walkers. The park is well-treed with lots of grass and is home to lot of birds and funny little squirrels with spiky head hair. The park has at least two playgrounds in it and tons of park benches to stop for snacks, enjoying the view, changing diapers etc.
One of the main attractions of the park is the 75′ tall working metronome, which is a wonderful replacement for the Joseph Stalin statue which used to sit there (it was the largest Stalin statue in the world, but it was destroyed by Krushchev in 1962). The metronome symbolizes the long struggle of the Czech Republic against Soviet control. It’s located in a plaza with nice views of the city below. The kids had a lot of fun running and climbing stuff all around the plaza.
After our little guy’s nap, we went for a stroll on the promenade along the banks of the Vltava River, from Stefanikuv most bridge to the Manvesuv most bridge. The pathway is pretty clean for a big city, although it wasn’t spotless – it seems like a popular drinking spot at night. There are dedicated bike lanes in some portions and where there were not the bikers who used the path seemed careful and courteous. Outside of the odd taxi, there were no cars so your kids can run wild and enjoy themselves, chasing pigeons and looking at ducks and swans. If you so choose, you can board one of the many tourist boats that offer sightseeing trips along the river.
You gotta do the Charles Bridge while in Prague right? We wanted to get our visit in as soon as we had our energy back from the long trip here. We got to the bridge at 9:30am and it wasn’t overly crowded (we saw it later in the afternoon and it was a zoo!) The walk across the bridge begins by walking through a tower, which makes it a pretty cool experience right off the bat. The bridge itself is lined with many statues on both sides and there are nice views of the Prague Castle and the other historic bridges and building in the area. It’s a fairly long bridge, so I played tag with my 4 year old daughter in an effort to get her across a little faster.
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The west end of the bridge crosses charming little Kampa Island. You can visit the island by turning right after the bridge into the poorly named Lesser Town (it’s really quite nice). Follow the road around a loop until you are about to cross under the Charles Bridge. This is the spot where you cross the little canal which makes Kampa an island and it’s a highly photogenic spot. If you’d like good pictures of the Charles Bridge, this is also a good spot to sneak over to the river’s edge to take pictures.
Once you cross under the Charles Bridge you walk through a small, yet charming shopping street before hitting the park. The park has lots of grass, trees and benches by the river. We stopped on a bench for our morning snack. Afterwards, the kids climbed on the riverbank wall with excellent views looking back at the bridge before we walked to the other end of the park. We stopped and admired a few really interesting giant, naked baby sculptures.
After leaving the island, we shortly entered Petrin Park at Vitezna. Our way was blocked by a bunch of statues, the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, so we had to walk north a bit before we could actually enter the park. There was a large playground near the entrance, so we stopped and let the kids play for a bit. Afterwards, we put the kids in their carriers for the reasonable walk to the top of the hill.
Don’t have a full 6 days in Prague? Here’s a 2 day itinerary for Prague.
When we got to the top, the section by the mini-Eiffel Tower observation deck was quite ugly and unappealing to be honest. But to be fair, there were renovations going on, so perhaps it’s usually nicer? We passed on the extra 300+ steps for the observation tower and walked to some benches in the Rose Garden for lunch. We were too early in the season, but the rose garden was really big and you could tell it would be really nice.
The south half of the park (divided by the funicular) is the nicer half of the park. There were way less people and the paths were nicer, there were more trees and there were even a few lakes. We passed a really cool old church on our way down, then we stopped at another playground for a while longer. This one was unique in that it was built into the hill and was mostly slides that took advantage of that natural setup. There are signs all over this part of the park saying watch out for frogs – we saw a mother frog carrying a baby on her back – pretty cool!
That was a pretty big outing by this point, but we still had to run off to join our Old Town Tour. This two hour tour wound its way from Old Town Hall, through Old Town, ending just outside of the Charles Bridge. The tour focused on Prague’s UNESCO World Heritage Status which was awarded for its varied and eclectic architecture.
We love to mix culture and the outdoors, so we were excited to try the Vysehrad walk we found in the “5 Prague Walks” booklet, published by Prague City Tourism. We started by walking from the Karlovo Namesti metro station to the uniquely interesting Dancing House on Resslova.
We then walked south along the charming promenade on the Vltava River until we reached the train bridge, Zeleznicni Most. This portion of the river walk had tons of swans, who are obviously well fed by humans. The kids really enjoyed being that close to so many of them.
From here we turned inland and started walking up a path on a nice treed hill to reach Vysehrad, a fortified castle built in the 10th century. Within the confines of the fortress are beautiful pathways with views of the river and the city, the towering Basilica of St. Peter and Paul, a very interesting historic cemetery and large parks with looming statues. The kids had a great time at the large wooden playground, which was inspired by Czech legends. There were lots of tunnels, bridges, zip lines, etc. for the kids to play on.
Old Town Hall Prague
This afternoon we went back to the Old Town Hall for the Old Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock tour. There were two small hiccups with our tour – the Astronomical Clock was being repaired and the first floor of town hall was unavailable due to a conference. So we only got to see 1/3 of the tour – just the underground portion, but it still was very interesting. It took us through the basements of two old buildings, one with Roman influence and the other Gothic. We could see food and water storage units, a place which was used for torture, a prisoner holding cell, etc.
The tour also included a ticket to go up the Tower. Our little kids were able to walk the spiral pathway up the tower to the top. We enjoyed the nice views of Prague from up top as well as the bustling activity in the Easter Market below.
Our 4th day in Prague was a Monday, so we figured it was safe to venture out to Prague’s #1 attraction – the Prague Castle. We were motivated to get there early and avoid the crowds, so we left our apartment at 8am and enjoyed a slow walk through a very empty Old Town and Charles Bridge. As we coaxed the kids up some charming Lesser Town streets, we were met by some friendly street musicians who were settling in for the day. The kids really enjoyed the music and it kept their energy levels up.
We arrived at Prague Castle around 9am. It wasn’t empty, but it was far from crowded – a good time to arrive. It’s interesting to note that you can enter the Prague Castle without paying anything. You can walk around the property, and even enter the cathedral too, but you can’t go in very far without a ticket. We bought the Circuit B ticket, which includes admission to the St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica and the Golden Lane.
The imposing St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches we’ve ever seen, including those in Rome. It’s a grand, Gothic temple with towering ceilings, massive stained glass windows and impressive sculptures everywhere.
The Old Royal Palace was a bit ho-hum to be honest – certainly no Buckingham Palace. The self-guided tour of the building centers around Vladislav Hall, which is large, but kinda plain. It’s empty so you need to use your imagination to pictures the types of events they would hold here. There are a few adjoining rooms which you may enter from the hall, including the King’s office, etc, but these too were a little dull. There is a door which leads to a balcony with an amazing elevated view of the city below, which ultimately makes a visit to the Old Royal Palace worthwhile.
After the Old Royal Palace, we couldn’t resist buying a few chocolate covered waffles on a stick from a vendor behind the Cathedral. They were insanely good – you really must try one!
Next up was the Golden Lane; a series of modest dwellings originally occupied by servants or defenders of the castle. Some of the buildings housed a wonderful display of armor, swords and other weapons, while the rest of the buildings are now shops and refreshments. It’s a fun little walk, which is worth it to do if you bought a ticket which includes it.
We’ve pushed our kids pretty hard to this point in the trip, so we rewarded them with a quiet afternoon. We offered to take them to a playground, but they opted to stay in the apartment and play with toys and read books on the Epic! app (unlimited kids books on the iPad!).
We were quite pleased with the amount of Prague we were able to see in the first 4 days. We had hit every attraction we had hoped for, so on our fifth day we treated ourselves to a day of hiking. Prague is blessed to have Divoka Sarka, a stunning natural area at the western edge of town.
We hopped on the #26 tram from Namesti Republiky to the Divoka Sarka stop at the end of the line. You literally enter the park the second you step off the tram – I love that! There are many different hiking trails within the park. We always use the Terra Maps GPS hiking app when we travel to be able to see all the trails and follow our progress using our iPhone’s GPS. We could tell from the app that there was a stream-side walk through a gorge. This sounded promising, so that’s the path we chose to follow.
The moment you see the trail next to the stream, heading towards the gorge, you can tell what a special and beautiful place this is. There were ducks swimming in the stream, frogs crossing the trail, the sound of birds coming from every direction, including the distinctive sound of woodpeckers! The mature trees lining the path and the sides of the gorge just complete the magical setting.
We hiked from the Divoka Sarka tram stop to the Nad Dzbanem tram stop and the total distance was around 3 miles (5km). It was nice to be able to do a one-way hike with no backtracking. Our kids walked about 75% of it, but lost steam at the end, especially when the path became uphill.
Today we picked up our rental car and headed south to the Karlstejn Castle. I was quite nervous for the drive out of Prague, but it wasn’t that bad. We were out of Old Town pretty quick and there was only the odd traffic circle. The drive to Karlstejn was scenic once we left the city, with very nice stretches of forest with the tree branches touching overhead.
Once you get to the town of Karlstejn, you have to park in the main parking lot. From here, it is a 1.5 mile (2.5km) walk uphill to the castle. As you’d imagine, the taxis and the horse buggies here don’t negotiate much. The horses wanted 150kr per person, including the kids ($29USD), and the taxi’s weren’t much better at 400kr ($19USD). We were a little pressed for time, so we hopped into a taxi, but sadly they were dishonest in their pricing tactics (they said 200kr before we got in, but changed it to 400kr once we were seated in the cab) so we simply got out of the taxi and walked to the castle. The walk up to the castle goes up a street with gift shops and restaurants. We saw lots of people walking to the castle and didn’t see a single taxi or buggy go by.
The castle itself is majestic, perched way up high on the top of the hill. We only had about 30 minutes to visit, and none of the mandatory guided tours interested us, so we decided to go for a small hike through the woods back to the parking lot. This was a really nice short hike – if you are interested, watch for a “parking” sign just outside the castle gate pointing to a hiking trail. The woods were so nice, with tons of spring wildflowers in bloom and an equal number of singing birds.
We are grateful to Prague City Tourism for their generosity during our visit. All opinions are our own.
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