Written by David Creighton
Prague is not known for being particularly child-friendly. However, facilities for children are improving, and there are plenty of things to do and see in the capital.
City centre activities
If you don´t mind the crowds, you can entertain your kids with classic tourist activities: boating on the Vltava; watching the Astronomical Clock; tower-climbing sessions or riding the historic tram (No. 91).
You may want to avoid the centre, and Prague Zoo (www.zoopraha.cz), in Troja, is an obvious choice. Across the river is one of the city´s best parks, Stromovka, in Prague 7. There, among other things, kids can run around, go cycling or feed the ducks. More intellectual activities can be enjoyed at the Planetarium, which is close to the entrance to Výstaviště. Stromovka also has some great sledging opportunities in winter.
Next door to Stromovka is the Výstaviště (Exhibition Ground), which has a whole range of activities. Every year, from the end of the February to the end of March the Matějská Pout´, a long-running funfair, is held at Výstaviště. Lunapark is a permanent fairground at the back of the site, with a ferris wheel and various rides. A recent addition at Výstaviště, and welcome in this landlocked country, is Mořský svět (Sea World), where young visitors can marvel at the marine life, including sharks. For more information see www.morsky-svet.cz.
Petřín Hill is probably the most easily accessible of all Prague´s parks, and just getting there provides a bit of excitement for youngsters. Take the funicular to the top and watch the city shrink beneath you. Once there, kids have a choice of the Petřín Tower (Petřínská Rozhledna), from where there are more stunning views, the Mirror Maze (Bludiště) and the Štefáník Observatory (Štefáníkova hvězdárna). Petřín looks amazing under snow, and it´s a great place to go on a clear winter afternoon. The attractions are open all year.
Puppetry is a Czech speciality, and can be enjoyed even without a command of Czech. There are several puppet theatres in Prague, such as the legendary Divadlo Špejbla a Hurvinka (Špejbl and Hurvinek Theatre). Museums are an option too. The Toy Museum at Prague Castle (Muzeum Hráček) and the National Technical Museum are two possibilities. The latter is more interesting than it sounds, and among its attractions is a mock coal mine. Cinemas provide yet another option, and there are several multiplexes in the city.
Once you´ve tramped round Výstaviště or negotiated your way round the museums your charges will no doubt make it clear it´s time to eat (if they haven´t done so before). Unfortunately, the average Czech restaurant or café can be very smoky, many restaurants are simply not geared up for the needs of junior diners, and the kids´ menu is still rare here. However, some of the more upmarket hotels do special offers for children, such as Corinthia Towers. The food courts of shopping malls are also more child-oriented, and they have play areas. In summer another possibility is ice-cream from the shop in the Světozor passage (at Vodičkova). The nearby Františkánská záhrada (Franciscan Gardens) are a pleasant spot, and there is a children´s playground in the gardens.