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Junior's city break guide to Prague


Posted: 18 April 2010

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Prague’s storybook scenes and chocolate-box architecture will delight all ages. Young children enjoy spotting the gargoyles and mythical beasts that have been liberally scattered beneath a skyline of turrets and spires, whilst older children can amuse themselves by spotting locations from films such as Spy Game and Mission Impossible.

The cobbled streets are not exactly buggy-friendly and are best traversed with a large-wheeled stroller. However, walking distances are short and public transport, including the tram system, is fun, frequent and easy to use. A ride on the quaint Historic Tram 91 allows visitors a stress-free introduction to the city as it loops around the picturesque streets.

Old Town Square, the heart of Prague since the 10th century, once drew crowds to watch criminals being executed. Now people gather to await the chiming of the famous astronomical clock. On the hour, every hour, figures appear in the clock’s balcony to enact a tale of greed and vanity. If you’re visiting at lunchtime, stop at Staromestska, a small café that serves roast chicken and apple strudel with ice-cream. Alternatively, on a summer evening, sit on the roof terrace of Hotel U Prince where you can enjoy twilight views beyond the clock and across the red rooftops up to the castle and beyond.

Closer to the Old Town Square is the Museum of Children’s Drawings which offers hands-on activities every Sunday. More children’s art can be seen in the synagogue opposite the Jewish cemetery where works by Jewish children held in Terezin Camp during the Second World War are on display.

During the summer months, Prague is hot and crowded, so if your hotel does not have its own pool, head to the enormous open-air Podoli Lido. Sheltered by a huge grey horseshoe cliff is a large grass area, a big water slide, a toddlers’ pool and an absurdly inexpensive restaurant.

There are several parks in Prague, the most popular of which is Petrin Park, reached by funicular railway. Half way up is Nebozizek restaurant whose panoramic views, excellent menu and list of visiting celebrities, including Bill Clinton, have assured its success. Those with very young children might prefer the outdoor café close to the station, which is great for summer lunches. At the top of the hill is a faux Eiffel Tower that offers fantastic panoramic views from the top.

Prague Castle occupies a large area in the north-east corner of the Old Town. Arrive at noon and you can see the Changing of the Guard at the main gate. There is a Toy Museum with a large collection of ancient and modern toys as well as several hundred Barbie dolls. The new Museum of Miniatures equips visitors with magnifying glasses so they can view the work of Anatoly Konyenko, which includes a prayer written on a human hair and the smallest book in the world. Although you can see most of Prague without setting foot inside a gallery or museum, it is worth trying to lure your children inside one or two buildings. For my church-shy children it was the promise of gruesome relics housed in the Loreto church, including two fully-clothed skeletons.

Music is an integral part of life in Prague and there are frequent concerts in churches across the city. Make the music more palatable for children by attending a musical puppet show at the Marionette Museum where, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, there is a performance of Don Giovanni accompanied by puppets in beautiful period costume and featuring ornate 18th-century stage sets.

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Prague info

ARRIVING

  • Budget airlines which fly to Prague include Easyjet; www.easyjet.com . Other airlines are Czech Airlines, Swiss Air, and British Airways.
  • CEDAZ runs a return trip minibus service from the airport to your destination. Up to four people to the town centre costs around £8.50. Book in advance at cedaz@cmail.cz. Taxis from the airport take 30 minutes and should cost around £20. For Prague's public transport information on buses and trams, see www.dpp.cz/en/

STAYING

  • £££ The neo-gothic Paris Hotel Art is in The Old Town and serves wonderful breakfasts. The Mozart package costs around £700 for a three-night stay in a deluxe room during September and October. Tel: 0042 0 2221 95195; www.hotel-pariz.cz
  • ££ Corinthia Towers is only a few minutes by metro from the city centre. Doubles from around £150. Tel: 0042 0 2611 91 111; www.corinthia.cz
  • £ Hotel Europa is a beautiful hotel with wonderful art nouveau decor. Triples from around £75. Tel 0042 0 2242 28117; www.evropahotel.cz

EATING

  • £££ Nebozizek Restaurant. The first stop on the funicular to Petrin Park, this pricey restaurant serves seafood, Czech dishes and steaks.
  • Tel: 0042 0 2573 15329; www.nebozizek.cz ££ Visit the Hotel U Prince roof terrace for good European food and fabulous views. Tel: 0042 0 2242 13807; www.hoteluprince.cz £ Staromestska Restaurant. Reasonably-priced food in the Old Town Square. Tel: 0042 0 2242 13015.

PLAYING

Other useful websites include www.pragueguide.com . For entertainments listings, events and suggestions, visit www.praguepost.cz or www.prague-tourist-information.com


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