A guide to Prague for families
By Evan Rail
January 20, 2021
Local families love Prague’s excellent playgrounds, found in just about every corner of the city. In Malá Strana, stop by the shaded sandbox at the nearly hidden Dětské Hřiště (Children’s Playground) on Kampa Island, or find a similar site on the Old Town side of the river at Slovanský ostrov, aka Žofín, also home to a working, pint-size train line. In warm weather, families swear by the massive Gutovka sport center in the outlying district of Strašnice, home to rock-climbing walls, a skatepark and an extensive ‘waterworld’, with running streams, dams and sluices, where children can play (and cool off) to their hearts’ content.
When in town, don’t miss Prague’s riverside districts. Once a cherished local day out, Prague Zoo has become increasingly popular with visitors thanks to its picturesque riverside location, extensive grounds, varied environments and impeccable biological zones, as well as its important endangered-animal preservation programmes.
Czechs are far more famous for their skills in international hockey competitions, but football — aka soccer — remains the country’s most popular sport. Make like a local with an authentic jersey from one of the city’s first-league teams: Bohemians 1905, Dukla, Slavia and Sparta. Find apparel, posters and other souvenirs at local sporting goods stores and home stadium shops. And if you’re in town during the active season, catch a game in person at an intimate arena such as Prague’s Ďolíček, home to the beloved ‘Kangaroos’ of Bohemians 1905 and just 5,000 wildly cheering fans.
Your children might have plenty of contemporary games on their phones, tablets and consoles, but they’ve probably never played – or even heard of – half of the 160 absolute classics at the Arcade Museum. Pro tip: parents should use this to their advantage in family competitions. Located just outside Prague in the village of Červený Újezd, this super-cool museum houses more than 160 vintage games from the 1980s and 1990s, including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Joust, Q*bert, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Paperboy. Leave your quarters at home: all games are free to play with museum entry.
Even avid urbanites need the occasional break from civilisation. Get your children a healthy blast of fresh air as you experience the rough-hewn Bohemian landscape on a unique driving tour from Off-Road Bohemia, which guides adventurous travellers on (and off) local country roads in a fleet of Russian-made UAZ 4x4s. Start off with a blast of bouncy, off-road adrenaline, stop for lunch at a local tavern and cruise by ancient village churches before continuing on to bucket-list destinations such as stately Karlštejn Castle. (Don’t forget your driving licence!)
Prague’s exploding culinary scene has earned rave reviews from travellers in recent years, thanks in part to a new generation of international chefs. Learn directly from the experts at a family cooking class from Cocina Rivero. Originally from Mexico City, host Emmanuel Rivero teaches how to prepare the authentic dishes of his homeland, while guest chefs such as British-born, Malaysian-raised Sofia Smith reveal the secrets of spicy Malay, Thai and Indian recipes. Many courses are available in English, and you’ll get to eat the delicious treats your family learns how to make.
Younger Fans are instantly made to feel at home at Mandarin Oriental, Prague. Upon arrival, they can enjoy everything from a special welcome present to complimentary crayons and colouring books. Special menus have also been created, which are available in the restaurant and through room service. Parents can also request complimentary cribs and beds, and buggies, among other amenities – and to top it all off, babysitting services can be arranged through the concierge.