Prague is a very old, historic city—and very magical. It is filled with “100 spires,” plus castles, red-tiled roofs, ancient winding streets and quaint town squares. The best advantage is that it is a walking city. Nothing is too far. And the Vltava River is just next to us at Four Seasons Hotel Prague. We are on the bank. Kids love to watch the boats and there are lots of playgrounds. We’re centrally located in Europe, in the Czech Republic.
A spring or summer visit means leisurely strolls through the city in the sunshine, blooms everywhere and frequent stops for ice cream (kids) and Czech coffee (you) on the café scene circuit.
If you visit in winter, you can nibble on grilled sausages, roasted chestnuts and corn-on-the cob washed down with mulled wine at Old Town’s outdoor Christmas Market. Children enjoy the traditional wooden toys and puppets.
*To see Europe’s legendary “Golden City” and teach the kids about European culture. History and architecture (Renaissance to Baroque) lessons are all around.
*The stroll-friendly Old Town and famed Charles Bridge, plus the historic Jewish Quarter—all within walking distance from the hotel. (Easter to late October is the ideal time to visit for on-foot exploration.)
*Praha’s central east-west location lends itself to a Euro tour. It’s only a four-hour drive to Munich, Vienna or Salzburg.
*Castles! There are four you can visit within a one-hour drive of Prague. We have a 1920s car here and can prepare a picnic for your trip to a castle in a vintage car.
*Marionettes. The Czech Republic is known for marionettes. At Four Seasons, we do marionette making classes in an old fashioned studio with them hanging all around. You get a piece of wood and leave with your own marionette.
*Medieval castles, clock towers, crypts and dungeons.
*Riding through Prague in a horse carriage in the early evening as all the lights come on.
*Cruising the Vltava River on covered canal boats, 19th century replicas.
*DIY. Try glass painting with the kids at a Prague gallery. The following day your creation arrives as a lovely fruit bowl. Or join a local baker at Bake Shop one evening to whip up bread. Your loaves get delivered to the hotel in the morning.
*Location, location. Just about everything you’ll want to see is near Four Seasons.
*Kid-friendly: The Czech people are family types. They are friendly, open-minded and have a good sense of humour.
*The elegant hotel’s “sweeping views and sunken marble tubs” (TripAdvisor).
*Nearby Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), for R&R in one of Europe’s oldest spa towns.
*Euro shopping spree on famous Parizska Street.
*Kids under five eat free at the hotel restaurant and no charge for kids 18 and under if you’re sharing a room.
Corgies. Every day, a gentleman across the street from the hotel is out walking his two dogs. They are always greeted by the doorman. The kids love it!
Dine in -
*The hotel’s new restaurant CottoCrudo, which opened in March 2012 and features Italian cuisine, has a nice kids’ menu. Try the mashed potatoes and chicken schnitzel or hamburgers. And of course the kids love pasta—whatever is red and has pasta in it! For mom and dad, the pork chops and signature beef cheeks are a favourite.
Dine out -
For the kids—
*Order a picnic from Four Seasons to take with you—we can put together anything you like. We make delicious bread and pastries.
Pasta Café Restaurant is 10 minutes from the hotel in the Jewish quarter. The café serves Italian and also Czech specials. It’s good for breakfast—we like the poached eggs in a glass cup with Parmesan on top. My friend’s son wants to go there every weekend for lunch. They have toys there for kids and crayons. It’s very family-friendly.
Cream and Dream is a café, creamery and chocolate shop. We go for the ice cream—the best homemade ice cream in city—30 flavours, from lemon to tiramisu, and a very rich chocolate.
*For parents—sample local fare. Czech food is quite rich: very heavy and meat based, similar to Austrian or German cuisine. Go to a brewery or beer pub to try it with a beer. Favourites are dumplings, sauerkraut, gravy and roasted meats. Kids love the dumplings filled with fruit, cottage cheese, sugar and melted better, mmmm…
1. To the castle: Prague Castle is huge and impressive. Highlights are the Royal Palace and the Gothic St. Vitus’ Cathedral. It’s a sprawling complex, so choose what you’re most interested in seeing. Though don’t miss the chapel of St. Wenceslas and its 230-square-metres of frescoes—the walls of this masterpiece are decorated with 1,300 gems and gold; the Coronation Jewels; and the Royal Crypt. Let the kids blow off some steam in the fresh air at the delightful Royal Gardens, then indulge morbid fascination in all things torture at the White Tower.
2. Photo album project: Give the kids a disposable (or inexpensive) camera, and challenge them to get the best snapshots of Prague. Before you begin, ask the concierge for Four Seasons Prague’s special Photo Map. It lists the city’s 11 must-see sights, including recos for the optimal time of day to shoot. On the roster: Prague Castle, the Dancing House, the National Theatre and Strahov Monastery; the best city and Vltava river views—Belvedere or Hanavsky pavilion. When you get home, create a special memories album featuring the top pics.
3. Customize a private tour: Whatever you and the kids are into, go deep—organise a customised tour just for you. If castles are your thing, request an after-dark, fire-lit tour with a private guide of Karlstejn Castle after everyone’s gone home for the day. You’ll get a VIP view of the rarely-seen Chapel of the Holy Cross, usually closed to the public.
4. The Prague Zoo: This outstanding zoo is close to Four Seasons. Go by taxi or in summer, make it a journey by boat. Every weekend there’s seal feeding. At the mini farm with ducks, pigs, sheep and the like, kids can ride a pony and pet the animals. A mini old fashioned train goes around the bunnies. When I was five, the same train was there! It’s very interactive. The Gorilla Pavillion is popular and often has new babies on display.
5. See the sights: Lively Old Town Square is the heart of Prague. Surrounded by a mix of pastel baroque buildings, it’s full of street vendors, horse buggies and bustling cafés. The 15th century Astronomical Clock is a big draw. Visit on the hour to see the automated procession of the 12 apostles.
At St. Nicholas’ Church, even small children are amazed by its soaring dome, frescos, crystal and gold-leaf. Children can climb Praha’s version of the Eiffel Tower, Petrin Tower. The nearby Mirror Labyrinth is a blast, and everyone likes the scenic tram ride (try Route 91) through the city. Other good bets: the Planetarium and Museum of Toys.
*Babies: Try a river boat tour; the lulling movement of the boat and sights slipping by will keep baby either entertained or snoozing nicely. Tour Old Town on foot with the stroller. Tote a picnic (the hotel can prepare) to a local park. Take advantage of the hotel’s babysitting services, and hit the town for some grown-up fun.
*Toddlers: Climb Petrin Tower. Kids are riveted by the Mirror Labyrinth. Another highlight for the toddler set is the zoo. (See above.)
*Kids 5-10: Go on a special photo mission for the best snapshots around the city (see No. 2 in 5 Family To-Dos, above). Request a Four Seasons hotel tour (ask the concierge). Hit the highlights around Prague, including the Planetarium, motor cart circuit, paintball, Museum of Toys, the Wax Museum and the Museum of Miniatures.
*Tweens & teens: Tackle the Prague photo challenge mission (see No. 2 in 5 Family To-Dos, above). Or if you are dramatic arts and music buffs, take a private, behind-the-scenes, four-hour tour through three of Prague’s famed institutions: Estates Theatre, National Theatre and Municipal House. Visit the venues by day, then catch a performance (opera, ballet, drama or symphony) that night. Budding Picassos might enjoy a private painting lesson with a renowned local artist.
Read more on Prague in Four Seasons Magazine.
Petr Zezula is Chief Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Prague. Since 2006, he has served as president of Les Clefs d’Or Czech Republic. Petr studied at hotel school in the Czech Republic, then joined Four Seasons Prague in 2001 after a two-year stint in New York. He is passionate about his job, loves his family and enjoys jogging and golf (the ideal husband!).
View all posts from Petr
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