Back in October, as Prague started jauntily wearing the most fabulous autumn colours, I must admit that I had already started feeling a little nervous about our first winter here. My interrogations about what clothes I should buy to see us through the upcoming deep freeze, however, were met by my new friends with reassuring smiles. Prague really doesn’t get that cold, I was told. Even the woman in the outdoor-wear shop laughed, and turned me away empty handed, when I asked if my children would need snowsuits for the city. “No, no”, came the answer, “only for the mountains. The last several years it has barely snowed here in Prague”. In retrospect, I should have known then that we were about to get one of the coldest and whitest winters on record…
And so, although I can smile about it now, as Prague enters a glorious Spring, as I found out during that long hard January of sub-zero temperatures and slate-grey skies, on a bad weather day, finding things to do can get a little tricky. And this is especially true if you have restless hooligans to entertain. There are, of course, a fair range of soft-play rooms to be found in the shopping malls – but if you simply can’t take other morning spent wading through a ball pit, where to turn? Unlike other European capitals, say like London and Berlin, Prague doesn’t have any of those iconic, child-friendly museums, like a big Science or Natural History Museum. However, if you know where to look, there are some fun museum mornings to be had. Here are some that we all most enjoyed.
The beautifully grand National Museum that stands at the top of Wenceslas Square is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, but fear not – the new building next door is ready to welcome you and your brood. I’ve written at length about the temporary Retro exhibition that runs until the end of May 2017 (let’s just hope they replace it with something equally kid-friendly), but the permanent Noah’s Arc exhibition was also a winner with my kids.
The exhibition aims to impress you with the beauty and range of animals around the Earth, as well as educate you about the dangers these animals now face. On paper, an exhibition largely consisting of dioramas featuring stuffed animals might sound a bit creepy, but of course, all the children there found it utterly fascinating. The small play area, which included hands-on puzzle and activities, was a highlight for both of my two, as was the small cinema showing footage of animals in their natural habitats.
Things to know
- Usually open daily, 10.00 – 18.00, to check opening times and for any special closures and ticket prices, visit here.
- We spent around an hour and a half here in total, which seemed about right. My son often whizzes around these types of exhibitions super-fast, but taking his camera really helped him slow down and look properly.
- The closest Metro is Muzeum on lines A and C.
- The old restaurant at the museum has recently been replaced by SMIK Restaurant/Coffee. We haven’t had an opportunity to visit yet, but I’ll hopefully update you soon with our verdict – however, I do know that they still have a number of highchairs and they confirmed that they have a play-area which is open between 09.00 – 18.00.
- For more family friendly restaurant/café suggestions close by, have a look at the end of my Retro review.
When I first saw a poster advertising a ‘special effects museum’, I thought it was just going to be one of those eye trick museums that seem to be springing up everywhere of late. But how wrong I was. This quirky, beautiful and totally interactive place showcases the ground-breaking work of Czech film-maker Karel Zeman. If you don’t recognise the name, you will probably know some of his iconic work, and even if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter, as you will soon become spellbound by the clips of his whimsical, fantastical work that are showing throughout the museum. The museum itself not only encourages you to watch Zeman’s films, but become a part of them – from riding on a flying machine to taking the controls of a zany submarine. This is a museum where taking photos and video is actively encouraged, as is touching the exhibits.Things to know
- Open daily (except some days over Christmas and new year), from 10.00 – 19.00, with the last entrance at 18.00.
- It is possible to follow a treasure hunt around the exhibition, so you might want to ask about this on arrival. The museum also offers a range of animation workshops and even boat tours.
- Me and my five-year old son adored this place, but it has to be said my toddler daughter was less keen. With film clips showing, very little natural light and all the fantastic contraptions on display, it could be a little over-whelming for the very young. I would suggest that it is most suited for children aged 4 upwards.
- The museum is situated in the centre of Mala Strana, next to Charles Bridge. For a map of the area and ticket prices, check the website.
- You are also a short walk away from Charles Bridge Playground, a lovely spot to play as well as take in the views across the river.
- If you are looking for a cute place to have a snack or grab a sandwich, you are 5 minutes walk from Bakeshop, Little Bakery.
We went here on a desperate whim, one cold, wet day, and we were so very glad that we did. The museum is currently undergoing some major renovations, but the hunting and fishing galleries that have been finished, are fully interactive and have lots to appeal to little minds and hands, including a small playground, touch screen quizzes, tunnels to explore and dressing up opportunities. This all bodes very well for when all the work has been completed. The basement, which is the only part not to be updated, features a huge collection of impressive tractors, including some mini ones to ride on. There are also some computer games here which will please older kids. Outside the museum, a small number of animals are there to greet you on your way in and out, and there is also a small garden and some more agricultural machinery to climb on and admire.Things to know
- Open Tuesday – Sunday, 09.00 – 17.00. For ticket prices, please check here.
- You can see a 3D tour of the new galleries here.
- Me and my toddler girl spent two hours here happily exploring. My only slight reservation about our visit was the giant computer game in the Hunting gallery, where you can hold a rifle and try your hand at hunting animated animals. For my British, city-dwelling tastes, this made me feel a bit uneasy – although I know many children would love it. I guess if this isn’t your thing, you can just skip this gallery.
- The museum is situated next to the National Technical Museum, a tram ride away from the town centre, on the edge of Letna Park. On a wet day, you could combine a visit to both museums, whereas on a good day you could head into Letna Park, where you will find playgrounds, restaurants, beer gardens, drink kiosks, picnic benches and some of the very best views of Prague.
- Just outside the museum building, within the spacious garden, there is a family friendly cafe, in the shape of Záletná. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 11.00 – 20.00, it has highchairs and serves decent pizza slices, as well as soups and other snacks. Alternatively, a short tram ride towards Hradcanska, will bring you to Cafe Pointa, a relaxed cafe serving a good range of snacks and meals, which also has a small play-area. Or if you are in the mood for hotdogs, burgers and chips, you are a five minute walk from the aptly named Mr. Hotdog, which also has a highchair.
- For directions on how to get there, you are best looking at the National Technical Museum website. The National Agricultural Museum is just next door.
So, this very good-looking museum, was initially something of a disappointment to me and my son. Sure, the aircraft hanging from the ceilings and huge steam trains and beautiful displays of cars and motorbikes all look great, but as you can’t touch anything in the main transport hall, we were left feeling a little frustrated. However, if you know where to look, you can find a bit more interactive fun. For example, if you hunt down the Medieval exhibition (located next to the café downstairs), there is a fun little play-area located right at the back, behind a curtain (!), with both mini and giant blocks to build with, as well as an animated film giving an insight into life in medieval times. Then upstairs, next to the Technology in Toys exhibition (which is currently out on loan in Taiwan) there was some Merkur to play with (the Czech version of Meccano). Older kids might also get a kick out of the guided tour of the TV studio and dressing up in the photography exhibition. If you book a ticket on arrival, you can also have a tour of mocked-up coal and ore mines from the 1950s.
Things to know
- Open Tuesday – Friday, 09.30 – 17.30 and Saturdays, Sunday and public holidays, 10.00 – 18.00. For full details of prices and rules, see the website.
- The museum café serves a good range of drinks, snacks and light meals, and has a highchair.
- The museum itself is pretty huge. We spent around two hours here – but only skirted through some of the exhibitions.
- As with the Agricultural Museum next door, you are a little out of town here, just on the edge of lovely Letna Park. For details on how to find your way, check here.
It is possibly worth coming to this museum for the beautiful building alone, although no doubt most children won’t see the architecture as a major draw. Happily though, there is plenty inside to delight too. The Medieval House exhibition, featuring puzzles, puppets and even a medieval toilet, is sure to please primary aged kids, whereas even the littlest of ones will enjoy the soft play area, where you can build a city of your own. The highlight for me though, was discovering the Langweil model of Prague – a wonderful miniature model of the Old Town, loving created by hand from cardboard, at the start of the 19th Century, by a librarian who devoted all his free time and money to his unusual hobby. The model itself is lovely to see, but the short 3D cinema show that flies you up close to the narrow lanes and over the beautiful gardens and rooftops of the model was the real treat for us all (well, excluding my toddler, who to be fair was probably more interested in eating her 3D glasses). The museum also houses a traditional exhibition about Prague’s history, as well as some temporary exhibitions. To see what is currently on, you can check the website.Things to know
- Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10.00 – 18.00, except on the last Wednesday of the month when the Museum stays open till 20.00.
- The Museum’s address in Prague 8 made me think that it was a long way away, but it is actually very central and easy to find, being very close to Florenc Metro and a tram stop. For a detailed map, check the museum’s website, and you can also find a price list here.
- The Medieval Playroom is reportedly closed all-day on Saturdays, and can be booked by school parties in the morning during the week. So, if this is a big draw for you, a weekday afternoon or a Sunday trip might suit you best.
- We spent around an hour and a half here, although we only payed a very fleeting visit to the permanent exhibitions.
- On arrival, you are given a time to go and watch the 3D show of the Langweil model – which is shown in a small room downstairs next to the soft play area.
- The Museum of Prague City has also just opened a child pleasing exhibition entitled ‘Prague on Fire’ in a 17th Century Water Tower in the New Town, you can read my full review here.
- There is no museum café here, just a vending machine – however, you are very close to all the cafés and restaurants of central Prague. If you are looking for somewhere with a play-area, Pizza Nuova is a 10 minute walk away (or a short ride on the number 8 tram), although reservations at the weekend are recommended. Alternatively, if you are in search of cake or delicious ice-cream, you are within a short walk to the popular Czech restaurant Ovocny Svetozor.
Just off the Old Town Square, this very sweet art museum is designed specifically for children. The exhibitions change from time to time, but when we were there, we all really enjoyed learning about life in the court of King Karel IV through games, art, puzzles and costumes. As all the exhibits have been designed with children in mind, you can relax and let your little ones really explore.
Things to know
- Open Wednesday to Friday, 14.00 – 18.00, and at the weekend from 10.00 – 18.00. For ticket prices, please check the website.
- The gallery often runs art workshops for additional charge, so again you might want to check the website before you go (in Czech only, so you may need to use Goggle Translate, although the staff there do speak English). My son really enjoyed getting to make a galaxy in a bottle!
- We spent about an hour and a half here in total. I would say that it is a place best suited to kindergarten and primary school children.
- The closest Metro station is Staromestka on the green A line.
- A 5 minute walk from the gallery is Mistral Café, a pretty place to eat which comes with a children’s menu and a small children’s play area. As you are in the heart of the tourist centre, it isn’t cheap, but the food is of good quality. It can get busy, so it might be best to reserve a table.
I mention this place, as on paper it sounds a promising place to spend an hour or two with kids – but sadly as the museum is on the small side and isn’t at all interactive, it might be better for older children. That said, my son still enjoyed admiring all the Star Wars figures and robots on display, and I rather enjoyed all the Barbie fashion through the decades (although I was slightly concerned for the Barbies’ safety once I spotted Donald Trump in their midst!). My toddler, on the other hand, was just happy pottering about – although we were all done in about half an hour. A good little diversion if you get stuck in a rain shower whilst around Staré Město.Things to know
- Open daily 10.00 – 18.00
- The website doesn’t give ticket prices, and I’m afraid I can’t remember what we paid, although I don’t remember it being particularly expensive.
- On a wet day, you could combine a trip here with a trip to the GUD Gallery on the other side of Old Town Square, followed by lunch at Mistral Café.
A couple of bonus ones…
So, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Petrin Hill, then a short stop at the Ethnography Museum might be in order. The building and grounds are quite lovely, and there are a couple of children-friendly exhibits inside, including the chance to milk a model cow. The cafe here, is also a nice spot, and features a small play-corner with toys. You can also access the cafe separately from the museum, if you just want to stop for tea and cake.
Until the 21st May 2017, a very sweet, child-friendly exhibition is running at the Postal Museum, which features a small selection of eye-catching illustrations, games and building blocks. This museum is again in a beautiful little building, and is just across the road from Park Lannova, which has a good little playground.
Teenagers might also enjoy an hour spent in Prague’s Museum of Communism, where they can get an insight into life in Prague during Communism rule, including a look around a classroom and an interrogation room.
And of course, you can read my review of the Magical Play exhibition, which is running in Prague until the end of June 2017, here.
And so, I hope you find at least one option which is to you and your children’s taste. As I find with most things in life, expectations are everything – so I hope I haven’t raised them too high – but I do think Prague’s museums really contain some hidden treasures.
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