by Karen, Sep 04 2018
With so many museums and activities vying for your money and attention in Prague it can be hard to choose which ones to visit, especially if you’re only there on a fleeting visit. We tried out quite a few on our recent stay and my absolutely favourite were the guided tours we attended.
We don’t normally take part in guided tours, preferring to wander a city at our own pace – traveling with kids tends to mean you need more ice cream stops than most! But we had the chance to try out two in the city, one of the Old Town Hall and one walking tour of the city centre itself. This is why I think you should make them a priority if your ever in Prague.
Old Town Hall Tour
Prague has a fascinating history, one I realised I was painfully unaware of before visiting the Old Town Hall, it’s not all Stag Do’s, cheap beer and pretty buildings. Your tour will only take around an hour which is the perfect length of time to keep a child’s attention and you will leave with a much deeper understanding of the city’s past inhabitants. The Old Town Hall, established in 1338 is located in Prague’s Old Town Square, you wont miss it, it’s right next to the Astronomical Clock.
You will start your visit to the Old Town Hall on the first floor where you can pick up your tickets. Tours are conducted in many different languages and you may have to wait a short while for your timed visit. Tours are kept reasonably small, I think there were around 20 in our group so it was easy to see and hear everything being described.
You will be taken around the various rooms of the Town Hall, starting at the back of the famous Astronomical Clock. Unfortunately it was being repaired when we visited but usually you will be able to see the twelve beautiful apostles who parade high above the square every hour. I understand it is due to reopen at the end of Sept 2018.
We learnt about the history of the clock, why it was created and how advanced it was for its time when it was unveiled in 1410. Then you can take in the beautiful stained glass windows and the Neo-Gothic Statues of The Chapel of the Virgin Mary.
All the other rooms on the tour are equally stunning and each has an interesting story to tell about the history of Prague. The Old Council Hall which dates back to the beginning of the 15th century and the Municipal Hall which has been used as a wedding hall in the past and the stunning Brozik Assembly Hall with its breathtaking historical canvasses.
And then onto Pipers favourite part of the tour, the underground city. Did you know that modern day Prague is actually built on top of the original city, that’s why so many shops, bars and restaurants have underground areas. The basements of the Old Town Hall have been maintained as they once were, as houses, bars, prisons and shops and its thrilling to imagine life in the olden times.
My slightly dark seven year old was intrigued to learn about how criminals were kept captive and see the cells where they spent their days. We even saw some original stocks adding colour to the picture our tour guide so cleverly described to us.
You can also go all the way up the Gothic tower for stunning views across the city and out to Prague castle. It’s fully wheelchair and stroller accessible. The tower was severly damaged during the war in 1945 and had to be reconstructed to it’s former glory.
The Old Town Hall in Prague really is beautiful and has a stunning and at times violent past but the real reason it was my favourite trip was the tour guide. She was so enthusiastic, so very knowledgeable and just so interesting in general.
She pitched the tour perfectly, making her explanations colourful and at the same time educational. Piper adored her and has retained most of the information she learned along the way, no small feat when presenting to such a varied audience.
You leave through the main vestibule, make sure you take some time to soak in this fabulous ceiling mosaic.
- adults 250 CZK (around £9)
- Children 6-15 150 CZK (around £5.25)
- Children 4-6 50 CZK (around £1.75)
- Children 3 and under free
- family 500 CZK (around £17.50)
- Mobile Ticket 210 CZK (around £7.30)
January – December
Mon 11.00 – 22.00
Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun 09.00 – 22.00
They also run special tours for children on a Sunday at 2pm.
Prague city walking tour
You will see these tours wherever you are in the city, a group of people following a tall sign or colourful umbrella. I think some are themed or privately run but we opted for the official one by Prague City Tourism, their guides are fully licensed, professional and very passionate about their city.
Again you begin at the Old Town Hall and can pick up your tickets at the door furthest from the clock. Tours run every few hours and should last a couple of hours. It may be a bit hard going in extreme weather or with little ones but you can always pull out part way round if it gets too much.
This time our guide wasn’t quite as enigmatic but it’s the buildings and landmarks that will keep you entertained here and you are bound to see things you would miss were you to go it alone.
The main things you will see on your tour are listed below but having a guide meant loads of other little attractions were pointed out and explained, many of which were fascinating to Piper.
Old Town Square
This is where you begin and if you’ve been in Prague a day or two I bet you will have previously visited. There is a lot of stunning architecture in the Square, the imposing Jan Huss memorial, astronomical clock and many, many street performers.
There are heaps of bars, restaurants and ice cream stands surrounding the square which are all super expensive, so much so we were told that many Prague residents cannot afford to eat here.
Built in 1475 this is one of Pragues most recognizable sites and is one of the entrance gates to the city where Czech Kings once entered the Old Town. Its black colour, whilst difficult to photograph makes it an imposing tower and is named because it was once a gunpowder store. It is still the starting point for many official processions through the city.
If you’re not on the walking tour you can climb up the 186 stone steps (44m) to the viewing tower for a pretty small fee.
A stunning Art Nouveau building next to the Powder Tower was built between 1905 to 1911, again you can take a quick tour if you return.
Ungelt (Tyn Courtyard)
Founded in the 12th century, this group of buildings surrounding a courtyard was built as a sort of trading post to protect foreign merchants who bought goods in Prague, everyone had to pay to enter but could store purchases and relax safely.
Josefov (The Jewish Quarter)
Home to six Synagogues, the beautiful Jewish quarter is a humbling area to visit. Stories are obviously pretty horrific but your guide will gauge the audience. So don’t be put off when visiting with kids. This is also the birthplace of the famous author Franz Kafka.
Instantly recognizable and one of Pragues must visits is the Charles Bridge. Built of Sandstone blocks in 1402 by Charles IV it is home to 30 statues of saints and is a huge tourist draw. Whether you’re on a walking tour or not, it’s always packed with tourists so keep the kids close.
There are licensed street sellers and illustrators along the bridge and I wish we took the time to stop and get a portrait done!
We left the tour before making it to the Charles bridge as we would be spending time there another day and it was extremely hot.
Tours are available every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and begin in front of the Old Town Hall at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Tours last 2 hours and cost 300 CZK (around £10.50)
If you’re looking for family friendly things to so in Prague, you may also like our review of the Museum Of Bricks, Pragues Lego Museum.
Make sure you pin for later when planning your next trip to Prague with kids.
We were provided with tickets for these tours by the Prague Tourist Board for this review, as always, all opinions are my own.