10 reasons to holiday with your children in the Czech Republic

Holiday time is fast approaching and many parents are now giving thought as to how they can liven up their children’s holidays and create an unforgettable and educational experience. Many children, however, aware of their parent’s intentions are also thinking of ways to avoid holidays thought up by parents all too often consisting of traipsing around castles and museums. Neither of these interested parties need be concerned. In the Czech Republic things which at first glance may seem uninteresting are transformed into entertaining activities and there is always something for parents and children alike.

Reason 1. Don’t be worried about breaking the bank
The Czech Republic can offer visitors the same level of services as one finds in other European countries often at a much lower price. This holds true for accommodation, eating out, shopping, entrance fees and transport. The Czech Republic has one of the cheapest transport systems in Europe.

A good tip: Travel by historical tram through the centre of Prague and visit the most popular historical sight in the country Prague castle. For €150 a family of 4 can stay at a family run bed and breakfast, have lunch and dinner at a good restaurant and travel by public transport, a well spent day in the Czech capital. When compared to London €150 buys a family of just 4 tickets to Buckingham palace and lunch in a restaurant. A more relaxed day in the Czech Republic can cost a lot less depending on how you choose to spend it.

Reason 2. – A 3D history and architecture textbook
Aren’t your children tired of learning in front of their computers? Take them out into the real world where historical sights come to life. At Czech castles and chateaux they will meet princesses, kings and knights at jousting tournaments or during night time tours they will glimpse a white lady or look for treasure in secret passages. In Ostrá near Lysé nad Labem not far from Prague visitors can also visit the Botanicus village of arts and crafts www.botanicus.cz where they can see how people earned their living in the past.

A good tip: It’s not far from Prague to Karl_tejn (www.hradkarlstejn.cz). Visitors to the castle 25th and 26th September can meet none other than Emperor Charles IV himself. Parents can try the excellent wine made at Karl_tejn and duelling knights will take the children’s breath away.

Reason 3. – A country of fairy tales
There are over two thousand castles, castle ruins, chateaux and forts in the Czech Republic. Nearly every one is steeped in legend or fairy tales and children certainly love these stories. Enthusiastic guides at these places will gladly tell children stories or organize tours in period costume which creates an almost perfect illusion of having travelled back in time.

A good tip: At the festival called Ji_ín – town of fairy tales 6th – 11th Sept., www.pohadka.cz
children will be able to take part in a night-time fairy tale procession, take a ride on steam train or dance at the carnival. The theme of the festival is myths and fairy tales from the Czech Paradise region and most of the events taking place are free of charge. Why not combine a visit to the festival with some time in the romantic countryside of the Czech Paradise region
From Ji_ín the nearest place of note are the Prachovské cliffs (www.prachovskeskaly.com) a collection of sandstone towers, a favourite destination for families with children. Children can also meet Jakub the fairy tale fish at the South Bohemia fairy tale festival which takes place at 20 different places across the South Bohemia region from 19th July – 1st August this year.

Reason 4. – Holidays in the country
Holidays without trips are not the real thing. In the Czech Republic you will come across one problem only and that is how to choose from the vast array of trips. You can travel on foot, by car, bus, train or boat www.paroplavba.cz

Paddle your way down any of the rivers in the Czech Republic or hire a bike and make a several day trip sleeping in camps our in the great outdoors. 38,500 km of hiking trails and 19,000 km of cycle paths take visitors through magnificent landscape, something you will not be able to resist. To guide you on your way there is the excellent system of marked trails and paths, one of the best in Europe.

A good tip: Tour South Bohemia by bike. This is made easy by the Cyclotrans, a system of bus routes which will transport you and your bike and covers the South Bohemia region from the _umava to Lipno and from the Novohradské mountains to the T_ebo_ region. South Bohemia boasts many lovely places such as Jind_ich_v Hradec (www.jh.cz), T_ebo_ and one of the most beautiful towns in the country _esk_ Krumlov which is on the UNESCO list of world heritage sights www.ckrumlov.cz

Reason 5. – Excellent food and drink
To really feel like you are being looked after you need relaxation, peace and good food and drink. There is no shortage of these things in the Czech Republic. Food is good and very reasonably priced. Parents don’t need reminding of the quality of Czech beer, an essential part of any meal. A reward for younger food lovers are tasty cakes, apple strudel, ginger bread from Pardubice and real Czech fruit filled dumplings with sweet cottage cheese and a dusting of icing sugar.

A good tip: Try some real crunchy spa wafers which melt in the mouth. That’s just one excuse to visit any of the charming Czech spas. The best known are Carlsbad www.karlovyvary.cz, www.spas.cz Marienbad www.marienbad.cz and Franzensbad www.franzensbad.cz

Reason 6. – Entertaining museums?!
Many visitors to the Czech Republic take on a marathon of visits to museums and galleries of which there are a great number especially in Prague. But just try to get your naughty little things into a museum during the holidays. What if it was a toy museum with hundreds of dolls on display for little girls and model railways for the boys? There is just such a museum in Prague and your children will love it www.muzeumhracek.cz

A good tip: Take the children to the Museum of Miniatures www.muzeumminiatur.cz
If they like that they will most probably enjoy the Little Kingdom too www.volny.cz/malekralovstvi which is a miniature world of selected castles, chateaux and other important or remarkable architectural and technical sights in the Czech Republic.

Reason 7. – Good children go shopping
Mothers aren’t only interested in seeing the sights. They want to go shopping. Shops in Prague are comparable to those in other European cities and aren’t as hard on your wallet. Prices are very often noticeably lower than elsewhere in Europe. Czech jewellery, crystal by Preciosa, genuine Czech garnet and natural cosmetic products from Botanicus make good presents. The children will just love traditional Czech wooden toys produced in this country for over two hundred years.

A good tip: Most fathers would agree that shopping isn’t really their cup of tea. While mother wanders the shopping centres the rest of the family can go roller skating in Letná or the Stromovka park for instance. You can of course hire the skates when you get there. In Prague Radotín big and small would-be racing drivers will find the largest indoor go-cart track in Europe www.kart-centrum.cz

Reason 8. – Meet the stars
Is your child still fresh and full of energy after a full day of activities? Then it is time to visit one of the observatories or planetariums to be found in Prague and in many other towns in the Czech Republic. There are interesting things for children to see and do and just the magic atmosphere of the star studded sky which you feel you could almost reach up and touch is an extraordinary experience.

A good tip: The _tefánikova observatory in Prague’s Pet_ín area www.observatory.cz is open to visitors to view the heavens day and night year round. Children will enjoy the tour of the maze of mirrors at Pet_ín or the climb to the top of the tower which gives unique views of Prague

Reason 9. – Lazy days
People who prefer relaxation and rest as opposed to tours and alike need not be concerned either. The warm grass or sand of the banks of lakes and reservoirs such as Slapy, Orlík, Lipno and the popular Máchovo lake were just made for relaxation. It may come as a surprise to many that Slapy not far from Prague is a yacht-lovers paradise and as they say “he who can sail on Slapy can sail anywhere”. Windsurfing is the popular sport you will see at Máchovo lake. Others can just hire a boat or pedallo and have a bit of fun on the water.

A good tip: Natural lakes have their own specific atmosphere. In the summer months they are lined with stalls selling souvenirs and refreshments. Parents know they can really begin to relax when the children are playing in the water and they can down a pint of cold beer and a Czech potato cake in peace. So it’s raining and the children still want to play in the water, shoot down the water slide or sit in the whirlpool or the sauna? Nothing could be simpler when Czech water parks offer all this to visitors www.babylon-lbc.cz, www.pribram-city.cz

Reason 10. – No more bad marks in biology!
Can your child tell the difference between a panther and a leopard? He or she would certainly know his or her animals better he or she saw them with his or her own eyes. Take a trip to one of the many zoos in the Czech Republic. Apart from the classic tour of the zoo you can also witness feeding time at the tiger, panther, lion, penguin and kangaroo enclosures or watch the seals playing or the elephants having a wash.

A good tip: Prague Zoo in Troja invites visitors for night time guided tours during which you will experience the unusual atmosphere and see the creatures of the night which you wouldn’t ordinarily see. The zoo in Dvorec Králové www.zoodk.cz specializes in evening safaris unique in Europe.

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