San Jose (California)
My wife is Czech and has had a lifetime dream of going there. We have 5 children ages 4-17. Is there a vacation that would take us there for a week and create joy and wonder or is this doomed to disaster? Should we wait until we're older and go alone?
Looking for recommendations.
Only you can answer that based on your children, but if you're even considering it, I'm assuming you're children will do well. I took my four daughters to Prague for four days when they were 15, 9, 8, and 6 and we had a wonderful time.
The biggest issue for me when traveling with children is the crowds. Prague, in the summer, can be insanely crowded which is just stressful. We went in October and could actually walk across the Charles Bridge with out any crowds at all, so really, pick a quieter time of year and that will make all the difference in the world.
We booked an apartment just across the street from the St. Nicholas' Church (stop at that church - it's gorgeous inside and out) which was perfect. It slept the 6 of us with space to spare and was close to all the attractions. The restaurants along Malostranske Namesti and Mostecká heading towards the Charles Bridge are delicious. I think we must have eaten in three or four of them and each was just fabulous.
We went to the Prague Castle on two different days, but you can easily do it in one. The tour is worth the time if you have it and takes at least a couple hours to see it all. Do go into the cathedral there. It's amazing. As you walk through the castle complex towards the exit, there's a wonderful little Prague Toy Museum that had a Barbie exhibit that my girls loved. It's free for kids. There's a lot of space outdoors in the castle complex for little ones to run around if they get antsy and a place to stop and eat if you need to split up and take a break.
We found the city very walkable and would just explore. We liked the The Lennon Wall and feeding the geese near Kampa Island and exploring little puppet shops. You kids will LOVE the puppet shops! Truly, Prague is very kid friendly.
There's a hot air balloon over near the Franz Kafka Museum that you can go up inside, but we didn't do that.
If you're interested in history and culture, the The Jewish Quarter in Prague is the most informative and complete that I've ever seen (in Europe). The Jews were able to preserve most of their synagogues and artifacts through the war, so you can get a really phenomenal overview of the culture and life of Czeck Jews in addition to the history. Several synagogues turned museums and a cemetery are run by the Jewish Museum in Prague (http://www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/ainfo.htm) You can get a pass that will give you entry into the Spanish Synagogue and several others. The Bakeshop is nearby and delicious (great place to stop with the little ones).
Basically, YES, do go to the Czech Republic and Prague with children. We drove from Krakow to Praha during our trip and thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Everyone we encountered were very child friendly and helpful and since your wife is Czech, it will be even easier. :)
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5 Children would be alright as long as they don't mind walking a lot or the crowded tourist areas. If they do, you may want to postpone your trip.