For Jake and I, there’s no question that Prague in October was one of our favorite cities of all time. Maybe it was the abundance of vegetarian food. Maybe it was the beautiful skyline. Maybe it was the fact that we were no longer sleeping on the cold ground. Either way, we loved it! Lisa had a good time too, but as is always the case in bigger cities, we had to go out of our way to make sure she was getting her playtime in. We wished that her favorite place, Petrin Park, had been on our side of the river.
Luckily, Prague is a great place to go for a walk in the fall, we walked across the old town and the Charles bridge countless times – twice with the express purpose of exploring Petrin Park with Lisa. The park is located, appropriately enough, on the slope of Petrin Hill, overlooking the Vltava River.
Toddler Friendly Playground
Lisa felt asleep during our walk, but as soon as we approached the playground, she woke up, usually we’d hurry up and pass the playground but today we had come to the park for Lisa’s benefit, so we didn’t mind letting her down to play at the great playground at the foot of Petrin Hill, not far from the funicular. In the fall, we got to watch Lisa playing in the park with the amazing foliage of the trees as a backdrop.
The funicular was closed for repairs on the days we visited, but the weather was comfortable enough that we didn’t mind walking. That being said, I think it would have been worth trying, even if just for the novelty value.
Climbing Petrin Hill
No matter what route you take from the Prague old town, you are going to have to climb up a steep hill, but we found that the easiest route was to walk up Uvoz Road. You can either turn left directly into the park, or you can keep going and eventually turn left onto Strahovska, which continues up to Petrin Tower. The latter is the easiest route to the top. Any route that goes through the park itself is going to involve stairs near the top, so be ready for them if you bring a stroller.
As you climb up the paths that wind through the park you’ll encounter one vista after another. You can look to the East and see the towers rising up over the old town (Petrin Park is one of the best places to get an overhead view of the city) or you can look to the North to see Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral towering overhead. If you get tired, don’t fret, there are plenty of benches to rest on and lots of trees for shade.
Both times we visited Petrin Park, we enjoyed lunch at Natureza Vegetarian House. (The first time was after a morning hike down from Petrin Hill. The second time was after letting Lisa play and before hiking up the hill). There is a lot of good vegetarian food to be had in Prague, more so than in any other city we’ve visited so far in Europe. This one was our favorite. If you go there, have the whole meal pasta with basil pesto or the mushroom risotto on white wine. Both times, Lisa slept through the entire meal (maybe that’s the real reason we enjoyed it so much) but we ordered her quesadillas from the children’s menu to go. Everything we had was delicious and affordable.
Petrin Tower was the attraction that first lured us to the park. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and the resemblance is hard to miss. Everyone we asked told us that the view from the top was spectacular, and Jake was pretty excited to get up there. Unfortunately he never made it to the top of Petrin Tower, despite visiting twice.
The first day we visited, a thick fog had settled in. As we climbed the hill, we kept hoping that it would clear off just enough for us to get a moody photo of the old town across the river. But looking up from the base of the tower, the top was completely out of view. Even the employees at the ticket booth – whose job is to sell tickets – couldn’t think of a reason for us to buy one. Luckily, there is another attraction at the top for us to enjoy that day. Just to the right of the tower, there is a maze of mirrors inside a structure that looks like a tiny castle. Visiting the maze was the highlight of the trip for Lisa, and probably a lot more fun than she would have had up in the tower.
The second time we visited, the weather was crystal clear and when we got to the top of the hill, Lisa was still sound asleep after passing out before lunch. When we went to wake her up to climb the tower, we discovered that she had a very obvious fever. We had already taken a few photos of the scenery, but we knew that we weren’t going to keep her out in the cold while we enjoyed the view. We rushed back to our apartment and saved the Tower for our next trip to Prague.
Fall Foliage in Petrin Park
We certainly had no regrets about visiting Prague in the Fall. The foliage in Petrin Park was hitting its peak during our visit, and watching the leaves fall all around was quite a show. But so many of the trees looked like they would have blossoms in the Spring, so we made a note of it for the next time we plan a visit this beautiful city.