Petrin Hill is the green lungs of Prague, Czech Republic. It’s a vast park on a hill overlooking the Old Town, and a visit to Petrin Hill is especially good if you’re visiting Prague with kids as it gets them (and you) out of the crowded streets, and gives you all time to breathe. We definitely recommend taking at least half a day to explore Petrin Hill as no doubt the kids will have had enough of looking at pretty buildings and need to let their hair down for a bit. Read on for our guide to this area of the city, and find out the best things to do in Petrin Hill Prague.
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The best things to do in Petrin Hill Prague
Petrin Hill is home to the largest garden and one of the best parks in Prague. It’s on a hill across the Vltava river from the Old Town and next to the Mala Strana district. The whole area is covered in grass, trees, and planted flowerbeds. If you visit in spring then you can see cherry trees in bloom, and in the autumn the foliage colours are beautiful.
Petrin Hill is the perfect place to relax out of the rush of the city centre, and is a must when visiting Prague with children. Petrin Hill is also a popular place for couples to visit, especially for its romantic rose garden and lovely views across the city. So even if you don’t have kids, come to Petrin Hill! Click here to read more about visiting Prague with kids.
There are several amusements at the top of Petrin Hill which are especially good for kids, and I’ll go into more detail about those below.
How to get to Petrin Hill
But first things first: how do you get to Petrin Hill? If you’re coming from the Old Town then get a tram to the stop Ujezd. If you come to Petrin Hill via Ujezd, try to remember to take a quick look at the Memorial to Victims of Communism which is near the tram stop. It’s a series of statues which seem to disintegrate one by one, and the bronze strip through the middle of the steps gives you more information on the victims.
Ujezd tram stop is right by the funicular that takes you to the top of Petrin Hill. Children will love the funicular ride up to the summit – you can walk up but it’s a long way (I speak from personal experience). There will be a queue for the funicular at popular times of the year – expect to wait half an hour or more. Try getting to the back of the car and stay standing so you can get views of the city as the funicular ascends. There are two stops – don’t get off at the first one unless you’re going to the restaurant halfway up the hill. You need to stay on until you get all the way to the top!
The only other way into Petrin Hill is at the top of the hill and along Strahovska street, although we exited by the Strahov Monastery and walked back down into Mala Strana – perhaps you can enter at the monastery too.
Petrin Lookout Tower
Once you reach the top of Petrin Hill, you’ll probably want to head straight to the main landmark – Petrin Lookout Tower. Petrin Tower was built in 1891 for the World Fair that was held in Prague that year; it’s visible from most of Prague and the views from the top are stupendous. Petrin Tower has 300 steps and it takes about four minutes to climb to the top.
The tower bears more than a passing resemblance to the Eiffel Tower, although at 60m high it’s much smaller. However if you add on the height of the hill itself, the top actually stands 50 metres higher than the Eiffel Tower. It was of course inspired by the Eiffel Tower, but the Petrin Tower is octagonal rather than square.
There’s a fee to climb the tower, and if you plan to visit the Mirror Maze, then you can buy a combined ticket. A ticket for the Petrin Tower costs 150CZK per adult, and 90CZK per child. There’s a lift which you can take at extra cost.
Opening hours for the Petrin Lookout Tower are:
November – February 10 am – 6 pm
March 10 am – 8 pm
April – September 10 am – 10 pm
October 10 am –8 pm
When we visited there was a huge amount of earthworks going on around the tower and it looks as though the whole area will be rejuvenated, so if you’re planning a visit to Prague in 2019 I expect it’ll look all shiny and new.
Mirror Maze Prague
Just next to the Petrin Tower you’ll see a small, sort of castle-esque building. Inside you’ll find Prague’s Mirror Maze which is a one of the top fun things to do in Prague for small kids (I wouldn’t bother if you don’t have them, or even if your kids are a bit older).
Our kids enjoyed navigating the maze but the best bit for them was the reflection-distorting mirrors in the last room. We all made ourselves look as ridiculous as possible, much to the kids’ delight.
There’s also a display which shows a battle on Charles Bridge – it’s set out as a painting on the back wall with debris and the beginnings of the bridge on the floor, so it looks as though you could walk right into the battle. It was a nice, air conditioned way to spend 20 minutes or so.
The Mirror Maze has the same opening hours as the Prague Lookout Tower. Entry to the Mirror Maze costs 90CZK per adult and 80CZK per child. Don’t forget to buy the combo ticket if you’re climbing the tower!
Through the fragrant rose garden and slightly away from the rest of Petrin Hill’s activities lies Prague’s observatory. We hadn’t originally planned on visiting the observatory but the day was so hot (and the wasps so persistent) that we had to escape into the shade somewhere. The observatory got points straight away for being air-conditioned.
Downstairs you’ll find a couple of rooms showing space technology and meteorites. You can even touch some of these meteorites, which was pretty cool. Upstairs there’s access to the two telescopes, and corridors explaining about the solar system (with some kid-friendly info) and then the physics of space. All the information is in Czech and English. The kids’ favourite thing to do here was to roll gumballs around the black hole display – this kept them entertained for ages.
There are two working telescopes at Prague Observatory and both are open to the public. When we visited, the telescopes were tracking the sun and the phases of Venus. We were able to look at both through the telescopes, which even our small kids liked doing. The staff were great with the kids and answered any questions we had. It made a nice, fun change from the other sightseeing we did in Prague!
I’d recommend the observatory if you’re travelling with older kids, you’re into space science (I am, so I enjoyed the visit) or if you need a break from the weather, but if you’re in a rush you might want to skip it.
Czech Ethnographic Museum
On the far side of Petrin Hill from the Strahov Monastery is the Czech Ethnographic Museum. This is part of the National Museum and it houses displays of Czech folk life, celebrations and customs. You can read more about it on the website as this is one thing at Petrin Hill that we didn’t manage to get to. This museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm.
I wouldn’t recommend skipping the Strahov Monastery, a working monastery that is 900 years old. Strahov Monastery was founded in 1138 and has been rebuilt several times over the centuries in different styles. Much of what you see today dates from just after the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. The monastery has been undergoing restoration for several years now.
Many of Prague’s monasteries were dissolved in the 18th century, but Strahov Monastery was allowed to remain open as a centre of research. Today it’s worth a visit to see the sumptuous libraries which house the Czech Republic’s oldest books. The monastery is on the far side of Petrin Hill, about a 15 minute walk from the Petrin Tower, and right by the exit into Mala Strana. The Strahov Monastery was the last stop we made at Petrin Hill.
At Strahov Monastery you can look inside the Strahov Library where the main draws are two exquisite halls. There’s a small fee to enter and if you want to take photos you have to pay a little extra too. It’s probably worth it!
When you get inside, the first things that you’ll see are the Cabinets of Curiosities. There are several blue-lined wooden cabinets with all sorts of treasures and oddities inside them. Our kids were fascinated by the skeletons, shells and preserved bodies of sea creatures. There was also a model of a ship and a small cannon and cannon balls which the boy was impressed with. In one of the cabinets is a stuffed dodo.
A corridor, also filled with treasures, books and religious statues, links the cabinets and the two gorgeous halls that you’ll want to look in. The first of the two halls is the newer Philosophical Hall, which is 14 metres high and lined with books and ladders to climb up to reach the highest volumes. This room made the girl and me think of the library from Beauty and the Beast. The painted ceiling is fantastic!
Further down the corridor (which is also lined with treasures) is the Theological Hall. This is the older of the two halls and it’s a smaller room but no less ornate. It was built in a baroque style in 1671 and is famous for the statue of St John the Evangelist as well as the books and painted ceiling. I could have stared at it for ages.
On site you’ll also find the Strahov Picture Library and the treasury which have separate entrances and fees. We didn’t look inside them, so all I can tell you about them is that they’re here!
The monks brew their own beer, which you can sample in the garden outside. The restaurants here are also supposed to be very good.
Strahov Monastery is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except 24 & 25th December, Easter Sunday and April 1st. The fee is 120 CZK, and an extra 100 CZK (I think!) if you want to take photos.
After you’ve visited the monastery, you can leave Petrin Hill through the gate and walk down the hill back to the centre of Prague.
Where to eat at Petrin Hill
We ate at Restaurant Nibozizek which had great views over Prague and served good food. It’s meant to be a bit more upmarket but nobody minded the kids being there.
Nearby there’s Petrinske Terasy, which also has good views over Prague.
There are three restaurants at Strahov Monastery. The best one is meant to be Klasterni Pivovar – they serve their own home brewed beer here too.
Alternatively, Petrin Hill is a great place to bring a picnic.