“I’m going to tell you the history of Prague in seven minutes!” We all leaned in to hear her better. Our tour guide went on to tell us how the Czech Bohemians are different from Bohemians, stories of defenestration, atheism, the Holy Roman Church, and how her Czech mother-in-law has lived in 9 different countries yet has never moved once.
I was hooked. We were all hooked.
Why we wanted a free tour
As I mentioned earlier, when we spent Easter weekend in Prague I wasn’t connecting to the city. My husband suggested we take a Sandeman tour. For those who don’t know, Sandeman offers free tours in many European cities. If you are at all like me, then you are thinking what I was thinking, free does not equal good. I first heard of Sandeman in Amsterdam. A random stranger on a canal cruise said she did one and loved it. The second time I heard about it was from one of the professors I worked with. I was helping him plan his study abroad program in Berlin and he insisted on using Sandeman. He even wanted to pay for their service (required for groups over a certain number of people). I objected. A lot. How can students feel they’re getting a quality tour when this service is free? Well, they did see the quality in them. For all the tours we arranged for students, Sandeman was one with the most positive feedback.
So when we saw it was an option in Prague, we signed up.
Flashback: Our first night in Prague and our street food experiences
As we waited for the tour to start, I looked around at the Easter market in Old Town Square and let my mind wander. My husband and I love going to holiday markets in Europe. During the Christmas season we try to go to a new one every weekend. We go for the food. The more authentic the experience, the better. We spent our first night in Prague searching for street food. We spotted a little side outdoor food stand selling these pastries that were covered with your choice of almonds, cinnamon sugar, and other things. They were called Trdelniks. The process of making it looked really cool. They wrapped dough around a roller pin looking thing, it rotated over an open fire or heat source, then they covered it in whatever you picked. I had to have one. While they finished preparing mine, I read about the history of the snack. During this whole period I was so proud, thinking to myself that I found something really “Czech”. A hidden gem. It was tasty, but nothing spectacular.
Our second street food experience in Prague was that same night for dinner. We ordered something called “Prague Ham”, a dumpling dish mixed with a bit of sauerkraut and bacon, and a Prague sausage. The prices were cheap, too. Or so we thought. When the bill came to about 3 times more than we expected, we found out that the prices shown were per 100 grams. We had enough ham to last several days. At least it was still delicious.
Back to the tour
Our guide snapped me back into the tour as it was about to start. “I’m Kate!”
After a few minutes of explaining how the tour would function, she pointed to one of the Trdelnik stands and asked if we tried one yet. Then she informed us that though they are popular in Prague, they’re actually Hungarian. Well, there goes my hidden gem, truly authentic food experience. Then, as if she knew what I was thinking, she pointed to the stand where we ate ham the first night we were here. “And that, is the most expensive ham in all of the Czech Republic! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you about better options during our tour.” I smiled at my husband.
And then she told us Prague’s history in 7 minutes.
Sandeman Tours are Worth It
We have been on other paid tours. We’ve taken walking tours in many cities before we had kids, and bus tours since having kids. This was definitely one of my better tour experiences. The tour guides are committed to their city. Their enthusiasm keeps everyone interested and wanting more. And they provide more via their themed tours at different price points. Even though they have paid tours that they obviously want to promote, I never felt like their information in our free tour was lacking.
Tips for Sandeman free-tours with kids
Going on a walking tour with kids in tow is not easy. It’s doable, but a lot depends on circumstances. Our kids were young enough that they could sit in a stroller without too much complaint.
- If you are using a stroller, call in advance to make sure the tour’s path is suitable.
- These tours aren’t created with kids in mind. Though they might not have age restrictions, there is probably an age range where the tours are not ideal. Doing on a walking tour strongly depends on your kids personality.
- Have something for your young kids to do. We brought stickers and snacks to keep our toddler entertained. We got lucky and he napped for the first hour. When the stickers stopped working, my husband and I took turns entertaining him away from the group.
- Have an exit plan. We were prepared to leave earlier if we had to because we didn’t want to disturb the other guests. Our tour took a break for lunch and we decided not to continue for the second half.
- Tip well. This is how the guides make their money and I want to keep the best of the best doing it.
Sandeman is currently located in 18 cities in Europe and Israel.
I took the Sandeman tour before I blogged, I was not compensated nor asked to write this review. All opinions are my own.