Visiting Amsterdam with children is a unique experience. It will be the alternation of canals, typically Nordic architecture, bicycle adventures, or the many cultural proposals also dedicated to children, but Amsterdam is definitely worth a trip in the company of children. Characteristic in winter with illuminated canals, Christmas decorations, skating rinks and markets scattered around the city, it is also wonderful in spring or summer, when temperatures allow boat and bicycle rides and stops in large parks. Ready to go?
Getting to Amsterdam for a family vacation
The ideal is to land at Schiphol airport, from where trains and buses leave for Amsterdam Centraal Station in about 20 minutes. From here you can then take advantage of the city’s many tram networks, very frequent, clean and well organized. From Italy, among the low cost flights, fly to Amsterdam easyJet departing from Milan Malpensa, Naples, Venice and Rome Fiumicino.
As far as housing is concerned, don’t be afraid of prices: Amsterdam is a more expensive city than most Italian capitals and consequently even hotel rooms or apartments have higher costs. If you can, organize ahead of time using online offers, starting with the idea that really the vehicles in Amsterdam work very well – and allow you to get on easily with strollers! – and therefore reaching the center is not tiring.
However, pay attention to the characteristics of the accommodation: there is often no elevator – and after a day of walking with a stroller up and down the stairs is not ideal! – or they are very narrow attics that reflect the architecture of the buildings in Amsterdam.
Turn through channels
If the season allows it, the best way to fully experience the true spirit of Amsterdam is the bike. You will see families with children of all ages whizzing through the narrow alleys and along the canals. The youngest children are carried in seats, strictly with a helmet on their head, or in the cargobike box. No matter if it’s a cold wind or a clear day of warm sunshine, Dutch families cycle all year round. Rentals are scattered throughout the city, some even deliver vehicles directly to their hotel, like AmsterBike.
The 10 things to do with children in Amsterdam by bike
On the boat canals
We know that children love water and boats and what better prospect to see the city than sitting on a boat? Older children will be able to wear headphones with audio guides, while younger children will enjoy a moment of play or rest. Excursions are organised all year round as the boats are covered and heated even in winter.
Anne Frank House
It may seem like a place not suitable for children, but especially for older people it is a way to discover a really important part of history first hand. Maybe they studied it at school, maybe not, but touching and visiting the places where Anne Frank lived gives an emotion that is difficult to get off. Help them by guiding them through the visit, also with the help of brochures and audio guides.
The Van Gogh Museum
If mom and dad don’t want to miss a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, don’t worry, even children are welcome. At the entrance – free up to 17 years – you can ask for a brochure and follow it organize a treasure hunt among the works. In the bookstore you will also find several picture books dedicated to the painter and his story designed for children, so as to better explain his art to them. Please note, however, that the purchase of tickets with reservation of the exact time at which you want to visit the museum is done only online.
Around the museum, which is located a few steps from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the largest collection of works of art of the Flemish era, there is a skating rink in winter, in summer there are playgrounds and cloisters where you can have lunch in the sun.
It is a large park of 45 hectares, where there are activities and attractions for children of all ages, from swimming pools to areas with sand to paths to do on foot or by bike. But it is also the ideal place for a picnic or a moment of relaxation by the lakes.
Inside there is also the KinderKookKafé, a completely kids friendly place for a break, where children can also have fun cooking.
Very old, it hosts more than 6,000 species of plants. Among flowers, rare tropical specimens, butterflies and spectacular colors, it is perfect for children. There are also ponds, centuries-old trees, greenhouses with palm trees. It is located in the Plantage district. Within walking distance there is also the Artis Zoo, where there are 786 different species of animals.
Eat “fries” on the street and in the premises
It may not be the healthiest meal you’ll ever offer your children, but to live 100% in Amsterdam you can’t go home without buying and eating a cone of typical Dutch fries directly on the street from the many kiosks you’ll find around the city.
Crunchy, very hot and giant, they are the most beloved break by the Dutch, who actually on the rest of the culinary offer are rather lacking!
Tasting the Poffertjes
Another pity in the throat that children will surely appreciate: a sweet snack made with poffertjes, traditional batter fritters that the Dutch eat at all festivities. You’ll find them delicious, perhaps while you’re waiting to enter the Anne Frank Museum, at Pancakes Amsterdam, a chain with several venues in the city that has special menus for children, coloring cards, pastels and everything you need for a peaceful meal.
It is the largest science museum in the Netherlands and has the shape of a boat. It was designed by Renzo Piano and is a huge laboratory in which children have a lot of fun experimenting first hand between giant bubbles and experiments of various kinds in a truly unique space.
Every now and then they also organise interactive shows to introduce children to chemistry and biology. Who knows if you will be able to spend less than half a day, it is difficult to take the children away from this museum!
And if you have a few more days and can move from the center of Amsterdam do not miss a visit to the Efteling Park, the most beautiful amusement park in Holland. To get there, take the train to Tilburg station and from there take the bus to the park.