Updated: July, 2014
The Top 10 Things to do in Amsterdam with kids
The author: Esther van de Paal blogs at Babyccino Kids.
Amsterdam is world famous for its unique assembly of canals and the beautiful canal houses. It’s also an easy city to navigate – by foot, by boat, by train, or by bicycle. (And also easy to get to with Europe’s great network of budget airlines.)
Like other cities in Europe — Paris, London, Rome, or Barcelona — Amsterdam is known for its offerings for grown-ups; but it’s also a very child friendly city. Here are some activities that Babyccino Kids recommends for you and your kids:
1. Boat Tour
The best way to experience the wonders of the canals of Amsterdam is by a boat tour. The beautiful and unique canal houses can be best admired from the water and the great part is that you won’t be getting your little one’s feet tired. The guides will give you and the kids interesting background information in a number of languages. And there’s a toilet on board, just in case.
The Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s most famous park, and it has lots to offer kids. The Melkhuis has a terrace in summer and a good playground right adjacent to it. There’s the Kinderkookcafé where children can cook little dishes while the parents enjoy a cup of coffee, and there’s a lovely paddling pool with little playground where all the Amsterdam parents seem to gather on a hot summer day. Worth a stroll around, or you can also take the bakfiets (see 5).
3. Museums of famous Dutch painters
Teach your kids a thing or two about the famous Dutch painters. The Van Gogh Museum is pleasantly light and modern, and the paintings are very colourful and accessible to children. The 17th Century Rembrandt House is very interesting. One gets a good feel of how Rembrandt (and other well-to-do Amsterdam inhabitants) lived in the ‘Golden Age’ and a lot is explained on Rembrandt’s life and works. Audio tours for kids are available.
4. Nine Streets
Nine little streets that are packed with interesting shops and boutiques. Think fashion, art, design, and even a toothbrush shop. ‘Pancakes’ is a great, child friendly place to stop for lunch and eat … pancakes (all international varieties of them, including the Dutch, of course)!
5. Rent a Bakfiets
A great and very Dutch way to get around Amsterdam is on a bakfiets.
They can be rented in numerous places around the city, and your kids will love this way of transportation. There are bike lanes everywhere, and cars are very much accustomed to all the bikes around, so it’s all as safe as can be. You can just leave them in a corner on the sidewalk if you’re going inside somewhere, but make sure to lock them well…
6. Java/KNSM Island
If your kids are interested in architecture, Java/KNSM island is an interesting visit. You’ll get a good idea of the famous modern Dutch architecture and city planning. On Java Island the take was modern Amsterdam, so with canals and contemporary canal houses. KNSM Island has some bigger apartment buildings in interesting shapes. There are some lovely (kids) shops on the main street, like Keet in Huis, Pol’s Potten and Sissy Boy Homeland. There’s a tiny playground across the street. A pleasant and ‘fresh’ neighbourhood — nice to go with a family.
7. Anne Frank House
A visit to the Anne Frank House is maybe more appropriate for older children (10 and up) but it is tremendously important and educational. The secret hiding place where Anne and her family were hidden and where she wrote her famous diary can still be visited today, as intended by the sole camp survivor of the family, Anne’s father Otto.
One of the oldest zoos in Europe, Artis was opened in 1835 and has a very beautiful old setting with terrific gardens. Most of the animal housing units have thankfully been modernised since. There are some fantastic playgrounds and a good restaurant. This zoo is not too big but has truly a lot to offer, with plenty of interior fun for rainy days as well.
9. Tropen museum, Nemo and the Public Library
Every child will love the Tropenmuseum (Tropical Museum). Originally started as the museum of the Dutch colonies, it’s come a long way since and nowadays the exhibitions display art, objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures in general, giving an insight into the daily lives of the people of the tropics and subtropics. This is a great museum both for grown-ups as for children (even very little ones as they will love the colours and sounds).
Nemo is Amsterdam’s Science museum, aimed at children 6 years and up and very informative and educative. The building has a huge, sloping roof offering some of the best panoramic views of Amsterdam. In summer this roof is transformed into a beach, complete with sand and bean bags and tapas-style snacks. The public library next door is also worth a visit and has a great, affordable restaurant on the top floor, again with great views.
Slightly outside the canal area is the Scheldestraat, where there are a few great kids shops to be found. The world famous Dutch character Miffy has her own shop here, there’s Koter & Co for kid’s clothes and accesories, Meys & Co for kid’s shoes, Feduzzi’s for great Italian food (take-away), and if you’re looking for a great place for breakfast, lunch or tea, @7 is the perfect place to go with kids. Amstelpark is not very far away and offers some good playgrounds and a little city farm.
About the author: Esther van de Paal has lived in New York City, Brussels and London, and currently resides in Amsterdam. Read more about her and her adventures in Amsterdam at Babycinno Kids.
- Hotels for Families in Amsterdam
- A Guide to Amsterdam Museums
- Touring Amsterdam with Children (NY Times)
- Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Top 10 Amsterdam (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
- The Netherlands (Lonely Planet Guides)
- Katie and the Sunflowers (A fun and colorful children’s book about the art of Vincent van Gogh)
- A Very Cool Collection of Amsterdam Photos (Instagram)