At first thought, Amsterdam might not be your top choice for a family holiday. Despite its more adult side, however, the city does have a lot to offer children and families. This Amsterdam family itinerary gets you started in all the right directions.
Dutch children regularly rank well (or even top) in UNICEF’s Child Well Being survey — making them some of the happiest children in the world. While a lot of that is related to factors outside the scope of this itinerary, here are some of the places those happy Dutch children visit.
Let’s start with two great places to visit when you and the kids need some fresh air. The first is the city zoo, Artis. It isn’t the biggest zoo in the world, confined by the city surrounding it, but there is still loads to do and plenty of animals to see. The second location is the Ridammerhoeve Goat Farm — perfect for animal and farm experiences, plus some tasty treats. The farm has a number of animals for children to interact with, a playground for, well, playing on, and the opportunity to enjoy products made on the farm.
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While museums such as the Science Centre NEMO (five floors of interactive science!) and Tropenmuseum Junior (where the museum collection, personal stories and activities in a theatrical environment combine to teach new topics) almost scream “child-focused” just from their names alone, you might be surprised to find out that other (well-known) museums also have excellent child-friendly opportunities. These include the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and the Eye Film Institute Netherlands.
The Van Gogh Museum, for example, has a family guide, a treasure hunt, children’s workshops and fun assignments in the form of Vincent’s Traveling Suitcase. While the Eye Film Institute regularly screens top films for children.
Many of the other popular city museums also have some child-related activities available. This is usually indicated directly on the website.
After all that learning, head for the Pancake Boat. Once onboard everyone can enjoy the views of the city while indulging in an all-you-can eat pancake buffet. Or go on a selfie adventure at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.
Don’t discount the city’s huge Central Library, full of activities and opportunities for children and families. While you cannot take any of the books with you, that doesn’t stop everyone exploring or even trying to learn a Dutch word or two.
While there is plenty to do in Amsterdam itself, the whole family can always jump on a train and head to another nearby Dutch city. Rotterdam has a fantastic zoo called Blijdorp Zoo. Utrecht has the Railway Museum (Het Spoorwegmuseum), and The Hague has the famous miniature attraction known as Madurodam.