Top 11 Things to do in Amsterdam with Kids
I like hosting guest blogs from people knowing more about some destinations than me. This time, Samira will share the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids (this city is not only interesting for parties and coffee shops).
Amsterdam is an aesthetically beautiful city, with lots to see and do for both adults and kids. It’s also no surprise that it is one of Europe’s most child-friendly cities.
Visit the Van Gogh Museum, take a canal cruise, see the NEMO Science Museum, the EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam Tulip Museum and loads more. All public transport in Amsterdam is included.
Get on a boat
Amsterdam is a city built on a grid of 165 stunning canals. So beautiful in fact, that it’s the only canal ring in the world to be on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In total, the waterways add up to 100 kilometers in length.
It is an absolute must to get on a boat and explore this magical city.
Not only do you get to see the city from a different perspective, but it is also a relaxing way to get around, away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets.
Canal tours typically last from 60 – 90 minutes, with the larger boats offering pre-recorded audio to accompany the tours. On many of the smaller boats, the skipper will provide a live commentary tour of the city.
It’s an easy and fun way for children to explore the bustling city without getting tired, whilst getting a better understanding of the history of Amsterdam at the same time! You can book one online here.
Be sure to spot the 80 bridges within the center of Amsterdam.
Visit the famous Vondel Park
Amsterdam is known to have many beautiful parks. The most famous of which is the Vondel Park.
It’s so popular, in fact, that it attracts about 10 million visitors per year!!
The Vondel Park is a great park to enjoy a picnic, go for a stroll, or to safely enjoy cycling through the park. It’s estimated that there are approximately 881,000 bikes in Amsterdam. To experience why Amsterdam is so easy to cycle around, check out Yellow Bikes for 24-hour bike hire.
If you find yourself getting hungry, rock up to the impressive VondelPark3, it’s a large restaurant overlooking the park where you can turn up without a reservation and enjoy a drink or meal on the terrace.
In the summer months, you can enjoy the open-air theatre which runs from June until August.
Amsterdam has 44 museums to explore. Here are 10 of the most popular museums to check out:
- Van Gogh Museum – Explore Vincent van Gogh’s artworks at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
- NEMO – In the largest science museum in the Netherlands you will find proof that science and technology can be fun for the family!
- Stedelijk Museum – The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is an international museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design.
- Het Scheepvaartmuseum – Climb aboard the full-scale, 17th-century replica ship and check out the cannons.
- Rijksmuseum – Get up close to 800 years of Dutch art and history with 8,000 objects across 80 galleries – including renowned masterpieces Night Watch by Rembrandt and The Milkmaid by Vermeer, plus fantastic temporary exhibitions
- Madame Tussauds – Rub shoulders with the stars at one of Amsterdam’s favorite attractions
- Micropia is the world’s first museum on microbes. Learn about all the billions of ways that microbes influence our lives (and not just from sneezing and kissing: microbes are literally everywhere).
- Tropenmuseum – In the Tropenmuseum you can take a trip through the world and through time. Thousands of stories, splendid works of art and amazing objects. Fascinating artworks and compelling objects illustrate life and stories from various non-Western cultures. It stays fresh and fascinating – for grown-ups and children
- Foam International photography museum. See works of famous photographers, such as William Klein’s ‘I don’t give a damn’ naturalism and Francesca Woodman’s surrealist black-and-white self-portraits. Alongside upcoming talents utilizing a cutting-edge camera and editing techniques
- Bodyworlds More than 200 anatomical specimens of real human bodies show the complexity, resilience, and vulnerability of the body. They show how our organs work, and the effect of common diseases.
Check out the Healthy Living Amsterdam website, or a full overview of all the museums.
The best way to visit lots of great Amsterdam museums with your kids is by purchasing a city card.
Visit Artis Zoo
It’s always enjoyable to visit out of the zoo when you are exploring a new city, and the Artis zoo is no exception. It’s an impressive zoo, where you will find over 750 species of animals and 300 trees.
Located in the center of Amsterdam, Artis is one of the oldest zoos in the Netherlands. Over 1.3 million people visit Artis and the neighboring micropia science museum every year.
Artis is a large zoo set in beautiful gardens with plenty of shady areas for a hot day. You can easily spend half a day enjoying the zoo, visiting the animals and having a picnic on the grounds. It’s a nice peaceful to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam and just enjoy nature.
This zoo has recently been enlarged allowing for more space for the animals to roam around.
To skip the queues, you can buy fast track tickets here.
Explore the 9Straatjes
Amsterdam has so many beautiful streets to meander around and explore. No trip to Amsterdam is complete without checking out the 9 Straatjes, which consists of nine side streets of the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and Singel in central Amsterdam.
Famous for cute boutiques selling everything from fashion items to home-wear, to little nick-nacks that your kids will love. You can spend a pleasant few hours exploring the 9 Straatjes, and getting a hot drink whilst people watching.
Learn more about 9Stratjes.
If your children want to get up close and personal with some farm animals, then you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that Amsterdam has about 15 petting zoos which are tranquil hidden gems in Amsterdam.
Most petting zoos are open each day and run on donations by a team of friendly volunteers, for more information check out the Healthy Living Amsterdam page.
The petting zoo holds many different animals – you’ll find goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, chickens, and rabbits, all are within reach for the children to touch.
It’s a lovely day out for the family and there is plenty for the children to do, with some small play areas for the children to explore.
Visit a park
Amsterdam has over 40 parks to explore!
If you find yourself in Amsterdam during a hot period, then some of the larger parks are well equipped with outdoor paddling pools.
Check out Oosterpark or Westerpark, where Kids can splash about in the summer paddling pool.
The large forest in Amsterdam is called Amsterdamse Bos, is well worth a visit, where kids can feed goats and climb trees in the woods.
Have a memorable dinner
With over 1300 restaurants in this small city, you are certainly spoilt for choice.
For a memorable dinner and something a little different whilst staying in Amsterdam, it’s well worth checking out the three options:
- Pancake house checking out one of the many pancake houses. The Netherlands is known for their love of pancakes and there are many restaurants where you will find delicious pancakes that your kids will love.
- Pasta e Basta is a fantastic Italian wine bar and restaurant. With a unique twist, at Pasta e Basta, not just fantastic dishes which incorporate free-range and artisanal ingredients. They don’t just provide you with excellent service – they sing and perform everything from opera to classics and current pop hits. It’s a dinner with a difference, and the kids will be wildly entertained with the music and the magicians.
- Burger Cruise It’s possible to combine an evening tour whilst enjoying your dinner cruising along the canals.
Another great thing to do in Amsterdam with kids is a food tour with a local.
Go further afield……
Volendam, Marken & Windmills Tour + Free Canal Cruise
Scattered in Amsterdam, you’ll find a total of 8 windmills.
You don’t have to venture too far out of the city to see some more of the traditional Dutch life of days gone by. Fill your clogs with herring, windmills and picturesque village life – all with a live guide.
This excursion goes from Amsterdam right into the pastoral beauty of the Netherlands of the past. Just north of Amsterdam, on the edge of the river Zaan, is the windmill village of ‘de Zaanse Schans’.
Packed with wooden windmills, houses, and museums built in the typically Dutch wooden architectural style, it’s an actual working community. Rural Dutch life seemingly preserved right out of the days of long ago.
You can book a tour cheaper here.
Hit the Beach
You may be surprised to hear that the beaches in The Netherlands are well worth a visit. Yes, even on colder days.
With long stretches of sand, clean water, and unspoiled nature – it’s picturesque for long walks, playing on the beach, or taking a dip in the sea. It’s easy to see why you see so many Dutch families enjoying a day out at the beach.
On the colder, crisp days, you can choose from a variety of beach bars, some of which have cozy wood fires burning – the perfect place to enjoy a warm fire, with alluring views.
No matter the season, the Dutch coastline has something for everyone. From swimming, sunbathing, exploring nature, or enjoying some food at one of the many restaurants with beautiful views of the coast.
- Zandvoort aan Zee. One of the most famous beaches closest to Amsterdam.
- Bloemendaal aan Zee
- IJmuiden aan Zee & Wijk aan Zee.
- Zuid-Kennemerland National Park
- Heemskerk area beaches.
Check out IAmsterdam for more info.
Visit little Venice of the Netherlands
Get a taste of ‘real’ Dutch life in the tiny car-free village of Giethoorn, known as the ‘Little Venice’ of the Netherlands!
Take a guided stroll along the quaint streets and cruise the picturesque canals. See antique thatched-roof farmhouses, wooden bridges and more. It’s a change of scenery and a step back in time all in one!
Sick of the hustle and bustle of big cities? Join this day trip from Amsterdam Central and head to Giethoorn in the Northeast of the Netherlands, sometimes known as the ‘Little Venice’.
Here in this peaceful, picturesque corner of the Netherlands, you’ll find waterways filled with boats, pretty footpaths, zero cars (they’re banned here), and bicycle trails.
Board your canal boat along with your live guide and photograph the cute wooden bridges and centuries-old thatched-roof farmhouses.
Walk the banks of the canals and pick a restaurant for lunch – there are lots to choose from!
You’ll also get to see the Afsluitdijk (enclosing dike) connecting North Holland and Friesland before enjoying a free canal tour of Amsterdam as well! Tickets for a roundtrip from Amsterdam + Free Canal Cruise include:
- Transport from Amsterdam city to Giethoorn and back
- Live guide in English and Spanish
- Stop at the Enclosing Dike Afsluitdijk
- Boat trip in Giethoorn
- Free 1-hour canal cruise in Amsterdam (worth €18.00)
You can book this tour here.
To conclude, with so much to see and do in Amsterdam. It’s easy to see why it’s one of Europe’s most family-friendly cities.
Samira is an expat mum who runs the website Healthy Living Amsterdam – a platform and online guide for health-conscious people living and visiting the beautiful city of Amsterdam.