Are you planning to visit Amsterdam with your kids? With the proper preparations, a family trip to Amsterdam can be a lot of fun! Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands, has a bit of a reputation (to put it mildly). Some things on the standard ‘must do in Amsterdam’ list aren’t very appropriate for kids, but is Amsterdam suitable for families? Yes, it definitely is! Let’s take a look at the top things to do in Amsterdam for families.
- 1 What to see in Amsterdam
- 2 Fun things to do in Amsterdam with kids
- 2.1 Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam with kids
- 2.2 Go out for pancakes
- 2.3 Pancake canal cruise Amsterdam
- 2.4 Discover Amsterdam by bike or rent a boat in Amsterdam
- 2.5 Artis Amsterdam Zoo
- 2.6 Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
- 2.7 Children’s cooking cafe (Kinderkookcafé)
- 2.8 Climb the towers of Amsterdam
- 2.9 Pick your own organic fruit in Amsterdam
- 2.10 Go see a movie
- 2.11 Visit a live performance at the puppet theatre
- 2.12 Bonus activity: Windmill Rembrandt van Sloten
- 3 Best children’s museums in Amsterdam
- 3.1 Museumcard / museumjaarkaart
- 3.2 Top 10 best museums for kids in Amsterdam
- 3.3 Nemo Science Museum Amsterdam
- 3.4 National Maritime Museum Amsterdam
- 3.5 Tropenmuseum Amsterdam
- 3.6 Micropia Amsterdam
- 3.7 EYE Film Museum Amsterdam
- 3.8 Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
- 3.9 Amsterdam Museum / The Little Orphanage
- 3.10 JHM Kindermuseum
- 3.11 Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
- 3.12 Tassenmuseum Hendrikje
- 4 Best Amsterdam playgrounds and parks
- 5 Free things to do in Amsterdam with kids
- 6 Best family hotels in Amsterdam
- 7 How to get to Amsterdam
- 8 Getting around in Amsterdam
- 9 Best time to visit Amsterdam
As with most larger cities, there are a lot of things for children to do in Amsterdam. There are some fantastic children’s museums in Amsterdam, you’ll find plenty of petting farms, a city zoo, playgrounds and great child-friendly restaurants and family friendly hotels.
What to see in Amsterdam
There is so much to see in Amsterdam, it’s quite obvious it will never fit into a top 10 list. I could make dozens of top 10 lists for Amsterdam: top 10 things to do in Amsterdam as a couple, top 10 things to do in Amsterdam for solo travelers, top 10 restaurants in Amsterdam, top 10 museums in Amsterdam… and many more. But let’s start with the ‘standard’ top 10 of things to do in Amsterdam, the one with the Amsterdam top sights, to get that out of the way. And then continue on to all the great stuff to do with kids in Amsterdam.
Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam
- Take a canal cruise or rent a boat
- Do a bike tour or rent a bike
- Visit Anne Frank house
- Explore the local markets
- Relax in the Vondelpark
- Go to Museumplein to soak up some art
- Check out the Flower Market
- Walk around Dam Square & the Royal Palace
- Take a food tour & sample some real Dutch food
- Explore picturesque & trendy shopping area The Nine streets
Of course, some would argue that you can’t get a feel for the ‘real’ Amsterdam without tasting the ‘naughty’ side of it. That some of the best things to do in Amsterdam are visiting the Red Light district and going to a coffeeshop (not for a cup of coffee, obviously). I don’t agree. Sure, they could have a spot on your list of Amsterdam sites to see & things to try, but they don’t earn a spot in my top 10. We’re traveling with our little boy and there are simply too many other (really) fun things to do in Amsterdam.
Fun things to do in Amsterdam with kids
Amsterdam is very family-friendly, if you know where to go. Obviously, things to do in Amsterdam with family are different from what you would do if you were traveling solo or with a group of friends. And it also depends on your children’s age. The Anne Frank House, for instance, is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam, but it’s not a place I would visit with young kids. Fortunately, there are plenty of things for kids to do in Amsterdam and many places to visit in Amsterdam with kids.
Little legs tire easily, so endless wandering around a city is a thing of the past, at least when your kids are still young. For a successful city trip you need to know where to go and how to get there the quickest way possible. Combine the places you really want to see with enough fun things for kids in Amsterdam.
Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam with kids
- Go out for pancakes
- Pancake canal cruise Amsterdam
- Discover Amsterdam by bike or rent a boat in Amsterdam
- Artis Amsterdam Zoo
- Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
- Children’s cooking cafe (Kinderkookcafé)
- Climb the towers of Amsterdam
- Pick your own organic fruit in Amsterdam
- Go see a movie
- Visit a live performance at the puppet theatre
Go out for pancakes
Eating pancakes should definitely be on your list of what to do in Amsterdam with children. Even though we eat them relatively often, going out for pancakes is still one of our son’s favorites. Mind you, we’re not talking about the thick and small pancakes Americans love for breakfast. These are large thin pancakes and the Dutch eat them for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. If you don’t like the traditional pancakes with bacon or apple, there are also lots of toppings to choose from. You can even get a pizza pancake! Trendy Amsterdam has discovered pancakes too, so some places are über chic and not really fit for kids. Lots of places serve ok-ish pancakes, but the best pancakes in Amsterdam can be found in only a few places. So where should you go? Pancakes! at Westermarkt (Prinsengracht 277), Pannekoekenboerderij Meerzicht (Koenenkade 56, Amsterdamse Bos) or tiny and cozy Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs (Grimburgwal 2, up narrow steep stairs so not easy with a pram or stroller) are some great choices.
Pancake canal cruise Amsterdam
What’s more fun than eating pancakes? Eating pancakes on a boat! Eat your favorite Dutch food while cruising the Amsterdam canals (and did you know there are also pancake cruises in Rotterdam and Nijmegen?). The pancake boat Amsterdam is always a big hit with kids of all ages. The Pannenkoekenboot offer various cruise options, varying from 75 minutes to 2,5-hour canal cruises with all you can eat pancakes. This really is the best canal tour in Amsterdam. You can get pancakes with apple, bacon or just plain and top them yourself with all your favorites, such as cheese, sausage, peach, pineapple, sugar, raisins or syrup. You can book your tickets for the pancake cruise online at pannenkoekenboot.nl
Discover Amsterdam by bike or rent a boat in Amsterdam
A fun and real Dutch, way to discover Amsterdam is by bike. If your kids are still young you can rent a bike with a kids bike seat or if you travel with more than one child you can also rent a bakfiets (cargo bike). Of course in kid-friendly Amsterdam, kids bikes are also for rent if your kids are bit older and know how to ride themselves. If you’re not comfortable having them ride on their own, a tandem bike is a fun choice! Amsterdam, as most of The Netherlands, is very flat and there are bike paths all around the city. IAmsterdam offers 6 downloadable cycle route maps.
A canal cruise is fun, but did you know that you can also rent your own boat in Amsterdam? Self-drive boat hire in Amsterdam is very popular with families. Take your time discovering the city from the water. Boaty and Boats4rent offer the cheapest boat rental in Amsterdam. You can rent a 6 person electric motor boat for as little as €79 for 3 hours. There are a great number of lovely terraces in Amsterdam where you can anchor your boat. Or simply do a bit of shopping at Albert Heijn supermarket and bring your own lunch and snacks.
Artis Amsterdam Zoo
One of the more popular Amsterdam children’s attractions is Artis Zoo. Artis Royal Zoo or as it’s officially called, Natura Artis Magistra (which means ‘nature is the teacher of the arts’ in Latin), is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. It dates back to 1838. It’s a real city zoo and therefore relatively small compared to other animal parks in the Netherlands. Artis has a great collection of animals, an amazing reptile house and a butterfly pavilion. In this park animals, nature, education and heritage are united. Many of the buildings are have monument status and Artis is continuously changing and improving, it still has a slightly old fashioned feel that part of the charm. A relatively new addition, Artis-Micropia the world’s first museum of microbes, is definitely worth a visit. You can buy a combination ticket to visit both Artis and Micropia, or you can visit them separately. To get to Artis Zoo, take tram 14 (get off at the stop called ARTIS) or take the metro to Waterlooplein. From there it’s a 10-minute walk.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Near Artis Zoo, you will find the Hortus Botanicus, the botanical garden Amsterdam. Maybe not an obvious choice for your list of things to do in Amsterdam, but one with a lot of history. Founded in 1638 and nearly four centuries old, the Amsterdam botanical garden is one of the oldest in the world. It’s a lush, green haven in a busy city. The majority of the lovely greenhouses and buildings are national monuments. The collection of the hortus botanicus botanical garden Amsterdam contains over 5.000 plants. With both inside and outside gardens and a lovely cafe, this is a great educational place to spend a few hours.
Children’s cooking cafe (Kinderkookcafé)
Every first Sunday of the month kids aged 8-12 can cook a 3-course meal for themselves and their guests at the Kindercookcafé in the Vondelpark. Of course, they’ll get some help from adult chefs. The kids make the food, set the table, serve the food and drinks and clean up afterward. A fantastic experience for both kids and their families and friends. For younger kids (age 1-6) the Help-Jezelf-Bar (help yourself bar) is open everyday from 10:00. Kids can bake and decorate their own cookies, decorate cupcakes or make their own pizza. The bar is the perfect height for kids and has colorful pictures that show the various choices and which ingredients and tools you need. For adults the Help-Jezelf-Bar serves coffee, tea, juice, sandwiches and soup. Read more about the Kinderkookcafé.
Climb the towers of Amsterdam
Kids and their families can climb the towers of Amsterdam. See Amsterdam from a whole new point of view, from the top of the Westertoren, the Zuiderkerkstoren or the Oudekerkstoren. Age restrictions apply, for the Westertoren kids need to be 6+, for the Oudekerstoren it’s 10+. Between April and October there are multiple guided tours per day from Monday til Saturday. There’s a maximum of six people per tour and you buy your tickets at the tower itself on the day you want to go. You can’t buy tickets in advance.
Pick your own organic fruit in Amsterdam
At the Fruituin van West (the fruit garden of West) you can pick your own fruit. The Fruittuin van West is a 16-acre (6,5 hectare) organic dynamic fruit farm in Amsterdam West (Tom Schreursweg 48). Next to the large orchard, where you can run and play, pick fruit and observe what’s going on around you, there’s also an organic supermarket and a lovely cafe. If you’re early, you can collect fresh chicken eggs! The Fruittuin van West is open to the public Tuesday to Sunday between 10:30 and 18:00. At different times of the year different fruits are available for picking. You can see which fruits you can pick at the website of the Fruittuin van West.
Go see a movie
Not a very ‘Dutch’ experience, but watching a movie can be a great way to keep kids happy during a tiring city trip. Relax and recharge. Most movies in The Netherlands are English with Dutch subtitles, for some kids’ movies there are separate screenings in Dutch and English. There are four Pathé movie theaters in Amsterdam: Pathé de Munt, Pathé Tuschinski, Pathé Arena and Pathé City. All of them, except Pathé City, have an early bird tariff (till 12:00, seven days per week) and reduced-price kids tickets. The Tuschinki cinema is housed in a beautiful art deco building and screen 1 especially is quite spectacular. Besides the large Pathé movie theaters, Amsterdam has several smaller movie cinemas and independent movie houses (‘filmhuizen’) that show films that are less mainstream and more cult.
Visit a live performance at the puppet theatre
Near Museum square (Museumplein) there’s a small puppet theatre called Het Nederlandse Marionettentheater (Dutch marionette theater). It was founded in 1923 and has quite a history. There’s a live marionette show every Saturday and Sunday and during school holidays at 14:00 (not in July and August). With classical music and beautiful handmade puppets and decors, it’s quite an experience. The family shows are meant for kids age 4-12 and last about an hour. The adaptations of classic fairy tales or self-invented modern fairy tales are exciting and full of humor. The language spoken is Dutch, but with the music and the puppets it’s a great show even if you don’t speak Dutch. It’s a small theater, so if you want to make sure you and your kids can attend, make a reservation. You can find the phone number on the website of the puppet theater.
Bonus activity: Windmill Rembrandt van Sloten
The Rembrandt Molen van Sloten is the only working windmill in Amsterdam that’s open to the public daily. The Sloten Windmill is a functioning draining mill situated on the outskirts of Amsterdam (Akersluis 10, Amsterdam). A great way to escape the busy city center, wander around for a bit and discover another side of Amsterdam. Built in 1847 this windmill has a lot of history! Volunteer guides explain the workings of the mill during a guided tour.
Check the website Kidsproof Amsterdam for an up to date calendar of all kids activities in Amsterdam.
Best children’s museums in Amsterdam
With over 50 museums and art galleries Amsterdam is a fantastic place for a dose of culture, even for kids. Top museums in Amsterdam are of course the major art museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Rembrandt Museum Amsterdam. But there are many more quirky specialty museums included in the Amsterdam museum guide. Among some of the best museums in Amsterdam (and the most weird and fun) are the Cheese Museum (Kaas Museum), Hemp Museum, Houseboat Museum (Woonboot Museum), Tulip Museum (Tulp Museum), Cat Museum (Kattenkabinet), Street Art Museum and Bike Museum. There really is something for everyone in Amsterdam!
Most of the museums in The Netherlands have a program for kids. For example, there’s the Van Gogh for kids and the Rijksmuseum for kids. Sometimes museums just offer a treasure hunt, but often there are special guided tours for families, kids’ audio guides, assignments and games and workshops for children. Keep in mind that outside of the larger cities, museums in The Netherlands often aren’t bilingual. A lot of the larger museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum offer free entry to kids up to 18 years old.
Museumcard / museumjaarkaart
If you’re staying a bit longer and are planning to visit multiple museums during your visit to The Netherlands, it can be worth it to buy a Museumcard. This gives you free access to over 400 museums in The Netherlands for a year. There are a number of museums where you can buy the card at the ticket counter. There you will receive a temporary card that’s valid for 31 days and maximum of five visits. In order for your museumcard to be valid for a year, you have to register your card online and you need an address for them to send the definitive card. It’s also possible to have it sent to your home address abroad.
Top 10 best museums for kids in Amsterdam
- Nemo Science Museum Amsterdam
- National Maritime Museum Amsterdam
- Tropenmuseum Amsterdam and Tropenmuseum Junior
- Micropia – microorganism museum Amsterdam
- EYE Film Museum Amsterdam
- Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Museum / Het Kleine Weeshuis
- JHM Kindermuseum
- Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic Museum)
- Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Museum of Bags and Purses)
Nemo Science Museum Amsterdam
The Nemo Museum in Amsterdam started as the Museum of Labor back in 1923 and has quite an interesting history. In 1997 it became New Metropolis (Nemo), a popular children’s museum in Amsterdam. Nemo Museum made a restart in 2000 and changed its name to Science Center Nemo, developing a strong emphasis on science and technology. Nemo is easily the most famous museum in Amsterdam for kids. This Amsterdam children’s science museum is extremely hands on and interactive. Touch, play and learn, a real fun museum for kids. Learn about chain reactions in the daily live demos, discover the principles of physics in the Fenomena exhibition, unravel the mystery of everyday techology, study the building blocks of the cosmos in Elementa on Nemo’s third floor, find out about the human body in the Humania exhibition and play with energy on Nemo’s roof. You’ll need a good few hours here to really do this museum justice and it’s well worth a visit.
National Maritime Museum Amsterdam
The Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam is a great museum to visit with kids. The east wing is the most traditional part of the museum, with impressive paintings, ship decorations, navigational instruments, atlases and yacht models. Our son loved the ship models! The west wing is quite interactive, with an exhibition about whaling and whales through the ages, an interactive game about life on board a ship and a section where extraordinary people from the Dutch Golden Age share their story. By far the most fascinating for our son was the north wing though, especially the royal barge and the impressive replica of the East Indiaman Amsterdam moored outside. We didn’t get to do the VR tour Dare to Discover as it’s for kids aged 8+ but it’s supposed to be very impressive. This magnificent museum is housed in the Arsenal (’s Lands Zeemagazijn), a historical building that dates back to 1656 when Amsterdam was the world’s largest port. The Maritime Museum has been housed there since 1973. Nemo Amsterdam and the Maritime Museum are within easy walking distance of Amsterdam Central Station and quite close to each other.
The Tropenmuseum Amsterdam (lit. tropical museum Amsterdam) is a museum about people and culture, and housed in one of the most beautiful historic museum buildings in The Netherlands. It’s part of the National Museum of World Cultures, together with the Museum Volkenkunde (Ethnology Museum) Leiden and the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal. Non-western world cultures form the basis for many temporary and permanent exhibitions, about various topics such as colonialism and trade, slavery, religion, body art, music and fashion. Especially great for kids is the interactive exhibition ZieZo Marokko in Tropenmuseum Junior, only open on weekends and during school holidays. At the ZieZo Marokko exhibit kids travel through Marokko and discover everything about this country from places to visit to things to eat. Kids can do a junior tour (age 6-13) or you can do a family tour with the whole family.
Micropia microorganism museum Amsterdam is the first museum in the world dedicated to microorganisms. It’s an initiative of Natura Artis Magistra or Artis Zoo. You can buy a combination ticket for the Zoo and Micropia, or visit either separately. Artis has always had a mission to let people discover and experience nature. This is now even possible on a microlevel, the nature of microorganisms. Complex science made accessible to a large audience. The museum is very educational and interactive. Microbes are everywhere and after a visit to this museum you’ll see the world through completely different eyes! Recommended age for a visit is 8+.
EYE Film Museum Amsterdam
The EYE film museum or EYE Film Institute Netherlands as it’s officially called is an excellent museum to visit with kids of all ages. It’s located on the northern bank of the IJ harbor in Amsterdam. From Amsterdam Central Station it’s only a short walk and a free ferry ride away. Explore the history of film and animation. Visit the film playground Panorama on the ground floor where you can see old film devices and can watch movie clips, or play with interactive installations such as Flipbook and the Green Screen. Kids age 7 and up can do the puzzle tour or the Eye Walk video tour, and during school holidays there are workshops for kids. Eye also has four cinemas where they regularly screen children’s films. Entrance to the magnificent building, the restaurant and the permanent exhibition is free, for the temporary exhibitions and films you have to buy tickets.
As a proper art museum, the Rijksmuseum might not be your first choice to visit with kids. It does however deserve a spot on this list. Why not combine your own pleasure with fun for your kids? In 2013, the Rijksmuseum reopened after 10 years of renovations. The new and improved building with its amazing display of art is definitely worth a visit. The Rijksmuseums restaurant even has a Michelin star. For kids age 7+ the Rijksmuseum offers a digital family game. This game is played with two people and takes about an hour. Each armed with your own audio device, you’ll attempt to solve eight Rijksmuseum mysteries. The audio game is available in Dutch, English, German and French. Admission for children 18 and under is free. For the digital family game you pay €2,50 per device. The Rijksmuseum is open 365 days a year between 9:00 and 17:00.
Amsterdam Museum / The Little Orphanage
The Amsterdam Museum is a great for anyone that wants to learn more about The Netherlands capital city. Amsterdam is a 1000-year old trading city with plenty of history. Discover the story of Amsterdam at this wonderful and interesting museum. Check out the permanent Amsterdam DNA exhibition which overs an interactive overview of Amsterdam’s history. The Amsterdam DNA tour is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and even Chinese, Japanese and Russian. The Little Orphanage (Het Kleine Weeshuis), part of the Amsterdam Museum, is a great area to visit with kids age 4-12. It teaches kids about life in a 17th-century Dutch orphanage. The building that houses the Amsterdam museum was the City Orphanage of Amsterdam for 400 years. Both the building and its history come alive at this display. The tour of the Little Orphanage is available in Dutch and English. The Amsterdam Museum is free for kids 0-17 years old.
A museum inside a museum. The JHM Children’s museum is a 3-story house located within the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. It’s the home of a Jewish family from Amsterdam, the Hollanders. Each room of the house shows a different part of Jewish life. Learn about the Torah and Jewish tradition in the study, about Jewish food and what kosher means in the kitchen and about Jewish music in the music room. A fun character, Max the Matzo, shows visitors around and provides additional information where necessary. In a fun and interactive way kids can discover a lot about Jewish life and Jewish tradition. A visit to the JHM Children’s Museum is enjoyable and educational for the whole family, regardless of their own religion. The Jewish Historical Museum is part of the Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam.
Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
During the 16th century Reformation in the Netherlands Catholicism was banned and people were prohibited to worship. This resulted in several clandestine churches in Amsterdam, one of which is Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic), established in 1663. When freedom of religion was introduced in the late 19th century the church was turned into a museum. The Our Lord in the Attic museum is the second oldest museum in Amsterdam, after the Rijksmuseum. It gives a unique insight into a 17th-century canal-side merchant house from the Dutch Golden Age. Downstairs you can see the living rooms, kitchen and bedsteads of the wealthy merchant Jan Hartman and his family, furnished in Dutch 17th-century style. The top stories of the house were converted into a hidden church, which up until this day is wonderfully preserved. There’s a free audio tour for older kids and a lovely treasure hunt (with Nan the ladybird as a little helper) for younger kids. The treasure hunt is €1.
This Museum of Bags and Purses is a great example of the quirky museums that Amsterdam seems to specialize in. The museum is housed in a magnificent 17th-century canal house which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s not really a museum for young kids, but for kids 8-12 it’s definitely a fun day out. With over 5000 handbags and purses there’s a lot to discover and each bag tells its own story. Not only about the bag itself, but also its contents. A playful way to discover this museum and its wonderful and amazing collection is to do the €3,- detective tour with Natasja the Handbag Detective. It’s not a large museum, but there’s a lot to look at.
Best Amsterdam playgrounds and parks
Natuurspeeltuin Amsterdam Noord
Meteorenweg 272 – check website
Come play, discover and enjoy at this lovely natural playground in the north of Amsterdam. This playground was newly opened mid 2018 and it’s a big hit. There’s a small stream, lots of water and natural materials to climb in and over. In the summer months when it’s warm the water is a great place to cool off. You can play here year round.
Natuurspeeltuin De Natureluur
President Allendelaan 4 – check website
De Natureluur is a nature playground in the Sloterpark, in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. There’s plenty to see and play at this playground and nature area. There are various tracks and structures to clamber and climb, there’s a water area with ditches and trenches, a butterfly garden, lots of animals and insects and areas with edible plants and herbs. Close to the playground there’s a petting zoo and a marsh garden. The playground is freely accessible.
Playground Het Woeste Westen
Overbrakerpad 3 – check website
Playground Het Woeste Westen (lit. Wild West) is a natural play area where kids can freely play in nature. A number of ditches divide the terrain in islands with different themes. There’s a meadow island, a water island, an adventure island and a forest area. There’s a climbing trail in the trees and lots of branches to build huts. The playground is freely accessible. During the hours the playground manager is present (check the website) it’s possible to buy some drinks and snacks.
Groot Melkhuis (Vondelpark)
Vondelpark 2 – check website
This Vondelpark playground is very well known in Amsterdam and has been around for decades. Many Amsterdam parents used to play here themselves when they were young and now take their kids. Groot Melkhuis is a self service restaurant with a terrace on the water and a large playground. For kids under 3 there’s a sandpit and a slide, older kids can play on any of the other play structures. The playground is only accessible when the restaurant is open, daily from 10:00 to 18:00.
This cute little playground is located behind the Haarlemmerstraat, only 10 minutes walking from Amsterdam Central Station. Perfect to let your kids run around and play for a bit while sightseeing around Amsterdam. There’s a sandpit, swings, a climbing structure with a slide and a football field. In the area you’ll find enough stores to buy some food and snacks.
Natuurspeeltuin Plan West
Van Speijkstraat 65a
This city playground is a hidden gem and a bit hard to find. At Van Speijkstraat 65 you’ll see a little gate and behind it you’ll find this large nature playground in the courtyard. There’s water to play with, a large rock to climb and kids can slide down the hill through a tunnel slide. There are lots of benches for you to relax while the kids play. It’s a great place to a nice picnic. Nature playground Plan West is open Tuesday – Friday from12:00 to 18:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 17:00.
Amstelpark 18 – check website
The Amstelpark in Amsterdam was created in 1972 for the international horticultural expo Floriade. A lot of it is still visible in the landscaping today. The free playground Speeltuin Amstelpark is open year round. There are many slides, swings and climbing structures for kids to play with as well as numerous paid attractions, such as little boats, excavators, mini cars, kiddy rides and a little train. Next to the playground there’s a city farm/petting zoo and a mini golf course for the whole family.
Free things to do in Amsterdam with kids
Amsterdam can be crazy expensive, but there are also a lot of free or cheap things to do in Amsterdam with kids. Check out our suggestions below for some more budget-friendly activities for kids in Amsterdam.
Play giant chess
Our son loves giant chess. The most well-known spot to play is at the Max Euweplein, which is the square next to the Leidseplein, named after the country’s most famous chess player. A less known one however, is the chess game of the same size just in front of the entrance to the Tropenmuseum. It’s never busy there. A great place to visit if you don’t want an audience or don’t want to wait. Easy to combine with a visit to the Tropenmuseum which offers free entry for kids 0-3 and discounted entry tickets for kids 4-18.
Visit the Mouse Mansion
Eerste Tuindwarsstraat 1hs / Public Library http://www.themousemansion.com
In case you’re unfamiliar with them, the Mouse Mansion is a series of books about two little mouse kids called Julia and Sam. At the Mouse Mansion workshop & toyshop in the Jordaan you can see the decors of the books and how they are built, as well as find lots of Mouse Mansion goodies and books in numerous languages. It’s kids heaven and well worth a visit. You can also see a Mouse Mansion display at the Amsterdam Public Library near Amsterdam Central Station.
Go to the roof of Nemo Science Museum
Entrance to the Nemo Museum itself isn’t free, but you can visit Nemo’s rooftop free of charge. It offers a nice view of the area and has an outdoor exhibition called Energetica. Energetica allows kids to discover the forces of sun, wind and water and learn about sustainable energy. Nemo’s rooftop also has access to the restaurant.
Visit a museum
Not all kids like museums, but our little boy loves them. Some of the museums in Amsterdam are free to visit for kids. The Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum are free for kids up to 18 years old, the Amsterdam Museum and the Royal Palace for youth up to 17 years old. Check this list to see more museums that have free entry for kids. Not very well known is that the gardens of the Rijksmuseum are free to visit. There are sculptures on display and there’s a playground for kids.
Find a petting zoo
There are about 20 petting zoos or children’s farms (kinderboerderijen) within Amsterdam’s city limits. It’s fun for kids to interact with the animals and to learn about their behavior. Petting farm De Dierencapel is a small petting zoo on Bickerseiland (Bickersgracht 207) near Amsterdam’s city center. Two other children’s farms that can be easily reached by tram from the city center are Kinderboerderij De Pijp (Lizzy Ansinghstraat 82) and city farm Zimmerhoeve (Schimmelstraat 44). Check this map with all petting zoos in Amsterdam created by the City of Amsterdam.
Go on a free Diamond Experience Tour
Known worldwide as the ‘city of diamonds’, diamonds and Amsterdam have been linked for many centuries. During a 40-minute free tour at Gassan Diamonds you’ll learn all about the history of diamonds and see the diamond grinders at work. An insider’s view that’s truly a unique experience. Tours are available 7 days a week between 9:00 and 17:00 and offered in over 27 languages. To make sure a tour guide in your language is available, you can book your free diamond tour online.
Best family hotels in Amsterdam
Wherever you go, when you travel with your family you’ll be looking for family friendly accommodation. When your kids are young, this can quite simply mean a clean hotel with enough room to place a travel bassinet or a toddler travel bed. Or, if you’re traveling super lightweight maybe you just need an extra bed or mattress so you can use your inflatable bed rails. When your kids are a bit older you may want to stay near a park or playground, or in a hotel with a swimming pool. So, obviously the best place to stay in Amsterdam with family depends on your wishes. We’ve looked into the best child friendly hotels in Amsterdam and made a list for you as a starting point for you to find the best accommodation for your family in Amsterdam.
Hotels with family rooms in Amsterdam
There are a great number of family friendly hotels in Amsterdam. Accommodation in Amsterdam is expensive though. If you’re a family of 3, you might want to consider bringing your own child’s travel bed and finding a hotel that allows kids for free so you can simply get a double room.
If that’s not an option for your family, these kid friendly hotels in Amsterdam are worth checking out. Each offers family rooms at a reasonable price.
Family hostels in Amsterdam
Hostels are another option for places to stay in Amsterdam with kids. Most hostels in Amsterdam cater to the massive amount of young backpackers and solo travelers visiting the city, but there are two family hostels that are worth looking into.
Houseboats in Amsterdam
A houseboat may not come to mind immediately when you’re considering where to stay in Amsterdam with kids. But if you’re looking for unique but family friendly accommodation in Amsterdam, renting a houseboat is a great option. Definitely a cool experience you and your kids will remember! There are a lot of houseboats in Amsterdam for rent on Booking.com but availability is limited so you want to book well in advance. These are some examples of boats and houseboats that are for rent for short term accommodation.
How to get to Amsterdam
Most travelers visiting Amsterdam arrive by plane. Budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryan Air often offer cheap flights to Amsterdam from various European destinations, if you book long enough in advance. The nearest airport to Amsterdam is Schiphol Airport. Taxis are expensive in The Netherlands. If you drive on the meter with a regular taxi the short trip from Schiphol to Amsterdam (27km) can easily set you back €70, especially when there’s a lot of traffic. If you really want to travel by car, arrange a driver before arrival, which saves a lot of money but will still cost you about €40-50. Do keep in mind that only licensed taxi drivers are allowed at the airport.
A far easier and cheaper way to reach Amsterdam from Schiphol Airport is by train. The train from Schiphol to Amsterdam only takes about 15 minutes and will set you back approximately €4,50 per person with cheaper kids tickets at €2,50. You can consult the website of the Dutch Railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen or simply NS) for more information.
Amsterdam is very easy to reach by train from most destinations in the Netherlands. There’s a good railway network in The Netherlands connecting the larger cities. Some of the more remote areas can only be reached by bus. There are several train stations in Amsterdam, that are all connected to the main railway station Amsterdam Central Station (‘Amsterdam Centraal’). The other railway stations in the outer parts of Amsterdam are: Amsterdam Lelylaan, Amsterdam Rai, Amsterdam Zuid, Amsterdam Amstel, Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena, Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Amsterdam Muiderpoort, Amsterdam Science Park, Duivendrecht and Diemen.
Getting around in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is quite a compact city, compared to a lot of other European capitals and a lot can be done on foot. The city of Amsterdam also has an excellent public transport system consisting of trains, subway, trams and buses, making it easy and not too expensive to travel around. Taxi’s in The Netherlands are quite expensive, so best avoid them if you’re on a budget.
Of course, to get around as the Dutch themselves do you can rent a bike. Bike seats for kids are available at all bike rental shops or you can rent a cargo bike (‘bakfiets’). Renting a bike in Amsterdam is a great way to see the city and it’s surroundings. Biking from Amsterdam to the beach in Zandvoort only takes about an hour. It’s also possible to take your bike on the train (see the Dutch Railway website for more info) if you want to discover some more of the surrounding countryside.
Best time to visit Amsterdam
The Netherlands has a temperate maritime climate and can be visited all year round. There are four seasons in The Netherlands: winter (January – March), spring (April – June), summer (July – September) and fall (October – December). In the summer months the average temperature is about 66 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) and in the winter months temperatures are around 35 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). The Netherlands get quite a lot of rain, especially in the fall.
Temperature wise the best season to visit The Netherlands is the summer, but July and August are high season. Accommodation in Amsterdam is very hard to come by in high season. Prices are much higher than usual and availability is low, unless you book very long in advance. By far the best time to go to Amsterdam is in the spring, especially if you want to visit the tulip fields or Keukenhof gardens which are at its best mid April to mid May. If you’re not keen on seeing the tulip fields, September is also a great choice. Early September the schools start again and it’s right after the high season with a good chance of some sunny weather.
Amsterdam in April
- End of March / early April: opening of the Alkmaar Cheese Market, a great day trip from Amsterdam
- Early April: annual flower parade (Bloemencorso). Check out 20 huge floats and 30 beautifully decorated cars pass by on the 42km route between Noordwijk and Haarlem (check bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl for exact dates)
- End of March – end of April: Visit the famous Holland Tulip Festival (or Tulip Festival Amsterdam) and see the 820.000 tulips in bloom all around the city.
- Mid of April – end of April: best time to see tulips in Holland. A visit to Keukenhof gardens is a highlight for many families. Or rent a car for a day and explore the Flevopolder, where you can find Holland’s longest tulip field route.
- April 27: King’s Day (Koningsdag). The celebration of the king’s birthday (King’s Day) in Amsterdam is a major event. The whole city comes alive and everything is colored orange. Please note that the city center is hard to access by public transport on this day and it can get really crowded. All parts of Holland celebrate King’s Day.
Amsterdam in May
- May 4: Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking). Every year on May 4th at 8pm The Netherlands hold 2 minutes of silence to commemorate Dutch soldiers and civilians that have died since the start of the Second World War. Prior to this there is a commemorative service at the National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam. https://www.4en5mei.nl/english/commemorating
- May 5th: Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day). The Netherlands celebrate the end of the Second World War (World War II). There are free liberation day festivals (bevrijdingsfestival) in 14 large cities in The Netherlands (Amsterdam, Den Bosch, The Hague, Assen, Almere, Leeuwaren, Wageningen, Groningen, Haarlem, Roermond, Zwolle, Utrecht, Vlissingen and Rotterdam). https://www.bevrijdingsfestivals.nl
- Ascension Day: Hemeltjelief Festival. Family festival with music and theatre performances at NDSM plein. Visitors under 12 get in for free. http://www.hemeltjelieffestival.nl