Yes, Amsterdam is a great destination to travel to with kids of all ages! Since I am originally from this beautiful city we have been here with our children plenty of times. First when they were babies, and probably our travels here will continue until they are grown-ups. They love Amsterdam, and we could wake them up in the middle of the night to go there.
If the sun shines when you are in Amsterdam, you will have a good time for sure! On a sunny day in Amsterdam everyone is out! Since the Dutch often experience bad weather, they tend to enjoy every sunny day to the fullest. There are heaps of terraces in Amsterdam where people just watch people pass by. And in a dynamic city like Amsterdam this is not a boring activity. You will see the beauty of a diverse population, a melting pot, people of all kinds of different clothing styles, hairdos and so on. You will see fun bikes. Bikes pimped with flowers, cargo bikes with dogs passing by or even cargo bikes to transport furniture when people are moving.
Picknick in the park
On a sunny day you can go to the Vondelpark. Bring your picknick!
Rent a boat!
Grab some food at the nearest supermarket (Albert Heijn for instance), or if you are in the city center get some food and snacks at one of the take away restaurants and go to your own rental boat. Renting a boat is slightly more expensive than the usual canal cruises, but so much more fun! In the usual canal boats children will see less, you will be packed with other tourists and children are supposed to sit and listen to the audio guide or the comments of the captain. No. Much better to do things on your own, your children will be amazed! Steering your boat through Amsterdam canals is not dangerous. You don’t need a boat drivers license. You just need to be aware of the boat traffic. Before going through a bridge, you have to look of course if no other boat is coming ahead. And when you do see a big tourist boat, just park on the side and wait for it to pass.
You can rent a boat here.
I do want to mention one special kids canal cruise. The Pancake boat cruise! An ideal option when you want to enjoy Amsterdam from the water, and want to make sure your kids are having a good time. They offer a 75 minutes cruise while eating nice Dutch pancakes and the bottom of the boat has a children’s play area. So, if your children are less interested in the beautiful architecture, they can always jump in the ball pit. Click here for their website.
My personal recommendation is not to rent a bike in Amsterdam when your children are too small. There are approximately 881.000 bicycles in Amsterdam. 63 % of the local Amsterdammers use their bike on a daily basis. This makes a lot of bike traffic. You can rent a bike when your children are bigger, teenagers, and then cycle calmly in the Jordaan area for instance. However, with small children, or cargo bikes when you are not an experienced cyclist… that can be dangerous. I would recommend to take the trams and busses, and walk. (If you would come to the Netherlands for the cycling, check out the other areas in the Netherlands to visit, where young children can perfectly cycle on their own!).
Tickets for buses and trams:
The locals have credit card type bus passes. You can buy them for instance at the supermarkets and also charge them there. Children under 12 years of age can travel on a ‘kids ticket’ when they have a parent accompanying them. The ticket (kinderkaartje) is valid throughout the whole day and only costs 1 Euro.
Kids friendly museums
You can take your children to all the well-known Amsterdam Museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, just to name some. They often have something specific to do for children. Check out their websites before you go to see what’s going on.
This is of course a big museum. We chose to only visit the Gallery of Honor, with the famous Nightwatch of Rembrandt, paintings of Johannes Vermeer and others.
When we were there, children were invited to make their own self portrait in the main hall on a big easel with a mirror and hats of Rembrandt’s age to wear.
Check out their website for kids activities during your stay: www.rijksmuseum.nl
Moco Museum of Street Art and Graffiti is located on the same Museumplein as where the Rijksmuseum is located.
Children usually love this kind of art! The museum has a nice collection of Banksy art and some statues outside. In their museum shop we found a cool grafitti drawing and colouring book that will surely accompany us during future travels to keep the children busy in restaurants!
Nemo Science Museum
Located only a short stroll from the Central train station, the Amsterdam Science Museum Nemo is a very cool place to go to. The weird shaped green building houses a lot of fun and educational experiences for little ones. The roof top terrace with stunning views over the city is a great place to have a drink afterwards.
Anne Frank Museum
If your children are already big enough to learn about the history of WWII, then this museum remains a must-see in Amsterdam. Remember to beat the queues and buy your tickets in advance. Especially during the Easter breaks I often see big lines outside.
The most famous market in Amsterdam is undoubtedly the Albert Cuyp Market in the Pijp area of Amsterdam. This street long market in a bustling area has a lot of things to see for children also. The latest gadgets at a low price, the famous Dutch cookies ‘stroopwafels’ baked directly and eaten warm.
Ajax Stadium Tour
Are your kids soccer fans? Like in most big cities the Ajax stadium, the Johan Cruijff Arena can be visited. The tour takes them to the field, and of course to the dressing rooms of the Ajax players.
The Amsterdamse Bos (forrest) is located between the city and the airport. It hosts a very nice goat farm where children can explore and meet the animals. There are bottles of milk for sale (50 cents) and children can feed the goats themselves with the milk bottles. Other than goats there are chicken, pigs, cows, and there is a very nice playground. In the summer they sell goat milk ice cream. Do not wear your fancy shoes to go here! Click here to see their website.
The city of course hosts a lot of other museums, and I will update this page regularly after our visits to Amsterdam.
Where to stay?
I would recommend either the area of Museumplein in a somewhat calmer area though central (click here to see the hotel I’ve tested for you). This is a nice hotel with a nature / ecological theme. Bicycles can be rented directly through the hotel so no need to go elsewhere to pick them up!
Or why not have a real Amsterdam experience by staying on a Houseboat? Check out this houseboat here! Book well in advance since they are often quickly booked! Nice view on the Amstel river.
travel book on Amsterdam for kids aged 1-6 to prepare the trip together
If you are in Amsterdam during the flower season, you would need to go to the town of Lisse, where the famous Keukenhof flower park is. You can rent a bike right in front of the park to cycle through the fields. The town of Hillegom is also a nice spot, and often with less tourists.
Photos on top by http://www.kimchiara.nl