Amsterdam is an amazing city and is a fantastic place to visit with kids of all ages. Why? We came up with six reasons
Amsterdam is the city of museums. According to the Amsterdam Tourist Office, there are around 75 museums and galleries in Amsterdam. The I Amsterdam card covers the entry to around 55 of them.
Not only are there so many to choose from but the variety is unparalleled:
- Art (Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum, Russian Hermitage Museum works, contemporary art including pieces by Banksy)
- Maritime Museum, which has a building that you will want to see for yourself
- Amsterdam then, now and in the future
- Science (Nemo)
- Cats (Kattenkabinet)
- Funerals (Tot
- Microbes (Micropia), which is recommended for children 8 and over an has a combi ticket with the zoo
- Fluorescence (Electric Ladybug)
- Things found when building the southern metro line (Below the Surface)
With so much variety, there is definitely something for everyone. And it is definitely one reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids of all ages.
Most museums, even those that don’t have obviously kid-friendly topics, have special children’s tours or audio guides. Others, such as the royal palace, have two – one for children and another one for small children, in addition to the adult tour. The Maritime Museum even has a free virtual reality tour as part of the Rembrandt exhibition.
I was particularly impressed by Our Lord in the Attic, which used Nan, a little ladybug, to guide children through the museum. Nan is introduced with a booklet that contains information, questions and activities that you could choose depending on the age of your child. You then follow Nan and the little ladybugs through the museum. Children even get a free small ladybug at the end to take home.
What child does not like boats? This alone is almost reason enough to visit Amsterdam with kids (and Venice). There are a variety of boat tours that give you a great view of the city. Many of these have kids audio guides, too.
There are also ferries, such as the ferry from the central station to IJplein or NDSM wharf. The captain on our boat tour even recommended that we take the free ferry across the IJ simply for the views.
Some boat tours have special themes. Enjoy a pancake dinner while floating around the canals on a boat. Rent a kayak, small boat or pedalboat to see the area on your own or go on a Kayak tour. In Winter, take a boat tour of the light festival.
The boats don’t have to move. Visit the houseboat or maritime museum. Pat the cats at de Poezenboot shelter, which happens to be on a boat. Visit the flower market, which has the honour of being the longest market on boats in the world. Or have a meal at the floating Chinese restaurant. The captain on our boat tour hates the ‘eyesore’, but it doesn’t mean that it is not worth a visit.
3. The food
Many foods that children love are national dishes in the Netherlands.
- Fries or chips, with or without sauce
- Pancakes and the mini pancakes poffertjes
- Indonesian dishes – as a result of it being a Dutch colony for many years – with its tasty rijsttafel
- Olieballen (fried balls of cake dough)
- troopwafels (two sides of a thin waffle, stuck together with caramel sauce)
The Foodhallen are also popular. These have a wide variety of stores and dishes available – with so much variety, you are bound to find something that your kids will enjoy.
Cheese. Most children love cheese. Dutch cheese, such as gouda and
There are also cooking courses for children aged 8 to 12 at the Kinderkookcafe. Sometimes, even children as young as six can take part. Let them cook their and your dinner!
Don’t forget the sweet treats. We didn’t get a chance to visit as it was out of our way, but Polaberry is
We did sample the stroopwafels from van Wonderen. Stroopwafels are two thin, round waffels
Shopping can be a lot of fun in Amsterdam and is just another reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids of all ages.
Museum gift shops are a great place to start. The Rijksmuseum, for example, has a section of the gift shop dedicated to children with books, toys, puzzles, colouring books, etc. They also have giant Playmobil statues in the museum representing various masterpieces. The mini (normal Playmobil size) versions of these statues can be purchased in the gift shop.
During our last visit, we purchased a wooden robot at the Rijksmuseum gift shop. It was made from the packing crates that were used to store the artefacts while the Rijksmuseum was closed for renovations. You can look online to see what the packaging protected. In our case, it was a narwhal horn called ‘
The nine streets district is another area that is worth a visit. With a great mix of boutiques and houses from Amsterdam’s golden century, it is well worth the visit.
Personally, I love the markets and there are many to choose from. Some have specific opening times. The Albert Cuyp Market (De Pijp) and the market at Waterlookplein are open Monday to Saturday. The flea markets in the IJ-Hallen and the Westerpark area are typically held on the first weekend in the month. Besides free food and drink tastings, these markets are perfect places to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
We like to tell Miss M that we will buy one thing for her at the market, and she can choose, but she should choose carefully. Older kids can also be given an amount of money to spend – watch them trying to politely ask if the stall owner speaks English or to use sign language when they don’t.
On our most recent trip, Miss M chose a My Little Pony knock-off at the market on Waterlooplein. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and size of this market as it is not in many travel guides.
“Even old New York was once New Amsterdam” (at least according to They Might Be Giants). Perhaps the idea for Central Park was based on the parks in Amsterdam. The parks in Amsterdam are definitely a reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids of all ages.
The most famous of the parks is Vondelpark. It has numerous walking and cycling paths, playgrounds, and even paddling pools, a café and the cooking school. Something for everyone!
For a quiet refuge in the city, try the Begijnhof. While it is not a place for running around and letting out energy, its history is interesting and small children will appreciate the calmness of the garden (and may even fall asleep). Budding artists might like the opportunity to sit and sketch.
For young children, there are a number of playgrounds in the city. Try Herenmacht (near Brouwersgracht) and Palmgracht, both of which have cafes close by. Don’t forget Vondelpark.
Many of the museums have gardens or artwork outside. The Rijksmuseum has a large spider statue in the garden (and often a man blowing giant bubbles out the front). The Banksy museum also has some of its more significant artwork in the garden. Rembrandt Park has giant dog sculptures.
There is also a large grassed area with a fountain and the famous I Amsterdam sign between the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum. This is a great place to let kids run around and let off steam. The garden of the Rijksmuseum has a children’s playground in addition to statues by Henry Moore.
The botanical gardens and the zoo and are also definitely worth a look.
The Westergasfabriek or old gas factory is also a great place for kids. This urban park has a lot to offer families. Kids can enjoy a cool dip in the large (natural) swimming pool in Summer or go ice skating in winter. There is also a petting zoo behind the factory that is open all year round.
The Dutch love of cycling is well known. In Germany, a particular type of bicycle is known as a ‘Holland bike’.
If you and your child enjoy cycling, rent bikes and see the city. This will allow you to see parts of the city that most tourists don’t see as they are further away from the city centre.
Despite the canals, cycling is well organised in Amsterdam. There are bike paths, bike lanes and traffic lights for bikes. There are so many bikes that pedestrians have to be careful not to walk in the bike lanes or risk an accident.
Bike rentals are reasonably cheap, too. Rent a bike and see Amsterdam like a local!
BONUS 7th reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids of all ages:
Kids go free
The 7th and final reason why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids is that entry to a number of sites is free for children.
As you might expect, children under 4 are free on public transport and don’t have to pay to enter most museums either. As they are free, there are no I Amsterdam cards for small kids. This makes the EUR 20.50 entry for the zoo seem rather steep.
While this might be expected this free pass goes further. ‘Children’ under 18 years of age still have free entry to a number of museums, such as the Royal Palace, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Amsterdam Museum. Entry to other museums is free for those 13 years or younger, such as the Oude Kerk.
It seems that these freebies may be limited to state or city-run museums, while private museums have a reduced fee. At the Handbag Museum, for example, children under 6 years of age have free entry, children 7 to 12 years pay EUR 4 for entry and school students (13 to 18 years old) pay EUR 8 for entry. Entry to the Anne Frank House costs EUR 5.50 for visitors aged between 10 and 17 years and only 50 cent for visitors younger than 10!
If your child is nearly 18 or looks older than their age, take their passport of get an ISIC student card before leaving home to take advantage of these discounts.
Don’t forget the free ferries! They are free for all passengers.
That’s why Amsterdam is a great place to visit with kids of all ages
With such a variety, it is so easy to find great things to see and do in Amsterdam. Between the museums, parks and shopping, the bikes and the boats, the variety of food that is loved by kids and the fact that kids have free entry into a number of museums and on public transport: Amsterdam is definitely a great place to visit with kids of all ages.