So you fancy a city break. With the kids? Will this be your first trip since having kids? You’re maybe even thinking of going abroad?
Amsterdam is a perfect place! Easy to reach- by boat, plane, train or car. Amsterdam is a colourful and fun city with almost as many bikes as people living there, ten times as many tourists sleeping in the city each year as residents.
It has 21 markets, but only one flower market and 165 canals with 1281 bridges.
Spending just 2 days in a city like Amsterdam with young kids (2 year old, 6 year old and 7 year old, in my case) may seem madness, but you’ll love it! You won’t see even a fraction of the sights. You will, however, soak in the atmosphere and have lots of fun. Guaranteed!
Here’s how to make the most of your short trip
7 top tips for Amsterdam with kids
Where do you start in Amsterdam?
At the Centraal Station, the central railway station, of course. 😉
1. Take the #1 canal cruise
Slipping through the canals is fascinating for kids (and adults). They spot the ducks, you spot the beautiful buildings & some of those 1281 bridges. The water is such an intricate part of this city’s past, present and future that travelling along it has to be experienced!
2. Take the #2 tram
Named the one of the world’s most beautiful tram lines by the National Geographic* this tram passes by a lot of the great sites of Amsterdam. It’s a budget-friendly way to see highlights of this colourful city. My kids loved it: their feet got to rest, but they could gaze outside the window spotting things different from home.
3. Walk at the kids’ pace
Weave your way through the streets of central Amsterdam ducking the cyclist, sampling Dutch fast foods like croquette, frikandellen (a sort of sausage, which is great with mayo and raw onions) and frites met satay sauce (chips with peanut sauce).
Pass through the world-famous Flower Market and take in the colours.
Image credit: http://esferasinvisibles.deviantart.com/
4. Run around in Vondel Park
This beautiful park, named after the famous Dutch poet Vondel, is a great place for kids to run around while you enjoy watching Amsterdammers and other tourists enjoying the fresh air, wandering, exercising and watching the local wildlife.
It is probably the closest you’ll find yourself to a heron (the bird) ever.
5. Soak in culture and history
…but forget the most famous museums like Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or even Anna Frank’s house (with young children at least) head over to the water’s edge to the Maritime museum, Het Scheepvaartmuseum. This museum is guaranteed to keep young and old entertained and learning.
6. Eat pancakes and waffles
What better way to refuel than to sit on a terrace people watching and enjoy some truly delicious treats?! The Dutch crepes come with sweet or savoury toppings, so perfect even as lunch. Waffles are sweet and go very well with some great Dutch coffee.
(Image credit- Chen Huang Jin Rong ... as we scoffed ours before I had a chance to snap a picture)
And finally, DON’T cycle!
I’ll be controversial and say: Don’t hire a bike unless you are a fit and confident cyclist, who cycles regularly… and knows the road code.
Cycling in Amsterdam is fast and furious. The locals use bikes to get from place to place quickly. Tourists tend to go at sightseeing pace, stopping often, going on the pavement, the wrong way on streets, getting lost, holding up traffic. With kids this will be even more of a challenge.
Look, learn, discover!
To keep kids distracted and tired little legs going, try having a scavenger hunt.
Download a PDF of the Scavenger hunt
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Are you ready to see Amsterdam at kid’s pace?
For further inspiration here’s our 3, 2, 1 … go! Amsterdam adventure
Read more about the 3, 2, 1… go! concept.