Around this time last year we were coming back from a week long trip to Amsterdam, we had spent a few days in London before taking the train down to the coast and the overnight ferry to the Hoek of Holland, then a high speed train into the city as part of the Rail sail ticket Stena Lines offers. That trip was not our first family break to the Dutch Capital, in fact the year before we flew from our local airport with KLM, a very quick and easy trip from Cardiff, in fact KLM flies from most UK airports making Holland a very accessible destination.
For some people Amsterdam may not be their first choice when thinking of a family friendly European destination but it truly is a wonderful city that you will fall in love with as soon as you arrive. The locals are very friendly and welcoming of families and there is a fantastic array of things to see and do. If you are only going to be in the city for up to 72hrs I would recommend getting the iAmsterdam Card which includes entry into loads of different museums as well as doubling as a transport card which covers trams, buses and metro as well as discounts at restaurants and a free canal cruise. I thought I would share our personal favourites of what to do with kids in Amsterdam
1. Flower Market - you cannot visit Amsterdam without a little walk around the floating flower market. So many stunning tulips in different colours, little trinkets and lots of street food options this is a great place to spend half an hour.
2. Canal Cruise - it's impossible to not be drawn to the picturesque canals that ring around the city and are beaming with life as locals boat up and down the waterways along with a variety of canal companies. Taking a cruise offers you a different perspective as well as getting a chance to see some great landmarks, plus kids love being on the water. You can also hire a paddleboat, something we did and our eldest absolutely loved.
3. Buddhist temple Fo Guang Shan - located in Chinatown, near Amsterdam central station is this stunning temple with it's intricate design and wall tiles. It's free to enter and provides a real haven in what can be at times quite a busy and manic city. We took our sons here on our last trip and my elitist found it fascinating. On the opposite side of the road you will also find Latei, a small cafe and second hand store with retro fittings and the best Apple pie in town.
4. Vondelpark - the largest city park in Amsterdam is a great place to explore, picnic or hire a bike and cycle through. In the summer there are free concerts although do expect crowds on a sunny day as this park is loved by not only tourists but also the locals. There is also a great kids play park and you could easily spend all day walking around this lovely open green space.
5. Artis Royal Zoo - We are always in two minds about Zoo's as animal care is very important to us but this is a lovely small zoo with over 200 tree varieties making it a lovely green place to sit down and have a picnic and enjoy the surroundings. There is also an Aquarium and Planetarium and you can hire little buggies for kids. The large dinosaur sculptures where also a big hit with my eldest as well as the water feature which kids can run and splash through just next to the entrance of the Zoo.
6. Nemo - if your kids like Science or getting hands on with different experiments then this is the place for you. From the fun and simple to the more in-depth this place has something for everyone, even a teenager section. There are huge bubbles, puzzles and a popular water feature which breakdown's down the weather cycle. The Nemo building is fascinating in itself and you can visit the outdoor cafe on the roof which offers some amazing views across the docks.
7. Climb the iAmsterdam sign - located at Museumplein this red slogan has become something of a city icon and is a favourite among kids who will have a lot of fun climbing the letters. There is also a water feature right next to the sign which doubles up as a sort of splash pad on hot summer days. The Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum are also just a short walk from here.
8. Amsterdam Public Library - now you may not think a Library is a very exciting place to go but believe me this is a real hidden gem, not only does it have a roof terrace and being one of the taller buildings in the city this offers a fantastic view, it also houses an amazing kids library on the ground floor with toys, a teepee and den, there is a eatery on the top floor which also serves wine and occasionally has performances such as professional pianist providing added ambience, this place is great for both kids and adults on a relaxed afternoon in Amsterdam.
|Sitting on the roof terrace of Amsterdam Library|
Before however you can start planning what you are going to get up to in the Dutch capital the one thing you need to get sorted out first is accommodation. The city itself actually has a bit of a shortage when it comes to hotels and the amount of visitors is receives each year so I would recommend booking in advance especially as location is key when it comes to travelling as a family. The Hilton group have five hotels in different areas of the city, three of which are within the main canal rings and provide high quality accommodation in different price ranges. For families I would recommend either the centrally located Double Tree by Hilton which has a relaxed atmosphere, kids area with toys and family menus, the other option would be Hilton Amsterdam located uptown with family packages, bike hire and a playground.
If you still need a little bit more convincing or inspiration check out this video below
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