We have travelled to Amsterdam a couple of times with children and this itinerary has proven to be a great way to see some of the best of what the city has to offer. So, here are 12 top things to do in Amsterdam with Kids!
Getting There – Park and Ride
The best way to get into the city is on the incredibly efficient and easy to use P+R service. Through the P+R Amsterdam website you can find out which park and ride car parks are full and which have spaces on your day of travel.
The website tells you step by step how to use P+R Amsterdam. It states how much you need to pay and where to purchase your GVB cards from – each person travelling needs one of these to access public transport into the city.
Depending on what time you enter the car park, you can even get your parking for only €1 for the whole day!
If you are travelling by car I would highly recommend using P+R Amsterdam.
Central Station to Dam Square
Odds are that you’ll arrive in Amsterdam via the Central Station. One of the first things to do is to get swept up in the throngs of tourists hitting the pavement and walk down Damrak Street towards Dam Square.
On the way down take your time to enjoy all the souvenir shops that line the streets and maybe purchase your very own set of clogs to adorn your fridge when you get home. Obviously this is something we all did! And enjoy wandering around the innumerable cheese shops, which, trust me, you will never tire of!
Then if your hungry, at 10 o’clock in the morning, and looking for a light snack (probably not so light really), you can enjoy some chips from one of the various chips shops claiming to be the number 1 best fries in Amsterdam! We stopped off at a place called Mannekenpis and shared one portion between eight of us – maybe this does qualify as light after all – and I have to admit, they were pretty darn good!
Then once you have had your fill of tulips, magnets and giant clogs you will suddenly find yourself at Dam Square. A picture outside the impressive Royal Palace will be unavoidable. The building was built as a city hall in the 17th century and then became the Royal Palace of King Louis Napoleon (Napoleon of France’s younger brother).
If you are planning to stay more than just a day, check out this post on the best places to stay in Amsterdam!
Anne Frank’s House
From Dam Square walk past the Royal Palace and follow the canals and streets out of the city centre to Ann Frank’s House.
Tickets to enter the Ann Frank House are all purchased online and the majority of tickets are released two months in advance. If this is something you want to do as part of your trip make sure you get organised.
If you don’t go in it’s still worth a little look. You can see the house and have your picture taken at the door – just like we did! An added extra for us was that my sister had just finished reading Ann Frank’s Diary, so she told us some facts about the house and Ann’s life whilst she lived there. Obviously, the stories were incredibly sad and standing at the house made them all the more heavy. It was a somber experience but a nice way to introduce Ann’s story to my little girl along with a little bit of history, regardless of how grim it is.
PANCAKES Amsterdam Westermarkt
Since you’re in this neck of the woods, Pancakes Amsterdam Westermarkt is a great place to stop for lunch or elevenses!
The restaurant inside and out has a very contemporary feel. Outside, the white picnic tables and blue umbrellas are paired with exposed brick walls on one side and full glass windows belonging to the restaurant on the other. The restaurant is also decorated with giant vases imitating the famous dutch delftware. It feels clean and sleek. On a first impression I thought that it might be a bit too nice to take the kids into and I worried that it looked a little bit too pricey for us.
However, it’s neither of those things. The staff were incredibly friendly and plied the kids with colouring sheets, crayons and activities to keep them entertained and the prices are reasonable.
There are lots of different types of yummy pancakes on the menu and, best of all, once you have paid you walk away with a clog on a keyring! Now in my book, that is much better than an after dinner mint!
Walk the 9 Streets
From Pancakes Amsterdam head south and amble the 9 Streets. Enjoy the canals, the boats, the shops and the streets. Take a million photos of the water, bikes and houses and then just take a moment to enjoy being in one of the calmest and prettiest cities in the world.
Taking your kids to Amsterdam Flower Market might not sound like a very good idea, but trust me – your kids will love it!
There are of course tulips in their thousands, which are incredibly beautiful in the most amazing vivid colours – but there is also so much more!
Henri Willig Cheese Shop
In between wandering around the different stalls in the market, take some time out to visit the Henri Willig Cheese Shop. Here you can sample goats cheese, sheeps cheese and about 100 different varieties of cows cheese. The ladies in the shop can tell you how it is made and will help you pick out the flavours they think you will like the best. Everything is available to try. It is a cheese lovers dream! There is also a small museum upstairs that is definitely worth a little look and great for the kids as you’ll only be there for about 5/10 minutes.
Don’t miss the opportunity to buy freshly made stroopwafle, either plain or with a topping. You can treat it like a dutch version of a coffee and a cake or get one to take away and munch on it while you walk the rest of the flower market.
Peppernuts – Netherlands Number 1 Chocolate Cookie!
Also, don’t walk past the Peppernuts shop! The shop itself is small and unassuming from the outside. However, dont let this fool you. Once you step inside it’s like walking into one of the shops from Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley!
Peppernuts are dubbed as Holland’s number 1 cookie and the Dutch eat 7 billion of them each and every year! Peppernuts are small round biscuits with a slight cinnamon taste covered in various different flavours of chocolate.
The shelves are full of every colour, taste and texture you can think of and again, you can taste any of them! My personal favourite was the white chocolate, but the gin and tonic, lavender and cappacino flavours were all lovely too. You can even get stroopwafle flavoured Peppernuts!
They make a great present to take back home or just something to indulge in on the day!
From the Flower Market follow the canals around to the Flea Market and City Hall and enjoy the view as you go!
The Flea Market wraps itself around city hall and it’s a nice place to amble and browse the stalls and arty bits. A flea market isn’t everyones cup of tea, and we didn’t actually buy anything, but we all really enjoyed the atmosphere and the walk!
Once you’ve walked out of the flea market and headed north you’ll find yourself walking past Rembrandt Corner. This is a lovely place to have a quick beverage and a little sit down before you head off again. You can sit inside and out and the staff were very accommodating of our very curious and explorative children!
Rembrandt Corner also offers some fantastic views of Oudeschans Canal, which are very easy on the eye.
Check out this guide to the best coffee in Amsterdam!
The Nieumarkt is like a farmers market. We found it wasn’t as big as the Flea Market – although we got there just as it was starting to finish up. Here you can find fresh fruit smoothie stalls, jewellery stalls, cheese stalls and bread and cake stalls.
It also happens to be next to The Waag. The Waag is a lovely looking 15th century building that was originally built as a city gate. It was also a part of the walls of Amsterdam. The Waag now houses a coffee shop and is the oldest secular building in Amsterdam!
Red Light District
Arguably, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a trip to the Red Light District.
Visiting this part of the city with children might be a point of contention for some parents and I can fully understand why. I don’t agree or disagree with what happens in the Red Light District. I think it is a choice people make, which is absolutely fine by me.
We did decide to take our children into the Red Light District for a little walk around. We didn’t wrestle or juggle with the moral implications of this decision very much if i’m honest, but this might be because we had been before.
It doesn’t look seedy or illicit in the middle of the afternoon. If we were there with the kids at 10 o’clock at night, I most likely would have made a different decision. In the day you will probably see some ladies in their rentable windows, but, if like us, you have very small children, they wont even notice them and it will all fly past their heads. Nothing is brazenly shoved in your face at this time of the day and you will only see tidbits if you are looking.
Sex wasn’t really something we discussed at home when we were kids. When it came up there was always this deep sense of uncomfortableness that still exists to this day. I don’t want my children to feel like that with me. I want to be very open with them about everything and I want them to communicate with me. If we go back in 5 years time and it sparks a discussion in my future 9 year old daughter, we will have an open and honest talk about it.
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