Dutch Delights: Exploring Amsterdam with the Family - Al Fresco Holidays
The city of Amsterdam means many things to many different people. To some, it’s a city of canals and meandering cycle paths, of relaxing boat trips past steep roofed houses and of enjoying the urban atmosphere. Others flock to the city to benefit from its permissive personality, with thousands visiting the red light district per day, and still more enjoying the relaxed attitude to smoking cannabis.
There’s no denying that attempting to assign an over-riding ‘persona’ to the city is near to impossible. It’s precisely this eclectic, diverse ambience that makes Amsterdam so enjoyable to visit; it’s where tradition sits comfortably alongside progress, and rich history nestles comfortably with a strong forward-thinking attitude.
So despite the city’s reputation for offering adult pursuits, don’t be fooled. The city is wonderful for families to visit too, with a multitude of child-friendly museums, galleries, zoos and outdoor activities.
Here are just a few of the best activities to enjoy whilst exploring the city with the kids.
A Guide to the Best Family Activities in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is excellently well suited to families on holiday, regardless of whether your kids are toddlers or teens. There are also a large number of family-friendly restaurants in the city that actively welcome children, even babies. Here are just a few of the best activities to experience when you’re staying in the city with your family.
See the animals at Artis Royal Zoo
The Artis Royal Zoo is a substantial attraction, located right in the heart of the city. Open every day, it has an impressive range of exotic animals, including giraffes and zebras; and kids will enjoy the Bird House, which visitors can walk through and view a wide variety of brightly coloured birds. The zoo also has an aquarium and, rather unusually, a planetarium, where guests can indulge in a bit of star-gazing and take a temporary break from the animals.
Cruise on the Canal
Amsterdam is famous for its network of canals, and there are plenty of boat services offering tours along the waterways through the centre of the city itself. If you’re worried that the children won’t sit still for that long, then there are also convenient ‘hop on/hop off’ options, allowing you to break the trip into manageable chunks whilst also doing some sightseeing in the city. Alternatively, there is also the option to hire your own boat for the afternoon.
Take to the tracks at Bleekemolens Race Planet
If your daredevil children often profess a ‘need for speed’, then head to Bleekemolens Race Planet. It’s a substantial indoor development with two race tracks, and children of all ages can have a go at racing, from 2 years old, right up to 16. Adults, of course, are also allowed to show their skills on the tracks! The site also has a mini golf course, a soft play area and a bowling alley.
Hands-on fun at the Amsterdam Museum
Forget dry, tedious museums, filled with wordy exhibits and not much else. Amsterdam Museum caters excellently for its younger audience, with lively, interactive displays and plenty of hands-on activities for kids to enjoy. The museum details the history of the city, but does so in a really fun, engaging way; making it educational and enjoyable at the same time.
Smell the flowers at the Botanical Garden
If your children need the opportunity to run around and stretch their legs in the open air, then spending an afternoon in the Botanical Garden is the perfect location to let them run off some serious steam. In addition to the picturesque gardens, there’s also a great café to stop and have a drink, and a Butterfly House, which the children can wander through and try to spot the hundreds of colourful butterflies that live within it.
Step back in time in Anne Frank’s House
Anne Frank’s wartime diary continues to captivate children to this day, and visiting the house where she and her family were concealed during the war really brings her story to life. Children will be amazed at the small quarters where Anne Frank remained hidden for over two years and gain a far better appreciation of what life must have been like for a Jewish citizen during World War Two.
Continuing the Family Fun When you Get Back to your Accommodation
Quite often, finding family-friendly accommodation within a city can be somewhat challenging. Although many establishments are happy for kids to stay, they’re unlikely to have any facilities to keep your children amused when you return from a day of exploration.
The Duinrell Campsite is only a few miles outside of the city, and is perfect for the kids, with a pool that was voted as one of the best in the world. It also offers roller coasters, magic shows and rides, suitable for all ages, and is well situated for easy access to the local beach.