After a wonderful 10 days spent in London, we were excited to head off to the next destination of our family vacation, Amsterdam, Netherlands. This was our first travel experience within Europe and boarding a plane in London to head from the safety of a country where everyone spoke English to head to a place where none of us had ever been, and English was not a first language, was exciting and a bit nerve racking…we were so excited to head out and see all the things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands! After a short flight on British airways out of Gatwick, we arrived in Amsterdam and headed to our canal house. Our first adventure was communicating with our Uber driver. He spoke broken English, with a VERY heavy accent. It was hilarious to listen to John and him try to communicate. He was a friendly man with a wealth of knowledge about what to do in Amsterdam, and we had an enjoyable ride to our AirBnb house.
While Amsterdam may be known for more “adult” activities, there are lots of things to do in Amsterdam that are great family vacation ideas and kid friendly activities too. We spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Amsterdam and I can’t wait to go back. Here are the highlights of our family vacation to Amsterdam:
On our first day we wandered through the streets of Amsterdam and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, colorful bikes that lined the streets, and the bustling activity of this charming European city. We knew that one of the “must” things to do in Amsterdam, was to take a canal tour. Because we were visiting Amsterdam before the height of tourist season, we didn’t purchase tickets in advance of our visit because we weren’t certain when exactly we would want to take a tour, and we weren’t concerned about them selling out. Our first full day in town was a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to take advantage of the great weather and stopped at one of the MANY docks lined with tour boats and ended up on an open boat tour. Ours was a small, open, wooden boat with just a few other tourists on board. This made for a fun and more personalized tour due to the small numbers. It is my understanding that many of these canal tours can be on much larger, enclosed boats, with headsets for audio, which would make them much less charming. In my opinion, it was well worth the few extra euro that it ended up costing us for this more personalized tour. The smaller boats are also able to navigate the narrower waterways, which allows for a more in-depth tour.
Research what tour might be best for you group on sites like TripAdvisor before you travel, and make sure you find something to your liking. I would imagine that during the height of tourist season these tours would sell out in advance, so be aware of that as well when deciding whether or not to make reservations in advance.
Just around the corner from our Canal House was, Prinsengracht 263, better known as the Anne Frank House. It was there that a young Jewish girl, Anne Frank, lived in hiding with her family for more than 2 years during World War II. While this is not necessarily something that very young children would enjoy, it was a must on our list with our 8 and 13 year old. I had my 13 year old read The Diary of Anne Frank prior to our trip, and while he wasn’t super thrilled to read it at the time, he appreciated being there, and touring the house so much more having a more personal connection to the story. The tour is a sobering lesson/reminder of the horrific events of WWII and was such a moving experience. I highly recommend it with children that are old enough to even learn bits and pieces of history. Our 8 year old, though not very aware of what transpired at the time, is now studying US History and has taken a particular interest in WWII history, simply because we visited so many important sites on this trip that she now feels a connection to. The lines for this tour can be LONG!! Definitely have your tickets purchased in advance for this tour, and plan on waiting in line for about an hour before you are able to enter.
You can read more about our day trip to Haarlem here. It is definitely another family friendly thing to do in Amsterdam, and I would highly recommend it.
Because our tip to Amsterdam was such a quick one, we didn’t see all of the kid friendly things that there are to do. When we return, here are a few other things that will be on my list that you might like to check out too:
Pannenkoekenboot Definitely a tourist trap, but sure to be the highlight for any kid. This boat floats around Amsterdam while you stuff yourself on all you can eat dutch pancakes…and then you get to play in the ball pit in the hull of the boat. Need I say more? Tickets are a bit on the pricey side, but can you put a price on this kind of fun? 😉
NEMO – This interactive science museum is the largest of it’s kind in the Netherlands. From all of my research, it seems to delight people of all ages and have an extensive amount of hands-on activities. You can easily spend several hours here, and if you find yourself in town on a rainy day, this would be the perfect family activity in Amsterdam!
If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, I hope this list of family friendly vacation ideas helps you plan! There are so many things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands, you are sure to have a wonderful time.