blog_post_10

Amsterdam with Kids

Despite preconceived notions, Amsterdam is a very family friendly destination. Often referred to as the Venice of the North, Amsterdam fills the senses. From beautiful canals and row houses along brick streets to picturesque house boats lining the canals, the city begs you to wander. Add to that the friendly Dutch people who gladly speak English along with some delicious food and you have found a very special place.

When We Went

Late September

Pros - not too busy, great weather

Cons - could be cool and rainy although it was beautiful during our stay.

How We Got There

We flew into Schipol Amsterdam Airport

Purchased train tickets from the counters (they also have kiosks you can use) and took the Train to Amsterdam Centraal Station. Don't forget to validate your ticket by scanning it before heading down to the platform! If you aren't sure where to do this ask or watch what others do. You can get fined if you don't.

It doesn't take long to experience the charm of Amsterdam. When you exit Central Station you are greeted by the beautiful exterior of the building, brick streets and beautiful row houses.

From here we took a Tram to our rental unit, although throughout our stay we just walked to and from Central Station.

It doesn't take long to experience the charm of Amsterdam. When you exit Central Station you are greeted by the beautiful exterior of the building, brick streets and beautiful row houses.

Flights into Schipol Amsterdam Airport on Delta, exterior of Central Station Amsterdam, a train platform at Central Station Amsterdam

Where We Stayed

Jordaan District - nine streets on the corner of Prinsengracht and Laurierstraat

We highly recommend staying in the Jordaan District if possible. It was close to everything but a little quieter and absolutely lovely.

Just a few of the great things near our apartment in Amsterdam - cheese shop, beautiful canal views, interior of Chocolatl a delicious chocolate shop with friendly staff and yummy samples, play area a few blocks down from our apartment, Westerkerk Church

How Long We Stayed

7 Days - This felt like the perfect amount of time for everything we did. You could easily enjoy Amsterdam in 3 Days but 7 allowed us to visit some parks for the girls and also head out of town to explore the countryside which is equally as beautiful.

What We Did

The first night we went on a hunt for some colorful brick street art we had read about online. Remember travel tip #4 (my personal favorite). I had printed a picture to bring with us so we could ask the locals where it was. Unfortunately, it was no longer there because the buildings surrounding it required some work. They were in the process of this, so we only saw a few very dirty but previously colorful bricks and some of the murals on either side of the alley. But, we found Haesje Claes and our newfound love for stamppot and profiteroles. It was a delicious reward for our efforts!

Stamppot - a traditional Dutch dish, Haesje Claes restaurant, Profiteroles (these were so good), street art in Amsterdam

We enjoyed strolling along the canals and stopping at shops and random play areas along the way.

Anne Frank Museum - Stop at the Information Center in the airport when you arrive and purchase tickets. This will allow you to avoid the lines and go right in during your scheduled time.  We tried to purchase them online before our visit but were unsuccessful, however this worked just as well. The house no longer has furniture so it was harder for our daughters to envision. It was still a great visit, but if you are traveling with kids and only have time for one we all personally enjoyed the Corrie Ten Boom house more.

Stop at the Information Center in the airport when you arrive and purchase tickets. This will allow you to avoid the lines and go right in during your scheduled time.

Anne Frank House and Museum - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Corrie Ten Boom House - We loved this tour and you can easily take the train to Haarlem from Central Station.  It's closed on Sundays, Mondays and national holidays. Check the website for your times in English and Dutch.  Arrive early as the line forms quickly and they are limited to 20 people per tour. The guide let our daughters climb in the hiding place to operate the trap door, and she timed them to see if they could climb the stairs and hide in time. It was an inspiring story amid such devastation. The town of Haarlem was great to walk around in also. Go down just past the Corrie Ten Boom house to the square and grab a snack or lunch. Beautiful churches, shopping, etc.

The guide let our daughters climb in the hiding place to operate the trap door, and she timed them to see if they could climb the stairs and hide in time. It was an inspiring story amid such devastation.

Haarlem, Netherlands and the Corrie Ten Boom House

Zaanse Schans - Take the train to Zaandijk stop (17 min from Centraal Station) to see the windmills and this adorable town. You can purchase a tour to take you but it is pricey for a family and taking the train was so easy and cheap that I don't know why anyone would waste money on the tour. 

Views of the windmills as you cross over the bridge to Zaanse Schans, walking down the street from the train station, cottages, bridges, canals, and sheep in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

It was about a 15 minute walk from the train station to the village. It seemed like the entire city smelled like chocolate from the local factory, mmm! Our girls loved strolling through this little town and seeing the farm animals.

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

We paid to tour De Zoeker, an oil windmill, but didn't take time to go through every windmill because that didn't fit our travel personality. Be sure to buy some pepper at the Windmill De Huisman in the village. It smells amazing when you walk in and they sell the best pepper ever. When we ran out I made a trip back to buy more, or maybe it was just an excuse to visit Amsterdam again.

Be sure to buy some pepper at the Windmill De Huisman in the village.

Zaanse Schans - Netherlands

If you time your visit right you can watch a wooden shoe demonstration at the Clog Workshop. The demonstration was short and interesting which is the best kind with kids. Afterwards you can purchase one of the demonstration clogs for just 2 euros. Don't forget to get the classic photo in the giant wooden shoes and choose your favorite shoe from the clog museum.

If you time your visit right you can watch a wooden shoe demonstration at the Clog Workshop.

The clog workshop - Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Spend the day wandering through the shops and grab lunch on the back patio overlooking the river at Restaurant De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis.  The restaurant is a bit on the pricey side, but I just ordered the cheese plate with a glass of port which I still think about. It was so good. We also stopped in the Bakery Museum de Gecroonde Duyvekater and bought a mini apple pie to share on the bench outside by the ducks. Yum! It was fresh out of the oven and still warm. 

Restaurant De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis with beautiful views - Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Mac Bikes - We rented bikes from the Central Station North location and rode through the countryside to Broek in Waterland. We rented tandem bikes to ride with our daughters. From this rental location we just hopped on the free ferry right outside and followed the numbers on the route map they gave us to find our way. It is about a 10 mile ride from the ferry to Broek in Waterland. You will see such adorable towns and sites along the way that make you feel like you entered the page of a storybook.

From this rental location we just hopped on the free ferry right outside and followed the numbers on the route map they gave us to find our way. It is about a 10 mile ride from the ferry to Broek in Waterland.

Broek in Waterland, Netherlands

When we arrived in Broek and crossed the road via tunnel we found the best sandwiches at Restaurant Pannenkoekenhuis De Witte Swaen. So delicious. If you follow the bike route through Holysloot make sure the little town ferry is running or you will be forced to backtrack or end your trip there.  Hours currently are April 15 - October 1 Saturdays and Sundays only from 9-5 and July and August daily 9-5 but ask when you rent your bikes.   If you accidently do this route on the off day or time and can’t go any further like I did with my sisters on my second trip, count your losses and eat at the little Schoolhouse Restaurant in this town.  Our food was delicious and this town was adorable also.

If you follow the bike route through Holysloot make sure the little town ferry is running or you will be forced to backtrack or end your trip there.

Schoolhouse Restaurant - Holysloot, Netherlands

Jordaan Food and Canals tour from Eating Amsterdam - This tour was the splurge of our trip and most definitely worth every penny. It was so fun to try the local dishes and learn about the area. We loved this tour. Our oldest daughter even tried the herring.  Be sure to reserve this in advance as time slots fill quickly. When I returned to Amsterdam with my sisters the tour was full and we ended up doing a river pizza cruise that was ok but not nearly as classy, delicious, or informational. Be sure to remember cash to tip your walking tour guide and canal guide.

This tour was the splurge of our trip and most definitely worth every penny. Be sure to reserve this in advance as time slots fill quickly.

Jordaan Food and Canals tour from Eating Amsterdam - Herring, Kibbeling, and licorice are just a few of the local foods on this tour. Wondering why there's a picture of a muddy bike? You'll have to ask your guide for the story.

Jordaan Food and Canals tour from Eating Amsterdam - Canal portion of our tour. Don't you just love this boat? Cheese plate, drinks, and bitterballen hand delivered. The canal ride of this tour does briefly enter a portion of the red light district. We didn't see anything and probably wouldn't have known we were there unless they told us. However, if you have kids it helps to be prepared just in case.

The Pancake Bakery - We ate here almost every morning despite the hit to our waistlines and budget. We just couldn't get enough of the Dutch poffertjes, lattes, and pancakes. If you decide you just have to make poffertjes when you return home you can buy a poffertjes pan from Dille & Kamille. I have yet to find a recipe that tastes the same though. When I do I will post it on my blog.

Poffertjes and pancakes at The Pancake Bakery - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Westerpark - We enjoyed our visit to this amazing park in the area directly west of Central Station.  Such a fun park for kids. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many stands or restaurants.  If you have kids visit the city farm & garden in the park, the petting zoo, and Het Woeste Westen play area (our absolute favorite). I don't know why we don't have parks like this in the states. Think Tom Sawyer and be prepared to let them get a little dirty.  An extra set of clothes is recommended here.  I’ve also read they have a market in Westerpark on the first Sunday of the month and Salsa dancing at the Westergasterras in the park on some summer nights.  Also a jazz club, wine bar, great coffee, and free wifi.  What’s not to love?

Vondelpark is more well known, but we actually liked Westerpark better if your time is limited.

VondelPark - This park had some fun little play areas for kids and picnic spots along with a great climbing tree.  Vondelpark is more well known, but we actually liked Westerpark better if your time is limited. Regardless, it is amazing to watch Dutch children play. They are so quiet. We never heard kids running around and screaming like we do in the states. It was so lovely.

Ellis Gourmet Burgers - Sit out by the canal on the Prinsengracht and grab a burger and fries here. I highly recommend the pear tea.

Rijksmuseum and the I Amsterdam sign - Snap the classic photo on the I Amsterdam sign and enjoy the gardens and fountain outside the Rijksmuseum.  The fountain here is a lot of fun because you can enter it without getting wet and be surrounded by water when it spouts. Tour the museum if you have time.  We didn’t because it was so nice outside. We also stopped by the Bloemenmarkt along the way. It is the world's only floating flower market.

Rijksmuseum fountains, I Amsterdam sign, floating flower gardens - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Albert Cuypmarkt - Stroll through one of many street markets and grab a snack and a souvenir

Bicycle Parking Garage - A quick stop here for a photo is worth it. Just head west of Central Station and you will see it across from Ibis Hotel. The sheer amount of bicycles here is hilarious.

Bicycle parking garage - Amsterdam Central Station

What We Loved

Jordaan Food and Canals tour from Eating Amsterdam

Westerpark

Bike ride to Broek in Waterland

Corrie Ten Boom House

Zaanse Schanc

Beautiful streets and canals

The Dutch people were all very friendly, laid back, and polite

What We Disliked

The fairly common smell of pot. Although, it was great for our kids to smell and dislike, haha.

The crazy amounts of traffic. This was kind of amusing but look twice before crossing the road - cars, scooters, bikes. The saying goes if you hear a bell run like hell. The dutch were actually quite patient with us, all things considered.

In De Waag Restaurant and Cafe - I wanted to love this place because it's in such a cool building, but the food was some of the most expensive during our trip and it was very mediocre. If you must go, I recommend just getting a drink or appetizer for the experience.

De Waag Cafe and Restaurant - Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Mazzo - This restaurant came highly recommended from our rental host, but it had the least friendly vibe of any we visited during our stay, and I didn't love anything we ordered here either.

Know Before You Go

We researched the Red Light District areas and avoided these during our stay with Kids. The outskirts of these areas seemed a bit more touristy anyway with junky souvenir shops, etc. Not our favorite part of Amsterdam.

Red light districts highlighted in pink so we could avoid these areas during our stay - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Validate - bus tickets, train tickets, tram tickets - always remember to validate them before or during boarding.

Look out for bikes, I know I already said this but they come out of nowhere.

What We Ate

Poffertjes - our favorite

Stamppot - comfort food - We tried this at Moeders and Haesje Claes and actually liked it best at Haesje Claes. Moeders came highly recommended and is fun because the walls are covered in photos of mothers. We found Haesje Claes on our hunt for the colorful brick street art (which is no longer there), but we were rewarded with an amazing dinner and dessert. Remember Travel Tip #4 - my personal favorite!

Stroopwaffels - these are great with coffee and are fun to bring home to friends and family

Street Fries - served with ketchup and mayo

Kibbeling - This fish was so good. We had this on our food tour and returned another day to have some more but they were closed (insert sad face). Be sure to check the hours before you head to Urker Viswinkel for the kibbeling.

Bitterballen - didn't really like these

Croquettes - didn't care for these either

Gouda cheese from every and any cheese shop, yum!

Herring - I'm not a fan of the texture of raw or smoked fish but it was on our food tour so we all gave it a try. I'm a firm believer in trying the local foods within reason and these were sliced small enough to give it a go.

What We Would Do Next Time

I actually went again for a couple days in October with my mom and sisters. We mostly did the same things because they had never been before, but because the food tour was full we decided to go on one of the free walking tours offered by Free Dam Tours. It was very informational and our guide was hilarious, however this tour did briefly go through the red light district. It was during the day so there wasn't a lot of activity, but I still saw some windows in operation. If you go on the tour don't forget to bring a generous tip for your guide!

We didn't plan it but it just so happened to be the week of the fair in Dam Square. It's amazing how many rides they squeeze into that square. It seemed a bit out of place and detracted from the architectural beauty, but it was pretty cool to ride above the royal palace in Amsterdam with my mom. Remember Travel Tip #3.

Fair in Dam Square - Amsterdam, Netherlands

I would also love to visit the Alkmaar Cheese Market, one of the hidden churches which we learned about on our walking tour, and of course the tulips next time we visit Amsterdam.

Happy and tired - flight home from Amsterdam, Netherlands

Airport Scavenger Hunt Salt Lake City SLC
Airport Scavenger Hunt Salt Lake City SLC
Dec 10, 2017
6 Hours in Denver with Kids
6 Hours in Denver with Kids
Jun 26, 2017
2 Days in Puerto Rico with Kids
2 Days in Puerto Rico with Kids
Jan 09, 2018
Airport Scavenger Hunt Minneapolis MSP
Airport Scavenger Hunt Minneapolis MSP
Dec 11, 2017