Why Amsterdam Is One of the Best Kid-Friendly Destinations in Europe

(Yes, you read that correctly)

Despite Amsterdam’s raunchy reputation, the Telegraph declares it as one of Europe’s premier kid-friendly destinations. If you plan to tour the Dutch cultural capital, consider adding some attractions suitable for the whole family by following this sightseeing itinerary.

World-Class Museums and Educational Institutions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARijksmuseum Amsterdam by: jill.s (CC)

As one of the premier tourist destinations in Europe, Amsterdam overflows with top-of-the-line institutions and museums. Anne Frank House is a somber yet interesting visit that also provides a teachable moment for children regarding the dark days of World War II. On a lighter note, Van Gogh Museum bursts with colorful paintings from the Dutch artist, while Rijksmuseum holds a national repository of thousands of artifacts from around the world. In between, stop for a picnic or runaround in nearby Museumplein. If your kids are wowed by ships and sails, head to National Maritime Museum, where they can see a full-size replica of an 18th-century vessel. Exotic critters abound at Artis Zoo, while Science Center NEMO–the largest of its kind in the Netherlands–packs in plenty of interactive displays and exhibits, along with tons of workshops and demonstrations for hands-on fun.

Historical Delights of the Old Town

Amsterdam_CanalAmsterdam Canal by: Steve Collis (CC)

Whether history buffs or not, kids can certainly appreciate the many luxurious buildings that line the city streets. Amsterdam’s Centraal Station gives a great first impression with its facade, while a stroll down Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, or Herengracht lets you take in the atmosphere at your own pace while watching the frequent boat traffic float past. In terms of grandeur, Dam Square has few rivals thanks to its glorious Royal Palace, plus an array of street performers that dot the area. For a peaceful alternative, try an afternoon wandering through the Jordaan, a quarter featuring winding medieval streets and beautiful churches. To get out on the water yourself and give the kids a new perspective on the town, hop aboard one of Amsterdam’s many canal tour boats and cruise the city in style. Of course, navigating the city on dry land is easy thanks to the country’s renowned cycling infrastructure–so grab a set of wheels from a rental operator for easy transportation (and instruct your children to follow traffic signs carefully!).

Outdoor Shenanigans

Windmills_in_Zaanse_SchansWindmills in Zaanse Schans, The Netherlands by: Zhixing.You (CC)

If you’re in for a day trip, one good family vacation idea is NeighbourFood Market, a conglomeration of farmers, butchers, chefs, and just about all things culinary, all in one spot. Whether it be sampling cheese or having the kids try some famous Dutch “stroopwaffels,” this market on the third Sunday of each month presents a solid option for family-friendly fun. Alternatively, try out Albert Cuyp Market or Nieuwmarkt, similar street markets packed with vendors and delicious homemade eats, or the raucous flea market at Waterlooplein. Away from the bustle of the markets, a wander through Vondelpark can help stretch the kids’ legs nicely. Similarly, Amstelpark offers a green oasis of windmills, forests, and gentle streams, complete with an entertaining petting zoo. Making your way a little farther out of town takes you to Zaanse Schans, a recreated Dutch village full of farm animals, tasty cheese, and clog-wearing reenactors. If all else fails, head for the many playgrounds around the city and let the kids run wild.

Additional Sources on Visiting Amsterdam With Kids

Amsterdam_-_Vondelpark_-_1496Vondelpark by: Felipek (CC)

The Internet boasts plenty of sites and pages dedicated to highlighting Amsterdam as the hub of family fun that it is. Check out suggested lists of attractions on Scary Mommy or Travel With Bender for a few ideas. Alternatively, stop by the guest blog at My Little Nomads, a piece written by Esther van de Paal, who also runs her own site on kid-friendly things to do.

All-Ages Amsterdam

VOC AmsterdamVOC Amsterdam by: Robert Orr (CC)

Amsterdam is chock-full of family-oriented things to do, from admiring some of the finest museums and historical sites in Europe to simply enjoying the city’s gorgeous parks. If you want to pay a visit to this kid-friendly destination, try planning your trip with Inspirock to make the most of your Dutch vacation.

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