Although Amsterdam is more commonly known as a ‘party city’, a surprising amount of its attractions are actually child-friendly. If you are planning on travelling with either toddlers or teenagers but are hesitant to book an apartment in the city, take a look at our list of child-friendly attractions below and discover exactly what Amsterdam can offer your family.
Visit the animals at Artis Zoo
The oldest zoo in The Netherlands, Artis Zoo is a guaranteed fun day out for both young and old alike. Upon entering the zoo through wrought iron gates, children will have the opportunity to learn about 900 species of animal, as well as visit a fantastic aquarium sure to entertain them for hours on end. The inclusion of winding gardens and 19th century architecture is also considered an attraction for visitors. Various programs are ran during the summer evenings, allowing children to revisit Artis Zoo numerous times without ever becoming bored.
Fuel the minds of little geniuses at child-friendly museums
Amsterdam is a city filled with child-friendly museums. One museum which is a must for the little ones is the Tropenmuseum Junior. Tropenmuseum Junior is filled with interactive exhibitions and multidisciplinary programs for children aged 6 to 13, as well as exhibitions focusing on contemporary cultures. In addition, the museum has also developed a range of products: books, websites, educational school materials, workshops, serious games, exchange programs and theater productions. The Rijksmuseum does not immediately come to mind as a child-friendly museum. However, the museum has a lot to entertain our younger friends with from special tours, to varying programs and fun-filled scavenger hunts. It is also worthwhile to keep on eye on the program for the seasonal art workshops it holds. Another tip is Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Visitors can get a combined ticket along with the Rijksmuseum. However, special rates do occur, with children up to 4 years of age allowed to enter for free.
Get your game on at the TonTon Club
Top Amsterdam blogger Shoshannah Hausmann of Awesome Amsterdam has provided us with a tip sure to appeal to the technological savvy youth of today – the TonTon Club. There are video and arcade games galore in this hip establishment started by a group of game lover friends. Adults can enjoy a blast from the past and even join in the fun by playing Mortal Kombat II and a selection of other classic games. Various pinball machines and an air hockey table are also provided. Provisions are also made for those looking to have some simple, ‘old school’ fun by the inclusion of board games and decks of cards. The TonTon Club is also rated by many as serving the best hot dog in Amsterdam.
Visit the largest science centre in The Netherlands
Nemo is the largest science centre in The Netherlands, and is sure to be a hit with young, inquisitive minds (the recommended age is 6+). Children with all manners of interest will most certainly learn something from the several exhibitions and demonstrations Nemo hosts, as well as enjoy themselves at the theater performances, films and workshops. No doubt adults visiting the center will also have a great experience – it is hard not to have fun when playing around with giant soap bubbles. In addition, Nemo boasts a rooftop deck offering a great view of the medieval city center.
Climb on board an 18th-century cargo ship
Placed next to Nemo is The Amsterdam (VOC ship), a replica of the 18th-century cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company built using tools from the period. Open to visitors as a museum, it documents Amsterdam’s history at sea. Children will also enjoy a visit to the The National Maritime Museum which is also situated next to the ship. Imaginations will run wild with stories of pirates, sea creatures and buried treasure as children investigate one of the world’s biggest collections of nautical art and artifacts, including globes, paintings and ship models.
Explore the green side of Amsterdam
Amsterdam can certainly be described as ‘in touch with nature’ due to its many green areas ideal for children wishing to play in the sun. Not only is Vondelpark a pleasant space to enjoy a leisurely stroll, it also offers its younger visitors a play area, sandpits and a paddling pool. Children and adults can refuel in the De Vondeltuin Cafe before heading off to find a team of waddling ducks. Animal lovers can also have a wonderful time at Amsterdamse Park Bos where there is a goat farm. The site also has a playground and some lakes. Children will also love spending some hours exploring Rembrandtpark, where there are ponds, playgrounds and walking and biking paths. Again, animal lovers will feel right at home at De Uylenburg, the oldest petting zoo in Amsterdam. Children can also enjoy the great outdoors at the Fun Forest climbing park.
Prominent Amsterdam Blogger Nicola Chadwick of ilovenoord.com highly recommends spending a day in Noorderparkkamer, an off the beaten track tip in North Amsterdam. Nicola says that the park is the “perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with the kids” and easy to reach by taking the free ferry and cycling along the canal for just 7 minutes. As well as various activities and a nearby nature playground, Noorderparkkamer also has a wooden cottage that is a stage for Noord’s professional artists.
Tasty treats for hungry children
In addition to fascinating museums, petting zoos and a heap of child-friendly activities, Amsterdam also offers a number of restaurants and food stores that the little ones will immediately love. There are a wide range of pancake houses scattered across the city to choose from. With 200 seats and a pickup and drop-off zone zone for cars, there is no excuse not to visit the centrally located De Pannekoekkelder. As well as a selection of delicious pancakes, they also offer coffee and cake, sandwiches, buffets, hot meals and packed lunches for those wishing to spend the day outdoors. Also serving lunch and dinner, The Pancake Bakery is located on the Prinsengracht and has a terrace where diners can sit and enjoy a view of the water. Crêperie Le Berger is also recommend for their mouthwatering crepes and coffee to go. No doubt children will also love Oud-Hollandsche Snoepwinkeltje, an old-fashioned candy store selling sweet and salty drop(licorice), cinnamon sticks and other Dutch favorites. Sugar-free candy suitable for diabetics is also available, and the friendly owner, Mariska, is also happy to order in any candy which she currently doesn’t stock.
Children also love ice cream and this sweet treat is sure to to cool them down during hot summer days in Amsterdam. Shoshannah of Awesome Amsterdam agrees and even makes the search easier by providing a list of 11 of the ice cream shops in the city.
Have you and your family ever visited Amsterdam? What did your children enjoy the most about the city? If you plan on visiting for the first time, take a look at our guide to the different districts in Amsterdam.
(Header: Rijksmuseum. Photo by Dennis Jarvis via FlickrCC.)