Amsterdam with Kids

Is it a Family Friendly City?

  • Jens headshot 2:6:23
  • The Travel Mum

Amsterdam is renowned for its picturesque canals, historic architecture, and lively atmosphere. It is often associated with a dynamic nightlife and an eclectic arts scene. However, if you are considering a trip to Amsterdam with kids you may be wondering is Amsterdam truly family-friendly? Will we enjoy a family trip to Amsterdam?

In this post, we’ll delve into how we found our family trip to Amsterdam travelling with our 4 year old son Leo. The family-friendly attractions on offer and also some practical tips to ensure a memorable and budget friendly experience for everyone.

Getting to Amsterdam

You have two main options when it comes to travelling to the city from the UK.

Flying to Amsterdam

If you are limited on time, flying may be the best option for you and your family. You can often get return flights from many UK airports for under £100pp. Use our Start your Journey feature to find some great value flights and hotels. We hand pick the locations and hotels that are shown so you know it will be well rated and in a great location. Set the specific location to ‘Amsterdam’. When at the date section you can be vague and select the whole month, or set a variety of availability. For example you could select every Friday – Monday in the month and set the duration to 2 or 3 nights to find a weekend trip.

For a short trip you really don’t need to add additional luggage. We often travel with just the free allowance as a family of three. Three rucksacks is a lot of space, especially with Leo’s clothes being so small. You can save a fortune over the year doing this. Have a look at this blog post for some tips on how to do this.

Driving to Amsterdam

We decided to drive to Amsterdam. I was in the first trimester of pregnancy, a pregnancy which has been very much wanted for nearly 4 years. I was scared of flying despite there being very little evidence that flying can cause problems, but I didn’t want to take any risks.

We were lucky enough to get to work with DFDS ferries and took their overnight ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. For full transparency there is also a Hull to Amsterdam ferry with another provider which may be more convenient to where you are. Directferries is a great website for comparing all of your options.

We really enjoyed the ferry experience, Leo especially! Getting to sleep on a boat and explore was a really fun way for us to travel as a family. The ferry has “Pirates cove” which is a kiddy area with a small soft play area, games, kids movies, there was even a colouring competition whilst we were in there. The ferry has an arcade, a cinema, a variety of bars and restaurants. The all you can eat buffet on board is really great, especially with picky eaters. We preferred this to the a la carte restaurant.

The convenience of being able to put tonnes of stuff in the car and not have to worry about luggage limits was great. It also meant we could easily take bigger souvenirs home. If you are visiting Amsterdam with kids, consider which route they will find the most comfortable. Driving and taking the ferry is great but takes a lot longer. Flying can be a faff, but is much quicker!

Things you need to drive to Holland:

  • Valid driving licence
  • V5 document for your car
  • Proof of insurance
  • Warning Triangle
  • All vehicles registered in the UK must be marked with the national identifier ‘UK’ when driving anywhere in the Netherlands. This can be incorporated into your number plate (along with the Union flag) or as a separate sticker.
  • We always get breakdown cover for the country we are driving in. It is never very expensive and means if our car breaks down we can get it back to the UK without spending a fortune.

 

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam can be a pricey destination when you start looking for accommodation. Especially if you are looking within the centre. I highly recommend looking outside of the centre at hotels close to metro stops. Public transport in Amsterdam is excellent and you will get so much more for your money when looking outside of the centre.

We stayed at “Joy Hotel” which is really conveniently located just a 3 minute walk from a metro. They offer breakfast and have triple rooms ideal for a family or group of three. Unfortunately they don’t have any bigger rooms than this, so it wouldn’t be ideal for a bigger family unless the kids were old enough to have their own room.

family-trip-to-amsterdam
Joy Hotel

If you are a family or group of four, a great option is “Best Western Amsterdam.” The hotel has quadruple rooms and will help you arrange bike hire and tickets for attractions. It is close to metro stations that can easily get you to the centre. It is also only an 18 minute walk to Vondelpark, a great place to let the kids run free!

family-trip-to-amsterdam
Best Western Amsterdam

For a family or group of 5, a great option would be the “Apple Inn Hotel” which has a family room that sleeps 5 people. It is in a great location just a 5 minute walk to Vondelpark and a 16 minute walk to the Van Gough museum.

 

Getting around Amsterdam

Visiting Amsterdam with kids is great as there is a lot to see by just mooching about. Once you are in the centre it is a very walkable and cycle friendly city. It is very flat making it perfect for little ones with tired legs, or for parents having to push around a heavy pram! Public transport is excellent and a one day travel card is currently €9 to use all the trams and metros. A two day card is €15 or you can pay €3.40 for a single trip. Children aged 0-3 travel for free. We didn’t get Leo a ticket (he’s 4) and no one seemed to care as we ran him through the barriers with one of us. You can buy the travel cards on arrival at the metro station at one of the ticket machines.

Amsterdam is a very cycle friendly city with elaborate networks of cycle paths and lanes making it a safe and fun way to travel about the city as a family. You can rent bikes for a few hours or for the whole day. Prices start around €10 for the day. You can get bikes with child seats and cargo bikes for bigger kids who might not be confident to cycle themselves. You can make this an activity in itself. Vondelpark is a great place for less confident riders to have some fun on their bike.

family-trip-to-amsterdam
Cycle friendly city

 

Things to do in Amsterdam with kids

You wont be short on things to do in this exciting city.

Take a canal tour

Exploring Amsterdam by canal is a great way to see a lot with kids. Leo can become impatient if he feels we are just doing “boring” activities and sight seeing, so getting on a boat was something we could all appreciate and be excited about. We used a company called “Blue boat” who provide child friendly cruises. Leo was given an activity pack with colouring pencils and some little binoculars, this occupied him for the entire trip. The tour lasted just over an hour. You get ear phones to listen to a guide and they offered this in 21 languages. It was cheaper to book tickets online, but we couldn’t find availability for the tour we wanted. Although it said tickets were unavailable online, we were able to buy tickets very easily at the dock.

kids-in-amsterdam

Visit the NEMO Science museum

This is a really fun place to visit for all ages. Kids get to learn about the basic principles of science in a fun and interactive way. Plan to spend around 2-3 hours exploring the different areas. Kids under 4 get to visit for free. The museum has a really lovely rooftop that you can access for free if you didn’t want to pay for the main admission. There is a restaurant, exhibition and great views across Amsterdam.

amsterdam-with-kids

Family activities at the Rijksmuseum

This is a great museum for both adults and kids. Maybe do this one before the NEMO museum so the kiddies expectations aren’t set too high! They run a variety of family activities like scavenger hunts, art sessions and specific tours for families and those with special needs. Kids aged 18 and under get to enter for free too! The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and covers 800 years of dutch history. Leo enjoyed looking for specific paintings or sculptures in each room as we set him challenges. We find most places can be made fun for kids if you incorporate a game and explain things in a fun way.

amsterdam-with-kids

Let off some steam in Vondelpark

This 120 acre public park is perfect for cycling or just running around for a while and burning off some energy! There is an entrance close to the Rijksmuseum so it is a great thing to do alongside visiting there. The park has an open air theatre with performances in the summer, places to eat and drink plus a variety of playgrounds. There is a really fun cafe by the park called Kinderkookkafé, we didn’t end up having time to visit but it sounds brilliant for younger children. Kids get to prepare their own meals, check out this link to learn a bit more about it.

amsterdam-with-kids

Take a day trip to Efteling theme park

We absolutely loved our time at Efteling. It is the biggest theme park in the Netherlands and has a fantasy, fairy tale based theme. I made a reel about it which you can watch here. There are a variety of rides for all ages including some pretty intense rollercoasters for you thrill seekers. Most of the rides don’t have a height limit so it really is great for all ages. We drove there and it took just over an hour from Amsterdam. Parking was €12.50 and you could pay on arrival. If you don’t have a car you can get a train from Amsterdam central station to Tilburg or Den Bosch, from there you can get a bus straight to the park.

efteling-theme-park

Check out Tony’s Chocolonely super store

Lots of people mentioned we should check this place out, when we saw the queue to get in we were sceptical but decided we had to see what it was all about. Chocolate is big business in Amsterdam, apparently it has the largest harbour for cocoa trading in Europe. The owner realised a lot of big chocolate companies were using slave labour, he tried to take them to court but was unsuccessful. As a result of this he made his own chocolate. Which is 100% ethical labour.

You can learn about the issues within the cocoa industry, try some chocolate and make your own chocolate bar. It’s a nice place to visit but it doesn’t require a huge amount of time. The kids will love it.

amsterdam-with-kids

Conclusion

In conclusion, our family trip to Amsterdam with our energetic 4-year-old son Leo was fantastic. Amsterdam, often celebrated for its vibrant nightlife, proved to be an equally exciting destination for families. Whether you choose to fly or drive to Amsterdam, there are options that suit every family’s needs. Our decision to take the ferry added an element of adventure to our journey, creating lasting memories for Leo.

If you are considering visiting Amsterdam with kids, you should definitely go for it.

Have a look at our Start your Journey feature to find the best value flights and hotel combinations for you.

 

Some links in this blog post are affiliate links. Although we worked with DFDS ferries all advice we give is impartial and we would never suggest something that we wouldn’t use ourselves. 

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