Revisiting Amsterdam (A’dam to the locals) with my children was a bit different from previous visits in my late teens and early twenties.
This crazy liberal, bike and cheese loving mecca should be on everyone’s bucket list of travels. Even with its often bleak and gray weather, the Dutch Capital never disappoints and holds something for everyone.
So, wondering what to do with kids in Amsterdam? Pretty much anything you would do without kids in Amsterdam. With the exception of coffee shops and erotica shops in the Rosse buurt, or as we know it… the infamous Red Light District – Amsterdam is relatively kid friendly.
What to See and Do
Canal Burger Cruise
You must see Amsterdam by water. This 90 minute tour (or any other tour) through the historic canals is essential to your itinerary . Your perspective of any city changes when viewed from the water. Amsterdam is a city built on a network of 165 canals – her true charm can only be discovered by boat.
The burgers were decent enough and served with unlimited beverages….Heineken Beer (of course), wine, water, juice, soft drinks, etc…
Van Gogh Museum
I recommend this little Museum over the much larger (massive) Rijks Museum, especially with kids. My guys are 12, 11 and 9. They know some of Van Gogh’s work so the museum was relatable to them and small enough to bomb through.
- Almond Blossoms
- Wheatfield with Crows
Starry Nights is not there. It resides at the MoMA in New York City.
This is exactly what you think it is. An interactive tour through the legendary Heineken Brewery with a tasting at the end. I’ve done loads of wine tours, this was my first beer tour. For beer lovers it’s a must. This gal will stick to wine tours. As for the kids, not gonna lie…BORED. So bored. Definitely the low light for them.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House cannot be missed. This one had an impact on everyone. The kids know her story and were intrigued throughout the tour. I left with a heavy heart reminded how close this brave little girl came to surviving the war. There are many quotes by Anne posted through the home. This is my favorite……
I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear; my courage is reborn. But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist, or a writer?
— Anne Frank
To that I say: “Yes, darling clever girl! You wrote one of the most important memoirs of the 20th century.”
One nice thing about returning to Amsterdam as an “adult” is that I could afford to do a little shopping and the Nine Streets do not disappoint. As the name indicates, these 9 Streets are lined with unique boutiques and cafes….yes, cafes, not coffee shops! Big difference. Located right behind Dam Square, definitely worth the look . You might have to ply your children with hot cocoa to keep them engaged.
Getting Around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a fabulous walking city. Obviously, it’s also a biking city. I do not recommend renting bikes for families with kids. The bikers don’t play in Amsterdam and are likely to run you down well before a car. Remember to look all ways when crossing and to mind the bike lane. Trams are also plentiful and a good way to step out of the rain.
Points of Interest
In the center of Amsterdam, close to the Central Station, you will find Dam Square. The Royal Palace takes up one side. Fun Fact: The Dutch Royals actually live there (part of the time).
The centre of Amsterdam night life unless The Red Light District is more your scene. This is a bustling square with cafes, theaters and street performers. My guys love buskers and are always up for stopping to watch for a bit.
The Flower Market/Bloemenmarkt
A floating flower market on the Singel Canals. Here you can buy tulip bulbs and any other kitsch Dutch memorabilia you may desire.
The Red Light District
Yes, Mom of the Year, took the boys through the Red Light District. Not the whole thing. Just one bit of it, and in the early part of the evening. Very early.
The Wallen, or Russe buurt (Red Light), is the oldest part of the city and offers much more than brothels, peep shows, and sex shops. It has some beautiful canals, restaurants and historic leaning gabled houses. It is probably one of the most interesting “neighbourhoods” in the world.
It is not just all cheese shops. Although the cheese shops are plentiful and the cheese is so good. The Dutch have some other interesting and notable food. Some of which requires some acquiring.
- Stroopwafels – Chewy, syrupy, waffle goodness.
- Bitterballen – Deep-fried meatballs, bit like croquettes.
- Oliebollen – Deep-fried sweet dumplings in oil.
- Raw Herring – Eaten whole (plain) or with cut up onion.
- Salty Fries with Mayo – My fave. Once you try fries with mayo, you’ll never go back to ketchup. Fries are available everywhere….kids were thrilled.
- Black licorice – Known as drops to the Dutch. These are foul. Even more foul is the dubbel zout (double salt) version. My half Dutch husband loves them. Like I said, some tastes are acquired.
- Stay near the centre. As mentioned Amsterdam is an easy walking city within the centre you will never run out of interesting things to see.
- Buy your tickets to attractions on line. ALWAYS, do this. You should never have to wait inline with a little advance planning. The Anne Frank House and The Heineken Museum are especially busy. Pre-book.
- Also, there are many large and beautiful city parks. We didn’t have time to see any this time around. But, they often have nice attractions for kids.
Checkout our trip vid: A’dam with the Fam on Youtube: