Over 17 years ago Alan and I fell in love with Amsterdam. We were living in London at the time and Alan needed to come over for business a few times. Of course, I would often come with him and roam the city, while he was working and then we would explore together in the evenings. Those were the days prior to kids, so we ventured to all parts of the city and tried to experience as much as possible. Now here we are returning years later with our kids, ages 9 and 12. The city is just as we remembered. So, we thought we would share some things to do in Amsterdam with kids.
Things To Do In Amsterdam With Kids – A 3 Day Itinerary
Just about everything we are going to share with you can easily be enjoyed without the kids too, so don’t skip our suggestions. We have visited Amsterdam several times and this visit was in 2014, but we made some updates in 2017. We will share some great things to see in Amsterdam and fun things to do with the kids.
First off, I highly recommend you find a place to stay. We prefer to stay in an apartment when we travel, but we just couldn’t resist staying on a houseboat while we were in Amsterdam. We LOVED it! We are big believers experiencing the local neighborhoods and also in just “getting lost” and exploring wherever your feet take you. There are countless things to do in Amsterdam with kids or without, so we will share what we did with you. Each day we will start you off from Amsterdam Central Station. I highly recommend you purchase the iamsterdam city card.
iamsterdam city card provides you with 24, 48 or 72 hours of public transportation, free activities and loads of discounts. As we go through our itinerary I will point out if the card applies to the activity. Check out their website for all of the detailed benefits and current pricing. Many museums provide free entrance for kids, so you will need to decide if it is beneficial to buy one for kids. We only had them for the adults and then purchased public transit passes for the kids at €2.50 for each 24 hour pass.
Things To Do In Amsterdam – Day 1 (A Day of Stimulation and Experience)
Assuming you arrived the night prior and have a full day to explore, these are our suggestions for Day 1. This will let the kids get a flavor of the city, public transportation and have plenty of time to burn off some energy. It was very easy to follow this path from Central Station.
NEMO Science Center (Stimulate your brain)
Starting from Central Station, just walk to the east about 8 minutes to the NEMO Science Center (look for the large ship shaped building, just beyond the public library). It’s great to get there right when they open, as it isn’t as crowded. (Free entry with iamsterdam). Let me just say, we had a blast here and we would have without the kids too. For anyone with active kids, this is an Amsterdam must see or do. This is a very hands-on and interactive science center. We had fun playing with chain reactions, working on a factory line and checking out DNA. We also loved understanding circuits, puberty, solar energy and even taking IQ and personality tests. Time to get wet in the water world and learn how to purify water as well as learning about the power of water. They also have an interactive lab, where you get to perform educational experiments. It was great fun for us all. Don’t forget to visit the roof top terrace in the summer! If you have kids under 10, you may want to skip the Amsterdam Dungeon and substitute with the Artis Royal Zoo (free entry with iamsterdam). It is just a 10-15 minute walk from the NEMO Science Center and great for the kids to run around outdoors. This was one of our favorite things to do in Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam Dungeon (Stimulate your heart)
From the NEMO Science Center, you can return to Central Station and hop on tram 24 to your next destination. If you prefer to walk and take in some sights, shopping or lunch, it’s about a 25 min walk. Alan and the kids absolutely loved The Amsterdam Dungeon. This was one of the thumbs up and cool things to do in Amsterdam. I gave it a go, but it just wasn’t for me. The staff was unbelievably kind and accommodating to me. We do recommend this for older kids and adults as it is scary, funny and very interactive.
The Heineken Experience (Stimulate your taste buds)
You may continue on tram 24 from The Amsterdam Dungeon to The Heineken Experience (discount with iamsterdam). I know what you are thinking, “How is a brewery tour appropriate for kids?”. After all, this is one of the unusual things to do in Amsterdam with kids. Let me tell you, this was one of the highlights for our kids.
This isn’t just any old brewery tour. Alan shared some of his thoughts on the Heineken Experience, but it is also very educational for the kids. There are several floors of interactive activities, games, photos, and more. They even offer soft drinks for the kids or non-beer lovers to “taste”. I was quite surprised at how much we all enjoyed this activity and even if you aren’t a beer fan, it is fun!
Things To Do In Amsterdam – Day 2 (A Day of Arts and Culture)
Start your day at the Museumplein. Here you will find great museums and plenty of grass areas and places for the kids to run and play.
The Van Gogh Museum
It is nice to enjoy on museum where the entire focus is on one artist and this is what The Van Gogh Museum offers (free entry with iamsterdam). It makes it easy and simple to get to know that artist and learn their style and even bits about their personality. Of course, I am just thrilled that I was able to see my absolute favorite Van Gogh painting, Irises. They do offer activities for kids, so check it out before going or stop by the information desk and ask what they have available.
The Rijksmuseum is one of the largest museums in the Netherlands (discount with iamsterdam). Just out front there is a large iamsterdam sign and fountain area where the kids can run around. There is also a nice cafe to have a snack or lunch. Take your time and enjoy the museum.
From this point you can either walk over to the energetic Leidseplein and have a bite to eat or do some shopping as well. Here you will find the biggest Apple Store, with the longest service counter of all Apple Stores across the globe! If you are Apple fans, it is fun to take a peek and the kids can have a play one of the many “try before you buy” stations. If this isn’t your thing, and the kids are restless after the museums, try going to the Vondelpark for a picnic or lunch at one of their restaurants. This is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors and have some space to run around.
Tired of all of the walking? A great way to finish off your day is a Canal Cruise. The Blue Boat (near the park and museums) and Holland International (near central station) are both good choices (free entry with iamsterdam). We opted for Holland International, as it runs until 10 pm in the summer. This is a great way to see from the many canals and learn a bit more about the history and the buildings you have been seeing.
Things To Do In Amsterdam – Day 3 (A Day of Exploration and Living like a local)
By now, your feet may be a bit sore or the kids may be tired of walking around. First thing we would recommend is to stop by MacBike, on the east side of Central Station (discount with iamsterdam). Here you can rent your bike for hours or days. This is great with the kids, as they offer many bikes with kids seats.
Reypenaer Proeflokaal – Cheese Tasting
Our first stop is to head west on your bikes and go just beyond the end of Central Station. Check out the Bike parking deck, this made an impression on me many years ago and it still does. I just love it! Continue to head west until you reach Singel and start to venture down this street/canal. Once you reach #182, park your bikes and tantalize your taste buds. It is time for a cheese tasting at Reypenaer Proeflokaal. We tried all of their cheese and then did a second round of it all again. We just couldn’t get enough of it. They even had 2 different types of goat cheese. I could just imagine it with some sun-dried tomatoes, a little balsamic and some fresh bread. YUM! This is and always has been a family run business, currently run by 2 brothers and a sister. Their shop above has many cheeses available for you to taste on your own, for free. We recommend signing up for their advanced cheese and wine tasting session, for a great price. You will learn from an expert cheese taster all about the history and maturing process of the cheese. Did you know that Gouda is really the shape of the cheese wheel? The kids and I enjoyed tasting this cheese, in fact we had a little more than our fair share. The goat cheese was made to perfection. I could just imagine it on a sandwich with a little balsamic and sun-dried tomatoes with a nice glass of wine. Oh yum, I am drooling now just thinking of it. Most of their cheese is from cow milk and the taste varies based on the age of the cheese. They still use traditional methods for the maturing and care, just as they did in the beginning. Do stop by and try it out, your mouth will be happy. You can even order the cheese online!
Anne Frank House
Just a brief bike ride or walk away is the Anne Frank House, a museum with a story. For me, this was a must-see location. There is typically a long line waiting to enter, so be prepared. Just park your bikes and enjoy the surroundings as you wait to enter. The Anne Frank Huis (House) is where Anne Frank lived in hiding with her family for more than 2 years during World War II. It is quite a moving experience and gives you a the real feel of what it may have been like to be in hiding, in this small place for so long. After your visit, you may want to view something with a little lighter mood. Located just across the canal from the Anne Frank House, you will find the Tulip Museum (free entry with iamsterdam).
Canal Exploration Nine Streets and The Jordaan
For the remainder of the day, we highly recommend you explore as much as possible on your bikes or by foot. Amsterdam is famous for its canals and bridges and there is just no better way to take in all of the sights and sounds. Stop for a snack or lunch at any of the many cafés and just be part of the city.
Around the Nine Streets neighborhood, you will find unique shops and gifts and gadgets. The Jordaan district is one of the most popular and well-known areas of the city. Take some time to explore this area as well. As if all of this wasn’t enough to do, you will find so much more to keep you busy during your stay. Visit the Tourist office at the Central Station and ask any questions you may have.
If you want to see flowers, you should check out the flower market. If you want to see more cheese you should go to Alkmaar and visit the cheese market. It might also be nice to visit a market like the Albert Cuyp Street Market. We hope this helps you with Things To Do with Kids in Amsterdam. Do you have any tips or Things To Do with kids in Amsterdam? Just add them in the comments below.
Organized Tours & Amsterdam Attractions
If you are trying to figure out what to do in Amsterdam, there are also many organized tours for you to enjoy. From being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you. Click here to see their latest Amsterdam Deals!
Family Friendly places to stay in Amsterdam
- A fun adventure is on the Amstel Botel. We stayed here almost 20 years ago and then another time since and it was always fun.
- Singel Hotel
- Room Mate Aitana Hotel
- Hotel Vondel
- Hotel De Hallen
- NH Carlton Amsterdam
- Hotel The Exchange
- Hotel Nicolaas Witsen
If that isn’t enough for you to choose from, please check out this thorough Amsterdam Travel Guide.
Disclaimer: We would like to thank The Amsterdam Tourism Office for sponsoring many of our activities and transportation. All of the reviews, recommendations and opinions are our own.