Spring heralds the re-opening of many seasonal attractions, welcoming visitors until the days shorten again in September and October and it is often “Pasen” that signals the start, with events and Easter brunches, lunches and teas. If you’re looking for family fun over the Easter weekend, why not consider the following:
Go back in time to The Netherlands of the past
It’s hard to talk about this time of year without starting at the Keukenhof Gardens. If you are prepared to brave the international crowds arriving in Lisse you’ll be rewarded with the magnificence of the self-proclaimed “World’s most beautiful spring garden”. And it’s hard to disagree with that label. Easter is celebrated with the Dutch Heritage Weekend when the gardens are turned back to the 19th century welcoming old Dutch bicycles, folk dancing, traditional costumes and crafts. There’s freshly smoked herring to taste, cheese bearers at the cheese market and a not-very 19th century Easter Bunny to welcome kids on Easter Sunday and Monday.
Many tourists combine the Keukenhof Gardens with a visit to Zaanse Schans so this is one of the busiest weekends of the year at what is one of the Netherlands’ most popular tourist attractions. The Zaanse Schans is a beautiful residential area that has been kept in the style of the 18th and 19th centuries. Here you’ll find a bakery museum, a warehouse where clogs are made, a cheese factory, a pewter foundry and an array of windmills, wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops. It’s particularly beautiful in spring with lambs skipping in the fields of the Kalverpolder and the windmills turning in the spring breeze.
If you’ve got the time to head north to Enkhuizen you’re in for a huge treat at the Zuiderzee Museum. There you’ll find an seasonal treasure hunt showcasing the origins of Easter. Search for Easter objects in the local shop, furnish a 1920s house in Easter style and send an old-fashioned Easter postcard from the post office. For each activity, children will receive a gold star and avid collectors will be rewarded with prizes. There are also Easter handicrafts and all the regular activities taking you back in time along cobbled streets to the Netherlands of yesteryear. With more than 140 shops and workshops including a chapel, a fish smoking shed and an old fashioned sweet shop; craftsmen making nets and ropes and dozens of activities to participate in, this is one of our very favourite day trips from the city.
Although the Openluchtmuseum isn’t running special events for Easter, it’s still a great place to consider visiting. The 44 hectares are filled with farms, windmills, a brewery, a dairy, a church and more. There are always people working in the shipyard or windmill, making cheese and welcoming kids with family friendly activities.
Enjoy the wonders of the land at petting zoos, flower picking farms and orchards or simply get out on a bike in the countryside
For something deliciously low-key, head to one of our favourite hidden gems - the Zomerbloemenpluktuin just outside the city, along the Amstel River. This is a delightful little picking garden and the perfect place to bring your Easter chicks for some fun. On Easter weekend, children can search for eggs, paint vases and pick tulips and daffodils to arrange in them. Best of all they are encouraged to pull the bulbs up with the tulips ready for you to grow your own the following year. There’s also the chance to bake bread over a fire before filling it with a hotdog as well as popcorn-popping, pony rides, a bouncy castle, a slide and climbing tower and a full Easter brunch on Easter Monday. We absolutely love this place but please, don’t tell everyone as there’s something magical about how undiscovered it is.
We’ve spent a wonderful Easter Sunday before at the Olmenhorst orchard amongst the pink apple and pear blossoms and it looks like this year’s Easter Sunday and Monday activities are set to impress again. On both days, the generous and extremely reasonable Easter brunch buffet includes mountains of fresh baked loaves, organic jams and cheeses, salads, fish, meat and piles of desserts. If high tea is more your thing, enjoy the homemade soups, sandwiches and quiches as well as scones, cakes, brownies and even tarte tatin made from Olmenhorst apples. At both meals, there’s a children’s buffet with pancakes as well as lots of additional activities and workshops for little ones. The fun includes chocolate egg making (using the finest Belgian chocolate) and candle workshops including both dipped and rolled beeswax candles. Book early to ensure you don’t miss out.
Fruittuin van West
Another picking farm within easy reach of Amsterdam is Fruittuin van West. Open on Easter Monday from 10.30 to 6.00 the orchard is offering a full organic picnic (and a promise to close the roof on the inner garden if it rains!) More details of activities on their website. This is another event that’s best to book in advance.
If the weather is bright and you’re looking for some fresh air, there’s simply nothing better than a good bike ride. Instead of hanging around town, why not make a day of it and head off to the beach at Zandvoort and Bloemendaal. ‘Behind the Beach’ rents out tandems, mountain bikes, picnic bikes, electric bikes and even “Aunt Paula” electric scooters and beach wagons. Take a picnic and spend a leisurely day on the paved cycle paths in the wind-sheltered dunes with a chance to spot rabbits, deer and cows, or make your way along the boulevard and stop off at one of the many fabulous cafés and pavilions.
Spend the day with animals – big or small
Spring is when chicks and lambs are welcomed to all of Amsterdam’s many city farms so if your little ones are animal lovers, why not head to the sweet farm in the Westerpark, the wonderful Stadsboederij in Osdorp, the hidden Kinderboederij in the Pijp or Kinderboederij Zimmerhoeve with its wonderful playgrounds next door. A little further afield explore the much loved Geitenboederij Ridammerhoeve goat farm in the Amsterdamse Bos or leave the city altogether and enjoy the wonders of Elsenhove on the way to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Many farms host Easter parties on Easter Sunday including egg hunts, egg decorating and opportunities for children to cuddle some newborn lambs.
Those who enjoy their animals on the larger side should head to the incredible ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. There you can enjoy an Easter breakfast buffet followed by an egg hunt (a scavenger hunt showcasing reptile as well as bird eggs!) that finishes at the incubators full of hatching chicks – giving lucky little ones the chance to hold a tiny yellow newborn.
Take little warriors to the Netherlands’ fortresses of Muiderslot or Pampus Island.
At Forteiland Pampus, Easter madness will be in full swing. There will be hundreds of eggs right across the island – hidden chocolate eggs waiting to be discovered, paper eggs in the Pirates Cave ready to be decorated, and the best free-range chicken eggs transformed into a wonderful Easter brunch which can be enjoyed on the fabulous terrace or indoors in the cosy pavilion (booking essential!). After brunch, guests can enjoy a tour of the fortress and the thrilling island. Boats leave from Amsterdam IJburg or Muiden.
The magnificent Medieval castle, Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot is getting in on the Easter action too. Holding special “Tulip Tours”, guides will show how special vases were made to hold these previously precious flowers which will be displayed around the castle. The falconer will return after the winter break, giving hourly flight demonstrations and sharing juicy titbits about falconry in the Middle Ages. For little ones wanting to get in on the avian action, traditional magnetic duck-catching is provided, with prizes for rounding up a flock.
Enjoy the day eating and shopping your way around a market
Easter Sunday sees the monthly Pure Markt host an Easter special in the Amsterdamse Bos. Expect all the usual array of local food as well as some Easter treats. You’ll also find the Sunday Market at the Westergasfabriek that day which is always a special occasion and even more so at this time of year.
Or, for a one-off, why not consider the Easter Market at Breukelen. Last year there were dozens of stalls, a visit from the Easter Bunny, and heaps on for the baby bunnies including aqua bubbles, a bouncy castle, pony rides and of course expansive amounts of chocolate! Expect the same and more this time round.
Finally, if you're in town why not enjoy the last few days at the fabulous HEMA popup in the Negen Straatjes (9 Little Streets). The store in the Runstraat is an Easter dream with a wall of chocolate eggs in every flavour from milk and plain to extraordinary confections like 'disco-dip' and Dutch favourite 'Tompouce'. As if that isn't enough fun, downstairs you'll find an adult-sized ball pool and giant balloons ready for the best Instagram selfies in town - with a camera poised overhead to help out. Jump in for some colourful Easter madness before the store closes for good on April 1st.
So whether you’re looking for bikes, brunches or the Easter Bunny, there’s something on offer for everyone this Easter. Still seeking inspiration – check out Amsterdam Wonderland, which is packed with ideas for a spare hour or long weekend of family friendly fun.