Family guide to Easter in the Amsterdam Area
There’s nothing like Easter in Amsterdam. After making it through what can often feel like a bitterly cold winter, the first rays of spring sunshine along with the abundance of flowers and baby animals cannot fail to lift the spirits. For many families, it is a time to re-emerge, to make the most of terraces and playgrounds and to get back out on bikes in fewer layers - a joy we celebrate every year.
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:
Easter among the flowers
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 a 'mellow yellow' theme, as the garden is lit up with daffodils and yellow blooms at every turn. Kids can string their own floral garden and take a photo with the Easter Bunny.
A sightseeing adventure
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.
Travel back in time
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. Kids can roll up their sleeves and take part in a traditional Easter spring clean of a 1920s house and be rewarded with special treats. There are also Easter handicrafts, games, 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.
Pick your own bouquet
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.
Feast at the Easter brunch buffet
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 and pancakes. Book early to ensure you don’t miss out. This year, Olmenhorst also host 'Le Marie Marché' on Easter Monday, a French-inspired farmer's market selling artisan cheeses, fruit and other delicacies.
Plan an orchard picnic
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.
Bike to the beach
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
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.
Visit the zoo
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 with a view of the giraffes and zebras, take a walk through the flowers and learn fascinating facts about all the species that lay eggs (including sharks!).
Take little warriors to historic fortresses
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, 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. This year, kids can also experience a virtual reality tour of the Defence Line of Amsterdam from the seat of a hot air balloon.
Be part of the fairytale
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, children can also make their own owl mask.
Shop your way around a market
The Paasmarkt Almerestad on Easter Sunday and Monday is a market filled with clothing, vintage treasures and delicious food. Take a break from all the chocolate and see what they have to offer.
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.