Cycle to the beach
The seaside is just a short bike ride from Haarlem, and the journey will see you whizz through kilometres of wild dunes, wildlife and stunning scenery. There’s even the chance to spot some highland cattle as you pedal along the winding cycle paths. In the spring and summer months there’s plenty of places to fill up on delicious food and drink in Zandvoort, or you can see some unearthed treasures found buried in the sand at the Jutters Mu-ZEE-um.
Find out more about visiting Amsterdam Beach.
Flower power takes to the road
A festive flower parade like no other, each spring the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek’s array of colourful floats and displays travels along a 40km route all the way from the coastal town of Noordwijk to Haarlem. Hundreds of thousands of spectators take the opportunity to enjoy the carnival atmosphere of the parade as it makes its way through the Amsterdam Area, and there’s even the chance to spot luxury cars and live bands which join the procession as well.
If you’re not visiting during the parade, you can still get your flower fix by visiting the spectacular Flower Strip.
Visit a real fort on Pampus Island
Seen across the water, the small island of Pampus looks like any other island. But adventurers who take the chance to explore this unique location will discover that it’s not a natural land mass at all, but a submerged sea fort built in the 1890s to protect Amsterdam from enemies. After a restoration in 2007, you can now visit Fort Pampus by boat and explore its secret tunnels - and it’s also a popular location for events.
Pampus Fort, Muiden
Make sandcastles at Amsterdam Beach
Fine white sands and sun are in abundance in the Netherlands (at least during the summer months), and so a trip to the beach with the kids is a must-do if you’re visiting Amsterdam during this time. The towns of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal buzz with throngs of sun-worshippers and families looking to have some fun in the surf during the summer, while older kids can even enjoy the chance to take part in water sports including surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kitesurfing. But of course, no trip to the beach would be complete without crafting a sandcastle or two.
Find out more about visiting Amsterdam Beach.
Climbing Wall Haarlem
The perfect place for little daredevils to scale to new heights, Klimmuur (Climbing Wall) Haarlem was the first climbing wall to open in the Netherlands and offers a range of activities for children. As well as training courses for kids, the centre hosts special days where they can have a go to see if they like climbing if they haven't done it before, runs a youth club, bouldering sessions and birthday parties. And after you’ve had your fill of adventure, there should be plenty of time to explore authentic Haarlem.
Klimmuur Haarlem, Haarlem
Get back to nature at Oostvaardersplassen
A unique nature reserve located in New Land, Oostvaardersplassen is 56 km2 of protected marshlands and fields where you can spot an abundance of wildlife – including wild varieties of deer, cattle, foxes, hare, Konik ponies and many species of bird. Youngsters will love exploring these vast, magnificent fields, reed plains, rough grasslands and water courses, and if you want to really impress why not book a tour with one of the park’s rangers. You can start (or end) the journey with a visit to Oostvaardersplassen’s visitors centre or its observation centre, which offer awe-inspiring views of the land in panorama rooms with telescopes and binoculars to use, and a place to fill up on something tasty. On weekends the centre also hosts nature activities, lectures, musical performances and workshops.
Find out more about Oostvaardersplassen.
Become a pilot for the day
Covering 6,000 m2, Lelystad’s Aviodrome museum traces the history of airplanes and the development of flight – all the way from the Wright Brothers’ first successful aircraft up to the enormous Boeing 747. The most spectacular exhibit is the museum’s own 747, which allows your young cadets to gaining peek into areas of the plane that are usually off limits. There’s also an airplane laboratory and a 4D cinema where you can watch a film about aviation on the country’s largest film screen! The perfect way to keep the kids happy. Also make sure to look out for special programmes during the school holidays.
Find out more about the Aviodrome museum.
Go bananas at Chimpie Champ jungle play centre
If your children are behaving like little monkeys, then why not let them loose in the climbing jungle centre at Chimpie Champ in Aalsmeer. Kids will be in their element at this play centre, whether they’re jumping in the ball pit, on the trampolines, climbing Mount Chimpie, disco dancing and more. Chimpie Champ also helps celebrate children's parties in its special party room, and for parents there’s places to relax, read and enjoy free WiFi. If that wasn’t enough, the venue is next door to Jump XL Trampoline Park and the glow-in-the-dark Glowgolf miniature golf course.
Chimpie Champ, Aalsmeer
Voyage beneath the ocean at the Dolfinarium
Take a journey under the sea at the Dolfinarium, where dolphins, fish, seals and sea lions all living together in ‘the lagoon’. This 15 million-litre closed saltwater ecosystem lets little biologists see what life is like beneath the waters of the world’s oceans. After a visit to the Lagoon, why not take the opportunity to touch and feed the stingrays at the Ray Reef, walk through the Seal Wetlands, visit the modern rescue and research centre for sick or injured dolphins and see the walrus and seal shows. And if the sun is shining, you can even sunbathe, swim or ride in a paddle boat at the Park Beach.