Reasons why Amsterdam is the greatest city in Europe with kids
According to a UNICEF report, Dutch kids are the happiest in the world. But your little ones don’t need to be native to enjoy themselves in Amsterdam. Here are just some of the reasons why Amsterdam is one of the best places in Europe for a fun-filled family break.
It has some of the most child-friendly museums in the world
The small city of Amsterdam has an incredible variety of museums and almost all of them put kids front and centre. Science museum NEMO sets the standard with its 'touch everything' philosophy. Mini art-lovers can download the amazing (and free) Family Quest app to solve clues at the phenomenal Rijksmuseum or head over to the Van Gogh Museum and pick up 'Vincent’s Travelling Case' to complete a series of assignments. Wannabe pirates delight at shooting canons from the deck of a full size East India Ship at the Scheepvaartmuseum or for a more sober experience, the Anne Frank House introduces older children to the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a child.
For a tiny city there’s an awful lot of green space
Amsterdam is bursting with outdoor spaces, parks and playgrounds that are perfect for letting off steam. The city’s version of Central Park is the wonderful Vondelpark, dotted throughout with cafés, playgrounds and attractions. To the South in the Amstelpark there’s a miniature farm, boat rides, mini-golf and even a small train chugging through its secret gardens. Bigger adventures can be found in the extraordinary man-made Amsterdamse Bos complete with rowing lake, open-air theatre, climbing zone, splash pools, goat farm, children’s harbour and arguably the tastiest pancakes in town. Perhaps best of all is ARTIS, the city-centre zoo based in sprawling grounds with historic buildings and structures where mysterious creatures swing from trees overhead.
Dutch food is kid-friendly
Whilst herring might not suit every palate, chances are there’s something in Amsterdam to suit even the fussiest little gourmet. Sugar-lovers will enjoy Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles) on sliced white bread for breakfast or the world’s greatest pick and mix including endless varieties of Dutch liquorice 'drop' at Jamin shops. Pancakes are ubiquitous from fresh stroopwafels (caramel pancakes) to poffertjes (mini-pancakes) and it sometimes feels like there’s a 'pannekoek' round every corner. Those keen on some sightseeing with their sugar can hop onboard the Pancake Boat and sail around the Ij, or for more wholesome treats there’s the charming and unique KinderKookKafé where kids make their own meals as well as yours.
It’s a mini transport-lover's dream
Amsterdam is a small city and easy to navigate with kids. The pancake-flat landscape is perfect for tentative cyclists or those with a 'bakfiets' transporting a cluster of little ones. For a special treat there’s the historic tram that travels through the woods whilst mini-aviators can get their fix by clambering aboard an old plane at Schiphol’s Panorama Terrace. Of course the ultimate way to enjoy the city is onboard one of the multitude of canal and riverboats, though for many kids, a ride aboard Amsterdam’s blue and white trams or double-decker trains comes a close second.
Despite being an urban environment, there are lots of opportunities to get wild
There are a remarkable number of city farms throughout Amsterdam offering hands-on experiences for younger kids. There are animals to pet in the Amstelpark and the Buurtboerderij near the Westerpark; goats that need bottle-feeding in the Amsterdamse Bos and out at Elsenhove there are sheep, donkeys, cows and pigs looking for company. Risk-averse tweens and teens can live the dream at build and play parks where children use hammers, nails and saws to transform old pallets into huts and forts. Just leave your health and safety badge behind.
And one last bonus reason...
Of course, Amsterdam also has the world’s greatest football club – Ajax. Interactive tours run on weekends and school holidays and include a chance for young fans to kick a ball around by the pitch.