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Discover Amsterdam
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Kids flying a kite at the lake
Image from Claire Droppert

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

Rembrandthuis kids audiotour.
Image from Koen Smilde

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 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 National Maritime Museum, 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

Amstelpark Boerderij
Image from Ines Maudire

Amsterdam is bursting with outdoor spaces, parks and playgrounds perfect for letting off steam.  The city’s version of Central Park is the wonderful Vondelpark, dotted with cafés, playgrounds and attractions.  To the South in the Amstel Park there’s a miniature farm, boat rides, mini-golf and even a tiny train chugging through its secret gardens.  Bigger adventures can be found in the extraordinary man-made Amsterdamse Bos, with a rowing lake, open-air theatre, climbing zone, splash pools, goat farm, children’s harbour and arguably the tastiest pancakes in town.  Perhaps best is ARTIS, the city-centre zoo based across sprawling grounds with historic buildings and structures where mysterious creatures swing from trees overhead.

Dutch food is kid-friendly

Pannenkoekenboot food & drinks
Image from Pannenkoekenboot

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' around 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

Koningsdag or King's Day is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Celebrated on 27 April, the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. 

Celebrations: Kings day family with a cargo bike wearing orange costumes, flea markets.
Image from Cris Toala Olivares

Amsterdam is a small city which is 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 many 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

A woman and three children at the Amsterdamse Bos Goat Farm Ridammerhoeve Geitenboerderij to feed young goats
Image from Edwin van Eis

There are a remarkable number of city farms throughout Amsterdam that offer hands-on experiences to 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...

Johan Cruijff ArenA AJAX football stadium
Image from Jorrit Lousberg

Of course, Amsterdam also has the world’s greatest football club – Ajax.  Interactive tours run on weekends and school holidays, including a chance for young fans to kick a ball around by the pitch.