Things to do in Amsterdam for Families

Between the infamous Red Light District and the legality of  a certain illicit substance, Amsterdam certainly has a slanted reputation that may not land it at the top of the list of places to visit with your family.

things to do in Amsterdam for families

Family Friendly Amsterdam

But dig a little deeper and Holland’s capital city is actually a great place for parents and their children to travel to together and discover art, learn about history and experience breathtaking beauty. So circumvent the areas home to the “world’s oldest profession” and walk rapidly past those “coffee shops” to these family-friendly attractions instead.

canal cruise

Canal Cruise

Forget Venice – with more than a quarter of its surface covered in water, Amsterdam is the most watery city in the world. Of the city’s 165 canals, the most popular to visit lie in the Canal Ring, a collection of 17th century waterways that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Amsterdam canals

The best way to explore the picturesque canal cruise is by boat. The city’s many canal cruise operators depart at caries points throughout the city and are a great way to start your visit to get oriented.

Amsterdam Windmill

Anne Frank House

At the Anne Frank House, visitors can tour the Secret Annex, the space where Anne Frank hid and wrote her world-famous diary during the Second World War. Here visitors follow the tragic story of  Anne and seven others who hid in the tiny rooms for two years during the Nazi occupation of Holland, only to be eventually found and send to concentration camps where all but Anne’s father, Otto, died.

First diary Anne Frank
©Copyright Anne Frank House; Photographer Cris Toala Olivares

There is no easy way to introduce the Holocaust to children, but for children aged ten and up, the Anne Frank House is an appropriate place to do so. The museum offers online resources to help parents prepare their children for a visit.

Anne Frank Secret Annex
©Copyright Anne Frank House; Photographer Cris Toala Olivares

The line for the museum can be quite long with waits around two hours. Book timed tickets in advance if possible or bring along activities to entertain your children while they wait.

Rembrandt House Museum

The Dutch will tell you that the most important artist in their history is Rembrandt, a painter and etcher whose career flourished in the 1600’s during the Dutch Golden Age.

Rembrandt House Museum

While at first glance his black and white prints may not seem to be particularly appealing to children, the Rembrandt House Museum brings the artist to life with interactive and hands-on experiences.

Rembrandt House Museum interior

Located in Rembrandt’s early 17th century home, here you can get up close to equipment and personal belongings of the artist. Play I-Spy with your children in the collection room, which is home to an eclectic mix of fun objects such as skeletons, stuffed alligators and armadillos and tribal head dresses.

The museum’s live demonstrations appeal to children, and you can even take a workshop to learn some of the artist’s techniques.

Van Gogh Museum

While Rembrandt’s style is marked by fine lines and dark colors, one of the country’s other landmark artists, Vincent van Gogh, has a bright, fanciful style that is easily appealing to children.

Van Gogh Museum
©René Gerritsen 2011

The Van Gogh Museum contains the largest collection of paintings by the artist in the world.

Van Gogh sunflowers
©Vincent van Gogh Foundation

Children aged 6 to 12 can pick up Vincent’s traveling case from the Information Desk. This fun suitcase contains activities that with help children have more fun at the museum and learn about the artist and his works on their level.

Day Trip to Tulip Fields

Those images of windmills and tulips that are so synonymous with Holland are within close reach of the Amsterdam city center.

Tulip fields

Tulip season runs from mid-March through the end of May. If you visit during this time period, take the bus from the airport to Keukenhof, the world’s second largest flower garden.

Amsterdam Tulip fields

As you enter the gardens, an old-fashioned circus organ pipes music through the park, filling the air with a fanciful attitude as you walk among the millions of flowers. There’s even a windmill here and you can take a cruise through the heart of the tulip fields. This is definitely the spot for family photos!

About the Author

Lauren Salisbury is a travel enthusiast who is currently exploring Europe while based in Spain teaching English in Madrid. She also writes for Something In Her Ramblings, a travel blog aimed at female and solo travelers.