Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades. Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world in the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century and became the leading center for finance and trade. It has been the capital of The Netherlands since 1983, but the seat of Netherlands government is in The Hague.
Amsterdam is known for its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. it’s a mixture of the beautiful canals, gable houses, museums, coffee shops and shopping districts. Here is the list of the best things to do in Amsterdam with Kids.
Explore the Amsterdam canals
in Amsterdam, there are three main canals: Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgrachtand a fourth, outer canal, the Singelgracht, for purposes of defense and water management.
Dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age, every canal in Amsterdam is unique and has its own charm. The Gouden Bocht or Golden Curve, the section of Herengracht between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat, is surrounded by some of the most beautiful canal houses in Amsterdam.
The bridge on the corner of Reguliersgracht offers an exquisite view. From here you can see as many as 15 bridges or outside Herengracht 161 there is a bridge, from where you can see 7 bridges in a row. The Magere Brug (’skinny bridge’) is the most picturesque of all bridges. Try to explore few canals on foot and few you can see from canal cruise.
Take a canal cruise
The best way to see Amsterdam is from its vast network of canals. Created in the 17th century to keep the sea at bay, Amsterdam’s UNESCO protected canal belt is the quintessential picture-postcard vision of Amsterdam. Floating along the canals by guided boat tour is a great way to know about the important places and landmarks of Amsterdam. Canal Cruise offers a great site in day as well as in night when the bridges are lit up by lights.
Other than sightseeing, there are few Cruises which run on different theme and you will definitely enjoy them like pizza cruise and pancake Cruise. For kids there is a Pirate Cruise run by Blue Boat, which will keep them entertained.
Experience the Amsterdam’s bike traffic
Amsterdam is the most bicycle friendly capital city in the world. Cycling is key to the city’s character with more than 60% people use bikes everyday for their work. Amsterdam is having more bikes than the people and more than 400 kilometers of dedicated bike paths. There are bike rentals available everywhere to explore the city but be careful, there are a bunch of tourist accidents. Beware of tram tracks on the road.
Stroll through the narrow houses of Damrak
Amsterdam is famed for its narrow gable houses and the best place to see them is Damrak in the centre of the city, a strip that connects Centraal Station to Dam Square. If you’re lucky, on a calm and cloudy day you can get the reflection of the colorful houses in the water.
Visit the Dam square and Royal Palace
Just a five-minute walk down the Damrak from Amsterdam Centraal Station takes you into this square. This is the real heart of Amsterdam, always crowded, jostling with locals and tourists, day and night.
Next to Dam square is Amsterdam royal palace and Madame Tussauds museum. Amsterdam royal palace was built in the seventeenth century as the Town Hall, which later changed into a Royal palace. Amsterdam royal palace offers self-guided tour with an audio guide. Only one floor was opened for visitors. One of the main attractions of this palace is the huge central hall with splendid chandeliers, paintings, sculptures and magnificent floor. All the rooms lead to this hall. The Royal Palace is in active use by the Dutch Royal House.
Outside the royal palace there are many street performances which will entertain you and some food carts. You can also see some political protests at the royal palace and Dam Square.
Amsterdam royal palace is open daily from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Entrance fee €10.
Ripleys Believe It or Not
Next to the Dam square there is five story Ripley’s believe or not museum. If you are grown up watching Ripley’s believe or not on TV, then this place will fascinate you with its weird but the funny thing and interesting art pieces. It’s an exhibition of bizarre objects, an attraction with a 5-dimensional cinema hall, optical illusions and interactive mind games.
Ripleys Believe It or Not is open daily from 09:00 AM – 10:00 PM. Entrance fee € 21 for adult and € 13 for children (5-15 years).
Discover a secret courtyard – Begijnhof
The Begijnhof is one of Amsterdam’s oldest inner courtyards, and a hidden gem right near the city center. This was formerly a home to the Beguines – group of unmarried religious women who chose to live together in a close community. This enclosed court houses a group of historical buildings arranged around a central garden, including the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam.
Begijnhof is open daily (except during Royal events) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and entrance is free.
Visit a Museum
If you are a lover of arts, Amsterdam has many museums to choose from. Museum Square is the place where you will find 3 of the 10 best museums in Amsterdam: the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. All three showcase an incredible collection of world-renowned artworks of the Dutch masters; Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh. Visit at least any one museum. The Iamsterdam sign at Rijksmuseum is a huge attraction in itself. There is one more Iamsterdam sign with few peoples around at The hermitage Amsterdam museum.
If you not interested in art works, still visit them to see the architectural beauty. Kids will love Scheepvaartmuseum( Maritime museum) dedicated to all things maritime.
Visit the Nemo science museum
The impressive building of Nemo is designed by Renzo Piano in the shape of the bow of a ship. Nemo offers an interactive exhibit of science and technology, energy, human body, creativity, engineering and genetics. Although the emphasis here is clearly on fun, be warned that some of the exhibits might not be suitable for younger children.
In the summer the rooftop of Nemo is a nice terrace where you can enjoy snacks and drinks with a good view of the city.
Stroll through the Bloemenmarkt
The Floating Flower Market Bloemenmarkt, is perhaps the most fragrant place in Amsterdam. This is the world’s only floating flower market and it’s opened every day. This is the best place to buy tulips in the city. Even if you are not planning to buy any flowers just walk around. It’s open every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on the Singel canal.
Visit the former brewery where it all started for this world-famous beer brand. At this museum dedicated to Heineken, you’ll find out how a small brewery distributing with horse and carriage grew to a beer brand. This is not a working brewery, the old brewery converted to a museum. Hear you will learn about the history of Heineken, the brewing process and at the end of the tour beer-tasting. If you are travelling with family, you can take your kids there if you wish. Children are allowed at Heineken Experience as well, but beer is not served to them.
Heineken horse carriage still roaming around on the street, with beer barrels.
Visit Parks in Amsterdam
There are many parks in Amsterdam to relax and spend your evenings. Go to the Amstel Park next to Amstel river which has a good play area and a mini train ride. You can stay away from Vondelpark. Inside the Vondelpark we find many groups smoking weed, drinking alcohol and garbage everywhere. No landscaping or flower and cyclist occupying the main tracks. May be a good place for locals to hang out or have picnics but for tourists.
Exploring the Amsterdam countryside
If you are in Amsterdam for few days you should take the countryside tour. Visit the castles outside Amsterdam, windmills of Kinderdijk, miniature park at Madurodam, watch a clog maker demonstrating his craft, taste of the world-famous Dutch cheese at Zaanse schaan, try on a traditional costume and see the beautiful fishing villages of Volendam and Marken or visit the small canals and houses of picturesque village Gaithoorn without road traffic.