Whether you’re traveling with teenagers or toddlers, there are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam with kids. With its gingerbread gabled houses, a medieval village full of windmills and wooden houses, and a rich cultural heritage, it’s truly impossible to get bored in Amsterdam (or anywhere you visit in the Netherlands for that matter!)
With so many things to see and do, you need a family-friendly game plan that keeps everyone engaged. In this curated family travel guide, you’ll find the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids (besides wandering aimlessly around the canal ring)!
Fun things to do in Amsterdam with kids
Take a walk through the streets of Amsterdam
The Dutch capital is mesmerizingly beautiful and the best way to begin an Amsterdam vacation is simply by walking around aimlessly. Kick off your adventure by strolling the canal belt (Grachtengordel) which was built in the 17th century. The city center is full of tilted gingerbread houses, Dutch baroque buildings, and bicycles that have been decorated with flowers. The four main canals in Amsterdam are Singel, the Keizersgracht, the Herengracht, and the Prinsengracht, and they’re all charming in their own way.
Get hands on NEMO Science Museum
There are so many interactive displays at NEMO science center, we are sure your kids won’t want to leave! This is the biggest science museum in the Netherlands so give yourselves plenty of time to explore. Check out Sensational Science where kids can learn about the scientific basics of things they see everyday. Or check out the laboratory where kids can make their own experiments and record the results. Like every good science museum, NEMO has an awesome water play area, so plan on little ones getting soaked. This is one Amsterdam museum kids always request.
Cruise along Amsterdam’s world-famous canals
People come to Amsterdam for many reasons, but almost always it’s for the canals. Venice may be known as the City of Canals, but Amsterdam is a close second. There are many types of boats leisurely cruising the canals of Amsterdam, but the best one for your family might be the pedal boat. It’s a bicycle on water, and for sure, kids will have a blast. It also gives parents a chance to get off their feet for a while.
Boat tours are the best way to explore the city’s rich history and get a glimpse into modern-day Dutch life. There are plenty of kid-friendly boat tours in Amsterdam that can be found around Amsterdam Centraal. Most of the operators are pretty similar, so don’t be afraid to choose one on the spot. All guided boat rides in the city are safe and child-friendly.
You can also consider taking the hop-on, hop-off canal boat. This allows you and your family to check out different spots along the canals as your boat will stop at several areas. You just have to choose the best place to hop off. On this boat ride, you can see some of the museums and other attractions along the way, or maybe even grab a quick bite in one of the many restaurants nearby.
Pet exotic animals in Artis Zoo
Artis Royal Zoo is one of the leading tourist attractions in Amsterdam. It is also the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. Families can’t get enough of the animals and sights at the zoo’s aquarium, planetarium, botanical garden and museums. What makes Artis Zoo very attractive and unique is that there are several areas where the animals can freely roam and interact with people. Children may touch and pet them, and even feed them at designated times and places.
There are more than 6,000 animals here. Some of the species you can’t see anywhere else in Europe. The animals love it here because many of them were born at the zoo grounds.
You can find Artis Zoo on the east side of Amsterdam. Most city tour packages include a trip here and children 2 and under are free.
Run around with farm animals at Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve
Running and playing with animals on a real rural farm in the heart of Amsterdam Forest is definitely a unique experience. You and your kids can do just that at Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve, a goat farm with many goats, chickens, pigs, cows and horses.
Children can learn about organic farming, how to make cheese, how to milk a goat, and how to care for the animals. It’s an immersive and interactive experience where your kids will learn and have fun at the same time while developing a better appreciation of life on a farm. The farm is perfect for kids of all ages.
There are a couple of other petting zoos in Amsterdam including:
- The Elsenhove Play Farm where you’ll mingle with rare breeds of Dutch cows, rabbits, chickens, and goats, and learn all about nature and sustainable living.
- Inside the Amstelpark Park in Amsterdam-Zuid, you’ll find an urban farm with rabbits, donkeys, and chickens who love having cuddling sessions.
Visit Tropenmuseum and learn about Dutch history
Tropenmuseum is a special ethnographic museum that hopes to teach children about the history of the world from a Dutch perspective. Families can “travel” to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America – places in the world that used to be Dutch colonies. There are eight permanent exhibits and some ongoing series of temporary exhibitions.
Children have a blast seeing 5,500 musical instruments representing different cultures around the world. There are also masks, puppets and around 21,000 textile artifacts, mostly from Indonesia.
Students get a special discount here, while children three years old and below are free. Tropenmuseum offers special programs, workshops and guided tours for children and teens. There is a special spot exclusively for the kids – Tropenmuseum Junior with interactive exhibits. Around 30,000 children come here every year.
Cycle around Amsterdam
The capital city is like a living museum. There is so much art and culture wherever you go, not to mention important museums and historic buildings standing side by side. Rent a bicycle and pedal around the city to see what Amsterdam is all about.
Cycle along the Jordaan neighborhood and the famous 9 Streets. Check out cafés and boutiques while letting your children play in an outdoor playground.
Bicycles are literally everywhere in Amsterdam and all over the country. Expect to see younger children and elderly grandparents leisurely pedaling along with the many networks of bike paths in the city. Biking in the city is generally safe in the Netherlands, compared to any other city in the world. You and your children should be able to manage it fairly easily. Bike and rental companies are everywhere. Get a tandem bike or a cargo bike so you can cruise along as a family.
Make your way to Vondelpark and lose yourself. There is plenty of green space here – walk around, grab a snack, go on a picnic, cycle, read a book or simply lie on the grass and watch time pass by. Vondelpark is the most famous park in Amsterdam and it’s a well-known hang-out area for families. Children come here to play and meet new friends. A picnic in Vondelpark is cheap and it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy sunny afternoon.
Learn about history at the Anne Frank House
Not all ages will be able to understand or appreciate the Anne Frank House, but older kids can certainly understand a tour of the house where Anne Frank hid with her family during World War II. It might be a good idea to read Anne Frank’s Diary or Who Was Anne Frank? before a visit so children have context about what they’re visiting. Anne Frank’s house can get busy, so consider buying your tickets online in advance. (link to tickets)
Visit A’dam Lookout, the Highest Swing in All of Europe
Amsterdam is a hotbed of thrilling adventures. But nothing gets your heart pumping quite like swinging 100 meters above ground. Perched atop the highest floor of the A’dam Tower you’ll find an observation deck that boasts unbelievable 360-degree views of the city.
If the little adventurers aren’t too excited about the views, don’t worry about it. Their minds will be blown when they come face to face with “Over the Edge,” the highest swing in Europe. You or anyone who dares can swing back and forth over the edge and get your adrenaline pumping. There isn’t anything like it. If no one’s up for a swing, you can have a blast staring at the daredevils who try it. Just FYI, there’s a minimum height requirement of 1,20 meters (47″).
Take Photos and Shoot TikToks at the WONDR Experience
Forget about “boring” art museums and galleries. Get filled with wonder at this immersive pop-up adventure that will tickle every one of your senses. WONDR is the first playground where people of all ages – including adults – can explore the art of play in a series of rooms.
Designed by a skillful team of artists, every corner is the perfect Instagram backdrop to take some cool pictures or record a TikTok. Get in touch with your inner child and play under a sky full of glittering stars or take a dip in an ocean of pink marshmallows. This is the best way to plan a fun-filled day for the whole family!
Visit KattenKabinet, Amsterdam’s Most Unique Cat Museum
Pets are like family and no one knows that better than Bob Meijer, who founded the KattenKabinet (cat museum) in 1991 after losing his beloved cat, John Pierpont Morgan. The ginger kitty faithfully accompanied Mr. Meijer throughout his life (or perhaps, it was the other way around).
Over the years, Morgan the cat received lots of unique presents, including a bronze statue and a painting of himself. When the cat turned 15 years old, Meijer’s friends and admirers put together a quirky booklet titled, “A Cocky Cat from Toulouse and Other Cats”, which featured a collection of funny limericks inspired by Morgan.
Meijer decided to pay homage to Morgan by opening the cat museum and he filled it with all these unique works of art, poems, and curiosities on the bottom floor of his fabulous 17th-century canal house. Now, the KattenKabinet features a vast collection of vintage cat posters, sculptures, paintings, lithographs, and cat-related oddities.
Explore one of Amsterdam’s Art Museums
If your children love art or art history, don’t miss two of the best museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is more formal, showcasing the works of the Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer as well as other famous artists. The museum covers over 800 years of Dutch history and is home to Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” which is truly impressive in person.
Tip: If your kids don’t want a big museum experience, consider visiting Rembrandt House where they can learn about the painter at the historic house where he lived and worked in the 1600s.
At the Van Gogh museum kids can explore the world’s largest collection of the artist’s work. Have them read a copy of Van Gogh and the Post Impressionists for Kids before they go and they are sure to appreciate the museum in a way you never thought possible.
Get a Human Anatomy Lesson at Amsterdam’s Body Worlds: The Happiness Project
At “The Happiness Project” in Amsterdam’s Body Worlds exhibit, you’ll get an educational insight into the human body and understand the science behind the things that makes us happy and healthy. The exhibit features over 200 real anatomic bodies that show the kids how illnesses and organs work, among other things. Check out their website to see if your kids would be interested in visiting it.
Visit the Spectacular Muiderslot Castle
Travel back in time by visiting Muiderslot Castle, one of the most famous and best-preserved castles in the Netherlands. It’s about a 15-minute ride from Amsterdam.
The castle is 700 years old, and as you can imagine, it’s no stranger to spooky stories and a turbulent past, (which you can learn more about here). Skip the line and take the whole family on a historical adventure with a guided tour through the Muiderslot. During the tour, kids can engage in a scavenger hunt while walking through numerous 17th-century rooms.
Stop by the Banksy Exhibit at Moco Museum
Is it raining outside? Of course. It’s the Netherlands! Rainy days in Amsterdam deserve a visit to the Moco Museum. This boutique museum has an incredible collection of modern art by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and the mysterious British artist, Banksy.
Banksy’s controversial art pieces can be found all over the world, but here’s your chance to come face to face with iconic pieces, such as Girl with Balloon, Laugh Now, Kate Moss, and more. You can take photos, too, so bring a charger for your camera or phone!
These are some of the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids. They are easy, practical and delightful. It’s no wonder Dutch kids are the happiest children in the world. The city was designed, streets were laid out and attractions were built with them in mind. Come visit Amsterdam with your children and let them have a slice of the happiness that only the Netherlands can offer.
Author Bio: Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.