This summer my son had the opportunity to visit the Netherlands through an exchange program at his high school. We hosted an exchange student from The Hague for ten days and then my son went to The Hague for ten days. It was the perfect opportunity for my son to experience traveling on his own and discover a new country and culture. Of course I asked him to write about the experience, and here’s what he said where the best things to do in Netherlands with teens.
Where to Go in the Netherlands with Teens
I went to the Netherlands as a part of an exchange program that runs through my high school. I was part of a larger group of Americans, but I stayed with a Dutch family in the Hague during my visit. We were there for ten days and each day we had a chance to visit a different part of the Netherlands. Here are the favorite parts of our trip:
Best Things to Do in The Hague
Madurodam Amusement park
One of my favorite places I visited during my time in the Netherlands was called Madurodam. Madurodam is a miniature park in The Hague demonstrating major landmarks throughout the Netherlands, each presented at a 1:25 scale. The park also includes several “mini games”, which can also be enjoyed by kids.
Teens will love Madurodam due to its fascinating depiction of the Netherlands, which captures their visions and minds, as well as the games they will have a chance to play. My favorite game was where multiple people have a chance to test their leg and see how fast they can kick a soccer ball. I’m not very good, and I lost every time, but I still had fun!
Another attraction in the Netherlands teens are sure to enjoy is Scheveningen Pier. Scheveningen Pier includes both a zipline and a ferris wheel, while bordering the beach as well as a number of restaurants. While I personally did not use the zip line, I did a ride on the ferris wheel and enjoyed what was my first view of both the city and the water.
Tikibad Water Park
Kids of all ages will enjoy the Duinrell Tikibad water park, located in Wassenaar not far from The Hague. It is a part of an amusement park, almost like a smaller version of the American Six Flags. While being quite similar to American theme parks and water parks, one difference you’re sure to notice is the time length. Rides in the Netherlands are shorter than in America, and their waterslides were definitely faster. If your teen likes American theme parks and water parks, then they’re bound to like Tikibad.
Sand Sculptures in The Hague
The Netherlands has hosted the World Sand Sculpting competition in the past, and as such, artists come here every summer and create something amazing. Stunning sand sculptures can be found throughout the city. Because sand is everywhere in the Hague, due to it being below sea level as well as its close proximity to the sea, the city will pay sculptors to come and create sand sculptures. The reason I was so impressed by these sand sculptures was that I’d never seen anything like it before. Sure I’d seen regular sculptures and even ice sculptures, but both the artistry and the symbols within the pieces really open one’s eyes.
Something I really enjoyed while in the Netherlands was my trip to Alkmaar, a city about an hour away from The Hague. I specifically enjoyed it due to its famous cheese market, Alkmaar Kaasmarkt . The cheese market showcases the process of moving cheese throughout the market, while around it a variety of cheeses and cheese products are served. My favorite thing I ate at the market was a freshly made grilled cheese, cooked on a stove top with cheese shredded on top of it. Delicious! On top of the cheese and market, teens will enjoy the beautiful city surrounding the market, including the numerous canals that run throughout it.
What to Do in Amsterdam with Teens
If you’re in Amsterdam and your teen enjoys art, then you’re in the right place! Amsterdam is home to not one but two prestigious museums, both housing some beautiful masterpieces. These museums are the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. While I did not personally attend the Van Gogh Museum, I have heard great things, and although I typically do not like art museums, I did enjoy the Rijksmuseum due to the in-depth painting that occurs within many of the paintings. There is also a beautiful garden outside to explore on a nice day.
Another Amsterdam attraction I would recommend is the Anne Frank house. I read “Anne Frank’s Diary” in 8th grade and it was fascinating to walk through the house and envision Anne and her family living here during World War II. Be sure to book your tickets online in advance as that’s the only way to visit the house. And if you have younger children, don’t miss these ideas for things to do in Amsterdam with kids.
Zaanse Schans is nice to visit, but teens probably won’t enjoy it as much as other places. The town is famous for its wooden buildings and windmills from the 18th and 19th centuries. We walked through town, but most of the visit was about shopping. One place I would recommend is Restaurant de Kraai where you can have huge pancakes with a variety of toppings. I had a traditional apple with cinnamon and sugar, but they have savory pancakes as well.
Things to do in Rotterdam
We spent a day exploring Rotterdam, which was ok. Our first stop was Euromast, a 185 meter tower overlooking the entire city. Thrill seekers can zip line from the tower to the ground, which I think looks really cool. Saving that for my next visit. I don’t usually like visiting churches, but the Pilgrim Fathers Church has a cool story. A religious group fled England in the early 1600s and came to the Netherlands. About ten years later they decided to sail to America and set up a new community called Plymouth Colony. Yes, this is the church of the original American Pilgrims.
Rotterdam has some very modern architecture as it was bombed during World War II. Visit the Rotterdam Markthal where a large archway covers shops, restaurants, and a food market. Or head to Kubuswoningen, a cube house that looks unlike anything else in the city.
One final thing: Dutch food is crazy good
One thing teens will love about the Netherlands is its food. With tons of meat, cheese, bread, and sweets, what’s not to love!? A few important foods include the frikandel and herring, but my personal favorite was what is known as the “Dutch sugar loaf”. Frikandel is a kind of sausage that is popular not only in the Netherlands, but in nearby countries such as France and Belgium as well. What makes the frikandel unique is that it is made up of beef, pork, AND chicken. Herring, while not being the “favorite” dish for most teens, is a staple of the Netherlands, often coming in through the many ports and is celebrated each time more comes in. Lastly, my favorite, the sugar loaf, is a type of bread with sugar around the edges, and will be enjoyed because of its great taste. There are many other dishes teens can enjoy while in the Netherlands, but these are just a few that stand out. Don’t miss these other traditional Dutch food and drinks to try in the Netherlands.
There are a lot of fun places to visit in the Netherlands, and these are only a few of my favorites. This trip certainly gave me a quick overview of a beautiful country and I can’t wait to return again.
If you’re looking for other places in the Netherlands, don’t miss this post about things to do in Utrecht, Netherlands.