ONE of my travelling rules is never to visit the same place twice to make sure we see as many cities and countries as possible. Our European capital city challenge is one way of doing this, and we’ve already been to a fair few that might not have been on my list.
A few years ago, Amsterdam was one of our weekend breaks, taking our capital cities to eight at that point. I’d previously visited with a group of friends, so by going with Stew I was breaking my own rule … and now that we have children I’d be willing to break it by heading back again!
I’m really keen on Santi and Ezra being well travelled, and I’d love for them to see different places both in Europe and further afield. European cities cater so well for children, and Amsterdam seems like a great destination for little ones. Far from what you might have heard, it’s not all about drugs and red lights … in fact you wouldn’t necessarily know they’re there unless you go seeking them out.
Here are the top five sights and activities I’d love to see and do as a family in Amsterdam…
This is a huge park in the middle of the city, which looks amazing for children. Both times I’ve visited Amsterdam it’s been a bit too cold to explore the park properly, so I’d like to go back when it’s a bit warmer. There are six play areas, a wading pool and an open air theatre that stages children’s shows between June and September, plus you can hire skates for older children. While parents take a bit of time to relax with a coffee, children can cook up little dished at the Kinderkookcafe. And of course you have to have a photo with the iconic Iamsterdam sign.
They say a trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without a bike tour, but I’ve managed to have two visits without getting on two wheels … although I was almost run over by a few! For Father’s Day we bought Stew a seat for Santi to use on the back of his bike, and they absolutely love going out for cycles together. If we went back to Amsterdam I’d definitely make the most of it being a cycle-friendly city and hire bikes so we could have a different perspective. As well as front or back seats, there are bikes with carts (bakfiets) on the front so little ones can really chill out while their parents do all the hard work. You see dozens of bikes being ridden around Vondelpark, so if you’re not confident enough to take on the roads, staying in the park is always an option.
I’ve also managed to go to Amsterdam twice without getting on the water, but it’s the perfect way to see the city with little ones … no tired legs from walking tours, and the added excitement of being on a boat. Many are hop-on-hop-off so you can see the areas that take your fancy, and the beautiful buildings lining the canal are sure to capture children’s imaginations for telling fairytales along the journey. I’d love to take a pizza boat tour in the evening … bread and olives to start, pizza and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream … all while taking in the wonderful sights.
I had no idea the Dutch were so big on pancakes, but I’m not complaining! There are a few pancake houses, and it’s definitely the best way to reenergise after a morning of sightseeing. The best I tried were at The Pancake House near Anne Frank’s house, where there was an amazing selection of sweet and savoury … and a jug of syrup on every table if you need a proper sugar hit.
Anne Frank’s House:
This really is a must on a visit to Amsterdam, especially for children as a way of really seeing what life was like for families during the Second World War. Far from being a museum, the moment you step behind the bookcase that concealed the Frank family’s hiding place you really feel as if you’re in their home. A mobile app has also been launched that guides visitors around the city so they can find out more about the war and its impact on Amsterdam.
There are so many quirky little things to see around the city that it would be impossible to list them all. From museums and an indoor play area, to street art and even a giant clog, there’s something for children to get excited about around every corner.