A few months ago I took Maggie and Alex to Amsterdam. It’s a city I have always wanted to visit and we have good friends living there right now. They moved late 2020 and we have been anxiously waiting to visit them. Last summer there were some great flight prices, so I booked flights and hoped that The Netherlands would be allowing visitors in time for our visit. We got to visit and absolutely loved it. Below are details on what we did and a 4 day itinerary for Amsterdam with kids.
We were very fortunate to get to visit friends. We stayed with them and they created the perfect itinerary. I did some research on things we might want to see but I truly give all the credit to our excellent hosts in Amsterdam. I also made the girls do some research on Amsterdam and things they might want to see and do. It’s something I do wherever we go now because I want them involved in the trip as much as possible.
Both of my girls had read a lot about Anne Frank and the Holocaust. Even before we planned the trip, they had a strong interest in learning all about Anne Frank for a long time. They were 10 and 11.5 at the time of our trip and having a knowledge of who Anne Frank was and what the Holocaust was made this the most educational trip we’ve ever taken.
When we were there, Amsterdam still had their curfews. So everything closed at 5pm. Therefore, our meals out were at lunchtime and we ate dinner back at our friends’ home.
We were there right before Christmas so we could see the Festival of Lights on the canal which was wonderful. It was chilly but really a wonderful time of year to walk around the city. Many years ago I was in Italy right before Christmas and couldn’t wait to be in Europe around the holidays again. We also happened to be there on the Feast of Saint Nicholas which is a favorite holiday for my kids.
Here’s how we spent our time in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam with Kids: 4 Day Itinerary
Amsterdam Day 1
Arrival in Amsterdam
We flew from Newark to Dublin and then Dublin to Amsterdam. We took an overnight flight and arrived in Amsterdam just before lunchtime.
Our friends picked us up and we went straight to visit the Haarlam Farmers Market. My girls couldn’t wait to get a real Stoopwafel and this was a great place to try one. The market and town were lovely and we really enjoyed it. I always recommend hitting the ground running when traveling overseas. The easiest way to adjust quickly to the time difference with kids is to just “go with it” and live like the time you’ve flown to. A nap upon landing will not help and only make adjusting to the time change harder (in our experience).
Next we drove to Zandvoort Beach to see the North Sea. It was pretty chilly for a beach day but if you are there in the spring or summer you’ll want lots of time here! We only stayed briefly, but long enough for the girls to run and dip their toes into the North Sea.
We stopped back at our friends’ apartment to settle in a bit and then headed back out to see the city for the first time!
Walk into Centrum at Night
Amsterdam is such a beautiful city. We loved walking around at night seeing all of the lights. We grabbed cones of french fries on the street (or Patat as they’re called there).
Amsterdam Day 2
Zaanse Schans: This spot is about 25 minutes outside the city center and was a great spot to show the kids Holland. There are Windmills and old Dutch homes to recreate the 18th & 19th century Dutch villages. The kids can pop into all of the different village spots and try things like candle making, see how they made cloth sails and more. A major highlight was climbing up a windmill.
A’Dam Lookout Tower: Go from seeing what life was like in the 18th century to the super modern A’Dam Tower! At A’Dam Tower you can do a virtual roller coaster (my kids loved it so much we did it twice) and the swing over the city. The views of the city from the A’Dam Tower are awesome.
We stayed at the Tower for an early dinner at Butcher which was great.
Then we drove to see Anne Frank’s original house in Oud Zuid. There is a little statue in a small park in the neighborhood. I am glad the girls got to see this before going to the Anne Frank house; to see where she lived before going into hiding. It helps see what a real and normal life she had as a child before hiding.
Walked around Vondelpark: We ended day 2 with a stroll around Vondelpark which is the largest park in the city. This is certainly a spot I’d love to return to in warmer weather. It’s a huge, beautiful park.
Amsterdam Day 3
Anne Frank House: Visiting the Anne Frank house is something I have wanted to do for as long as I can remember. It was also something my girls really wanted to do on the trip. Getting to take my girls at this age and think about the fact that Anne and Margot were about their ages when they entered the house to hide was very powerful for me as a mother. The house is well preserved and there is so much information to listen to as you quietly walk through (grab a headset). At the end, there are lots of letters, notes, magazine clippings, etc to see. Make sure to book this far in advance if you want to visit.
The Mouse Mansion: The Sam and Julia mouse books are popular books in Amsterdam. You can visit their mini mouse world by stopping in the Mouse Mansion Museum. It’s a small shop filled with scenes from the books. It’s like walking through the best decorated dollhouse ever.
Tony Chocolonely: Tony Chocolonely is not only the most delicious chocolate, there’s a great story behind the brand too. I won’t ruin it but if you visit the store you’ll learn all about their mission. There’s also a chance to create your own personalized Tony Chocolonely bars.
Lego Store: The Lego store in Amsterdam is awesome. It’s a lot more fun and interactive than other Lego stores we have visited. The staff was also super friendly. It was fun to see the giant windmill made of Legos too!
Verzetsmuseum Dutch Resistance: This is the most well done children’s history museum I have ever seen. I wish all children could visit while learning about the Holocaust. There’s an entire part of the museum for children. The Resistance Museum Junior is Amsterdam’s first children’s museum about World War Two. There are true stories and authentic items that were part of children’s lives during the occupation by Nazi Germany. You get a look at life during WWII from the point of view of children. It’s very interactive for kids. You walk through mini “homes” of the children you are learning about. My girls did not want to leave. We stayed right until the museum was closing.
Amsterdam Day 4
The Smallest Tea House: I am so happy our friends knew about this spot! My girls love tea and this tea house is a must visit if you can. The tiny house includes a small tea shop on the ground floor and then 2 tiny tea rooms, one on top of the other. The house has been in the family for over 60 years and the owner was wonderful to chat with. The tea and all of the food was excellent.
Van Gogh Museum: Great art museum for kids to see. There is a kid’s scavenger hunt you can pick up at the entrance and if they find everything they get a “prize” at the gift shop at the end.
Canal ride: We loved getting to see Amsterdam by boat, cruising down the canal. We went in the early evening so we could see the Festival of Lights.
Festival of Lights: If you are in Amsterdam around Christmas, make sure to check out the Festival of Lights. It’s best seen on the canal (most things you can only see by boat).
The following morning we flew home. We flew back through Dublin and onto Newark. Of course we wish we could have stayed longer… but 4 days touring around Amsterdam with kids was perfect. We saw so much and still had down time to enjoy just visiting our friends.
Where to stay in Amsterdam with Kids
As I mentioned, we stayed with friends. Many people have asked me where I would recommend staying and after researching around, this spot would be my pick if we were returning with the kids and needed a spot to stay.