Expert guide to the top things to do in Amsterdam with kids including sightseeing, museums, parks and all that makes Amsterdam a great destination for a city break with kids.
Amsterdam is a very family-friendly city.
Compact, leafy and very safe, it offers a plethora of accommodation options for families and great museums and attractions for all ages.
I am exceptionally fond of Amsterdam and I believe it is one of the best cities to visit in Europe with kids.
I have visited the city many times and this year I was lucky enough to have one of my best friends moving there – the ultimate excuse to go an explore like a local!
Top things to do in Amsterdam with kids
Here are my top picks for things to do in Amsterdam with kids of all ages.
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Nemo Science Museum and its terrace
Amsterdam science museum tops our list as one attraction specifically for kids but easy to enjoy for adults too.
Located in a stunning building close to Central Station, in Amsterdam city center, Nemo museum is an interactive space where kids can learn about science through exhibitions, workshops and hands-on science experiments.
The museum develops over several floors and covers from mechanics to human learning and activities suitable from toddlers to teenagers and adults.
Top tip: At the very top of the building, the museum has a wonderful terrace with additional installations, fountains you can splash in (!) and a cafe.
Take a canal cruise
It may be a touristy thing to do but a boat tour of Amsterdam canals is a fantastic family activity and one of my must-do things to do in Amsterdam with kids in tow.
Several companies offer cruises of different lengths and many are family-friendly: some simply welcome kids while others go the extra mile tantalizing small taste buds with a pizza cruise!
We took a lovely cruise in December and I recommend it as a family activity for all seasons.
In winter, just make sure you pick a boat with a glass roof – not all have them and winter in Amsterdam on the canals gets pretty chilly!
In summer, I highly recommend you get an open-air canal tour instead: it is a great way to visit Amsterdam on a sunny day.
The Tropenmuseum is often mentioned as one of the best museums in Amsterdam for kids in the world and indeed, it has special attention for young visitors.
The museum is an interactive space aimed at teaching kids (and adults) about different cultures around the world.
The museum has a special children route to allow them to experience as much of the space as possible and encourage them to interact as much as possible with what surrounds them to they can have a truly immersive experience.
Artis Royal Zoo and Micropia
Artis Amsterdam zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and its complex now comprises of two attractions: the zoo itself and Micropia.
The zoo caters to kids with specialized workshops, zookeepers talks (in Dutch, but you can ask questions in English) and organized feeding times.
It also has a playground and, in summer, hosts special workshops for children and musical performances.
Top tip: you can bring your own picnic or order a pizza from their outdoor kitchen!
Artis zoo gets pretty busy on a sunny day so we recommend getting skip the line tickets if going at prime visiting time
Visit a houseboat for people…. or cats!
Amsterdam’s canals are the most interesting feature of the city for kids who will no doubt notice the many colorful boats floating in the canals of Amsterdam city center.
What children may not realize is that while some boats are for transport, some are for living.
Houseboats are an incredible thing to visit.
They have the most interesting nooks and crannies and children will love to see what you can do with a small space!
To experience life on a houseboat you have several options.
Openbare Bibliotheek and mouse mansion
A wonderful space for kids and adults is Amsterdam’s central library.
Located in the city cente, not far from the Central Station and a stone throw from Nemo, the library has a great kids section with books, colorful couches and a play area for smaller children.
One of its areas does have books in English.
The library is a great Amsterdam attraction for kids but is wonderful for adults too.
Something not to be missed in Amsterdam’s central library is the Mouse House.
This is a 2m-tall dollhouse for mice (toys, not real ones!) with rooms, hallways, factories and shops.
The library is free and a perfect refuge for a rainy day or if you have toddlers who may want some floor and playtime.
Van Gogh museum
The van Gogh museum tops the travel lists of many Amsterdam visitors and can easily be enjoyed as a family too and not just because of Van Gogh’s colorful and (mostly) child-friendly art.
The museum has special attentions for kids.
They have family tours, family guides, a children treasure hunt and something special: ‘Vincent’s traveling case’, packed with fun activities for kids and adults!
Make sure you stop at the entrance desk for all family information and materials.
You can buy fast track entry tickets to the museum here
Anne Frank House
We haven’t visited the Anne Frank house with our kids and I feel they are too young to understand the magnitude and meaning of the place.
However, if you have children of the right age I do think this can be a really interesting place to see and to bring history to life.
Make sure you book tickets in advance from the house itself.
The Maritime Museum
Another museum to please both kids and adults is the Maritime Museum.
The museum teaches about the history of Dutch maritime endeavors and impressive empire and has something sure to pique the kids’ attention: a full-size replica of an East India Company sailing ship!
The ship is part of the museum and welcomes kids with a discounted price for kids 4 to 11 (kids under 3 go free).
Amsterdam has many beautiful parks and a family favorite is Vondelpark.
The park is large and a pleasure to visit with kids: you can stroll or cycle and several playgrounds make it a favorite for local families and visitors alike.
You can bring a picnic to the park but you also have several food options for a family-friendly meal, including hot dog stands and filly fledged restaurants.
My kids had heard about the famous Dutch pancakes before we left home and so we obliged.
Our two favorite places for them are the Hoxton (child-friendly, despite the cool look and atmosphere) and Pluk.
You can read a selection of our favorite family-friendly restaurants and eateries in Amsterdam here
Another activity not quite for kids as such but pleasant to do as a family is a trip to Amsterdam Noord.
This area of Amsterdam is just in front of the Central Station, on the opposite side from the Canal Ring, and has an interesting history.
Originally an industrial and working-class area, Amsterdam Noord is not a hip and up and coming area with many beer gardens, artsy corner and a lot of green spaces.
A free shuttle boat connects it with Centraal in a matter of minutes and you can spend a whole day wandering around this flat neighborhood.
Here you have the Amsterdam lookout and famous swing (for daredevils and suitable for older kids only), the beautiful Eye Film Museum and a plethora of waterfront eateries with a hip yet family-friendly vibe.
Soccer lovers may be excited by the idea of visiting the stadium of legendary Ajax.
The stadium can be visited on most days and welcome kids: special kids tours are available in Dutch only but they include playtime on the pitch. A perfect and fun opportunity for cultural immersion through play!
Glow in the dark Mini Golf
If you are looking for something fun and unusual to do in Amsterdam with your kids, then you may want to consider the glow in the dark mini golf.
This is a bizarre indoor mini gold course that is a bit of an assault to the senses but in a fin way: the course is flooded with UV lights in different colors!
Amsterdam marionette theatre
I am closing this list with an old fashioned attraction that I believe will charm kids and adults alike: the old marionette theatre.
The theatre holds regular performances with wooden characters that perform opera and music pieces by various composers under the skillful movements of 6 puppeteers.
Some of the performances are specifically for kids.
Performances are usually in Dutch but because of the nature of the show can be enjoyed also by non-Dutch speakers
Additional resources for families traveling to Amsterdam with children:
- Best time to visit Amsterdam (season by season)
- The best area to stay in Amsterdam with family
- Family packing list for a trip to Amsterdam in winter
- One day Amsterdam itinerary for the time-poor
- How to use Amsterdam’s public transport network
I hope you enjoyed this selection of the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids. Safe family travels!