Our 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 in tow.
Amsterdam is a very family friendly city. Compact, leafy and very safe, it offers a plethora of sightseeing opportunities for all ages as well as museums and attractions specifically for young visitors. I am exceptionally fond of Amsterdam: 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!
I saw Amsterdam with the eyes of a student, those of a professional and lately with the eyes of a mum of young children. It is for them that I compiled this list of the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids.
Top things to do in Amsterdam with kids
When compiling a list such as this one, I try and include both activities the kids love and more standard sightseeing opportunities, even if not ‘for families’ as such.
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 Amsterdam Central Station, the 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 perceptions with activities suitable from toddlers to teenagers and adults.
Our kids adored the installation teaching about the water cleaning cycle and an interactive game in which you protect the Earth from danger from space, while us adults were seriously impressed with the amount of information about mechanics and learning patterns.
For all of us, one of the most pleasant elements of the museum was its terrace. At the very top of the building, the terrace is on the roof of the museum and it is a safe place for kids to play and learn. Here you have some solar installation panels teaching about energy, fountains you can splash in (!) and a cafe.
Nemo is vast so I recommend you take your time to visit properly. The only downside to the museum is that is quite expensive: as a family of 4 we spent over 60 euro and while I can say it was well worth it, I also believe it is a pretty steep price!
If you are on a budget, I recommend checking out the Iamsterdam card: depending on the age of your kids and your plan for the day, it can save you a fortune.
Good to know: Children under 4 go free and access to the terrace is free (just get the lift from the entrance hall, before the ticket stall).
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 pizza!
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!
When you look for things to do in Amsterdam with kids, it’s hard to beat one that involves a boat and pizza!
The Tropenmuseum is often mentioned as one of the best museums for kids in the world and indeed, it has special attention for young visitors.
The museum is an interactive space aimed at teaching kids 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
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 for kids with specialized workshops, zookeepers talks (in Dutch, but you can ask questions in English) and organised feeding times.
It also has a playground and an initiative we have not experienced but would love to: summer nights at the zoo! In June, July and August the zoo extend its Saturday opening hours to sunset and hosts special workshops for children and musical performances: 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 House boat for people…. or cats!
Amsterdam’s canal are the most interesting feature of the city for kids who will no doubt notice the many colourful boats floating on their waters. What children may not realise is that while some boats are for transport, some are for living.
To experience life on a houseboat you have several options. You can stay in one, visit the houseboat museum or take a different approach altogether: visit a house boat converted into a cat refuge!
The perfect combination of culture and cuddles for feline lovers and one of the best things to do in Amsterdam with children who love animals.
Openbare Biblioteke and mouse mansion
A wonderful space for kids and adults is Amsterdam’s central library. Located in the city centre, not far from the Central Station and a stone throw from Nemo, the library has a great kids section with books, colourful 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 2 metre tall dolls house for mice (!) with rooms, hallways, factories and shops.
It is truly impressive and so popular it now has a sister exhibit in a different location too: the mouse mansion shop and studio where, we are told, you can also chat with its creators.
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 a something special: Vincent’s travelling 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
The Maritime Museum
Another museum to please both kids and adults is the Maritime museum. The museum teaches about the history of Ducth maritime endeavours 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 discounted price for kids 4 to 11 (kids under 3 go free). You can see the ship from the Nemo terrace: it is really impressive so if you want to make them excited about it and build anticipation, pointing at it the day before will sure do the trick.
Vondelpark and Kinderkook cafe
Amsterdam has many beautiful parks and a family favourite is Vondelpark.
The park is large and a pleasure to visit with kids: you can stroll or cycle and several playgrounds make it a favourite for local families and visitors alike.
Inside Vondelpark there is also a unique place, the Kinderkook cafe. This cafe has a unique concept in the sense that it is built with the intention of getting the kids involved so much so that they prepare their own food! Kids can make pizza, sandwiches, decorate cupcakes and serve the food. The concept is fun and has great success with young kids but it is worth noticing that being ‘run by kids’ the place is not exactly spotless!
If you don’t feel like getting your kids to cook, you can also enjoy food in many other areas in the part including hot dog stands and the gorgeous cafe and terrace on the edge of the park (towards the museums)
My kids had heard about the famous Dutch pancakes before we left home and so we obliged. Our two favourite places for them are the Hoxton (child friendly, despite the cool look and atmosphere) and Pluk. The latter is not child friendly as such and has stairs that may prove hard for strollers but it is so cute and the pancakes so delicious we cannot stay away.
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. The extra plus for the kids is that you reach it by boat!
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!
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 perform opera and music pieces by various composers under the skillful movements of 6 puppeteers.
Some of the performances are specific for kids. Performances are usually in Dutch but because of the nature of the show can be enjoyed also by non Dutch speakers, which I believe makes for a fantastic cultural experience for children and adults alike.
Additional resources for families travelling to Amsterdam with children:
- Where to stay in Amsterdam with kids: best area and hotels for families
- Best time to visit Amsterdam (season by season)
- Family packing list for a trip to Amsterdam in winter
- One day Amsterdam itinerary for the time poor
I hope you enjoyed this selection of the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids. Safe family travels!