Where to take the kids for the holiday? For example, in a city at the boundary between real and imaginary. Where the houses are on the canals and the bridges opens by rotating so a boat can passes. Where you travel by bicycle and after less than half an hour from the city you are among cows in the pasture, and then you discover that every 200 meters there is a hidden garden or fantastic playground. Here are 10 places to discover in Amsterdam with the kids.

1. Cycling from the city to the sea

Amsterdam doesn’t offers only coffee shops, night clubs, and picturesque canals: just a few kilometers away you can discover a rural area full of charm. It is the Waterland region, north of the capital, characterized by green and blue expanses. To start our bike tour, you must get on the free Buikloterwegveer ferry that leaves behind Centraal Station. It will then be easy to follow the route, thanks to the numerous red and white signs. The circular route allows us to discover the polders, pieces of land reclaimed from the sea that are now covered with meadows and pastures and the lotus wetlands that together form an enchanting countryside populated by herons and other birds. Along the route of about 48 km you meet small villages, including Durgedam and Monnickendam characterized by small harbors and colorful historical centers.

2. Getting lost in the mills

If we think of Amsterdam and the Netherlands can not help but think of the windmills. But what is the best place to admire them? No doubt, Zaanse Schans! It is a small bay, not far from the capital, which once housed more than 600 windmills. Now there are a dozen, that transform this industrial manufacturing center into an open-air museum, visited each year by thousands of travelers. Walking among the mills, the traditional houses and shops is like taking a journey through time and even children will be delighted.

Zaanse Schans, open-air museum near Amsterdam

3. At the helm of a real ship

Come aboard the huge wooden ship “Amsterdam” moored in the waters in front of the National Maritime Museum. It’s a faithful reconstruction of the original ship, belonging to the East India Companies. Here the children are enchanted by the dark spaces and downs of the hold. They try to lift heavy crates or learn how to controlling a real cannon with gunpowder. Explore the rooms of the captain, including the bedroom and the bathrooms. They find that one of the ways to sleep on the ship were the hammocks hung between the wooden pillars of the ship. They go up and down the narrow stairs and up to the highest part and to drive the enormous rudder.

Our visit to the National Maritime Museum of Amsterdam (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) started right from the ship “Amsterdam”, and continued inside the beautiful building of the seventeenth-century Dutch navy once used as storage for sails, ropes, weapons and ammunition. Today the building houses the interactive routes to find out how sea has influenced the culture of the city.

Room after room we discovered 500 years of maritime history of Amsterdam, we are immersed in the life on the ship, we saw the navigational tools in a striking starry room, we entered the mouth of a whale to find out how the relationship of this huge animal and man has changed over the centuries.

More information: Maritime Museum in Amsterdam

National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam

4. In the house of a great artist

Children immediately notice the colored windows of this canal house and convince them to come in for a visit is really easy. The interactive guides passionate even the smallest and explain the history of this small establishment where the great artist Rembrandt lived between 1639 and 1658. It’s really unbelievable discover that an artist of his reach despite having devoted his life to painting was not managed to pay off the mortgage to purchase the house, which had been lost and gone for auction. Thanks to the meticulous documentation describing the space and the contents of the house for the auction, and some paintings by Rembrandt, it was possible to later reconstruct the interior spaces of the house, furnished with many details. The children are enchanted by the paintings, the colors produced with crushed natural stone, from the small bed in the closet artist. But it’s not too small for a man? This is a bed for a child? No, our guide tells us that once the people were lowest, and that they preferred to sleep crouched, and not fully extended.

More information: Rembrandt House Museum

5. Eco-friendly accommodations in and around Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city that care for ecology and environmental sustainability. In the center and around, tourist facilities that respect the environment are many. Hotels, camping sites in the city, hostels and artistic and original spaces host travelers from all over the world using local food, clean energy and ecological cleaning products.

6. A dip in nature, among parks and swimming pools

From the botanical garden to the forest, the green areas of Amsterdam are over 30 and are perfect to spend some time relaxing with family. There is for example the Vondelpark, in the center, which hosts play areas for children, restaurants and the Museum of Cinema. South of the city there’s the Amsterdam Bos, the city’s forest characterized by lakes and streams. Here, for a few years, some Scottish buffalo roam free; Children will have fun looking for them and observing them.

In many green areas around the city there are also small petting zoo that allow children to see animals like chickens, rabbits, goats, lambs that usually do not live in urban areas.

In Jordaan, one of the most beautiful districts of the city, there’s Het Marnix, a complex of two swimming pools, a gym, a spa, a wellness center and a café.

7. Travelling freely between the canals of Amsterdam

The famous canal district is the heart of the city and, since 2003, Unesco World Heritage Site. An aperitif on the terrace, a boat ride, a walk through the bridges, roads and characteristic houses: choosing any way to experience this corner of the city you’ll be fascinated, as well as children.

8. Giraffe and elephants in the city center

Artis Zoo is the oldest zoo in the country and is located in the heart of Amsterdam. The kids, and you with them, will be able to admire the tropical fish in the Aquarium, discover the Forest House, incredible tropical environment, or discover the African savannah in a huge area that is home to zebras, giraffes and antelopes.

In addition, you can visit Micropia. This innovative museum is totally dedicated to microorganisms, in an original way: making the invisible visible. We associate the word “bacteria” a negative connotation. Well, Micropia is here to debunk this. Recommended for children ages 8 and up.

More information: Artis Zoo Amsterdam

9. Museums can be fun

In Amsterdam, adults should not give up visiting museums for fear of boring their children. Virtually all of the structures in Amsterdam have a section dedicated to the game and to the entertainment of children.

The Museum of the Nemo Science is one of the most beautiful, perfect place to spend a rainy day. In a beautiful building designed by Renzo Piano, large and small visitors can touch, smell and listen to understand how the world works!

More information: Museum Nemo

10. A holiday all by bike!

The bike for the Dutch is more than an occasional means of transport, is a lifestyle, a real alternative to the car. If your child is not old enough to drive one or to deal with the bicycle traffic, the perfect solution is the Bakfiets, a bike that has on the front a wooden box where can accomodate up to 4 children!

Near Eindhoven there is a new attraction that you can’t miss, the Van Gogh Roosegaarde Bicycle Path, a cycle path that is inspired by the famous and wonderful painting “Starry Night” by Van Gogh.

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Author: Silvia Ombellini

Sono un architetto con la passione del viaggio, una mamma che sente sempre più urgente e necessario riuscire a vivere in armonia con l’ecosistema del quale siamo parte. Dopo la nascita del mio secondo bimbo è nato anche ViaggiVerdi, un'avventura intrapresa per cambiare il modo di viaggiare, per renderlo più sostenibile, giusto e buono con l'ambiente, i luoghi e le persone che li abitano.
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