Amsterdam with Children
Things to do in Amsterdam with children and what we did on our 4 day family trip.
Amsterdam, Oh Amsterdam-the city of rivers, bikes, space cakes and open-mindedness! But what’s it like travelling to Amsterdam with children? And what’s it like travelling to Amsterdam as a vegan? I’ll tell all in this post!
I first visited Amsterdam when my children’s father and I were together, before our kids were born. We bought one of those cheap P&O ferry deals. I think we paid around £69 each and for that we cruised over to Amsterdam, spent an average of 4 hours there (mostly in coffee shops and the red light district!) and then hopped back on the ferry for an overnight stay whilst we headed back to the UK. I can’t say I liked the ferry, as I get sea-sick, and what my 20-year-old self thought of Amsterdam was that it was all just sex and drugs!
Fast forward to 2018 and I was planning a trip away for me and my 3 children. Up until then, I would never have considered Amsterdam as a place to take children, but I’d been reading lots of positive things online about visiting Amsterdam with children and it looked like the perfect place to test whether I could ‘handle’ to travelling abroad as a single parent.
As I’d been looking for a vegan-friendly destination and some place where English was widely spoken, Amsterdam ticked all my boxes and me and my children were eager to explore its beautiful city.
I booked a 3-day trip to London (which I’ll write about in another blog post) and then 4 days in Amsterdam. We were getting the train down to London, staying in an Airbnb in Finsbury Park (use this link to get £25 off your first Airbnb stay) and then catching a plane to Amsterdam from Heathrow airport. I booked the Bos En Lommer Apartment, which was conveniently located 10 minutes (by car) to Amsterdam city centre.
Bos En Lommer
The apartment was a little bit on the small side for 4 people, but it would be perfect for 2 people. The host and her husband were lovely and only ever a phone call or text away if I needed them. The kitchen had all the amenities you needed for whizzing up some breakfast or lunch and the whole apartment was very well looked after, modern, bright and sparkling clean.
One thing I liked about staying in Bos En Lommer was that we were less than 10 minutes’ walk away from a vegan restaurant ‘Vegan Loving Hut’ (unfortunately we never got the chance to go there, but the reviews are excellent).
The nearest bus or tram stop to go in to the city centre was 1-2 minutes’ walk away. It took 15 minutes to get to Amsterdam Centaal station by bus or 20 minutes by tram. We preferred to ride the trams as it was more fun!
There is a huge supermarket (Van De Broek) with plenty of vegan food choices just a few minutes’ walk away too. We got some lovely Vegan ‘chicken’ Escalopes from there for dinner one evening.
There was also a park (Erasmus Park) for the kids just 2-3 minutes’ walk away from our apartment (at the end of the street) which had a small petting zoo too which my children loved! All of it was free to visit and we went there every day as the children loved seeing the animals and playing in the park, especially the huge sand pit! Some days I sat with a book and we spent over an hour there as it was such a lovely, peaceful park.
If I were to say anything critical about our apartment then it would be the price. I feel it was higher priced than some of the other apartments around and I could have probably found somewhere cheaper if I’d have shopped around a bit more.
But overall, I’d recommend it for its location, cleanliness and friendly hosts.
You can check availability for Bos En Lommer Apartment here.
Our Amsterdam Experience
When we first arrived at the apartment, we were all famished after a day’s travel. My phone battery was dead, and I needed to check the location of any local supermarkets or takeaways to get us something to eat. The kids were starting to play up as the hunger and tiredness caught up with them and it was dark out, so I didn’t really want to start walking the streets with 3 kids in tow looking for a place to eat.
Thankfully my daughter noticed that there was a pizza place directly across from the apartment, so I nipped across and bought us all chips, not the healthiest or most vegan-friendly choice but I was super-grateful right then for that takeaway being there!
I was pleased to find some English channels on the TV, so we settled down with a movie before getting some sleep. Ready for a busy few days ahead.
The next day we couldn’t wait to get out and explore Amsterdam, but first we had to find breakfast! I was happy to find a large supermarket (as mentioned above), just a stone’s throw away, where we grabbed some breads, fruit, soy milk and cereal.
Later we visited Erasmus park which had a free petting zoo which the kids really enjoyed (and which we ended up going to every day whilst we were in Amsterdam because the kids loved it so much, especially the huge sand pit).
We took a tram in to Amsterdam centre, which just took 10 minutes. The trams are quite frequent too, every 10 minutes or so. The kids and I loved riding the trams as there were so much to look at out of the window, especially all the beautiful waterways.
I checked online for ‘things to do in Amsterdam with children whilst on a budget’ and Amsterdam library popped up. I saw that it also had a nice café inside, so we headed there for some exploring and for some lunch.
The children’s library was very impressive and although most of the books were in Dutch, we spent around 20minutes looking around-everything was so colorful 😊
Afterwards we headed up to the top floor of the library where I’d been told you could get a great view of the city and it was true, tall windows allowed us a great view of Amsterdam as we stood and watched the boats go by. The kids and I were ready for lunch by then, so we made our way to the café, which was a bit tricky to find but once we were there I was impressed by the large variety of food options. I went for the ‘make your own salad’ and filled my plate with cous cous, pasta, olives and leafy greens-it was very tasty! My son, the only omnivore, went for a cheese burger and chips and my daughters chose chunky chips with plenty of ketchup!
Anne Frank House
We were booked in to the Anne Frank Museum later that day. I’d booked it 2 months prior to our departure as you must book well in advance. When we got there at 6pm I was surprised at how busy it was. The children had been learning about Anne Frank, the holocaust, Hitler and WWII so to visit the actual place where the Frank family hid during the 2nd world war was humbling, and everyone was silent to show their respects whilst walking around the house.
My kids were the only children there and they got bored and slightly frustrated within the first 20 minutes of being there purely because of how overcrowded it was. You need to walk in a single file, feeling like sardines in a can and shuffling along at a snail’s pace which, doubled with trying to be quiet, wasn’t the best mix for energetic children! Luckily, I could peek their interest now and again by pointing to different pictures on the wall or showing them things which they’d previously read about in Anne Frank’s Diary.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend visiting the Anne Frank museum with children under the age of 12 but for adults it’s worth a visit. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Van Gogh Museum
Over the next 3 days we visited The Van Gogh Museum, iAmsterdam and the Albert Cuyp Market.
I really enjoyed the Van Gogh museum, unfortunately the kids weren’t overly impressed, but I couldn’t blame them. It was very busy inside and each painting was surrounded by a small group of tourists, so my children couldn’t really see anything. They did squeeze through to the front a couple of times though if it was a painting we’d been studying before our trip to Amsterdam, some of those being ‘The Potato Eaters’ and the famous ‘Sunflowers’. It was really cool to see the actual paintings up close.
When I asked my kids which bit of the Van Gogh gallery they liked the most, my son replied, ‘The part when Van Gogh went crazy and started eating his own paint’! Funny, they still remember that part now, oh and the ear incident of course.
On the top floor of the museum there’s a café which sells coffee, tea, juices, smoothies, fruit, scones and pastries. Unfortunately, they didn’t have many vegan options so me and my eldest had a bowl of fruit and my other 2 enjoyed a scone. That along with some smoothies, kept us going for a couple of hours until we returned to the apartment where I cooked some pasta and tomatoes.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Van Gogh museum is the iAmsterdam, a huge model of the word ‘iAmsterdam’ where you can climb up and have some photos taken, there is also a small park with a swing which the kids enjoyed, despite the rainy weather that day.
Albert Cuyp Market
On our last day we visited the Albert Cuyp Market, I was so excited to go as I love a good local market!
I checked on google maps how to get there and we boarded the tram, unfortunately our stop was never called and I soon realised we’d been on the tram far too long, so we quickly got off at the next stop. Upon checking google maps again, I saw we had 23 minutes to walk to get to the market. Luckily the kids were still in high spirits once we got there and I bought us all some famous Dutch fries. The queue to the fries’ stand was massive so I assumed they’d be marvelous. They just tasted like regular chips to me though.
The market was fantastic, I’d say it was the best part of our trip because there was something for everyone. Stalls with clothes, toys, food and the new kids trend ‘squishies’. We spent hours exploring and then sat down outside a little coffee shop where I went in to order drinks. It was a very ‘Dutch’ place with not an English person in sight and I felt slightly nervous when ordering my coffee, unsure if they’d speak English. Just as I was gaining courage to order, a lady speaking perfect Dutch came and pushed right in front of me to order her coffee first. ‘The cheek of it’! I thought. Best not say anything though, the last thing I wanted was an argument when the only word I knew in Dutch was ‘Melk. (milk)
I must say though, that the coffee was THE best coffee I’d ever tasted and if I ever visit Amsterdam again I’ll be heading back there. I’m not sure what the café was called but it was right next door to the StroopWaffel stand and my kids really enjoyed eating some Stroop waffels. I was quite sad that me and Shania couldn’t taste them though, they looked and smelled divine!
On our way home the next morning, I’d clearly underestimated the time it would take to get through Amsterdam’s vast airport and we ended running like wild buffalos through the whole airport, which must have been around a mile long, to get to our plane. Thankfully we just caught it in time although my poor kids and I were all dripping with sweat whilst climbing aboard the plane and it took at least 5 minutes to get our breath back. I treat them all to drinks and snacks as soon as the trolley came though as I had some serious mum-guilt.
Overall our trip to Amsterdam was amazing, the kids loved it and still talk about it now.
Amsterdam with children is a fantastic experience, the culture, the museums, the parks, markets and canals, we had such a memorable and educational time.
Want more Amsterdam tips? Check out The Savvy Way To Discover Amsterdam.
Vegan Food in Amsterdam
Is Amsterdam vegan-friendly? Absolutely! We didn’t eat out much because I was on a tight budget, so we mostly ate at the apartment, which was nice as I could cook something we all liked. If you do get chance to enjoy a meal out though the following vegan restaurants in Amsterdam have great reviews:
Staringplein 22, 1054 VL Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located just across from the Vondelpark, the Vegan Junk Food Bar serves only plant-based meals like the ‘Daddy Mc Chick’n’ or the ‘Loaded Freak Fries’. For children you can get a ‘Chick’n nuggets meal’ with fries and an apple juice.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars by it’s past customers, it’s well worth a visit for those junk food cravings!
After checking the menu of Meatless District, located in the centre of Amsterdam, I was pleasantly surprised to see a vast menu with something for everyone. From breakfast, lunch and dinner, to deserts, beers and cocktails, their mouth watering, plant-based dishes are sure to delight your taste buds!
Have you visited Amsterdam with children? Or as a vegan? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box below!
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