Things to do in Amsterdam with a tween

Amsterdam isn’t all prostitutes, sex shows, stag parties and coffee shops that sell more than coffee. It’s a beautiful city and there’s lots to do with children. You just have to know where to look!

On our recent trip to Amsterdam with my daughter, who is 9, this is what we did.

Boat trip on the canal

This is pretty much essential, whether you’ve got a tween, a toddler or you’re travelling alone. The canals are the heart of Amsterdam and it’s a great way to really appreciate the beauty of the old part of the city. It’s also a good way to get your bearings and work out which parts of the city you’d like to explore.

Boat trips are always on a boat with a clear roof, so you can see everything, whatever the weather. There’s usually a commentary in English too, although some boats give more commentary than others.

Amsterdam, Holiday, Things to do in Amsterdam

Photo taken through the roof of the boat

Amsterdam Zoo

In the last few months, my daughter has transformed from animal hater to animal lover. She has never liked zoos, but she requested that we visit Amsterdam Zoo (Artis Royal Zoo). It wasn’t cheap to get in – €19.95 for over 10s and €16.50 for 3-9 year olds, but it was a lovely zoo and was definitely worth the money.

Giraffe, Amsterdam Zoo, Amsterdam, Holiday

It’s got all of the usual zoo animals in a relatively small space, including my favourites – elephants and giraffes. The giraffes included some very young giraffes – one of whom kept putting his head over the wall and eating the plants right by where people were watching. So people started feeding it. It was the cutest thing ever – I even fed it myself. I can’t imagine that ever being allowed at Chester or Bristol.

Giraffe, Zoo, Amsterdam Zoo, Things to do in Amsterdam

My daughter has suddenly developed an interest in reptiles and loved seeing them. She was in awe of the crocodile and said it was her first time seeing one. (It really wasn’t, but it just shows she’s always blocked zoos out as she hated them so much.)

Seal, Zoo, Amsterdam Zoo, Amsterdam, Holiday

We were lucky enough to stumble across the seals being fed. It was highly entertaining – the seals were all jumping out of the water when they were called to catch their fish. They jumped up onto a high platform and belly-flopped back off it. They gave their keeper a hug and shouted as loud as they could. My daughter thought it was one of the best things she’d ever seen.

Butterfly, Zoo, Amsterdam zoo, Holiday

Van Gogh Museum

I have a love of art going back to my teens, but my husband has never been interested in either art or museums, so I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to my suggestion of going to the Van Gogh Museum.

The museum has a huge collection of paintings by Van Gogh, plus letters and loads of information about him. I knew that he’d cut his own ear off, but I had never appreciated that he had died so young or that his art career had been so short-lived – just 10 years.

It is a stunning collection and well worth a visit. I’m pleased to say my husband enjoyed it as much as I did – in fact he seemed to read up on all the paintings even more than me! You can get a multimedia headset to enhance your tour for €5, which a lot of people did. The kids’ version, which my daughter had, encourages the children to find particular paintings and answer questions about them.

The museum gets BUSY. It opens at 9am and we got there at 9.15 and had to wait an hour to get in. You can of course book online in advance to save yourself some time (we didn’t), but even people with tickets had quite a wait. Entrance costs €17 for adults and is free for under 18s.

PicMonkey vangoghmuseumCollage, Van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Wester Tower

This is a beautiful tall tower, which is part of the church right by Anne Frank’s house. In fact, it was mentioned several times in Anne Frank’s diary – she was even able to see it from her hiding place.

Although part of the church, the tower also has a social and civil function in Amsterdam. The chime of the bells is beautiful and it also plays tunes on the bells twice a week – everything from hymns to Beatles music!

Wester Tower, Amsterdam, Holiday, Kids, Travel

My daughter was particularly keen to go up the Wester Tower as she had read about it before we went to Amsterdam. It costs €7.50 per person (no concessions for children) and only six people can go up at a time. You need to arrive fairly early to book yourself a time-slot.

You climb up six floors and 182 (very steep, narrow) steps to a height of 42 metres – about half way up the tower. As you go up, you learn about the history of the tower, then you get to go outside and see the city from above. The views are stunning.

Be aware – the steps are quite hard going and, as a claustrophobic, I struggled slightly with how narrow and enclosed it was. But my daughter loved it!

Amsterdam, View, Wester Tower, 365

Wester Tower, Amsterdam, View, Holiday

Anne Frank House

I visited this with my husband two years ago and decided not to visit with my daughter. She’s only 9 and I thought it might be overwhelming and confusing for her.

Plus, the queues are RIDICULOUS. I have never seen queues like them. You can book online in advance, but you have to book months and months in advance.

Cycling

Cycling is a brilliant way to see Amsterdam and to get around. You can read more about that here.

Cycling, Amsterdam

Still not enough suggestions for you? There’s even more suggestions from Netherlands Tourism here.

Going to the toilet seems to cost 50C most places – from cafes and restaurants to museums, so it’s always worth making sure you have a couple of coins to hand.

 

Author: Sarah Mummy

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20 Comments

  1. the photo’s from the Wester Tower look wonderful, thank you for re igniting my memories of my time in Amsterdam

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    • It was a fantastic view from up there! You’re very welcome! Thanks for commenting.

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  2. What a wonderful city….Gorgeous photos! You fitted so much in on your trip x

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    • Thanks very much! It really is a beautiful city and I would go back tomorrow if I could! x

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  3. Great guide. I’ve never been up the Westertower myself. I can also recommend the Amstel Park – it has a petting zoo, a playground suitable for various ages and some fairground rides, besides just being a great park to wander around in. It also has nice cafes for lunch/coffee.

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    • That sounds fab! We went to Vondel Park to ride the bikes round – in fact we liked it so much we rode round it in the morning and the afternoon!

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  4. It looks so so good, I really really want to go next year once the baby is old enough to travel (and where we’re confident enough!). Amsterdam doesn’t look too far to fly and so much to do with little ones!

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    • I really hope you get to go soon! When you’re ready to fly, it will be the easiest flight possible as it is so near!

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  5. Great post! My son went to Amsterdam when he was 11, he was performing in the Musik Theatre there. He had plenty of days out there during the day, one being the Van.Gogh museum. He loved the vibrant city and took many photos of the canals and bicycles. X

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    • What an exciting thing for him to do! It’s such a beautiful city and the canals and bikes are so much a part of it.

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  6. Have always wanted to visit Amsterdam although it is the museums that appeal but the queues and crowds would test me!

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    • It is a really lovely place. I was surprised at how long we had to queue for the Van Gogh Museum. I dread to think how long people waited for the Anne Frank! It’s well worth a visit, though.

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  7. I agree – it’s a great place to visit with kids, loads to see even when they’re little. I’m just back after a visit with my daughter and we did a lot of similar things including the lovely zoo. #countrykids

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    • It’s a fantastic place to visit, isn’t it? My daughter is very keen to go back. My sons spent a day there while they were on Scout camp, but would like to have a proper visit too.

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  8. I spent a couple of days in Amsterdam with a friend, years ago. We loved it, and mainly spent our time wandering around. But, we did go to the Van Gogh Museum, which is fabulous. Glad you had such a fun few days x

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    • I think wandering (or cycling!) around is the best thing to do! It’s such a lovely place 🙂

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  9. I visited Amsterdam with my parents and my younger brother when I was about 10 and it was amazing and we had such a great time. It looks like you had a wonderful time, and all of your photos are great

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  10. Wow, looks like you had a great time. Amsterdam is a very good overnight ferry from here. Still never been! It’s on the list for when they’re a bit older #SummerFaves

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  11. I would LOVE to see the Anne Frank house. I haven’t been to Amseterdam for years but Van Gogh was wonderful! An absolute must for both with kids!
    #familytraveltips

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  12. Oh gosh this makes me really want to take my girls to Amsterdam. I want to go to the Anne Frank house and I really want to go on a boat trip down the canal when I’m not drunk and it doesn’t sink. #LifeGoals. Thank you for linking up to #familiytraveltips.
    Nat.x

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