3 years, 10 months ago
Our passion for the Dutch capital is no secret and we’d be happy if you stripped us of cash and cards and loosed us to just wander around. But even we’ll admit there are quite a few things in the city well worth spending some euros on. Here are our top ten Amsterdam essentials guaranteed to perfectly balance the strolling about for free and leave you plenty over for organic micro-brewery exploration and even a canal boat cruise – if you must.
This is one of our favourite museums and it’s even more spectacular after the recent major renovations. It’s the largest in The Netherlands and includes Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ in its vast permanent collection. Be prepared to spend quite a few hours here, it’s beautifully designed and even at its busiest feels positively meditative.
If you don’t feel like travelling to the beach, you can always cool off for the afternoon at Flevoparkbad. On the edge of gorgeous Flevopark in Amsterdam Oost, this is loved by locals for its Olympic size swimming pool (50m for lap fanatics), sprawl about sunbathing space and cute and safe kids’ pool and playground.
Idiosyncratic, easy going and fantastically friendly, this city beach sums up everything that’s brilliant about Amsterdam. You’ll find it in IJBurg a tram ride from the city centre and it’s the only ‘strand’ where you can swim and, if we tell you IJBurg’s annual summer musical festival is called ‘Shoeless Open Air’, you get the idea.
The Anne Frank House is the city’s most popular museum and tickets are limited to time slots (it makes sense). So we like the Family Programme for parents, grandparents and children. There’s a 30 minute introduction to the museum and the Anne Frank story, time for questions, resource material and you get to explore the museum on your own afterwards.
Pancakes are a bit of a thing in Amsterdam so if we’re singing the praises of one particular place, you know they’re good. Pancakes! Amsterdam is cuteness personified and serves arguably the best pancakes in the city. It’s close to dozens of places on your must-see list and does great breakfast (most important meal of the day and you can choose healthy or go full-indulgent).
One of Europe’s best known zoos and the oldest in The Netherlands, Artis is famous for its commitment to conservation and creating impressively natural environments for its animals. If you’re visiting in summer the zoo is open late on Saturday evenings for a different perspective.
We don’t need to tell you how big biking is in Amsterdam and we’d actively encourage you to hire some pedals and go it alone www.macbike.nl. But we recommend training wheels first and Sandemans New Europe Essential Amsterdam Tour is a great start. In two hours it takes you everywhere from the De Gooyer Windmill to De Pijp nightlife, covers every major museum, more than a few breweries, shopping districts and plenty else. The guides are excellent and it’s all very relaxed.
Unless you have a heart of stone, you’ll love Koos Kneus Puppet Theatre. It’s Sunday and Wednesday performances are Amsterdam traditions and they’re for 2 to 8 year old kids but adults can prepare to be enchanted too. After show dress-up, face painting, drinks and snacks are included in the price.
If all Amsterdam roads lead to tulips, you’ve got quite a tight time window to work in. But if you’re prepared to broaden your floral horizons considerably the city’s incredible botanical gardens are open all year round. Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest in the world and in addition to its astonishing plant collection and huge butterfly house it has special events all year round and regular children’s activity days.
This is probably Europe’s most exciting and innovative photography museum and its eclectic exhibitions are legendary. It’s also in the beautiful Fodor House so the space is pretty fantastic too.
Our budget is based on a family of two adults and two children, but we’ve given you plenty of links for individual prices so you can work out costs for your own shape of family.