There is so much to do and so much to see, so how do you choose? Let me help you out and share what our favourites have been during our years in the Netherlands.
1. Visit Amsterdam
A long time ago (oh my goodness can I say “20” years ago?) during my student years I lived in Amsterdam for about 7 years. A lot has changed I must say, but visiting Amsterdam should definitely be on your list. It depends on how long you are staying in The Netherlands but I would suggest 1 or 2 days definitely to see the city.
When we just arrived in the Netherlands, we did an artist’s study of Rembrandt van Rijn. We learned about his works (watched a funny video where a group of people acted out the painting) and why it was so special, so when we eventually went to Amsterdam to see it the kids already knew something about the paintings. Definitely visit the Rijksmuseum if you are in Amsterdam. Kids can enter for free (until 18 years) and adults pay 20 euros.
After a morning of walking around and visiting a museum your kids will be thrilled to visit a museum especially for them. The Nemo Science Museum is full of activities for kids. They can explore, touch and do all kinds of science experiments. The only setback would be that it can get very crowded, especially later on in the day. Tickets are 17,50 per person (kids or adults). If you are planning on visiting more museums during your stay I would recommend buying a museum year card because that would save a lot of money. You could order the card ahead of time if you have a Dutch address (it takes 5 days to arrive).
Anne Frank Museum
When I was a student back in the days, I used to work in the Anne Frank museum. I worked in the cafeteria making cappuccinos or espressos and serving people Dutch “gevulde koek”. It always stayed in my heart as the people who worked there were so kind and the museum had a very special history. I didn’t get a chance to go see it with our kids until now but if your kids are older and they know about Second World War History this would be a great addition. I think we will try to visit it in the coming months and I will write about it. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time because it was fully booked for 3 weeks straight (but it is summer and busy season). After the summer it should slow down I think.
There is so much more to Amsterdam of course. You can do a guided boat tour, walk around on the Prinsengracht, Herengracht or one of the many others. There are many museums that are child friendly, and I think you should definitely have a nice lunch near the canals. Or, buy your lunch in a nearby supermarket and eat it in the Vondelpark. That would be a cheaper option but just as fun.
2. Drive around the Tulipfields or visit Keukenhof
Holland in Spring might be my absolute favorite time of the year here. Everything in nature starts to come back to life, the trees start to blossom and of course the tulips start blooming! The most famous location of all is, of course, Keukenhof. I lived in Holland for about 15 years when I was younger and never had visited the Keukenhof! A year before covid entered the world, I finally went to see it with 2 other girlfriends. It was stunning! If you love flowers you are in for a treat. Go very early in the morning and then go somewhere else to have lunch. You could also do a tulip route and drive around to see the fields in the nearby area. The Tulip Experience, Tulip Barn or Tulperij is just around the corner and enjoyable for kids. You can also rent bicycles and see the area on bike.
3. Visit Giethoorn
Maybe I am biased but I definitely recommend visiting Giethoorn. I came to Holland when I was about 10 years old and grew up just 10 minutes from Giethoorn in the nearby city of Steenwijk. A lot of people that work in Giethoorn actually live in Steenwijk or other nearby cities. When I was younger we would ride our bikes to Giethoorn and rent a boat and spend time on the lake.
Some call it the Dutch Venice because all the houses are completely surrounded by water. This year was the first time I actually took a guided boattour with my husband and kids and I learned so much more about Giethoorn. Spend a day or 2 in this area, you will not be disappointed. Take a boat-tour to learn about this village and maybe the day after rent a boat yourself and explore the lake. Eat Dutch pancakes in one of the local restaurants and enjoy all this area has to offer!
4. Visit the Military Museum in Soest
Our family has visited about 17 museums in Holland in the last 3,5 years and the Military Museum in Soest is one of their favourites. It’s definitely a favourite with the boys but even our girls had a great time. There is a big indoor and outdoor area with all kinds of vehicles, interactive rooms and just lots to see and do.
Kids from 8 years old (and minimum of 1.35cm) can ride in a mini-tank, younger ones can drive a mini jeep (you do have to pay extra for this). If the weather is nice then definitely try this place out. They are closed on Monday so keep that in mind. Adults pay 16,50 and kids up to 12 years old pay 8,50. Read about our day here.
5. Visit Madurodam in Den Hague
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands but Den Hague is known as the political capital. I think Den Hague is such a lovely city. It has an international air to it, it’s close to the beach (Scheveningen) and there are many fun things to do for kids. Take a walk downtown to see “het torentje” where the prime Minister Mark Rutte works. Try out some good coffee and ice cream spots and of course visit Madurodam.
Here you can see all of the Netherlands in miniature. The prices range from 17 euros to 22 euros per person. For those living in the Netherlands, you can get a discount if you have car insurance with ANWB.
6. Explore the Dutch fishing villages: Zaanse Schans, Volendam, Marken
When people think about Holland they usually visualize tulips, wooden shoes and windmills, right? Well in this area you will definitely see some of that. In Marken you can visit a real wooden shoe museum and in the Zaanse Schans you can walk around and marvel at the charming windmills. After that, hop into the nearby museum and your kids will have a great time. Our girls loved the chocolate wrapping machine (you can draw and design your own wrapping paper).
Then continue for Volendam and get your photo taken in traditional Dutch attire. You can also take a boat from Volendam to Marken and explore this little fisher island. You can read about Marken here.
7. the Openluchtmuseum in Arnhem
So many friends had told me about the Openluchtmuseum and how cool it was, and so finally in the Spring of 2021 we got to visit the place. First of all, it’s mostly outside so you will have to keep the weather in mind. There is a historic tram ride that you can hop on and off on any of the 6 stops. There are all kinds of historic buildings, traditional crafts, there is so much to see! I think especially as a tourist you can learn alot about the Netherlands and your kids can have fun.
8. Visit a Dutch attraction park: Efteling/ Walibi/ Hellendoorn/ Duinrell/ Slagharen/ Archeon/ Dinoland
I think all kids love a good day at an attraction park. The most famous and largest amusement park here is Efteling, in Kaatsheuvel. It’s known for its fairy-tale atmosphere and has all kinds of myths, legends and folklore in their presentation. There are attractions for little ones and older kids. The biggest roller coaster has a height minimum so you might want to check that ahead of time (so no one gets disappointed). Speaking from experience…Our kids liked Efteling but there were long lines everywhere and that took a lot of fun out of it. Their favourite so far has been Dinoland. It’s not an attraction park with rollercoasters but there are some fun things to do.
9. Netherlands Bakery museum Hattem
We have very fond memories of the Dutch Bakery Museum in Hattem. First of all, it’s located in five beautiful historic buildings so the setting is charming. There is a special area outside (right next to the terrace where you can order food and drinks) where the children get some dough and can work their magic. Inside another building you can find information about the history of baking in the Netherlands and there is also a museum theater. One of the bakers performed a show for the children and it was hilarious. Even though the kids didn’t understand all of it (we just arrived in The Netherlands at the time) they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Definitely try out the authentic Dutch “poffertjes” (mini pancakes) at the Poffertjes salon.
10. Visit the city of Delft
I am wrapping this up with the city of Delft, where we live just around the corner. First of all Delft is a charming city. It’s also known as the “city of Orange” as the Royal Dutch family has ties to it going back hundreds of years. (Almost all of them have been buried in the New Church in Delft.) Delft is not as big as Amsterdam or Rotterdam but has a cozy feeling to it. You can explore the whole city in little time. I would suggest walking around the city, checking out the historical Town Hall (the tower was once used as a prison in the Middle ages) and the Old and New Church. You can read more about Delft here.