In 2013, UNICEF declared Dutch children as “the happiest in the world,” and for a good reason. Even the country’s largest city, Amsterdam, sports a plethora of playgrounds, parks and child-friendly attractions. “Despite its liberal reputation, Amsterdam is the perfect destination for families. From world-class museums, verdant parks to canal cruises and bicycling, this city has something for both the young and the older,” says travel expert Wilona Tallo from Adviesjagers.nl. With this in mind, here are just a few suggestions to kick off your family holiday.
Science Museum NEMO
Science Museum NEMO is hard to miss. Housed in a boat-shaped building designed by Renzo Piano (the man behind the Pompidou Centre in Paris), NEMO offers interactive exhibits bound to interest both the little ones and adults. The colorful exhibits include “Sensational Science,” which lets children learn about the workings of everyday phenomenon such as sound and light; and “Constructions,” which explains how the forces of nature can be used to build a variety of structures. NEMO also features the largest roof terrace in the city with deckchairs and an interactive water feature.
ARTIS Royal Zoo
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the ARTIS Royal Zoo lets get children get close to a variety of animals. The historic center features a petting zoo, a large aquarium and a planetarium. The area is also home to a charming 1838 building and a cafe that overlooks the center’s African plane. For additional fun, parents can pull their little ones on one of ARTIS’ trolleys. During the summer months of June, July and August, the park comes alive with fairy lights and the sound of live music.
Opened back in 1865 as Nieuwe Park, Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park. Fringed by canals and historic buildings, it attracts around 10 million visitors each year. The park features a huge playground and a kiddie wading pool, as well as tree houses with rope bridges. During the summer months, the park hosts free open-air concerts and a variety of special children’s programs. Better still, Vondelpark is in close proximity to some of the city’s most significant attractions including the Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum.
The Historic Tram
Each Sunday between the months of April and November, the historic tram runs a route between some of the city’s most well-known attractions including the ARTIS Royal Zoo. The wooden tram houses a tea room for a leisurely weekend lunch. Hop off along the way or enjoy a round trip. During the summer months, the Bos-Bus also runs a similar route through the woods stopping at a number of the city’s key attractions.
Amsterdam’s best-known maritime museum, Scheepvaartmuseum features numerous child-friendly exhibitions, including a life-size replica of an East Indian cargo ship. The kid-magnet comes with cannons and plenty of nooks and crannies to keep the little ones happy. Some of the museum’s other attractions include over 400,000 objects such as maps, paintings and navigation instruments.