A Perfect Trip to Europe: Visiting Holland with Kids
There’s so much more to Holland than windmills, clogs and tulips. From world-class museums and historic parks in Amsterdam to kid-friendly activities in the Hague, the Netherlands make a perfect place to explore the sights and sounds of Europe. My husband Kevin and I had an easy time planning activities in kid-friendly Holland to keep our 5- and 7-year-old having fun and learning. Here are our favorite experiences:
See the world’s largest collection of art by Vincent Van Gogh including Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles, Almond Blossoms, and more at the Van Gough Museum. Experience the museum in several interactive ways. Our kids enjoyed the treasure hunt (and special prize at the end) as they found different paintings and discovered their favorites. Borrow Vincent’s Traveling Case at the front desk for fun kid-friendly assignments and activities. The audio guides for parents and kids are informative with a special family guide. After museum time, get a bite to eat at the tasty café overlooking Museumplein, a downtown park with a playground nearby.
Looking for more world-class art and culture? Find famous paintings like Rembrandt’s Night Watch and Vermeer’s Milkmaid at Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum. Nearby, visit the Amsterdam Museum where your kids will learn about the history of Amsterdam and walk through a 17thcentury orphanage with hidden doors and passages. Take the Amsterdam DNA Family Tour at the Amsterdam Museum to learn about the history of Amsterdam in less than an hour. The Dutch Resistance Museum, our favorite museum, tells the history of the Dutch people during World War II. At the museum (best for children 8 and up), learn about the Dutch people who joined the resistance to Nazi power and walk through the re-created homes and businesses of Dutch people during Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
Ride bikes through Vondelpark, the biggest greenspace in Amsterdam. Rent traditional bikes and bakfiets (bikes with a basket for children to ride seated in the front) from A-Bike Vondelpark, located close to the park entrance with incredibly helpful and pleasant staff. Ride on the wide paths around Vondelpark and find the many fun and challenging playgrounds.
Not your ordinary stack of American pancakes, devour a Dutch pancake. These pancakes reminded us of a mix of crepes and traditional American pancakes. We scarfed them down at the Pancake Bakery near the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, where you can get them topped with bacon and cheese, tomato and pesto, or lots of powdered sugar, whipped cream, and strawberries.
Get the I Amsterdam Card to visit a variety of museums and attractions all over Amsterdam, including not-to-miss sites like the Van Gough Museum, Artis Royal Zoo, NEMO Science Museum and sixty additional places. The card is only available for adults, as kids get into most of the sites for free or a low admission price.
Famous as the home of the United Nation’s International Court of Justice and the Dutch King’s home, the Hague is about an hour train ride from Amsterdam. See Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring at Mauritshuis, and browse the popular M.C. Escher Museum. This museum will bring back fond memories of those cool Escher t-shirts, prints, and books we all had in high school.
Scheveningen Beach is fifteen minutes from the Hague city center by tram. On your way out of the Hague City center, grab an oliebollen at one of the street stalls downtown. Oliebollens are fried, doughy concoctions perfect for a sweet pick-me-up. At Scheveningen, take in the beach and view, ride the Ferris wheel, and explore the aquarium at SEA Life Scheveningen.
Your trip to Holland is not complete without a trip to Madurodam, about 10 minutes from the Hague city center. The Netherlands in miniature cityscapes, buildings, and trains will blow your kids’ minds. Watch the planes and baggage move at the Schiphol airport, see the windmills of Kinderdijk, watch a moving amusement park, play with water features, manage port traffic, and more. The Miffy playground and a cool older kid playground with a fishing boat, pirate ship, and zip line make for a few hours of fun. At Madurodam, your family can even get miniature 3D figurines made of yourself and your family. The restaurant and gift shop on site are top-notch as well.
Where to Stay in Holland
Amsterdam: Stay in the city center of Amsterdam in the canal district at the modern, boutique Albus hotel. This four-star hotel is welcoming to families with spacious rooms including a king bed for parents and a sofa bed for the kids to share. Book the sweet family suite and kids receive a surprise pack, breakfast is free, and you can borrow a Wii, baby bath or crib. An adult perk is the mini-keg of Heineken on tap in the room. The breakfast is delicious. Free late check-out of 2 p.m.
Scheveningen: Hotel Mimosa Scheveningen is a quaint beach hotel located in the neighborhood next to the beach. It provides affordable, clean rooms.
Search the Official Guide for Visiting Holland for additional help planning your trip.
More Details to Consider for Your Trip
Planning: Start your trip planning early enough to make sure all passports are in order and to find good deals on flights and hotels. To save money, consider an Airbnb or HomeAway property with a kitchen, so you can make breakfast or sandwiches for lunch.