photo by Sanne Hop
Amsterdam may be synonymous with, erm, not so child-friendly activities, but it’s not all Red Light District and coffee shops, promise. Small enough to walk or cycle around yet big enough to have the perks of big-city culture, we got our local mama insider, Sanne Hop to give us some quality tips on the best activities to get up to with your kiddos. With her beautiful Instagram flowing with perfectly curated images of her sweet children and her family's stunning apartment overlooking the canal in central Amsterdam, Sanne, the gorgeous mum of four, is the perfect choice to kick-start our blog. She writes:
Who doesn’t love a stroll amongst beautiful shady trees, admiring the diversity of plants and animals? We love to visit the Royal Zoo Artis to enjoy all these wonderful perks. What I especially love about Artis is the variety of things to do for children of all ages. Having four children, this is definitely something I have to keep in mind. My oldest boy (Ole, 8) loves to visit the planetarium, where one can watch movies about our faraway star systems. My youngest boy (Hannes, 6) is always keen to go to the aquarium and see the beautiful fish and corals. For my oldest girl (Pippa, 3) it’s just the greatest thing to walk around and visit all the animals like the elephants, giraffes, monkeys, and lions. And, of course, there is a fantastic playground with the biggest slides which they all just love.
During the summer months, Artis is open in the evenings until sunset which gives the visit a really magical touch. They also have a special programme called ZOOmeravond, which features live music and pizzas in their garden. It’s also quite special to observe the night-time rituals of the animals.
Another place of interest that is great for all ages is the NEMO science museum. Here you’ll discover how fascinating science and technology really are. It is wonderfully educational, you’ll get to learn all about electricity, light, sound and gravity. I always thought this museum would only be interesting for older children, but because they work with the principle ‘learning by doing’, it’s definitely intriguing for smaller children, too, because they get to be active and use all their senses. Kids can discover and explore how special every day objects are. My boys both love visiting the amazing construction exhibition, which is all about buildings and bridges. They get answers to questions like ‘why don’t towers collapse’ and even get to build their own bridge. For Pippa, a visit to Nemo means she gets to blow giant soap bubbles, some are so big you can even stand in them. On Nemo’s roof you’ll find the largest roof terrace in Amsterdam, with beautiful scenic views over the city. A definite perk for the parents!
photo by Sanne Hop
Jeugdland is located in the Flevopark, a beautiful park in the east of Amsterdam (the park itself is really worth a visit too). This is an idyllic place where we can stay all day long as a family, with plenty of activities to occupy the children. It’s a fantastic natural playground; Pippa loves playing with the water and sand and can do so for hours, with visits to the pet farm for added enjoyment. Ole, meanwhile, is very fond of fishing. Living in the city centre means these kind of activities are not possible around the corner of our home; this definitely makes a visit to Jeugdland even more special for our family. They also have a special program named Maakland. This allows you to take part in various workshops like cooking from nature, building go-carts, baking cakes or building rockets; there never seems to be a lack of activities to engage the whole family whilst enjoying the beautiful great outdoors.
If the weather isn’t great, we often end up at the indoor playground Tun Fun. In all honesty, this isn’t my favourite activity as the loudness levels are quite intense, but I have to say the children absolutely love it (and the do have free, fast WIFI so yay for the parents!) You’ll find a soft play area for the smallest children, so even Kaatje can take part in the fun. You’ll also find huge soft play constructions with ball pools and jungle gyms. And, of course, lots and lots of trampolines and slides. Another exciting feature is the go-kart track, something my oldest can’t get enough of. My personal experience has been that children can really enjoy themselves here for the entire day (if the parents can handle it for that long! :))
Every summer, the theatre festival de Parade travels trough the Netherlands. In August, the festival ends up here in Amsterdam and we’ve been enjoying it ever so much every single year. Before we had children we’d go in the evenings but now, as a family of six, we happily go in the afternoons. Showcasing a hundred different types of theatre, dance and music shows, it’s serves as the perfect day-to-evening outing and best of all, it takes place entirely outdoors. The festival’s children’s program is marvellous, too, and the abundance of little restaurants and bars make the experience complete. One thing my children all love is baking their own poffertjes (kind of like tiny pancakes) at the stand of Au Gwen Marie.
Another favourite is the silent disco, where people dance together with their headphones on – it’ quite a hilarious sight. And finally, at atelier Villa Lila children can craft, paint and work with wood. All in all, the festival serves to be an incredible experience for children of all ages!
We hope this might inspire you to take a trip to the incredible city that is Amsterdam – it’s certainly got us yearning for a visit. Thank you, Sanne, for your wonderful insights. Until next time!