Our family’s favourite winter activity is skating. Seeing the Dutch speed skaters dominate the Olympics year after year had us dreaming of a charming city to visit where you can skate from place to place. That put visiting Amsterdam on our family travel list! But travel with baby comes with its own specific challenges. Here’s a look at visiting Amsterdam with babies and toddlers.
Visiting Amsterdam with Babies & Toddlers: Where to Stay
The best way to get a true sense of a place is to rent an apartment. There are many Amsterdam rentals that are suitable for families, with locations in the city centre, close to landmarks and attractions. Options range from cozy apartments in traditional canal houses to charming cottages with gardens in nearby suburbs, and everything in between. Having a full kitchen when traveling with a baby makes life so much easier. And the extra space a vacation rental usually affords is great for a bit of grown-up time once baby is down for the night.
Keep in mind that European hotel rooms tend to be on the small size, and Amsterdam hotel rooms are no exception. It’s probably best to consider which area you’d like to stay in when visiting Amsterdam with babies and toddlers, as sticking close to where you think you’ll be spending the most time will cut back on sorting out taxis and transportation. Accommodations range from simple hostel-like spaces to ultra-luxurious digs, so finding the best Amsterdam hotels for families depends entirely on your trip plans and budget.
You’ll want to avoid the Red Light District, which can be X-rated even during the day. But overall, central Amsterdam is very compact and walkable. The Leidseplein area is very convenient; it’s close to the museums, canals, shops, and the Vondelpark.
The canal belt and De Jordaan areas are very beautiful and also close to Vondelpark and museums.
Visiting Amsterdam with Babies & Toddlers: What to Do
The aforementioned Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest park and a must-do when visiting Amsterdam with babies and toddlers. Vondelpark is bustling with both locals and tourists. There are many playgrounds, trees to climb, and bicycles with baby seats (or even tandem bikes) to rent. Please note that infants under one year should not ride in a bicycle seat and helmets are a must (but likely not available or difficult to rent in Amsterdam). If you plan on riding a bicycle with your child, probably best to bring your own helmet.
The Artis Zoo is located in central Amsterdam and is one of Europe’s oldest zoos. In addition to the impressive animal exhibits, there are beautiful gardens to explore as well. The zoo also houses a large aquarium and a planetarium. With its downtown location, it’s a full day trip that incorporates culture, history, and nature without having to venture out too far.
Musuems can be easy or hard, depending on the age of your child. But if you’re visiting Amsterdam with a baby or toddler, you can test yourselves a lot since there are more museums per capita in Amsterdam than anywhere else in the world.
Most museums in Amsterdam offer free admission for young children. I maintain that from 18-months to about five-years-old, it’s tough to enjoy visiting museums with kids. If your baby is still very young and not mobile, this is the trip to explore the more serene or solemn ones, like Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. Once baby is up and running, it’s easiest to stick with the best museums for kids. In Amsterdam, there are lots. Scheepvaartmuseum (the Maritime Museum), the NEMO Science Museum, and Tropenmuseum are three good ones to visit with smaller children.
Visiting Amsterdam with Babies & Toddlers: What to Eat
Dutch food is very hearty and (for the most part) pretty plain. In other words, it’s perfect if your toddler has reached the picky stage. If you’re renting in Amsterdam, take advantage of your kitchen and sample delicious local cheese, fresh bread, and Stroopwafel–two thin waffle-like wafers stuck together with caramel syrup.
A wide range of high quality baby food and formula is available in Dutch supermarkets and chemists (drugstores).
There are LOTS of baby- and toddler- and kid-friendly cafes in Amsterdam. The local website Amsterdam Mamas has a comprehensive list.
Visiting Amsterdam with Babies & Toddlers: Getting Around
As with most major cities, car seats are not required if you’re riding in the back seat of a taxi. Whether or not you decide to do this is entirely up to you. You can install your own car seat in a taxi or Uber.
If you won’t be bringing your car seat with you, your best option for getting around while visiting Amsterdam with babies and toddlers is by public transit. Children under four are free to ride. Amsterdam’s network of trains, trams, and buses is fast and family-friendly (and not too difficult to navigate).
If you’re traveling with a stroller, you’ll need to board buses and trams from the rear doors. There is a designated spot inside for standing with the stroller intact. If it’s crowded it might be easier to fold your stroller prior to getting on.
Takiing the train into town from Schiphol aiport will bring you directly to Amsterdam Centraal station. It’s pretty easy to walk to most centrally-located hotels from there if you’re able to manage your baby and your luggage for more than just trekking through the airport.
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