Amsterdam with the family, itineraries to mix with the locals
Cityguide, LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL
Amsterdam is a lovely city regardless of what time of the year you visit. However, it can also be quite busy, especially during spring and summer.
In fact, some of the main European cities are currently having some mass tourist challenges. A lot of tourists want to visit the city center and all the main touristic attractions, and sometimes they only have one day to do so. This is perfectly understandable; we all want to see wonderful historic buildings and take some memorable pictures. But sometimes that can be quite daunting when you are visiting the city with your whole family and just getting around is already a challenge.
The summer can be particularly difficult. Between the heat and the crowded Amsterdam streets kids tend to get bored and worse, rapidly exhausted. This is not fun for them, and it’s terrible for the parents as well. A lot of us have been there, and these are situations we try to avoid at any cost!
Picture Flying Pig
That is why I thought I could design a couple of family-friendly itineraries for you. These are nice routes to enjoy together and make some lovely memories. In these places, you will see fewer tourists and have the chance to mix with the locals and get a real taste of Amsterdam. I will try to offer experiences that provide amusement for the whole family.
Let’s begin with my Amsterdam summer itineraries for families who want to mix with the locals.
TIP: This route works best if you have a day card for public transport. It will allow you to take the tram any time you want, even if it’s just 900 meters. But, as you know, with kids that can add up to a lot at the end of the day!!
Amsterdam with the family: Let’s go to the beach.
Yes, we do have a beach in Amsterdam, and it’s only minutes away from Central Station.
If you only have a couple of days in the city and you also want to visit the city center, it could be ideal to combine that visit with this one to relax and give the kids and yourself a time to rest and swim.
Picture by Maarten Willenstein
Blijburg is the beach of Amsterdam. To get there, take tram number 26 from Central Station direction Ijburg. It will take you some 15-20 minutes to get to the last stop of this line.
Disembark from the tram at the end of the line and walk toward the beach (continue walking in the same direction that you came with the tram). The walk is approximately 1 km, so make sure you have a stroller if needed.
During your walk, you could consider making a pit stop for some delicious ice cream at the ice cream shop—Ijscuypje—before hitting the sand.
On the beach there is a bar and restaurant, toilets, showers, and everything you might need for a pleasant day. The swimming area is always controlled by the local government services and is limited and marked by nets for the safety of the little ones.
Shade might be an issue. I am not a big fan of sitting in the sun with the kids. They do not provide any parasol services, but you can find some shady space under the terrace.
Next to the beach there is a surf and sailing school for the more adventurous among us.
Once you’ve had enough sun and water, it is time to eat and visit some nice shops before taking the tram back to your accommodations.
You could eat or have some drinks at the harbor, where you can find nice restaurants and choose to sit inside or outside. Tapas from all over the world, a Thai restaurant (opening soon), and 2 other typical Dutch restaurants are the options at hand.
Another fun activity is to walk along the main street of this neighborhood and visit a very highly rated restaurant called Mchi. If you like Asian-fusion dishes, this is your place. The decor might look very fancy, but don’t worry; they are used to children eating there all the time.
Do not forget to visit two nice shops located a little bit further on the Ijburglaan. One has clothes for women and is called The New Classic. They always have a good selection of clothes with a lot of flair and elegance. They focus on quality garments and good advice. The two owners know a lot about styling, as they are professionals, and they will help you create the perfect outfit for you. They always have wonderful and original pieces, like beautiful kimonos or bags.
The other shop, Flo4Kidz, (Ijburglaan 1273-1275) is a paradise for children’s fashion. The owner has amazing taste and always picks up the best items from the best collections and mixes and matches them in new, surprising, and beautiful ways. The shop itself is like a candy store. Do not miss the baby section and the accessories. Sooo cute!
At this point, you might feel quite exhausted, so it might be time to grab a coffee with something sweet or a bread from The Bakkers Fiets bakery, which is just across the street from the two shops I mentioned.
Or, it may be time to take the tram back to Central Station.
Beware: shops and bakeries tend to close early in The Netherlands, so always check their websites to avoid disappointment.
Amsterdam with the family: East Amsterdam Tour
Park with shade and swimming pool, Johan Cruijff, Tropen Museum, and lots of cute shops and restaurants. That’s a brief summary of what this little tour offers.
Take the tram line number 9 trail (it will soon change to be tram line 19); you can start either way. Take the tram and start at your favorite end. Tram 9 exits from Central Station direction Diemen Sniep.
Start your journey by stopping at Alexanderplein. You will immediately see a historical building. It is a museum that has a nice, big section for the kids. It’s called the TropenMuseum.
The museum is fun for kids because is very interactive, and they will learn by doing and touching. It is an equally nice place for parents, and many of the activities are intentionally designed to take the whole family on an exploration journey. Make sure you check their website to see if you need to reserve space in advance.
In the TropenMuseum, you can learn about humankind and discover that, despite cultural differences, we are all essentially the same.
After your visit to the museum, if the kids are small, you could have a stop at the Oosterpark.
It has been recently renovated while maintaining all of the beautiful ancient buildings and features, and it looks lovely. The little swimming pool is a popular spot for the kids in the neighborhood, and your children will love it too. The park and the swimming are free.
The rest of the route will bring you walking along the Linnaeusstraat, which will eventually change into de Middenweg.
On both sides of the street, you will find nice cafés and boutiques. For coffee, I suggest trying the Dutch Starbucks, which is called Coffee Company. Everything is yummy, or “lekker” as they say in Dutch, but it’s a little bit better priced than Starbucks.
If you fancy a lunch by the water, you can find a nice spot at Nomads. They offer lunch and dinner with dishes from all over the world.
After your lunch break, you can continue walking. You will find plenty of shops to fulfill all your wishes. I love this beautiful children’s shop at the Middenweg 46 that’s called Lemonade. If you like fashion for kids, and I guess you do if you are a regular reader of Luna Magazine, I suggest you take a look and enjoy yourself inside.
Not far away from there is Carla, which specializes in beautiful dresses for women. Also, check out Kant for swim suits and lingerie.
A little suggestion for dads if they are interested in football and, particularly, in Johan Cruijff.
I guess the kids now are not aware of who he was? Taking the same tram 9 and stopping at Brinkstraat, you can see the old Ajax stadium grounds, including a big commemorative picture of the most beloved number 14 in the country, and across the street is the neighborhood and house he grew up in. The old Ajax grounds have been totally torn apart, and now it is surrounded by apartments with a square in the center with trees and playgrounds for the kids. However, the center point of the old pitch is marked on the ground in the square, and the flats have letters and numbers indicating the different stadium seating sections.
These are my two itineraries for the moment. I hope you enjoy the city! Let me know if you have doubts, suggestions, questions… See you in Amsterdam.