When people think about Amsterdam, they probably don’t think of it as a child-friendly destination. Amsterdam is famous (or should that be notorious?) for its liberal drugs policy, red light district and relaxed, open-minded atmosphere. Yet Amsterdam also has a completely different side; it is a very versatile city where kids can get involved in all kinds of activities! I therefore recommend you add a visit to a museum which caters for children during your stay in Amsterdam. Discover the history of the Netherlands together with your child, join in with fun experiments and enjoy watching that smile of wonder on your child’s face when he or she discovers something new.
NEMO Science Museum
One of the most famous museums for children in Amsterdam is the NEMO Science Museum. Even though NEMO has been officially labelled a museum, it is anything but boring! Even the least curious will discover some amazing science and technology facts here. This interactive museum doesn’t hand out long-winded explanations which most children don’t (or won’t) listen to. Instead, kids are allowed to create, experiment and interact. By getting involved hands-on, they play and learn at the same time, which means they’ll remember a lot of what they have learned for years to come. A special children’s lecture is held every month where kids can ask questions that are then answered by a scientist. However, he’ll need assistance; all the children are invited to help find the answer. Children from the age of 6 years onwards can participate in chemistry experiments, working with vinegar, baking powder and other everyday products to carry out amusing and interesting experiments. The added safety goggles and white lab coat are the icing on the cake. NEMO is near the central station and is easily accessible.
Anne Frank House
Do you want to teach your children about a specific period of history in a very special way? Take them to the Anne Frank House. It’s an emotional trip, but definitely worth it. Here you will see where Anne Frank got her schooling during the Second World War, what life in the Secret Annex was really like, and learn more about the impact of WWII in the Netherlands. The Anne Frank House is always very busy, so make sure you reserve your tickets in advance. You will need to select a date and a specific time slot; the museum is very strict about timing, so don’t be late.
The Tropenmuseum houses an extensive collection of artefacts, costumes and scenes from the daily lives of global populations. These collections really appeal to the imagination. It’s like taking a round-the-world trip, at the same time giving you the opportunity to learn about other cultures and customs. For children, there is Tropenmuseum Junior. Although, in my opinion, the ‘normal’ museum is also very suitable for children, they have made everything extra-interactive in the Junior section, so that learning, for any age, is a lot of fun. Your kids will absorb a huge amount of information relating to different cultures without even realising it!
Famous all over the world and with a permanent exhibition site in Amsterdam, Madame Tussauds is an absolute must! This museum doesn’t have any separate activities for children, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have fun. They can wander around, take pictures of their favourites and get up close to famous pop stars, bloggers or actors. In Madame Tussauds, children (and adults, too) can sing songs together with their favourite artists, make a speech with a king, create movies and much, much more. And don’t forget, from Madame Tussauds you also have beautiful views over the Dam and Centraal station, so if the parents aren’t interested in the celebrities, they can simply look out of the window.
Jewish Historical Museum
The Jewish Historical Museum might not be the first museum that comes to mind when planning a trip to Amsterdam with the children, but don’t be fooled; this museum has a lot to offer! I would recommend the main museum for slightly older children as some subject matters can be quite intense. However, they are all presented in a beautiful, easy-to-understand manner. Children can really absorb the history of Judaism and the museum has even opened a special children’s section. In the children’s museum, kids get acquainted with Judaism in a really special, fun way. They can cook Jewish dishes, play Jewish music on traditional Jewish instruments and try to write something in Hebrew script. Incredibly instructive, fun and interactive!
The oldest zoo in the Netherlands, Artis is, of course, not a museum. But I have included it in my list as it is the perfect location for you and the kids to visit when the sun shines on Amsterdam. Artis zoo houses animals from all over the world, from apes to zebras. (note from translator: used ‘apes’ as then it indicates animals from ‘a to z’) The Butterfly Garden, where a variety of colourful butterfly species flutter around in a tropical environment, is guaranteed to be a success. In addition to these attractions, Artis has a large aquarium where you can admire different species of tropical fish, sea-horses and sharks; a great experience! If you are traveling with older children, I also recommend you go around the corner to Micropia, the only microbe museum on the planet. Here children will learn everything there is to know about the smallest organisms that live in, on and around us. It is a very interactive museum, and in my opinion perfect for children.