For our family Summer adventure this year we had a bit of a road trip driving through France, Belgium and Holland with the aim of spending a few days catching up with a school friend and her family in Amsterdam as the final goal. Visiting a major European city with a 2 year old and 7 year old in tow certainly felt ambitious so it was a huge relief to be visiting a friend who also had young children and could guide us to the tried and tested family friendly destinations.
Our visit highlighted two main things about a family visit to Amsterdam. Firstly, the city itself is incredibly child friendly. There are numerous parks and open spaces and public transport, particularly the trams are straight forward and easily accessible. Just be aware of the bikes! Secondly, we were really surprised at the range of great family days out we could access a short distance from the city. We did have a car with us which made day trips out of town slightly easier but again public transport on both trams and trains is very good.
We spent three full days in Amsterdam and I’d like to share 3 great family friendly days out in and around Amsterdam in this post. As I mentioned we did have access to a car but I will highlight public transport options for each destinations as well as potential costs.
Day Out 1: ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo
Price: Adult (age 10 +) €20.50, Child (age 3 – 9) €17.50, Under 3’s FREE
Getting there: The zoo is easily accessible from most parts of the city by tram. Tram 9 from Amsterdam Central Station and tram 14 from Dam stop at ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. Tram 10 also stops a short walk away from ARTIS. The nearest metro station is Waterlooplein.
This charming zoo is the oldest in the Netherlands having first opened it’s doors in 1838! A visit to the zoo will keep you busy for a full day as there is a huge amount to see and do. In addition to the numerous animal enclosures where you will encounter elephants, gorillas, seals, pelicans and penguins to name a few, there are also play areas, eateries, a huge aquarium, pretty gardens and historic buildings to explore. Many of the enclosures offer up close encounters such as the monumental birdhouse, the tropical forest area and the butterfly pavilion.
Day Out 2: Linnaeushof – Europe’s largest playground
Price: Age 2 + €12.50, Under 2’s are FREE
Getting there: Catch the train from Amsterdam Centraal to Haarlem and then get bus number 50 from there to Linnaeushof. Journey time of approx 1 hour.
OR 35 minute drive by car.
Linnaeushof is billed as Europe’s biggest playground and with 350 pieces of play equipment on one site it’s easy to see why! Linnaeushof has a more simplistic charm than a theme park, which I found incredibly refreshing. A lot of the rides, although offering some degree of a thrill, are peddle powered and indeed playground like. During our visit in the height of the school holidays the park was busy but we didn’t have to queue. We loved the range of play facilities from adventure areas to motor carts, water play area to splash park and separate play areas for toddlers. With large indoor play areas this is the ideal day out for any weather.
Day Out 3: Wijk aan Zee – Beach
Getting there: Train to Beverwijk then number 78 bus to Wijk aan Zee. Journey time approx 1 hour.
OR 30 minute drive by car.
Wijk aan Zee is a fantastic family seaside resort with sweeping long sandy beaches, rolling sand dunes and Med style beach bars right on the sand. We spent a glorious day on the beach paddling, collecting shells and building sand castles. As the day turned to dusk we set up camp on the deck of the Aloha Beach Bar & Restaurant. The bar plays Cafe del Mar style music as the kids played on the slack line and tag in the sand dunes. The food at the Aloha was incredible with cocktails to match as the perfect sundowner. It was quite mind boggling to think we were only 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam…it felt like we at a tranquil beach resort….which in some ways…we were!