Greetings from Amsterdam, the city of tulips (especially in the Spring), windmills (not many anymore), and bikes (in ever-growing numbers).
Although it is still known to some as a sin city, Amsterdam has become a widely popular destination for visiting and expat families because of its family-friendly vibe!
With my husband, Michael, and our two sons, Isaac and Aaron, we have been here for little over three years, and are still discovering all that this city has to offer to families with young children.
During a recent flight from London to Amsterdam, somebody asked me: What are your favorite things about Amsterdam? Here is how I answered, without hesitation.
Biking, biking, biking!
There are more bikes than people in this city! (We are four and have six bikes, although on a daily basis we use only two bikes). While at the beginning biking in the city was not as simple, it quickly became my favorite thing. Biking makes me happy (unless I am late, especially on the morning school runs).
There are hundreds and hundreds of playgrounds in this city! Outdoor play time is valued and encouraged: whether a hop-scotch on the sidewalk, a neighborhood corner with a climbing dome or slide, or one of the big playgrounds in the city's many parks, playing outside is a favorite activity for Dutch children, whether it rains or shines!
Art museums, often associated with a more contemplative museum experience, may not be the first type of museums you would take young child(ren), but in the Netherlands, many museums have activities for the youngest visitors, from treasure hunts for different age groups, to beautifully-designed family guidebooks, to unique once-off museum tours.
There is so much more to discover about this city.
That's what inspired me to write The ABCs of Amsterdam:
to share, from an outsider-yet-local's point of view, its unique
family-friendly nature with you!
If you are coming to the capital of the Netherlands, make sure to:
bike around the city (tip: unless you are used to biking, consider riding with a guide or with friends/family who know how to bike in the city . Biking in Amsterdam, by experience, it can be a bit intimidating at the beginning.)
allow for some playtime at a playground (tip: choose a playground with a cafe nearby so that you can have coffee or tea while the children play, and enjoy a little break, too, while the children are having fun)
check for special activities for children at the museum(s) you plan to visit (tip: even if there is no activity on a given day, always ask at the ticket or info counter if there's any maps, books, games, etc. that they can use during the visit)
Veel plezier (have fun) and
Tot ziens (bye bye),
Paola at City ABC Books