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Advice, Please! Paris or Amsterdam?

We have a trip consisting of 9 family members, ranging from 7 to 77! planning to spend 9 days at the end of May split between London and another major city. Which city is better for families - Paris or Amsterdam? We have two experienced travelers who have been to Paris previously, and the rest have not. I'm torn and would love some perspective.

Posted by
3211 posts

Either should be a great choice as there is alot to do. Why not ask the travelers and decide from there. Both cities are pricey, fun, and have fantastic museums, But for food, cafes, churches, romance, nostalgia, music of course it is Paris.
Which ever u decide it will be wonderful. And both cities have enjoyable river/ canal cruise for the family to enjoy.
Enjoy the decision.

Posted by
10854 posts

I’ve been to Amsterdam 6 times , starting with my first visit at 12 - and last year in my mid fifties .

I’ve been to Paris dozens of times .

You do the math , lol

I have taken my children to Paris starting when they were 11 ( they’ve also been to Rome , London , Munich etc ) .

Paris has so much more to do and see .

Posted by
5027 posts

Both are great but with children my choice would be Paris. But I agree with the other poster who said to ask the others. Have them do some research on both cities and then take a vote.

Posted by
10180 posts

I have been to Paris numerous, numerous times since the first visit in 1973, Amsterdam twice in 43 years. Apart from the famous museums. I don't care much for Amsterdam, basically. Paris is another story, where one never tires of being there.

After all, as the song goes, "C'est ça Paris"

Posted by
1979 posts

Both are great choices, but Paris would take longer to see than Amsterdam. You only have 9 days with half in London. Why not stay in Britain, visit York, the Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Salisbury, Stratford Upon Avon, Oxford.

Posted by
282 posts

With two cities and such a short trip you will have to decide whether to fly into one and home from the other ("multi-city" or "open-jaw") or lose a day traveling back to wherever you landed.

I've been to Amsterdam twice and Paris once, so I'm less experienced than many on this thread. My boys were 8 and 11 on the first trip to Amsterdam and there's plenty there to do.

However if 9 days counts your arrival and departure days I'd stay in one place. Day 1 you are jet-lagged zombies. Day 2-4 you explore London, Day 5 you check out and travel, Day 6-8 you explore (say Paris). Day 9 you check out and travel home. Look at the sample itineraries for London, Paris, and Amsterdam (under the Explore Europe section) to get an idea of the absolute most you can pack into one day.

You only travel as fast as the slowest member of a group, so you may find it difficult to get to sights in the morning before the crowds arrive. And don't be afraid to split up and meet back for dinner. That way people can visit whatever appeals most to them.

I agree with the other posters who suggest you encourage your family members to browse a guidebook or the web, then take a vote. You know your family, but in my family we spread the planning around so everyone gets something they like and no one is stressed out from the responsibility of being in charge every single day.

Hope this helps,
Marty

Posted by
20133 posts

Well with 9, I suppose you are looking to reduce the numbers.

If you go to Paris there is always the Seine but that is a lot harder to fall into than a canal in Amsterdam. Hmm.. If you take them on a boat to the Villette Basin in the 19e the tunnel is pretty low....

Then again the bicycles in Amsterdam and the trams are pretty lethal, and they come from all directions. Paris can only counter with car and taxi traffic.

The young'ens might get in trouble with stepping on the grass - in Amsterdam not only can they walk on the grass anywhere, they can smoke it too.

Then maybe you want to keep them all? Then it is really down to what all the 9 want to see, and maybe a vote if they can't agree. I'd suggest a secret ballot rather than a show of hands. Saves intimidation and embarrassment. Or do you just get to tell them, a la Rick Steves?

Posted by
7705 posts

What Fred said. Amsterdam had some charm back in the 1970s on my first visit. When I finally visited again in 2017 I was completely underwhelmed by the city and overwhelmed by the crowds! Paris is endlessly charming and we will make our 6th visit there in May.

FWIW, you could easily spend all 9 days in London or Paris, taking a couple of day trips into the countryside like to Versailles, Windsor, Canterbury, Giverny, etc.

Posted by
176 posts

I may be in the minority, but I'd choose Amsterdam. It's a lot less rushed-feeling than Paris, much less spread out, and you'll be tired from the mad-touring of London. Doing two "big" cities like London and Paris on one trip will lead to touring fatigue unless you really manage the time you sightsee each day. Also, in Amsterdam, you don't have to see the red light/coffee house culture at all unless you specifically seek it out so no worries with the children in that aspect. There is the Anne Frank house, the Van Gogh museum (which is small and very enjoyable, not like a gargantuan Louvre), canal rides, the Heineken Experience, etc. Don't get me wrong, I like Paris, but I would go longer and put a 2-3 day "rest" stop between it and London (e.g. a beach or Swiss Alps) if you choose both big cities.

Posted by
323 posts

With nine days in total, assuming you plan to spend several in London, you only have limited time in the other. Paris is a pleasant enough city for one visit, but I'd make that when you have more time and can see everything worthwhile in your visit without any need to return. So I'd suggest Amsterdam, the principal sights of which you can easily see in three full days without feeling you are short-changing it, whereas Paris needs six days to see what's interesting.

Posted by
8414 posts

I figured votes might be 6 for one and 1/2 dozen for the other!

To add to the pile, I'll say Paris. Amsterdam was OK but we personally found more to do and see which appealed in the City of Lights. If time is shorter, there is something to be said for being able cover Amsterdam in a couple of days, though. Another bonus would be flying in or out of Schiphol versus CDG: that's a really nice airport. Then again, we got really tired of dodging bicycles, and LOVED Paris' museums....

But yep, I'd put a vote to the group, and wouldn't short London: there is a LOT to see in that one too so you could easily spend all of your time there.

Posted by
1208 posts

I like Amsterdam but Paris is the city to name-drop to make friends envious and I think the kids would appreciate that aspect of Paris. Most of their friends have probably never heard of Amsterdam. When our daughter was 4, we did a month's sabbatical in London and visited Belgium and Paris on weekends and the city she talked about when we got home was-Paris.

Posted by
712 posts

What Laurel said. We spent 9 days in London last summer and still had things we didn't get to do. I've spent a cumulative 10 days or so in Paris over the last five years and without repeating sites still have things we want to do there. Your travel between sites will be a lot slower than you think with all those people to herd. Consider one country. Nine days go by fast.

Posted by
650 posts

I agree with staying in the UK this trip.
You would have much more fun in Paris or Amsterdam with just the two of you , on another trip.
Nine people is a heck of a group to have to get from place to place.
How about York?
It's only a couple of hours by train from London, and has some great things that kids would like: walking round the top of the old wall, the wonderful York Museum complete with sounds and smells, the Jorvik Viking exhibit.
Plus a ride on a train is always fun.
The thought of traveling with nine people fills me with terror, personally!

Posted by
3 posts

Wow, I'm so grateful for everyone's amazing, thoughtful perspectives! I just found this site a few days ago, and I feel right at home already! Thank you all so much!

Posted by
443 posts

Put it to a secret vote after they watch Rick Steves and do research. I second Paris, it has enough for people to break off and see what they want and get back together and catch up at dinner. With a seven year old, you will need to find a park for them to play and run around after being unable to during times at Museums. With kids, we visit three sites at most each day. We visit the import sites early in the morning when they open. Later in the day the kids get tired, so one of us agrees to take them outside or don't even enter and go to a park nearby. Make sure everyone starts walking. We average about 7 miles a day when in Europe. If you are fit it makes a large difference.

Posted by
3574 posts

I have good news for the OP: there are no wrong answers here. Whichever you choose, it's all good.

When confronted by life's great dilemmas, how often does that happen? Flip a coin and be happy.

Posted by
10180 posts

"Paris is endlessly charming...." How true! Choose Paris over Amsterdam.

Posted by
6839 posts

I've been to Paris 6 times, totaling 47 nights. I've been to Amsterdam twice, and haven't spent much time there. I think you can guess where I would suggest between those two places. I'm with some of the other posters as far as recommending that you stay in London and maybe a day trip or two out of the area. Bath is great and doable as a day trip. Although I haven't been, maybe somewhere like Brighton could be nice. I hope you have a great trip, no matter where you decide.

Posted by
80 posts

I'd say stay in London, there is so much to see and do plus easy side trips to Stonehenge, Winsdor, etc. However, I would vote for Paris over Amsterdam too. I loved Amsterdam (visited once) but am planning my third trip to Paris!