Amsterdam Itinerary for 3 full days, family of 5

hello,
In June our family of 5 is going to Netherlands and Belgium for 2 weeks from Canada (boy age 7, girls ages 15 and 17). I am trying to plan an itinerary to make the best use of our time. We have rented an apartment in the Jordaan district in Amsterdam for the 1st 4 nights, so have 3 full days to explore.
So far I thought:
Day 1: Anne Frank Huis, canal boat tour, Dam square & palace (is it worth going in to the palace?), a walk through pedestrian shopping streets, and Bloemenmarkt. Maybe a walk around Jordaan in the evening.
Day 2: Rijkmuseum, lunch/picnic in Vondelpark (will allow my 7 yr old to run around a bit!), then a walk into the RLD to Oude Kerk (is this worth it and a good use of time? I must admit we are kind of curious and it is within 1 km of our apartment), and dinner outside in Leidseplein if weather permits. Any other suggestions for this day?
Day 3: Thought of a day trip, either Zaanse Schans or Volendam/Marken. Maybe too much to try to do both with the kids?
After Amsterdam we are off to Leiden for 4 nights (due to a connection through an International camp my daughters have with some friends there) so we will choose a couple of trips to perhaps Delft, Haarlem, Kinderdijk and the seaside.
Does all this seem realistic? We like do explore and look around, and don't mind walking quite a bit. My kids have asked for not too many museums!
Thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to give me any suggestions

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7355 posts

With kids in tow I here are some other kid friendly attractions to consider: Zoo, Science Museum, Maritime museum (which has an excellent replica of a 17th centry warship docked outside), and the especially the separate children's art museum at the Hermitage. It also has it's own excellent children specific gift shop. It's pricey and touristy but Madam Toussaus on Dam Square is fun. If your kids play soccer a tour of Amsterdam Arena , or the Ajax Museum (the local team) on Rembrandt square are possibilities.
Both the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk are mostly exhibition spaces for special exhibits and concerts. Both are "decommissioned" and not worth visiting when they are empty.
The palace is excellent and well worth your time, but is open for only a few hours a day so be sure to check their website.
Amsterdam is a great place for going to the movies in the evening. There are two separate Pathe multiplex cinemas, on Muntsplien.

Posted by Stephanie
Seattle
48 posts

Zaanse Schans was great fun and didn't take too much time. I think it would be fun with kids.

Posted by lizjarrettcox
2 posts

Thank you so much!
There are some great ideas there, I had not thought of the Maritime museum (looks great), or the ArenA. They are expressing an interest in the Zoo too...
I looked more into Zaanse Schans and I think we may rent bikes there as well as look around the windmills (my daughters were worried we would be 'just looking at windmills' there, but hard to tell when we have never been!!).

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1583 posts

The Red-Light District is certainly something to see for those of us who live in places where prostitution is illegal. The Oude Kirk has contemporary art exhibitions, which is a cool juxtaposition of the very old church and very new art.

Just a thought - your youngest might enjoy the Tropenmuseum, full of art and objects from non-Western cultures. There are a lot of children's activities throughout. The museum is close to Vondelpark as well. Here's the website: www.tropenmuseum.nl. (You can select English on the website.)

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7355 posts

The tropical museum is indeed an excellent museum, but it's not near Vondel Park. It's near the Zoo.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
2404 posts

lizjarrettcox,

Take a look at the NEMO its close to the main train station (it looks like a green ships hull sticking out of the ground - a freeway goes under it) . Its a really big science museum thats handson. Im an old fart and love science and its was too cool to passup. What i noticed was that for each level you move up, moves up science too. They have a CAD/CAM lab that wasnt open and had a simulated mfg process line with multiple stations. Alot of $$$ into the exhibits and such.

also, around the docks is also the Maritime Museum with a really cool sailing ship. Lunch wasnt bad there either.

happy trails.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2355 posts

It seems okay as long as your young boy is able to walk a lot.

I'd just take note on something: go to Zaanse Schans and Marken on the first day with good weather forecast, even if it means changing the order of the rest. You can combine a day starting at Zaanse Schans, going to Volendam and taking the leisure ferry to Marken.

Kinderdijk is a really interesting place to visit. You can arrive there by boat from Rotterdam as well.

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
454 posts

Have no idea how easy the interests of the girls and the boy can be combined. A few suggestions:

-The Efteling, a Disney-style park the Dutch way just north of Tilburg. To consider for the
whole family.

-Dutch open-air museum Arnhem, a variety of historical buildings in a nice setting.
-Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen, historical open-air museum about the former Zuiderzee, now
IJselmeer.

-Madurodam, a lot of well-known Dutch buildings in miniature in The Hague/Scheveningen, not so far from
the beach. Nice for the boy when in Leiden I think.

-Kasteel De Haar west of Utrecht, really big fairy-tale like castle.

All places can be reached by public transport, you can select English on their websites. You will see that a lot of things in The Netherlands are kid-friendly. Even De Haar has special guided tours for children, just have a look at their website. If you have problems with finding the websites, just ask.

Posted by Laurel
Albany
110 posts

I would definitely go to Eftling!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efteling
I found the zoo and everything there in Amsterdam a bit run down, frankly.
Don't miss the Kattenkabinet Museum, with cats lounging on chairs and cat paintings and sculptures, inside an old gorgeous multi-floor Amsterdam house.
l

Posted by Lo
Tucson
1214 posts

With no dates to indicate when you are going, it may be too late to give another nod to the Tropical Museum, but I will. This is the link to the English version which is not very obvious at the site: http://tropenmuseum.nl/en. I thought this was one of the best presentations of culture(s) I have ever seen. It is highly interactive with art, music, clothing all set up especially for kids.

One kid, my husband, spent the whole time we were there in the room devoted to musical instruments listening to the sounds and watching some videos. I wandered all over the place while he did that, punching buttons to see film and enjoying the displays which are not anything like precious objects in closed glass cases.

I was more interested in the permanent exhibitions (http://tropenmuseum.nl/en/permanent-exhibitions) than in anything else there. We also enjoyed having lunch at the restaurant.

A word of caution about the Rijksmuseum. It is huge, will be crowded almost any time, and it is easy to get lost from each other in it. With a group of 5, you might want to plan accordingly. In the same area are the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk. And there is a boat dock for the canal boats I mention below right on the canal next to the Rijksmuseum.

I don't know if this is the kind of canal tour you are considering, but taking one of the boats around the canals was great fun for us. We got all day tickets and hit almost every canal. We even went out into the harbor. We changed boats at different landings, had lunch near one of them and had a blast. It is another way to get around town and the views of the buildings from the water are quite different than they are from the narrow streets next to them. There is a stop at the Anne Frank Museum as well as at many of the other famous sites. By the way, there is a recorded "tour" that tells you what you are seeing.

About Leiden, we stayed there, too. It's a lovely little college town. Our favorite thing there was this Windmill Museum: http://molendevalk.leiden.nl/en/homepage/. I think your whole family would like exploring it and going all the way up to the top and back down again on the ladder-like staircases that you have to back down.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
2067 posts

I would also hesitate to take the kids to the Rijksmuseum and would choose the Van Gogh Museum instead. It's not quite as big, the art is very accessible (here it's in the school curriculum in gr. 2/3) and they have an excellent audio guide in English for children.

Posted by JerryG
winston salem, nc, usa
700 posts

For your crew, I would urge you to include the Muesum Nemo which is a hands-on child and teen science muesum located near Centrall station.
We spent the better part of a day there with our 11yo grandson and couldn't get him away from the place. The teens will certainly be interested in the area that gives information on how they "develop" into young adulthood, however, you might prefer to be with your 7 year old in the puzzle area.
It, and the Van Gogh muesum along with the the Ann Frank House and the canal tour, were the highlights of that part of our journey.

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
902 posts

One suggestion for Zaanse Schans. There was a fun, short demonstration on making wooden shoes. We got to the park as it was opening, so we were there when several tour buses arrived. (There are all day tours that take you to Zaanse Schans in the morning, and then go on to Volendam and Marken). We just happened to fall into one of them, and were glad we did. The place that does the demo, does them for tour groups. Once the groups were gone, the demos were over (at least for awhile). We had been to Marken earlier in the week. They also had a place that had a wooden shoe demo, but when I asked if they were going to give a talk, they said no.. there was not enough people so they were done for the day. (they were still open for a couple of hours, and there were plenty of people shopping around, so we were disappointed). While we do not generally go on bus tours, they do come in handy. They are a built in audience with money to spend and shops naturally cater to doing what it takes to get them in the door. So watch for the bus tours, and follow them into the wooden shoe store for a great and informative demonstration. (We actually sat through it twice!).

Posted by Robyn
St.Louis
6 posts

My family of 4 will be in Amsterdam in July and we are wondering if you made a choice on which hop on hop off canal tour company to go with? We will only be there for 2 days so reading all the posts has been helpful. But getting mixed reviews on canal boat tour companies.
Thanks,
Robyn

Posted by Robyn
St.Louis
6 posts

My family of 4 will be in Amsterdam in July and we are wondering if you made a choice on which hop on hop off canal tour company to go with? We will only be there for 2 days so reading all the posts has been helpful. But getting mixed reviews on canal boat tour companies.
Thanks,
Robyn

Posted by Cindy
Cherry Hill, NJ
29 posts

For what it's worth, we were advised by our B&B hosts to stay away from the HOHO boats. "They're worth the trouble"
I'm not sure why, but we took their advice and walked everywhere (glad to walk off all the cheese samplings). We did take a 75 min canal tour boat that we boarded near Anne Frank House.