While many people refer to the Netherlands as “Holland,” that’s just two of the country’s 12 provinces. Known for cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, the Hague and Delft, the beautiful country is an extremely family friendly destination. Also home to some of the world’s most famous artists, like Van Gogh and Rembrandt, the Netherlands provides children with a bit of artistic culture. Read on for 7 fun things to do in the Netherlands with kids, including canals, windmills, and even miniature cities.
7 Fun Things to do in the Netherlands with Kids
While Amsterdam is likely the Netherland’s most popular destination, and certainly worth a visit, there are many other places to explore for a terrific family vacation. The small country is easily accessible by car and train, making it ideal for kids without a lot of “are we there yet?” whining. We visited during the month of July when our kids were 12 and 14.
Want to experience the best of the Netherlands in about an hour? Head to Madurodam! Expertly designed with meticulous detail, this theme park highlights the best of what the Netherlands has to offer in miniature. Visitors get to experience what it would be like to be a giant towering above mini-windmills, buildings train stations and more.
Cars, buses, amusement park rides and trains move around the park. This was definitely one of the most memorable sites for our kids. A visit to Madurodam can even help you plan your itinerary when visiting the Netherlands. It may inspire you to add a location to your must-see list.
Home to the Netherlands’ world famous blue and white pottery, Delft is a charming Dutch town with bridges, canals and a cobblestone historic town square. A visit to the Gothic tower of the Niewe Kerk (New Church) is a highlight for kids with enough stamina to climb the 376 steps to the top.
There are 2 Delft Pottery factories left in the town, Royal Delft and Delft Pottery De Delftse Pauw. While Royal Delft is more famous, it can get very crowded in summer. We chose Delft Pottery De Delfste Pauw, since it’s the last pottery factory in Delft that creates all original hand-painted works. Its pretty canal-side location provides a more personal experience for visitors. In fact, we easily had a private family tour due to the lack of crowds (and it’s free!). A visit to Royal Delft would have cost 35 euros.
A visit to the Netherlands should absolutely include a stop at this UNESCO world heritage site. It’s an eye-catching place with 19 historic windmills in an authentic landscape surrounded by canals and cow pastures. With both walking and biking paths, it’s easy to explore. There are informational signs throughout the site in both Dutch and English explaining the historical significance of the 18th-century mills that helped save this region from flooding for hundreds of years.
Two museum windmill allow visitors to go inside and get a sense of how families lived and worked circa 1900. You can even chat with a miller who still works there each day. Standing close to one of the spinning mills gives you a true sense of the power of these epic machines. Visit www.kinderdijk.com for more information.
Katwijk aan Zee
Dip your feet in the North Sea with a visit to this seaside town. While visitors from Scandinavia might take a dip, the typical cool air temperatures and whipping wind keep most people frolicking in the sand. Adorable cabanas house beach chairs and sand toys. They also provide wind blocks to folks who may want to soak up the sun without the wind chill.
My daughter said, “I feel almost like I can fly. The wind will keep me up!”
Find a local cafe for lunch or an ice cream shop for a treat.
Of course, Amsterdam is not to be missed during any visit to the Netherlands. World famous for its unique canals and Dutch architecture, this city is easy to explore by foot, bus, tram or boat. Skilled cyclists can take on the crowded bike paths, but we found the experienced locals a bit too intimidating to share the road with.
We highly recommend staying at a hotel with a canal view where you can sit by your window and watch the boats go by. We stayed at the reasonably priced Bridge Hotel.
Top recommendations for 2-day visit to Amsterdam
Van Gogh Museum
Even if your kids are not big fans of art museums, like our kids, take them to the Van Gogh museum. Since he is one of the most famous Dutch artists, I felt it was important to see. Besides, it’s one of my favorite museums.
The National Maritime Museum
This is a gorgeous museum with splendid architecture and exhibits. The displays are both lovely and informative. Our favorites include historic ship models, a walk inside a whale model, and fabulous exhibits of early atlases, globes, and navigational instruments. Outside is a reproduction of a Dutch East India trade ship, which is like a maritime playground for both kids and adults. Visitors can also see the lavishly decorated Royal Barge originally built in 1816.
Rent a Canal Boat
When we reflect on the things to do in the Netherlands with kids, this is one of our fondest memories. There are many canal tours and hop-on-hop-off boats, but we recommend exploring the canals of Amsterdam on your own.
We chose a company called Boaty, partially because the kids loved the name. We liked that their boats are quiet and solar powered too. With the provided tour map in hand, we took to the water with our little boat filled with drinks and snacks. This trip is one of the fondest memories for both of our kids. They nicknamed our boat, “Boaty McBoatster.”
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank wrote her diary 75 years ago and it was published 70 years ago in 1947. The museum is a must-see as a very important part of world history. It’s probably too intense for younger children, but my kids found it to be interesting, sad and moving.
TravelingMOM Tip: Book tickets in advance to avoid the massive lines after 3:30 when visitors without reservations can enter. For summer months, you may need to book months in advance.
Check out how Globetrotting TMOM took a culinary tour in Amsterdam. Yum!
Corpus – Journey Through the Human Body
One of the most unique museums in the Netherlands is Corpus. The experience is an educational adventure through the human body. The architecture of the building is also impressive. The enormous body you’ll explore is the dominant feature.
Tours leave every 20 minutes with audio guides supplied in English. The voyage begins at the knee and takes you through all the vital organs, sensory and nervous system. There are great explanations about how the body works, featuring cool animations and small “rides” with vibrating seats and light effects. There are multiple floors with interactive features that allow all ages to learn more. My kids got a kick out of riding a bike to see if they could burn off the calories of a donut. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Driving past a sign for Farmer’s Golf, we figured it was just the term for mini-golf in the Netherlands. We could not have been more wrong. Don’t miss a chance to try this truly unique game. Farmer’s Golf, or Boerengolf in Dutch, is played with special clubs with heads made from little wooden clogs. The ball is similar to a small soccer ball. Each hole has a bucket in the ground with a flagpole or painted stick.
What makes Farmer’s Golf a truly uncommon experience is the fact that you play on fields including “obstacles” like live sheep, cows, and their droppings. The ground is not smooth and the grass is not mowed, making for pretty hysterical shots in every direction. My son says, “Everyone has to try this! It’s the funniest thing we’ve
My son says, “Everyone has to try this! It’s the funniest thing we’ve ever played!”
Check out how TravelingMOM Silvana Clark explored the Netherlands in an RV. Maybe we will try this next time.