Famously family-friendly Amsterdam is one of the fastest European cities to get to from the UK. With flights all year round taking an hour or less, and the historic Centrum district just 30 minutes from Schiphol Airport, it’s good for weekend breaks. And, for longer family holidays, there are seaside resorts, iconic cycling routes, charming towns and villages and legendary theme parks all within easy travelling distance of the city centre.
Direct daily flights from dozens of UK airports to Amsterdam take one hour.
The Dutch capital’s one of the greenest, cleanest cities in Europe and has a designated area for testing eco-initiatives in Centrum, known as Climate Street.
Beaches and forest less than 20 minutes from the city centre have excellent family camping and self-catering as an alternative to hotels in summer.
You can cycle anywhere in Amsterdam city centre and the famous tulip fields are less than an hour’s flat ride away in spring.
The historic cities of Delft, Utrecht and Haarlem are about 40 minutes by train from Amsterdam and Efeling theme park is an hour’s drive east.
Amsterdam hosts over 300 annual festivals and events, many of which are family friendly or completely kid-centred.
Accommodation in Amsterdam ranges from five star city centre hotels in traditional canal houses to eco-chalets in country parks, houseboats and unique one-to-five-star all-in-one hotels on the city centre’s riverfront.
The historic heart of Amsterdam is the city of skinny canal houses, pretty bridges, cobbled streets and ancient monuments. If time’s short, journey from the medieval quarter (oldest part of Centrum) to the ‘newer’ 500 year old Canal Ring: it’s a snapshot of the city’s heritage and can easily be explored in a day.
Hop on the free ferry at Central Station and cross to Amsterdam Noord. The restored docklands is now one of the city’s coolest quarters and a night on the beach at NDSM Wharf is a must with teenagers.
In Amsterdam they say you know you’re in Jordaan if you can hear Westerkerk’s church bells. Alternatively you could just look for the city of your imagination and it’s likely to be this captivating district. Once an enclave of artisans and craftworkers, only the ridiculously wealthy can afford to live in the canal houses here these days. But don’t let that stop you exploring, enjoying cafés, having lunch on sunny restaurant terraces and admiring the famously gorgeous local gardens, galleries and shops.
Like stunning Jordaan, De Pijp is another historic working class district now transformed into one of Europe’s loveliest places to live. It’s right on the edge of Vondelpark and good for interesting cafés and restaurants. The city’s most famous food market, Albert Cuypmarkt is in De Pijp and everyone goes on a Saturday morning. Follow their lead in summer and pick up picnic supplies.
Amsterdam city centre is compact and easy to walk around, almost all the major museums and family attractions are in Centrum or the ancient medieval quarter just to the east. It’s a famous city for cycling but, unless you’re very confident, save bikes for touring the countryside and parks with kids. Public transport is excellent and inexpensive and you can travel over Amsterdam by bus or train in about 30 minutes. There are fast, regular services to beaches and Amsterdam Bos and the ferry from Central Station to Amsterdam Noord is free and takes a few minutes.