Great family activities in Amsterdam that are (mostly) free

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Photo credit Erin Bender

Erin Bender and her family recently did a side-trip to Amsterdam from the UK. Here’s Erin’s tips on all the family-friendly fun you can have in this lively city.

Travelling to Amsterdam with a family

Many families consider visiting Amsterdam as a quick side trip from London. It takes less than 4 hours to get there via Eurostar train or you can fly – with flights leaving from the very handy London City airport in the Docklands area.

However you are prepared to get there, the Netherlands is an extraordinary destination for families. And if you’ve only got one weekend here is how you can spend it.

What to do in Amsterdam with a family

Day 1:

8am – 10am

After checking in to your houseboat, take a walk down the canal side streets. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and markets where you can find a delicious breakfast and simply enjoy the friendly atmosphere that Amsterdam exudes.

Alternatively hire a bike and take a cycle around town to get your bearings, soak up the scenery and really feel part of the Amsterdam buzz. There are more bikes in Amsterdam than people!

10am –midday

Hopefully you purchased your Anne Frank House tickets online, otherwise you may be in for a long wait.  Anne Frank’s house is located in the centre of Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 263-267. It takes around 20 minutes to walk from the Central Station to the museum. Several trams also stop nearby.

12pm – 2pm

Head to Rembrandt Square for lunch. There are Indonesian restaurants, Dutch cafes, supermarkets, kebabs, and more – just take your pick. Enjoy watching the buskers or the people walking by, it’s a busy, vibrant meeting place.

2pm – 5pm

Catch the tram to Madame Tussauds. Where it’s not just wax models; there’s also an interactive exhibit to test your soccer skills, opportunities to dress up like royalty and more.

The views from the top floor over Dam Square are unbeatable.

5pm – late

After finishing at Madam Tussauds you are in the perfect location just to wander the streets looking for dinner or to do a spot of tourist shopping.

Check out the bars or cafes if that strikes your fancy or head back to your canal houseboat for drinks on the roof overlooking the busy waterways filled with people relaxing and touring.

Day 2:

9am –5pm

Why not enjoy the canals to their full extent with a hop-on-hop-off canal cruise? There are 16 stops available including the famous museums of Amsterdam, like the Rijksmuseum or for the kids head to NEMO, a world class science museum. Or perhaps the bustling Albert Cuyp Market would be more your style.

Make sure you disembark at least a few times to try local cuisine like Dutch salted herring, fried croquettes or fresh poffertjes.

5pm – 7pm

If you haven’t had enough cruising yet, and the snacks throughout the day have only whet your appetite, catch the tram to Amsterdam’s waterfront, where the Pannenkoekenboot departs.

This special cruise gives you a full 75 minutes of all you can eat pancakes, with plenty of toppings to choose from.

They even have a ball pit in the bottom of the boat to keep kids amused so you can just keep on eating in heavenly peace.

7pm – late

Still hungry? Surely not! But if you are, catch the tram or ride your bike to Lleidseplein for all you can eat ribs. It’s also an ideal starting point if you’re looking for nightlife.

Jimmy Woo’s is the place to dance the night away or perhaps visit to the second most popular concert hall in the world, Concertgebouw.

A stroll along the Red Light District has also drawn many a curious traveller, especially since the government is looking to rebrand the area so it won’t be this way much longer. Be warned, this is definitely an adults only activity!

Outside of Amsterdam the amazing windmills at Zaanse Schans, is definitely worth a visit. And if you have kids there are plenty of other activities to keep them happy all day from cooking classes to zoos. Whatever you choose to do with your 48 hours in Amsterdam, one thing is for sure… you’ll wish you had more time.

Helpful information about Amsterdam


Erin Bender is an award winning family blogger. Erin has been travelling with her husband and two children since May 2012. It’s an open-ended, unplanned, round-the-world trip discovering amazing places for families. They have stayed in hostels and 5 star luxury resorts, travelled on scooters and cruise liners, danced with leprechauns and cuddled tigers. Nothing is out of bounds or out of reach for this remarkable Australian family.

We have temporarily given our travel insurance plans a break. These include The Works, The Basics, Annual Multi Trip and Domestic plans.

Keep an eye on the TID website for when our products will be available and we’ll do our best to alert all of our travellers.


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