Amsterdam - I'd like to take my 6yo

(40 Posts)
frugalfuzzpig Mon 10-Feb-14 21:08:22

DD is completely obsessed with Van Gogh and so a trip would be a dream come true if we could go to the museum.

I've never been though and lots of people have told me there are lots of, um, unsavoury areas?!

It would just be a short break as we can't really afford a big holiday, it could be just us two or up to 8 of us depending if DSCs want to come (one DSD was enthralled by Anne Frank and apparently the house is there?)

Any tips please? How to get there, other things to do etc?

Rosvita Mon 10-Feb-14 22:48:33

Plenty of cheap flights available and easy to get from schipol airport to city centre by train.yes Anne franks house is there, Van Gogh museum and also Rembrant museum.queues for Anne Frank get ridiculous but think you can buy tickets in advance for prebooked time and avoid queues.We have been 3 times both pre and post kids but never taken them with us.not personally somewhere I would want to take the kids until they're a lot older. As you said plenty of
seedy areas, and although I guess you could avoid the red light district etc there's still no avoiding all the high people walking around the streets at all times of day.When we were there last there was some guy obviously hallucinating or something and shouting out into the air at nothing - freaked me out a bit!
Vondelpark and Madame Tussaud's would be other child appropriate places too.

PortofinoRevisited Mon 10-Feb-14 22:53:30

You can easily avoid the red light district which is concentrated mostly in one place. My recommendation would be to stay in Leiden and get the train into Amsterdam (30 mins) for the day. Pre-book for Anne Frank House. Go to to see the Van Goghs and the flower market and have a wander round the canals.

Rosvita Mon 10-Feb-14 23:44:48

portofino yes good idea to stay actually outside of Amsterdam. frugalfuzzpig didn't mean to put a downer of your plans and I know from lots of previous threads on here that other posters have taken their kids to Amsterdam - just it's not for me!

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 08:46:30

No that's fair enough, it was something I was worried about. I'd not have thought of going at all TBH if it weren't for the Van Gogh thing. A friend also said maybe it'd be better to go while she's young and pretty much oblivious to things? Maybe. Hard to say as I've never been myself.

So do you think flying is better than boat/train? The latter would take longer but would be more of an adventure I guess. DCs have only been abroad once before.

Thanks for the recommendation for Leiden - I would definitely prefer to stay outside the City and maybe just visit for one day.

The other thing I was concerned about is, isn't cannabis legal? I hear cafés are full of it, or is that an exaggeration...

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 08:49:08

Ooh vondelpark looks lovely especially the sculptures. She would love the fish one.

3nationsfamily Tue 11-Feb-14 09:41:33

The comments above make it sound like Amsterdam is druggy and seedy and it simply is not. Yes, there is a red light district which is easily avoided but it is a wonderful historic city with a distinct character and a fascinating place to visit for all ages.
It is easy to get around either walking or by tram, English is widely spoken , the people are friendly and welcoming and it is full of tourists so geared up to make it easy to find your way around and visit what you are interested in.
Definitely try to pre book the Anne Frank museum although I would say that 8 is too young for it. I would recommend taking a canal boat trip as part of your visit and trying Dutch pancakes (yum!) in one of the many lovely waterside cafes.
You don't say where in the UK you live but I would definitely fly rather than boat as you get more time out of a short break then to spend actually in Amsterdam.
From Leiden there are double decker trains to Amsterdam every 15-30 minutes but it is quite expensive.

feetheart Tue 11-Feb-14 09:58:09

Mmmm, pancakes smile

Totally agree the 3nationsfamily, Amsterdam is a wonderful friendly city with masses to do and eat. The red light district is small and easily avoided and only certain cafes act as 'coffee shops' and from what I remember were easy to spot and therefore avoid.
The Van Gogh Museum is great, as is the Vondelpark (and the cafe in the centre), the flower market and just walking around looking at the canals and buildings and stopping to eat pancakes.
I would also agree that the Anne Frank house is not appropriate for a 6 yr old.

DH lived there for over 2 years pre-children so I had many weekend jaunts over to see him and loved the city. Will go back with DC at some point.

Your biggest problem will be other people's perception of where you are going but ignore them and have a memorable trip to a lovely city.

tribpot Tue 11-Feb-14 10:10:32

I've visited Amsterdam many times with my ds. Quite a few MNers live there with their children. Shockingly none of us is the parent of an 8 year old drug fiend as a result smile Cafes aren't full of cannabis - there are coffee shops that sell it but I think you would have to be almost blind to wander into one of them without realising it was a coffee shop, not a cafe. Quite a few of them (Abraxas, for example) are perfectly pleasant places to be, but in any case under 18s are not allowed in. So if you did stumble on one you would be sent on your way at once.

And if it matters, some other Dutch cities have far more disreputable red light districts than Amsterdam, but it hardly matters as you won't be going in any of them!

There is a children's science museum called Nemo not far from Central Station - it does have a bit on sex but this is well signposted and intentionally shielded to make it easy to avoid. A canal boat tour is great, the Rijksmuseum is great for the architecture even if you don't want to look at all the Rembrandts.

My ds loves going over in the 'big boat' but it is very time consuming.

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 10:16:45

I didn't know there were trams! DCs would be over the moon at that grin

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 10:23:59

Having caught up with all posts this is sounding better and better. Thanks everyone!

With the Anne Frank house - I wouldn't go I think, if just the four of us went. I expect DD will learn about her in junior school but at the moment she is pretty sensitive and yes, too young I think. We'd go if we take DSDs though, as one DSD was really enthralled by her story and read her full diary even though she found it quite tough. So she would really appreciate it but I guess I'd go somewhere else with the DCs if they visited.

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 10:50:58

We are in Sussex btw, very near gatwick

WaitingForMe Tue 11-Feb-14 10:59:19

Amsterdam is probably the most family friendly city I've visited. I'm sure if you take your pearls you'll find opportunity to clutch them but I'd sooner take my kids there than to Nice or Barcelona (two of my favourite cities).

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 11:03:22

That's great thanks smile

I have now convinced DH that we should go so we are having a look at flights etc.

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 11:06:32

It's a bit scary though (bear with me - I have a lot of anxiety issues) - just realised we've never actually planned a holiday abroad before! We've only been with my parents.

So much to think about.

Any recommendations for hotels, transport etc would be great grin thanks

HavantGuard Tue 11-Feb-14 11:10:31

It's a lovely place to visit. You can completely avoid the red light district.

The tram is the easiest way to travel from place to place and the Van Gogh museum is brilliant. It would be easy to split up so your DSD can see the Ann Frank house and you and your DD can do something else. The queues to go into the house can be reasonable or HUGE though, so allow plenty of time.

Just keep your eyes peeled for cyclists (they zoom about) and keep some change for the toilets. The tram goes out to the suburbs so if you wanted to you could stay further out and still get around easily.

HavantGuard Tue 11-Feb-14 11:14:10

You can prepare in advance. I'd buy the Rough Guide so that you can read up beforehand and have it with you if you need it. It will make you feel like you have been there before!

frugalfuzzpig Tue 11-Feb-14 14:30:45

Thanks Havant I've requested a few from the library to see what's good smile

Glad that transport seems to be good too, as I forgot to mention neither of us drive. Not sure if my dad would hire a car if they came with us though.

3nationsfamily Tue 11-Feb-14 14:33:41

Driving (and parking) in the city is a nightmare. Trams and trains are fab so no need to have a car. Even if you want to explore other places the train service is excellent.

Rosvita Tue 11-Feb-14 18:30:12

3nations aspects of Amsterdam are though-as smoking cannabis is legal in the designated coffee shops there are more people walking around stoned than say in England.I am not saying it is non-family friendly- I know that there are also lots of family-friendly areas,sights and things to do.
frugalfuzzpig no need to drive over there whatsoever as others have said - tram,cycle,walk,taxi.

Rosvita Tue 11-Feb-14 18:30:47

And frugal have a good time and enjoy it - beautiful city.

Velma67 Tue 11-Feb-14 18:40:42

The science museum nemo is brilliant for children. There is also a replica sailing ship at the maritime museum which is great.

If you wanted to consider elsewhere, the Kroller Muller museum has a large Van Gogh collection. It is a little bit north of Arnhem. Arnhem also has the very fabulous Open Air Museum.

RomulanBattleBagel Tue 11-Feb-14 19:37:23

Sounding better and better! The topic after artists (which is what started DD's love of Van Gogh) was shipwrecks - she is fascinated by them. We are going to the Cutty Sark in half term grin

I know absolutely nowt about the Netherlands, is Arnhem far from Amsterdam? (ie would it be possible to do both)

frugalfuzzpig Wed 12-Feb-14 20:00:32

Oops namechange fail above blush

Just bumping this as I looked in the diary at work and it looks like I won't be able to take a whole week. My own fault for not booking earlier, I hadn't realised leave would be booked that early (stupid of me really) - haven't actually taken a summer holiday since I've worked there.

So I was wondering does anyone think a few days would be enough? Apparently the flight isn't much more than an hour, so is it possible to do more of a short 'City break' type thing?

lljkk Wed 12-Feb-14 20:13:05

I had a blast with just one day walking around. Walked the full park and went to the modern art museum. Lots to do outside, too.
It's easy to avoid the unsavoury areas, not that unsavoury before 4pm, anyway. I didn't notice any cannabis, just a few "cafes" in the high tourist strip, which are obvious doss houses, easy enough to avoid.

This is where I stayed few months ago: no telly in the rooms!? But nice location otherwise. English speaking, wifi, etc.

Not read whole thread for this may have come up but me and DH did a "mini cruise" last year from Hulll to Amsterdam. It was insanely cheap- something like £200 for the two of us and it was two nights on the boat and a day trip to Amsterdam- more than enough time to see the VG museum as it's right by the coach drop off. It was great and the boat was fun and meals were included and the food was lovely.

Google P and O mini cruises to Amsterdam.

frugalfuzzpig Wed 12-Feb-14 20:18:07

Sounds good. smile I think we'd not want a full week anyway, due to cost if nothing else! So we won't be able to do everything, but we will try and work out priorities etc.

I wouldn't be able to cram too much into one day - I have a disability that means I need frequent rests.

Rests with pancakes, maybe... grin

winkygirl Wed 14-May-14 14:24:55

I am going next week with my Mum. We would like to know if the buses and trams have some form of display to say what the next stop is. Or is it obvious when you get to a stop what the name is?

Any advice much appreciated!

Winky the Trams have screens which tell you the next stop, the buses do too, very easy to get around

ThePrisonerOfAzkaban Wed 14-May-14 15:04:23

The safe streets ie the non red light ones have signs up saying it's children friendly so look out for those. There are some good status around the city that children can climb and have fun with. Lots more then the red light district

qazxc Wed 14-May-14 15:20:14

I've been there with my boyfriend and would definately recommend as a destination. TBH I've seen more smut and rowdy behavior in family destinations like the canaries than in Amsterdam.
The Red light district is easily avoided and even if you take a wrong turn all the ladies in the windows wear bikinis, our guide told us it's so that Amsterdamers can tell their DC "Oh she's just waiting for the bus to take he to the beach" should they ask, I don't know how much truth is in that.
Stoned people tend to be quite a quiet bunch so a lot easier than being in a place where people drink to excess.
the whole vibe of the city is very laid back and relaxed, english is commonly spoken, getting around/ finding your way around is very easy.
The Van Gogh Museum is great, Ann Frank's house probably not for small children. There are lot of places to see and things to do. Take a boat ride, ride the trams, eat lots of pancakes.

qazxc Wed 14-May-14 15:21:40

Do be careful though about cyclists, they don't kindly to people being in their way.

AnandaTimeIn Wed 14-May-14 15:28:41

Red light district is tiny in the scheme of things so easily avoided - it, s close to Central Station.

Amsterdam is a public transport dream, so well organised. Tram stops (tourist routes) are even announced in English including info ("Van Gogh museum") etc.

Nemo, the Science Museum is great - it looks like a sunken ship! (left of CS). Zoo (Artis) is great too - tram 9 from CS.

Anne Frank house queues avoidable around 5-6 pm.

No need to stay outside, wonderful hotels here including around Vondelpark/Museumplein (Van Gogh/Rembrandt).

I agree with pp - Amsterdam is actually great for bringing up kids. It, s very safe on a world scale.....


AnandaTimeIn Wed 14-May-14 15:31:07

Oh yes, the Pancake Bakery is up the road from Anne Frank House - over 20 types, savoury and sweet - yum!

keely79 Wed 14-May-14 15:33:38

Love amsterdam. What might be quite fun to stay in would be one of the houseboats - we did that for B&B once and it was great! This was the one we stayed in, but there are loads to choose from

I wouldn't worry about the coffee shops and red light district - it's a very relaxed city, with lovely canals to walk beside, great food, very friendly people. Might be worth seeing if you can rent a bike - perhaps with a trailer for your DD to ride in?

winkygirl Thu 15-May-14 10:04:52

Thanks - we were worried about not being able to speak the lingo! Sounds like the city is very well geared up for tourists.


qazxc Thu 15-May-14 14:11:40

As well as pancakes, a canal boat ride, photos in this clog seem to be a compulsory requirement for tourists. wink

rosy71 Fri 23-May-14 21:16:25

We went on holiday to Holland last summer & spent a day in Amsterdam. Ds1 was 8 & ds2, 5. We travelledd on the tram & spent most of our time waling around & looking at the canals. I would think the Anne Frank House would be unsuitable for young children & had a huge queue. The red light area is quite contained & easily avoided.

EBearhug Fri 23-May-14 21:53:30

My manager's going to Anne Frank's house on Monday - he was looking at buying a ticket in advance, but they're only available from mid-June, looking now. I went when it opened at 9am, and I had to wait about 20 minutes to get in; when I came out, the queue was far longer, at least 2 hours, so plan to go early or late in the day, unless you've got tickets in advance. I think you need to have read the Diary and/or have some understanding of why they were in hiding and later in concentration camps to really get it, and I don't know that I'd take children much under secondary age.

The zoo is popular too, as well as the science museum. The Rijksmuseum has things I would have adored as a child, and still enjoyed as an adult, including a large model ship and the dollshouses. I'd have sold my parents (well, at least my sister) for a dollshouse like that when I was a child! Beautiful model houses and furnishings (for adults, rather than children.) I did enjoy the Van Gogh museum, but I'm not sure I'd have been so keen as a child - however, I wasn't so keen on Van Gogh.

If you're there for a few days, it might be worth getting the train out to the Zaanstreek and seeing the windmills there - it's not a long journey, and there are a number of working mills.

I'd avoid the red light district - I wasn't paying too much attention as I was wandering round the streets in the morning, and just ended up there, and I was half way along before I realised, but I think later in the day, it would be more obvious (and I still wonder why anyone would think a single woman on a sunny, dry spring morning would want to go in to watch a live sex show, but at least they are not sexist, in that they call out to everyone passing...) Round the Leidseplein in the evening, it's lots of sports bars and Argentinian steak houses, and I wouldn't bother, other than to marvel at the number of steak houses. How much steak can any population eat? But there is so much else to see and do, it's easy to avoid the bits you'd rather not do with children, especially if you pay a bit more attention to where you're walking than I did.

I think I need to persuade my Dutch colleagues I need a week in the office there...

fuzzpig Fri 23-May-14 22:02:00

Ooh, hadn't seen all the recent posts, thanks.

Unfortunately we aren't going this year sad shortly after I started this thread, DH got a job! Which is brilliant obviously but it meant we had no clue where we stood with annual leave etc and it was just too late to book anything. So we are hoping to do it next year instead!

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