Urban Granny

A Seasoned View of Urban Life

Apr-18-2009

Amsterdam The Perfect Family Vacation

 

One of the Beautiful Amsterdam Canals

One of the Beautiful Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam is more than the Van Gogh Museum, the Red Light District or tulips. It is a city of beautiful canals crisscrossed by small bridges. It is a city that is magical at night when the lights of the canal houses shine on the water below.

And Amsterdam is a perfect vacation destination for families. It is child friendly with a diverse array of attractions for children of all ages. With a population of less than a million people it is a very large village. It has a diverse ethnic personality, casual, and easily managed and learned, green and relatively affordable. You can see almost the entire city without ever needing to get into a car. Best of all most Amsterdamers speak English.

The best way to travel or see this city built concentrically around 4 major canals is by water taxi or by a sight seeing boat. The boats will pick up and drop off at marked “docks”. The canal site seeing tours are much like their bus counterparts except you get a unique perspective of this city. A city dependent on water must be seen from the water.

A must of course is the Anne Frank House, one of the most viewed sites in all of Europe. We all know the story but to actually see where young Anne wrote her diary and where she and her fellow ‘”prisoners” hid for those years will touch and move you.

Get a wonderful history lesson by heading over to the Amsterdam Historical Museum housed in an old orphanage. Walk through the vast corridors and see 17th century portraits and detailed exhibitions telling the history of Amsterdam. There are collections of paintings, prints, and diagrams and archeological finds showing how Amsterdam grew from a small medieval town to a world famous center. Learn how the city evolved, how the canals were built and how the city became the multi cultural and inclusive city it is.

Amsterdam and The Netherlands is surrounded by and dependent on water. The Nemo science museum is the interactive museum built like a giant green ship. Nemo houses loads of experiments in its hull on the Oserdok. Children of all ages can participate in chemistry experiments, produce videos and music and view all kinds of gadgets and experiments. In the warm weather you can eat outdoors on the “deck”

The Artis zoo is a must see and it is a great outing. On your walk there pass by the only floating flower market in the world, see the old Portuguese Synagogue along with the Jewish Historical Museum. Stop into the Rembrandt Museum and see how the master lived and worked in 17th century Holland. You can view a complete set of his prints as well as his actual printing press.

The Artis zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and was founded in 1838 with over 700 species the architecture is historic and beautiful with a 19th century feel to its paths and gardens. Artis also has an Aquarium and one can learn all about the secret life of Amsterdam’s canals. Artis is also a botanical garden with plants and trees native to the Netherlands as well as specimens collected from all over the world. On a beautiful day Artis can provide a full day of activities for the family.

Rain or shine bicycles are the primary mode of transportation for Amsterdamers. I would not suggest this to get around since our rules are not the rules of the road for the Dutch. In Amsterdam bicycles take the right of way even over pedestrians. Anything goes for a biker. If you do want to experience Amsterdam as a native there are some very good rental places. Rent a bike and head over to the Vondelpark.

Vondelpark is largest park in the Netherlands and is close to the Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum near by. Vondelpark has six play areas and one large playground near Groot Melkhuis. It is also possible to rent skates there at Snoephuisje (near Amstelveenseweg entrance). Pancakes are served there as well. On Wednesday afternoons between 15 May and 15 September, the open air-theatre stages free children’s shows. The Film museum offers performances for children on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

There is a vast array of accommodations from the very five star Intercontinental Amstel to wonderful little Bed and Breakfasts and charming guesthouses like the 717 on the Prinsengracht. Every major hotel chain is represented and Schiphol Airport is served by many major airlines including, KLM, Delta and Northwest.

A few things to remember about your visit to Amsterdam, coffee shops are not to drink coffee, bicycles rule the road and yes, Amsterdam has wonderful museums. Do not miss the old and modern masters of The Netherlands and visit The Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Most of all enjoy this magical city.

 

http://www.amsterdam.info/tours/bike/

Amsterdam, bicycles and floating restaurants

Amsterdam, bicycles and floating restaurants

The Floating Flower Market

The Floating Flower Market

Inside the Floating Bloemenmarket

Inside the Floating Bloemenmarket

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  1. Passion Play Group Tours Said,

    I agree. There are lots more to European cities than just there main attractions. Its a whole new culture that is different from most American cities. They can have traditions extending back to before the US was even formed. It can be a great experience and if you are going to a European city, make the most of your time there.

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