Family Travel in Amsterdam Netherlands
By Greta Jenkins
Amsterdam is the Netherlands largest city, with a population of almost 750,000. In the 17th century Amsterdam was the center of world commerce. Today, the city is known for its tolerant character.We arrived at the modern airport, Schiphol, and immediately understood why the Dutch have become known for their mercantile abilities. Colorful and interesting shops are placed thoughout the airport.
You can take a train from the airport to the Central City Train Station for about $3.00 Euro and then catch a cab to your hotel. Depending on where your hotel is this, may be a big savings. A cab from the airport to a hotel near Ledenplein is $37 Euro.
A cab from the Central Train Station to Liederplen is $20 Euro.Bicycles are the most common form of transportation. There are bike paths throughout the city, used by commuters as well as tourists.
There are several locations throughout the city where you can rent bikes. Be sure to look both ways for bikes, Trams, and cars! Trams are convienent and easy to use; you can buy a ticket on the Tram and get transfers to a bus if needed. Few automobiles navigate the narrow streets of Amsterdam.
Canals ring the city and provide easy transportation to tourist attractions. Take the museum canal boat or one where you can get on and off at various sites such at the Rembrandt House Museum where you can see where Rembradt lived and worked.
To get a feel for canal living , a nighttime canal ride shows off the city at its best. The 17th Century (the Golden Age in Amsterdam) canal homes are all lit up, showing off their beauty and elegance.
Visit Anne Franks’ house and see the original clippings Anne placed on the walls of her room when her family was in hiding. There is an interactive “cast your vote” video designed to educate kids (and adults) about what discrimination really is and how it is still prevalent today.
For great restuarants, night life and traditional Dutch street cafe’s head to Leidensplein. The square Leidseplein is a busy tram intersection and a center of night-time fun and transportation. A short walk from Leidensplein is the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.
There is a large grassy area near the museums, a great place for the kids to run around and burn off some energy after visiting over two floors of fantastic art by Van Gogh and the many Dutch masters at Rijksmuseum .
As you walk between the museums grab a bite to eat from the fresh food vendors on the way. About a five minute walk from the Rijksmus museum is Vondelpark. With 10 million visitors a year, the Vondelpark is the most famous park in the Netherlands.
For kids there is NEMO; a hands-on, science and technology museum housed in an unmissable, boat-shaped building. The Shipping Museum is also worth a visit with its replica of a Dutch trading ship, docked at the front.
If you visiting in April or May, plan a day trip to Kuekenhof Gardens. On the way you will see the countryside, the city of Haarlem, and many flower fields. Kuekenhof has acres of flower gardens, ponds with ducks and swans and natural beauty.
There is cafe beside the pond, a nice spot for relaxing meal or snack after your stroll through the gardens.Dam square is in the heart of Amsterdam, although there are prettier sights in the city. It is an historical site, for example, the reception area for Napoleon and his troops during the 1808 take-over of the city.
The impressive history of the square is well documented in the Amsterdam Historical Museum. The Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis) which dominates the square, was originally used as the town hall and its classical facade and fine sculptures were intended to glorify the city of Amsterdam and its government.
In contrast to its turbulent history, the square is now a peaceful place and a carnival with ferris wheel and rides was there when we visited.