This time around, I’m writing about the family-friendly Amsterdam.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam is a small capital city in Europe. It’s one of those places steeped in history and glory.
Indeed, as a 12th century fishing hamlet, it’s done rather well as a naval trading giant in the 17th century hunting for spoils and riches, before Britain came and took away such treasures as New Amsterdam (from Amsterdam in Holland), that later relegated to New York (from York in England). We also know of the conflicts and tribulations that Amsterdam had to go through in order to keep the water at bay, and the canals safe.
Did you know that:
Only 834,713 people actually live in Amsterdam and more than 3.6 million tourists visit every year!
There are 881,000 bicycles
2,500 barges or houseboats
8,863 historical 16th, 17th, and 18th century buildings
23 paintings by Rembrandt
207 paintings by Van Gogh
And 8 windmills!
DAY ONE (1) – WHAT TO DO WITH A TEENAGER
Put luggage away as quickly as possible:
Checking in for most hotels is usually between 13:00 – 14:00 so if you’re not driving, put your luggage in the train station locker for efficiency and speed! For 24 hours, it costs between €7.00 – €10. We had just arrived by overnight train from Berlin, so it was well worth not lugging things around..!
Before we were going to do anything at all, I took my son to a restaurant that I knew, that served an English breakfast for under €5.00! He opted for an Italian breakfast instead, and ending up licking his chops at mine!
It’s always a good thing to get a local viewpoint of a place or city, and the best way to do so is on a walking tour:
Our walking tour was great for learning all about how Dutch people live and the alternative lifestyle in Amsterdam, which even included walking through the red-light district at 12:00 in the afternoon!
Funnily enough it wasn’t this that got my teenager blushing and flustered.
After all, a lot of the red light places in Amsterdam are blended into the community, with one red-light street situation right next to a kindergarten, and opposite a church! And as for Germany, prostitution is legal and well, you know, nude or Freikörperkultur beaches abound throughout Germany. All quite normal and family-friendly!
It was this.
Our walking tour group gathered around to take photographs of various types, sizes and flavours, whilst my teenager and I wandered further away and talked about the weather.
Neither of us quite knew where to look!
Bump into cheese. And eat it:
You surely can’t be in Holland if you don’t try some of their best famous cheese!
If you love cheese, you can pretty much go into any of the cheese shops and get to know all about the flavours, aroma, and quality of an enormous range of cheese.
It’s been around since 1967 and specialises in more than 100 different kinds of organic cheese from cheese markets in Northern Holland, as well as other equipment!
That’s right. Amsterdam has a museum. For Cheese!
It’s free to go in, and they give you a little tour and some info so that you can experience the unique flavor of the best cheeses in Holland, and nibble away at many varieties of free cubes of cheese and sauces to taste!
The last time I was there, I was so impressed that I bought some Dutch waffles and biscuits, some very, very, very Old Amsterdam Cheese, for – The Music Producer – who is a connoisseur.
Dutch Farmhouse Cheese with Italian Black Truffle. Mmm.
How can anyone, lest of all teenagers, resist?!
Take a leisurely stroll, and walk in and out of little back streets, and on the river-side:
Start from Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square, and then explore. Just remind your teenagers to watch their bags as the area is packed with tourists, as well as pick-pockets. Think Leicester Square (London), Times Square (New York), or Alexanderplatz (Berlin).
Damrak is crowded and there’s loads of weird people and strange shops. You might not like it, but your teenager will! And for obvious reasons, you wouldn’t want them to be there alone. So take a deep breath and go with them…!
The picture above shows the Waag or traditional weighing house and is a 15th-century building on the Nieuwmarkt Square in Amsterdam.
It was originally a city gate and part of the walls of Amsterdam, and also served as a guildhall, a museum, a fire station and anatomical theatre, and now a restaurant!
The Waag is the oldest remaining non-religious building in Amsterdam and can even be seen in Rembrandt’s 1632 painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp!
Somehow, I always seem to be in Holland in the winter!
One year, we actually walked across part of the Northern Sea, and people’s yachts and boats were frozen!
Thankfully, Amsterdam isn’t that extreme so merely ice-skating will have to do! The ICE*Amsterdam presents a unique ice skating experience on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, where your teenager can not only do some nifty ice-skating, but curling and ice hockey too!
You can’t do this every year though as the ice rink is only open from 18.11.16 – 05.02.17, and temperatures have to drop to -4°C or below, for four (4) consecutive nights, to produce ice thick enough to skate on. And it did!
In fact, while we were there, Amsterdam was freezing cold!
The waterside tells you such a lot about a place and it’s people. The buildings, the bridges, and the houseboats. The dykes and the street corners where condemned criminals were once hanged for all to see.
The rivers are so exquisite that the canals in Amsterdam have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Fancy that!
Or if you’re short on cash, hop on the free public ferry service behind the Centraal train Station and set sail for NDSM-wharf, a derelict shipyard turned avant-garde arts community.
Check out the recycled-junk sculptures, graffiti artists roaming the streets and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all.
It goes to Amsterdam-Noord. There are various routes, but the most common ones are the short ferry to Buiksloterweg (roughly every 10 minutes) and the long ferry (every half hour) to the NDSM Wharf. You can get more information about the destinations, the routes and an interactive map here!
In Europe, we love our bikes and use them, and you can’t go far wrong if you want to ride your bicycle in Amsterdam! Even Dutch Royalty are known to go about on their very own bicycles as Amsterdam is enormously flat and quite honestly, was designed very much with 17th century horses and carts in mind!
Visit a museum:
Amsterdam has a variety of really great museums. All which would give your teenager something to do. And if it’s cold, wet and rainy.
All the better.
The best museums / attractions to visit with a teenager are the following:
The Amsterdam Museum
The Van Gogh Museum
The Ann Frank House Museum
The Rembrandt House Museum
The Joods Historisch Museum or the Jewish Historical Museum
The Tassenmuseum Hendrikje or The Museum of Bags and Purses
The Museum Willet-Holthuysen
Het Grachtenhuis or The Museum of the Canals
The Woonbootmuseum or the Houseboat Museum
The Heineken Experience
The Amsterdam Dungeon
Body Worlds Amsterdam
And the Amsterdam Light Festival
We didn’t have as much time as we would have liked, and only managed to get to the two (2) museums below:
The Amsterdam Museum:
I was very eager to visit the Amsterdam Museum as it focuses on the story and history of Amsterdam through a large number of masterpieces, such as an aerial map from the Middle Ages, Breitner’s The Dam, and lots of interactive material and images that you could touch, see, listen to, use, read, and experience.
I love museums where you don’t have to treat things like delicate treasures, and can really get to grips with “using” the items!
An audio guide is provided so that you can do your own self-guided tour, in a variety of popular languages. And it’s free of charge, which I greatly appreciated!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it.
And if you’re short of time, or don’t feel like doing anything too “heavy” the interactive Amsterdam DNA exhibition, can be “done” in just one (1) hour!
Cost: Adults: €12.50. Students: €10.00. Children 5-18: €6.50. Under 4: Free of charge.
The Rijksmuseum is the iconic museum of the Netherlands.
The Rijksmuseum’s world-famous collection was presented via going on a journey through the ages, and a sense of beauty and of time.
In 80 galleries, 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. And even though The Tall Young Gentleman is just 14 years old, he really enjoyed the Rembrandt art and imaginary mythical creatures, and was upset when after just 2 hours, it was time to leave!
Verdict: Both my teenager and I loved it and Night Watch alone was amazing!
Cost: Adults: €17.50. European Youth Card Holders (EYCA) / Students: €8.75. Under 18: Free of charge!
My blog is not about what’s right and what’s wrong. If you look deep enough you’ll see that it’s all about what’s different, the other, the edge. It’s also all rather tongue-in-cheek!
And Amsterdam is a perfect example. It’s a lovely quaint city with an exposed diverse edge. It’s cosmopolitan, and at the same time Dutch in style. It’s romantic and beautiful, but tolerant and diverse. It’s rich and lively, but quiet and authentic. It’s charming and also like any other capital city, beautifully flawed.
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Would you take a teenager? Have your say!
See you in Berlin.
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I'm a British girl from Manchester living in Berlin with my German husband and my half British – half German son.
My blog is a lifestyle expat travel blog and puts a focus on my promotion of culture, history, travels around the world, Europe, Brexit, the Royal Family, British-German life and being British in Berlin - I am The British Berliner!