The Netherlands is a great family travel destination. The country, partly reclaimed from the sea with about half of its land lying below sea level, is sprinkled with a number of tourist spots including canals, windmills, and miles of sandy beaches.
Holland’s famously flat landscape is perfect to explore by bike. Though Amsterdam is the country’s most popular tourist destination, and surprisingly family-friendly, there are also many other cities in the Netherlands worth venturing to for a fun and memorable family vacation.
The center of the Netherlands’ government and the International City of Peace, Justice and Security, The Hague has a number of attractions that the whole family will enjoy. Your little ones will feel much bigger at Madurodam, the smallest city in the Netherlands. This miniature Holland has typically Dutch towns and scenery presented on a 1:25 scale and its mayor is elected by a youth municipal council made up of children from area schools.
There are also a number of museums in the city, including the children’s museum Museon and the Escher Museum, which feature the optical illusions and surrealist forms from graphic artist M.C. Escher.
Scheveningen, a seaside resort just outside of The Hague is popular with residents and tourists all year round, and is where you will find the SEA LIFE museum and the outdoor sculpture garden, Fairytale Sculptures by the Sea. Also on the outskirts of The Hague are the amusement parks Drievliet and Duinrell.
Since Rotterdam is home to Europe’s largest port, the first port of call should be the Maritiem Museum to learn more about the history of the water and the port not only as it relates to Rotterdam, but its impact on the Netherlands as a whole. While in Rotterdam families should definitely visit Blijdorp (“happy town”), which was named the “Best Dutch Zoo” two years in a row and is one of the most popular attractions in the country.
Go to the top of the 610 foot-tall Euromast, the highest monument in the Netherlands and take a look around the entire city. If you’re really adventurous, try abseiling or zip lining down the monument at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
If you’re in Rotterdam between March and October, take a trip to Kinderdijk to see some of Holland’s famous windmills. Though easily accessible by car or public transportation, a boat excursion from Rotterdam lets you cruise the Nieuwe Maas River, enjoying the views of this important port city along the way.
With its distinctive canals, Gothic cathedral and fairytale castle, Utrecht definitely a place families will love.
Domkerk has the tallest tower of any church in the Netherlands and climbing the nearly nearly 500 steps will provide spectacular panoramic views of Utrecht.
Utrecht is also home to the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok, a “living collection of mechanical music” with has carillon clocks, music boxes of all shapes and sizes, pianolas, and the largest collection of full-sized street organs!
The centuries-old De Haar Castle lies just outside of Utrecht and is a wonderful option for a family outing. In addition to guided tours, which are available in English on Sundays, children will enjoy the castle’s park, where they can find loot in the organized treasure hunt, or instead, get lost in a labyrinth.
To find more family-friendly activities and destinations in the Netherlands visit the Holland tourism website.
Monique Rubin lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two daughters. She writes about her travels, expat life and quest to “run the world” at motravels.com.