How to Spend 5 Hours in Amsterdam with Kids

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This post was published in Jan 2024. Prices and info were last checked on this date and are subject to change - check with attractions direct for the most up-to-date info. 

13 Things to do in Amsterdam with Kids (when taking the DFDS Mini Cruise)

The DFDS Mini Cruise is a cheap way to enjoy a weekend away with kids. You get two nights on board a ship and time in Amsterdam. It is best to see this as a full trip away - your break starts from the second you step on board, rather than just a few hours in Amsterdam.

This post shares some ideas for things to do in Amsterdam with kids within easy walking distance of the coach drop off. 

You can discover the best prices and latest deals for this trip here: Amsterdam Mini Cruise Deals 

You are dropped off near Amsterdam Central Station on the side near the larger body of water. Keep the water on your right, walk along the road for a few minutes and you will see Central Station on your left. 

Transfer coach outside of Amsterdam Zoo 

Walk through the Central Station building to access most of these attractions. 

FREE Google Map 

I've added a free Google Map below with all of the locations for the places mentioned in this post pinned as well as the coach drop off / collection point. so it should give you a rough idea of how far attractions are. 


Create Your Own Google Map 

I'd highly recommend downloading the free Google Maps app and using it to plan your trip before you travel. 

Add pins to your map by typing in the place you'd like to visit and then clicking the save icon. 

Then they will be super easy to find again.

Once you're in Amsterdam, click on your pin and hit the arrow button for live walking directions or click the bus for live public transport info (including platform numbers and how many stops your destination is). You do need access to mobile data or free WiFi for this to work best but you can also download a free map to your phone before you travel and use GPS. 

A Few Tips for the DFDS Mini Cruise 

❤️ You get around 5 hours in the city which isn't long but it's enough for a canal cruise, lunch and little mooch around. See the whole trip as a weekend / short break rather than just your time in the city. This deal does not include travelling by car and is for foot passengers only. Yes, you need a valid passport to travel. If you'd like to stay for longer, check out the longer DFDS breaks which include overnight stays in Amsterdam here: DFDS Short Breaks including Hotel Estimated timings (subject to change)
  • Day One: Leave North Shields at 5pm and sail overnight to Amsterdam.
  • Day Two: Arrive in Holland at around 9:30am. It takes around 1 hour to get through passport control, board your transfer coach and travel to Amsterdam. Spend 4-5 hours in Amsterdam. The last coach leaves the city at 3:30pm and the ship departs at 5pm then sails back to Newcastle overnight
  • Day Three: Arrive in North Shields at around 9:15am. It takes around 30-45 minutes to get through passport control
🚢 The duty free onboard has some good deals - esp litre bottles of spirits
🚢 Lots to do on board including live music, cinema, restaurants, soft play, treasure hunt, wildlife watching, arcades, whisky tasting....
🚢 If you're on a budget, you can take your own food on board but this needs to be consumed in your cabin and not in public areas. You can't take your own alcohol on board.
🚢 A standard seaview cabin is perfectly acceptable if you're on a budget. Beds are comfy, they're clean and you have your own loo
🚢 There are limited cabins which sleep up to 5 but these tend to go quickly. If they don't show in your search results, it's likely they are sold out.
🚢 I personally do think the restaurants offer good value. The buffet and a la carte options both have good menus for kids too. I definitely recommend booking breakfast for your outbound trip as it's the best way to arrive in port (and you can fill your boots). However if you're on a budget, it's not essential.
🚢 I can only speak from experience but I have never suffered with sea sickness. We usually buy sea sickness tablets from a pharmacy for a couple of £ before we travel and take them as a precautionary method and have been fine. Everyone is different though and you can never tell how choppy it's going to be
🚢 You can usually leave your belongings / overnight bag in your cabin when you explore the city and keep the same cabin throughout (there may be the odd time when this isn't the case but they will let you know).
🚢 If you are going to dine onboard, I recommend booking restaurants in advance but there is usually limited availability on the day (although you may have to dine at a later time). It is cheaper to book in advance.
There is also a coffee shop serving pastries and cakes and limited bar snacks available from the bar (nachos for example) which don't need to be booked ahead and you can buy sweets from the duty free.

Example kids menu at the a la carte restaurant on board

Please Note 

The walking times and public transport info below is calculated from Amsterdam Central Station and is for guidance only - it is subject to change. You MUST check up to date travel info when you are there. Add 10-15 minutes onto your first destination as you will need this time to get your bearings. 

The transfer drop off point is just along from Amsterdam Central Station by the larger body of water. Keep the water on your right and walk along the road for a few minutes. You will see the Central Station Building on your left. Walk through this building and out of the other side to access most of these attractions. 

13 Things to do in Amsterdam with Kids 

How to Spend 5 Hours in Amsterdam with Kids

Just a note to say - English is very widely spoken and all attractions mentioned have information available in English too. 

Tony Chocolony Superstore
(4 min walk)

This is a fun place to visit with kids. Here's a short video which gives you a flavour of what to expect. You can drop in and make your very own chocolate bar. Depending on how busy it is, what you'd like to do, I'd suggest allowing 10-30 minutes for your visit.

Visit their website for more info: Tony's Chocolony Superstore

Shopping in Dam Square
(5-10 min walk) 

A brill place for shopping with many flagship stores including LEGO, H&M, Zara, Nike and more. It's also a fab place to stop and grab some famous Amsterdam fries with mayo from one of the stalls. 

Body Worlds : The Happiness Project
(6 min walk) 

This won't be for everyone but children are actively encouraged to visit this museum where you can see what's happening under your skin with over 200 real plastinated bodies on display. Your ticket also includes your very own body scan.

Tickets are are 22.50 euros for adults, 13.50 euros for children (6-17 years) when booked in advance. Under 6s go free. Expect to spend 60-90 minutes here. Find out more: Body Worlds Amsterdam 

Stop for Pancakes 

There are places to stop for pancakes on every corner in Amsterdam. I'd also highly recommend Poffetjes which are mini pancakes available from street sellers. 

Amsterdam Dungeon
(14 min walk or 2 minutes on tram number 52) 

This is similar to York/ London Dungeon in the UK with English tours available. It's recommended for ages 10+ and should take around 75 minutes.

Expect to learn about Amsterdam's dark history with a trip to the Torture Chamber, Spanish Inquisition, The Flying Dutchman and more. Tickets are from 23.50 euros. Find out more here: Amsterdam Dungeons

You can buy a combo ticket to include Madame Tussauds too. 

Lovers Canal Cruise
(3 min walk)

This is one of the most popular canal cruise operators in Amsterdam and one I have personally taken / would recommend. There are lots of cruises to choose from including a pancake cruise! We just booked the standard one hour cruise which is available with English commentary.

I would recommend booking in advance (for say 11:30am) but walk ups are sometimes available. Tickets are from 17.50 euros. 

Find out more: Lovers Canal Cruise 

Amsterdam Zoo
(22 min walk / 11 minutes on the number 14 tram)

We have visited Amsterdam Zoo a few times and in our opinion, it's one of the best zoos we've been to. Loads of care has been put into the animal enclosure and last time we were there we spent hours watching baby elephants play in the water. SO cute!

If you're planning on visiting Amsterdam Zoo, I would plan on spending your full day here. Tickets are 21-25 euros when bought in advance. Under 3s go free. 

Find out more: Amsterdam Zoo

You can also purchase a zoo package via DFDS which includes Amsterdam Zoo tickets and transfers which drop you off and collect you right outside the zoo entrance. This usually saves money and is much less hassle. Check out prices for the DFDS Zoo Package here. 

Anne Frank House & Monument 
(20 minute walk / 6 minutes on the number 13 tram)

You need to book your tickets quite far in advance for this one and should expect to spend around an hour here. Tickets range from 1 - 16 euros. Due to the nature of this museum, it's recommended for ages 10+ but all are welcome at a parent's discretion. Check out this guide to visiting with kids. 

Free audio tours are available in English. Find out more and book here: Anne Frank House 

Madame Tussauds 
(10 minute walk / 4 minutes on the number 2 tram) 

Madame Tussauds Amsterdam includes lots of popular figures such as Lady Gaga, The Rock, Harry Styles, Beyonce, The Hulk and Ed Sheeran. There is a full section dedicated to Marvel Avengers too. Tickets are availabe from 23.50 euros and you can buy a cheaper combo visit to include the dungeons too. 

NEMO Science Museum 
(13 minute walk)

This attraction is in a different area to most of the other attractions and if you'd like to visit, I'd recommend planning to spend most of your day here. You can read a recent in depth review here. 

This museum is the largest science museum in the Netherlands with loads of hands on fun and experiments including a science lab and life in the universe. The rooftop is the highest city square in Amsterdam and offers incredible views alongside interactive exhibits around sustainable energy. There is a cafe too.

Tickets are 17.50 euros each with under 4s going free. Find out more: Nemo Science Museum 

Van Wonderen Stroopwafels 
(17 minute walk / 7 minutes on the number 12 tram) 

Join the queue for some of the best Stroopwafels in Amsterdam. Order one to takeaway or pick up a box to take home (I did both). There are lots of delicious toppings to choose from. 

Find out more: Van Wonderen Stroopwafels 

Amsterdam Duck Store   
(14 minute walk / 3 minutes on the number 13 tram) 

If you'd like to visit the cutest rubber ducks in Amsterdam, this is the place to be. There's a huge selection to choose from - literally a duck for everyone and they make a great souvenier from your trip. 

Find out more: Amsterdam Duck Store 

Ripleys Believe it Or Not!
(10 minute walk / 2 minutes on the number 14 tram)

Experience the weird and wonderful at Ripleys including genuine shrunken heads, a giant wooden clog and more. Tickets are 22.50 euros per adult, 13.50 euros per child and under 5s go free. 

Find out more and book here: Ripley's Believe it Or Not! 

Just Walk Around 

It's lush just walking around the canals and taking it all in. Amsterdam is wonderful and scenic and you could just spend your full time here taking in the sights with no real plan. 

You can discover the best prices and latest deals for this trip here: Amsterdam Mini Cruise Deals 

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How to spend 5 hours in Amsterdam with Kids


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