How to Spend 5 Hours in Amsterdam with Kids

AD. - this post contains affiliate links and includes a mix of information photos taken on press trips and trips I have taken and paid for myself. All activities mentioned in this post were chosen and paid for by myself. 

This post was published in Jan 2024 and updated in June 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 

Use the above link to book before 18 July for a whopping 50% discount. 

You are dropped off near Amsterdam Central Station on the side near the larger body of water. Keep the water behind you cross the road, and walk through the underpass across the road (slightly to the right). This will bring you into central Amsterdam. 

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

We have stayed at Nova Hotel Amsterdam which slept 4 and was super central

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

Check out my videos/reviews: 

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

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 behind you, cross the road and keeping right, walk under the underpass to get into central Amsterdam. 

Metro Travel is super easy in Amsterdam - the signs and boards are exactly like the Metro / Tube and it's easy to navigate. I bought our tickets online through the app and just scanned the QR codes at the gates. 

A Few Recommended 5 Hour Itineraries 

1 - Nemo Science Museum 
2 - Amsterdam Zoo
3 - Tony Chocoloney, Ripleys / Madame Tussauds plus the LEGO Store 
4 - Heinekken Experience and Carousel Bar Pancakes 
5 - Canal Cruise & Self Guided Food and Shopping Tour 
6 - Amaze Amsterdam 
7 - Take the FREE Public Ferry 

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 but it can get busy. There is usually a bit of a queue but it goes down fairly quickly. It's a fun shop to pop into if you don't have time to join the chocolate making queue and they have some decent deals. 

But if you do want to make your own chocolate, you get to watch a film about the ethics of chocolate making, then in the queue you can watch behind the scenes in the chocolate making process then when it's your turn you use a computer to design your own chocolate. It was 8.99 euros per bar when we visited in April 2024. 

You choose your chocolate type, the fillings and then personalise the wrapper. Pay at the machine and add your phone number / email and they will text you in a few hours when your chocolate is ready to collect. If you're only here for a few hours, head straight to the store to do this first. 

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. 

The shopping in Amsterdam is SO good and I'd definitely recommend visiting the LEGO store which is just a short walk from the coach drop off point. 

When we visited they had lots of free activities on offer including a LEGO treasure hunt around the store (with prize), LEGO boat building, LEGO rocket building, DUPLO area and more. We enjoyed designing our own mini figure (it costs a few euros to do this) and admiring the fantastic LEGO models. 

Chips with mayo and toppings will set you back 4-7euros and are a must for walking around Amsterdam. Lots of takeaway stalls sell them and it's a cheap lunch idea if you're on a budget. We found there to be lots of dessert style cafes too if you fancy something sweet afterwards. 

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. 

The best pancakes I've had in Amsterdam are in De Carrousel. It's a lovely quirky setting with quick, friendly service (no bookings), lovely views and tasty pancakes with lots of topping choices. It's next to the Hennekin Experience so you could combine with that and there's a little children's nook playing Nick Jnr on TV. 

We caught the 52 Blue Metro from Central Station to Vijzelgracht which was just two stops and took 3 minutes. The Carousel restaurant is just as you step outside of the station and super easy to get to. From here you can walk back into central Amsterdam in around 20-30 mins. 

Find out more:

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 

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

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)

We had THE best time at NEMO Science Museum and I was really impressed. The museum is packed with fun experiments (all in English too) and it's somewhere you can easily spend a good few hours. 

It's easy to walk to from the drop off point too - you can pretty much see the building from the coach and just need to walk along the canal towards it for 10-15 mins. 

I'd recommend for all ages from little ones to teens. Us grown ups had fun too. 

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. (Top tip - you can visit the rooftop and cafe for free without playing museum admission). 

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 

2024 update. OK so I have a confession, I have found some even better stroopwaffels in Amsterdam.

You have to check out Hans Egstorf which is the oldest bakery in Amsterdam and a 16 minute walk from Central Station. You can watch them being made in store and the smell is just incredible. They sell takeaway hot drinks too and it's a nice stop for a little snack. 

Find out more:

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 

I thought the Amsterdam Duck Store was exclusive to Amsterdam but it turns out it's not - we spotted on in Venice recently too. 

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. 

This was my first visit to Ripleys and I really enjoyed it - lots of weird and wonderful things to see and an excellent place to visit for fact fans. There is a nice bar / cafe on the rooftop at the end too. 

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

Amaze Amsterdam 

We absolutely loved Amaze Amsterdam which is an interactive light and sound experience. It's outside of the centre and we found the easiest way to get there was by taking the 51 Metro from Central Station to Isolatorweg which takes around 34 minutes and is the last stop on the line so very easy to navigate. Amaze is just around the corner from the Metro station. 

The minimum age for this experience is 10 years and it can get a bit loud / Stanger Things like but it's not too scary. 

There are a series of rooms where you can control the light / sound or get to immerse yourself in an incredible light and sound show. I'd definitely recommend for teens / older kids and there is nothing like this in Newcastle. 

There's a bar at the start / end which feels pretty cool without being cringe and serves good cocktails and mocktails. 

Find out more and book your timeslot in advance:

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

Sightseeing Bus Tour 

The Sightseeing Bus Tour stops just next to where the DFDS transfer coach drops you off. You can hop on and hop off across the day and include a boat tour if you wish too. I think this would be ideal for a first visit to get your bearings and learn more about the city. 

Find out more:

Free Boat Trip 

Amsterdam operates several free ferries. No need to book - just hop on! One of the free ferry terminals is just next to the coach transfer drop off (Amsterdam Central to Buiksloterweg) with very regular ferries to attractions such as the Eye Filmmuseum.

Find out more and check timetables here:

Cat Boat 

I love the name of this boat - De Poezenboot. It's a refuge for stray cats who are ultimately looking to be rehomed. It's not a cat cafe and you can't interact with the cats but you can visit and donate to their cause. There was a big slow moving queue when we visited and we didn't have time to join.

Their website says they are closed but they definitely seemed to be open when we were there:

Amsterdam Market 

The Albert Cuypmarket is a 100 year market with over 300 stalls. It takes place down one long street so is super easy to navigate. It's open daily from 9am-5pm (closed Sundays) and you can expect everything from souveniers to fish stalls, street food, gifts, homeware, clothes, drinks and more. We enjoyed it and picked up a few bits from here. 

We caught the Metro - the number 52 from Central Station to 'De Pijp' which took 5 minutes. The market starts right outside the Metro station. 

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

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 

Pin Me 

How to spend 5 hours in Amsterdam with Kids


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