Efteling: a magical place

The Efteling is famous here in the Netherlands! It started as a ‘Fairytale Forest’ in 1952, and over the years the Efteling grew out into a large-scale theme park with roller-coasters and restaurants, most of them still inspired by fairy tale themes such as Sinbad the Sailor or Fata Morgana. But my favourite part is still theFairytale Forest, where you can find the Sleeping Beauty sleeping in her castle, the scary Dragon watching over his treasure, Snow White in her coffin made of glass, the candy house with Hansel and Gretel, singing mushrooms and much, much more to explore.

Visiting the Efteling is truly a joyful experience for the entire family. As soon as they can walk, little children will love the Fairytale Forest, and bigger kids will not want to skip this part either, although they will probably also want to go for a ride in one of the many other great attractions. A visit to the Efteling may take a day, but we usually spend two days where one day we hang out mostly in the Fairytale Forest and the other we explore the rest of the park. You can stay the night in the Efteling Hotel, where the experience goes on with theme rooms (we once stayed in the ‘Flying Dutchman‘ room) and dinners with real fairytale characters — cheesy, maybe, but the kids love it (and so do I).

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Fuoco Vivo, the best pizza in Amsterdam

Oh, just thinking about this pizzeria makes my mouth water. At Fuoco Vivo, pizzas are made the Italian way: from organic sour dough, baked in a wood oven that is made of volcanic earth. Toppings are simply the best, often organic and imported directly from Italy. No wonder this place is crowded with Italians! It feels as if you’re in Naples instead of in Amsterdam, which brings me to the child-friendliness of this place: I have yet to meet an Italian who doesn’t love kids.

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MarqtThe Hollandsche Manege

Knutsel Frutsel, for your creative needs

Nooo, this is not a candy store. It’s even better! At Knutsel Frutsel you will find everything you need for your children’s art & craft kit — or yours! Filled with the best products, from play-dough to paper, glitter to glue — you’ll find it in this shop. And the owners will give you expert advice on how to use the products (or get you inspired with a craft idea or two)! Oh, and if you think you’re done browsing and you’re getting ready to pay, a happy surprise will wait for you on the other side of the shop: wonderful toys, fun party-bag goodies, and the entire Schleich collection.

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Imagine — a very special toy shopIssaLe Fournil

Le Pain Quotidien

One of my favourite international chains in the world must be Le Pain Quotidien (PQ). Even after, I don’t know, 10 years or so, I still am not tired of the deliciousness of the PQ tartines, cakes, salads and, well, everything. So the fact that the PQ finally came to Amsterdam has made me very, very happy! If you’re looking for a cute place to meet a friend for a cappuccino, or bring your kids for a scrumptious weekend breakfast, then this is the place for you. There are highchairs available and my kids absolutely love the fact that they can indulge in the many jams, honey and different Belgian chocolate spreads on the table (and so do I)!

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Imagine — a very special toy shopRestaurant As — pure foodLe Fournil

Amstelpark

We love taking the kids over to the Amstelpark for a walk and a play in the big playground. It’s also a great spot for a summery picnic —  in the quiet areas close to the river we’ve often seen rabbits hopping around our picnic blanket! Amstelpark also has a sweet little city farm and a ‘train’ that will drive you around the park and which the kids obviously love. There are a few places where you can have a drink and a snack but I prefer taking the kids to @7 on the Scheldestraat for lunch or a coffee (or for an ice cream next door in summer).

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@7, lovely for lunchMIFFY SHOPKid’s shoes from Meys & Co

@7, lovely for lunch

The Scheldestraat is a fun street to go to — you’ll find the Miffy Store there and a few other nice children’s shops. It is also fairly close to the Amstel Park, where there’s a big playground and cute little city farm. A good place for an informal lunch or coffee is at @7. In the back is a little play area for the kids, there are plenty of high chairs, and on the menu are great treats for kids like warm cheese toasts and bread with chocolate sprinkles. One of my favourite places to have coffee or lunch with a friend with the kids in tow!

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Strand ZuidMIFFY SHOPAmstelpark

Jewish Historical Museum

Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum consists of four important Amsterdam synagogues, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, which were connected with the use of glass, concrete and steel. The large, ancient spaces of the four former synagogues together with the light and modern additions make this museum a wonderfully fresh and pleasurable place to be!
The collection of the museum focuses on Jewish religion, art and history and is laid out in a way so that it can be browsed quickly or studied more in depth, depending on the age and interest of your children. A large part of the museum, in fact one of the four original buildings, houses the JHM Children’s Museum, where everyday subjects and key elements in Jewish tradition are explored in a really fun way. It’s a very welcoming and friendly place, whatever your background, and baking the kosher hallahs (plaided bread) is our kid’s favourite activity.
If the smell of freshly baked bread makes you hungry: the museum cafe has some wonderful (kosher) dishes.

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RijksmuseumThe HortusRaining? Go tropical!

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Getting Around

House and Park Frankendael

In the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, it was the fashion for Amsterdam’s wealthiest merchants to buy a plot of land outside the city and build themselves a stately country house. The beautiful old House Frankendael, located about a mile east from the city centre in Watergraafsmeer, is one of those country estates and in fact the only one remaining in Amsterdam.
It is located in the historical Park Frankendael, which is a lovely place to visit for a relaxing stroll with the family. There’s a playground to be discovered and also a little ruin on a (tiny) island. The restaurant in the old coach house of Frankendael House is open 7 days a week and is a good place for breakfast or lunch combined with a visit to the park — especially in summer when the terrace at the back of the house is open.
The famous restaurant The Kas is also located in Park Frankendael, in a huge greenhouse dating from 1926, and is a great place for dinner, with or without children.

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Restaurant As — pure food


One of my favourite restaurants in Amsterdam is Restaurant As. Located in a modern chapel on the edge of the Beatrix Park, this is slow food at its best! The cooks use organic, seasonal food from local sources and are big on treating the food the way it should be treated, so that it tastes exactly like what it should taste like. They smoke their own salmon, cure their own ham and bake their own bread. A pig and some chickens roam around at the back of the restaurant and remind us respectfully of where it all comes from.
Children are welcome and have enough room to play and even run around. And in summer there’s a lovely, big terrace.

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De Parade

The Hortus

Amsterdam’s botanical garden, the Hortus Botanicus, was established in 1638 as a medical garden, and is now one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It’s a fairly small botanical garden, but it still houses over 4,000 plant species (about 2% of all plant species growing on Earth), amongst which a good selection of carnivorous plants (that my kids find absolutely fascinating), cycads or ‘dinosaur plants’ and a giant water lily.
Children can see how rice grows, learn where cinnamon comes from, and study the transition from caterpillar to butterfly in the butterfly greenhouse. The old orangerie has been renovated and now houses a restaurant with purely organic dishes (high chairs present), and there’s a small gift shop with a cute selection of toys and books.
All in all, a lovely and educational escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and, thanks to the greenhouses, a chance to enjoy nature even when it’s raining cats and dogs.

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Artis, an old and beautiful ZooNot a fish!HEMA

Rijksmuseum

After taking the children to the Rembrandt House a while ago, we thought it would be a good idea to now take them to the Rijksmuseum to see Rembrandt’s most famous painting, the Nachtwacht (Night Watch). The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s Arts, Craft and History museum and houses a large and important collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age (think Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals).
The fact that the museum is currently being renovated, and has only the ‘best of” on display, makes it a more manageable size for children. There are some lovely publications for sale in the bookshop that will help you make the visit as interesting for your children as for you. And the doll’s house is seriously amazing, I still remember that from my childhood, and I’m pretty sure it made an equally big impression on my kids. Don’t miss it!
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Pancakes!Jewish Historical MuseumRe-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House

Delle 4 Stagioni

Delle 4 Stagioni is the neighbourhood Italian restaurant that every Old-South family knows about. It is located in a beautiful old butcher’s shop with all the original antique wall tiles still present (and depicting the four seasons). The restaurant serves a good Roman style pizza, tasty fresh pastas and has a decent wine list. The manager, the very kind Giulia Consonni, has a friendly word for each child and takes them to the kitchen in the back of the restaurant for an ice-cream cone as dessert — provided the little ones eat their dinner, obviously! (more…)

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Restaurant As — pure foodLe Pain QuotidienImagine — a very special toy shop

Imagine — a very special toy shop

One of the most special children’s shops in Amsterdam is without a doubt the toy shop Imagine. This is the place to go if you’re looking for that special gift for that unique child, that cute present for that sweet baby, that handmade coat for that lovely girl or that stylish haircut for that cool boy. The collection at Imagine is ever so special, with lovely retro pieces, a good collection of French and German toys and some delightful Dutch brands (colourful, modern and fun). The staff is amazingly friendly, and will never annoyingly follow you around (not even in the cool basement where the toys for big girls and boys can be found). Truly a delightful shop!! (more…)

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IssaLe FournilImps & Elfs

Artis, an old and beautiful Zoo

One of the oldest zoos in Europe, Artis was opened in 1835 and has a very beautiful old setting with terrific gardens and monumental buildings. Most of the animal lodgings have thankfully been modernised since! There are some fantastic playgrounds, and there’s a good restaurant, with plenty of high chairs and facilities to heat up milk or baby food. Also, another good thing to know is that cute pushchairs can be rented for the day for a small deposit. This zoo is not too big but has truly a lot to offer, with plenty of interior fun for rainy days as well. Good for a lovely day out with the family!

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BurgermeesterNot a fish!De Bakkerswinkel

Tokyo Café

Do your children love sushi as much as mine? My daughter is especially crazy for sushi — she LOVES it… Including the seaweed salad! She really can’t get enough of it!
Good thing that at Tokyo Café you can eat as much sushi and teppanyaki as you like! Grown-ups pay a fixed price of around 20 euros and kids pay 10 (under 4s eat for free), and you can keep on ordering sushi (and other things) until you fall asleep in your chair, like our daughter did.
There are two shifts in the evening, the first one is from 17.30 onwards and the second one from 20.15. Especially during the first shift there are plenty of children around (and tolerated). High chairs are available — I would ask for one when you make the reservation (which is recommended)!
Tokyo Café is a good place to go after an afternoon of shopping or sight-seeing, as it’s located on the Spui (right in the main shopping area). (more…)

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Artis, an old and beautiful ZooPancakes!Rijksmuseum
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