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.



Pancakes!Raining? Go tropical!Rijksmuseum

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.


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.



HEMARaining? Go tropical!Not a fish!


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!


The HortusJewish Historical MuseumHEMA

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!


La SavonnerieRijksmuseumThe Hortus

Re-live the 17th century in Rembrandt’s House

Rembrandthuis - atelierLast weekend we did something unexpectedly fabulous: we took the children to Rembrandt’s House. Rembrandt, as you might know, was a very famous Dutch painter who lived from 1607 till 1669. From 1625 onwards he lived in Amsterdam. For a big part of his live he was very rich, already well known in his time, and he lived in a beautiful house that is amazingly well conserved and restored and can be visited today.
I didn’t really know what to expect with two little children, but they were SO impressed. Our daughter (4 yrs) listened to her own audio tour, aimed especially at kids, and I can say that at the end of our visit she could give me specific information that I didn’t pick up myself.

If you’re in Amsterdam and want to combine some culture with history and a fun family activity, the Rembrandthuis comes recommended. There’s no restaurant, but walking down to the Staalstraat takes less than 5 minutes and you’ll find Pucinni, with great coffee, good sandwiches and amazing cakes. In the same street you’ll find cute kids gift shop Beestenwinkel, my favourite grown-up gift shop Klevering (that happens to stock some really lovely kids items as well), and a bit up the road there’s Droog Design, a showcase of the famous Dutch design group.



Raining? Go tropical!Artis, an old and beautiful ZooNot a fish!

The Hollandsche Manege

The Hollandsche Manege translates to ‘The Dutch Riding School’, and the manner in which it is spelled (in Dutch) conveys that we are talking about an OLD riding school here. The building, based on the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and located on the Northern edge of the Vondelpark, dates back to 1882 and was meant to serve the recreational needs of the rich and/or aristocrat inhabitants of Amsterdam. Membership was expensive, and you can still tell by the heavy decoration and the feeling of grandeur!
Nowadays you don’t have to be rich or aristocratic to enjoy the Hollandsche Manege…
Classes are open to everybody, and you can always walk in to have a look at the horses (there is one horse, Queenie, who is extremely sweet toward children and is always happy to be caressed)! My kids love it, and I make sure to take them every now and then. There’s a lovely tearoom on the first floor overlooking the arena. (more…)


Fuoco Vivo, the best pizza in AmsterdamMarqt

Raining? Go tropical!

Tropenmuseum ticket

The Tropenmuseum (Tropical Institute) of Amsterdam is one of those museums where you walk in and feel the grandeur of what once was… I have that same feeling in similar beautiful buildings, like the Natural History Museum in London, or the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Brussels…
It’s about anthropology, discovery, history, about dangerous expeditions and great adventures… Dr. Livingstone, I presume???
The original name of the Tropical Institute was Colonial Museum and it was first opened in Haarlem in 1871 (the current building in Amsterdam was inaugurated in 1926). The initial aim of the museum was to exhibit products and crafts from the Dutch overseas territories. There are however not many Dutch colonies left and the building is huge, so nowadays the exhibitions display art, objects, photographs, music and film from non-western cultures in general, giving an insight into the daily lives of the people of the tropics and subtropics.

It’s really a fantastic museum to visit, and also great for children. We went last weekend (it was raining), and our 3-year-old LOVED it! (more…)


BurgermeesterRijksmuseumLa Savonnerie



On the edge of the Vondelpark in Amsterdam there is a wonderful place to bring your kids: the Kinderkookcafé (Childrens’ Cooking Café). The fact that it is a café is good news for the parents – they can meet up and have a cup of coffee and a simple snack like a sandwich, soup or apple-pie. The good news for the kids is that while their parents are catching up and drinking coffees, they can ‘cook’! (more…)



A week in Amsterdam

amsterdam gracht

Go out for breakfast in the Bakkerswinkel. A basket of different sorts of bread, muffins, scones and croissants makes way to your table accompanied by a much needed coffee and orange juice. Fancy jams can be found on the table. Open from 7AM – what a wonderful way to start the week!
After, take your children to the Amstelpark, where there is a lovely playground and a little city farm. A ‘real train’ can take you around the park – a sure hit with your little ones.
Had enough of the park? Go to the Scheldestraat where you can find the great kids’ shoe store Meys&Co (open from 1PM onwards), with Koter&Co across the street where they sell a big selection of the cool Dutch kiddie brand Imps&Elfs (and more).
Before going back home, don’t forget to visit Italian delicatessen Feduzzi for a cappuccino and one of their mouth-watering Panini. And don’t forget the babyccino for your little angel! You can pick up something for dinner here too – I promise you, the food is great and prices are reasonable.

Not a fish!


But a Science Centre!
NEMO is a fantastic building in the heart of Amsterdam designed by the world famous Italian architect Renzo Piano. It resembles a big ship heading for the ocean and it houses a great place to entertain your children. Their cute motto is: forbidden NOT to touch!
I read on the NEMO website that the primary target group is children aged between 6 and 16, but we brought our 2 1/2-year-old daughter together with her 64-year-old grandfather and both of them enjoyed themselves immensely! There are soap bubbles so big you can stand in them, life size kaleidoscopes, a DNA exhibit, and they show you how to provide a house from energy, etc. etc. Everything is set-up in a playful, interactive matter. We were there on a Saturday, so not the quietest of days you can imagine, but still there were no lines and we were able to do every experiment we were interested in.


La SavonneriePancakes!De Bakkerswinkel

Miffy’s House


Who doesn’t love Miffy? My daughter surely adores her! Dick Bruna created this little rabbit in 1955 and by now her stories have been translated to more than 40 languages! Did you know Miffy has her own website?
Last weekend we decided to treat our children to a little trip to ‘Miffy’s House’ (a.k.a. the Dick Bruna House).
The house is located in Utrecht, a beautiful city about a half-an-hour drive or train ride from Amsterdam. It was brilliant! My 2 1/2-year-old had the time of her life exploring the museum. There’s a real (kid’s scale) house where children can sit at Miffy’s table, try her bed, test her clothes, etc. There are interactive computer games, videos to watch, books to read, big elements to play with, and more.
My 10-month-old loved crawling through the tunnel (with real windows and curtains) and checking out the displays of Dick Bruna’s characters. There is also a workshop where they can make Miffy masks, ears and dolls. I liked seeing Dick Bruna’s other graphic work (posters and book covers), by which I was very impressed! The shop has a fantastic selection of Miffy books and toys, and ships internationally!

xxx Esther (more…)