Holland is considered to be one of the best destinations for a family holiday in Europe, and rightfully so.
It has a wide range of family attractions, including great amusement parks, zoos, active vacation (such as cycling, boating, and skiing, even in the summer), museums children will enjoy, markets, flower gardens, picturesque towns and impressive big cities.
Many attractions are suitable for very young children as well.
Holland’s great advantage is its relatively small size and excellent roads, which make it an ideal destination for ‘star trips’: a vacation where you stay at one central location and drive to attractions all around it in a 2-hour radius. Star trips are the most convenient kind of vacation for families.
You can stay at one or two destinations and drive from there to the different attractions for one or two weeks in comfort.
There are hundreds of holiday villages in Holland. These are undoubtedly the best lodging option in this country.
The standard of the holiday villages, their apartments and their facilities can be anything from simple huts with no entertainment facilities which serve only as an efficient starting point for trips and a place to sleep in when you return, to fully equipped and comfortable apartments in a large village in a pastoral location with any facility you can think of: pools, water parks, petting zoos, playgrounds, sports fields, shows, shops, and organised activities for children and for the whole family.
Holiday villages such as these indeed serve as ideal starting points for star trips, but if you stay at one I recommend leaving yourself time to enjoy its facilities as well.
The best chain of holiday villages in Holland is Center Parcs. Besides a tropical indoor waterpark (the best feature of the place – you will have trouble getting your kids to leave), Center Parcs boasts a great selection of other attractions such as ziplines, an indoor skiing slope (active all year round), themed playgrounds, and more. Each Center Parcs village has its own unique highlights, but all of them are full of great possibilities for active vacationing.
Ski at Holland!
Holland has several great amusement parks.
The most famous of these is Efteling, and it is a must-see for any family visiting the country. This is a charming amusement park which has rides of every kind, from big roller coasters to pleasant carousels for the little ones. There are also shows and a forest of fairytale creatures. The whole park was built inside a forest, and its designers thought of every little detail. Even the recycling bins are designed to look like different characters who call out to you to throw your paper there.
Serious fans of hardcore roller coasters will not want to miss Walibi Holland, an amusement park which was previously part of the worldwide Six Flags chain.
Another park is Duinrell, which is both an amusement park and a water park.
The youngest of the family will love a visit to Linnaeushof, the biggest playground in Europe.
People visiting Holland in the spring (March to May) should not miss Keukenhof gardens, which are some of the most unique and beautiful gardens in all of Europe. These gardens are open only in the spring. They show off the marvellous blooming of tulips.
Early risers should visit the flower auction in Aalsmeer.
Of course, you should not miss a visit to Amsterdam’s colourful flower market, open on any month of the year.
Nature lovers should visit De Hoge Veluwe national park, whose main attraction is cycling along the park trails. I recommend starting your visit at the park’s visitor centre, which features interactive displays about its flora and fauna as well as some history. I recommend picking up a park map there.
Another place I recommend visiting is the Kr?ller-M?ller Museum, which features masterpieces by Holland’s greatest artists. Its sculpture garden is especially beautiful. This is a great opportunity to combine a visit to a nice art museum with a trip out to nature and some physical activity in the form of cycling.
Holland has many fishing villages and picturesque towns.
Two towns which are considered ‘must-sees’ in this country are:
Volendam, the most representative fishing town you could see in Holland. This is the place to roam around souvenir shops and see typical Dutch wooden clogs, traditional clothes, fishing boats in the harbour and stands with a wide selection of fish and seafood.
Giethoorn, which is nicknamed ‘The Venice of Holland’. I recommend going on an independent boat ride through the canals of the town and the nearby lake.
In the summer months, several places in the country host cheese markets.
The two best and most famous cheese markets are:
Alkmaar Cheese Market, which takes place every Friday
Gouda Cheese Market, which takes place on Thursdays.
In order to experience what life was like in Holland hundreds of years ago, you should visit one of the country’s many open museums. The biggest and best one is Nederlands Openluchtmuseum in the suburbs of Arnhem, where there are many demonstrations and organised activities. This open museum has functioning windmills, a bakery, several different workshops, a vegetable garden, an animal farm and more. You can travel between around the different parts of the park on foot or by tram. The museum also has a unique multimedia exhibit called HollandRama.
Lovers of windmills should visit the 19 windmills of Kinderdijk. It is lovely to walk, drive, or bike around the windmills and of course go inside one of the active mills.
In the nearby town of Delft you can watch the production process of Holland’s famous blue and white china.
Holland is also famous for its dikes and dams. Who hasn’t heard the tale of the boy who put his finger in the dike and saved Holland from flooding?
I recommend driving along Afsluitdijk dam (a part of route A7), which separates IJsselmeer lake from the North Sea, and enjoying the view. A visit to the visitor centre located in the middle of the road on top of the dam will teach you about the complicated building process of the dam and its great significance.
Another dam you can visit (walk on top of it on foot, take a boat ride under it and much, much more) is the Delta Works in Deltapark Neeltje Jans in the province of Zeeland in the south of Holland.
Family attractions in Amsterdam
A trip to Holland isn’t complete without a visit to its big, bustling city of Amsterdam.
In order to get a taste of Amsterdam, you should dedicate at least one very busy day to it. If you would also like to visit its museums and see the city a little more in-depth, I recommend visiting for at least two or three days.
A good start to your visit would be a boat ride through the canals. You can join an hour-long guided boat tour or do it independently on ‘canal bikes’.
After that, it is nice to walk around the centre of the city on foot and browse its markets.
A must-see site is the Anne Frank Museum.
Other family attractions in Amsterdam:
· Nemo Science Museum
· The Heineken Experience
· A guided tour of Ajax Stadium, which also holds the Ajax Museum
· The Amsterdam branch of Madame Tussauds wax museum
Other cities in Holland
Other cities in Holland which are great for a family holiday:
The most famous attraction of the city is the Madurodam miniature park, which features miniature models of all of Holland.
I also recommend visiting Panorama Mesdag, an enormous three-dimensional painting of Scheveningen’s beach, near The Hague. The painting was created in 1881. You can get headphones with English commentary about the painting.
If the weather permits, I recommend walking along the the beach at the real promenade of Scheveningen. This is a three-kilometre promenade full of restaurants and coffee shops. In its centre are a pier, a coral garden and a model of a submarine.
The oldest and fourth-largest city in Holland. I recommend touring the city centre on foot, seeing its canals and its colourful pedestrian mall, and the main attraction: Museum Speelklok, a museum of clocks, musical boxes and instruments. Guided tours of the museum take place every hour.
Utrecht is also home to the tallest belltower in Holland. Tours up to the top of the tower take place every hour as well.
Holland’s most famous shopping centre, Hoog Catarijne, is in this city.
A big and lively harbour city where you can take a guided boat tour of the harbour and admire the view from the rotating viewing platform atop the Euromast.