Before the spring/summer wedding season got underway we took our annual family holiday to Holland.
This year it was a little extra special; celebrating my husband’s big birthday and also my daughter’s first time on an aircraft. Amsterdam was to be our destination with the short 30 minute flight across the North Sea to our home from home. We rented an apartment on the Singel canal (thanks Carolina) which was a brilliant base from which to explore the less touristy areas, as well as being a short walk to the station. Having visited the city a few times, we decided to do as many new things as possible, including a day at the extremely busy Keukenhof gardens. This meant no trips to the main city museums and we found some cracking places to go. Here are our top places to visit in the area, with or without children…
Royal Palace in Amsterdam
The rather imposing facade on Dam Square hides a quiet, ornate marble interior on an impressive scale. Our daughter loved the children’s trail, using a special guide narrated by a young prince to tell the story of the palace whilst looking for clues.
Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam
My favourite museum in Amsterdam, although seems so much busier than in previous years, I love walking the rooms once inhabited by the master painter; to experience the light through his windows and see his eclectic collections. My daughter loved the etching and paint demonstrations and really fuelled her artistic spirit.
Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem
Haarlem town is a 20 minute train ride away and is like a miniature Amsterdam, but so quiet! If you want to escape the crowds this is the place for you. The Frans Hals Museum exhibits a quality collection of his master paintings alongside other beautiful works. Beautifully decorated with Delft tiles, it’s so much more manageable in size with younger children. There’s also a very tricky trail to follow with a choice of prizes at the end.
Corrie Ten Boom House in Haarlem
We passed the Anne Frank Museum on more than one occasion and were astounded by the queues snaking around the outside. This museum tells a similar, fateful story, of Corrie Ten Boom and her family during Nazi occupied Holland. The family created a hiding place for Jews and welcomed anyone persecuted to their home. Tours can be pre-booked, are limited to 20 people and are a couple of hours long. Retold by experts in the Ten Boom family history from their actual sitting room. It brought their tragic story vividly to life and our daughter has talked of not much else.
Wheely Dutch Bike Tour
Our absolute highlight of the week was our Wheely Dutch Bike Tour with Rebecca as our guide. She provided our bikes and planned a 55km route through the Dutch countryside south and east of the city taking in windmills, canals, pretty villages stunning scenery and even a castle. There were so many memorable moments but my personal highlights must be leaving the city over the iconic Walter Süskindbrug and passing the mansions on the Amstel River.
I can’t wait to be back amongst the waterways and Dutch gables again.