Filled with outdoor adventures and cultural highlights, this family-friendly tour is a wonderful introduction to the Netherlands. Cruise the canals of Amsterdam in a private boat, take a steam train to Medemblik, and cycle through the sand dunes to the North Sea. If you're traveling in spring, you'll see colorful fields of tulips, but this five-day journey is a pleasure throughout the year.

Highlights

  • Cruise around the canals of Amsterdam on a private boat
  • See the countryside aboard an old-fashioned steam train 
  • Visit the oldest zoo in the Netherlands
  • Explore the coastline of the North Sea

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Children's Science Museum Amsterdam
Day 2 Visit the City Zoo and Westfries Museum Hoorn
Day 3 Take a Steam Powered Train Ride From Hoorn to Medemblik Enkhuizen
Day 4 Beach Day at Bergen Aan Zee Bergen
Day 5 Spot Windmills En Route to Amsterdam - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam and Visit the Children's Science Museum

Picturesque architecture in Amsterdam

Welcome to the Dutch Lowlands! After arrival at Amsterdam's airport, you'll continue on to your hotel in the city center, an amazing labyrinth of canals and small streets. From the canal closest to your hotel, you'll be picked up by a small private open boat for a tour of the canals. After about two hours, the boat will drop you off in front of the NEMO Science Museum, an interactive space for curious kids to learn more about the world around them.

Later, do as the Amsterdammers do and head to the Vondelpark to sit in the grass, have a drink, watch the laid-back locals, and soak up some sun. Nearby Westerpark also has a small children’s pool during the summer months.

For an adrenaline rush, check out the sky-high A’DAM Tower with a panoramic observation deck, rotating restaurant, and Europe’s highest swing!

Day 2: Visit the City Zoo and Westfries Museum

Dutch cheeses for sale

After breakfast, head over to Artis Royal Zoo, the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. The complex also features an aquarium and a planetarium. When you've spent as much time as you like interacting with animals, catch a northbound train for the 30-minute ride to tranquil Hoorn (note that Dutch trains contain a few silent cars, which you're better off avoiding when traveling with children).

Back in the 17th century, the harbor town of Hoorn was of great importance to the Dutch East India Company. Reminders of this rich past can still be seen in the town's impressive monuments. Stop into the railway museum which houses old steam locks and train cars.

After checking into your hotel, walk down to the harbor, where a boat will pick you up for a private cruise. From the deck, view a range of 16th-century merchant houses. Later in the afternoon, you'll have the option to visit the Westfries Museum to learn more about the region's rich history during the Golden Age. In the evening, enjoy dinner out in one of the many good restaurants in the center.

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Day 3: Take a Steam Powered Train Ride From Hoorn to Medemblik

An old steam train in Hoorn

Today your family will experience how people traveled around the area a hundred years ago. Board a steam engine in Hoorn and make your way through the charmingly restored railway stations of Wognum, Twisk, and Opperdoes. In spring, you’ll be treated to the sight of colorful fields of tulips in full bloom. You'll end up in Medemblik, another historic town bordering the IJsselmeer (known as Lake IJssel in English).

You'll have some time to stroll around the town center before catching a ride on the Friesland, a naval destroyer ship. Cruise across Lake IJssel, the largest lake in Holland. Disembark in the harbor of Enkhuizen with its 16th-century fortress walls, historic buildings, and attractive harbor. Walking around, you'll see reminders of past prosperity, when Enkhuizen was a thriving harbor town for the Dutch East India Company. 

Stop into the Zuiderzeemuseum, an open-air museum distributed across 130 original houses. Or spend some time sailing, waterskiing, or canoeing on the lake. Another option is to visit Sprookjeswonderland, a theme park based on fairytales. A historic carousel, a miniature train, and a magical forest make the park a popular destination for families with young children.

Day 4: Beach Day at Bergen Aan Zee

A walk on the Dutch coast

On the fourth day of the trip, you'll transfer to the peaceful town of Bergen, where bicycles are ready to take you on your next adventure. Pedal a few miles through a landscape of sand dunes to the beach resort town of Bergen aan Zee, a relatively quiet area that's excellent for walks and building sandcastles. Needless to say, the seafood is superb here, and there are plenty of restaurants where you can try it.

Another option is to visit the Sea Aquarium, where you can walk under the skeleton of a sperm whale and view over 300 different marine species, including piranhas, seahorses, starfish, and anemones. 

Day 5: Spot Windmills En Route to Amsterdam - Departure

Cyclists visit windmills of Zaanse Schans
Cyclists visiting the windmills of Zaanse Schans

Your trip is almost over. You'll take the train back to Amsterdam, stopping at Zaanse Schans on the way to see check out some traditional windmills. It's a picture-perfect spot to end the adventure before continuing on to Amsterdam for the journey home. Safe travels!

More Great Netherlands Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands? Check out these other Netherlands itineraries, including a 7-day Best of Holland & Flanders trip, a 5-day Discover the Dutch Masters tour, and a longer 10-day Highlights of Holland adventure.

Or, describe your ideal trip and we will connect you with a local specialist to make it happen.