How We Got There
We scored a flight deal to Amsterdam for $400RT that I found on Skyscanner flying Delta Airlines from Ft. Lauderdale. Skyscanner has an amazing app that I basically stalk everyday, download it here. Since we had 60,000 Skymiles from the sign-up bonus of our Delta Skymiles AMEX it reduced the price to $200 each for a total of $673 for our family of four ($73 for Kennedy’s 10% plus taxes). Here are some of the best websites for flight deals.
Where We Stayed
We stayed in this Airbnb in the Schinkelbuurt neighborhood of Amsterdam. The apartment was quite small so I wouldn't recommend it for large families or families with older kids. We brought along our own travel crib which we set up in the living room and Jordyn shared the bed with us. For $40 towards your first Airbnb stay click here.
How We Saved Money
The I amsterdam City Card is a great way to save money. We used the 72hr I amsterdam City Card including Amsterdam & Region Travel Ticket as we knew we wanted to explore some nearby cities. Mostly everything we did was covered by the card with the exception of food and the Heineken Experience. However, two of the restaurants we ate at offered a 25% discount if you had the card and a discount was also given at the Heineken Experience.
The cards cost 87 Euros for adults but as many children receive free or reduced admission it's only recommended to purchase for children over 10. If you plan on visiting a lot of museums the card is worth it. However, if you are not a museum person it probably won't save you as much money. I'd recommend adding up the entrance fees to the things you want to do and then seeing if it adds up to more than the cost of the card. There is also the regular IAMsterdam City Card without the Travel Ticket which is 77 Euros, however the travel ticket alone is 33.50 Euros for 3 days. The travel ticket covers all trains, buses and trams in Amsterdam and surrounding cities including the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal. I'm not sure the cost for a single ride but we rode either a bus, tram, metro, or train at least 4 times a day.
Day One: Vondel Park, Anne Frank House, Canal Tour
We landed in Amsterdam at bright and early 6AM. After clearing customs we went to the Vistor’s Center in Arrivals 2 to pick up our IAMsterdam Cards. We got the Amsterdam & Region Travel one and the card covered all of our transportation and 99% of the things we did in Amsterdam.
We took the train which is right at the airport to our Airbnb to meet our host who kindly allowed us to check in early with the girls. I always ask if this is possible before booking the Airbnb. We grabbed breakfast at the restaurant, Kiebert, on the ground floor of the apartment building.
To avoid jet lag as much as possible we then walked to the infamous Vondel Park where the kids ran around.
After the park we all took a nap at the normal time the kids would if we were home. When we woke up we ate and headed to the Central area of Amsterdam to visit the Anne Frank House. Be sure to book your ticket online months in advance as the line for same day tickets is typically a 2-4hr wait and you can only go after 3:30PM if you don't have a ticket already purchased.
There are four canal tours included in the IAmsterdam Card. The one we chose picks up is right in front of the Anne Frank House and we took this hour long ride immediately afterwards.
We always take it easy day one so we got dinner and headed in for the night as we had a long day ahead of us.
Day Two: Rijksmuseum, Houseboat, Tulip, & Cheese Museums, Zaanse Schans, & Heineken Experience
We got up early to head to the Rijksmuseum which is home of the I Amsterdam sign so we could get some pictures without a million people in it also. The Rijksmuseum is right next to the Van Gogh Museum and included in the IAmsterdam Card but this is something we weren’t really interested in seeing. The line gets extremely long, even at 8:45AM, 15mins before the museum opens there was a line of about 25 people.
Our next stop was the Houseboat Museum- a very tiny houseboat which shows you what a typical houseboat looked like in the past although some still are less modern. It took no more than 10 minutes to explore.
I love tulips and wanted to check out the Amsterdam Tulip Museum. I was so glad we did as I learned so much about them and their history in Amsterdam. It’s crazy what people did to get their hands on these flowers years ago.
Right next to the Tulip Museum is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. You can sample all of their cheeses and check out a small display area downstairs. It takes 30mins max to get through this small museum and it's free of charge.
From here we walked to Central Station where we caught the train to Zaanse Schans. The train ride itself is 15 minutes and then it’s a 10-15minute walk once you get to the train stop. We first visited one of the working windmills.
This particular one you can go up and while we were up there the wind started to pick up and we saw the windmill in action!
Next we visited Catharina Hoeve, a replica of a traditional cheese farm. Here we were able to watch a free demonstration on how cheese in made. You can then try all the cheese you want including cow, goat and sheep’s cheese.
Afterwards we visited Klompenmakerij, a wooden shoe workshop. Here we saw how clogs are made and saw a variety of designs. The demonstration is also free of charge.
All of these attractions are 3-5 minute walking distance from one another and only take about 30mins to go through each. We took the bus (#391) back to Amsterdam Centraal, which picks up right in front of the Zaanse Schans Museum. While 10mins longer you avoid the walk to/from the train station. We didn’t know about the bus until we got there or we would have taken it there too.
Back in Amsterdam we headed to the Heineken Experience. I’ve read it’s not really worth it but my husband wanted to go. If you don’t drink beer I can see how the 18 Euros might be a bit much but you get 3 full beers for this price plus learning about Heineken's process and the history.
Day Three: Pancakes Amsterdam, Voldendam, & Marken
For breakfast we headed to Pancakes Amsterdam and it did not disappoint. They have a wide variety of sweet and savory options. We decided on the Blueberry, Apple Crumble, and Chocolate options.
We took bus 316 from Centraal Station straight to Voldendam. We got off at the 2nd Voldendam stop, Julianaweg-centrum, which is right by the Voldendam Museum. This was included in our IAmsterdam Card so we checked it out.
We walked around this fishing town for a while where you can find a variety of seafood to try from the stands along the water. There is also a Cheese Factory and Wood Workshop, we didn’t go into the Wood Workshop but our cheese obsessed kids had us going into the Cheese Factory again.
We took the ferry included in our I Amsterdam City Card over to Marken, which is the cutest little fishing town.
Here would be the perfect place to rent bikes with kids and you can do so at the store in front of the bus depot.
We took the bus back to Amsterdam from here. When we arrived in 35mins we walked about just seeing what we would find. We ended up in China Town which so happens to be one street over from the Red Light District. Our GPS took us through it to get back to our Airbnb. Even at 5PM there were some working girls in their door trying to get customers so be mindful when walking in this area with older kids.
My parents visited Amsterdam the same time we did. While we barely saw them during our 3 days, they did watch the girls for us one night so we could have an adult’s night out. We bought them dinner in exchange :-).
Money and Credit Cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in Amsterdam and we never visited a place that didn't take them. However I'd get some Euro coins as most public restrooms charge .50 Euros per person.
Car Seats/Stroller and/or Carrier
There is a lot of walking to be done in Amsterdam, one day we walked 10.71 miles! For Kennedy we used the carrier and if you have a younger child you can definitely get away with using a carrier only. I'd definitely recommend bringing a stroller for your toddlers. The city is very stroller friendly- each bus has a stroller/wheechair section so you don't even have to worry about folding up your strollers to board the bus.
We didn't get in a car once on our trip so bringing a car seat is completely unnecessary.
Thank you so much to the Amsterdam Marketing for providing us with the IAmsterdam City Card and Amsterdam Region Travel Tickets. We really enjoyed our stay!