When the Netherlands’ brightly colored tulips bloom in the springtime, they draw in visitors from around the world. But the country famous for windmills and wooden shoes has just as much to offer visitors in the winter. As the temperatures drop, Amsterdam is transformed into a snow-covered wonderland that will make travel with baby even more memorable.
Getting around town
While trams and buses run all over the city, there are more interesting ways to see the sights. Walking along the canals gives you a beautiful view, but try something different and hop on a boat. There are various types of canal cruises, but the most popular is the Canal Bus, which allows visitors to hop on and off to see what the city has to offer. When your baby starts to get tired of being out and about, you can stay on the boat for a while as the gentle movement on the water calms him as you enjoy gazing at the interesting buildings you pass.
If you prefer to stay off the water, you can do what the locals do and ride a bicycle. You may think it would be difficult to ride a bike with a baby in tow, but Amsterdam is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. Due to the high volume of bike riders in Amsterdam, the city clears bike paths of snow in the winter to keep bikers safe. A popular place for rentals is Damstraat Rent a Bike, which has a wide selection of family-friendly bicycles. For traveling with babies, check out the bakfiets, which have baby carriers over the front wheel so your baby can lie down while you trek across town. This way, you can keep an eye on your little one as you ride. You can also rent wind or rain shields to place over the carrier if you are worried about the weather. Although it takes a second to get used to the giant basket on the front, you will soon be gliding along the canals and over bridges as you take in the snow-covered beauty and canal-style houses of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s maze of canals provides a unique backdrop for exploring the city. After you bundle your baby up, head out along the snowy sidewalks. Even though the air is cold, the sun is usually out, providing some extra warmth as it reflects on the water in the canals below. Blankets of snow cover the thick evergreen tree branches and people wander past in scarves and (surprisingly thin) winter jackets. Bright, sunny days are perfect for a long stroll to Vondelpark.
At Amsterdam’s largest park, your baby can play in the snow banks or watch ice skaters circling on the frozen lake. If you leave the park from the east and head south, there will be even more ice skaters at the Museumplein. Here you will find the famous ‘I Amsterdam’ letters standing just behind the Rijksmuseum, a majestic building that houses the Dutch state museum. The bright red and white letters stand out against the snowy landscape, giving you the perfect photo opportunity. Visit the contemporary Cobra Café to admire its unique architecture and grab a warm bite to eat.
Learning about animals
One thing your baby will thoroughly enjoy is the Natura Artis Magistra, the Amsterdam zoo. Over 900 species live within the gates, so this zoo has a lot to offer families. The construction of the enclosures makes it so you and your little one will be able to get fairly close to the animals, something that is sure to delight your baby. As you look at the elephants, giraffes, zebras, camels and gorillas, you can make your visit interactive by teaching your infant the names of the animals or asking what noises they make. Try not to linger too long at any of the outdoor enclosures—keep moving to keep your baby warm. You can also escape the cold by visiting the indoor exhibits. You will find that Artis also has an aquarium, a reptile house and a planetarium. The sparkling lights of the stars on the ceiling will captivate little eyes.
Grab a Book
Make sure to stop by Spui Square on Fridays. Booksellers from all over the country set up booths on the cobblestone. These book markets can get rather crowded, but the hustle and bustle and the chatter of booksellers and passer-bys in the background give it a very European feel. When sorting through the boxes, you will come across all kinds of gems. Quite a few are old, leather-bound books that will make you reminiscent of the past, but you can also find a number of children’s books as well. The wind in this area can make it pretty chilly, so when you have found a book or two to interest your little one, head down the street to Luxembourg Café for some ‘warme chocolademelk’ with crème while you read together.
Lights at Night
To end your day, take a trip to Leidseplein, another popular square in Amsterdam. This area is best to visit after dark because your baby will love the lights in the trees during the winter. You can also listen to the music of street musicians or stop at one of the many restaurants to grab some dinner before heading back to your hotel. For somewhere to stay, check out the Owl Hotel. It is small, but the historical hotel is full of friendly workers who will make your stay one to remember.