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Top tips for navigating Amsterdam with kids – car, tram, foot, bike, taxi, or ferry?

Amsterdam in Holland is a good size in many ways but for navigating with children it can be awkward.

The city isn’t huge like London or Paris where you have to get public transport to most areas. And it isn’t compact enough to just cover on foot with little ones.

Trams

We found the quickest and simplest way around was to catch the trams. You can buy an hourly or daily ticket. A child’s daily ticket costs 4 euros. If you have an I amsterdam card, travel is included but only on GVB transport (that is every bus or tram which is blue and white).

The trams are a fun option for children as you don’t see them that often in the UK. They were almost always on time and clean when we visited, however there isn’t much ventilation so they get a bit stuffy in hot weather.

Walking

If you do end up walking and you will do for some journeys, watch out for the cyclists.

I know it is an Amsterdam cliche but bikes are literally everywhere and the cycle lanes are between the road and the pavement.

It is easy to forget about the bikes when you cross the street, when already looking out for trams, cars and other vehicles. Plus they don’t seem to often stop for red lights.

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Car

Even the most confident of drivers avoids driving in Amsterdam. The roads are confusing and hectic and parking is scarce and really expensive (around 5 euros an hour). So it’s lucky that Amsterdam has such good public transport.

We had our car with us as we had travelled to the Netherlands by ferry (review here), so used a park and ride to get into the city. These are a bargain in comparison. Read our 10-steps to using Amsterdam’s park and ride system for more information.

Cycling

Bicycles parked in Amsterdam

Dutch cyclists are very, very confident and quick and really know what they are doing and where they are going.

The pace is full-on, it is definitely NOT the place for youngsters to be practising their skills, so make sure children are really, really competent if this is how you plan to get around.

Or get them to sit on your bike. We saw children riding in seats in front of the adult cyclists, not behind like is common in the UK. There are also cute bike  trailers or cargo bikes (where a large container is attached at the front of the bike for the children to sit/play in).

More cycling in Amsterdam tips:

*There are lots of places to hire bicycles in Amsterdam.

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*Cross tram lines diagonally else you could get your wheel stuck.

*Remember to stay to the right and most cycle paths are one-way

*Helmets are not required by law (I didn’t see a single one), but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear one.

Taxis and Uber

You can’t just hail a taxi in Amsterdam, there are specific taxi ranks or you have to call to order them. We tried an Uber (the popular taxi app) for one journey and the vehicle arrived immediately. Just remember that they probably won’t have children’s car seats or booster seat and fares can be unpredictable. The main city centre has priority given to cyclists and pedestrians over cars so what on the map can look like short taxi journeys may take quite a long time (and therefore cost more).

Ferry

You can get free ferries across the River IJ. They are blue and white and can mostly be caught behind Amsterdam Central Station. See here for routes and schedules.

We caught the free NDSM ferry from the far left hand side of the station which took us to a Pancake Boat cruise but the short 20-minute return journey would be fine for some free sightseeing from the river.

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*Now find out what to do in Amsterdam with kids with our guide: Amsterdam’s top attractions and activities for children

*Read the review of our stay in Amsterdam here: Is Amsterdam child-friendly? We take a family trip to the beautiful capital of the Netherlands to find out

*Read about our journey to Amsterdam via mini-cruise: We review a mini-cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS ferry operator

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