If you’ve got teenagers, you may have thought your days of spontaneous city breaks were behind you. But if you’re looking for a safe, accessible destination that has enough personality to appeal to everyone in the family, Amsterdam rates high.
Leaving aside its infamous R-rated attractions, this wonderfully eclectic city is compact enough to enjoy the highlights in even a short amount of time. But while you might be itching to get to some of the more mainstream ‘grown-up’ attractions like the Rijksmuseum and the Concertgebouw, if you’re going to keep teen travellers happy (and make yourself look pretty cool in the process), here are a few of the city’s more unusual attractions.
- Electric Ladyland
Stay with me. I’m not suggesting you take your teens to the Red Light District! Despite the connotations of its slightly ambiguous name, Electric Ladyland is one of the most fun and fascinating art galleries you’ll ever encounter.
With a claim to being the only museum of its kind in the world (I’m willing to bet that’s true), it is entirely dedicated to a collection of fluorescent artworks. Established by a geologist with a fascination for “naturally occurring luminosity”, the gallery includes exhibits of fluorescent rocks, phosphorescent minerals and gaudy 1960s neon artworks. There’s even a “Fluorescent Environment” room, where the visitor is invited to become part of the art themselves. One thing’s for sure – your kids will never forget this quirky museum. And there’s not an electric lady in sight…
Find it: Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5 (just a few minutes from Anne Frank’s House). Open Tues-Sun 1pm-6pm, €5.00 entry.
- Museum Vrolik
Squeamish? You may want to look away now, but your kids will love this ghoulish museum of human anatomical specimens. Museum Vrolik’s collection includes thousands of transparent jars housing everything from limbs, brains and internal organs to plinths displaying skulls and entire skeletons.
The collection was originally curated for use in training and medical research and contains some incredible specimens of both normal and abnormal anatomical construction. While it’s compelling from a voyeuristic point of view, it’s also illuminating and educational in terms of how human organs and body parts work. There is also an extensive collection of animal anatomical specimens, which the institute collected to study the “natural order” of evolution and compare the differences.
Find it: Meibergdreef 15, open 10am-5pm free entry. The guided tour is highly recommended in order to make the most of this fascinating place.
- De Poezenboot
You might need a little light fluffy relief after a visit to the Vrolik, and what could be lighter and fluffier than a boat full of cats? Exploring the city’s charming network of canals is one of the true joys of visiting Amsterdam, and if you meander over to the Singel canal, you might just happen to come across the world’s only aquatic cat sanctuary.
De Poezenboot (the Cat Boat) is a haven for abandoned, sick and stray cats, providing a safe and loving environment to a varying number of felines until they can find a permanent home. Established in 1968 by a caring cat lover, De Poezenboot has evolved into a world-famous tourist attraction and is now a registered charity and a fully functioning animal refuge. Visitors are allowed free rein to play with the cats and, for the lucky ones, true love happens and they find their forever home.
Find it: Singel 38. Open daily (except Sunday and Wednesday) from 1pm-3pm. Free entry, but be warned – it could be hard to convince the kids to leave empty handed…
Teenagers are endlessly fascinated with the natural world when experienced in a real world context, so a visit to Micropia could be the best science lesson they never had. In a city full of “world’s onlys”, here’s another: the world’s only zoo dedicated entirely to microorganisms. Yes; a zoo for teeny, tiny, most-people-don’t-even-know-they-exist-but-they’re-living-right-there-on-your-skin organisms. Only in Amsterdam.
But don’t let their size fool you into thinking there’s not much to see; there is, quite literally, another world to explore via the interactive exhibitions and the facility is also a working laboratory. These virtually invisible microbes are actually the most powerful life form on Earth and are vital to the entire planet’s survival. Think about that if you’re tossing up whether to visit – then just do it.
Find it: Plantage Kerklaan 38-40. Open 9am-6/8pm every day. Entry €14.00, students €7.50
So there you have it – some of the city’s quirkiest and most unique attractions. Arm yourself with this information then tell the teens to get their clogs on!
Tip: If you’re a family of music lovers you may like to read this blog post for some tips before you head off.
How to Get to Amsterdam
Whether you’re arriving by air, rail or sea, this is a highly accessible city. From the UK, a flight to Schiphol Airport takes under an hour, with numerous carriers including British Airways and easyJet offering regular, well-priced flights.
Once you land at the airport, the fastest way to get into the centre of the city right to the door of your accommodation is on a pre-booked private or shared transfer with Shuttle Direct. The journey takes under 30 minutes, so you’ll arrive fresh and ready to start your holiday.
If you’re arriving in the city by train or on a cruise boat, Shuttle Direct also offers a convenient transfer service to meet you at the railway station or passenger terminal to take you directly to your accommodation or the centre of the city to begin your sightseeing.
Where to Stay:
WestCord City Centre Hotel – In an ideal position for short city explorations, the WestCord City Centre Hotel features fresh, comfortable rooms and a friendly welcoming family ambience. It’s within walking distance of the canals and city centre and just five minutes from iconic cultural landmarks like Dam Square, Nieuwe Kerk and Magna Plaza.
Hotel Estherea – Situated in a delightfully quiet area yet walking distance to many of the cities best cultural attractions, Hotel Estherea takes you an elegant few steps back in time. The ornate classical décor provides a luxury, old world ambience and, with views of the canals, family rooms, gourmet breakfast and even use of a free iPad, the hotel is a perfectly situated home-from-home.
NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – Grand by name and nature, the Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky offers contemporary luxury in a magnificent 19th century building. Right on the doorstep of Dam Square and the Royal Palace, the culture of the city virtually comes to you. Enjoy the opulent surrounds of the onsite Grand Café and the exquisite Winter Garden, then step outside into the heart of the city.
About Shuttle Direct:
Shuttle Direct is the most trusted and renowned name for airport transfers, with a huge range of efficient, convenient and affordable services throughout Europe.
No matter where the destination, Shuttle Direct provides a service to airports, train stations and cruise terminals to get you to and from your final destination in the easiest possible way. Shuttle Direct offer both shared and private transfers to suit any budget and group size.
Book your transfer online before you leave home and let the friendly team at Shuttle Direct take care of all the details.