- Interesting history and overview of Amsterdam from canal boat guide
- Beautiful skyline views of Amsterdam from NEMO rooftop
- Exciting hands-on science and technology from NEMO Museum
- Riding on a boat
- Seeing baby birds in a nest along the canal
- The hands-on exhibits at the NEMO Science Museum
- Walking over all the bridges in Amsterdam
Prepare in advance
Go online to book canal tours and tickets for the science museum in advance.
Good to know
The canal boat dock and the NEMO Science Museum are both located near Amsterdam Central Train Station. It is also possible to walk between the two locations. Strollers are a challenge—we used one, but it was difficult to maneuver around town and through the museum. And we had to leave the stroller on the boat dock during the canal tour.
The NEMO Science Museum is busiest on weekends, holidays and when the weather is not suitable to be outside. It is the least crowded during the morning hours and after 2:30 p.m. The museum is open 7 days a week from April to August. It is closed on Sundays and Mondays from September to March. The museum is also closed on Kings Day (April 27) but is open on all other public holidays.
Recommended time of the year
Canal tours, especially on an open boat, will be quite cold in the winter. The canal cruises are also weather dependent.
Children under 4 are free for both the canal tour and the museum. Online discounts are available for some canal cruises. The NEMO Science Museum rooftop is free to visit and it's possible to bring a picnic lunch. Discounts for the NEMO Science Museum can only be applied in person. There are also discounts available for certain card-holders, including I Amsterdam Pass and the Holland Pass.
About This Day
What better way is there to see the city and spend a family-friendly day than by taking an Amsterdam boat tour through its iconic canals? After exploring the different districts along Amsterdam’s iconic waterways, enjoy lunch at the NEMO Science Museum rooftop cafe. You can marvel at the panoramic city views from its terrace (which sits on the highest city square in the Netherlands) while your little ones burn some energy playing on NEMO’s Energetica exhibits. Finally, spend the afternoon in Amsterdam with kids investigating the science museum, with its five floors of exhibits, live demonstrations and hands-on activities it’s the perfect activity for the entire family.
A canal boat tour is a classic way to experience the canals that weave throughout Amsterdam. It is the perfect way to start your visit because you get an overview of the different areas and sights to see. We chose the Open Boat Tour in an open electric boat. It was a more intimate experience—fewer passengers and no obstructions to viewing this beautiful city. We enjoyed the thorough history given by our guide, who was knowledgeable and answered questions. Our nuggets loved the open boat and a chance to see all the houseboats around the city.
DIRECTIONS The boat dock is located near Amsterdam Central Station. Walk directly out of the station down Damrak and the boat dock will be on the left.
TIP An open boat might not be the best choice for very wiggly children or when the weather is uncooperative. The tour company offers different boat choices and many different cruise options. Be careful on the docks as they are busy with people coming and going and are also located right on the water.
The NEMO Science Museum rooftop restaurant, located at the highest city square in the Netherlands, offers stunning vistas of Amsterdam while you dine. The buffet has sandwiches, salads and other light fare. Indoor as well as outdoor seating available. There is a terrace, with an outdoor exhibit, Energetica, and seasonal flowers. It’s free to visit and you can bring a picnic lunch there.
DIRECTIONS From the boat dock, it's an approximately 15-minute walk to the rooftop restaurant at the NEMO Science Museum. The walk is along the canals near Amsterdam Central Station. The restaurant is located at the top of the museum accessed via outdoor stairs from the street level or the elevator in the central hall of the museum.
TIP The walk to the museum is across several bridges and along the city streets in Amsterdam where bike traffic can be heavy. The walk up to the terrace from the street level involves many stairs, so if you have a stroller use the elevator inside.
NEMO Science Museum offers five floors of interactive science and technology exhibits, activities, demonstrations, experiments and fun! Each floor offers new ways to explore by doing. There are also workshops and live demonstrations available throughout the day. Our little ones loved the bubble station, the static electricity experiment location, as well as the cause-and-effect demonstration. The adults were also entertained by several “technology through the ages” exhibits as well as all of the activities. Our children are still talking about the amazing things they learned while visiting.
DIRECTIONS The NEMO Science Museum is easily accessible from the rooftop restaurant via stairs or an elevator located indoors. There is also an automated ticket machine located near this entrance.
TIP The elevator is small and can be slow, so if possible, use the stairs. The museum can get quite busy and is large, so it might be smart to pick a meeting point if you all get separated.