ASK any Amsterdam local about their favorite childhood spot, and chances are they’ll name the fairytale theme park, the Efteling, just over an hour from the city.
With playgrounds dotted around, quaint pedal trains, and rubbish bins burping out their gratitude for the rubbish, little ones are anything but an afterthought here.
In fact, it’s more perfect for her than anyone else.
And if you’re packing layers, winter is magical here, with its pop-up ice rink, live gigs and delicious lemon, apple and star anise mulled wine for the grown-ups.
The ever-popular Max & Moritz, two rollercoasters that go head-to-head are the perfect starter rollercoasters for anyone over 1m tall, but it’s amazing how many rides babies can enjoy – including Sirocco’s adorable spinning ships.
The ingenious Baby Switch means partners get access to daredevil rides like the Oblivion-like Baron 1898 and the corkscrew roller coaster Python once one of you has ridden and taken the baby back from the waiting driver.
A nap has never been so exciting…
Stack the pancakes
To encourage napping, feast on giant pancakes at Polles Keuken.
Sample the £13 goat cheese, apple, pecan and honey creation and £4.95 Stroopwafel coffee, while the pans and crockery in the center of the restaurant come to life and the kids happily decorate their heart-shaped pancakes, £5.60.
Then take a stroll through the Fairy Tale Forest to see model mice dancing in Geppetto’s house and Pinocchio appearing in a giant fish mouth.
One of our favorite rides was Symbolica.
Each carriage can choose the theme of their adventure – music, hero or treasure, with interactive challenges to match – but at the end you all end up in the magical banquet hall where extravagantly dressed characters dance around you.
Meanwhile, the ornate 100-year-old Stoomcarrousel lets you hop on a pig instead of a horse if you fancy it.
Later, slide down a polar bear in Fabula – another perfect hideaway for rainy afternoons.
The days in Efteling end with the music, light and fire show around the lake.
From there it is a 15-minute walk to Hotel Loonsche Land.
Here children can borrow an owl teddy bear for an overnight stay and write in their diary.
A sweet breakfast is served daily, with ceramic flower pots to fill with muesli and yoghurt, and a wooden toy corner.
BEAT THE DAM
Being just over an hour from Amsterdam, a stop in the city is a must.
Grabbing a cargo bike makes getting around with smaller kids a breeze, and especially fun if you pack one with a giant yellow clog for them to sit in, £26 a day (Macbike.nl).
A 15-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station is the Artis Zoo (Artis.nl) or the other way, the Nemo Science Museum – a hands-on dream.
If the science classes in my day were half as good as this place, I might have chosen a different career!
Jump in giant bubbles, play dam building and watch massive chain reactions – we had hours of fun (Nemosciencemuseum.nl).
There are fabulous family cruises on the canals (Blueboat.nl), but the biggest winner with kids is that the city is home to Tony’s Chocolonely.
At his superstore (which is actually pretty small, so be prepared to queue) you can pull huge levers on your favorite flavors and build your own bar for £4.75 (Tonyschocolonely.com).
It’s the Choc that bodes well – just like this two-in-one weekender for you.
B&B stays for four people at the Loonsche Land Hotel, including park entry, start from £224 per night. Plan your trip on Efteling.com.
An I Amsterdam card from £51 offers savings on city tours (Iamsterdam.com).
Fly from the UK to Amsterdam Schiphol from £72 return.
Trains from Schiphol to ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the closest station to the Efteling, cost £18 return.
https://www.the-sun.com/travel/7137002/amsterdam-theme-park-efteling-destination/ Magical theme park Efteling and city adventures make Amsterdam a top weekender