Beginning of spring we took some days off to visit some friends in North of Germany and took the opportunity to also have a road trip in The Netherlands, as the weather was sunny and warm and staying outside seemed like the best thing to do.
Needless to say how well adapted is The Netherlands when it comes to traveling with kids. Families have plenty of stuff to keep themselves busy – from outdoors, lakes, biking routes, all sorts of ZOOs, amusement parks, museums, water parks, you name it. If you also get some good weather, it’s more than perfect, although for the Dutch the weather is never something to worry about.
We only spent three days in The Netherlands and looked for places that would keep us as much outdoors, considering the warm temperatures outside (after the cold winter we had in Romania and the spring that refused to show its face still). We did one destination per day, as to also give us enough time with our friends, to have some free play time and not get too exhausted.
We chose mainly places outside of towns and cities, as our daughter is still not very interested yet in those kind of attractions and also because we were looking for less crowded destinations, with more nature and buildings and concrete.
With all the publicity this small village has been getting in the recent years and considering that it was just one hour drive from us, we immediately included it in our journey. With such sunny weather it would have been a true pity to miss it. Known as the Dutch Venice, Giethoorn lays in the northeastern province of Overijssel and is a mostly car free village, with water canals, filled with small boats, footpaths and thatched-roof houses. Quite a picturesque scenery, especially in spring when trees and vegetation are getting back to life.
The village can be visited on foot, as you have lots of paths and bridges that guide around the small traditional houses, by boat (you can get a guided tour or even rent a small boat for 2 – 6 people and drive it yourself) or, as always in The Netherlands, by bike. We chose a boat trip this time and for about two hours we wondered around on the small water canals, with a guide telling us a bit about the place.
De Zaanse Schans
As Nina has been studying cultures around Europe at school, a stop at Zaanse Schans was more than mandatory as for her to see the famous Dutch symbols – the windmills – in real life. The Zaanse Schans is a residential area in which the 18th and 19th centuries are brought to life, full of wooden houses, mills, barns and workshops.
Visiting Zaanse Schans is a great option to spend half a day outside if you are in Amsterdam. Wandering around the windmills and old traditional houses is such a nice walk, with pit stops at the cheese store, at workshops (artisan workshops demonstrate handicrafts such as wooden clog carving, barrel making and pewter casting). Of course one of the main attractions is seeing how the windmills are used, among others, to grind spices, produce paint, saw wood and make oil.
Keukenhof Tulip Gardens
April in The Netherlands meant of course also admiring all the colorful tulip fields while driving around the country, but we also took half a day to visit a tulip garden/farm/park. This was also because Nina knew that tulips are part of the Dutch culture, but also because I am forever and ever in love with plants and flowers and this half a day was just a perfect therapy session for my mind and soul.
Open just 8 weeks a year, from mid-March to mid-May (better to check their website for the exact dates), Keukenhof, also known as the Garden of Europe, is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, situated in the municipality of Lisse, in the Netherlands. According to the official website, Keukenhof Park covers an area of 32 hectares and approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted in the gardens annually. It is widely known for its tulips, but it also features numerous other flowers, including hyacinths, daffodils, lilies, roses, carnations and irises.
We got to Keukenhof just in time, as tulips and other flowers were in full blossom and we just couldn’t stop admiring them. Our three hour-walk was mesmerizing and we were constantly in awe at every step we took.
Sun bathing at the North Sea
Of course the sunny and warm weather convinced us to have a pit stop on a beach and for a couple of hours enjoy the sand and the sea (not proper swimming, but wetting our feet a bit was just perfect). We didn’t actually plan the beach trip, we would just choose a random place somewhere close to where we were, but it’s very worth to be taken into consideration when the weather seems just right.