netherlands with kids
Destination & countries, Europe, Netherlands, Travelling with kids

A Road Trip To The Netherlands With Kids For One Weekend

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Finally, my dream came true to visit the Tulip World during the long Easter weekend. So, we went on a road trip to the Netherlands with kids. We travelled by car with a 1-year-old and a 6-year-old at the time.

Looking ahead, the boys did a brilliant job, especially considering that it was Kai’s first road trip ever. Teo is an experienced traveller and it is pure delight to travel with him.

How to get from the UK to the Netherlands with kids?

We departed in the evening from London. It took us an hour and a half to get to Folkstone Eurotunnel called “Le Shuttle”. After passing two borders, we waited in the line and were welcomed to board on a train.

This was our first experience, so we did not know what to expect. The train looks like a tunnel itself. It is an incredibly long narrow train where your car just fits.

The entire ride takes no more than 40 minutes. This time passes real quick.

And then we arrived at Calais. You have got lots of choices on how to plan your itinerary. You can either stay in Calais for a while or drive straight to the Netherlands through Belgium, or stay in Belgium. What you do next is entirely up to you.

Where do I get tickets for the Eurotunnel?

We purchased all our tickets online on their page which is a pretty straightforward process. You can also use your vouchers from grocery stores in the UK towards your tickets, if any.

It is very true that you have to arrive at least one hour before your departure. It takes some time to pass the borders, and it all depends on how many you have got in front of you.

However, we had train delays during both journeys.

What is the best way to travel to the Netherlands with kids?

It takes a little bit under four hours to drive from Calais to Amsterdam and 3h20m to Rotterdam. The choice is yours. You are free to create your customized itinerary depending on how much time you have to travel and what you would like to see. For instance, if you have a week, you will be able to travel in Belgium and the Netherlands. You can make your way to the Netherlands with kids slowly stopping in different cities in Belgium for some rest, such as Bruges.

We had only one beautiful long weekend of Easter holiday, t.i. four days, so we decided to go straight to our destination. Once we arrived in Calais we drove straight to Bruges for 1h20m, and stayed there overnight.

We then departed early in the morning at 9 am, and spent exactly three hours to get to our first destination – Utrecht.

Note: in Bruges, you can park your vehicle for free until 9 am. If you don’t go after 9 am, you should pay an hourly rate which is quite expensive. The fine is more expensive than that. We were advised that they are very strict about it in Belgium. Your best bet is to pay one fee at 24-hour parking services if you plan to have a sleep in.

Parking in the Netherlands

Before we dive in the itinerary for the weekend, it is important to thoroughly prepare for the trip.

Parking is one of the things you want to consider before going to the Netherlands with kids.

Indeed, parking is extremely expensive. If you know you will spend a few hours in a town, such as Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, etc., the best way is to pay for a parking day pass called P+R.

P+R parking stands for “Park & Ride”. It is an incentive parking lot with public transport connections that allows commuters and other people heading to city centres to leave their vehicles and transfer to a bus or rail system.

On ordinary days (excluding holidays) you will pay around €6 EUR per 24 hours. If you don’t have paid P+R parking space, you will pay the same €6 EUR or more for two hours parking in the city centre. So, please prepare for your trip wisely.

P+R parking can be purchased online too.

Is one weekend enough to go on a road trip with little kids?

Two days are definitely not enough for a road trip with kids. Four days are more than acceptable. If you travel by car, then you are able to visit one to three cities/ towns per day.

Your Itinerary to the Netherlands with kids


From Bruges we drove to the city called Utrecht. This is not far from the famous Castle de Haar.

Utrecht is a very small city. However, very quickly we found out that the majority of cities and towns in the Netherlands are quite small anyway.

Personally, I think if you’d like to stop in Utrecht, this would be mainly to have brunch or lunch and walk in the very city centre, where you can see the Dom Tower and St. Martin’s Cathedral. The rest is just a peaceful nice walk crossing the bridges and admiring the channels.

Castle de Haar

It will take you approximately half an hour by car to get to the Castle de Haar. You should book your tickets online, and when you do so, please make sure you pay for the parking too, simply because there is no other alternative.

The castle is not huge. It is also well-organized meaning that it is hard to get lost as there is only one path to follow. You’d probably spend about an hour there. All personal items, including purses and buggies should be left in the locker room downstairs, so please bring the carrier if you travel with a baby.

Castle de Haar looks extremely luxurious. Indeed, the family left it in 2000. Also, in 2000, the family Van Zuylen van Nyevelt passed ownership of the castle and the gardens (45 ha) to the foundation Kasteel de Haar. However, the family retained the right to spend one month per year in the castle.

There is another part of the castle that is closed to the public, but we were told that this part is where the family stays when they come to the castle to spend time with their family and friends.

Near the castle, there is a massive garden and a cafe. You are free to have a picnic there and enjoy the weather if possible. In total, you may need at least two to three hours to stroll around.

Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse

Next day we started in Lisse. One of the things that was long on my bucket list finally came true – we visited a tulip world in the Netherlands!

Keukenhof is quite a popular tourist destination to see traditional Dutch tulips. Also, parking comes at an additional fee. In Holland, you can see lots of tulip farms, even when you drive past them. And that looks gorgeous too. But we came in the beginning of April, tulips just started to blossom, so Keukenhof Gardens seemed like a great idea to enjoy the tulip world.

You will receive a map at the entrance. The park is big with several cafes inside. There are also a few playgrounds, a little farm, and a maze which is a lot of fun for children.

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is also half an hour drive from Keukenhof Gardens. Nothing is relatively far away in the Netherlands. Not long ago the historic windmills and distinctive green wooden houses were relocated to this area. This was made to recreate the look of an 18th-19th century village.

Zaans Museum was also built there. You can find traditional regional costumes, model windmills and sometimes interactive exhibitions. There is also a lot of craftsmanship. We really loved tasting cheese.

As it is, it is a small area with one walking path which is not big at all. One hour is more than enough to walk around. There will be three to four windmills to get familiar with. We were told that such windmills served as an irrigation system by taking the water from one side and controlling the level on the other. Don’t forget that 26% of the Netherlands is located below sea level.

Fact: 59% of the Netherlands has the possibility of ending up beneath the water when a big storm hits or when the water levels rise.


The third day we spent in Rotterdam and a few cities on the way back to Amsterdam.

Rotterdam is a large city. But it also looks different compared to all other cities and towns we visited so far. There is a good reason behind it.

Rotterdam is strategically a very important port city. They say that the ship of Columbus departed first from Rotterdam. The majority of trades were made through Rotterdam, and still do. This was one of the reasons to completely destroy Rotterdam during the 2nd World War in 1940.

Rotterdam was then completely re-built and, therefore, it looks, they say, more modern. Although to me it looked quite grey and dull.

In the morning, we went to a Monster Truck event with friends. But in the midday we reached the city center for lunch and walked around.

Things that is worth seeing in Rotterdam:

  • Rotterdam Central
  • Euromast
  • Cube Houses (still couldn’t figure out how people live there. It must be some sort of optical illusion)
  • Markthal

The Hague and Leiden

It is an hour drive from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, and 24 minutes to the Hague. It is definitely worth spending a few hours in lovely picturesque towns of the Netherlands.

You will see traditional houses, walk through cobblestone streets, cross many canals and beautiful bridges. It is extremely peaceful in such towns. There are no crowds, no cars, no noise. People live at their pace. You will find loads of bicycles there too.

Fact: did you know that statistically every Dutch owns at least two bicycles at their home?

They have got so many bicycle parking lots, some of them are the biggest parking lots I have ever seen reaching out to four upper levels.

In Leiden, we got to visit a fun fair and win some prizes for children. Then we found a pancake restaurant that apparently serves the biggest pancakes in the world in a size of 16 inches. They served sweet and savoury options, and that was the best way to finish our third day in the Netherlands. Also, dinner was all sorted.


Finally, we arrived in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

We did book P+R parking even though we spent a couple of hours in Amsterdam as it was the day we had to head back home.

Parking in Amsterdam is quite complicated, especially in the city centre, so everyone uses the P+R parking option. As we parked, we conveniently got on a tube and went straight to the Central Station, which is a landmark on its own.

On the right side of the Central Station you will find an enormous bicycle parking station. It’s worth going downstairs and checking the size of it.

Also, you will find lots of signs and kiosks selling boat tour rides. This is something we did. Our friends recommended us Lovers Canal Cruises. It is an hour-long guided tour through the canal with an option to listen to the history of Amsterdam in different languages.

Ten minutes away from the station you will find main landmarks, such as De Oude Kerk and Royal Palace. Of course, it’s incomparable with Leiden, Utrecht, or the Hague. Amsterdam is extremely busy, crowded and noisy. There are lots of shops selling pretty much everything, but our eyes caught the cheese shop where Teo bought the most delicious cheese and the souvenir shop where I got a magnet from our fridge collection.

Surprisingly, the way back went quite well considering the fact that we travelled with a one-year-old and a six-year-old. We managed to travel three hours straight and stopped in the small town in Belgium called Jabbeke where we spent an incredibly fun and delicious time. The restaurant we found had a massive outdoor area, with a playground that included a zipline, wooden houses, trampoline, slides, see-saw and much more.

We wish you to have an amazing time in the Netherlands with kids!

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