Days out diary - child friendly and family activities

Family days out fun with boats Family days out childrens farm Family days out Legoland Windosor Family days out UK holidays Family days out museums Family days out Avoncroft building museum Family days out childrens farm

Choosing Eurocamp

This holiday is the first time we have gone on holiday with Eurocamp. We have previously been on similar caravan holidays in Europe with Keycamp holiday in Paris and Keycamp holiday at Wassenaar / Duinrell in Holland.

We looked at a holiday with both Keycamp and Eurocamp, but wanted to visit two different locations one of which at Duinrell at Wassennar where we have enjoyed a previous holiday when our children were younger. We initially looked at staying in northern France with a different return to the outbound ferry route, but neither Keycamp or Eurocamp provide return routes via a different ferry company (although we could have booked the travel independently of the holiday booking). Keycamp has only one site in Holland (Duinrell Wassenaar) whereas Eurocamp had three locations in Holland (Koningshof Rijnsburg, Duinrell Wassenaar and Beekse Bergen Hilvarenbeek). We stayed at two of these sites, Duinrell at Wassenaar (part 1) and Beekse Bergen at Hilvarenbeek (part 2).

Travelling to Holland (Netherlands) with Stena Line ferries

Curious George - children's entertainment on Stena Line Ferry to Holland

We travelled to Holland (within the country of the Netherlands) by Stena Line ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. We booked on the morning ferry crossing (the alternative been a night crossing). So that we would not need to travel so early in the morning we stayed the night before at the Harwich Premier Inn hotel.

Boarding of the ferry started about 1 hour before the ferry was due to depart. Once on board we had plenty of time to take our things up to the main passenger area before the doors to the car deck were locked whilst at sea. The crossing is about 6¾ hours long.

Since our last visit the ferries been replaced with two new super-ferry ships. There was plenty to do whilst on the ferry including children entertainment with an appearance from Curious George and a magic show. There was free wireless on-board, but it timed out after 30 minutes and varied in performance; at it's best it was usable but slow, but at times was unusable and sites would time out.

After leaving the ferry and getting through passport control it was about an hour drive to Duinrell near Wassenaar. On arriving we parked in the check-in car park and walked through to the Eurocamp couriers who checked us in and showed us to the caravan.

Remember to take some passport photos with you.

We had pre-printed lots of passport photos on my home printer which was much cheaper than buying photos from the site. The cost of 4 sets of passport photos using the photo kiosk would have been about €20, although an alternative (which we did last time we stayed at Duinrell) is to take appropriate sized photos with a digital camera and print using the photo printing kiosk at the shop (25 cent per photo).

The Eurocamp couriers were very helpful. Whilst the Dutch people generally speak very good English it's nice to have English speaking couriers to help. They also helped later providing a suggestion for a day out.

Caravan and location

Eurocamp caravan at Duinrell Wassenaar

There are a few different areas with Eurocamp caravans. One of these is next to the area that we stayed with Keycamp previously, but this time we were in a different area on the "island" area. This part of the caravan / camping area has a road around, but does not provide parking next to the caravans. Instead cars are parked in a shared car park nearby. Whilst it's nice having the car directly next to the caravan for ease of access to things you may have left in the car, it wasn't much of an inconvenience.

The caravan was positioned in a secluded quite corner of the park surrounded by trees. The only negative point being that with the shade provided by the trees the caravan did not get much sun. The caravan that we booked was a Sunseaker model which benefited from large patio windows onto a decking (there was additional cost for the choice of caravan and the decking). This was a nice caravan, but we preferred the layout of the caravan at Beekse Bergen which was the same type of caravan, but better laid out to give more living space.

There are no TVs or music players with the caravan. Whilst I don't go on holiday to watch TV it can be useful for checking on the weather and for connecting to a portable DVD player for watching DVDs in the evening when the kids are in bed.

The caravan / camping areas are directly next to the Duinrell theme park with free unrestricted access directly into the park and a 1 euro discount per person to the tikibad swimming pool.

Duinrell Plaza and shop

The plaza area has a small supermarket type shop and food / entertainment areas. The shop is expensive. On our previous visit we found a supermarket a short drive from Duinrell and so went there again to save money (GPS 52°8,703"N 4°24,2406"E).

At the Duinrell plaza there is a take-away, a self-service restaurant and and all you can eat buffet Tuscany restaurant. The all you can eat buffet did not have the children's buffet selection which they had on our last visit, but did have pizza etc that went down well.

There is also an Irish bar which has a dance floor with a disco on certain nights and a bowling alley (coin operated) and some other entertainment.

Duinrell amusement park

Falcon roller coaster at Duinrell

From my earlier visit I said that the Duinrell amusement park was more geared towards younger children. There have been some new additions since we last visited and now as well as being good for younger children there are several rides for older children / adults and another new roller coaster due to open in 2012.

This includes the Falcon roller coaster which includes vertical ascent and decent and two inverted loops. This had a minimum height of 1.2m which meant our 6 year old daughter, who loves roller coasters, was able to go on.

There are also several shows. These are in Dutch, but our children enjoyed watching the dance routines with Rick de Kikker (Rick the Frog) and Lelie de Kikker (Lelie the Frog) characters. As these were in Dutch our children weren't able to fully join in with some of the interaction.

If staying on the site you get a map of the camp site, but it doesn't show any details of the amusement park. You can buy a map in the park which costs €1.

Tikibad - Tiki Pool

The Tiki swimming pool is a main attraction of the park. It is a major attraction in it's own right and is featured as an exhibit at the Madurodam miniature city.

Tiki pool and outdoor pool at Duinrell

It has a shallow pool with slides for young children, a rubber ring river circuit and several different flume rides including a cyclone ride and double ring flume ride.

It is no longer free for residents as it was last time we visited, but residents do get a 1 euro discount compared with regular visitors. Tickets to the pool are timed and you need to make sure that you keep your tickets for exiting. Two hours is a reasonable length of time to spend in the pool, but when it is busy much of that can be spent in the long queues for the flume rides.

We visited in the early evening which is a very busy time for the pool as it remains open after the rides close. There was a long queue to get in to the pool (waiting for others to leave) as well as queues for the slides.

There is also an external pool which is free, but the weather wasn't really good enough for us to make use of that.

Amsterdam and Van Gogh Museum

On our previous holiday we did not go into Amsterdam. Whilst there are some good attractions for adults (Anne Frank House, galleries, museums etc) It's not a city that I consider to be particularly children friendly or has many attractions to take young children to. Our daughter had done a project on Vincent Van Gogh and so wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, so we made that the main feature of a day trip to Amsterdam.

We decided to take the Park and Ride to get into Amsterdam. This is something we had done on an earlier trip to Amsterdam whilst staying at Center Parcs in Holland, but we were a bit better prepared and I understood a bit more about the transport system.

We first drove to the park and ride at the Olympisch Stadion (Olympic Stadium), but then spent about 30 minutes sat in a queue to park before giving up. We then drove to the ArenA Transferium instead which had lots of spare spaces.

I'd recommend avoiding the park and ride at the Olympic Stadium due to the long queues.

If planning to go to the ArenA park and ride then you may want to check that there isn't an event on when you visit.

When using the park and ride then the cost of parking is significantly less if you follow the park and ride rules rather than the standard parking.

Amsterdam Park and ride

  • Check before travelling to see if the following is still valid
  • Take a ticket when driving into the car park
  • Go to the P+R desk within the car park who will issue you with sufficient metro/tram tickets
  • Use these to travel into and out of Amsterdam - they must be passed through a ticket machine or swiped on the tram to be valid
  • Take the used tickets back to the P+R desk and pay the discounted parking fee to get an exit ticket for the car park

The tickets issued by the park and ride are only valid for 1 hour for each part of the journey (ie. 1 hour for the inward journey and 1 hour for the return journey). You will need to buy additional tickets for further travel in Amsterdam, but make sure that you still use the P+R tickets for travel into and out of the city.

At the time of travelling there was a bus replacement service for part of the journey.

See: Amsterdam.info - park and ride page for more details.

Travelling by tram in Amsterdam

Tram in Amsterdam

After going into Amsterdam we then bought separate tickets for travelling by tram to the Van Gogh museum. These are available from the automatic machines in the information desk (or to buy on the tram). They are available as 1 hour or 1 day tickets. It would have been cheaper to buy two sets of 1 hour tickets, but for convenience we paid a little extra for the 1 day tickets. Our 3 year old son was able to travel for free, but we had to buy a full price ticket for our 6 year old daughter. When travelling you need to swipe the ticket at the start and end of each journey (including trams) otherwise you will not be able to use the ticket for your next journey.

Van Gogh Museum

I'm not really into art, but I found the Van Gogh Museum to be very interesting. Our 3 year old son got bored quite quickly, but we got a free treasure trail from the information desk for our 6 year old daughter which she enjoyed working through. There was also a free prize (sticker and postcard) at the end.

Eating out with children in Amsterdam

We ate at two restaurants in Amsterdam. One of these had a high-chair (although we didn't need one), but neither had any baby changing facilities. They did not have a children's menu but we shared meals so that we had three adult meals between two adults and two children.

Madurodam

One one day out from Duinrell we visited the Madurodam miniature city. This is one of Holland's best known tourist attractions outside of Amsterdam and is well worth a visit.

Madurodam - Miniature city in Holland

Madurodam is a miniature city with realistic models of many of the famous landmarks in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands. As well as the buildings there are a number of boats and trains that are moving around the city. There are also a number of animated features that are coin operated. It is particularly good place for foreign visitors as it allows you to see a lot of the sites that are around the Netherlands.

There is also a small land train (mostly unaccompanied children, although adults could ride as well) and a play area. A further attraction included when we visited was a laser / light / film show about the history of the Netherlands and it's battle against the sea. This was in Dutch with English subtitles (although some of the subtitles were difficult to see due to models blocking the view).

Zaanse Schans

The Zaanse Schans is a great place to visit to get an idea of what it was like in the past in Holland. The main attractions being a Cheese Farm, a clog factory and of course windmills.

Windmills at Zaanse Schans in Holland

Other than the car park fee the cheese farm and clog factory are free to visit. You can take a path alongside the windmills for free. Some of the windmills are open to the public and charge a admission fee. We went into one of the windmills. The admission charge is quite reasonable, but could soon add up if you wanted to visit several of the windmills.

This is well worth visiting.

Summary to Holland holiday part 1

This is our second visit to Duinrell and it's unlikely to be our last. The site is good and the amusement park is particularly good.

It's also well located near to the sea and a reasonable distance from other tourist attractions.

We did enjoy our trip into Amsterdam, but I wouldn't want to have travelled into Amsterdam with children any younger than 3 years old. Amsterdam has a lot more to offer for older children. I'd certainly like to take my children to the Anne Frank house in future; I don't think my children are old enough to start telling them about the horrors of the holocaust just yet, although I have already discussed it a small amount with my eldest child when we saw the Anne Frank house at Madurodam.

I'd definitely recommend a visit to both Madurodam and Zaanse Schans for anyone visiting the Netherlands.

Beekse Bergen / holiday part 2

After 6 nights at Duinrell it was time to move to our next destination Beekse Bergen at Hilvarenbeek. We spent the morning visiting the amusement park again so that we could time our arrival at Beekse Bergen with the time that our caravan would be available (approx 3pm).

Full details of Beekse Bergen holiday on Holland.