things to do in amsterdam

Last Updated on: 11th June 2024, 05:34 am

Greetings from Amsterdam! If you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands, you’re in for a treat. Amsterdam has long been one of Europe’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. This city has it all: stunning architecture, rich culture, diverse cuisine and plenty of activities to keep you busy. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do in Amsterdam.

Throughout this article, I will be your guide to the best places to explore in Amsterdam. From iconic museums to charming canal tours, the city offers something for everyone. So, get ready to dive into my list of Amsterdam’s top attractions.

Things to Do in Amsterdam

1. Explore the Rich Art and History

When in Amsterdam, one cannot miss the opportunity to explore the city’s rich art and history. With iconic museums and historical sites, you can immerse yourself in the vibrant Dutch culture and experience its top attractions.

Discover Famous Museums

Amsterdam has a plethora of world-renowned museums that should not be missed. Some of the best includes:

Museum Specialization
Rijksmuseum Dutch art and history
Van Gogh Museum Works by Van Gogh and his contemporaries
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam Modern and contemporary art, design, and photography

At the Rijksmuseum, you can admire masterpieces by famous artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, while the Van Gogh Museum gives you the opportunity to view the famous post-impressionist’s artworks from his early years to his last days. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam boasts an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art works by renowned artists such as Picasso and Warhol.

Step Back in Time at Historical Sites

Amsterdam is not only rich in art, but also offers historical sites that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. Some of the famous sites include:

  • The Anne Frank House, which provides insight into the life of the young Jewish girl during WWII.
  • The Royal Palace, an impressive architectural structure that showcases the grandeur of the Dutch Republic in the Golden Age.
  • The Westerkerk, a beautiful church that dominates the Amsterdam skyline.

These historical sites give an in-depth look at the events and people that shaped Amsterdam, leaving lasting impressions on visitors.

“The museums and historical sites in Amsterdam give a unique cultural experience that cannot be found anywhere else. Whether you’re an art enthusiast or history buff, Amsterdam has something to offer. “

2. Take a Scenic Canal Cruise

When visiting Amsterdam, taking a scenic canal cruise is a must-do experience. It’s one of the best ways to see the city and experience its unique charm.

During the canal tours Amsterdam offers, you’ll cruise along the beautiful canals and take in the stunning architecture and charming houseboats. It’s a relaxing way to explore the city, and you’ll get to see a different perspective of Amsterdam that you can’t experience on foot.

Boat tours Amsterdam also allow you to learn about Amsterdam’s history and culture as you glide past historical sites and landmarks. Along the way, you’ll see the city’s famous bridges, colorful buildings, and vibrant neighborhoods. You may even catch a glimpse of some of Amsterdam’s friendly locals!

Overall, an Amsterdam canal cruise is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening. Unwind and take in the scenery as you discover the magic of Amsterdam’s canals.

What to Expect during an Amsterdam Canal Cruise?

Amsterdam canal cruises are typically offered throughout the day and into the evening. You can choose from a variety of tour options, including hop-on-hop-off tours, dinner cruises, or private tours.

During your cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to admire Amsterdam’s landmarks from the water, such as the Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk Church, and the Skinny Bridge.

Aside from the gorgeous views, a boat tour Amsterdam features informative audio guides and friendly staff who will answer any questions you may have about Amsterdam.

Overall, an Amsterdam canal cruise is a must-do experience that offers a unique and memorable way to discover the city’s beauty.

Amsterdam Canal Cruise

3. Enjoy the Blooming Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens

When spring arrives in Amsterdam, I make sure to visit the Keukenhof Gardens to marvel at the colorful display of tulips. This breathtaking floral paradise has over seven million flowers of different types and colors, including my favorite – the lovely tulips.

Located in the city of Lisse, about an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, the Keukenhof Gardens is a must-see attraction for flower lovers. You can take a scenic drive through the colorful tulip fields of the Netherlands on your way to Keukenhof Gardens. It’s truly a mesmerizing sight!

At the Keukenhof Gardens, you can explore the various themed gardens, each displaying unique floral arrangements. Don’t miss the indoor exhibitions that showcase spectacular flower shows, inspiring garden designs, and a history of the Dutch tulip. You can also take a guided tour and learn more about the different types of tulips and their origins.

Make sure to bring your camera along to capture the stunning beauty of the Keukenhof Gardens and take home memories that will last a lifetime.

4. Discover the Vibrant Nightlife

As a city that never sleeps, Amsterdam boasts a lively nightlife scene that caters to all tastes. Whether you’re into cozy pubs, trendy cocktail bars, or energetic clubs, you’re sure to find plenty of options to suit your preferences.

One of my favorite areas for a night out is the lively Leidseplein. This bustling square is home to a variety of bars and clubs, making it the perfect spot for bar-hopping or dancing the night away. If you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, head to the trendy Jordaan district. Here you’ll find charming bars and cafes with an artsy and bohemian vibe.

Feeling adventurous? Visit the Red Light District, but remember to be respectful and observe the rules and etiquette. It’s a unique experience that you won’t forget anytime soon.

Amsterdam Nightlife

Some of my favorite bars in Amsterdam include:

Bar Name Location Type
Café Brandon Jordaan Bar with outdoor seating
The Butcher De Pijp Cocktail Bar
Paradiso Leidseplein Club/live music venue

No matter where you go, Amsterdam’s nightlife scene is guaranteed to leave an impression. So, let loose and enjoy a night out in this bustling city!

5. Stroll Through the Famous Red Light District

As controversial as it may be, the Red Light District is undoubtedly an iconic part of Amsterdam’s culture and history. Located in the De Wallen area, the district is famous for its red-lit streets, brothels, and sex shops.

However, the area is not just limited to the sex industry. It’s a fascinating place to observe the unique window displays and architecture. The district boasts beautiful 14th-century buildings, such as the Oude Kerk, which provides an interesting contrast to the bustling streets and neon lights.

It’s important to remember to be respectful and observe the rules and etiquette of the area. Avoid taking photos or filming the workers or visitors, and keep in mind that these are real people working in a business. It’s also worth noting that the Red Light District is not the only area in Amsterdam with sex work, and many people in the industry prefer the regulated and legal environments found in other parts of the city.

Interesting Facts:

  • The Red Light District was originally a harbor area in the 16th and 17th centuries and became a red-light district after World War II.
  • The windows for sex work were actually invented in Amsterdam in the 19th century as a way to regulate the industry.

Rules and Etiquette in the Red Light District

DO’s DON’Ts
Be respectful and non-judgmental towards the sex workers and visitors. Do not take photos or videos of the workers or visitors.
Keep a distance from the windows and do not touch them. Do not try to enter the sex businesses without an invitation.
Walk confidently and calmly through the area. Do not cause any disturbances or act rowdy in the area.

Despite its controversial nature, a stroll through the Red Light District can be an interesting and unique experience for tourists looking to learn more about Amsterdam’s culture and history.

6. Indulge in Dutch Cuisine

What’s a trip to Amsterdam without trying the delicious Dutch food? There are plenty of restaurants in Amsterdam that serve traditional Dutch dishes like bitterballen and stroopwafels. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the famous Dutch cheese, Gouda, that comes in a variety of flavors.

Don’t limit yourself to just Dutch cuisine though, as Amsterdam is home to a diverse range of international restaurants. From Italian to Japanese food, there’s plenty to choose from.

Restaurant Name Food Type
De Kas European, Vegetarian Friendly
Restaurant Blauw Indonesian, Asian, Halal
La Perla Pizza, Italian

No matter your taste, there’s a restaurant in Amsterdam that will satisfy your cravings.

Dutch Food Amsterdam

7. Visit Vondelpark for Peaceful Relaxation

If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Vondelpark is the perfect destination. Situated in the heart of Amsterdam, this expansive green space offers a peaceful retreat from the urban landscape.

Take a leisurely stroll or a bike ride through the park’s winding paths, and soak up the natural beauty of the surroundings. Admire the picturesque ponds and flower gardens, and keep an eye out for the park’s resident birds and other wildlife.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities in Amsterdam, Vondelpark has you covered. Try your hand at outdoor yoga, rent a paddleboat for a relaxing ride on the pond, or challenge your friends to a game of frisbee or football on the park’s wide open lawns. There’s something for everyone at Vondelpark.

Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a meal in the park’s peaceful atmosphere. With ample space and plenty of benches and tables, it’s the ideal spot for a relaxing lunch or a romantic dinner.

So, when you’re looking for a break from the city’s bustling streets, head to Vondelpark for a peaceful retreat in the heart of Amsterdam’s nature.

8. Shop along the Famous Nine Streets

As a self-proclaimed fashionista, I couldn’t leave Amsterdam without visiting the Nine Streets. This neighbourhood, also known as De Negen Straatjes, is a shopper’s paradise, filled with unique stores and boutique shops that offer one-of-a-kind fashion items, vintage treasures, and trendy accessories.

The Nine Streets is a picturesque area with beautiful buildings that add to the charm of the shopping experience. It’s a place that every shopper should visit in Amsterdam. The best part? It’s all within walking distance, and you can enjoy the scenery while you shop.

Nine Streets Amsterdam

If you’re looking for something unique to take home with you, this is the perfect place to shop. The stores in the Nine Streets have a distinctive style and character, offering a shopping experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re in search of vintage finds or designer brands, you’ll find it all here.

If you need a break from shopping, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the area where you can sit and relax. Take in the view while sipping on a cup of coffee or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the neighbourhood. It’s the perfect way to recharge before continuing your shopping spree.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the famous Nine Streets in Amsterdam. With its unique shopping experience and picturesque surroundings, it’s a place that should be on every shopper’s list.

9. Experience the Beauty of Amsterdam’s Windmills

If you’re looking for an authentic Dutch experience, make sure to visit the iconic windmills of Amsterdam. Take a short trip outside of the city centre and head to Zaanse Schans Amsterdam, a historic village with working windmills that have become a symbol of Dutch heritage.

Explore the impressive windmills, learn about traditional craft industries such as cheese-making and clog-carving, and experience the beauty of the Dutch countryside. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos to remember this unique experience!

Traditional Dutch Windmills

Windmill Name Location Function
De Gooyer Amsterdam Grain Mill
The Riekermolen Amstelpark, Amsterdam Drainage Mill
Zaanse Schans Windmills Zaanse Schans, Amsterdam Various (Oil, Saw, Paint, etc.)

“The windmill is the symbol for Holland, and the Dutch have used their famous windmills in many different ways.” – Janet Kilburn Phillips

Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the authentic Dutch windmills and learn about their rich history and significance.

10. Immerse Yourself in Amsterdam’s Unique Neighborhoods

If you want to experience the authentic charm of Amsterdam, exploring its unique neighborhoods is a must. Each district has its own distinct character and vibe, offering a diverse array of sights and experiences. From picturesque canals to bustling street markets, there’s something for everyone in Amsterdam’s neighborhoods.

Jordaan District

One of the most charming neighborhoods in Amsterdam is the Jordaan district. Stroll along its elegant canals and admire the beautiful Dutch architecture. Visit trendy boutiques and artisanal shops selling unique gifts and souvenirs. Don’t miss the famous Noordermarkt, which hosts a vibrant flea market every Monday.

De Pijp

If you’re looking for a neighborhood with a more bohemian vibe, head to De Pijp. This vibrant area is known for its street markets, trendy cafes, and ethnic restaurants. Explore the Albert Cuyp Market, which offers a wide array of fresh produce, spices, and street food. Take a stroll along the green Sarphatipark and admire the colorful street art.

Amsterdam Canals

Of course, no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without a stroll along its famous canals. Discover the city’s iconic waterways, which have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop on a canal boat tour and admire the picturesque bridges and beautiful townhouses. It’s a unique perspective on Amsterdam that you won’t forget.

Conclusion

In sum, I’ve shared with you the best things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands. From exploring the rich art and history scene to taking a scenic canal cruise, there is no shortage of activities in this vibrant city. You can indulge in Dutch cuisine, discover Amsterdam’s unique neighborhoods, or escape the hustle and bustle by visiting Vondelpark.

Amsterdam truly has something for everyone, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers, couples, and families alike. So why not pack your bags and plan a trip to this beautiful Dutch city? I promise you won’t regret it!

FAQ

What are the best things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands?

In Amsterdam, there are plenty of exciting and diverse activities to enjoy. From exploring iconic museums like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to taking scenic canal cruises and strolling through the famous Red Light District, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Which museums should I visit in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is known for its world-renowned museums. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Rijksmuseum, which houses a vast collection of Dutch art and historical artifacts, or the Van Gogh Museum, where you can admire the works of the famous Dutch painter.

What is the best way to explore Amsterdam’s canals?

Taking a canal cruise is a popular and scenic way to explore Amsterdam’s canals. Whether you opt for a guided tour or rent your own boat, you’ll have the chance to admire the charming architecture, houseboats, and bustling atmosphere that make Amsterdam’s canals so special.

When is the best time to visit Keukenhof Gardens?

If you want to witness the breathtaking display of blooming tulips at Keukenhof Gardens, spring is the best time to visit. The gardens are open from late March to mid-May, and you’ll be able to explore millions of vibrant tulips and other beautiful flowers.

What can I expect from Amsterdam’s nightlife?

Amsterdam has a vibrant nightlife scene catering to all tastes. Whether you prefer cozy pubs, trendy cocktail bars, or energetic clubs, the city offers a range of options. Areas like Leidseplein and the Jordaan district are particularly known for their lively bars and clubs.

Is it worth visiting the Red Light District in Amsterdam?

While controversial, the Red Light District is an iconic part of Amsterdam’s culture. Taking a stroll through the narrow alleys of De Wallen and observing the unique window displays can be an interesting and eye-opening experience. Remember to be respectful and observe the rules and etiquette of the area.

What are some traditional Dutch dishes I should try in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam offers a variety of culinary delights. Don’t miss trying Dutch classics like bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs), stroopwafels (caramel-filled waffle cookies), and a variety of flavorful cheeses. The city also has a diverse range of international cuisines to explore.

Where can I find some peaceful green spaces in Amsterdam?

Vondelpark is a popular destination for those seeking peaceful relaxation in Amsterdam. This expansive green park is perfect for a leisurely stroll, bike ride, or picnic. Immerse yourself in the beautiful nature and enjoy the tranquility before continuing your exploration of the city.

Are there any unique shopping areas in Amsterdam?

Absolutely! The Nine Streets, or De Negen Straatjes, is a charming neighborhood known for its boutique shops and unique stores. Take a leisurely stroll through this picturesque area and discover one-of-a-kind fashion items, vintage treasures, and trendy accessories.

Where can I see windmills in Amsterdam?

If you’re interested in seeing iconic Dutch windmills, a visit to Zaanse Schans is a must. Located just outside of the city center, this historic village offers the opportunity to explore working windmills, learn about traditional craft industries, and experience the Dutch heritage firsthand.

What are some interesting neighborhoods to explore in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique character. The Jordaan district is known for its charming canals and trendy boutiques, while De Pijp offers vibrant street markets and hip restaurants. Get lost in the narrow streets and discover the hidden gems of Amsterdam’s neighborhoods.