Amsterdam   Travel Guide

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amsterdam tourist things to do

28 Best Things To Do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers a lot more than vice. There's the world-class Van Gogh Museum , the eye opening  Rijksmuseum and shopping on Nine Little Streets for culture hounds. Lesser known cultural must-dos abound. At IJ Hallen flea market, you'll find

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Vondelpark Vondelpark free

Located southwest of the city center, Vondelpark is the favorite leafy retreat of just about everyone. Not only is it the largest city park in Amsterdam, but it's also one of the most revered in all of the Netherlands. Ponds, greenspaces and playgrounds are connected by winding paths, which also run by an open-air theater, a restaurant and a range of statues and sculptures. Most recent travelers said they enjoyed people-watching and picnicking at the park; other reviewers recommend avoiding a late-night visit as the park can be a little frightening once the sun sets. During the day, though, the park is filled with couples, families and friends, and is definitely worth a visit.

Open 24/7, you can take trams 1, 2 or 5 to the Leidseplein station, and you'll have just a quick walk (less than 5 minutes) to reach the park's entrance. The park is free to visit.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Canal Ring Canal Ring free

Architecture and history buffs will delight in Amsterdam's Canal Ring area. This half-moon of canals dates to the 17th century. Today, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The elaborate gables notable in Dutch architecture are on full display across hundreds of brick houses. Places of particular interest include Rembrandtplein (a prominent public square, named for Rembrandt, who owned a home nearby), historic warehouses, Protestant churches and formerly clandestine Catholic and Mennonite churches. Look up sites of interest online to determine opening hours.

The built environment is the big draw here, although recent visitors found plenty to enjoy within the historic buildings too – there are plenty of shopping, dining, and drinking spots. Visitors come for the views as much as the fare, so consider planning to eat at one of the scenic restaurants here (Incanto and Brasserie Ambassade are particularly well-reviewed). Many noted that this is a good area from which to embark on a bike or boat adventure.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Oud-West Oud-West free

Bordered by must-see attractions like Vondelpark and the Rijksmuseum , Oud-West is a refined Amsterdam neighborhood bursting with shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Come to Oud-West during the day to visit stylish boutiques and design stores after visiting Vondelpark. Or, plan a trip into the neighborhood for dinner – there's De Hallen (a food hall and cinema), street food and endless restaurants and cafes. Upscale Restaurant Adam is exceptionally well reviewed, as is the more affordable option, Staring at Jacob. After a meal, you can dance the night away at one of Amsterdam's alternative music venues.

Oud-West, like many of Amsterdam's neighborhoods, is bursting with quirky urban touches. Consider a stop by the Boomzagertje statue (a humorous little sculpture of a man cutting into a real tree branch) or the Gevelbibliotheek – an homage to a former library in the area. Recent visitors to Oud-West particularly enjoyed the less touristy feel, abundance of beautiful architecture, and kid-friendly spots.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Jordaan Jordaan free

If you love history, culture and food, then you'll want to save time for a stroll or a guided tour through Amsterdam's Jordaan area. Located a few blocks west of the city's main train station and bordered by the Brouwersgracht, Prinsengracht, Leidsegracht and Lijnbaansgracht canals, this scenic neighborhood is packed with eateries, specialty shops, bars and art galleries. Plus, you'll find the Anne Frank House and the Nine Little Streets just east of the neighborhood.

Travelers highly recommend walking around the Jordaan, adding that its cool vibe, beautiful setting and top-notch cafes and restaurants more than justify a visit. Don't forget to bring your camera, since visitors say the area offers ample photo opportunities. For a more in-depth look at the neighborhood's food scene, consider signing up for Eating Europe Food Tours ' Jordaan Food Tour. Or, visit on a Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to enjoy the Jordaan's Biologische Noordermarkt (a market with vendors selling baked goods, produce, local cheeses, crepes and more).

amsterdam tourist things to do

Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis) Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)

Inside the Anne Frank House, travelers will see the location where not so long ago the 15-year-old Anne Frank penned a journal that would become a best-seller. Frank was a Jewish girl who went into hiding after German Nazis invaded the Netherlands and began forcibly transporting Dutch Jews to concentration camps. Today, the home is a museum and travelers can imagine what it'd be like to stay hidden away from the Nazis for more than two years, only to be betrayed and taken to a concentration camp.

Artifacts inside the museum include historical documents, photographs, film images and belongings from people in hiding and those who assisted them. Frank's original diary and other notebooks are also on display, though original objects from the annex are not on display, as it was stripped of its contents during World War II. A free audio guide – available in nine languages – is included with admission.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Dam Square Dam Square free

Europe is known for its grand public squares, and Amsterdam boasts plenty. Those arriving at Amsterdam's Central Station can walk just five minutes to arrive at bustling Dam Square. The historic 13th-century buildings are filled with restaurants, shops, and cafes. Food stalls are available too. Those looking for more sightseeing opportunities should note the Royal Palace , New Church and consider a visit to Madame Tussauds.

Recent visitors praised the square for its beauty and central location. While several previous travelers note that it is touristy – with prices to match – they still recommend a visit. It is beautiful at night when filled with lights. Be aware of your surroundings, as the area can attract pickpockets.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum) Verzetsmuseum (Dutch Resistance Museum)

The  Verzetsmuseum  (the Dutch Resistance Museum), located by the  Artis Royal Zoo , has been called the city's best-kept secret by some. The informative – even inspiring – museum tells the stories of those who lived in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation and explains how the atrocities of World War II transpired. Through authentic objects, photos and documents, film and sound fragments, visitors will learn how the resistance manifested in the Netherlands.

Recent travelers said the thought-provoking museum leads you to ask yourself what you would've done if the Nazis had occupied your country. They were also pleased with the audio guides that are given with the ticket price, as well as with the exhibits which are displayed in both Dutch and English.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Van Gogh Museum Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum holds the world's largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings, including "Sunflowers" and "Almond Blossom." The museum itself is one of the most-visited museums in not only Amsterdam but in all of the Netherlands. Travelers come from near and far to see the artworks created by the tortured artist, who cut off his own ear and died by suicide due to his worries about his financial future and recurring mental illness.

Because of Van Gogh's popularity, some travelers highly recommend purchasing online tickets ahead of time to avoid lengthy museum lines. Though some were disappointed that the museum does not house some of the artist's more famous paintings (many of them are exhibited in other museums across the globe), reviewers did praise the museum's layout and its display of his earliest works.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Leidseplein Leidseplein free

If you're looking for a tamer alternative to Amsterdam's Red Light District, Leidseplein or Leiden Square, may be for you. The center of Amsterdam's entertainment scene, Leidseplein sits southwest of the city center and is filled with nightclubs, movie theaters, concert venues, casinos and, of course, some coffee shops. For the performing arts, the Melkweg (Milky Way) concert hall and the International City Theater are of particular note.

Leidseplein is the place to be if you enjoy mixing with the masses. If crowds aren't your thing, you should steer clear of this area – definitely don't book a hotel or hostel here – or maybe head to the nearby Vondelpark instead. Travelers were also pleasantly surprised by the quantity and variety of restaurants huddled in the neighborhood, though they do warn of high prices at the bars.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Explore Amsterdam from the water on a boat tour Explore Amsterdam from the water on a boat tour

Few things are as representative of Amsterdam as its picturesque canals. Home to 165 waterways (including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed 17th-Century Canal Ring Area ), the city prides itself on its impressive canal system.

It's easy to see the canals during a bike tour or while walking around the city center, but for a closer look at the water network, sign up for a canal cruise. Many tour operators offer different kinds of boat tours around downtown Amsterdam. The following are some of the city's most popular options:

amsterdam tourist things to do

Keukenhof Keukenhof

U.S. News Insider Tip: It can be tricky to plan your visit during peak bloom. However, there are many other flower displays, like a stunning array of orchids, which make a visit worthwhile. – Jacqueline Drayer, Contributor

Originally used by Dutch royalty to grow fruits and vegetables, Keukenhof now welcomes travelers in search of Holland's famous tulips. Every year between late March and mid-May, the park – which sits about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam in Lisse – turns vivid shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, white and orange as more than 7 million tulip bulbs bloom across 80 acres. The park also offers kid-friendly amenities like a playground, a maze and a petting zoo.

amsterdam tourist things to do

De Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) De Negen Straatjes (Nine Little Streets) free

De Negen Straatjes,  or the Nine Little Streets, are exactly that – nine streets that run between the Prinsengracht and Singel canals and are lined with shops and boutiques. (For your orientation, the Singel is the first main canal that wraps around the city center.) Vintage clothing shops nestle alongside accessories stores and interior design boutiques, and hours vary by store.

Recent travelers called the area a lovely place to stroll and said it was less touristy than other parts of the city. Though you'll likely rub elbows with plenty of other travelers, you'll also encounter your fair share of locals.

amsterdam tourist things to do

De Pijp De Pijp free

De Pijp, which is also called the Latin Quarter, is known for its 19th-century architecture and its collision of different cultures. Here, you'll find ethnic restaurants, eclectic shops and the tranquil Sarphatipark. The Heineken Experience sits on the northern edge of the neighborhood. 

Travelers say that De Pijp feels less touristy and more like authentic Amsterdam. They also call it the heart of the city for young people thanks to its beatnik vibe and trendy eateries.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Learn about Amsterdam atop a bike Learn about Amsterdam atop a bike

Biking is one of the most popular ways to get around Amsterdam. In fact, cycling is such a quintessential Amsterdam activity that the city's tourism website offers pages with free route maps and cycling safety tips .

But if you don't feel like renting a bike and exploring on your own, you'll find an array of bike tours catering to every kind of visitor. Below are several traveler-approved cycling tour companies:

amsterdam tourist things to do

I amsterdam Letters I amsterdam Letters free

Measuring more than 6 feet tall and 77-plus feet wide, the red-and-white "I amsterdam" sign is a prime place for a photo op. You'll find the main set of massive letters situated inside Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; however, multiple versions are typically on display throughout the city.

Although some previous visitors were disappointed that the main sign no longer sits in front of the Rijksmuseum , many enjoyed snapping pics of the smaller version at the airport. An additional set of letters appears at various events throughout the year, so if you plan on attending a large festival while in town, look around to see if the sign is on-site. You can also spot the letters while jogging the track by Sloterplas Lake, but some characters in this set lie flat, so it's not ideal for photographing.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Rijksmuseum (State Museum) Rijksmuseum (State Museum)

Considered one of Amsterdam's top museums (along with the  Van Gogh  and  Anne Frank  museums), the  Rijksmuseum  (or State Museum) features an impressive collection of artists, including Rembrandt and Vermeer. As befits a state museum, the ornate building contains mostly Dutch works from the 15th to 17th centuries – though its entire collection stretches across 800 years.

Visitors recommend getting to the Rijksmuseum as early as possible in the day to avoid standing in a line to enjoy both the breathtaking building, grounds and art. The busiest times are Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. And once you've finished touring the interior, step outside and enjoy the gardens – a recommendation from past visitors. Though some reviewers griped about the museum's confusing layout, they still said it was among their top to-dos in Amsterdam.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder

For a glimpse at how locals lived and worshipped during the 17th century, visit the Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Soldier. Part-home, part-church, this historic site is the second-oldest museum in Amsterdam (behind the Telyers Museum). On the lower levels, you'll find period furnishings spread throughout living areas, kitchens and bedrooms, as well as a set of stairs that lead to the attic, where the church is located. Religious services no longer take place at the church, but the property offers various exhibits about religious tolerance in the Netherlands, as the Catholic Church had to operate in secret in its early years in the country.

History buffs and religious travelers will likely enjoy wandering around this museum. Visitors praise the property's beautiful interior and interesting exhibits, adding that the complimentary audio tour offers many informative tidbits. Keep in mind, the building's small size and multiple staircases may make some parts of the property difficult to access for those with mobility issues.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Artis Royal Zoo (Natura Artis Magistra) Artis Royal Zoo (Natura Artis Magistra)

Visitors traveling with children in tow might want to make some space in their itinerary for the Artis Royal Zoo. Lions, monkeys and penguins are housed here, along with about another 900 species, and there's also an aquarium, an insectarium, a butterfly garden and a planetarium.

Although most recent visitors described the zoo as lovely, well maintained and a great family day, some of them concede that enclosures for the animals seemed a bit small.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Stedelijk Museum Stedelijk Museum

U.S. News Insider Tip: This museum is often far less crowded than the Rijksmuseum! Go to the Rijksmuseum at opening time and the Stedelijk later in the day. – Jacqueline Drayer, Contributor

Situated next to the world-renowned Van Gogh Museum in the Museumplein area, the Stedelijk Museum houses an impressive collection of contemporary art: It has 100,000 works. Inside its permanent exhibit, travelers will find pieces by artists like Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock. Additionally, the property features temporary collections that may include items like modern sculptures and documentaries.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Eating Europe Food Tours Amsterdam Eating Europe Food Tours Amsterdam

Amsterdam visitors who love learning about a destination through its food scene will likely enjoy participating in a food tour . Traveler-approved Eating Europe Food Tours offers multiple food outings, including the Amsterdam Food & Canals Tour which tacks on an hourlong boat tour to tastings throughout the city. The company's most popular experience is its Jordaan Food Tour, a 3.5-hour tour through the culturally and historically rich Jordaan neighborhood. During the excursion, foodies can try local staples which may include apple pie, raw herring, Gouda cheese and stroopwafel (a thin waffle with a caramel filling).

Previous participants raved about the Jordaan Food Tour, citing its small group size (no more than 12 people can join an outing), knowledgeable guides and large tasting portions as highlights. Several also appreciated the inclusion of a beer from a local brewery during the tour. To make the most of the excursion, past travelers suggest saving room for every dish by eating a light breakfast (or skipping it altogether).

amsterdam tourist things to do

Heineken Experience Heineken Experience

The Heineken Experience, which takes place in the old  Heineken Brouwerij  (Heineken Brewery), is a must-do for fans of the fermented beverage. Among the attractions housed in the century-old factory are a history of the Heineken brewing process and company. Plus, you'll get two Heinekens to enjoy at the end of the Experience. A downloadable app takes visitors on a historical journey through the factory (available for iPhones and Androids). You should note that only those 18 and older are allowed inside.

Although some recent travelers highly recommend taking the tour at the Heineken Experience, others described it as a marketing ploy rather than a tutorial in the beer-brewing process (the real brewery used for production sits on the outskirts of Amsterdam; this location is simply a museum).

amsterdam tourist things to do

A'DAM Lookout A'DAM Lookout

Opened in 2016, A'DAM Lookout provides some of the best views of downtown Amsterdam from its location in the southern corner of the Overhoeks neighborhood. The property's main draw is its observation deck on the 20th floor, which provides 360-degree panoramas of the city's port and canals. Before admiring the view, visitors can peruse the property's interactive exhibit. Adrenaline junkies won't want to miss Over the Edge (Europe's highest swing) on the outdoor rooftop deck, while foodies should save time for a bite to eat at Madam (an internationally-inspired eatery on the 20th floor) or Moon (the 19th floor's upscale revolving restaurant).

Visitors cannot get enough of A'DAM Lookout's breathtaking vistas. However, a few lament the extra charge required for the swing. Nevertheless, many recommend paying the additional 7.50 euros (about $8) for the fun experience. Because the swing is a popular activity, travelers suggest purchasing tickets in advance on the attraction's tickets page .

amsterdam tourist things to do

Concertgebouw Concertgebouw

Constructed in 1888, the  Concertgebouw (literally "Concert Building") hosts 900-plus shows and about 700,000 visitors per year, which makes it one of the world's busiest concert venues. Check the Concertgebouw's  website  for a list of orchestral and other performances, as well as for ticket prices, which vary by show. From time to time, the venue also offers free lunchtime performances.

Recent visitors called this one of the world's best concert halls, which offers fairly reasonable ticket prices. If you're hoping to attend one of the venue's free concerts, plan to arrive early – past visitors said the staff at Concertgebouw hands out tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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amsterdam tourist things to do

Royal Palace Amsterdam Royal Palace Amsterdam

Built in the 17th century by architect Jacob van Campen, the Royal Palace Amsterdam once served as Amsterdam's town hall. The grand structure held the distinction of being the largest secular building in Europe for many years. Throughout the years, it's been used by Dutch royalty for official events, such as visits by foreign leaders. Members of the public are welcome to tour the property when the building isn't in use for state visits.

Although visitors offer mixed feelings about the property's exterior, many say the palace's period furnishings and works of art are well worth checking out. Complimentary English audio guides (which travelers recommend for historical context) are available; however, a few caution that the devices are not very comfortable on their own, so consider bringing a pair of headphones to use with them.

amsterdam tourist things to do

NEMO Science Museum NEMO Science Museum

Anyone that says Amsterdam isn't for kids hasn't visited the NEMO Science Museum, housed inside the ship-like green building on the harbor. Filled with hands-on activities, kids can spend hours concocting chemistry experiences and constructing buildings while also learning how science has evolved throughout time.

Recent visitors say this is a do-not-miss attraction not only for kids but also for those young at heart, since there are interactive exhibits for all curious minds. Even if you don't have time to take a spin through the museum, past visitors said you should still go to access the free rooftop terrace, which offers panoramic views of the city and a cafe and does not charge an entrance fee.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Zandvoort Zandvoort free

U.S. News Insider Tip: To make a day out of your visit, take a quick train ride to Haarlem, a charming town located a few miles east of the beach. – Jacqueline Drayer, Contributor

You probably knew about Amsterdam's canals, but what about its beach? About 25 miles west of the city center is a place called Zandvoort, a strip of sand that borders the North Sea. Experts say Zandvoort is at its best in the summertime, though recent visitors say a trip here in the offseason is also worthwhile since it lacks the summertime crowds.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum)

Whether you're a boat enthusiast or want to learn more about Dutch maritime history, Amsterdam's National Maritime Museum is worth a visit. Located about halfway between the Verzetsmuseum and the NEMO Science Museum , The National Maritime Museum houses one of the world's largest maritime collections, with roughly 400,000 different items. Artifacts you'll find here include navigation instruments like compasses, the Royal Barge (an intricate royal vessel commissioned for King William I in the early 19th century) and a life-size replica of the Amsterdam (a ship that wrecked during its maiden voyage to Asia in 1749).

Several visitors raved about the exhibits, especially the one focusing on navigation. Although, a few past travelers warned the museum offers a gimmicky atmosphere, could use additional information and interactive displays, and charges high entrance fees. Many previous museumgoers recommended the virtual reality experience on the Amsterdam ship, which shows you how the city's historic harbor grew to become a bustling port.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House) Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House)

Rembrandt van Rijn (yep, Rembrandt is his first, not last name) once lived and worked in this restored home. So not only will you see the most complete collection of his etchings here, you'll also view his own interesting accumulation of  objets d'art , from musical instruments to Roman busts. An audio guide is included in the admission, and many travelers recommend using it. The museum reopened in March 2023 following a renovation to introduce five new museums spaces, including more etching and exhibit areas and a multimedia tour dedicated to the artist's life.

Several travelers also highly recommend watching one of the etching demonstrations, which they say gives a more comprehensive understanding of the art and takes place three times a day. However, if you're traveling with kids, you may want to skip this attraction as past visitors said there is little to interest youngsters.

amsterdam tourist things to do

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10 Tastes of Amsterdam: Food Tour by UNESCO Canals and Jordaan

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20 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam, From Classic Art Museums to Hidden Speakeasies

Make the most of your Amsterdam visit with these itinerary suggestions from two experts.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

amsterdam tourist things to do

George Pachantouris/Getty Images

Amsterdam is an incredible European city; the charm of its iconic canals exceeds expectations, and beyond those, you have world-class museums and shopping and restaurant scenes to dig into. Given that it is incredibly accessible and well-connected to other parts of Europe, Amsterdam makes for the perfect stop at the beginning or end of a holiday across the pond — and it’s more than deserving of a standalone trip, too.

Whether you’re considering a quick weekend getaway or a longer stay, the Dutch capital promises to impress every type of traveler with myriad things to do. As someone who loves Amsterdam deeply, I have plenty of personal recommendations, and so does Pieter Feith, who's been a concierge at Pulitzer Amsterdam for more than a decade and is a member of the Les Clefs d'Or. Our list of the best things to do in Amsterdam is as multifaceted and magical as the city itself.

Van Gogh Museum

Michela Sieman/Travel + Leisure

This is the most patronized museum in Amsterdam , welcoming upwards of 6,000 visitors each day. Guests arrive here eager to appreciate the works of the Netherlands’ homegrown artistic hero. If you really want to admire "Sunflowers" or “Bedroom in Arles” on a specific day, be sure to buy tickets in advance.

Anne Frank House

Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

One of the most popular and important cultural attractions in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House displays writings, photos, and personal items from Anne Frank, collected during her time hiding from the Nazis. The entry line often wraps around the building and time slots book up months out, so be sure to reserve tickets long before you arrive. 

Canal Cruise

If you go to Amsterdam and don’t tour the picturesque canals — and snap photos — were you even really there? I’ve booked an excursion on the classic salon boat “Tourist" through Pulitzer Amsterdam three times; it’s a beautiful, historic vessel that even hosted Winston Churchill back in the day. And since the tour is private, you can customize the route based on your interest.

Rinze Vegelien

Among my favorite restaurants in Amsterdam, De Kas takes farm-to-table dining quite literally, with a menu that highlights ingredients from an on-site garden, plus meats and cheeses from nearby farms. Creative spins on dishes and an always-evolving menu make it a place you’ll want to return to many times over.

Museum van Loon

Atilano Garcia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

While the museums mentioned above are classic Amsterdam sights, Feith prefers smaller museums like Museum van Loon , which is set in a private residence built in 1672. “Painter Ferdinand Bol, a pupil of Rembrandt, was the first resident here," Feith shares. The interiors are ornate and well-preserved, and there’s a lovely garden area and a café in the carriage house.

Vondelpark opened in 1865, and within its 47 hectares (or 116 acres) travelers will find grassy lawns, ponds, and cycling/walking paths. There's also an open-air theatre that hosts summer concerts, plus a playground. “It’s much loved by locals for a morning run, a bike ride on the way to work, or to enjoy the greenery on warm days,” says Feit.  

De Kaaskamer

De Kaaskamer is a beloved shop that stocks an impressive selection of Dutch and imported cheeses, from aged Appenzeller and raw milk gouda to Blue de Wolvega from Friesland and chèvre. You can also shop for meats, nuts, tapenades, pestos, wine, and beer here, all of which pair perfectly with fromage.


The perenially busy Rijksmuseum , the national museum of the Netherlands, draws crowds with impressive exhibits dedicated to Dutch art, culture, and history.  On display in its many rooms are period artifacts, as well as paintings from masters such as Rembrandt.

Akasha Holistic Wellbeing

Courtesy of Akasha Holistic Wellbeing

Some travelers know Amsterdam as a party city, but visitors hoping to unwind don’t need to search far. For example, Akasha Holistic Wellbeing is an underground wellness sanctuary at the Conservatorium Hotel , complete with a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, and treatment options that range from hot stone massages to a chakra balancing experience.


“ Grachtenmuseum highlights the history of Amsterdam — how the city has expanded over the past 400 years, and the construction of the canal houses,” explains Feith. Fittingly, it’s set inside a 17th-century canal house on the Herengracht.

Fabel Friet

Belgium may stake its claim to fries, but the Dutch potato situation is on point, too. Join the queue outside of Fabel Friet to savor crispy, golden spuds doused in homemade sauces like truffle mayo and curry ketchup.

Pulitzer's Bar

Courtesy of Pulitzer Bar

Pulitzer's Bar oozes glamour and sophistication, with bow-tie-clad bartenders mixing some of the best cocktails in the city. Guests of the hotel love this onsite option, as do locals and travelers staying elsewhere, so do yourself a favor and make a reservation in advance.

Many consider Dam Square to be the most important venue of its kind in Amsterdam. It’s still a great place to kick off a sightseeing tour, as it’s home to notable tourist attractions, including the neoclassical Royal Palace, the National Monument, and the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk (New Church).

Distilleerderij 't Nieuwe Diep

Distilleerderij 't Nieuwe Diep is a small brewery with a tasting room inside the old pumping station of Oetewaler Polder. “Contructed in 1880 and hidden among the greenery of the park, it’s a nice place for visitors to sip spirits and soak in the ambiance,” says Feith. 

NEMO Science Museum

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If you're traveling to Amsterdam with kids, I highly recommend checking out the NEMO Science Museum. Our toddler had a ball teetering around the interactive exhibits. Besides the all-ages educational fun, there's a hands-on lab for older children, where they can partake in experiments.

Fans of prohibition-era, speakeasy-style bars will love Door 74 . It’s all very hush-hush, but once inside the hidden drinking den, patrons can choose a craft cocktail from an ever-changing menu of tipples with unique flavor combinations.

Antiekcentrum Amsterdam

Antiekcentrum Amsterdam is full of vendors selling vintage jewelry, ceramics, and home decor. Even if you don't intend to buy anything, it’s interesting to browse the stalls of this large emporium of preloved items.


Open Monday through Saturday, Dappermarkt is a diverse and popular market on the east side of the city with more than 250 stalls along one street. Feith says that the market attracts both locals and out-of-towners with its goods.

Equal parts gallery, workshop, and store, 360volt is home to an eye-popping assortment of new and vintage light fixtures. On any visit, you might spot a funky retro scissor lamp, a lovingly restored old-school floodlight, or a shimmering chandelier.

Van Brienenhofje

Sir Francis Canker Photography/Getty Images

In Jordaan, you will find many “hofjes,” which is best translated as inner courtyards. “These were built centuries ago to house single women, nuns, or staff who were too old to work,” explains Feith. Some of these beautiful houses and courtyards are open to visitors today, including the very peaceful Van Brienenhofje.

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  • 39 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: The Ultimate Amsterdam Bucket List

Damrak Canal Houses Amsterdam

We all know Amsterdam as being among Europe’s most sought-after, bustling cities that have made its way to the top of many travelers’ wish lists.

You’ve surely added the likes of the Anne Frank House and the Heineken Experience to your itinerary, but that’s really just the start of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

This is a city that has such a diverse and extensive range of things to see and do; you could spend a week here and still feel like you’ve only scratched the surface.

To ensure you get the most out of your Amsterdam trip, I have created this fool-proof guide to the Dutch capital’s incredible range of things to do. 

From indoor activities on those rainy days to foodie experiences you’ll dream about after you’ve arrived home, let’s jump into this Amsterdam bucket list.

* Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link. *

Table of Contents

Are you planning a last-minute trip to Amsterdam?

If your trip is coming up soon and you still haven’t booked anything, we have you covered! Below you can find our top picks when it comes to hotels, tours, getting around, and more.

Best Tours and Experiences in Amsterdam

  • Classic Boat Cruise with Cheese & Wine Option (top-rated canal cruise)
  • Life of Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour
  • Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam & Marken Bus Tour (most popular day trip)
  • Van Gogh Museum Ticket (sells out really fast so make sure to grab them as soon as possible)
  • Heineken Experience (must-have tour for beer lovers)

Best Places to Stay in Amsterdam

  • Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht (best hotel in Amsterdam with canal views)
  • W Amsterdam (amazing 5-star hotel with a stunning rooftop pool)
  • De L’Europe Amsterdam (best luxury hotel in Amsterdam)
  • Linden Hotel (amazing mid-range option in Jordaan)
  • Singel Hotel Amsterdam (great budget pick in the city center)

Looking for the best way to get around Amsterdam? Make sure to buy a GVB Public Transport Ticket . Even if you only use public transport a few times, it’s already worth it!

Planning to visit a handful of attractions? You can save a lot of money by purchasing the I Amsterdam City Card . It includes free entry to more than 70 attractions, unlimited access to public transport, and a free canal cruise!

Top 10 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

Looking for a quick answer to the must-visit sights in Amsterdam? Here are the top 10 best things to do in Amsterdam that you absolutely can’t miss!

  • Take a canal cruise
  • Visit the Rijksmuseum
  • Explore Anne Frank House
  • Enjoy art at the Van Gogh Museum
  • Try the famous stroopwafels
  • Walk through the Red Light District
  • Take in the views from the A’DAM Lookout
  • Taste local specialties at Foodhallen
  • Visit the Heineken Experience
  • Explore the Floating Flower Market

Now, if you want to know more about each activity above and discover even more amazing things to do in Amsterdam, keep reading!

Best Outdoor Things to Do in Amsterdam

1. take a canal cruise.

Kicking things off with an excursion you can’t miss, a cruise around some of Amsterdam’s 165 canals is usually everyone’s first stop when they touch down in the Dutch capital.

As gorgeous as the city looks from the canal-side walkways, there’s something magical about exploring the area from the water. Winding through the narrow canals, ducking under tiny bridges, and admiring the architecture, a cruise is a pretty unparalleled introduction to Amsterdam.

When it comes to canal cruises in Amsterdam, you’ll have a myriad of options. To save you from going through them all, here are my top picks:

Amsterdam: City Canal Cruise – Have your cameras ready as you sail past 17th-century canal houses and fleets of busy cyclists during this 75-minute tour. You’ll get an insight into Amsterdam’s eventful history through the onboard audio guide, which is available in 19 languages.

Amsterdam: Classic Boat Cruise with Cheese & Wine Option – This really is as good as it sounds! Take the basic package, and you’ll cruise by spots like the Skinny Bridge and Red Light District, or add on unlimited cheese and wine or beer to level up your journey!

Amsterdam: Evening Canal Cruise – Watch Amsterdam come to life when the sun goes down on this romantic evening hour-and-a-half boat tour, where you’ll see the likes of A’DAM Tower alight under the stars and discover hidden pockets of the city.

Read Next: 16 Best Canal Cruises in Amsterdam You Can’t Go Wrong With

Flagship Amsterdam, one of the best Canal Cruises in Amsterdam

2. Rent a bike and cycle around the city

When in Amsterdam, do as the locals do! Provided you’ve mentally prepared for the jam-packed streets, of course.

In a city famed for its cycling culture, it’s no surprise that many tourists want to try their hand at making their way around on two wheels, but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Though there’s plenty of excellent cycling infrastructure, bikers in Amsterdam are known for being super-speedy and ruthless at times, so make sure you’re confident in your bike handling skills before taking to the bike lanes.

You’ll come across dozens of bike rental stores around the city, or you can join a cycling tour where you’ll be in safe hands traveling as a group.

I highly recommend this Guided Bike Tour of Central Amsterdam , where you’ll zip through the city in groups of 15 people or less over the space of three hours.

3. Stroll around Vondelpark

From an often chaotic Amsterdam experience to something much more laid-back, the lush Vondelpark will be a place to catch your breath after a few hours of cycling or wandering the lively streets. 

Vondelpark is the city’s largest urban park and is at the top of the best places to visit in Amsterdam to see another side of the capital. 

In fact, if you’re keen to rent a bike but don’t want to face the notoriously hectic bike lanes, Vondelpark is an excellent place for a leisurely cycle.

Whether you choose to cycle or walk, you’ll love getting some peace and quiet in the city’s backyard. Better yet, grab a coffee from any of the park’s cafes, bring some snacks, and have a lake-side picnic. 

If you’re like me and love all things pretty and colorful, stroll over to the northwest of the park, where you’ll see the rose garden filled with more than 70 beautiful varieties.

Beautiful green park, Vondelpark Amsterdam

4. Take in the views from the A’DAM Lookout

For the finest views in all of Amsterdam, the A’DAM Lookout is the place to go. Not only can you take in unspoiled vistas of the canals, city center, and busy port, but you can do so from Europe’s highest swing.

If this has your adrenaline flowing, up the ante and experience the Amsterdam VR rollercoaster ride, where you’ll feel like you’re zooming past all the iconic sites at high speeds.

As if all of these activities weren’t enough, A’DAM Lookout transforms into a music venue with live DJ sets all evening during the summer. At the same time, you can also get a bite at their panoramic bar and restaurant if you fancy. 

Entry tickets also grant you access to their interactive exhibition and fascinating audio tour, retelling the story of Amsterdam’s past.

Entry tickets can start from as low as €14.50 when you purchase them online , or you can take your pick from their bundles featuring the swing, VR ride, and a meal.

Adam Lookout with the swings on top in Amsterdam

5. Participate in a guided walking tour

Walking tours have become my go-to when I have landed in a new city for the first time, as it’s such a fantastic way to find your bearings while getting a sense of the local area.

In a city as pedestrian-friendly as Amsterdam, a walking tour allows you to explore the narrow streets and laneways you’d miss out on with buses and private transfers. 

Most tours last for around two or three hours, stopping by many of the highlights that are a must for an Amsterdam visit, including the Jewish Quarter and the Torenslius Bridge.

Another reason why I have become so fond of these tours is because of the amazing guides that run them! It’s the best opportunity to ask questions, meet fellow travelers, and dive deep into the culture.

SANDEMANs NEW Amsterdam are some of the best in the business, offering outings in English or Spanish. Each tour is free of charge, though it’s important to remember to give a tip to show some appreciation to your guide.

Read Next: 3 Days in Amsterdam: The Ultimate Amsterdam Itinerary

Best Indoor Things to Do in Amsterdam

6. visit the rijksmuseum.

This time, we’re heading indoors to Amsterdam’s most renowned cultural hub, which I’m confident you’ve heard about before – the Rijksmuseum .

Even though this museum celebrates the history of The Netherlands, many people flock here to catch a glimpse of the works of some of the nation’s most acclaimed artists, from Vincent Van Gogh to Rembrandt van Rijn.

The Rijksmuseum is the home of paintings many of you’ll recognize, with the most prized pieces including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, and Van Gogh’s self-portrait.

However, you’ll find over 6,000 artworks here, so you will definitely need at least a couple of hours to check out as much as possible.

You don’t need to be an art devotee to appreciate this spectacular museum, but if you’re somewhat of a connoisseur, you can spend hours here examining and making sense of the paintings, sculptures, and ornaments.

As visiting the Rijksmuseum is one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam, it’s worth booking your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

7. Explore the Anne Frank House

The heartwrenching but compelling tale of Anne Frank is brought to life in Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House.

You can travel back through time and explore the secret annex where she wrote her iconic diary that tells the tale of how her family hid from Nazi forces for over two years during the Second World War. 

To ensure you can see the museum’s collection of original items, photos, and videos, you’ll need to secure your tickets weeks before your trip to Amsterdam, as tickets infamously sell out over a month in advance.

Every Tuesday, the tickets go on sale for the upcoming six weeks on the Anne Frank House official site , where you can get an adult ticket for €16.

Anne Frank House Amsterdam

8. Enjoy art at the Van Gogh Museum

If the Rijksmuseum left a lasting impression on you, the Van Gogh Museum should be next on your list. Anyone visiting on a bit of a time crunch will be glad to know that the two museums are just minutes apart. 

As well as hundreds of paintings and drawings from the Dutch artist himself, thousands of pieces from Van Gogh’s contemporaries call this extensive gallery home. This includes mesmerizing Japanese and French prints Van Gogh collected during the 19th century.

Similar to the Anne Frank House, tickets to the Van Gogh Museum are usually in high demand and sell out really far in advance. You’ll have to book your tickets at least a month prior to your visit, so make sure to keep your eye on the website once you have your travel dates.

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

9. Discover the Stedelijk Museum

Is contemporary art more your vibe? The Stedelijk Museum’s 90,000-piece collection of paintings, sculptures, and furniture is sure to keep you enthralled.

Only around 500 pieces are displayed at a time as the museum rotates the artworks they showcase. In just one visit, you can cast your eyes on late 19th-century paintings, Art Deco furniture, and modern drawings.

Some of the artists you can expect to feature include the likes of Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, and Lucio Fontana. 

Art buffs can easily explore the Stedelijk Museum on the same day as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum, as these three spots, which together make up Amsterdam’s most beloved art galleries, are all within the Museum Square.

Buy your tickets on the day or beat the lines and snap yours up for €22.50 online ahead of time.

10. Visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Many visitors often don’t realize that The Netherlands is still a monarchy to this day! The Royal Palace Amsterdam is one of three palaces owned by the Dutch royals.

During your visit, you can see where King Willem-Alexander hosts state visits, prestigious dinners, and special occasions right in the heart of the city in Dam Square.

Inside, you can head to the jaw-dropping, marble-clad Citizen’s Hall, which was constructed when the palace was initially designed as Amsterdam’s town hall. Even the floors are magnificent here, showcasing some of the world’s largest maps.

Entry fees start from €12.50 for adults, though you can upgrade to a tour package from €95. This palace is open most days, but double-check for any upcoming royal events before your visit.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

11. Learn at the NEMO Science Museum

When you’ve had your fill of art galleries, unleash your inner child at the NEMO Science Museum . As you amble around the Oosterdokseiland neighborhood, you won’t be able to miss the green boat-like building that plays host to this interactive, hands-on museum.

Set over five floors, this is definitely among the most fun things to do in Amsterdam if you’re looking for something entirely different from the classic tourist hotspots. It’s also the perfect place to keep the little ones amused if you’re traveling as a family.

NEMO boasts exhibitions for all things science, from how forces of nature work and the development of humankind to the explanation of natural phenomena and how massive structures are built. Both you and your kids will definitely learn a thing or two during your visit!

12. Pop into the Basilica of St. Nicholas

Another spot that’s sometimes surprisingly omitted from visitor’s itineraries is the Basilica of St. Nicholas.

As Amsterdam’s most revered Catholic church, you can expect to be blown away when you head inside. Exquisite stained glass windows, detailed murals, dimmed lighting, and high ceilings are just some of the highlights of this structure.

However, the exterior is pretty marketable, too! Designed with a range of architectural styles in mind, St. Nicholas’ Basilica blends in perfectly with the Amsterdam skyline.

Stop by between 12 and 12:30 pm or from 1 – 3 pm any day except Sunday. You’ll also enjoy free entry to the basilica too.

Basilica of Saint Nicholas in Amsterdam

13. Explore Madame Tussauds

No matter how many times you visit Madame Tussauds , each trip always makes for an entertaining few hours of celebrity spotting.

Make your way to Dam Square and snap some shots of you with the often shockingly realistic wax sculptures of stars like Harry Styles, Jennifer Aniston, Beyonce, and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Something I love about the Amsterdam branch of Madame Tussauds is the variety of combination packages they have, helping you to cut the costs of some of the city’s attractions.

Both the THIS IS HOLLAND 5D flying experience, and the eerie Amsterdam Dungeon can be combined with your Madam Tussauds ticket, saving you up to almost €30.

14. Wander through the Amsterdam Dungeon

Speaking of the Amsterdam Dungeon , this is possibly the best thing to do in Amsterdam if you’re a horror movie fanatic or love a thrill.

Bring your friends along and see who can hold their nerve for the longest as your spooky guide takes you through over 500 years of Amsterdam’s most chilling past events. 

You’ll encounter plenty of unsettling characters along the way as you watch a host of talented actors take you through terrifying mazes, acquaint you with tortured ghosts, and bring the legend of the Flying Dutchman to life.

If you’re jumpy and scared easily, this might not be the activity for you! The same goes for younger guests under the age of 10.

amsterdam tourist things to do

15. Visit the Eye Filmmuseum

Whether you’re a movie guru or just enjoy visiting somewhere a little different, the Eye Filmmuseum is the center of Amsterdam’s film scene.

There really is so much to see and do here, from the museum detailing the movie-making process and production to the various cinema rooms displaying Dutch and international films. 

Different filmmakers, movie styles, and aspects of cinemas are the subject of many of the rotating exhibitions and programs, though they also have some permanent fixtures.

An absolute must during your visit is to create your own flipbook, which is so much fun to do with your loved ones and costs less than €7 to buy. Select the exhibition you want to see and reserve your spot online.

16. Check out the Moco Museum

I don’t claim to be an art expert, but I have found the Moco Museum to be absolutely brilliant, and it definitely needs to have a space in your Amsterdam to-do list.

Exhibiting modern art from a mix of established artists and up-and-coming talent, the Moco Museum is filled with weird and wonderful masterpieces that are both aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking.

Everything from dizzying optical illusions to contemporary photography features in this small but eye-catching museum, where the works of artists like Banksy sit alongside pieces by undiscovered creators.

Each entry pass includes an informative audio guide to give you some background and food for thought about each exhibition.

Moco Museum Amsterdam

17. Shop at Magna Plaza

You’d easily be fooled into thinking this sublime neo-Gothic structure was an old-world five-star hotel or government building rather than a shopping center.

Magna Plaza has got to be one of the prettiest malls in the world, with some incredible Romanesque arches and a glass dome roof making the inside as impressive as the exterior.

Originally constructed as a post office, Magna Plaza is now home to an eclectic mix of stores, ranging from international brands like Mango to Dutch chains like Sissy Boy and quirky cheesemongers and candle shops.

Even if you don’t feel like you’re in need of some retail therapy (or simply have no room left in your suitcase!), a stop at Magna Plaza is totally worth it to admire the beauty of this historic building.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Best Foodie Things to Do in Amsterdam

18. try the famous stroopwafels.

What better way to soak up the culture in a new country than to tuck into some native dishes, or desserts in this case.

A sweet and chewy stroopwafel should be a first on your foodie Amsterdam bucket list! The name itself translates to syrup waffle, which sums up these treats pretty well.

Made from two thin layers of sweet dough with a caramel filling cementing them together, stroopwafels are available in shops, cafes, and restaurants all over Amsterdam.

However, there are two spots that I have a particular soft spot for.

Van Wonderen Stroopwafels – Anyone who has seen stroopwafels on Instagram was probably looking at Van Wonderen’s offerings! As the busiest spot in town, you’ll likely have to queue to get your hands on their marshmallow-topped stroopwafels.

Melly’s StroopWafels – The place to go for reasonably priced stroopwafels, this cozy store serves up freshly baked goods with your choice of toppings, including Smarties, Oreo, Lotus, and nuts, to name a few.

Girl in the Van Wonderen Stroopwafels shop

19. Taste local specialties at Foodhallen

Amsterdam’s famous Foodhallen would give any food court a run for its money. First-time visitors should head straight to De Ballenbar, an ever-busy stand where a Michelin-star chef and his team prepare their own take on bitterballs, a type of Dutch meatball.

These breaded meatballs are traditionally filled with beef, but De Ballenbar offers patrons unique, drool-worthy fillings like shrimp and truffle. 

After you’ve stocked up on bitter balls, you’ll have your pick for 19 other stands if you’re still feeling peckish. Choosing where to eat is always an arduous task here, as you’ll be torn between healthy Mexican eats, Asian street food, and fresh sushi.

Burgers and fries at Foodhallen Amsterdam

20. Attend a food tour 

For a more in-depth introduction to Dutch cuisine, a food tour will give you plenty of opportunities to taste some of the finest dishes The Netherlands has to offer.

Here are a couple of tried and tested culinary adventures!

Jordaan District Local Food Walking Tour – Jordaan has made a name for itself as a foodie haven for many years now, and this tour takes you to six eateries in the neighborhood over three hours. Your guide will be a fountain of knowledge about traditional eats and the local history.

Private Food Tour with a Local – Go restaurant hopping with your expert local guide in the lively Pijp district, where you and your travel buddies can munch on a mixture of ten different local food and drink offerings on your own private excursion.

Food Lovers Walking Tour with Tastings – Sightseeing has never tasted so good! Learn about the Royal Palace and Flower Market as you feast on eight Dutch specialties, with the likes of crispy Dutch fries and apple tarts on the menu.

21. Cheese And Wine Tasting

Is there ever a bad time for wine and cheese? As the birthplace of Gouda and Edam varieties, the Dutch certainly know what they’re talking about when it comes to cheese.

They also know a thing or two about wine, as you’ll quickly learn throughout this tasting experience . 

Over the course of an hour, you’ll become well-versed in the best cheese and wine pairings. Each tasting provides guests with five types of cheese, accompanied by three glasses of wine.

When you’ve had your fair share of both, you’ll receive a 10% discount for in-store purchases, where you can search for the ultimate souvenir.

22. Indulge in a delicious brunch

You don’t have to visit on a Sunday to experience a tasty Amsterdam-style brunch!

Brunch has become an increasingly popular concept in the city over the last few years, with new spots regularly popping up while many long-standing haunts have also added the mid-morning meal to their menus. 

There are so many trendy spots scattered around Amsterdam, but you’ll find some of my go-to’s below.

Bakers & Roasters – With two locations in the city, you’re never too far from Bakers & Roasters’ brunch, served every day of the week. The team here is all about ethically sourced ingredients, which go into their breakfast burritos, eggs benedict, and pancake stacks. 

Coffee & Coconuts – The rustic wooden furniture and red brick walls have made this place one of the coolest brunch spots in town. Avocado toast and coconut pancakes are served alongside their specialty coffee.

Omelegg – After trying their delectable brunch dishes, you’ll understand why Omelegg’s two branches are always packed! As the name suggests, this spot is all about omelets, serving varieties like chicken and pesto, halloumi, and chorizo. 

Read Next: 14 Best Breakfast Places in Amsterdam You Have to Try

Breakfast at Bakers & Roasters, one of the best breakfast places in Amsterdam

23. Have dinner on a cruise

Make your dinner plans a bit more special with an evening meal onboard a canal cruise.

Seeing the center of Amsterdam light up after dark from your boat is just magical! Couple it with a hearty meal, and you’ve got yourself a night to remember. 

Take a look through the dinner cruises below to start planning your night on the canal.

Dinner Cruise with 4-Course Menu – For something upmarket, I think this tour will fit the bill. As you begin your meal, which is available with meat, fish, or vegetarian dishes, your guide will talk you through the landmarks you pass along the way. Beer, wine, and soft drinks are also included.

Evening Canal Cruise with Pizza and Drinks – A much more casual affair, this cruise offers guests their choice of one of five pizzas and two beers, wines, or soft drinks. On a sunny summer evening, there’s no better place to be in Amsterdam!

Private BBQ Cruise with Personal Chef & Drinks – Are you heading to Amsterdam with your pals? You’re going to love this! For two hours, you can rent out a private boat with unlimited drinks, where you’ll have your pick of BBQ classics like steaks, burgers, and skewers, each of which has a veggie alternative. 

24. Visit the Heineken Experience

It wouldn’t be a list of the best things to do in Amsterdam without mentioning the Heineken Experience .

Avid Heineken drinkers will no doubt have plans to visit this iconic former brewery. Even if beer isn’t your thing, don’t let this stop you from joining in on one of these interactive tours, which are a lot of fun.

The tours take place in Heineken’s former brewery, where the world-famous beer was produced up until the late 1980s. 

For 90 minutes, you’ll explore the site where the lager was first created, get an insight into the brewing process, and taste two glasses of the most exceptional Heineken you’ll ever try.

Prices for this outing start from €23, but you can add access to a rooftop bar or canal cruise for an extra fee. 

Heineken Brewery Amsterdam

25. Head out on a guided beer or prosecco bike tour

It’s safe to say that the title of this tour speaks for itself. When you’re considering what to do in Amsterdam, it’s unlikely that a boozy bike trip will initially spring to mind! However, these fun-filled tours are guaranteed to keep you and your gang entertained.

For around an hour and a half, your group will peddle their way through the streets of Amsterdam while working through 20 liters of beer or a bottle of Prosecco each. 

Better yet, you can have a mix of both during the beers and bubbles experience if you’re having trouble deciding.

Each tour usually can cater for up to six passengers, excluding your guide, who can take over the peddling when you’ve had one too many Proseccos.

26. Board the Pancake Boat Cruise

For something more low-key, the Pancake Boat Cruise is an excellent family-friendly activity that combines sightseeing and delicious grub.

This boat trip will take you along Amsterdam’s River IJ, which is one of the few cruises that doesn’t run along the canals. From here, you’ll be able to spot sites like the A’DAM Lookout and the Eye Filmmuseum.

Now, onto the main event, the Dutch pancakes! Did I mention that these are all-you-can-eat pancakes? You heard that right! You’ll spend your cruise snacking on these divine traditional desserts, which you can pair with your choice of fruits, jams, cheese, and ham.

Kids can spend time in the onboard playground area when they’re not stocking up on pancakes. 

Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam

27. stroll around the canals.

Some of the best things to do in Amsterdam are completely free of charge.

Wandering around the seemingly endless canals is what the city’s all about, and you could easily spend an afternoon here watching cruises sail by, admiring the historic houses, and chilling out with coffee along the banks.

With so many canals running through Amsterdam, you’ll want to prioritize which ones you want to visit, as stopping by them all would be a challenging feat.

You can’t miss Prisengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Kloveniersburgwal, but you should also consider adding Groenburgwal, Brouwersgracht, and Singel to your itinerary.

Amsterdam Canals

28. Visit Albert Cuyp Market

Europe’s largest day market lies right in the heart of Amsterdam. Situated in the de Pijp neighborhood, the Albert Cuyp Market plays host to over 260 stalls and has become as popular with tourists as it is with locals. 

You’ll likely hear people saying that anything you could ever need can be found at the Albert Cuyp Market, and they’re not lying! Clothes, jewelry, fresh vegetables, cheese, flowers, handbags, and reading glasses are just a fraction of the goods you can pick up here.

Of course, it’s not a free activity if you decide to purchase something, but many visitors come here just to see the market in action and take in the sights and smells of this bustling part of town.

Albert Cuyp Street Market in Amsterdam

29. People-watch at Dam Square

As well as being home to the Royal Palace and Madame Tussauds, Dam Square is also a marvelous place to do some people-watching.

Perch yourself on a bench or join the groups of other people who have gathered on the steps and simply watch the world go by! Whether you’re looking to save some cash or just want to rest your feet after a day of explorations, Dam Square is your best bet for an easygoing afternoon.

The National Monument is also found in Dam Square and is free to visit. This towering white stone structure was built in the 1950s to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for The Netherlands in wars and conflicts.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam on Dam Square

30. Explore the Floating Flower Market

As the world’s only floating flower market, this unique bazaar is a must-do if you’re strolling along the Singel Canal.

Once you step inside the houseboats comprising this quirky marketplace, you’ll be treated to an impossibly beautiful and ultra-colorful array of flowers and other plants.

The main attraction is undoubtedly the storefronts covered with gorgeous tulips in every color, which are even more majestic if you visit in spring when they’ll be in full bloom.

Daffodils, roses, orchids, and numerous other flowers are also on display here, and the vibrant color scheme extends to the souvenirs. Magnets, clogs, and trinkets are on sale in every color under the sun.

Beautifully arranged flowers at Bloemenmarkt Amsterdam

31. Walk through the Red Light District 

Amsterdam has become well-known for quite a number of things, one of them being the infamous Red Light District.

You wouldn’t be alone in assuming that an area famed for its sex trade is a seedy and dangerous neighborhood that’s best to avoid, but the Red Light District is a lot safer and friendlier than you’d imagine.

During the daytime, the area doesn’t look too dissimilar from any other narrow street in the city, but at night, you’ll notice tons of packed bars, busy streets, and neon red lights everywhere you look.

Once you abide by the rules and refrain from taking pictures of sex workers, you can stroll through the area hassle-free. 

A couple of interesting Red Light District tours are on offer to get a better understanding of the district, though this would mean you’re no longer visiting for free.

Red Light District Amsterdam

32. Snap a picture at the Damrak Canal Houses

You might find your camera roll overflowing after your trip to Amsterdam, as the city really is as picture-perfect as you’d imagine. One spot that you’ll have to capture the perfect shot of is the view of the Damrak Canal Houses.

These famously lopsided houses have become some of the most photographed canal houses in the city, and finding them is also super straightforward.

As you leave the Central Train Station, make a slight left and head down Damrak Street for just over 400 meters (0.25 miles), and you’ll soon be greeted by these quirky houses on your left. You’ll arrive at a great vantage point for your Instagram-worthy photos from here!

Damrak Canal Houses Amsterdam

Best Day Trips from Amsterdam 

33. keukenhof.

Would you believe me if I told you that Keukenhof, aptly nicknamed the Garden of Europe, was only a 30-minute drive from the center of Amsterdam?

Those old-school windmills, endless fields, and immaculate gardens filled with tulips that Holland is renowned for are much easier to reach from the capital than you’d expect. 

As these gardens are only open for around eight weeks of the year, you’ll need to plan your visit between March and May.

You have a couple of options to get here. The quickest way to reach Keukenhof is by car, but taxis can be costly, so it may work out cheaper to get a rental car and make your own way there. 

Lots of tour companies run shuttle buses from Central Station, which is a more budget-friendly alternative. 

For a fuss-free experience, the Keukenhof & Windmill Village Guided Tour will take care of your transport, entry ticket, and guided tour. This particular day trip also allows you to see traditional clogs being crafted and even includes a cheese tasting.

amsterdam tourist things to do

34. Zaanse Schans

Another picturesque area that seems like a world away from Amsterdam is Zaanse Schans, a stunning neighborhood in the town of Zaandam.

You’ll be transported back to the 19th century as you wander past colorful wooden houses and windmills, many of which were actually relocated here from other towns nearby towns.

Zaanse Schans is reachable by car in less than 20 minutes, or you can hop on one of the buses from Central Station, which takes around 40 minutes. 

I recommend catching the short train to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans and walking to the neighborhood from here. Alternatively, if you’re up for an active day, you can rent a bike and visit Zaanse Schans on two wheels!

If you are after a hassle-free experience, check out this Guided Zaanse Schans & Cheese Tasting Tour , where you’ll see the best of the area with your knowledgeable guide.

Another great option is this Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam & Marken Bus Tour . It’s a full-day tour that combines Zaanse Schans with trips to the adorable Volendam fishing village and the town of Edam. No prizes for guessing why Edam is so well-known!

amsterdam tourist things to do

35. Giethoorn

Giethoorn might just be the cutest village you’ll ever lay your eyes on! Narrow waterways, old-fashioned thatched-roof homes, and wooden bridges make up this car-free pocket of The Netherlands. 

Unless you’re renting a car, the best way to get to Giethoorn is by taking the train from Central Station to Zwolle train station and changing to the 70 bus from here until you reach the village center.

If you’d rather let someone else do the planning, the Giethoorn & Enclosing Dike Day Trip will tick all of your boxes, taking you past the Enclosing Dike, a dam-come-motorway on your journey to Giethoorn.

While here, you’ll go on a tranquil cruise along the water and go for a wander during your free time.

amsterdam tourist things to do

36. Volendam

The Netherlands is blessed with some of Europe’s loveliest towns and villages, and Volendam is among the best of them.

With direct links to the center of Amsterdam, you can reach Volendam in less than 25 minutes on bus 316 and enjoy the town’s delightful seafood alongside the fishing boats and multi-colored homes.

For a deep dive into Dutch culture, I think you’ll find this Marken, Volendam, and Edam Full-Day Tour to your liking. On this excursion, you’ll stop by the teeny village of Marken and get a masterclass in cheese-making in the town of Edam.

This tour also offers some add-ons for an extra special day out, such as a boat trip, windmill entry, and a clog-making demonstration.

Church in Volendam

37. Rotterdam

The Netherlands’s second most-populated city, Rotterdam, is Amsterdam’s modern and eclectic little sister, where you’ll be in awe of the bold architecture, high-rise buildings, and big-city vibe.

Exploring Rotterdam from Amsterdam is so convenient, as both the high-speed and regular trains will land you here in under an hour. 

Anyone short on time can spend an afternoon checking the cube houses, the Market Hall, and the massive harbor off their lists before returning to Amsterdam in no time.

I suggest looking into this Guided Trip to Rotterdam, Delft & The Hague for a well-rounded and fascinating day trip. After you’ve seen Rotterdam’s highlights, you’ll head to the charming city of Delft and The Hague, which the Dutch royal family and government call home.

amsterdam tourist things to do

For a European adventure, take advantage of Amsterdam’s close proximity to Belgium and spend a day in the enchanting city of Bruges.

Though Bruges is much smaller than Amsterdam, it’s a city that’s also famed for its canals and storied past. 

Amsterdam is extremely well-connected, making it possible to arrive in Bruges within three hours by train. There are also a few companies that operate buses between the two cities, and this is often a cheaper option.

If you’d rather join a guided tour, this Day Trip to Bruges from Amsterdam tour has you covered. You’ll spend some of your day visiting spots like the Grote Markt and the Belfry with your guide, as well as getting some free time.

amsterdam tourist things to do

39. Brussels 

From one captivating Belgian city to another, you won’t regret spending some of your vacation in lively Brussels.

Unless you’re joining a guided tour, I recommend taking a high-speed train from Amsterdam, which will bring you to the Belgian capital in under two hours. Catch an early departure to ensure you have ample time to visit the Grand Place, Royal Galleries, and some chocolate shops.

Brussels has so much to see and do, and this day trip will take you to all the must-see spots while also taking care of your transport. When you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, you’ll have some extra time to munch on Belgian fries and waffles or sample one of their legendary beers.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Where to stay in Amsterdam

If you’re a first-time visitor, then you’ll want to stay close to the city center, and there are plenty of options.

De Pijp is the city’s bohemian quarter and home to some of the best bars and streetside cafes. If you’re looking for something a little more upmarket, then Jordaan is an excellent option with its gorgeous 17th-century townhouses and top-class restaurants. Oud West is another charming area with leafy parks and plenty to do.

If you want to read more about the best areas to stay in the city, make sure to check out our in-depth post about  where to stay in Amsterdam . For an unforgettable stay, browse through the list of the  best Amsterdam hotels with canal views or the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam .

In case you’re in a rush, here are my top hotel recommendations for different budgets.

  • Ultimate Luxury  |  Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
  • Best Views  |  Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
  • Rooftop Pool  |  W Amsterdam
  • Mid-range  |  Hotel Mercier
  • Budget  |  Conscious Hotel Westerpark

Hotel De L'Europe Amsterdam, one of the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam

Planning a trip to Amsterdam?

Then you might want to take a look at all our other travel guides about Amsterdam. I promise, they are just as awesome as this article was!

Amsterdam hotel guides:

  • Where to Stay in Amsterdam: 10 Best Areas & Hotels
  • 24 Best Amsterdam Hotels with Canal Views
  • 13 Best Luxury Hotels in Amsterdam for an Unforgettable City Break

Amsterdam travel guides:

  • 16 Best Canal Cruises in Amsterdam You Can’t Go Wrong With
  • One Day in Amsterdam: How to See the Best of Amsterdam in a Day
  • The Perfect 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary for First Timers
  • 3 Days in Amsterdam: The Perfect Amsterdam Itinerary
  • How to Spend 4 Days in Amsterdam: Ultimate Itinerary for First Timers
  • 14 Best Breakfast Places in Amsterdam You Have to Try

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39 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: The Ultimate Amsterdam Bucket List

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NDSM Wharf Amsterdam

The 25 best things to do in Amsterdam

Explore the best things to do in Amsterdam and get ready to fall in love with Europe’s most exciting city

Derek Robertson

Ah, Amsterdam. Our love affair with this city never ends, from its innovative food scene to its most well-known attractions. Perhaps most famous for its art galleries and museums , from the Van Gogh Museum to the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam stands proudly as one of the most culturally significant cities in Europe (and it’s got a poppin’ nightlife scene too). 

In fact, the capital’s ‘fun’ side has historically lent itself to swathes of tourist stag dos, desperate to try out Amsterdam’s notorious coffee shops and canal cruises – something its government is trying to crack down on. But as it stands, there’s no escaping its reputation as a Seriously Fun Place To Be. Whatever you’re in Amsterdam for, there are some things you simply have to do. With the help of our experts and contributors on the ground in ‘Dam, we’ve rounded up the most essential things to tick off. Happy travels!

RECOMMENDED: 🥨 The best  restaurants in Amsterdam 🕺 The best  clubs in Amsterdam ⛵ The best  day trips from Amsterdam   🏠 The  best  Airbnbs in Amsterdam 📍 An Amsterdam weekend itinerary

This guide was updated by  Callum Booth , a writer based in Amsterdam. At Time Out, all of our  travel guides  are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our  editorial guidelines . T his guide includes affiliate links, which have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our  affiliate guidelines . 

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What to see in Amsterdam


1.  Rijksmuseum

What is it?  Amsterdam’s greatest, grandest, and most classical museum , with a huge collection of Dutch art dating back to the Golden Age. 

Why go?  There’s over 8,000 bits of art and history on display, over 1 million objects, a small but mighty Asian collection, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a café on site. Plus the guided tours are ace. Need we say more?

📍 Discover more of the best museums in Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum

2.  Van Gogh Museum

What is it?  Dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, this Gerrit Rietveld-designed building houses the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world. It’s just around the corner from the Rijksmuseum and forms part of Amsterdam’s Holy Trinity of culture alongside the Stedelijk Museum next door.

Why go?  The post-impressionist painter is one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art, and his use of bold colours and broad, expressive brushstrokes remains as captivating today as it was in the 19th century. Browse his masterpieces side-by-side here.

De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets)

3.  De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets)

What is it?  Smack bang in the middle of the canal belt next to Jordaan, this micro-neighbourhood of quaint and quirky streets is big on personality and full of cosy cafés, independent boutiques, vintage stores and artisanal food shops.

Why go?  Best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, there are plenty of Instagram-ready hangouts here – this is old Amsterdam at its best – plus some charming spots to sit and watch the world go by.  Eat at Ree7, get a coffee at Screaming Beans, a snack from Het Koekemannetje, or shop at Episode.

🏘️ Discover the coolest neighbourhoods in Amsterdam

Albert Cuypmarkt

4.  Albert Cuypmarkt

  • Markets and fairs

What is it?  With a rich history as a trading nation, the Dutch appreciate bargaining and value for money. Albert Cuyp Markt, in the heart of De Pijp, is the place to go to observe locals at their bantering, bartering best. 

Why go?  The street-length market has an incredible range of food, clothes, knick-knacks and souvenirs. For fresh fish, chicken, meat and veg, it’s pretty hard to beat. It’s also a great place to meander, soak up the atmosphere and mingle with genuine Amsterdammers.

🥙 Discover more of the   best markets in Amsterdam

Canal Tour

5.  Canal Tour

What is it?  One of Amsterdam’s must-do activities, though a cliché, is still the best way to explore the city. Sure, Amsterdam’s bikes are iconic, but a canal tour requires zero physical effort, so you can  finally  relax. There are many tour operators with boats, most of which depart from around Centraal.

Why go?  There’s not much difference between most operators, but it’s worth going on a longer tour that also heads out onto the IJ (the best ones are around 75 minutes). If you want to take it up a notch, there are dinner and cocktail cruises in the evenings and even one with a live jazz band on board. Classy.


6.  Vondelpark

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens

What is it?   The lungs of the city, Vondelpark was once the only public park in the world where one could legally barbecue, smoke joints, and have sex. The latter has since been outlawed (again), but there’s still a relaxed vibe to this green giant’s vast open spaces and wooded trails.

Why go?   Locals come here to run, cycle, play sports or chill, and there are plenty of activities for those looking to make a day of it. Don’t miss the beautiful rose garden or the famous open-air theatre where, if you’re lucky, you might catch an impromptu show. On a sunny day, it feels like Vondelpark is the centre of Amsterdam.

🌳 Discover more of the   best parks in Amsterdam

A’dam Toren

7.  A’dam Toren

What is it? Refurbished as part of a drive to regenerate Noord, this 22-storey tower looms over the waterfront across the River IJ from Centraal. Formerly the HQ of Shell, it’s now home to an array of young music, advertising and events companies, plus a handful of bars and restaurants (and even a hotel).

Why go? Sip a signature cocktail in the Skybar, eat in one of the two gourmet restaurants on the top floors (one of which revolves), and if you’re really brave, head to the observation deck to Over The Edge, Europe’s highest swing, and enjoy the views as you rock back and forth, 100 metres up.


8.  Begijnhof

What is it?  Just a few metres from the shopping madness of Kalverstraat, this secluded garden and courtyard is overlooked by a set of medieval houses built for the Beguines, a group of unmarried religious women who lived in a closed community under vows of chastity.

Why go?  Come here for a surreal, restorative experience and a fascinating insight into a little-known aspect of Amsterdam’s religious heritage. You can also marvel at the city’s oldest wooden house, which has stood unchanged since 1425.


9.  Flevopark

What is it? If you’re based in Oost, this giant park is the place to head for a relaxing walk, cycle or just some fresh air. There are huge grassy areas for lounging and several running trails for more energetic types.

Why go? Flevoparkbad, the city’s only outdoor swimming pool, is here, but you can also go wild swimming in the Nieuwe Diep. There’s also a tennis club, and when you’re done exercising, head to microbrewery Distillery ‘t Nieuwe Diep, bag a spot on the terrace and order a craft beer or ale. Otherwise, grab something to nibble on from Albert Heijn and lay down a blanket for the ultimate picnic.

Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder

10.  Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder

What is it?  The ‘ Museum of Our Lord in the Attic ’ was once Amsterdam’s best-kept secret. The reason? This former church, spread across the top three floors of a 17th-century canal house, was where Catholics would come to pray after public displays of worship were banned by the Alteration of 1578.

Why go?  The church has been beautifully preserved and offers brilliant insight into 17th-century life and religious persecution through the ages. There are several outstanding artworks, and it’s still used for the occasional service (and even weddings).

Anne Frank Museum

11.  Anne Frank Museum

What is it?  This 17th-Century canal house, where Anne Frank, her family and four others hid from the Nazis for two years, is now a museum and educational centre. There’s a permanent exhibition on the life and times of Anne, and you can visit the cramped ‘secret annexe’ they called home.

Why go?  The museum is a fundamental part of 17th century history, and a chance to see Anne’s words come to life. The exhibition is open all year round and guests can visit the    ‘secret annexe’ the family stayed in. The house is a   chilling reminder of the Second World War, while also being a moving testament to the her bravery and optimism. 

Brouwerij ’t IJ

12.  Brouwerij ’t IJ

What is it?  Amsterdam’s original microbrewery, quaintly housed in a working windmill, is still among the city’s finest. They’ve been pulling superb blonde beers, pilsners and IPAs since 1985.

Why go?  We hate to point out the obvious, but a trip to Brouwerij ’t IJ  will lead you to beer heaven. The hoppy libations are served up in small glasses, so you should be able to taste a decent range without hitting the deck. However, be aware that some beers have an unusually high alcohol volume. If you’re visiting in warmer weather (when beer tastes best, in our opinion), grab a seat on the terrace and nibble on traditional Dutch bar snacks like boiled eggs and raw sausage. 

🍻 Discover more of the best bars in Amsterdam

Blast Galaxy

13.  Blast Galaxy

What is it? This retro arcade is situated in a warehouse in Amsterdam Noord, which is easily accessible with a free ferry from behind Centraal Station. Blast Galaxy contains over 100 machines, ranging from old-school classics to new consoles, like the Nintendo Switch. In other words, it’s a gamer’s paradise.

Why go? Once you’ve paid your entry price, all the machines are free-to-play. With reasonably priced food and drink, you can either swing in here for a bit of daytime play, or spend your night lost in the digital magic of gaming. Whatever you decide, you’ll have a blast.

De Hallen

14.  De Hallen

What is it? What began life as an old tram depot is now known as De Hallen, a cultural hub in the heart of the Oud-West. Home to a cinema, boutique shops, a hotel, and a food hall, it’s an ideal place to go for some top-quality entertainment.

Why go? Feeling peckish? Take your pick from De Hallen ’s delectable dim sum, delicious Dutch meatballs, stupendous sushi, kick-ass smoky barbecue and much more. If the sun’s out, park yourself on a bench outside. Is it a rainy afternoon? Then catch a movie! Check out the offbeat boutiques! You’ll find yourself full, satisfied, and ready to furnish your apartment with the aesthetic of an Amsterdam influencer.


15.  Vuurtoreneiland

What is it?  If you’re after a once-in-a-lifetime dinner experience, nothing comes close to Vuurtoreneiland . A special boat takes you to this small, rugged island in the IJmeer with just a lighthouse, an old abandoned fort and a large greenhouse dining room.

Why go?  The ethos here is ‘eating in and of nature’ – a five-course set menu of the freshest regional produce, lovingly prepared and cooked entirely on open flames. The food is incredible, as is the glorious setting – all fauna, stray animals and sweeping coastlines. But be warned: booking is essential.


16.  Foam

What is it?   Situated in an old canal house, the   Foam   Photography Museum consistently hosts some of Amsterdam’s best exhibitions – all of which will make you look at the world in a different way.

Why go?   Whether it’s promoting new talent, running retrospectives on famed photographers, or creating themed exhibitions, FOAM is a place to experience art you’ve most likely never seen before. The museum is also both compact and in a central location, making it an ideal place for a quick jaunt during your day in Amsterdam.

NDSM Wharf

17.  NDSM Wharf

What is it? A former shipyard on the northern banks of the IJ, NDSM  – reached by a free ferry from the back of Centraal – has blossomed into a cultural hotspot with a rich mix of arty events, bars and restaurants.

Why go? Enjoy beach-front food and drink at Pllek, Europe’s largest flea market (IJ-hallen, which takes place once a month, on weekends) and a packed programme of festivals, exhibitions and other goings-on. The city is in the process of building thousands of homes here, turning it into a ‘district for urban pioneers’, and that creative spirit makes for a refreshing escape from the more touristy areas.

18.  Lab111

What is it? Lab111 is a movie theatre, but not the sort your parents go to. Described as a ‘cult cinema,’ Lab111 specialises in playing a mix of old and new films, and you’re bound to come across something either classic, underappreciated, or interesting.

Why go? Gorgeously designed (it’s situated in an old laboratory) and with four screens, Lab111 is an ideal place to unwind and catch a classic movie. Alongside that, the venue’s bar and restaurant – named Strangelove – is a chic place to chat about the picture you’ve just seen.


19.  KattenKabinet

What is it? One of Amsterdam’s weirdest museums, and a place you’ll never forget visiting. This spot is dedicated to art works of cats, whether that’s paintings, sculptures, or, well, really anything else you can think of. If you want the full lowdown, check out our TikTok at the museum . 

Why go? Like cats? Then you’ll love this quirky shrine to our feline friends. If simply looking at representations of the popular pets isn’t enough, don’t worry, there are a number of cats strolling around the museum you can play with. On top of that, the KattenKabinet is situated in a house on one of Amsterdam’s most sought-after streets, making it a wonderful place to get an up-close glimpse of those famous Dutch buildings.

EYE Film Institute

20.  EYE Film Institute

What is it?  One of Amsterdam’s modern icons, this striking building next to the A’dam Toren (the impressive tower across the water from the central station) is much more than a cinema. It also houses a film museum, a brilliant restaurant and café, temporary exhibitions and various educational activities for kids. 

Why go?  Love film? You won’t want to miss EYE . The shop offers an excellent range of quirky gifts and memorabilia for film buffs, and their programming is first-rate – expect cult classics, obscure documentaries and only the best new indie releases.

Electric Ladyland

21.  Electric Ladyland

What is it?  This tiny little storefront in Jordaan bills itself as the first (and only) museum dedicated to fluorescent art in the world and is a scientific and educational shrine to minerals, stones and art that glows under ultraviolet light.

Why go?  Way more fascinating than you’d think, Electric Ladyland is a one-of-a-kind experience that never ceases to amaze first-time visitors. You can even try out some ‘participatory art’ that involves you becoming part of the piece – wacky but fun. Visits are by appointment only, so book ahead.


22.  Westergas

What is it? Although somewhat overshadowed by Vondelpark, Westergasfabriek is a prime destination in its own right. Come here for a chilled-out break after a stroll through the city centre. 

Why go? This complex of former industrial buildings on the edge of Westerpark, one of the city’s three main parks, has been turned into a cultural hub featuring an art-house cinema, coffee roastery, a microbrewery, exhibition spaces and an excellent gin and mussels joint. Plus, if you fancy some throwback fun, there’s the vibrant ‘Arcade Paradise’ where you play on an array of euphonious games machines.


23.  OT301

What is it?  Amsterdam doesn’t suffer from a lack of music venues, but OT301 , a legal squat, is the best place to catch underground, leftfield and up-and-coming talent. It’s also home to De Peper, a pay-what-you-can vegan restaurant staffed entirely by volunteers.

Why go?  The nightly gigs are just one part of OT301’s charm. Daytime is taken up by community classes and art workshops, and there’s a table tennis bar in the backroom (plus a radio station in the basement).

🪩 Discover more of the best clubs in Amsterdam

Blijburg aan Zee

24.  Blijburg aan Zee

What is it?  Amsterdam lacks decent swimming options (there is only one open-air pool), but it does have an inner-city beach. Located on the artificial island of IJburg, Blijburg ann Zee is just a short tram ride and walk from the centre.

Why go?  If the weather’s nice, there is no better spot for swimming and sunbathing. The water’s clean, and the atmosphere is fun and relaxing (and very family-friendly). A handful of decent restaurants and cafés make it easy to spend an entire day splashing around and working on your tan here.

Red Light District

25.  Red Light District

  • Things to do

What is it? Yes, this is ground zero for Amsterdam prostitution, where sex workers advertise themselves in the famous red-lit shop windows. It’s also party central for stag and hen-dos – things get rowdy and continue until the small hours.

Why go? Clearly, anyone of a hedonistic bent will fit right in here. But the Red Light District is also the city’s oldest neighbourhood and home to monuments, churches and quaint little squares that are well worth visiting. If that’s what you’re after, make sure to go along during the day.

More great things to do in Amsterdam

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17 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

By Meredith Bethune and Jennifer Ceaser

Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

Offering everything from tranquil boat rides through tree-shaded canals to  world-class art museums  and chic boutique shopping, you’ll never be bored in this town. Once you've ticked off your biggest bucket-list items, be sure to venture outside the Canal Ring, the fan-like network of waterways that dominates the historic city center. When visiting Europe’s best-preserved 17th-century city, the real challenge is using your time wisely. Read on for our list of suggestions to get you started; these are our editor's picks for what to do in Amsterdam, and this list is full of how to make the most of each.

Read our complete Amsterdam travel guide here .

This gallery has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

museum art

STRAAT Museum Arrow

Graffiti fans, rejoice: Amsterdam now has a second museum devoted to street art—and it’s a doozy. STRAAT seeks out cutting-edge and emerging talent, with more than 130 artists from 32 countries represented in its 150-plus-strong collection. Occupying a colossal warehouse in the former shipbuilding area of NDSM, STRAAT has some 86,000 square feet of exhibition space inside, while outside, its façade is plastered in murals—including a huge kaleidoscope-like portrait of a smiling Anne Frank by Brazilian street art legend Eduardo Kobra.

Image may contain Food Human and Person

Foodhallen Arrow

The Foodhallen stands out among other food halls thanks to its top-notch offerings, serving everything from reimagined Dutch classics to Vietnamese and Mexican treats. Housed inside a former tram depot, the venue is buzzing at all hours of the day. Aggressively guard your table if you manage to get one at all. Gin & Tonic Bar makes what you’d think it would with a range of different ingredients (try the one with jenever for something a bit different). Beerbar, meanwhile, pours more than 60 different local and international beers, including two brewed specifically for Foodhallen. It’s an ideal refueling stop at any time of day, particularly in winter when you need to thaw out after a long day of sightseeing.

Amsterdam Ferry Amsterdam The Netherlands

Ferry to Amsterdam-Noord Arrow

Amsterdam’s free ferry system is an essential part of the city’s transportation system, shuttling pedestrians, cyclists, and mopeds across the IJ River to Amsterdam-Noord every day. There are two main routes: The most popular, to Buiksloterweg, takes less than five minutes and drops you practically at the foot of the A’DAM Tower and the architecturally striking EYE Film Institute. The other, a 15-minute journey, goes to NDSM, a former industrial shipyard that’s been transformed into one of the city’s trendiest areas. Ferries run approximately every four to six minutes, leaving from behind Centraal Station; there’s a countdown clock right next to the dock that shows the next departures. It’s all fairly straightforward, and an activity not to miss.

Brouwerij 't IJ Bar Brewery Tour Amsterdam The Netherlands

Brouwerij ‘t IJ Arrow

Brouwerij ‘t IJ is the pub offshoot of the namesake Amsterdam brewery, so expect to find lots of Belgian-style beers. Menu standouts include full-bodied ales brewed with organic ingredients, but the occasional seasonal brews are also winners. It’s worth stopping in on a sunny day just to unwind with a good beer beside the canal.

Albert Cuyp Market shop Amsterdam The Netherlands

Albert Cuyp Markt Arrow

This street market on Albert Cuypstraat, between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat, has been at it for over 100 years. It’s one of the largest markets in Europe with 260 stands selling fruit, vegetables, fish, flowers, clothing, and more, open Monday through Saturday. Load up on food and assorted knick-knacks, and keep an eye out for the ultimate shopping trophy: a wheel of Gouda cheese.

Rederij De Jordaan Private Boat Tour Amsterdam The Netherlands

Rederij De Jordaan Private Boat Tour Arrow

Slick, slick, slick. As VIP canal cruises go, captain Reinhard Spronk’s historic saloon boat tours (aboard 1932 teak beauty Welmoed , or 1908’s smaller Farahilde ) are really the business. He and his partner Miloe run the show, taking private groups (reservations necessary) on bespoke tours of Amsterdam’s legendary canals. Pick-up is from your waterside hotel or Cafe Van Puffelen, by their office. This is going to be the highlight of your European tour, combining an utterly beautiful vintage boat, the most sophisticated company in town, and (for a supplement) red roses, gourmet finger food, and bottomless champagne.

The Portuguese Sephardic Synagogue

Portuguese Synagogue Arrow

Just east of the city center, in the Jewish Cultural Quarter, you’ll find one of Europe’s largest and oldest active synagogues. Its magnificent interior looks much as it did in 1675, with its original towering stone columns, vaulted timber ceiling, and wooden pews surrounding a massive Torah ark made of gleaming wood. The building still has no electricity—evening services are illuminated by hundreds of candles in the large brass chandeliers. The sheer size of the synagogue and the beauty of its interior will leave you awestruck. As it is still an active house of worship, visitors are asked to behave respectfully.

Westergas Amsterdam

Westergas Arrow

Just west of the quaint Jordaan district lies Westerpark, a lovely green space with wide lawns, idyllic ponds, and tall shady trees, crisscrossed with cycling and walking trails. But the real draw here is Westergas, a massive former gas plant that’s been turned into a lively entertainment hub. The 19th-century red-brick buildings, classified as industrial monuments, are chock-full of trendy restaurants, brewpubs, and independent cinemas. Coolest of all is Gashouder, an old gas storage tank that now hosts techno concerts for up to 3,500 people inside its vast circular interior.

Vondelpark Park Amsterdam The Netherlands

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You’ll find Amsterdam’s version of Central Park spanning about 120 acres just outside the Canal Ring. This swath of green offers a welcome visual alternative to the monochromatic sea of brick that makes up central Amsterdam. Don't miss “The Fish” statue by Pablo Picasso, and take advantage of the numerous music, dance, and cabaret performances at the open-air theater during the summer months.

Anne Frank House

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The only thing that stands out about this 17th-century canal house is the infamous line outside. Entry is by online reservation only, with timed tickets released two months ahead and a limited number on the day itself. The most poignant of the city’s museums, it’s utterly worth any crowd-related hassles for the emotional exhibits—not least the attic where the Frank family hid from the Nazis, and where young Anne penned her famous diary. It takes about an hour to complete a loop of the house. No matter how much you think you know about Anne Frank’s story, you’ll come away from the house realizing you didn't know very much at all.

Rijksmuseum Museum Amsterdam The Netherlands

Rijksmuseum Arrow

Reborn in 2013 after a decade-long, $441 million revamp, this is the biggest of Amsterdam’s “big three” museums. Yes, there are plenty of galleries of Golden Age paintings, though with 8,000 masterworks on display, this isn’t a niche affair. Model ships, rich costumes, and Asian art figure into the museum’s well-paced chronological trot from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. The museum app, with its 14 themed tours, is well worth downloading for free from the Apple Store and the Wi-Fi is good enough to make wayfinding a breeze.

Caf de Sluyswacht Amsterdam

Café de Sluyswacht Arrow

Everything about this old-school pub—from the adorably lopsided building, to the fab canal views, to the well-priced beers—embodies Dutch gezellig: a cozy, fun, relaxing atmosphere where people feel totally at home. Part of the charm of drinking at Café de Sluyswacht is embracing its quirks: step inside, and everything—from the stone floors to the staircase to the wood-beamed ceilings—tilts to one side, making you feel like you’ve had one too many before you’ve even had your first sip. Originally built in 1695 as a residence for the sluyswacht (the person operating the neighboring lock), this canal-side watering hole offers fantastic views of the Montelbaanstoren tower to one side and the Rembrandthuis to the other.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam Things to Do

Oude Kerk Arrow

There’s something odd about a Gothic church that’s located in the Red Light District and surrounded by brothels, but that’s Amsterdam in a nutshell. Consecrated in 1306, Oude Kerk is the oldest surviving building in the city. The artist Rembrandt was a regular visitor; in fact, his children were christened here. And while you’ll find many typical medieval church trappings—vaulted ceilings, centuries-old paintings, ancient gravestones embedded in the floor—the building officially was designated as a museum in 2016. It hosts two site-specific exhibitions annually, featuring top international contemporary artists. All in all, this is a great place for a moment of quiet reflection if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the seediness of the Red Light District.

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam The Netherlands

Van Gogh Museum Arrow

This Dutch institution welcomed more than 2.1 million visitors in 2019, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands. The Potato Eaters , Wheatfield with Crows and, yes, the postcard-perfect Sunflowers series are all among the 200-strong painting collection. But this is more than just a rundown of van Gogh’s greatest hits. Drawings and letters dive into the artist’s depression (and that ear incident), there’s a video installation charting his rise, and works by the first generation of artists to be inspired by him are on view. Save the speed-walking for elsewhere; this is one where you'll want to linger.

Nine Streets 9 Streets Shopping Shops Amsterdam The Netherlands

The 9 Streets Arrow

The western part of the Canal Ring is a labyrinthine neighborhood, known as De Negen Straatjes (the Nine Streets), filled with independent shops. The act of shopping becomes a full-on afternoon activity as you wander the brick sidewalks searching for the perfect quirky souvenir or gift. It’s full of designer and vintage boutiques, cutting-edge galleries, quaint cafes, and delightfully cluttered antique shops.

Stubbe's Herring Stand Local Eats Restaurant Amsterdam The Netherlands

Stubbe’s Haring Arrow

You’ll probably smell this timeworn, flag-festooned fish kiosk before you even spot the queues along the Singel canal, about 550 yards from Centraal Station. Below the quirky sign—the superscript ‘s’ of Stubbe’s is appealingly slapdash—Dutch matrons in striped aprons deliver salty, slippery herring, a rite of passage for Amsterdammers. Smoked eel, anchovies, and shrimps are all on the menu, but raw herring is what you want. If you’re not so sure about eating the fish au naturel, go for the herring roll, offsetting the salt with soft white bread, chopped onions, and sweet, crunchy pickles.


Nieuwe Diep Distillery (‘t Nieuwe Diep) Arrow

Nestled alongside a tranquil pond, this distillery and tasting room is set inside a quaint 19th-century pump house, complete with rustic wood floors and old-timey black-and-white photos on the walls. But it’s the waterfront terrace, open seasonally, that’s the real draw: Surrounded by greenery with views over the tree-encircled pond, it’s the most idyllic drinking spot in the whole of Amsterdam. The drinks are almost secondary to the scenic setting, but here you can sample 100 different jenevers (Dutch gin) and liqueurs, all made on-site in the distillery. We admit, it’s one of the more off-the-beaten-track drinking destinations, but enjoying traditional Dutch spirits in this enchanting pastoral setting makes it well worth the trip.

amsterdam tourist things to do


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33 best things to do in Amsterdam in 2024 [UPDATED]

Juni Moltubak

The biggest problem with going to the Dutch capital is that there are so many things to do in Amsterdam — sometimes you don’t know where to start!

From Dutch classics like Van Gogh and canal houses, to unexpected surprises like skating and human body exhibitions — Amsterdam has something for everyone and anyone, and it’s truly a city you’ll never forget. 

So without further ado, fasten your seatbelts, and delve into our hand-picked and carefully curated top 33 things to do in Amsterdam in 2024.

1. Stop to smell the flower market

2. tick the highlights off your bucket list with a walking tour , 3. swing over the best view of amsterdam at a’dam lookout, 4. eat the infamous herring, 5. discover more dutch delicacies at foodhallen, 6. get artsy in the jordaan quarter, 7. take it easy at a coffee shop , 8. get lost in the classics at a museum , 9. go modern at a contemporary museum, 10. enjoy real dutch beer by the biggest wooden windmill in the netherlands, 11. get freaked out at the body worlds exhibition , 12. experience something new at the red light district , 13. say hi to four-legged friends at amsterdam zoo, 14. discover your inner scientist at the nemo museum, 15. dive into the famous amsterdam nightlife , 16. work your way out of an escape room, 17. live out your royal dream and visit a castle , 18. experience the new amsterdam at hembrugterrein, 19. uncover the best second-hand finds at ij-hallen, 20. walk the hallways of anne frank’s house, 21. get a nature boost in one of amsterdam’s many parks, 22. meet all your favourite celebrities at madame tussauds , 23. have a photoshoot at the tulip fields , 24. blend in with the locals and go for a bike ride, 25. explore the city of canals with a romantic boat tour, 26. hear unforgettable stories at the mezrab cultural centre , 27. take an active break at the skate café, 28. keep rollin’ at the roller dreams experience , 29. embrace your inner hipster at westergas, 30. go back in time at the begijnhof, 31. taste dutch pride at the heineken experience , 32. have a laugh at the boom chicago improv show , 33. visit the artsy rembrandt house.


The flower market is a truly unique thing to do in Amsterdam, dating back all the way to 1862, with the impressive title of being the only floating flower market in the world. 🌷

It’s said to be floating, because a large part of the market is located on houseboats , in true Amsterdam style. 

READ MORE | 5 places to visit in the Netherlands for flower lovers

Whether you’re interested in bulbs for your garden at home, fresh flowers for your special someone, classic Nederlands cheese, or just fun-but-a-little-touristy souvenirs — this is a must-see among the many markets in the Dutch capital . 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: 9 AM until 5:30 PM Monday to Saturday, 11 AM until 5:30 PM Sunday. 📍 Location : Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam


Any experienced budget traveller will already have plotted this into their agenda, but in case you forgot: a walking tour is the best way to discover a city you just arrived in. 

READ MORE | Hiking in Amsterdam: top 7 places for wandelen near the city

Interested in the alternative history of the city, the culinary scene, or just the basic highlights? With millions of tourists coming to the Dutch capital every year, there are naturally heaps of different tours to choose from.

It’s also not uncommon to have the same tour in multiple languages, so if you’re not 100% confident with your English (or, God forbid, Dutch), you’ll be just fine. 

💰 Price: €1.89 in taxes and fees, the rest is up to you.  ⏰ Opening hours: daily, specifics depend on the tours  📍 Location : Spuistraat 68 F, 1012 TW Amsterdam


If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking to get high in Amsterdam, the A’DAM Lookout will hit the spot. 

Located at the highest lookout point in Amsterdam , you’ll find the highest swing in Europe, suspended over the city in a nerve-wracking experience that’s not for the faint-hearted. 😵

Dangle your feet 100 metres above the vast cityscape, or check out the observation deck’s virtual rollercoaster through the city — what more can a thrill-seeker want when looking for things to do in Amsterdam? Oh yeah, there’s a bar with incredible views too. Life complete!

💰 Price: €14.50 for adults, €12.50 for children when bought online ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM until 10 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location: Overhoeksplein 5, 1031 KS Amsterdam


If you’ve ever googled “ Dutch cuisine ”, you’ve probably come across the traditional, slimy, herring dish . Well, “dish” might be a bit of an exaggeration — the Dutch usually just eat the raw fish on its own, or at most in a bun of white bread with some pickles and raw onion (yummy). 🐟

It’s an acquired taste, for sure, and few foreigners end up loving it. Still, it’s probably one of the most Dutch things you can eat, so it might be worth doing in Amsterdam — for the memories, the pics, or just for the sake of tasting something slightly gross.

A hot tip for any first-time herring eater is to keep a napkin and a real strong Dutch beer in close proximity. 🤢

💰 Price: Between €3 and €6, depending on the vendor  ⏰ Opening hours: varies between establishments  📍 Location: Koningsplein/Singel, 1017 AW Amsterdam


If your herring experience got you hungry for some more familiar food, or just any Dutch food other than the traditional raw fish, you might want to check out Foodhallen . 

This old tram depot was turned into a venue to give local delicacies an international platform. The product? A cool 17 different food stalls that all have lekker (delicious) food experiences to offer. 🤤

READ MORE | How international cuisine is changing Dutch tastebuds

The venue also frequently hosts music events, so keep an eye on the “what’s on” page of their website. 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: 12 PM until 12 AM Sunday to Thursday, 12 PM until 1 AM Friday & Saturday.  📍 Location: Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam


This trendy, cosy, and absolutely beautiful area of Amsterdam was once a traditional working-class neighbourhood full of craftsmen and artists. Now, it’s one of the most popular spots in the city. 🤩

Tons of independent shops, classical Dutch canals, and gezellige cafés can be spotted wherever you look. In other words, it’s the perfect area for a chill (shopping) stroll and an iconic thing to do in Amsterdam. 

Although they are not technically located in the Jordaan area, the widely famous Negen straatjes (the Nine Little Streets) are usually considered an unofficial part of Jordaan, with their picturesque sights and amazing shopping opportunities. 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: varies between establishments  📍 Location: Bloemstraat 64ST, 1016 LE Amsterdam


It might not be for everyone, but there’s no getting around the fact that the Dutch capital is (in)famous for its liberal marijuana policy . Visiting a so-called coffee shop (note: not only a place you can get coffee) is, therefore, a popular tourist thing to do in Amsterdam. 🚬🌿

If you’re into organised fun, you can also sign up for a guided coffee shop tour, where you’ll be taken around to the weed hotspots of the city, and of course, treated to taste tests along the way. 

READ MORE | Smoking weed in Amsterdam: the ultimate guide [Updated 2022]

If you’re a newbie in the cannabis world, make sure to ask any and all of your questions to the coffee shop staff before shopping. That’s the easiest way of avoiding a bad first experience, and they’re usually more than happy to help. 

💰 Price: anything from €7 to €20 per gram weed ⏰ Opening hours: varies between establishments  📍 Location: Oude Leliestraat 2, 1015 AW Amsterdam


Sure, you might go to Amsterdam for the weed, beer, canals, and stroopwafels . But you simply cannot take the trip to the Dutch capital without visiting at least one museum too. 

The Rijksmuseum is an obvious candidate if you want to get a general introduction to the Dutch masters, and you’re looking to spend quite a few hours surrounded by paintings. 

If you prefer taking a deep dive into one of the single best painters to come out of the Netherlands, the Van Gogh Museum is a fan favourite among the many things you can do in Amsterdam. With a slightly more manageable amount of art to digest, this museum doesn’t require more than a few hours. 

If you came to the Netherlands to explore the country’s rich seafarer history, you should not miss the National Maritime Museum . With one of the largest collections of its kind in the world, this impressive building is full of ship models, sea maps, and maritime paintings. ⚓

💰 Price: between €17.50 and €20 for adults, and between €0 and €8.50 for children (depending on the specific museum) ⏰ Opening hours: Between 9 AM and 6 PM Monday to Sunday (depending on the specific museum) 📍 Location: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam


If Van Gogh and the Dutch “Golden Age” don’t quite grab your attention for things to do in Amsterdam, you might want to check out some of the many modern and contemporary art museums on offer. 

Moco Museum attracts young people with its famous Banksy pieces, but people stay for the museum’s uniquely immersive and accessible art experiences. 👩🏽‍🎨

If you wish to delve more into the crazy world of psychedelic art, NXT Museum ’s groundbreaking new media art installations might be more your style. 

If you’re looking for the Rijksmuseum equivalent of modern art, however, you should look no further than to Stedelijk Museum . It has the best collection of world-renowned artists from the 20th century, as well as heaps of contemporary Dutch talent on display. 

💰 Price: between €20 and €25 for adults, and between €0 and €16.95 for children (depending on specific museum) ⏰ Opening hours: Between 9 AM and 10:30 PM Monday to Sunday (depending on the specific museum) 📍 Location: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam


Yep, sometimes you really can get the best of both worlds. Bruwerij t’ IJ is located right next to the largest wooden windmill in the country. The brewery has a wide selection of beer on tap, which can be enjoyed on a lovely outdoor terrace. 🍻

READ MORE | 7 great windmills to visit in the Netherlands

And best of all: the terrace has a gorgeous view of the old windmill, so you can get your Dutch beer fix and fill up on windmill sights at the same time. Win-win if you ask us! 

The brewery also offers 20-minute tours of the establishment, for free (or, well, it’s tip-based, so you decide the price). 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: 2 PM until 10 PM Monday to Thursday, 12 PM until 10 PM Friday to Sunday.  📍 Location: Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam


Brace yourself, because this is a wild thing to do in Amsterdam (or anywhere). The Body Worlds exhibition in Amsterdam consists of real (!) human bodies, that have been plastinated to show you what’s really going on under your skin. 😬

READ MORE | The 21 weirdest things Dutchies don’t realise are only Dutch

The Amsterdam edition of this controversial construction is titled “The Happiness Project”, and aims to shed light on how “everyday choices impact your happiness and health”. 

It can be a touch freaky, but the exhibition has also received great acclaim, and is definitely worth a visit. Oh, and surprisingly, the exhibition even claims to be suitable for children. 

💰 Price: €21.50 for adults, €13.50 for children ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM until 10 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location : Damrak 66, 1012 LM Amsterdam


For centuries, the Red Light District in Amsterdam has been a sexy hotspot for tourists and locals, looking for things to do in Amsterdam. 

Due to the liberal sex worker laws in the Netherlands, it is not illegal or sketchy to stroll through these streets. In fact, it’s quite the tourist trap ! 💸

If you’re interested in sprinkling some culture and history into your Red Light meandering, you can check out the Museum of Prostitution , or the Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum . 

If you’re there for a different type of good time, however, you’ll easily be entertained for hours by the many sex shops and other ✨spicy✨ activities going on in the district. 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: N/A 📍 Location : Oudezijds Achterburgwal, 1012 DA Amsterdam


The Royal Artis in Amsterdam is not your average zoo, but rather a beautiful, old, oasis for humans and animals alike. 

Since 1838, the zoo has welcomed visitors to meet rare (and not-so-rare) animals, and in 2020 the park was extended to include a beautiful botanical garden as well. 🐒

READ MORE | Dierentuinen: 10 best zoos in the Netherlands

Say hi to the 700 different species living here, admire the gorgeous historic buildings making up the grounds, and take a fun break from the busy city centre. Perfect for families looking for things to do in the Dutch capital, or anyone who’s into cute animals and pretty parks, really. 

💰 Price: €25 for adults, €21 for children ⏰ Opening hours: 9 AM until 6 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location : Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam


Want to create a giant arm, save humanity from its fossil fuel dependency, or just discover something new about the world? The NEMO Science Museum is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, and will keep you occupied for hours!

READ MORE | Time for SCIENCE! Visiting NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam

Check out the many workshops that take place in this iconic building, like the Hands-on Chemistry lab or the Maker Space activity — it’s fun for people of all ages. 

Explore your creative side and conjure up a chemistry experiment with regular household ingredients, or get intrigued by the interactive science exhibitions. The NEMO Science Museum is an unmissable thing to do in Amsterdam! 

💰 Price: €17.50 for all visitors over 4 y/o, €0 for children under 4 y/o ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM until 5:30 PM Tuesday to Sunday 📍 Location : Oosterdok 2, 1011 VX Amsterdam


Amsterdam is famous for its bustling nightlife, and a trip to the Dutch capital is not complete without a barbarian evening out. 🍾

With bars, clubs, festivals and events to cater to any taste, you’re bound to have a great time if you dive into Amsterdam’s nightlife. Take a sweep of the Red Light District to get the full tourist experience, or head to Leidseplein for a more local vibe. 

READ MORE | 12 best clubs in Amsterdam

No matter where you end up, though, make sure to get your hands on some delicious Dutch snacks, like bitterballen or frikandel . They go perfectly with your locally brewed Dutch beer, and they’re a borrel staple!

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: N/A 📍 Location: Leidseplein, 1017 PT Amsterdam


Want to get to know your travel companions on a deeper level? Try making your way out of an escape room together! 

An escape room is typically Dutch without being too touristy, and it’s bound to spice up your afternoon with adrenaline, creativity, and quick thinking. 

READ MORE | We plotted a heist! This Amsterdam escape room took our breath away (literally)

And more importantly, it’s the perfect thing to do when it’s raining in Amsterdam , and your romantic canal cruise plans fall through. 

💰 Price: Typically between €10 and €20 per person, depending on the escape room.  ⏰ Opening hours: Varies, depending on the escape room 📍 Location: Damrak 247, 1012 ZJ Amsterdam


If the palace on Dam Square is not enough for you, the countryside around Amsterdam is full of beautiful old castles. There’s no shortage of day-trip options if you’re looking to add castles to your list of things to do in Amsterdam!

A short hour by train from the Dutch capital, you’ll find both the beautiful 14th-century Muiderslot , the breathtaking 16th-century Zuylen castle , and the impressive 18th-century Groenveld castle. 

READ MORE | A guide to 11 breathtaking castles and palaces in the Netherlands

If you’re down for a real day trip, you can also take the two-hour train journey to the fairytale-like Kasteel De Haar in Utrecht. 🏰

💰 Price: €16.50 (Muiderslot) ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday to Sunday 📍 Location: Herengracht 1, 1398 AA Muiden


The north of Amsterdam was not always a hipster hot spot, but as is often the case with old, abandoned factory areas, Hembrugterrein is now bustling with artsy culture. 

READ MORE | Amsterdam(n) ranks among top 10 most liveable cities in the world!

This area used to be an artillery and ammunition hub but now gives off anything but a strict military vibe. Brimming with museums, galleries, restaurants, and event venues, you’ll easily find that Hembrugterrein can keep you occupied for a whole day. 

Our best tip is to check out the international food court , once you’re done with all the culture, art, shopping, and other things you can do in Amsterdam’s best hipster spot.

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: Varies, depending on establishments 📍 Location: Hemkade 18, 1506 PR Zaandam


The largest flea market in Europe is located in Amsterdam and offers an unimaginable array of second-hand products. There are few better places to go thrift shopping in the Netherlands (or, for that matter, in Europe), so if that’s your jam, you’re in luck. ☘🧣

READ MORE | The 18 best street markets in Amsterdam: the ultimate guide

An impressive 750 stalls make up the massive market, which takes place once a month. Here, you can find anything from furniture and antiquities to clothing and accessories — everything you need for your new Amsterdam hipster style. 

Just remember, you can’t simply wander into the coolest flea market on earth, so make sure to book your entry ticket in advance (on-site purchase is also possible, but you’ll have to wait in line — ew). Oh, and if “waking up insanely early” is on your bucket list of things to do in Amsterdam, you can pay extra to get access to the market before the crowds arrive (at 6 AM!). 

💰 Price: €5.50 for adults, €2.50 for children ⏰ Opening hours: 9 AM until 4:30 PM one weekend a month 📍 Location: NDSM-Plein 1, 1033 WC, Amsterdam


Even if you haven’t read the heartbreaking story of young Anne Frank, who came of age behind closed doors while hiding from the Nazis during World War II, you have most likely heard about her. 

READ MORE | On this day 75 years ago Anne Frank was sent to Auschwitz

The Anne Frank house in Amsterdam provides an in-depth exploration of the story of the Frank family, in the very house they hid in, from 1942 to 1945. 

The extensive museum is a popular thing to do in Amsterdam, which also makes it necessary to book tickets weeks, and sometimes months in advance. 

💰 Price: €14 for adults, €1 for children ⏰ Opening hours: 9 AM until 10 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location: Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam


No big city trip is complete without a chill stroll in a beautiful park. While Vondelpark is the most popular thanks to its convenient location, there are many others to pick from. 🌳

Oosterpark is known for being a multicultural hub, located in the most ethnically diverse part of Amsterdam. It features the National Monument of Slavery, in an area dominated by ethnic impulses from a wide array of cultures. 

READ MORE | Living in Amsterdam: the ultimate guide to Amsterdam life

Westerpark is known for being a creative hotspot, due to its proximity to the hip Westergas complex . With bronze sculptures, a cinema, and several event stages scattered around the grounds, Westerpark is buzzing with creative energy. 

If you crave closeness to nature, you should explore the forest vibe of the Amsterdamse Bos, while if petting zoos are more your thing, you should pay Amstelpark or Rembrandtpark a visit. 🐮

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: generally 24/7, with some exceptions.  📍 Location: Vondelpark 1, 1071 AA Amsterdam


Looking for an easy way to pimp up your Insta grid? Look no further, just go to Madame Tussauds and make everyone believe you met Beyonce, the Hulk, and Barack Obama in one day. 😎🥇

Have you always dreamt of squeezing Robert Pattinson’s biceps, staring into Zayn Malik’s deep brown eyes, or shaking the hand of King Willem-Alexander? Viewing these hyper-realistic wax figures is a staple among things tourists get up to in Amsterdam, and will get anyone into fangirl mode.

💰 Price: €22 ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM until 6 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location: Dam 20, 1012 NP Amsterdam


Certain things are simply non-negotiable on any Amsterdam itinerary, and visiting the famous Dutch tulip fields is one of them. Just a 40-minute drive from Amsterdam lies stunning Keukenhof — the most famous tulip fields and show gardens in the Netherlands. 💐

READ MORE | The Dutch and tulips: how did tulips in the Netherlands become a thing?

Tulips have been a core piece of Dutch identity for centuries, and visiting the vast flower fields is certainly one of the most memorable things you can do on your trip to Amsterdam.

If you visit the Dutch capital in the spring (mid-March until mid-May), you’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the one-of-a-kind sights. 

💰 Price: €19.50 for adults, €9 for children ⏰ Opening hours: March 21 to May 12, 2024 📍 Location: Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse


Two things will forever be true about the Dutch: they love biking , and they hate it when tourists disturb their biking. So, what better way to experience real, Dutch culture than to explore the Dutch capital on two wheels? 🚲 

READ MORE | How Amsterdam became a bicycle paradise (video inside!)

There are tons of places to rent bikes in Amsterdam, and there really is no faster way to get from A to B in those narrow, crooked streets. 

Just make sure you read up on the Dutch traffic rules before embarking on your biking adventures, and try sticking to the quiet streets — the Dutch take biking very seriously. 

Just started to learn how to bike? Head to Amsterdamse Bos for deliciously wide, long, and straight bike paths — perfect for a beginner!

Oh, and make sure you don’t end up in a canal , that has happened to many a drunken Dutchie before you. 

💰 Price: between €10 and €30 a day, depending on establishment ⏰ Opening hours: varies, depending on establishment  📍 Location: varying establishments 


There are plenty of themed boat tours in Amsterdam — but if you want something special, romantic, and personal, then you can’t go wrong with Rocco’s romantic boat tour . ⛵

In a private boat with just you, your special someone, and a captain, you’ll get to sail around in the sunset hours, discovering all of Amsterdam’s most amorous spots. 💕 READ MORE | Cruising Amsterdam’s canals is officially the top tourist experience (in the world!) The 50-90 minute tour includes lovely treats like a glass of bubbles, romantic anecdotes, and music that will have you falling in love with both your partner and the city, all over again.

💰 Price: €175 ⏰ Opening hours: varies, upon request 📍 Location: Herengracht 124, 1015 BT Amsterdam


If you’re a sucker for a good story (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you should definitely add a visit to the Mezrab centre to your list of things to do in Amsterdam.

With storytelling events every Wednesday and Friday, and music gigs and comedy nights basically all the time, Mezrab is the perfect place for a cultural night out. 🎤

READ MORE | 6 popular poetry and spoken word hangouts in Amsterdam

All events are in English (unless specified otherwise), and many shows are totally free of charge (although donations are warmly welcome). Grab a drink, and immerse yourself in some casual, cool, Amsterdam performances. 

💰 Price: between €0 and €12.50, depending on the event ⏰ Opening hours: weekly Wednesday to Saturday, sporadically also other days 📍 Location: Veemkade 576, 1019 BL Amsterdam


If you need a break from your tourist duties, but don’t want to miss out on any Amsterdam things to do, you should take your dinner pit stop at the Skate Café . 

READ MORE | Skateparks in the Netherlands: Amsterdam and beyond

With both a café, a restaurant, a shop, and a half pipe for skating (because what else would you use to decorate your restaurant?), this place will give you a dinner to remember. 🛹

If you can, try reserving a table — you’re not the only one interested in this cool experience. 

💰 Price: main dishes between €16 and €20 ⏰ Opening hours: 3 PM until 1 AM Thursdays, 3 PM until 3 AM Saturday and Sunday.  📍 Location: Gedempt Hamerkanaal 42, 1021 KM Amsterdam

Dance, music, good drinks and good vibes. What else can you ask for? Roller skates, of course! Roller Dreams is a new, colourful and glitter-filled pop-up experience, for anyone looking for something active to do in the north of Amsterdam. 

Rent a pair of old-school roller skates, and immerse yourself in this time machine to the 80’s for 90 minutes. It’s the perfect place to snap unique Insta shots, so don’t forget to finesse your colourful 80’s outfit before coming. 😉

Disclaimer: Roller Dreams is a pop-up establishment, but the closing date is currently unknown. 

💰 Price: €19.50 ⏰ Opening hours: 2 PM until 8 PM Monday to Wednesday, 2 PM until 10 PM Thursday and Friday, 1 PM until 10 PM Saturday, 2 PM until 8 PM Sunday.  📍 Location: Meeuwenlaan 88-B, 1021 JK Amsterdam


Okay, you ticked off “taste Dutch beer” and “view Dutch art” from your bucket list, so what’s next? Embracing your inner Amsterdam cool kid, of course! 😎

READ MORE | 5 cool industrial venues in Amsterdam

The 19th-century industrial complex Westergas has been transformed into a bustling “cultural village” of trendy restaurants, cool galleries, bars, and cute shops. 

Check out the event calendar, there are always tons of things to do in this interesting part of Amsterdam. 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: varies between establishments  📍 Location: Van Bleiswijkstraat 8, 1014 DA Amsterdam


Once the courtyard of an all-female Catholic religious community called the Beguines, this little pearl in the middle of Amsterdam is perfect for a quiet break in the day. 😴🌳

READ MORE | Begijnhof: Amsterdam’s worst-kept secret

The 14th-century yard is surrounded by some of the oldest houses in the city, and includes a hidden church open to visitors. Keep in mind, though, that the houses are currently private residences, so stick to the visitors’ walking paths, and refrain from taking pictures. 

💰 Price: €0 ⏰ Opening hours: 9:30 AM until 6 PM Monday to Sunday 📍 Location : Begijnhof 1, 1012 WS Amsterdam


Of course, no trip to the Netherlands is complete without extraordinary amounts of Dutch beer. And what better way to get your fix than to go full-out at the Heineken experience ? 🍻

READ MORE | Is Dutch beer the best in Europe? The Netherlands is the top exporter, once again

Heineken was established in Amsterdam, so a tasty tour of the old brewery (now a museum) is a highly fitting thing to do in the Dutch capital. Take your time at the exquisite tasting bar, and enjoy the interactive multi-media exhibition with a beer… or three.

Only people over 18 are allowed on the tours, though, so if you need an excuse to leave the kids with a babysitter, this is it. 

💰 Price: €21 for the standard tour ⏰ Opening hours: 10:30 AM until 7:30 PM Sunday to Thursday, 10:30 AM until 9 PM Friday and Saturday. 📍 Location: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam

boom chicago

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Boom Chicago (@boomchicago)

Unscripted, hilarious, creative fun, anyone? Boom Chicago is an improv and comedy club, and it’s one of the best things you can do in Amsterdam.

You can rest assured you’ll have a memorable evening if you add a Boom Chicago show to your itinerary, and before you ask: yes, they’re all in English. 

If you’re planning on staying in A’dam for a while (which, you definitely should), you can also get out of your comfort zone and attend an improv class — you’re guaranteed to create memories for life. 😋

💰 Price: Generally between €10 and €25, depending on the show ⏰ Opening hours: 6 PM until 12 AM Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 6 PM until 1 AM Friday, 4 PM until 1 AM Saturday,  📍 Location : Rozengracht 117, 1016 LV Amsterdam


Rembrandt might technically have been from Leiden , not Amsterdam, but the capital happens to have a whole house dedicated to the world-renowned painter. 🎨

READ MORE | Why the Night Watch is Rembrandt’s masterpiece

Admire the beautiful exhibition at the Rembrandt House , attend an artsy lecture, or test your painting skills at one of the many events that take place here throughout the year. 

The house often has activities for the youngest members of the family, too, if you’d like to expose your kids to the world of art while searching for things to do in Amsterdam. 

💰 Price: €15 for adults, €6 for children ⏰ Opening hours: 10 AM until 7 PM, Tuesday to Sunday  📍 Location: Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam

There are enough things to do in Amsterdam to fill weeks, if not years, of activities. No matter if you’re staying a day, a week, or a month, you can rest assured you’ll easily find things to pack your itinerary with. 

Looking for a small town break from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam? Head to Leiden , Delft or Gouda for some peace and quiet. If you’d like to go even further away from anything resembling a city, you can also take the trip to the beautiful island of Texel , and enjoy some real, Dutch nature and wildlife . 

Do you think we should add anything to this list? Tell us what we missed in the comments below!

Liked it? Try these on for size:

11 things to know before taking a taxi in amsterdam, how to rent a bike in amsterdam in 2024: places, prices, and tips, blissful beaches and hidden gems: these unique dutch tours will make your summer, what do you think.

Thank you. Great list!

30 things to do in 2021. Number 3: Explorer nightclubs. Oh cmon!

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Home » Travel Guides » The Netherlands » 15 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

15 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Amsterdam is the thriving capital of the Netherlands and the countries most populated city with approximately 842,000 people living in the central municipality.

During its early years a major city, Amsterdam saw a great boost due to trade with the Hanseatic League and then became a centre for free press in the 16th century after the Dutch revolt and the eighty years’ war.

After a decline in fortunes and development during the 18th and 19th centuries, in modern times Amsterdam has become a modern and diverse city that is famed worldwide.

With a wide range of historical architecture, public parks, quality museums and diverse attractions, it offers endless opportunities and is one of the prime tourist destinations in Europe.

1. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without visiting this historic house.

Anne Frank was a girl who hid from the Nazi’s during WWII and left an extensive diary that has been punished worldwide and provides a look at what it was like for the Jewish people during this troubled and dark period.

The actual building where Anne and her family hid not contains a museum dedicated to her and inside you can find reconstructed rooms, many artefacts from the time and the original house, and even a reconstructed bookcase that was used to hide the entrance to the secret annex the family hid in.

This truly is an interesting and poignant museum to visit, be wary of the queues however as you may be in for a long wait.

2. Heineken Brewery Tour

Heineken Brewery Tour

Home of the famous brew, Amsterdam presents the Heineken Experience which is a really fun filled attraction where you will both learn about the brewing process and also enjoy a couple of cheeky drinks.

The tour section takes you through the brewery and shows you how the drink is created – You get to see the large hops tanks, taste the pure alcohol and watch the beer being bottled.

There are also many cool historical artefacts from the history of Heineken such as different beer mats.

There is also a 3D ride that takes you through the creation process and is quite entertaining and surprising in places.

To top it off there is a lounge area decorated with beer bottles and cans, and a section where you can create your own Heineken bottle with a personalised label.

3. Canal Boat Tour

Canal Boat Tour, Amsterdam

This might be considered a clichéd touristic thing to do, but you simply cannot go to Amsterdam without taking a boat tour on the canal system.

The canals are one of the main reasons that Amsterdam is so famous, so why not experience them first hand on a guided tour? The majestic waterway that runs through the Centrum ins Amsterdam stretches for miles and creates many stunning parts of the city such as the Emperor’s Canal and its beautiful architecture.

There are many boat tours, but the most notable one is run by Grayline and has collection points and ticket stands in the Damrak canal near the train station.

4. Emperor’s Canal

Emperor’s Canal

This is one of the main canals in Amsterdam and is named after Emperor Maximilian (Of Austria). The Emperor’s Canal is the central of three of the main waterways that form the semi circular ring around the Centrum and old town.

The canal is 31m wide and in winter, the waters often freeze and you can skate along the ice.

This stretch of canal is one of the most beautiful in Amsterdam; trees line the water, opulent bridges cross the water and are lined with many bicycles and the buildings that run parallel with the water have a typical Dutch style with gabled roofs and a myriad of colours.

Attractions on the canal include the House with the Heads, the Homo monument, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Greenland Warehouses.

5. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most renowned and intriguing artists in history and the museum that holds his namesake is a fantastic place to learn about the man and his works.

The museum is located not far from Vondelpark on Paulus Potterstraat and in close proximity to the Rijksmuseum.

This extensive art museum contains a huge amount of paintings from Van Gogh together with select collections from other artists such as Monet and Matisse.

Aside from the stunning artworks, there are also a selection of letters and drawings and also information about why he is such a renowned and iconic figure.

6. Rijksmuseum


Another of Amsterdam’s fine museums, the Rijksmuseum has it all – A stunning building that has a similar design and style to the Centraal station, a huge collection of crafts, art and history dating back as far as the 1200’s and also the amazing I Amsterdam sign that stands outside on the art square.

The museum contains over 1 million objects in total, of which only 8000 are on display (that’s still a large amount!). Displays include paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, the stern of the HMS Royal Charles and a dedicated Asian pavilion.

You could spend hours in this delightful and eternally interesting establishment.

7. Vondelpark


This fantastic park is an absolute pleasure to walk through on a summers day and is a haven in the centre of Amsterdam.

The park lies on the edge of the canal rings and is close to the Rijksmuseum and the Heineken Experience.

The grounds of the park are well tended and there are several small lakes surrounded by trees and sculptures that the locals and tourists of Amsterdam sit by and relax.

Free concerts are played here at the open air theatre and you can also hire a bike to cycle through the many winding paths.

If you have children, the park also has six play areas – There is something for people of all ages.

8. Dam Square

Dam Square

This is the main square in central Amsterdam and lies only a 10 minute walk from the Centraal Station.

The square was build in the 1400’s and has been a central point for the city ever since.

On the square you will find the amazing Royal Palace which is a brilliant destination in its own right, the National Monument that pays tribute to fallen soldiers, the Nieuwe Kerk church which often contains art exhibitions, and a selection of architecturally rich hotels and shops including a Madam Tussauds waxworks.

9. Red Light District

Red Light District

Although not to everyone’s taste, the Red Light District is part of what makes Amsterdam famous and it is a great idea to visit this part of the town, just to see what the fuss is about and the often bizarre shops and displays that you can find here.

Otherwise known as De Wallen, the district is located in the centre of Amsterdam around the Damrak canal.

Take a walk down the streets and see the variety of shows, shops, and the infamous cannabis cafe’s.

Always take precautions and keep your wits about you – Although this area is highly policed there are some less than reputable characters so keep a close eye on your belongings.

10. Centraal Station

Centraal Station, Amsterdam

This Central Station is the main railway station in Amsterdam and the largest in the Netherlands.

It is primarily a great transport hub and can provide direct transport to Schiphol Airport, but it is a stunning building in its own right.

The station was first opened in 1889 and was created with a Gothic/Renaissance style and an immense cast iron roof.

The front facade looks more like a palace or a cathedral than a station with its towers and stone reliefs.

With its central location next to the IJ lake and the Damrak canal, the station is a fantastic piece of architecture in central Amsterdam.

11. Body Worlds

Body Worlds, Amsterdam

The body worlds museum contains something completely different and unique compared to most museums.

In the heart of Amsterdam you will find this intriguing place that features an exciting and revealing display about the human anatomy and what makes it so special.

Find out about what makes our bodies work, and why they are so fragile but at the same time so resilient.

With over 200 anatomical displays you get a true visual insight into what’s inside our bodies.

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary and want to understand more about our special race, then the Body Worlds exhibition is the perfect place to visit.

12. Artis Zoo

Artis Zoo

The Artis Zoo is the oldest zoo in Holland and also one of the oldest in mainland Europe.

Aside from the various zoological displays, there is also an aquarium and planetarium.

There are over 700 species of animal, 200 varieties of tree, a fantastic Botanical Garden and Micropia which features a mindboggling amount of information on microorganisms.

The planetarium will provide a huge amount of vivid information on the solar system, planets and the universe.

All the animals in the zoo have spacious enclosures and are well cared for, and there is even a petting zoo for younger children together with a wealth of information on each species and its habitation etc.

13. Sex Museum

Sex Museum, Amsterdam

The sex museum is exactly what you think – A museum about sex, the human body and the evolution of this human interaction and how its portrayal has evolved over the years.

The museum contains various displays, statues and figures such as Venus, Mata Hari and Marilyn Monroe plus two ginormous phalluses.

The different rooms in the museum are themed according to the story or person they are detailing and you can learn about their sexual history with an accompaniment of audio backings.

This museum is more subtle than the bluntness of the Red Light District and provides an entertaining look at the nature of sex.

14. The Flower Market

Amsterdam Flower Market

The flower market is a true delight to the senses and shows a different side to Amsterdam.

This is the only floating flower market in the world and can be found on Singel street in-between Vijzelstraat and Koningsplein.

Here you will find row after row of market stalls selling flowers, seeds, spices, herbs and plants – The display of colours and the amount of different aromas is truly wonderful.

The market is open Monday to Saturday until 17:30 and even if you do not want to make a purchase, you should still walk through this marvellous place.

Expect to find plenty of tulips for sale in a myriad of different colours.

15. The Royal Palace

Royal Palace, Amsterdam

The Royal Palace is located in Dam Square and is an imposing structure that gives the square an air of importance and culture.

The palace was originally built as a town hall, however it was later used as a palace for the Dutch Royal house.

The striking front faced of the palace and the large central tower make for an impressive building, but the interior is even more so.

The central hall in the palace is over 100ft long and its marble floor contains a huge and detailed map of the world that shows the exploration of the Dutch East India Company.

The palace is open to the public and you can admire the various galleries containing historical works of art and the fantastic decorations of the palace rooms; guided tours are also available at certain times.

15 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (The Netherlands):

  • Anne Frank House
  • Heineken Brewery Tour
  • Canal Boat Tour
  • Emperor’s Canal
  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Red Light District
  • Centraal Station
  • Body Worlds
  • The Flower Market
  • The Royal Palace

Full Suitcase Travel Blog

24 TOP Amsterdam Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: May 6, 2024

24 TOP Amsterdam Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

Looking for the best things to do in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and feeling overwhelmed? Deciding which of the most popular Amsterdam attractions to see is indeed not easy, especially if you are visiting for the first time and your time in the city is limited…

So to help you figure out where to go and what to see in Amsterdam, in this guide we share the  VERY BEST sights and TOP tourist attractions in Amsterdam that are worth your time the most . In addition, we also include a few fun Amsterdam experiences for those looking for that something extra beyond the ‘musts’.

We also created a map of all the top places that should help you plan your Amsterdam sightseeing itinerary. Take a look!

Top 4 Activities in Amsterdam to Book in Advance:

  • Van Gogh Museum .
  • Rijksmuseum .
  • Canal Boat Cruise .
  • Heineken Experience (18+).

Top attractions and best things to do in Amsterdam

Famous for its canals, distinctive architecture, and liberal culture, the city of Amsterdam is full of interesting things to see and experience. The network of canals and narrow streets make it a wonderful place to walk or tour by boat. The city also has the highest density of museums in the world, with more than 60 to explore. And there is a natural beauty as well, with the city’s Vondelpark covered in colorful blooms in the spring.

But with so many Amsterdam attractions to choose from, it can be difficult to know which of them to visit during your visit. So in this guide, we list some of our favorite places to see and things to do in Amsterdam – all the musts, and also a few extras, fun things to do in Amsterdam, that will make your visit a bit more special.

Whether you are visiting the city for the first time and want to be sure you don’t miss any of the must-sees in Amsterdam, or are planning a repeat visit and looking to visit some sights and tourist attractions in Amsterdam that you might have missed before, this guide should give you plenty of inspiration for things to do in the capital of the Netherlands.

TIP:  If you are planning on doing lots of sightseeing in Amsterdam, you should know that the distances between some of the best attractions are rather big. To save time and money (and give your legs some rest), consider getting an all-in public transport ticket . You can buy it for any duration from 1 to 7 days and it includes all trams, buses, metros, and ferries in the city . If you just use a tram once or twice, you can also simply pay by debit card on the tram itself.

Tram in Amsterdam city center

Good to know:  We list the must-see places and experiences in Amsterdam first, followed by some fun things to do in Amsterdam further down the list. So if you are visiting the city for the first time, concentrate on the top 10-17 sights first. But if you are looking for more hands-on experiences and fun attractions beyond the most popular sights and must-see museums, then read further down as well.

In order to help you plan your visit, we also created a  map of all the top sights and attractions in Amsterdam . You can find it at the bottom of this article. On our blog, you can also find sample itineraries for 1 day , 2 days , 3 days , and 4 days in Amsterdam for first-time visitors.

These are the main landmarks, best sights, and top tourist attractions in Amsterdam:

1. Boat tour on the canals

Exploring the beautiful canals by boat is one of the absolute musts in Amsterdam that should be on top of any Amsterdam bucket list!

Mainly built at the end of the 16th – beginning of the 17th century, the city’s waterways are lined with some of its most impressive buildings. Taking a boat tour on the canals also gives you a glimpse into the ‘real’ Amsterdam. What’s more, viewing the city from the water gives you a whole new perspective and allows you to see a lot in a short amount of time.

It’s a great first introduction to the city, so I recommend taking a canal trip at the beginning of your trip.

There are lots of different canal cruises to choose from , lasting from around 1 to 1.5 hours. It’s a good idea to do your research ahead of time to find the one that’s best for you, and not just hop on the first boat you come across and get disappointed that it’s not what you expected it to be.

I also recommend booking in advance if you are visiting in the high season. This is a popular activity and the best boat tours sell out. Another bonus is that an advanced reservation allows you to go straight to the front of the line, ahead of those who haven’t reserved their spot.

The choice of canal cruises in Amsterdam can be overwhelming.  Here are some of the best options :

  • City Canal Cruise (starts close to the Central Station). This is one of the most popular canal cruises, but it can get very busy. If you take a boat like this, try to get on the boat as one of the first people so that you can secure a window seat. We did it a few times and it can be a very good experience, but try to get a window seat!
  • Open-Boat Canal City Cruise (several possible departure locations – Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, or Central Station). This is the cruise we recommend if you don’t mind paying a bit more. It’s well worth a small price difference for a more luxurious experience.

TIP:  Amsterdam canals are also very pretty in the evening when everything is nicely lit. So be sure to come back and see them in the dark, or do an evening canals tour as well! This evening canal cruise  is the most popular option.

LEARN MORE: Amsterdam Canal Cruise: Tips for a Better Experience

Oudeschans canal and Montelbaanstoren in Amsterdam

2. Grachtengordel – explore canals on foot

Amsterdam has many canals and whilst it’s fun to explore them by boat, walking beside them is a totally different experience that you shouldn’t miss either. So – in addition to taking a boat tour – be sure to explore the canals on foot as well .

Obviously, there are more canals to see in Amsterdam than you can ever manage on a single visit. So be sure to stroll along some of the best bits! These include the Grachtengordel (The Canals Belt) neighborhood – at least a few sections of the Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht , plus the Brouwersgracht and the Singel , which served as the city’s moat until 1585.

The Herengracht Canal is absolutely worth a visit too. But you are likely to see it as part of a boat tour as well. That’s also the reason why we recommend doing the boat tour first – you can then decide if you want to revisit some places on foot as well, or just focus on the areas you didn’t see from the boat yet.

Best things to do in Amsterdam - explore the canals

3. Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is the most visited museum in the Netherlands and one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. If you visit just one of the best museums in Amsterdam , make it this one.

With around 8,000 historic exhibits and works of art, the Imperial Museum features world-famous pieces such as The Milkmaid and The Night Watch. You’ll also find works by Vermeer and Rembrandt, along with important pieces by Vincent Van Gogh. There is an ever-changing rotation of temporary exhibits plus a variety of workshops, so it’s always worth a visit, even if you have been before.

The museum is very large and it is easy to spend several hours here. If you decide to visit, try coming here early in the morning before the main crowds arrive. Head straight for the Gallery of Honour , which houses some of the most important pieces. The hall is a work of art in itself and this part of the museum is the most popular, so it’s nice to see it before it gets too crowded.

Be sure to also check out the Cuypers Library , the Research Library of the Museum. It’s one of the main art libraries in the world and a very impressive place to see.

TIP: We also strongly recommend booking timed-entry tickets for the museum online in advance. It will save you from having to join the lengthy queues and will allow you to see more of the city during the time that you have.

Rijksmuseum - one of the top attractions in Amsterdam

4. Van Gogh Museum

Located close to Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum is another must on the list of Amsterdam tourist attractions. One that will appeal to visitors of all ages too. So if you are looking for things to do in Amsterdam with kids, this is a great place to be too.

Along with the chance to explore the extensive collection of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, drawings, and personal letters, you get to learn more about his life and the things that inspired him.

The museum can get very busy during the high season. But it is so spacious that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the crowds. You can rent an audio tour on arrival and the exhibits are very well laid out. You’ll need at least 1.5 to 2 hours to see the main collection.

TIP: Tickets are only available online and the numbers are limited, so it is important to book them in advance . Guided tours are also available, but quite a lot more expensive than a regular ticket. Still, it might be worth it if you want to be sure not to miss anything and learn more about Van Gogh and his masterpieces. This is one of the few guided tours of the museum that runs daily.

Good to know: Avoid bringing any very large bags with you as they are not permitted in the museum. Backpacks and umbrellas must be left in the lockers and there is a free coat check on entry. Jackets and small purses may be worn.

LEARN MORE: Info & Tips for Visiting Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum is one of the top places to visit in Amsterdam, Holland

5. Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is next on the list of the most popular places to visit in Amsterdam. Once the building in which a Jewish girl Anne Frank and her family concealed themselves from the Nazis during World War ll, this is now a museum honoring her memory.

Anne and her family were discovered in 1944 and deported to Hitler’s concentration camps, where all except her father died. It was he who later published her diary, which is well known across the world. Their house is very popular with visitors to the city, keen to see the place which she described in such detail in her diary.

At the Anne Frank House, it is possible to visit the exact location where they hid. Through videos, quotes, photos, and original items, you can learn more about the traumatic ordeal they endured there.

Good to know: Like many canalside houses in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House has very steep stairs which might be challenging if you have mobility issues. There is no wheelchair access to either the Secret Annex or the old part of the museum.

TIP: Anne Frank House is very small so the number of visitors is extremely limited. It’s essential to book your tickets online in advance, and you really need to reserve them as soon as they are released (usually 6 weeks in advance). In the winter, you may be able to get tickets a week upfront, but in the high season, they sell out several weeks upfront.

Check the official website for more info and – if you absolutely want to visit – try to reserve your tickets as soon as they are released (usually about 6 weeks before the date). Please note that the museum itself is the only official supplier selling these tickets so you can’t get them anywhere else. And they always sell out!

Anne Frank House is one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam

6. Royal Palace & Dam Square

As the city’s main square, Dam Square is lively and a fun place to visit. It’s a popular meeting place for locals, so it gives you a better feel for real Amsterdam. And there are lots of different events held here, from the National Tulip Day festivities to celebrations for the Chinese New Year!

In the past, funfairs were held on Dam Square as well, but the city council has decided that it’s already busy enough in the city center and decided not to allow them at this location anymore.

On one side of the square, you can see the Royal Palace Amsterdam . This is the official reception palace of the Orange-Nassau Royal Family and is often open to visitors. The King and his family live in The Hague, and not in Amsterdam.

From the outside, it may look a little grim and unappealing, especially on dull days. But it’s definitely worth a look inside if you have the time. It’s quite beautiful, with marble floors, stunning chandeliers, intricate sculptures, and impressive paintings.

TIP: If you want to visit the Royal Palace, be sure to get your tickets in advance. That way, you can immediately see if it’s open on the dates when you’re in Amsterdam (it’s normally open daily unless there are some official events in which case it can be closed for several weeks in a row).

Royal Palace Amsterdam (Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam)

Damrak is one of the main avenues in the city center of Amsterdam, running from the Central Station to the above-mentioned Dam Square.

It’s filled with souvenir shops, chain stores, and cheap restaurants, and can feel a bit like a tourist trap. But if you look deeper, you’ll find some stunning architecture. Indeed, more than 20 buildings on Damrak are designated as Royal Monuments, most dating from the late 18th – early 20th centuries.

The main place not to miss here for tourists is the Damrak Waterfront , part of the historic harbor in Amsterdam’s city center. This is one of the most photographed places in Amsterdam that you’ll see on many postcards and travel brochures.

And if you want to do some shopping in Amsterdam, be sure to check out Bijenkorf Amsterdam, one of the most popular department stores in the Netherlands.

Colorful houses at Damrak waterfront in Amsterdam

8. Floating Flower Market

One of the unique Amsterdam attractions is the Floating flower market ( Bloemenmarkt ). Located on the Singel Canal and established in 1862, this is the only market of its kind in the world. As the barges are fixed, once inside, it actually feels pretty much like any other flower market.

But that’s not the only reason to visit the floating Flower Market, of course, and – since it doesn’t require much time and doesn’t cost anything – we recommend checking it out. Colorful, fun, and fragrant, it is one of the most lively spots in the city and a great place to get some truly memorable photos. It may not be an ‘authentic’ place in Amsterdam anymore, but it really is a must-see attraction nonetheless!

You can buy all sorts of things here, from flowers and flower bulbs to Dutch souvenirs like clogs and wooden tulips. If you visit Amsterdam during the peak tulip season in spring, the market will be much more impressive too. Do be aware though that the market is very much aimed at tourists and the prices reflect that.

Good to know: The flower bulbs you buy here are ready for export, so you are allowed to take them home to most destinations. Make sure that they are firm, free from mold, and with no signs of damage. It can be a nice Dutch souvenir to bring memories of your visit to Amsterdam, long after you have returned from your trip.

Floating flower market is one of the must sees in Amsterdam

9. Rembrandt House Museum

Recently reopened after a significant renovation, the Rembrandt House Museum is now one of the best museums in the city!

Rembrandt van Rijn (17th century) is one of the most famous painters The Netherlands ever had. Rembrandt Museum is located on Jodenbreestraat, in the same house where he lived and worked during the peak of his career between 1639 and 1658.

The house has been restored as true to the original as possible including all the rooms where the family lived, plus artist studios, etc. It’s a great place to see what life was like in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age. Of course, you can also admire many paintings by Rembrandt. But what makes a visit here really special is that you also get to know the man behind his art.

This is now one of my personal favorite museums in Amsterdam. The cozy, homey setting takes you really close to Rembrandt. Their audiovisual guide (included with your ticket) is great too, giving you a deeper understanding of the artist and his life. And because you only need 1 hour for a visit here, it’s really simple to plan a visit here, no matter how much time you have in the city. Highly recommended!

TIP: Set inside a 17-th century house, the museum is rather small, so be sure to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance!

Best things to do in Amsterdam - Rembrandt House Museum

10. Leidseplein

If you’re looking for some fun atmosphere or good nightlife in Amsterdam, head to the lively Leidseplein town square, a short walk from the Rijksmuseum, at the southern end of Leidsestraat.

By day and night, you can see street entertainers performing anything from jazz on the double bass to hip-hop dancing. The square is lined by cafes and bar terraces, which are very busy in the warmer months. In winter, the terraced area is replaced with an outdoor ice rink and there are hot food stalls dotted everywhere.

Within easy walking distance is everything you could want for a good night out, including cinemas, theatres, discos, and a casino. There are plenty of good restaurants serving international dishes, along with Holland’s best-known cocktail bar, The Bulldog Palace (not to be confused with Bulldog Coffeeshop in the Red Light District).

Be sure to check out the impressive buildings of the “Internationaal Theater Amsterdam” or the Hard Rock Hotel known as ‘Hotel Americain’. Btw, this is a really nice hotel to stay in for those who enjoy the nightlife or like being close to all the museums and the park. The location is very central indeed.

TIP: If you plan to spend the evening at the bars here, arrive early to get a table. An hour before sunset is a perfect time, as it gives you a chance to sit back and watch the square come to life!

Street entertainer at Leidseplein town square in Amsterdam

11. Vondelpark

Just a short walk from Amsterdam’s most popular museums and Leidseplein is the beautiful Vondelpark .

The most famous park in the Netherlands, Vondelpark welcomes 10 million visitors every year. Yet it remains an oasis of calm in this vibrant city, covering 120 acres and never feeling crowded.

Here you can see lots of different plants, a scenic lake, and maybe even catch a free performance at the open-air theatre or bandstand. There is also a children’s playground at the Groot Melkhuis, a statue of the poet Vondel, and a restaurant in the historical Pavilion.

There are bikes available to rent in the park (or you can book a guided bicycle tour of the city that also visits the park). This will allow you to learn more about the park’s history and see every hidden corner.

Good to know: Springtime is the very best time to visit Vondelpark when it is covered in colorful tulips.

TIP: Because Vondelpark is so close to some of the best museums and main attractions of Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Heineken Brewery, etc.), this is a nice spot to stop for lunch and take a peaceful break from the crowds at the most popular sights.

Vondelpark - one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam

12. The Nine Streets

The Nine Streets ( De Negen Straatjes ) is the collective name of 9 old cobbled streets connecting the main canals between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat, a few blocks south of the Anne Frank House. The names of the streets are: Reestraat, Berenstraat, Runstraat, Hartenstraat, Wolvenstraat, Huidenstraat, Gasthuismolensteeg, Oudespiegelstraat, and Wijde Heisteeg.

Don’t worry about remembering the names – we indicated it in our map further below. And if you wonder what they mean, some of the streets are actually named after animals – Wolf Street, Bear Street, or Deer Street. Some other names are quite special as well, such as Old Mirror Street, or Heart Street.

Despite being surrounded by some of the most popular places in Amsterdam, and located between the most famous Amsterdam canals (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, and Herengracht), the 9 Streets have a very different atmosphere than the busy areas around Damrak.

They are quite charming, lined with specialty stores, unique shops, and independent boutiques. This area is a nice change from the chain stores of the main shopping street, offering vintage goods and authentic items instead.

If you’re a music fan and into vinyl, be sure to check out Waxwell Records. They have a record player where you can try out their offerings and frequent sales that allow you to pick up a bargain!

TIP: For some of the best sweets and pastries you will experience in Amsterdam, visit the Chocolaterie Pompadour on Huidenstraat. It has a wonderful tearoom with marble-topped tables, and Insta-worthy arrangements of its creations in its window displays. Alternatively, drop by Het Koekemannetje bakery on Runstraat for some of the best cookies ever.

Waxwell Records music store on the Nine Streets in Amsterdam

13. Jordaan Neighborhood

A network of narrow streets leading to flower-lined canals, the idyllic neighborhood of Jordaan is both peaceful and characteristically Dutch. There are lots of lovely little shops and boutiques to explore, plus artists’ studios and a nice selection of cafes and restaurants.

Located to the west of Amsterdam’s main ring of canals, it is just a short walk from the Anne Frank House or the 9 Streets.

Built early in the 17th century, it originally housed refugees and workers, attracted by its low rents. Over time it became quite run down and was scheduled for demolition after World War II. But some of its citizens begged for a reprieve, and from the 1970s onwards the neighborhood was completely regenerated. So much, in fact, that it is now one of Amsterdam’s most desirable districts to live in.

Good to know: Saturday is market day, and the perfect time to visit. The Lindengracht Market is where the local residents buy their fresh produce. Or head to the Noordermarkt on Noordermarkt Square to buy organic food and shop for bargains at the flea market.

TIP: The Jordaan neighborhood is famous for good food ! Taking a food tour is one of the best ways to explore this area and get to know the more local side of Amsterdam. Or call in for lunch at one of the local-favorite cafes. Check out Cafe de Tuin, Café Sonneveld, or ‘t Smalle (and there are many, many more).

Local cafe in Jordaan district in Amsterdam

14. West Church & Tower

Located on Prinsengracht and just next to the Anne Frank House, the West Church ( Westerkerk ) is Amsterdam’s largest church and the most important Protestant church in the city. Many of Amsterdam’s citizens consider its bell tower – the Westertoren – to be the city’s symbol.

The church was built from 1619 – 1631 and the tower was added in 1638. Rembrandt van Rijn is buried here along with other famous Dutch artists and the chimes of the clock tower were heard by Anne Frank, who mentioned them several times in her diary.

It is well worth a quick visit here if you have some time to spare in Amsterdam. The church has an austere charm and there are regular, free organ recitals to enjoy. We especially recommend visiting the tower, as the view of Amsterdam from the top is incredible.

Good to know: The climb to the top of the tower is very steep and at times little more than a ladder. It can be quite unnerving for some and definitely requires flat shoes. Free to enter, the church is open to visitors all year round, except on Sundays. The tower is normally open from April to October and requires a ticket. However, it’s now closed for renovation that’s expected to take a few years.

While the Westertoren remains closed, you could head to Zuiderkerk Tower instead. Or – for different views with less effort – visit the A’DAM Lookout (see further below).

Westerkerk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

15. Central Station

Located in the heart of the city, Amsterdam Centraal train station is a bustling place with visitors and locals alike. Several of the city’s buses and trams terminate here, along with the waterfront stations of the ferry lines that take passengers to Amsterdam North. You can also find the main Amsterdam Tourist Office here.

And while it might look strange to have a railway station mentioned among some of the landmarks of Amsterdam, it’s well worth a quick peak even if you are not taking a train.

The style of the building itself is authentically Dutch and well worth a quick look while you are in Amsterdam. It originally opened in 1889 as the Netherlands’ main railway transit center. Take a walk through its 19th-century entrance hall and you’ll discover a modern shopping mall packed with trendy eateries.

Outside, you’ll find the Central Railway Station Square, with towers on either side – one a weather vane and the other a clock tower.

TIP: For a truly unique experience, check out Grand Café Restaurant 1e Klas . This restaurant is located inside the beautifully restored 19th-century elegant 1st Class waiting rooms of the station, and feels like taking a trip back in time. You can book a 3-course lunch or dinner experience here , or just go for a quick drink and the atmosphere. Hidden in plain sight, this is one of the lesser-known gems of Amsterdam.

Good to know: If you are planning on taking any day trips from Amsterdam , most tours will start in this area. This is also where you can take a train to all the bigger towns in the Netherlands, and also direct trains to Antwerp or Brussels in Belgium, or to Paris in France.

Amsterdam Centraal railway station is one of the landmarks of the Dutch capital city

16. Red Light District & Coffeeshops

Amsterdam has a uniquely laid-back approach to drugs and prostitution which is what makes this area so fascinating to many international visitors. Its Red Light District is named after the line of windows and doors surrounded by red lights.

Here you can learn more about the city’s coffeeshop culture (not to be confused with regular coffee shops or cafes) and the use of soft drugs. You can also see women dressed in very little, waiting behind the windows for customers. Just please don’t stare at them or take pictures – that is forbidden.

This area isn’t for everyone, of course. But if you want a more authentic experience and are not easily shocked, then you may prefer to visit at night.

Amsterdam’s Red Light District has been a hot topic for years, with the city council trying to limit its appeal as a popular Amsterdam tourist attraction. Certain tours have been forbidden, and there have been talks of moving the district a bit further away from the city center…

Either way, it remains an interesting place to see in Amsterdam. But if you want to learn more about it without wondering where exactly to go or what the most interesting spots are, etc., we recommend going with one of the organized walking tours of the area .

We recently took this highly-rated tour and I can only recommend it. Despite having been to the area so many times before, we learned a lot. It gives you a much more complete picture of this unique area.

Red Light District in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

17. Heineken Experience

The award-winning Dutch Heineken beer is famous all over the world. So visiting its oldest brewery is something that’s well worth doing during your visit to Amsterdam.

The tour is very enjoyable, informative, and ideal for couples or groups of friends looking for something fun to do in Amsterdam beyond the main sights and museums.

After an introduction from the staff, you can look around the brewery by yourself. It’s interesting to learn about the process that goes into making the beer, right from reaping the hops to tasting the end result. And there are several fun, interactive elements, including the ‘Brew U’ game where you become a bottle of beer, to bottling your own personalized Heineken.

TIP: Just like all the other top sights in Amsterdam, Heineken Experience is another very popular attraction and the queues in the high season can get long. So if you absolutely want to do it, book your timed-entry tickets online in advance .

Heineken Experience - one of the top tourist attractions in Amsterdam

Now that we covered some of the most popular places to see and tourist attractions in Amsterdam, here are a couple more ideas of interesting places to visit and things to do in Amsterdam.

If you have more than 1-2 days in the city – or if you have seen all the ‘musts’ and are looking for more fun experiences in Amsterdam, check out the following attractions as well:

18. Albert Cuyp Street Market

Located in the lively De Pijp neighborhood, Albert Cuyp Street Market is the largest and most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands. It is also the best market to visit in Amsterdam, incomparable to the most popular Floating Flower Market.

It’s a bustling and vibrant place that offers a truly immersive local shopping experience. You will find a big variety of market stalls, offering all kinds of household goods and clothing, but also souvenirs, fruit, vegetables, Dutch cheeses, and all kinds of delicacies.

This is a great place to try some typical Dutch food, like herring sandwiches, mini-pancakes ( poffertjes ), or syrup waffles ( stroopwafels ).

A visit to this market provides a unique opportunity to soak up the vibrant atmosphere, interact with friendly locals, and discover a diverse array of traditional foods and products.

Albert Cuyp Market is a fun place to visit in Amsterdam, for both locals and tourists alike. It’s a fun experience and gives you a memorable taste of Amsterdam’s dynamic and multicultural spirit.

Good to know: The market is open daily except Sundays from 9.30 AM to 5 PM.

TIP: If you would like to taste all kinds of Dutch specialties at the market, but are not sure where to start, consider this highly-rated street food tour with a local guide.

Albert Cuyp Street Market - top places to visit in Amsterdam

19. ARTIS Royal Zoo

ARTIS is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest zoos of mainland Europe. It was founded in 1838 and is home to 200 varieties of trees and around 700 species of animals. It also has three listed buildings on its grounds – the Large Museum (1855), the Library building (1867), and the Aquarium (1882).

There are so many interesting parts to this zoo, making it a great place for the whole family. So it will come as no surprise that ARTIS is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions in Amsterdam.

Visit the aquarium zone to see what lives in the city’s canals. See exotic plant species in the greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens and learn about another world in the zoo micropia, which is dedicated to microorganisms. There is a planetarium where you can enjoy a virtual tour of the solar system. And there is also a zoological museum with some of the 19th century’s most interesting scientific collections.

It’s a great place to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist sights. In addition to the big park, the zoo has various indoor areas as well, so it’s also a good place to visit in Amsterdam even if it rains.

Good to know: If you don’t want to buy tickets to the zoo, visit the Artisplein which is free to enter. It’s a lovely spot to sit and rest, with a water table fountain, stunning trees, and views of the Dutch polder aviary and flamingo pond.

You can bring your own food, or have lunch at one of the restaurants inside, but it tends to be very busy, with high prices too. There are lots of benches and picnic areas you can use when the weather is fine.

TIP: Buy your tickets online in advance as the zoo can get very busy, especially during weekends or school holidays. The entrance to the zoo is also included with the I Amsterdam City Card .

Giraffes and zebras at ARTIS zoo in Amsterdam

20. A’DAM Lookout

Located on top of the A’DAM Tower, the A’DAM Lookout used to be the headquarters for Shell. Nowadays, it’s a popular tourist attraction and one of the best spots for an amazing high-angle view of Amsterdam.

Getting up there is half the fun – you’ll travel in a glass-ceilinged elevator that takes just 22 seconds to reach the 20th floor!

The view isn’t the only reason to come here, though. A’DAM Lookout also has an interactive exhibition , with a free audio tour of the city’s history and culture. And if that rapid ascent in the elevator didn’t get your heart racing, perhaps the ‘Over The Edge’ swing will! Dangling 100 meters above the ground, it takes you to and from over the edge of the tower.

Alternatively, you can enjoy some slightly less terrifying fun in the Amsterdam VR ride , a virtual reality rollercoaster through the city.

Good to know: The Lookout also has a nice rooftop bar, and a nice restaurant for a special dinner. The restaurant – called Moon – revolves on one rotation of its axis in an hour, and all tables are next to the window. A ticket here is also included with the I Amsterdam City Card .

A'DAM Lookout tower in Amsterdam

21. NEMO Science Museum

The largest science museum in the Netherlands, NEMO is something nice to do in Amsterdam for the whole family. While it’s fun for adults too, NEMO is an absolute must if you are visiting Amsterdam with kids and are looking for something a bit more entertaining and hands-on than the ‘regular’ museums.

Through displays, workshops, videos, and interactive exhibits you can discover more about the things you see and experience every day.

From human anatomy and behavior to discovering how mathematics influences the world around you, there really is something here to interest everyone. And who can resist the chance of trying a hands-on experiment?

Good to know: The exhibits are in Dutch and in English. The first two floors are directed mainly towards children, whilst the upper two are more suitable for adults. If time is short you may prefer to spend the majority of it on the floors that will interest you most. Be sure to visit the rooftop, too – it gives you great views of the city!

TIP: Bring some change with you. There are free lockers, but you need to pay a small returnable deposit. Also, you can visit the rooftop restaurant without having to buy a museum ticket. And talking about tickets, also here, it’s best to get a ticket in advance . Or you can use the I Amsterdam Card here too.

NEMO Science Museum is a popular Amsterdam attraction for families

22. Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium Tour

Football fans will not want to miss a chance to visit the stadium of Amsterdam’s top-tier club, AJAX . However, keep in mind that it’s located a bit outside of the city center, so count some extra time to get there and back.

The Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium tour gives you access to the players’ areas of Amsterdam’s top-tier club. Conducted in either Dutch or English, it takes 75 minutes and includes the dugout, pitch, and official Ajax dressing room.

You can opt for the ‘ standard ‘ or ‘ VIP ‘ tour. The latter gives you access to some exclusive areas, a drink, and some other extras that die-hard fans will find more than worth it.

Amsterdam attractions - Johan Cruijff ArenA (AJAX Stadium)

23. Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds is another popular place to visit in Amsterdam that keeps on reinventing itself and is well worth a visit.

Here, you can come face-to-face with everyone from Anne Frank to Van Gogh, and the exhibits are presented in a fun and interactive way. It’s not just about taking pictures with some wax figures anymore, but a really fun experience for all ages.

This world-famous wax museum is located in the heart of the city, on Dam Square, and you only need about 1-1.5 hours here. So it’s quite easy to add a short visit here to any Amsterdam itinerary.

Good to know: The museum is open daily, and it also stays open quite late in the evening when many other places close already. It’s also something good to do in Amsterdam when it rains. Booking your ticket for this museum online in advance not only saves you time but is also cheaper than same-day tickets.

Madame Tussauds - one of the popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam

24. Moco Museum

Moco Museum is a small independent museum of modern, contemporary, and street art.

Located on the Museumplein just in between the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, it’s often overlooked by international tourists rushing from one top landmark to another. However, it’s well worth a quick visit, especially if you like contemporary art.

The museum might be quite compact, but the artwork here is truly unique. You can see some works by the world-famous street artist Banksy, and many other modern artists from all over the world. It also includes an immersive 3D gallery on the lower floor. It’s also a nice place to get some fun and unique pictures in Amsterdam (and Instagrammers’ favorite).

Good to know: The museum is open daily, from 8 AM to 5 PM, but – unless you come very early in the morning – be prepared for it to be busy. Because it occupies a small area, this museum can get quite busy in the high season. You can find more info and get your tickets here .

Moco museum in Amsterdam

Map of Amsterdam Attractions

To help you get a better idea of where all the main Amsterdam attractions are located, we created a  map  indicating all the points of interest and sights mentioned in this article.

This should help you plan your time a bit better. Just please keep in mind that you’ll need several hours for the main museums. So – if you decide to visit a few of those – plan the rest of your time around it.

Here you can find some sample itineraries to help you plan your trip:

  • 1 Day in Amsterdam
  • 2 Days in Amsterdam
  • 3 Days in Amsterdam
  • 4 Days in Amsterdam

TIP:  For more information and useful tips for your visit, please also see our guide with top travel tips for Amsterdam via the link below. It’s an essential read when planning your trip!

LEARN MORE: Top Tips for Visiting Amsterdam

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

In addition to the main sights in Amsterdam city itself, don’t forget that there’s so much more to the Netherlands than just its famous capital ! So try to plan some time to visit at least a few other places as well.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Holland (very easy to visit from Amsterdam) is Zaanse Schans , where you can see some traditional Dutch windmills.

In the spring (March – April), the Lisse tulip fields and Keukenhof Gardens are a must too!

In the summer, check out the picturesque village of Giethoorn which has canals instead of streets… And if you want to visit a smaller town, check out Delft – it’s absolutely charming!

For more information on these and other places to visit near Amsterdam, take a look at our detailed guides via the link below.

LEARN MORE: Best Day Trips from Amsterdam & Dutch Countryside (Top Places Near Amsterdam)

Best of Amsterdam - tourist guide to sights and attractions

Where to Stay for Sightseeing in Amsterdam

In order to make the most of your visit to Amsterdam, we recommend staying in the heart of the city. Our favorite area to stay for sightseeing in Amsterdam is in the wide surroundings around Dam Square, southwest of the station and north of Rijksmuseum.

There are some fabulous hotels in Amsterdam, but the prices are usually quite impressive too. It’s often really not easy to find a nice place to stay in the city center on a lower budget, but the longer in advance you book, the more (affordable) options you’ll have. So book your accommodation as soon as you know your travel dates !

Here are some of the best-rated hotels in central Amsterdam for different budgets:

  • €€€€€  NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky – the most popular 5* hotel in the heart of the city.
  • €€€€ Hotel Estheréa – for those looking for something a bit more unique. Very central location.
  • €€€+  Park Plaza Victoria – just next to the station, perfect for sightseeing.
  • €€ ClinkNOORD Hostel  – one of the most popular lower-budget hotels.
  • € The Flying Pig Downtown – a popular hostel with (mostly) shared facilities.

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay in Amsterdam (Best Areas & Tips)

So, these are our recommendations for some of the best places to see and things to do in Amsterdam.

I hope that this list of Amsterdam’s very best attractions and experiences will help you plan the perfect itinerary for your visit. Enjoy your stay in this tolerant, diverse, and exciting city!

More travel inspiration for your trip to the Netherlands & Belgium:

  • One Day in Amsterdam
  • Two Days in Amsterdam
  • Three Days in Amsterdam
  • Four Days in Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam Travel Tips
  • Best Amsterdam Museums
  • Best Day Trips from Amsterdam
  • Amsterdam in June: Weather & Seasonal Tips
  • Amsterdam in December
  • Amsterdam at Christmas
  • Kinderdijk Windmills
  • Alkmaar Cheese Market
  • Best Tulip Fields in the Netherlands & Tips for Visiting Keukenhof Gardens
  • Best Things to Do in Delft
  • Best Things to Do in Brussels
  • Best Things to Do in Antwerp
  • Best Things to Do in Bruges
  • Ypres and WWI Battlefields
  • Planning a bigger trip? Be sure to read our guide with tips for traveling to Europe !

If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Best things to do in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Photos: personal collection,, Additional image credits: Maarten_Zeehandelaar/; littleny/; niglaynike /; starush /; carmenmsaa /; MaykovNikita /; AGVDepositPhotos /; [email protected] /; bloodua /;

More travel inspiration for European cities:

If you are visiting other European cities and are looking for in-depth information for your trip, take a look at some of our city guides:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Bologna, Italy
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Colmar, France
  • Edinburgh, UK
  • Florence, Italy
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Krakow, Poland
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Liverpool, UK
  • Lucerne, Switzerland
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Manchester, UK
  • Milan, Italy
  • Naples, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Rome, Italy
  • Salzburg, Austria
  • Siena, Italy
  • Sintra, Portugal
  • Seville, Spain
  • Venice, Italy
  • Verona, Italy
  • For more… check our  destinations page.

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Tuesday 7th of November 2023

amazing places

Netherlands Tourism

50 best things to do in amsterdam.

During a 50-year project in the 17th century Amsterdam grew to four times its previous size, becoming the 3rd largest city in the world after London and Paris. Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands but the Dutch parliament is seated in The Hague .

Central to that plan was the Canal Belt, a network of concentric canals that is now UNESCO listed.

Built on reclaimed land, Amsterdam is a feat of ingenuity, and still crackles with the ambition, cultural tolerance and enterprise that drove the 17th-century Golden Age when the Netherlands led the world in trade, maritime power, culture and economic might.

This is the city of Rembrandt, Anne Frank, the Red Light District, Johan Cruyff, and the Dutch East and West India Companies; there’s a world of fascinating stories, spellbinding art and architecture that has stood the test of time.

TIP : Get the I Amsterdam City Card for free attractions, discounts and free public transport. And consider this top rated Volendam, Marken & Windmill tour

1. Museumplein

Museumplein, Amsterdam

There’s more culture on this one square in the Museumkwartier than you’ll find in most other whole cities.

The Museumplein is in Amsterdam’s well-heeled Oud-Zuid district, noted for its plush properties, upmarket boutiques (Hoofstraat and Van Baerlestraat) and the city’s favourite park at Vondelpark.

So needless to say, we’ll keep coming back to this part of the capital on this list.

But your main goal has to be the grassy square and its cluster of world-beating museums.

The big ones all follow below, counting the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as the Concertgebouw, one of the world’s best places to watch a classical concert.

The area took shape in the 1880s after the construction of the Rijksmuseum, and the square was re-landscaped in 1999. There are outdoor events and celebrations on the square all year, including a skating rink from November to February.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

Opened in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh in the world.

This includes 200 paintings, 500+ drawings and 750 letters, as well as pieces by contemporaries and influences like Rodin, Monet, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet and Gauguin.

Van Gogh’s work is hung chronologically, presenting five different periods: Nuenen/Antwerp (1880-86), Paris (1886-88), Arles (1888-1889), Saint-Rémy (1889-90) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). There’s much to savour, but Sunflowers, Almond Blossoms, Bedroom in Arles and Wheatfield with Crows are indispensible.

With more than 2.1 million visitors a year, the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands.

The advantage of booking a ticket with is that you can skip the queue, heading straight for the blue lane at your allotted time, and spending a few hours under the spell of one of the great painters.

3. Rijksmuseum


An extraordinary showcase for Dutch art, applied art and historical artefacts, the Rijksmuseum beckons you through 800 years of Dutch history at a purpose-built neo-Gothic palace.

Some 8,000 pieces are on show at any one time, and for many people the museum’s pinnacle is the collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings.

There are masterpieces like The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer, The Night Watch by Rembrandt and Portrait of a Young Couple by Frans Hals.

You can embark on adventure through Dutch culture and design, via Delftware, textiles, glass, armour, costume, sculpture and stunning 17th-century dollhouses.

Two exhibits that give a sense of the Dutch Golden Age are the Hartog Plate, the oldest known artefact of European exploration in Australia, and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles, captured in the Raid on the Medway in 1667. Like the Van Gogh Museum the Rijksmuseum is almost always busy, so pre-booking with will let you skip the line.

4. Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House

On the Prinsengracht, the Anne Frank House preserves the secret annexe where the young diarist Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution from 1942 until she was captured along with her family and four other inhabitants in 1944. The rooms are on an enclosed courtyard behind a 17th-century canal house that served as the Dutch HQs of the spice and gelling companies Frank’s father Otto worked for.

Otto was the Frank family’s sole survivor after the Holocaust, and published his daughter’s diary in 1947. You’ll see the original copy of this defining work, as well as photographs and items belonging to the Frank family and the four other inhabitants of the annexe.

The secret rooms give a visceral sense of what it was like to live in hiding, while temporary exhibitions on persecution and fascism will inspire renewed vigilance.

Related tour :  Amsterdam Walking Tour: The Fascinating Story of Anne Frank

5. Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum

Open since 1895, the third of that trio of cultural giants on the Museumplein is the Stedelijk Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art, from Vincent van Gogh onwards.

All of the big art movements involving the Netherlands are represented, like Neo-Impressionism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, CoBrA and Pop art.

There’s painting, sculpture, installation art, video art prints, posters, graphic design and artists books.

You can feast your eyes on works by Piet Mondrian, Karel Appel, Willem de Kooning, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Gilbert & George, to name a small few.

The late-19th-century main building was given a modern extension in 2012, nicknamed “the bathtub”, serving as the main entrance and making a big statement on the Museumplein.

Book online :  Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket

6. Hire a Bike

Amsterdam Bike

At 800,000 there are as many bikes as people in the centre of Amsterdam, probably the most cycle-friendly city in the world for its easy terrain and well-planned infrastructure.

Most streets have separate bike lanes, so you can get to wherever you want to go safely and quickly, and will feel like an Amsterdammer when you do it.

All ferries over the IJ allow you to take your bike on board for free.

You will not have to look hard for a rental centre, and MacBike, whose fleet is easily spotted by its red paint and logos, is the most widespread.

If you don’t want to look like a tourist there are plenty of companies with bikes purposely designed to help you blend in.

One rule to keep in mind is to cross tram tracks at an angle, because it’s easy to get caught in those grooves.

Guided tour :  3-Hour Guided Bike Tour of Historical Amsterdam

7. Vondelpark


Amsterdam’s park of choice is a tranquil strip of ponds, undulating lawns and mature trees pushing west from the Museumplein.

A fun piece of trivia about the park, landscaped in 1865, is that it is constantly sinking, and needs to be renovated every generation to avoid it being completely inundated with water.

The Openluchttheater puts on a vibrant schedule of free live music, musical theatre and cabaret from June to August.

Although the performances cost nothing to watch, it may be worth booking online to reserve a place.

The rose garden in the centre of the Vondelpark was planted in 1936 and grows more than 70 types of rose, while the park has a sculpture, The Fish (1965) by Pablo Picasso.

A very respectable way to spend an hour or so is at the neo-Renaissance Vondelparkpaviljoen, built in 1874. There’s a cafe, Vertigo, in the basement, with seating on the terrace outside.

8. Herengracht


Patrician’s Canal in English, the Herengracht is the first of the four main canals in the city centre’s Canal Belt.

This waterway was completed along with its neighbours in the 17th century as part of an expansion project that is now UNESCO listed.

As the name may tell you, the Herengracht was where Amsterdam’s social elite built their grand gabled houses, and that sense of prestige has continued into the 21st century.

Take your time as there’s much to see, and almost every building is a work of art.

You’ll pass the former office of the Dutch West India Company at Herenmarkt and one of Amsterdam’s oldest residences (built in 1590) at 81. The magnificent Bartolotti house (1617) at 172, considered the finest of all of Amsterdam’s Golden Age merchant’s houses, while the Classical terrace of the Cromhouthuizen merits a photo at 364-70. The most desirable location for a self-respecting regent or mayor was the Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend) after Leidsegracht, developed after 1663 and now home to banks and insurance companies.

Related tour :  City Canal Cruise

9. Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Museum Het Rembrandthuis

Amazingly, the house at Jodenbreestraat 4 where Rembrandt lived and worked from 1639 to 1658 has been kept as a museum to one of the masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

The house first went up in 1606 and was rebuilt around 1627. Come the early 20th century the building was in bad condition, but was restored by the eminent architect Karel de Bazel and opened as a museum in 1911. A new extension was built next door in the 90s, and this houses a huge collection of Rembrandt’s drawings and etchings, while the actual Rembrandt house reconstructs the artist’s living space and workshop.

There’s even an exhibition of broken pots found during an archaeological dig and dated to Rembrandt’s stay.

In 2010 the museum received its first painting by Rembrandt with the Tronie of an Old Man with Turban (1627-1628), followed by four panels from the series The Five Senses n 2017.

Ticket :  Rembrandt House Museum Entrance Ticket

10. Jordaan District

Jordaan District

Whether it’s your first or tenth time in Amsterdam, you have to drop by this grid of little streets and filled-in canals bordered by the Singel.

Created during that great expansion in the 17th century, the Jordaan was first inhabited by Amsterdam’s working class and an international array of migrants, like Huguenots from France and Puritans from England, seeking the city’s famous religious tolerance.

Up to the 20th century the Jordaan was firmly a neighbourhood for the salt of the earth, as well as the radical left, and was gentrified in the second half of the 20th century to become a treasured shopping and nightlife district.

Explore the tight streets and sequestered courtyards, kick back at a snug little cafe, potter around the many specialty shops and galleries and visit the Noordermarkt for its organic farmers’ market on Saturdays.

De Negen Straatjes (nine little streets) are your first stop for boutiques, design shops and stylish bars.

Related tour:  4-Hour Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan

11. Canal Cruise

Amsterdam Canal Cruise

A canal cruise in Amsterdam is practically a cliché, but water is such an intrinsic part of the city that you have to get on board.

You’ll be granted the best views of those 17th-century merchant and patrician houses, the innumerable bridges, historic churches and cute houseboats.

Day or night, it’s an opportunity not to pass up; the only tricky part is working out which is the best cruise for you. has an enormous choice, catering to all tastes.

Say you prefer more of a personal trip, there’s an hour-long guided cruise on a small vessel, or you can see sights like the Skinny Bridge and Golden Bend in lights on a 90-minute evening trip.

There are semi-open boat trips, in-depth cruises for people who want to see every inch of the canals, dinner cruises, unlimited drinks cruises, cocktail cruises and no end of combined experiences.

Tip : List of available Amsterdam Canal Cruises

12. Begijnhof

Begijnhof, Amsterdam

Founded sometime around the early 14th century, the Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard established as a Beguinage, a community for lay religious women (beguines). Entered down a stairway from Spuiplein, it’s an oasis of peace, with a green wooded square surrounded by fine gabled houses.

As wooden buildings were outlawed in 1521, the Begijnhof was reconstructed in brick in the 17th and 18th century.

With one exception, Het Houten Huis (1420) standing on the southwestern frontage and officially the oldest house in Amsterdam.

Another of Amsterdam’s oldest monuments, the English Reformed Church, is also on Begijnhof, with roots as a 14th-century Catholic chapel.

You can also visit a hidden church, built behind the facades of a row of houses after public Catholicism was banned in the 16th century.

The last beguine passed away as recently as 1971.

13. Keizersgracht

Keizersgracht, Amsterdam

The widest of the three main canals on the Canal Belt, Keizersgracht is between Herengracht and Prinsengracht and named for Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459-1519). If the canal freezes in winter, no boats are allowed to pass through, in order to help keep the ice intact for skaters.

As with Keizersgracht’s neighbours, it pays to be methodical as you make your way, so you don’t miss anything.

At No. 44 are the Greenland Warehouses (1620), easily identified by their three crow-stepped gables.

As many as 50,000 litres of whale blubber could be stored in the basements of these buildings, a far cry from their current role as luxury apartments! The distinguished House with the Heads (1622) at No. 123 is adorned with the heads of six Roman gods and goddesses, while Felix Meritis (1788) at No. 324 was built by the Enlightenment society of the same name and hosted performances by the likes of Mozart and Brahms.

14. Dam Square

Dam Square

A square for the whole nation, Dam Square is traced by the Royal Palace, the National Monument (a remembrance obelisk from 1956) and the 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk.

Dam Square is at the point where the Amstel River was dammed in the 13th century, and was the scene of Amsterdam’s central market in Medieval times.

This space has a storied history, and not all of it is savoury.

Whenever there has been civil unrest, whether it was Anabaptists in the 16th century or students protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, Dam Square is the place where things have boiled over.

The last outbreak of violence was at the Coronation of Queen Beatrix in 1980, while there was a massacre on the square at the end of the Second World War.

On the lighter side, there’s a funfair on Dam Square for national occasions like Kings Day (27 April) and in the build-up to Christmas.

15. Prinsengracht

Prinsengracht in Winter

The third and outermost of Amsterdam’s three main canals is also the longest, and named for William, Prince of Orange, famed for his revolt against the Spanish.

Unlike the other waterways curling around the old centre, the Prinsengracht has traditionally been quite poor, in keeping with its location beside the Jordaan.

But there’s no lack of stunning Golden Age canal houses, joined by small workshops and dwellings, as well as rows of sweet houseboats on the water.

We’ve already mentioned the Anne Frank Museum, but there are also splendid 17th-century churches like the Noorderkerk and the soaring Westerkerk.

At No. 7 stands another of Amsterdam’s 14 hidden Catholic churches.

Also keep a lookout for the exceptionally narrow house at No. 245, just 1.4 metres wide (17th-century property tax was paid according to the width of a building). Every August the classical Prinsengrachtconcert is performed from a pontoon on the canal in front of the Hotel Pulitzer.

Singel, Amsterdam

Unlike its neighbours the Herengracht and Keizersgracht, the innermost Singel is a canal that opens onto the IJ in the north.

In Medieval times this was Amsterdam’s outer moat, and was only used for shipping goods.

But in the 16th and 17th centuries the canal was widened and developed, and there are plenty of holdovers from the Golden Age on its refined banks.

It’s hardly surprising that Singel is one of the poshest parts of the city, with continuous rows of gabled canal houses.

Look for De Dolphijn at 140-142, built in 1600 and once home to Frans Banninck Cocq, the central figure in Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch.

The Munttoren on the Muntplein, looming over the Bloemenmarkt, once belonged to one of the main gates in Amsterdam’s city wall.

17. Red Light District

Red Light District, Amsterdam

At Oudezijds Achterburgwal, amid a historic cityscape boasting the Gothic Oude Kerk and the chaotic Nieuwmarkt square, is the world’s most famous Red Light District.

A product of the Dutch tradition of tolerance, the Red Light District is a difficult place to describe.

Because on the one hand brothels, peep shows, sex shops and theatres cater for most urges, but on the other, everything is strictly regulated, video surveillance pervades the area, there’s a rigid code (no photos whatsoever) and sex workers even have their own union.

In all senses, it’s a remarkable place, and there’s an information centre to help you make sense of it.

The wider De Wallen area has much more to recommend it, like eccentric shops, galleries, international restaurants, rickety gabled houses and the oldest canals in the city.

Red Light Secrets is a museum where the area’s prostitutes tell their own funny, moving and human stories.

Recommended tour :  Red Light District 2-Hour Walking Tour

18. Heineken Experience

Heineken Experience

After Heineken moved home to a modern facility on Amsterdam’s fringes in 1988 the monolithic 19th-century brewery building in the De Pijp district reopened as a museum to one of the world’s favourite pilsners.

Over four floors, this has evolved into the Heineken Experience, which will tell you all about the brand’s origins, when a student of Louis Pasteur worked with Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1873 to develop a special yeast.

There are brewing artefacts like vast copper vessels still in situ, as well as multimedia exhibits, a bizarre 4D ride when you’ll find out what it’s like to be brewed and bottled, and, naturally, a tasting bar.

Book online :  Heineken Experience Ticket

19. NDSM Wharf

NDSM Wharf

For an antidote to the tourist trail, this former industrial shipyard the size of ten football pitches on the north bank of the IJ has emerged as a whole cultural neighbourhood.

You can get there on the 906 ferry from the Centraal station, and one reason to make the trip is for the monthly flea market in the gargantuan IJ-hallen, thought to be one of the largest in Europe.

Everywhere at the NDSM Wharf, industrial remnants have been re-evaluated.

Take the waterside Pllek, where there’s a cafe in former shipping containers by an artificial beach.

For a night you won’t soon forget you can book a room at the Faralda Crane Hotel, literally a crane, but with three scenic luxury suites inside its column.

Be sure to keep one eye on the calendar for outdoor film screenings and annual events like the DGTL underground electronic festival in March.

20. Bike Tour

Amsterdam Bikes

For the ultimate introduction to Amsterdam you can hop on a bike and take an all-encompassing three-hour tour of the city.

With you can book this trip past the world-renowned canals and via all the sights that you can’t leave out of a first-time trip to Amsterdam.

So the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and Jewish Museum are on the itinerary, but because you’ll be in the company of a knowledgeable Amsterdammer you’ll also see things and hear stories that you might otherwise have missed.

Tours are given in English, French or German.

21. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder

Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder

We’ve mentioned how, post-Reformation, Catholicism became a more secretive practise in Amsterdam, and at this 17th-century canal house you can visit a real Schuilkerk, or clandestine church.

In English, the name is “Our Lord in the Attic”, which as you can tell makes up the top three floors of this magnificent residence.

By the 19th century it had ceased to be used as a place of worship and was preserved as a museum in 1888. So while you can peruse a refined bourgeois house, decorated with period furniture, table clocks and Delft tiles, there are also religious treasures like paintings, marble altar columns, wooden liturgical fittings and silverware on show in the church upstairs.

As a whole Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder testifies to the religious tolerance of the time, because churches like this were open secrets intentionally ignored by the authorities.

22. Leidseplein


If you’re going out in Amsterdam, you’ll surely find yourself on Leidseplein at some point.

Directly on this central square are discos, cinemas, theatres, restaurants and a casino.

The most famous of Amsterdam’s coffee shops, the Bulldog, is on Leidseplein, while De Melkweg is a concert venue of real pedigree, hosting the Beastie Boys, U2, and Prince to name a few.

In summer Leidseplein is dominated by restaurant and cafe terraces, and crowds roll up to watch a colourful cast of jugglers, living statues, break-dancers and buskers do their thing.

As sights go, the neo-Renaissance Stadsschouwburg (1894) is an attention-grabber and is the former home of the National Ballet and Opera.

If AFC Ajax win something big, there’s usually a big celebration from the steps of this monument.

There’s an unforgettable image of Johan Cruyff holding the Cup Winners’ Cup aloft over the square in 1987.

23. Tropenmuseum


A nuanced and thoughtfully presented ethnographic museum, the Tropenmuseum is tour through the various cultures of the world.

The museum started life as a platform for the Netherlands’ colonial territories, but after Indonesia gained independence the scope switched to developing regions in general.

These include Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and North Africa, all with an emphasis on tolerance and care for the environment.

There’s a mine of intriguing objects, photographs, sketches and footage helping to find global common ground in aspects of life like celebration, conflict, mourning and prayer.

The building is a treasure too, dating to 1926 and featuring the Lichthal (Light Hall), a massive central space with a grand stairway, all overlooked by galleries.

Book online :  Tropenmuseum Entrance Ticket

24. Westerkerk


Amsterdam’s principal protestant church dates from the 1620s and was built in the most western part of the Canal Belt, beside the Jordaan.

At that time, not long after the Reformation, it was one of the city’s first purpose-built Protestant places of worship.

Walking around Amsterdam’s old centre, the church’s 85-metre tower, the highest in the city, will occasionally hove into view.

Anne Frank could see it from her secret annexe and mentioned the tower and its carillon several times in her diary.

Looking up from street level, the 51-bell carillon is just above the clock-faces, and the 14 largest bells in the set were cast by the greatest founder of the day, François Hemony in 1658. Rembrandt is buried at the Westerkerk, although the exact location of his tomb is unknown as he was destitute when he passed.

There’s a 20th-century memorial for him on the north wall, and every 15 July he is remembered with a lunchtime concert.

25. Portuguese Synagogue

Portuguese Synagogue, Amsterdam

If one monument could sum up just what a melting pot Amsterdam was in the 17th century it’s this Sephardic Jewish synagogue.

After being expelled from Spain and Portugal, a Sephardic Jewish community flourished in the safety of Amsterdam’s tolerant environment from the 16th century onwards.

Initially worship was confined to relative secrecy, but as the 17th century wore on, synagogues were permitted in prominent places.

Completed in 1675 the Portuguese Synagogue was the largest in the world at the time, and one of the largest monuments in the city.

Even now, you’ll be bowled over by the dimensions of this Classical building (mimicking the demure Baroque style of the Protestant churches at the time) and can visit Sunday to Friday all year round.

Note the wooden ark and tebah, and the 12 columns holding up the women’s gallery, one for each of Israel’s twelve tribes.

26. Magere Brug

Magere Brug, Amsterdam

This imposing bascule bridge over the Amstel, known in English as the “Skinny Bridge”, may not look so slim today.

Because the name is a holdover from a 17th-century structure that was so narrow that two pedestrians would struggle to pass each other on the crossing.

Tradition has an alternative explanation, suggesting that the name comes from the Mager sisters, who lived on opposite sides of the Amstel and used their wealth to build the bridge so they could visit each other.

The original skinny bridge was demolished in the 19th century, and its successor from 1871 was replaced by the current Magere Brug in 1934. It’s a handsome landmark, especially at night when lit up by thousands of bulbs, and Bond fans may know it from Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

27. Hermitage Amsterdam

Hermitage Amsterdam

The largest satellite attraction for Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum can be found at the riverside Amstelhof.

This fine building with an elongated Classical facade was built in 1682 as a charitable retirement home for women.

The last inhabitants departed for new accommodation in 2007, and over the next couple of years the Amstelhof became a mini-Hermitage.

There’s a long connection between Amsterdam and Saint Petersburg, as Peter the Great founded the city in 1703 after visiting Amsterdam and relied on Dutch knowhow to turn swampy ground into something habitable.

There are two permanent exhibitions here; one going into the history of the Amstelhof, and the other charting Netherlands-Russia relations.

The temporary exhibitions are vital.

In the second half of 2018 there was a show for 18th-century European Neoclassicism, and a set of 30 portraits from the Dutch Golden Age.

28. Amsterdam North Ferry

Amsterdam North Ferry

Amsterdam is a city with endless inspiration for free activities, and something that always catches newcomers by surprise is the free ferry 24-hour service over the IJ from the Centraal Station terminal.

Amsterdam-Noord is green and peaceful, for a respite from the tourism honeypots on the opposite shore.

The EYE and A’Dam Toren will literally be your first ports of call as you step off the ferry.

But you may want to bring a bike and see Amsterdam’s residential side in an area described as a “village within a city”. If you’re really committed you could cycle all the way to Durgendam, a quaint old village on the water.

A little closer, Noorderpark has an award-winning swimming complex and two community centres at repurposed gas stations.

29. EYE Film Institute Netherlands

EYE Film Institute Netherlands

Impossible to miss on the other side of the IJ from the Centraal station, the EYE Film Institute Netherlands is in a bold white building designed by Delugan Meissl and unveiled in 2012. The institute came about after four film institutions, including the Dutch Film Museum, were rolled into one in 2009. You can get there via the free ferry across the IJ, a journey worth making, whether you want to check out the permanent and temporary exhibitions or catch some independent cinema (four screens), archive documentaries or classics from Tarkovsky to Rademakers.

The basement has a clever exhibition on the history of cinema, with interactive quizzes to keep kids on board, while there are thought-provoking multimedia art installations throughout.

The EYE’s restaurant is special, with views through floor-to-ceiling windows to the Centraal station.

30. A’Dam Lookout

A'Dam Lookout

Reopened and launched as the A’DAM Toren after a two-year renovation, this landmark tower was built on the north shore of the IJ for Royal Dutch Shell in 1966. With 22 floors the tower is 100 metres high and commands a supreme view of the IJ, Amsterdam’s historic centre, it’s many canals and out across North Holland’s reclaimed polder landscape.

At the top there’s a smart interactive exhibition about Amsterdam’s culture and past, while in the revolving capsule on the 19th floor is Moon, a contemporary restaurant using local, seasonal ingredients.

On the floor above, at the observation deck, Madam, is a modern French and Mediterranean eatery.

Something to try before you eat anything is, “Over the Edge”, Europe’s highest swing, off the edge of the building and 100 metres over the ground.

Book online :  A’DAM Lookout Premium Ticket Including 2 Drinks

31. Westergasfabriek

Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam

A set of late-19th-century industrial buildings on the edge of Westerpark was reworked into a cultural, shopping and dining venue in 2003. This was once Amsterdam’s gasworks, and the dignified old brick buildings are now hip restaurants, an arthouse cinema, microbrewery, design shops, fair trade food stores, a wine bar and exhibition spaces.

Even the gas holder has been repurposed, and with a capacity of 3,500 is now a spectacular space for club nights.

Any time of year there will be something going on at Westergasfabriek, whether it’s a film festival, exhibition or specialised food market.

32. Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum

Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum

Set on some 18,000 wooden piles on an artificial island in Amsterdam’s Harbour, the National Maritime Museum is in the Dutch admiralty’s former main warehouse, constructed in 1646. Even now it’s a staggering technical feat, with an inner courtyard that has been covered with an immense glass canopy.

Since the Netherlands’ hegemony in the 17th century relied on maritime prowess, the museum inside is essential if you want to understand the dynamics of the Golden Age.

The museum shows how the sea has shaped Dutch culture over 500 years, with displays of maps by the eminent 17th-century cartographers Willem Blaeu and son, navigational instruments, maritime paintings, models of ships, weapons and lots more.

Moored beside the museum is a faithful replica of the Amsterdam, an 18th-century Dutch East India Company cargo ship wrecked in the channel in 1749 but rediscovered in 1969.

33. Royal Palace

Royal Palace

This expansive building on Dam Square wasn’t always a palace, as it was built as Amsterdam’s city hall in the middle of the 17th century.

Composed of yellowy sandstone shipped from Bentheim in Germany, the monument captures a city full of confidence and was believed to be the largest secular building in Europe at the time.

It was Louis Napoleon who turned the building into a palace in 1806, and there are ample reminders from the city hall days.

The sculpture of Atlas crowning the pediment symbolises Amsterdam’s central role in global affairs in the Golden Age.

The Burgerzaal, for Amsterdam’s all-powerful burgomasters, is a sublime marble hall, laid with maps by the Blaeus and has figurative sculptures of the four elements on its arches.

The Empire Style sculpture, furniture, chandeliers and bronze pendulum clocks of Louis Napoleon’s court are still in place and suffused with mythological symbolism.

Book online :  Skip the Line Ticket & Audio Guide: Amsterdam Royal Palace

34. Moco Museum

Moco Museum, Amsterdam

The well-connected art lovers Lionel and Kim Logchies founded this boutique contemporary art museum in 2016. Two decades worth of contacts have granted the couple access to some major pieces previously hidden away from the public, so you’re sure to see something new.

In 2018 there was an exhibition of works by Banksy, the first formal collection of his art in the world.

This included icons like the Flower Thrower and Girl with Balloon, all complementing the Banksy police van, owned by the museum and on show in the garden.

At the same time there was an interactive room with the work of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein rendered in 3D, and a show for the feted Iranian street artists Icy and Sot.

A word for the venue, which is a Jugendstil townhouse on Museumplein, designed in 1904 by Eduard Cuypers.

Book online:  Moco Museum: Skip-the-Line Tickets with Banksy and More

35. Foodhallen


A former tram depot in the ultra-trendy Oud-West neighbourhood is the fitting location for an indoor food market (part of the larger De Hallen complex) with a diversity of little pop-up restaurants.

There are more than 20 in all, and the big choice means that even the pickiest eaters will find something to their taste.

People with a globetrotting palate will have to choose between Greek meze, temaki rolls, oysters shucked on the spot, American barbecue, Vietnamese summer rolls, falafel, dim sum, tapas, gourmet hot dogs, wood-fired pizzas… the list goes on.

Much of Foodhallen’s charm comes from its fun, convivial atmosphere, and things can get pretty lively here on a Friday or Saturday night.

Head up to the gallery for a great view of the hall.

Tip : List of Amsterdam Food Tours

36. Concertgebouw

Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

On its 125th anniversary the stately Concertgebouw concert hall on the Museumplein was bestowed the Koninklijk (Royal) prefix by Queen Beatrix.

And with good reason, because the Concertgebouw is one of the world’s great concert halls with a Main Hall fabled for its finery and acoustics perfectly suited to late-Romantic classical music.

So for a bit of Mahler and Strauss, check out the programme.

But you can also attend a free lunchtime concert in the Recital Hall on Wednesdays (July and August excepted). There are guided tours of the Concertgebouw on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, taking you to parts of the building you wouldn’t otherwise see, and passing on interesting stories from this monument’s 130-year past.

37. Albert Cuyp Markt

Albert Cuyp Markt

In Oud-Zuid’s De Pijp there’s a street-length outdoor market on Albert Cuypstraat, from Ferdinand Bolstraat to Van Woustraat.

The Albert Cuyp Market came together at the turn of the 20th century to bring some order to the hordes of traders and hawkers who would set up shop here.

Originally just a Saturday night affair, the market trades Monday to Saturday during daytime hours, with 300 stalls on both sides of the street completely shutting down traffic.

You can find it all here; fresh produce, cheese, herring, spices, fabrics, cosmetics, fashion accessories, but also Surinamese, Moroccan and Antillean specialities.

The high competition keeps prices low and there may not be a better place to see real Amsterdammers going about their day.

38. Fashion for Good

amsterdam tourist things to do

Right on Rokin in the centre of Amsterdam is the world’s first museum devoted to sustainable fashion innovation.

At Fashion for Good, which only opened in October 2018, you’ll be confronted by the absurd wastefulness of the fashion industry in the 21st century.

For instance, almost 60% of all clothing ends up in landfill or being burnt within one year of production.

Using installations made with found or cradle-to-cradle materials, Fashion for Good shows off the work of some 50 innovators who aim to right some of the industry’s wrongs.

Take Mycotex, which produces fabrics using myco-proteins, or Colorfix, creating dyes from engineered microorganisms.

You’ll find out about biodegradable glitter and polyester, lifelike leather made from apples and see how blockchain technology is changing production.

Everything in the museum’s shop is sustainable, and the Design Studio lets you create your own sustainable t-shirt, printed on site.

39. Hortus Botanicus

Hortus Botanicus

The Plantage neighbourhood was planned as an eastern extension of the Canal Belt, but lack of demand for housing in the 17th century allowed this corner of the city to stay leafy and spacious.

There’s a surplus of visitor attractions in this corner of Amsterdam.

One of the most vital is Hortus Botanicus, founded in 1638 and among the oldest botanical gardens in the world.

In those early years the garden grew medicinal herbs for doctors and pharmacists at a time when plague outbreaks were still common.

Hortus Botanicus moved to its current location in 1682 and was soon planted with species gathered from all ends of the earth by the Dutch East India Company.

More than 6,000 plant species grow at Hortus Botanicus today, and remarkably, a single coffee plant in this collection lead to widespread plantations around the world.

Don’t miss the 17th-century hexagonal pavilion, or the cycads in the Palm House (1915), built in the style of the Amsterdam School.

40. Amsterdam Museum

Amsterdam Museum

You couldn’t be blamed for wanting to know more about a city built on stilts and renowned for free thought, tolerance, Johan Cruyff, the Dutch East India Company, architectural innovation, a famous Red Light District and much more.

You can pull on all of these threads and many more at the Amsterdam Museum.

The setting is a former convent that became an orphanage during the Reformation.

For a whirlwind tour through Amsterdam’s past, Amsterdam DNA is an hour-long experience using interactive stations, specially selected artefacts and ambient effects.

World – City is a new permanent exhibition exploring Amsterdam’s relationship with the rest of the world down the centuries.

One exceptional piece is the Medieval aerial map from the Middle Ages, and the painting The Dam by the leading Amsterdam Impressionist George Hendrik Breitner.

Book online :  Amsterdam Museum Entrance Ticket

41. Joods Historisch Museum

amsterdam tourist things to do

The only museum dedicated to Jewish history in the Netherlands is in a complex of four synagogues dating back to 1671, opposite the Portuguese Synagogue.

Joint tickets are sold for these attractions, and the Joods Historisch Museum gives an enthralling account of 400+ years of Judaism in Amsterdam.

These buildings had been unused by the Jewish community from the Holocaust up to the museum’s establishment in 1987. The collection of ceremonial objects, art and archaeological finds is enormous, and only a small fraction can be shown at one time, along with important exhibitions, often delving into the community’s persecution in the Second World War.

There’s also a media library, with books, music, magazines, film, brochures and photography, open to the public since 1987. A wonderful touch is the Children’s Museum, where kids can go inside a Jewish household, baking challah in the kitchen, learning to write their names in Hebrew and playing traditional musical instruments.

Included in :  Jewish Cultural Quarter Full-Day Tickets

42. ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo


Founded in 1838, this venerable institution in the Plantage neighbourhood is the oldest zoo in Amsterdam and also the oldest in the Netherlands.

So some of the charm of Artis comes from its historic buildings, like the library (1867) and aquarium (1882). Children of course will be thrilled with the animal collection, which runs to as many as 900 species.

Just to skim over a few, there are Asian elephants, chimpanzees, giraffes, caiman, a large assortment of turtles, tortoises, snakes and lizards, as well as predators like jaguars, lynxes, Alaskan wolves and lions.

Artis has a botanical appeal too, with more than 200 tree species, and an oak in the chimpanzee enclosure thought to be at least 250 years old.

Check the website for the planetarium schedule and for a timetable of keeper talks for griffon vultures, butterflies, African penguins, gorillas, red ruffed lemurs, sea lions and more.

Book online :  ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo: Skip-the-Line Admission

43. Verzetsmuseum


Facing the zoo is a museum about the Dutch Resistance in a grand building raised for the Jewish Singing Society in 1876. Neatly designed, and using lots of multimedia, exhibitions at the Verzetsmuseum recount the efforts made to disrupt German occupation.

At Risk of Explosion! you can find out about an audacious attack on the Municipal Register in 1943. A group of artists and students gained access by dressing up as police, leaving behind a bomb which partially destroyed the records of the 70,000 Jews living in Amsterdam.

There’s also a more general chronology of the Second World War in the Netherlands, and the many different ways that ordinary Dutch citizens resisted, from strikes, to espionage, helping people hide and forging documents.

44. Johan Cruyff Arena Tour

Johan Cruyff Arena

In 2018 the Amsterdam ArenA, home of AFC Ajax was renamed in honour of fabled former player and manager Johan Cruyff, who passed away in 2016. For students of the beautiful game, Ajax will always be fascinating, as the club that gave the world Total Football in the 1970s and continues to produce some the world’s most exciting young talent.

This 55,000-seater stadium was completed in 1996 and included a few innovations like a fully retractable roof.

Head here for a 75-minute all-access tour (the Ajax dressing room is off-bounds on match-days), taking you to the tunnel, dugout, the Ajax Gallery of Fame, the press conference room, the stadium’s control room and up to the highest seat.

Book online :  Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium 75-Minute Tour

45. TonTon Club West

TonTon Club West

The Zuiverlingshal (Refinery) at Westergasfabriek houses one of three branches of a grown-up arcade concept that has taken Amsterdam by storm.

Along with old-school coin-op arcade games there’s air-hockey, pinball and token-redemption machines.

It’s like stepping into a grown-up version of an arcade from an 80s teen movie, with Japanese flourishes, ramen burgers, Dance Dance Revolution, rhythm games like Taiko no Tatsujin and no shortage of frantic button mashers.

You can order a boozy milkshake, nurse a Japanese whisky, and when the weather’s good you can hang out on the terrace.

46. Museum Het Schip

Museum Het Schip

The outstanding example of the Amsterdam School of Expressionist Architecture lies just across the tracks from the Westerpark.

Designed by Michel de Klerk, Het Schip (1919) is still a thrill to behold a century later for its unconventional form.

It still fulfils its intended purpose, as social housing, but also contains a meeting hall, while its former post office became a museum to the Amsterdam School in 2001. This recalls the history of the movement, from 1910 to 1930 and explains the design and construction of the Het Schip (The Ship in English), a real architectural wonder.

After seeing the museum you’ll spot the Amsterdam School’s curving lines all over the city.

Also be sure to take a walk around the neighbourhood, for more architecture of this style and to see a side to the city not usually on tourists’ radars.

47. Give Herring a Try


As Dutch as it gets, soused herring now has a European TSG designation (Traditional Specialities Guaranteed). The flavour of young herring ripened in a brine solution may not appeal to people who haven’t grown up with it, but you won’t know if you like it until you try it.

The best herring is Hollandse Nieuwe, which is caught between mid-May and late-June at a time when the young herring is neither too thin or fat.

The Amsterdam way to enjoy this street food is in slices on a bed of diced raw onion and with pickles on the side, either on a paper plate or in a bread roll.

One of the most prominent spots is Stubbe’s Haring, on the bridge across the Singel, a moment from Amsterdam Centraal station.

48. Bloemenmarkt

Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam

On the Singel canal between Koningsplein and the Muntplein is the world’s only floating flower market.

Since 1862 traders have been selling cut flowers and bulbs here from houseboats.

In days gone by the flowers would make their way here from the countryside by boat on the Amstel River, which explains this waterborne setting.

These barges are now fixed, and have glass canopies to keep things humid.

These mirror the greenhouses right across Holland, producing daffodils, orchids, carnations, violets, geraniums, snowdrops and of course tulips, even out of season.

The Bloemenmarkt sells bulbs all year, so you can grow your own, while tulip season tends to fall between the middle of April and start of May.

This is a fine time to hop on a train to see the spectacular spring displays at the Keukenhof garden in Lisse.

49. Head for the Beach

Zandvoort Beach

The dense Dutch railway network means that North Sea coast resorts like Zandvoort and Scheveningen are genuine day-trip options from Amsterdam in summer.

But curiously, you can also hit the beach without leaving the city, at a host of man-made urban beaches attached to bars and restaurants.

Strand Zuid at Europaplein has more than 2,000 square metres of soft sand, where you can sip a cocktail on a hammock or sun lounger.

You can also cross the IJ once more to Pllek at NDSM in Amsterdam-Noord, which has a heart-rending view of the city and a sustainable outlook to go with it.

Three quarters of Pllek’s menu is vegetarian, and along with live music there are yoga classes, mini festivals, workshops and art exhibitions on the beach.

50. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Founded in 1985, Brouwerij ‘t IJ came with a wave of local breweries catering to people who were dissatisfied with beer produced by the Netherlands’ corporate breweries.

It was set up on Funenkade, in the shadow of De Gooyer, the tallest windmill in the Netherlands.

The brewery makes eight highly-rated standard beers, including a pilsner, IPA, white beer and dark beer.

You may be surprised by the low price, and the portions are small enough that you might be able to try most of the range if you go slowly.

Classic Dutch pub snacks like Ossenworst (raw beef sausage) and boiled eggs make for satisfying accompaniments.

If you’re interested in how water, hops, malt and yeast combine to make this nectar, there are 20-minute brewery tours from 15:30 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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31 Epic Things to Do in Amsterdam (Perfect First Time Visit)

Things to do in amsterdam: the 30 best places to visit (all highlights).

You want to visit Amsterdam during your next trip?

Great idea!

In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared this guide of the 31 best things to do in Amsterdam , with all points of interest and must-see attractions.

The famous Red Light District, the Rijksmuseum, the Royal Palace, the best coffee shops … I will tell your everything you need to know for an amazing stay!

In addition to my list of things to do and activities, I will also give you optimized itineraries to visit Amsterdam in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 days (or even 1 week!) as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.

So, what are the best things to do in Amsterdam? Where to stay?

1. Dam Square

2. the royal palace of amsterdam, 3. the rijksmuseum amsterdam, 4. amsterdam’s red light district, 5. the coffee shops, 6. amsterdam canal cruise, 7. visiting amsterdam by bike, 8. anne frank house, 9. jordaan district, 10. van gogh museum, 11. amsterdam dungeon, 12. zuiderkerk church, 13. begijnhof, 14. the flower market/bloemenmarkt, 15. a’ dam lookout, 16. nieuwmarkt, 17. vondelpark, 18. the skinny bridge, 19. the cheese museum, 20. albert cuyp market, 21. oude kerk, 22. other museums to visit in amsterdam, 23. heineken experience, 24. shopping in amsterdam, 25. zaanse schans, 26. the waterland villages, 27. keukenhof, 28. haarlem, 29. zandvoort, 30. giethoorn, things to do in amsterdam with kids, how many days to visit amsterdam, 1 day in amsterdam, 2 days in amsterdam, 3 days in amsterdam, 4, 5 or more days in amsterdam, where to stay in amsterdam, where to eat in amsterdam, getting to amsterdam, hiring a boat in amsterdam, tourist map of amsterdam, you’re traveling to the netherlands these articles will help you .

Let’s start this guide of Amsterdam with Dam Square, the historical center of the city located in the old town.

It’s also where the first dam was built on River Amstel, hence its name.

Dam Square (also known simply as ‘Dam’) is today the meeting point of all Amsterdam’s most vibrant streets and shopping areas .

On Dam Square, you can see:

  • The National Monument, a column of white stones dedicated to victims of the Second World War
  • Amsterdam’s Royal Palace (I tell you more about it a bit below)
  • The Nieuwe Kerk or “New Church”: construction of this Gothic style church started in 1408. The Nieuwe Kerk has been the place of investiture of many Dutch monarchs, and today hosts exhibitions.
  • Madame Tussauds museum
  • The NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky: a luxurious 5* hotel with views over the square.

If you’re visiting Amsterdam , you should purchase the I Amsterdam City Card .

This City Card includes free entry to over 70 of Amsterdam’s museums and tourist attractions such as the Rijksmuseum and the A’DAM Lookout .

You can also enjoy unlimited access to public transport, plus a canal cruise!

When booking, you can opt for a validity duration between 1 and 5 days.

You can see all the attractions and activities included and buy the City Card Amsterdam by clicking on the green button below:

If you don’t want to buy the city pass, you can also buy your fast track tickets for each tourist attraction separately. I’ll give you all the links to book your tickets throughout this article.

place du Dam Amsterdam

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam or “Paleis op de Dam” is located on Dam Square.

Built in the 17th century , it was initially used as a Town Hall before serving as a royal residence from the 19th century.

At that time, it was the largest administrative building in Europe and the city’s inhabitants were so proud of it that they nicknamed it “the eighth wonder of the world”.

Today, the palace is used by the royal family during official visits.

The rest of the time, you can visit its interior and discover the different rooms featuring numerous paintings, sculptures and period furniture.

You should buy your fast track tickets + audio guide for the Palace of Amsterdam in advance. It’s not more expensive, and it will make you save a lot of time!

You need to book your tickets by clicking on the green button below:

A good way of making sure you don’t miss out on any of Amsterdam’s tourist sites (apart from reading this article!) is to opt for a private tour with a local guide.

Lasting between 2 and 6 hours and available in English , your private tour can be fully tailored to your wishes .

You need to book your guided tour of Amsterdam by clicking here:

Palais royal d'Amsterdam

What’s the best thing to do in Amsterdam if you’re interested in art?

Visiting the Rijksmuseum , the national museum of the Netherlands!

You’ll be part of the 2 million visitors who flock here each year to see the biggest collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.

The Rijksmuseum is one of the world’s best-known museums and houses many masterpieces. Among the most famous are:

  • The Milkmaid by Vermeer
  • The Night Watch by Rembrandt
  • Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat by Van Gogh.

If you don’t have much time, the finest canvases by Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Vermeer and Rembrandt are grouped together in the Gallery of Honour on the second floor.

The museum is open every day of the year from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Entrance to the Rijksmuseum is included in the I Amsterdam City Card.

If you don’t have that City Pass, you should buy your fast track tickets for the Rijksmuseum in advance by clicking on the button below . It’s the best way to avoid waiting!

And if you want to learn everything about the works exhibited, you should opt for this guided tour of the Rijksmuseum in English:

Even if you don’t want to visit the Rijksmuseum, you should still go there to admire the museum’s magnificent architecture.

If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam in winter , make the most of it by renting skates and enjoying the ice rink in front of the museum!


The Red Light District is another place you shouldn’t miss during your trip to Amsterdam , though in quite a different vein!

This unique area is one of the city’s most popular among tourists . Red Light district is the place where you will see the famous window brothels , from behind which prostitutes attract their clients.

In Amsterdam, the world’s oldest profession is completely legal , and these women are required to pay their taxes just like any other worker. Don’t think about taking photos of the windows though: it’s not allowed.

A great way to discover Red Light District and learn more about Amsterdam’s liberal attitudes towards drugs and sex work is to opt for a guided tour in English:

Other types of visit can also be arranged. Click on the orange links for more information and to book:

  • Visit Amsterdam’s Museum of Prostitution
  • Brothel tour with a sex worker

red light district Amsterdam

Together with Red Light District, coffee shops became a symbol of the city.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the place to go to enjoy a coffee (even if they do serve it), but to smoke marijuana!

In Amsterdam, it’s allowed here as long as it stays within the coffee shop walls. Smoking in the street, for example, is very much frowned upon.

And if you’re not keen on smoking, you can also consume cannabis in many other ways : tea, water pipes, cakes or lollipops.

If you plan to go to a coffee shop while you’re in Amsterdam , here are some tips:

  • It’s forbidden to smoke tobacco
  • They don’t serve alcohol
  • The use of hard drugs is not permitted
  • You will not be admitted if you are under-age
  • Look carefully at the dosages: you should ask first, because the doses may be more concentrated than in other countries.

To learn more about the history of cannabis and to visit coffee shops with a guide , you should book this 2-hour tour:

coffee shop Amsterdam

If there is just one activity you really have to do in Amsterdam, it’s for sure the canal cruise !

Amsterdam canals are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Going on a boat trip in Amsterdam is one of the best ways to see the city’s architecture, the magnificent traditional buildings and some of the historic monuments.

And don’t forget that if you have the I Amsterdam City Card , you’re entitled to a free cruise!

There are several types of cruise to choose from with different durations, boat sizes and departure points.

I’ve picked out a few of the most popular (simply click on the orange links to see the details and to book):

  • 75 minute cruise exploring the historic centre + audio guide
  • 90 minute evening cruise to enjoy the city lights (great!)
  • Luxury cruise with drinks and snacks included (fantastic!)
  • 1 hour cruise with audio guide to admire the façades of the Dutch Golden Age houses
  • 1 hour cruise in a semi-open electric canal boat another great cruise to enjoy the view.

Croisière canaux Amsterdam

Visiting Amsterdam by bike is a great way to explore the city.

This form of transport is king here: many Dutch people get around by bike, and there are cycle lanes everywhere . If you’re on foot by the way, you need to look out for bikes as much as you do for cars!

The best way to explore the city is thus to join a guided tour of Amsterdam by bike .

The GetYourGuide Original tour is especially awesome: during this 3-hour small group guided tour in English , you’ll have the chance to explore the main points of interest in Amsterdam, as well as some very traditional spots off the beaten track .

And as always with GetYourGuide Originals, if you are not fully satisfied of your tour, you will get a full refund!

To book your Amsterdam by bike tour, simply click on the button below:

You can also rent bicycles in Amsterdam by clicking here.

You’re going to Amsterdam?

You probably know it: the hardest part of planning your trip is to find an hotel offering a good value for money!

And that’s even worse in the large European capitals 😅.

The closer you get to your travel dates, the harder it will be to get a good deal. Tens of thousands of people will be visiting Amsterdam on the same dates as you , so you can be sure that the best deals are booked extremely quickly!

Hopefully, there is a pretty simple solution to this problem: do like me and book your hotel as early as possible!

So, my best advice is to take 5 minutes (now) to have a look at the list of travelers’ favorite hotels in Amsterdam.

And if you see a good offer, book it!

Most hotels offer free cancellation, so it’s quick, easy, and you will avoid the the inconvenience of finding nothing but mediocre rooms at exorbitant prices.

To check the current best deals for your hotel in Amsterdam, simply click on the green button below 😎:

Once you’ve booked your hotel, it will be time to continue reading this guide and find out more about the best things to do in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam velo

A visit to Amsterdam also means discovering a darker part of the city’s history.

For that, you should visit Anne Frank house.

Anne Frank is famous for her personal diary telling the story of the Frank family who hid in this house to escape the Jews’ persecution during the Second World War.

Today, the house had been turned into a museum, where you can wander through the different rooms containing extracts from Anne Frank’s diary, photos, and objects.

Note that entrance tickets for Anne Frank House can only be purchased online via the official website by clicking here.

80% of the tickets are made available online 2 months in advance, and the rest are released in tranches from 9.00 am each day.

Since the house is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions, tickets go very quickly and it’s best to book in advance.

If you want to find out more about Anne Frank , you should take the really interesting guided tour in English.

Your guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of the Jewish Quarter and tell you stories about Anne Frank’s life at that time.

This guided tour is so good that it’s certified GetYourGuide Originals , which means you get a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied!

It needs to be booked by clicking on the link below:

  • Anne Frank walking tour of Amsterdam.

maison d'Anne Franck Amsterdam

The Jordaan is a must-see neighbourhood in Amsterdam.

This very picturesque part of Amsterdam was built in the 17th century to house craftsmen and workers .

Here are the best things to see in Jordaan neighbourhood:

  • The Prinsengracht , the canal to the east
  • The numerous typical red brick houses
  • The vintage shops
  • Anne Frank House, which I have just told you about
  • Noordermarkt market
  • The brown cafés which take their name from the walls blackened by cigarette smoke and their wooden interiors. These are a great place to get a beer and enjoy the really lively ambience.
  • Westerkerk, the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands, with panoramic views over the whole neighbourhood from the bell tower. Entrance to the church is free but there’s a charge to visit the bell tower.

If you want to visit Jordaan district with a guide, you should book one the 2 activities below:

  • Private 2-hour walking tour in English
  • 3h30 guided gourmet tour in English, an amazing way to discover Dutch culinary traditions, with more than 10 tastings of local products!

quartier Jordaan Westerkerk

Let’s continue your tour of Amsterdam with the Van Gogh Museum.

Like the Rijksmuseum, it’s located on Museumplein , Amsterdam’s Museum Square. It’s very popular, and welcomes millions of visitors each year.

As its name suggests, it’s dedicated to the famous Dutch artist and exhibits over 200 paintings as well as hundreds of his drawings and letters.

If you have bought the I Amsterdam City Card , entrance is free of charge (there’s even a separate fast entrance queue).

Without the pass, your only other option is to purchase a fast track ticket, otherwise you’ll have a long wait at the entrance.

You need to buy your ticket here:

Not far from the museum is the Concertgebouw, a world-renowned concert hall with exceptional acoustics .

You can visit the Concertgebouw or even see a performance during your holiday in Amsterdam.

musée Van Gogh

Wondering what to do in Amsterdam , and wanna try something really unique?

You should go to the Amsterdam Dungeon!

Enter the torture chamber , witness a witch burning at the stake or watch a trial during the Spanish inquisition :

The dungeon offers you the chance to relive history through several shows performed by actors in period costume. You’ll of course be invited to join in and participate!

It’s very well done, and you will quickly get caught up in the slightly creepy and frightening atmosphere. Personally, I loved it!

The dungeon is one of Amsterdam’s must-see tourist attractions and there are sometimes queues of over an hour . So you should really purchase your tickets in advance by click on the button below:

The I Amsterdam City Card entitles you to a 25% discount on the entrance ticket to the dungeon.

Amsterdam Dungeon

Let’s continue your tour of Amsterdam with the Zuiderkerk church .

Built in the 17th century, this Renaissance style church is also known as “the Southern Church”.

You can’t visit the interior of the church (it’s currently undergoing renovation), but you can climb to the top of its bell tower to enjoy the view over the entire city . You must be accompanied by a guide, with tours departing every 30 minutes.


Amsterdam’s Beguinage (Begijnhof in Dutch) is one of the oldest inner courtyards in the city.

The buildings around the Begijnhof were once inhabited by the Béguines , a community made up exclusively of women, the last of whom died in 1971.

The premises are today private homes so visitors are asked to avoid making noise, and of course not to cross the fences to respect the residents’ peace and quiet.

The Begijnhof is also home to one of the oldest houses in Amsterdam. Built in wood in 1528, it’s the last wooden house still standing.

Due to fires, this type of construction was later completely banned.

The passageway that leads to the Begijnhof is open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.


If you want to bring tulip bulbs back home (one of the traditional souvenirs of a stay in Amsterdam) you should head to the flower market.

Located on one of the city’s oldest canals , the Singel, you’ll find tulips in every possible colour here (freshly cut, as bulbs, and even wooden tulips), as well as other flower seeds and bulbs . The market is really lovely and colourful.

There, you will also find classic souvenirs such as magnets, keychains, postcards, or Dutch traditional items such as clogs . You’ll be spoilt for choice!

marché aux fleurs Amsterdam

Like most modern big cities in the world, Amsterdam has its own panoramic observation deck: A’DAM Lookout.

You can ascend to the top for an unobstructed view over the whole city . The most fearless among you can also enjoy a very special attraction at the top of the tower: Europe’s highest swing – adrenaline rush guaranteed!

The tower also has a revolving panoramic restaurant .

To get to the A’DAM Lookout , which is located on the other side of the river, you need to take a free ferry from Amsterdam central station to Buiksloterweg.

Entry to the A’DAM Lookout is included in the City Card Amsterdam.

Right next to the A’DAM Lookout, you can also try out “THIS IS HOLLAND” activity.

This interactive experience allows you to fly over the Dutch landscape for around ten minutes. For a fully immersive experience, the seats move and you can even smell the tulip fields, for example.

The City Card offers a discount on THIS IS HOLLAND. Otherwise, you’ll need to book your tickets online by clicking here.

Adam Lookout

The Nieuwmarkt is another famous square in Amsterdam. It’s located between Chinatown and the Red Light District.

In the centre of the square, you can see an old gateway to the city, the Waag, which looks like a small castle. Today, it has been converted into a café/restaurant.

Every morning, a traditional market is held on the square, and there is also a flea market on Sundays.

Nieuwmarkt Waag

Where should you go in Amsterdam to enjoy a bit of greenery ? (and no, I’m not talking about the Coffee Shops 😋)

Head to the Vondelpark , the city’s most famous and largest public park . It’s not far from the Van Gogh Museum.

The park covers almost 45 hectares and features bars, restaurants , and children playgrounds. You can explore the very well-maintained paths on foot or by bike .

At the edge of the park, you can also take a look at Vondelkerk church, a really nice example of neo-Gothic architecture. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the inside, as it has been converted into offices.

In the summer, there are free open-air music, dance and theatre shows .


The Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug) is a bridge located in central Amsterdam.

I’ve got to admit that it doesn’t really have anything special at first sight, but it has its place in this list of top things to do in Amsterdam because of its history.

When it was built in 1670, it was so narrow that it was hard for 2 people to pass each other, hence its nickname the “Skinny Bridge” .

According to legend, it was first built to allow two sisters who each lived on a different side of the canal to see one another more often.

It was rebuilt in 1871 and then again in 1969 to allow more people to use it, and is today a traditional double leaf bascule bridge that opens to allow canal boats to pass through.

At night, it’s lit up with over 1.500 lights and becomes one of Amsterdam’s romantic hot-spots.

The bridge has been used as a set for several films, including a James Bond (“Diamonds are Forever”).

Magere Brug

Along with tulips, the coffee shops and windmills, the traditional image of the Netherlands includes cheese.

So a visit to the Cheese Museum is a must! It’s located close to Anne Frank House , on the other side of the canal.

The museum (free of charge) is quite small and is located in the basement of a cheese shop.

On the ground floor, they are mainly Gouda of every conceivable type (pesto, truffle, chilli…) and in all possible colours, which you can taste for free.

If you’re a real food-lover, you might want to attend a cheese-tasting workshop during your visit to Amsterdam.

You’ll get to taste five cheeses made by Henri Willing who is known for his high-quality traditional cheeses , all served with local wines and beers.

Book your cheese-tasting in Amsterdam here.

musee du fromage

Another good way to discover the local specialties in Amsterdam is to go to one of the food markets.

My favorite is Albert Cuyp Market, a local open-air market held from Monday to Saturday . The busiest Market in the Netherlands and one of the biggest in Europe takes place in De Pijp neighbourhood.

There are hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of cheeses , fruits and vegetables , fresh fish (if you’re feeling really brave, try the herring served with gherkins!).

You’ll also find flowers, clothing, souvenirs (a bit cheaper than elsewhere) and food stalls if you feel hungry.

You want to taste Dutch typical food while visiting the city?

The you should opt for the Amsterdam Food Walking Tour.

You will have a great time discovering the city with Mona, your guide, and trying several local specialties.

To book your Food Walking Tour in Amsterdam, simply click on the button below:

The Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam, is located in Red Light District.

It was built around 1300 as a place of Catholic worship before being converted to the Reformed faith.

You can visit the interior of the church, but unfortunately it’s quite expensive (€15), and the church often hosts quite weird contemporary exhibitions which in my opinion don’t really fit the place and are not worth it.

So you should take a look at the exterior when you’re in Red Light District and go inside only if you have the I Amsterdam City Card , which gives you free entry.

A fun way to do some sightseeing in Amsterdam is to take a Segway trip.

During this 2-hour tour , your guide will show you some of the unmissable tourist sites, including the huge Museum Square, the Oude Kerk, and the canals , while entertaining you with stories and anecdotes about the city.

To book this Segway tour of Amsterdam , you need to click on the button below:

Oude Kerk Amsterdam

Wondering about what to do in Amsterdam when it rains?

In addition to the 2 world-famous museums (the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum) I talked about, the city is home to several other interesting museums. The good news is that there’s something interesting for every taste and age!

Another great thing is that most of them are free if you’ve purchased the I Amsterdam City Card.

Of course, if you don’t have the City Card, you can also book your entrance tickets in advance by clicking on the name of each museum (in orange).

Here’s a list of the museums you can visit in Amsterdam:

  • NEMO : Amsterdam’s interactive and fun Science Museum
  • The MOCO, dedicated to exhibiting works of contemporary and street art, including an exhibition dedicated to Banksy
  • The Amsterdam Museum about the history of the city
  • Rembrandt House Museum where the Dutch artist lived
  • Stedelijk Museum, the museum of modern and contemporary art and design
  • The National Maritime Museum of Amsterdam about the maritime history of the Netherlands
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! , a museum with countless curiosities
  • Madame Tussauds , with wax replicas of famous people
  • Amsterdam Diamond Museum
  • Tropenmuseum, the museum of ethnography
  • Body Worlds, the famous display of real human bodies preserved using the technique of plastination.
  • STRAAT Museum dedicated to street art
  • The Upside Down a very fun museum where you can take original photos
  • Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum , the museum of cannabis

Madam Tussauds Amsterdam

Beer-lovers should definitely join the Heineken Experience in the capital of the Netherlands!

You will be welcomed to the former Heineken brewery, built in 1867, where you will learn about the history of the company as well as the process of making beer.

And the visit wouldn’t be complete without enjoying a pint!

Book your tickets for the Heineken Experience by clicking on the button below:

If you prefer more elaborate drinks , you should rather opt for the House of Bols Experience.

Same idea as the Heineken, but here you’ll discover the liqueurs made by the oldest spirits brand in the world. A cocktail is included in the price.

To Book your tickets for the House of Bols Experience, you just need to click here!

Heineken Experience Amsterdam

Wondering where to go shopping in Amsterdam?

Easy: all over the city !

There are no big shopping centers in Amsterdam, but there’s a huge choice of stores around the pedestrian streets. You’ll find the usual names (Zara, H&M) as well as luxury boutiques.

For shopping, you should head to:

  • Nieuwedijk, a 1 km long pedestrian street
  • Kalverstraat for shoes, handbags and perfumes
  • P.C. Hooftstraat, near the Rijksmuseum and the Vondelpark, for Cartier, Vuitton, Chanel and other luxury brands
  • Nine Streets (De 9 Straatjes) with its original and vintage boutiques
  • The Magna Plaza behind Dam Square for designer clothes
  • De Bijenkorf, a department store selling fashion and decorative items.

Magna Plaza Amsterdam Shopping

The 6 best things to do near Amsterdam

Now that you know what to see in Amsterdam , let’s explore the area around the city.

From Amsterdam, you can go to many easily accessible places by bus, train or on an organized day trip.

Here are some of my favorite things to do and places to visit around Amsterdam:

Zaanse Schans is certainly the best-known attraction around Amsterdam!

The waterside windmills of Zaanse Schans really are the typical Netherlands postcard image. There, you will also find a shop selling cheese, clogs and souvenirs.

You can visit the different windmills (included with the City Card Amsterdam, otherwise it’s €5 per entry), and even enjoy a 25 minutes cruise around the windmills. It needs to be booked here .

There are also 2 museums :

  • Zaandam Time Museum dedicated to clock-making, a speciality of Zaandam
  • Zaans Museum, to learn more about the windmills.

To get to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam , you have 3 options:

1) Take bus no. 391 (leaves every 15 minutes) or 891 from central station. You can purchase your ticket by clicking here!

2) Take the train from central station (the journey takes 20 minutes and costs less than €5 one-way). Then, walk for about 15 minutes to get to the windmills.

3) Opt for an organized day trip that includes transport and a guide.

There are 3 main tours that include a visit to Zaanse Schans, with some small differences:

  • A day trip with a visit to the windmills + 1 hour cruise + Volendam + Marken (2 Waterland villages I’ll tell you about in the next part). I think this is the best one! You need to Book it by clicking on the green button below:

And the other 2 options:

  • A small group excursion of 3 hours with a guided tour/entry to the windmills/clog-making demonstration.
  • Excursion to visit Edam + Volendam + Marken + Zaanse Schans + cheese-tasting .

Zaanse Schans

Around Amsterdam , you should devote a day to visiting the Waterland villages.

To start exploring, simply purchase the “Waterlands Day Ticket” for 10€ from the automatic ticket machines at the central station. You can use it for all your bus journeys between Amsterdam and all the villages.

Before leaving, don’t forget to pass by the information centre at the station to get your map of the villages and bus lines.

Here’s the list of Waterland villages you should visit close to Amsterdam:

  • Broek in Waterland, a picturesque village famous for its wooden houses and its church ceiling painted with angels
  • Monninckendam where you can visit the Waterlands Museum and Saint Nicolas church
  • Marken: a pretty small island featuring a harbour and waterfront restaurants. From there, you can take the boat ( the Marken Express ) to Volendam (one-way for €8.75/free of charge with the City Card/journey time: 30 minutes). You can also return to Monnickendam by bus and go from there to Volendam.
  • Volendam: a very pretty village with lots of little shops and harbourside restaurants.
  • Edam: a traditional and picturesque village with some really beautiful houses, perfect to stroll around.
  • Purmerend: less traditional because this town is mainly a suburb of Amsterdam
  • Beemster: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its polder, a man-made stretch of land obtained by draining water. The Beemster lake was drained from the 17th century using 43 water mills – a true technical feat. You should also take a look at the square pyramid-roofed farmhouses.

To visit Waterland, you can also join an organized trip from Amsterdam .

Simply click on the orange link for more details and to book:

  • Excursion to Edam + Volendam + Marken + Zaanse Schans + Cheese tasting .
  • Visit to Volendam + Edam + Windmills


It would be a real shame to leave Amsterdam and the Netherlands without going to see the tulips (depending on the time of year).

The most famous place to admire these colourful flowers is Keukenhof Park.

Note that the period for visiting is very limited, as the park is open only from mid-March to mid-May and millions of visitors come to see the tulips.

Even if it’s super touristy, the sight of these 7 million flowers is truly magnificent and you should really go there if you’re in Amsterdam in spring. Keukenhof is the biggest tulip garden in the world , and you won’t have the opportunity to see it everyday!

Keukenhof is open from Monday to Sunday from 8.00 am to 7.30 pm. To get there, you can take one of the following buses:

  • No. 852 from Amsterdam Europaplein
  • No 858 from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
  • No. 859 from Hoofddorp railway station.

You really do need to book your fast track tickets for the park in advance, you will save a lot of time!

The best time of day to visit the Keukenhof and get the most stunning photos is before 10.00 am or after 4.00 pm.


Haarlem is another small town you shouldn’t miss near Amsterdam.

And I have to confess, I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful!

The town is really picturesque with beautiful brick houses and a very impressive huge church (€2.50 entrance fees)

For your walk around Haarlem , you should first pass by the tourist office located on the church square. There, you can purchase a town map (50 cents) and they will also suggest walks you can do in the city .

If you only do one walk, you should opt for “Monumental Haarlem” which allows you to discover all the must-see attractions (the small leaflet also costs 50 cents).

To get to Haarlem from Amsterdam, take the train and you’ll be there in just 15 minutes.

The I Amsterdam City Card includes entrance to Frans Hals Museum and Teylers Museum as well as a canal cruise in Harlem .


Want to discover the Netherlands’coast and spend a bit of time at the beach near Amsterdam?

You should thus head to Zandvoort.

It’s just a 30 minute train ride to get to this Dutch seaside resort where you’ll find kilometres of fine sandy beaches !

It’s a great place to spend a relaxed day and an excellent opportunity to try out one of the numerous the seaside restaurants.

Zandvoort plage

Another really nice place to visit in the Netherlands is the little Dutch village of Giethoorn , located about 1h30 drive from Amsterdam.

Often called the Venice of the North , this place is truly unique: there are no cars here, everyone gets around on foot, by bike or by small boat!

To explore Giethoorn, you should take a boat trip . It’s the best way to admire the thatched roof houses , bordered by large, well-maintained gardens full of flowers.

If you don’t have a car, your best bet to get there is to book a day trip from Amsterdam:


To help you plan your family holiday in Amsterdam, here are a few more things you can do with kids:

  • Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo (get billets here) : to see the giraffes, elephants, visit the planetarium, insectarium, aquarium and more. Free entry with the City Card Amsterdam.
  • NEMO Science Museum which I already told you about under the museums section – The perfect museum for kids in Amsterdam!
  • The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum
  • The Lego shop located on Kalverstraat features amazing Lego reproductions and animations for kids
  • Micropia, a museum dedicated to microbes and bacteria. Truly original and really well put together! It’s not far from the zoo.
  • Madurodam , where you can see the main monuments of the Netherlands in miniature. A great family visit 1 hr 10 min drive from Amsterdam.
  • A round of mini golf in the dark (get your tickets here) with sound and light effects.

There are so many places to visit and things to do in Amsterdam that the days will literally fly by , even though the city isn’t that big.

You should thus ideally plan at least 3 days to explore the city.

In order to help you make the most of your stay, I will now give you itineraries to visit Amsterdam in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or more days.

I’ve kept mentioning it all the way though the article, but if you want to save time and money , don’t forget to purchase the I Amsterdam City Card . It’s clearly the best solution!

You can see all the places that are included, and buy the City Card Amsterdam , by clicking on the green button below:

If you’ve decided to spend just a single day in Amsterdam , you have several options:

1) A walking tour of the city to see most of the sights from the outside.

My recommendation for you is to follow the itinerary below (starting from the very beautiful Amsterdam Centraal railway station):

  • Damrak or the pedestrianized Nieuwendijk , 2 vibrant streets lined with shops
  • The Jordaan district
  • The flower market
  • The Red Light District

2) Choose 1 or 2 of Amsterdam’s must-see museums:

  • Follow the walk above until the flower market
  • Reach Museumplein
  • Visit the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum
  • Take a stroll in Vondelpark or enjoy a canal cruise

3) If you don’t fancy walking but want to see Amsterdam’s main tourist attractions:

  • Take the hop-on hop-off bus.
  • Take a hop-on hop-off cruise. Same principle as the bus, but by boat.

Amsterdam Centraal

If you’re planning to spend 2 days in Amsterdam, here is my suggested itinerary:

  • Walk along Nieuwendijk to Dam Square
  • Visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
  • Now you have a choice: experience the Amsterdam Dungeon or visit the Amsterdam Museum to learn about the city’s history
  • Walk through the inner courtyard of the Béguinage (Begijnhof)
  • Visit the flower market
  • Admire Zuiderkerk church and Nieuwmarkt square
  • Explore the Red Light District and its very special shop windows
  • Finish your tour with the Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam.

If you don’t want to visit the Amsterdam Dungeon or the Amsterdam Museum, you can instead visit Body Worlds exhibition , Madame Tussauds or the Ripley’s museum . They are all located in the same area.

  • Take a walk in Jordaan neighbourhood
  • Have a look at the Cheese Museum
  • Visit Anne Frank House (provided you’ve booked tickets in advance!)
  • Head to the Museumplein
  • Visit one or more of the museums located on this square: the Rijksmusem , Van Gogh Museum , MOCO or Stedelijk Museum .
  • Take a stroll in Vondelpark
  • End your day with a canal cruise .

If you’re planning to spend a weekend in Amsterdam (or 2 days during the week!), you should read my detailed itinerary here: 2 days in Amsterdam.

Of course you might want to take a break in a coffee shop at some point in the day if you fancy it!


You’ve got 3 in Amsterdam?

There’s still plenty for you to see in the capital! Follow the 2-day itinerary above, and on the 3rd day:

  • Start with the Albert Cuyp Market, the biggest market in the city
  • Right next to it, try the Heineken Experience
  • Cross over the Skinny Bridge
  • Visiting one or more of the museums you haven’t had time to see
  • A guided bike tour for a different way to discover the city
  • Amsterdam Coffee Shops and Red Light district walking tour
  • Experience THIS IS HOLLAND tourist attraction
  • Go to the top of the A’DAM Lookout

To plan your 72 hours in Amsterdam, you should read my detailed itinerary: 3 days in Amsterdam.

If you have kids , you can spend the afternoon at the Artis zoo , visit Micropia or enjoy a round of mini golf in the dark – it’s all in the same area.

Amsterdam canals

If you’re wondering about what to do in Amsterdam in 4, 5 days, or even a week , you should take my 3-day itinerary and then devote one day to each of the excursion around Amsterdam below , depending on what you like best:

  • Zaanse Schans in the morning + Haarlem in the afternoon
  • Explore the villages of the Waterland
  • Keukenhof, to see tulips (open between mid-March and mid-May only)
  • Go to the beach at Zandvoort (in summer only – you can also combine this with a trip to Haarlem)

You can read my detailed 4-day itinerary in Amsterdam here: 4 days in Amsterdam.

And to plan a 5-day visit , you should read that article instead: 5 days in Amsterdam.

Here’s my selection of the best places to stay in Amsterdam depending on your budget:

  • Hans Brinker Hostel Amsterdam: Youth hostel 400 metres from the Rijksmuseum and 10 minutes from the Vondelpark. Bed in a dormitory from 26€, including breakfast. Strong points: the location, the warm welcome, the atmosphere. An excellent choice if you’re looking for a cheap accommodation in Amsterdam!
  • Motel One Amsterdam: Located 2 km from the Rikjsuseum and the Albert Cuyp Market. Clean and well-decorated double room from 110€ per night, breakfast 11.50€. Strong points: helpful staff, location 2 minutes from the metro, the good breakfast.
  • Jaz Amsterdam: Situated a 15-minute metro ride from the centre. Spacious and stylish room from 110€, breakfast 16.95€. Strong points: very friendly staff, good facilities, the fabulous breakfast.
  • Motel One Amsterdam-Waterlooplein: Situated close to the Zuiderkerk and a 15-minute walk from Dam Square. Modern room with comfortable bed from 154€, breakfast 11.50€. Strong points: close to the centre, delightful staff, good and varied breakfast. It’s my favourite for its excellent value for money in Amsterdam!
  • Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre: Located just a 10-minute walk from the railways station and the centre of Amsterdam. Spacious, modern and comfortable room, some with a river view, from 190€, breakfast 25€. Strong points: location, comfort, friendly staff, access to the sauna included. The best hotel for a high end stay in Amsterdam!
  • NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky: Located right on Dam Square, this luxury hotel offers rooms with a sleek and modern decor from 310€, breakfast included. Strong points: central location for exploring Amsterdam on foot, exceptional bed (so comfortable!), the excellent breakfast. Perfect for a romantic break in the heart of the city!
  • Hyatt Regency Amsterdam: 5* hotel situated 800 metres from the zoo. Bright and elegantly decorated rooms from 360€, breakfast 28€. Strong points: the staff are concerned to ensure the well-being of their guests, the decoration, the location, the excellent restaurant. The best hotel in Amsterdam for a luxury stay!

And if you prefer to rent a luxury apartment for your stay in Amsterdam, the Keizersgracht Suite 471 is the best address in the city!

If these hotels are full or don’t suit you, you should take a look at the traveler’s favorites by clicking here : The Best Hotels in Amsterdam .

Since I had a very early flight home on the morning of my departure, I also tried out the Ibis Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, located 10 minutes from the airport (free shuttle). And I was pleasantly surprised: the rooms are modern, comfortable, and you can’t hear the planes at all.

  • Foodhallen: located between the Jordaan district and the Vondelpark. A food court with a trendy and warm atmosphere where everyone can taste the cuisines of the world. The biggest problem is what to choose because it’s all really good!
  • De Koperen Ketel: located 100 metres from the Rembrandtplein. Come to this small bistro decorated in typical Dutch style to taste delicious traditional cuisine. The ambience is warm, and the service impeccable. Reservation strongly recommended.
  • The Happy Bull: at Hoofddorpweg 9 (to the south of the Vondelpark). If you fancy a tasty burger made from high-quality ingredients and home-made chips, you should head here! The burgers are really hearty, and excellent. If you have any room left, don’t forget to try one of their milkshakes!
  • This isn’t really a specific place to go, but if you get a bit hungry during the day there are stands all over the city selling chips in a cone covered with a choice of sauces. You’ll soon see which are the most popular from the queues stretching several metres.

The only problem is the long waiting line at the entrance …

But that was before 😉.

Because yes, nowadays it’s possible to book your place in advance by paying for a menu. You will have the privilege to pass in front of all the other customers , with a big smile! (All those who haven’t read this travel tips from Voyage Tips and are standing in line! 😃)

Click on the following button to reserve your seat:

In Amsterdam, there is one of the biggest international airport in Europe, so it’s super convenient!

Flights prices for Amsterdam vary enormously so it’s a good idea to compare them as soon as possible, which you can do by using our flight comparison in partnership with Skyscanner. You’ll have the assurance of getting the best fare.

To reach the city centre from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, you can take the train to the central station or bus 397 that goes to Museumplein. You should thus first check where your hotel is located.

You should book your ticket in advance for the train or bus from Schiphol to Amsterdam .

Book your return ticket for the airport by clicking on the button below:

To view timetables, fares and book your tickets, click on the button below:

If you need to rent a car during your stay in Amsterdam , you can easily check prices from all the rental agencies on Cars website.

If you want to rent a boat to spend a nice day on the canals while you’re staying in Amsterdam, you book it with Samboat .

Motorboats, sailboats, yachts, small boats without a license, with or without a skipper: they simply have the most complete offer for boat rental.

So what are you waiting for to book your boat trip on the canals of Amsterdam? 😊

To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created a tourist map of Amsterdam for you, listing the places to visit that I’ve talked about in this top 30 things to do in Amsterdam. You can view the map legend by clicking on the button at the top left, the one with the small arrow.

And you, what do you plan to do in Amsterdam?

Discover all my articles about Amsterdam : All my articles to help you plan your trip to Amsterdam are listed there.

  • Amsterdam: Top 30 best things to do
  • 2 days in Amsterdam – The perfect itinerary for 48h!
  • 3 Days in Amsterdam – The best 72h itinerary
  • 4 Days in Amsterdam – The defitinive guide to plan your trip
  • 5 Days in Amsterdam – The best itinerary discover the city and the surroundings
  • Where to stay in Amsterdam? My guide to the best areas and hotels of the city

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Best places to visit in Amsterdam

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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24 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

Written by Bryan Dearsley Updated Mar 18, 2024 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. With its universities, academies, and research institutes, along with more than 40 museums, numerous theaters, and entertainment venues, Amsterdam is also the country's leading cultural center.

In addition, the city is famous for its many well-preserved historic homes. Laid out in a pattern of concentric segments in the shape of a fan, these well-preserved heritage buildings are built on piles driven through an upper layer of mud into the firm, sandy bottom up to 18 meters below.

All told, some 6,750 buildings dating from the 16th to 18th centuries are crowded into an area of 2,000 acres that's dissected by 160 canals (grachten), themselves home to numerous houseboats. Little wonder then that Amsterdam is an awesome city to explore on foot, with many picturesque bridges linking the city's 90 islands. Eight of these are in fact old wooden bascule bridges, including the Magere Brug (Mager Bridge), one of the city's most frequently photographed.

Discover the best places to visit in this dynamic city with our list of the top attractions and fun things to do in Amsterdam.

1. See the Art Collections at the Rijksmuseum

2. visit anne frank house, 3. experience great art at the van gogh museum, 4. explore the jordaan neighborhood, 5. family fun and flowers at vondelpark, 6. people watch at dam square, 7. tour the royal palace of amsterdam, 8. west church (westerkerk), 9. rembrandt house museum, 10. visit one of the world's oldest botanical gardens, 11. go wild at artis: amsterdam royal zoo, 12. see the views from oude kerk's tower, 13. learn about dutch art at stedelijk museum amsterdam, 14. take a tranquil stroll through the begijnhof, 15. jewish historical museum, 16. nieuwe kerk (new church), 17. pay your respects at the national monument, 18. go shopping in kalverstraat and vlooienmarkt, 19. explore the city's history at the amsterdam museum, 20. get smart at nemo science museum, 21. eye film institute netherlands, 22. see the tall ships at the national maritime museum, 23. museum of the tropics, 24. hermitage amsterdam, where to stay in amsterdam for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to amsterdam, map of attractions & things to do in amsterdam, best time to visit amsterdam.


One of Amsterdam's most popular attractions — and certainly its most important art repository — the Rijksmuseum (National Museum) was founded in 1798 to house the country's huge collection of rare art and antiquities. The museum's impressive collection includes a million cultural artifacts dating from the 13th century to the modern day, among them more than 8,000 important paintings spread across 250 rooms of this sprawling building.

In addition to its paintings, the Rijksmuseum boasts a well-stocked library of more than 35,000 books and manuscripts, as well as numerous fascinating displays dealing with the development of art and culture in the Netherlands. Of special note are its collections of traditional handicrafts, medieval sculpture, and modern art styles.

A variety of themed English language guided tours are available. For a special experience, try the fun art history canal cruise taking in many of the sites represented in the Rijksmuseum's collections, or book a table at the museum's Michelin-starred restaurant .

English language guided tours are available. To avoid line-ups (nearly 2.5 million people visit each year), book tour tickets in advance online.

Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam

Official site:

Exterior of the Anne Frank House

On the Prinsengracht stands Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis). Dedicated to the all-too-short life of one of the world's best-known Holocaust victims, this is the actual home in which Anne's family hid for much of WWII.

The Frank's were Jewish refugees from the German city of Frankfurt, and it was here that Anne wrote the diary that became an international bestseller after the war. It was published just a few years after her death at age 15, just two months before the war ended.

Much of the home has been kept as it was during Anne's time, and it serves as a poignant monument to a tragic period of history. A word of caution: tickets do sell out up to two or more months in advance, so be sure to plan ahead and purchase your tickets ahead of time online.

Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam

Official site:

Cherry trees outside the Van Gogh Museum

A must-visit for art fans and historians, the spectacular Van Gogh Museum has been one of Amsterdam's top attractions since it opened in 1972. Dedicated to the often troubled life and extraordinary artistry of one of the country's most-revered painters, this modern Gerrit Rietveld-designed structure is home to the world's largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and artifacts, much of it donated by his brother, Theo, and other family members.

Boasting an impressive 200 paintings, 500 etchings and drawings, as well as 700 letters written to (and by) friends and family, the collection is split into key periods of the artist's life: his realistic works (1880 to 1887), including the famous The Potato Eaters , and his Impressionist period from 1887 to 1890, which saw the creation of perhaps his best-known work, V ase with Sunflowers .

A highlight of a visit is the amazing "Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience," a fascinating multimedia presentation of the painter's life and times through vivid digital reproductions of his work.

Also of interest are works by Van Gogh's contemporaries, including such leading artists as Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. If time allows, be sure to check the availability of the museum's educational workshops in such disciplines as painting and photography. A café, shop, and library are also located on-site.

Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ, Amsterdam

Official site:

Houseboats and old buildings in Jordaan

Jordaan is the most popular of Amsterdam's neighborhoods and is well-known for its mix of residential areas with garden courtyards, lively markets, and upscale boutiques and eateries. The area is also home to plenty of fun things to do, from taking a pleasant stroll along the many picturesque streets to spending time visiting the many top-rated tourist attractions located here.

Although best known as the location of Anne Frank House , the area is also home to lesser-known treasures like the Woonboots Museum , a floating museum dedicated to houseboats, and the interesting (honestly!) Amsterdam Cheese Museum .

On Saturday mornings, Lindengracht turns into a huge open-air market, where you can find local crafts, produce, flowers, and goodies perfect for filling a picnic basket. Monday mornings, it is Westerstraat that fills with 200 vendors' stalls, this time selling a wide range of goods in a flea-market-style bazaar. Jordaan's restaurants and cafés have become the trendy place to sit and people-watch while enjoying traditional Dutch folk music.


The largest and most visited park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark occupies 120 acres and contains no end of fun things to do. In addition to expanses of green space dotted by peaceful ponds and traversed by ample paths, the park is home to a lovely rose garden featuring more than 70 different types of the flower.

It also has a variety of sculptures and statues, playgrounds, and other recreational facilities, including rollerblade rental and the Vondelpark Open Air Theater , which serves as a venue for musical and stage productions from May through September.

If you haven't packed a picnic, don't worry: the park is also full of cafés where you can enjoy a snack or a full meal.

Dam Square

Dam Square is one of the most tourist-packed areas of Amsterdam, and for good reason. Its most prominent feature is the 17th-century Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace) , former home of the Dutch royal family and present-day venue for royal functions.

Dam Square is also home to top tourist attractions such as the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) ; Madame Tussauds wax museum; and the National Memorial Statue , which is dedicated to Dutch soldiers who lost their lives in World War II.

This huge public square is, naturally, lined with numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops, and is usually full of vendors selling food and souvenirs. Tourists will also find a Ferris wheel, perfect for getting a different perspective, as well as plenty of entertainment, ranging from street performers and buskers to first-rate music festivals.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Formerly the Town Hall, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam ( Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam ) serves as the King's residence when he's in the city. Its construction was a monumental task when started in 1648 and required the sinking of 13,659 piles to support the mammoth structure.

Based upon the architecture of ancient Rome, the exterior is strictly classical, while the interior is magnificently furnished, its apartments decorated with a wealth of reliefs, ornamentation, marble sculptures, and friezes. Check out the spectacular ceiling paintings by Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck, pupils of Rembrandt.

Other highlights include one of the finest furniture collections in the world, and the City Treasurer's room with its marble fireplace and ceiling paintings by Cornelis Holsteyn. You'll also see the Hall of the Aldermen, also containing paintings by Bol and Flinck.

The largest and most important room is the Council Hall, sumptuously decorated and one of the most beautiful staterooms in Europe. English language guided tours are available, and useful audioguides are included with admission.

Location: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, 1012 RJ Amsterdam

Official site:

Netherlands - Royal Palace - Floor plan map

Located next door to the Anne Frank Museum, Amsterdam's West Church (Westerkerk) is one of the most popular churches to visit in the city. It's certainly one of the most picturesque.

Completed in 1630, this attractive Renaissance church is unusual due to its many internal and external Gothic features. Its 85-meter tower, popularly known as "Langer Jan" (tall John), is the highest in the city. On the tip of its spire is a large replica of the emperor's crown, placed there in memory of Emperor Maximilian of Austria. Inside the tower, a carillon proclaims the hours.

Other highlights include a fine organ dating from 1622, along with an interesting marble column placed here in 1906 in memory of Rembrandt. The great artist was originally buried outside the church, but was later reinterred inside. A gift shop is located on-site.

Address: Prinsengracht 279, 1016 GW Amsterdam

Official site:

Rembrandt statue in Rembrandt Square

Rembrandt, along with his wife Saskia, spent the happiest (and most successful) years of his life in the house on the Jodenbreestraat, now home to the Rembrandt House Museum (Museum Het Rembrandthuis). It was here, in the Jewish Quarter, that he found models for his Biblical themes, and where he painted the sights from his many outings along the canals.

Rembrandt lived here for 20 years, and the house has been furnished in 17th-century style with numerous etchings and personal objects. English language guided tours are available.

Just a two-minute walk away is Zuiderkerk (South Church), where three of Rembrandt's children are buried, as well as one of his pupils. Constructed between 1603 and 1611, it was the first Protestant church to be built in Amsterdam after the Reformation and was designed by architect Hendrick de Keyser, who is also buried here.

After extensive restoration, it is now a center for local cultural activities and events. Another Rembrandt-related destination in the city is Rembrandt Square , home to numerous cafés and restaurants, along with a statue of the famous painter.

Address: Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam

Official site:

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers a surprising dose of nature in the very heart of the city. Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, the city's botanical garden , is one of the world's oldest and should definitely be included in your sightseeing itinerary.

Founded in 1638, this much-visited attraction began life as a humble herb garden for doctors and apothecaries. Today, it features rare plants and trees, exotic flowers, and a large hothouse encompassing different tropical zones.

Highlights of a visit include exploring the lovely old pavilion, a hexagonal structure that dates back to the late 17th century, plus the 1870s Orangery. The Palm House is also notable, in particular for its architectural style (it was designed in the Amsterdam School style).

Plant enthusiasts are also in for a treat, as the gardens are home to a wide variety of rare plant and tree species. Worth mentioning are examples of the Persian Ironwood tree, plus numerous tropical species in the historic hothouse. For those wanting to linger longer, there's an on-site café.

Address: Plantage Middenlaan 2a, 1018 DD Amsterdam

Official site:

Red ruffed lemur at the Artis, Amsterdam Royal Zoo

Less than a five-minute stroll away from the botanical gardens is Artis , Amsterdam's excellent "royal zoo." This world-class attraction was established in 1838 and is one of the oldest zoos in Europe .

It spotlights a variety of creatures from around the globe in a shady garden setting dotted with numerous historical buildings. The aquarium, for example, was constructed in 1882 and features exhibits including a coral reef system and a fascinating peek under an Amsterdam canal.

Other highlights include the nocturnal animal house, zoological museum, Insectarium, Butterfly Pavilion, and Planetarium. There's also a library that features an extensive collection of historic books, prints, and artworks.

Also of interest near this fun nature-based attractions is a replica of the Normaal Amsterdams Peil, the NAP, which shows the average water level of the North Sea.

Address: Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam

Official site:

Oude Kerk (Old Church)

The Oude Kerk (Old Church) — built in 1306 and the city's oldest structure — remains unchanged since Rembrandt's time. The first hall church in North Holland, this splendid piece of architecture became the model for many other churches in the region.

Numerous additions were added over the centuries, such as the large side chapels from the early 1500s. Also dating from this period is a portal leading to the Iron Chapel, where documents showing the city's privileges, including the freedom from tolls granted in 1275, were kept locked behind an iron door. The tower was added in the 16th century and has a carillon from 1658 that's considered one of the finest in the country. It also offers great views over the city.

The interior of the church has features dating from before the Reformation, including three magnificent windows from 1555 from the Dutch High Renaissance, and finely-carved wooden choir stalls. These days, the building is well-known as a venue for contemporary art exhibits.

After exploring this beautiful historical building, take a two-minute stroll across the bridge to Zeedijk , one of Amsterdam's oldest streets. Many houses along here lean at an angle from the vertical, and the 15th-century house at No. 1 is thought to be the oldest surviving building in the city .

Address: Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX Amsterdam

Official site:

Oude Kerk in Amsterdam - St Nicolaas - Floor plan map

Founded in 1895, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam — in English, the Municipal Museum Amsterdam — houses one of Europe's most impressive modern art collections. With a focus on 19th- and 20th-century Dutch and French painting, the museum features works by a number of renowned art movements, including De Stijl.

Other important works include examples from Van Doesburg, Mondrian, and Rietveld; Pop Art, with works by Rosenquist and Warhol; and painters such as Chagall, Dubuffet, De Kooning, and Matisse. The sculpture garden also contains examples by Rodin, Moore, Renoir, and Visser.

English language guided tours are available, as are fun family workshops. A shop and restaurant are also located on-site.

Address: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Official site:

The Begijnhof

The Begijnhof is one of those rare tranquil inner-city spots that many tourists simply don't notice as they hustle from attraction to attraction. And that's a shame, as this stunning old corner of Amsterdam simply begs to be explored.

Although most of the old homes are occupied, the tiny lanes and pathways around them provide public access, so don't be shy to wander freely. You'll be rewarded with views of well-kept green lawns — the courtyards — surrounded by some of the oldest houses in Amsterdam, including its only remaining wooden house from the 14th century.

Originally occupied by a commune of pious Catholic women (begijnen), the area's small chapel is still open for services and saw the last of these women buried here in 1971.

Address: 1012 AB Amsterdam

Official site:

Jewish Historical Museum

The Jewish Historical Museum (Joods Historisch Museum) is housed in four redundant synagogues, one of which, the Grote Synagogue, dates back to 1670. Highlights include a large collection of religious artifacts, such as silver Torah containers, Torah robes, and decorated Torah headdresses, as well as hangings and ceremonial canopies (of particular interest is the white marble Holy Shrine).

The museum also has a large library, while in the Upper Synagogue, the Obbene Sjoel, there's a kosher restaurant. Be sure to check the museum's website for details of its concert program, which includes candlelight performances by renowned local and international artists .

Of note outside the museum is the Docker Monument , erected to commemorate a strike in 1941, when workers refused to co-operate with the deportation of their Jewish fellow citizens.

Also of interest is the Portuguese Synagogue , a late-17th-century temple that houses the Ets Haim Library , the oldest of its kind. For a more in-depth look at this fascinating history, join one of the special English language tours of the Jewish Historical Museum that includes the historic Jewish Quarter.

Address: Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1, 1011 PL Amsterdam

Official site:

Nieuwe Kerk

Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), used as the coronation church of Dutch monarchs since 1814, lies in the heart of Amsterdam next to the Royal Palace in Dam Square ("The Dam"). This historic square was built around 1270 to separate the Amstel from the IJ and gave the city its name.

Today, the square and the church are used for public functions such as antique fairs and art exhibitions. Regular organ concerts also take place in this 15th-century church. A striking feature is its magnificent pulpit from 1649, a marvel of Baroque wood carving decorated with the four evangelists and figures symbolizing Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, and Prudence. The church also has an organ from 1670, an exceptionally beautiful choir screen cast in bronze, and fine choir stalls.

Also of interest are the tombs of famous Dutchmen including PC Hooft and Nicolaes Tulp, and the Baroque tomb of Admiral Michiel de Ruyter who died in 1679. The stained-glass windows are beautiful; one of them dates from 1650 and depicts the granting of the city's coat of arms by William IV, while the Queen's Window from 1898 commemorates the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina.

Address: Dam, 1012 NP Amsterdam

Official site:

Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam- St Catherine - Floor plan map

On the opposite side of The Dam, the National Monument (Nationaal Monument op de Dam), a spectacular 22-meter-high obelisk, was erected here after the Second World War as a memorial for its victims and a symbol of Liberation.

It was designed by J. J. P. Oud and decorated with sculptures by J. W. Rädeler symbolizing, among other things, War (four male figures), Peace (a woman and child), and Resistance (two men with howling dogs). Embedded in the obelisk are urns containing earth from the 11 provinces, and a 12th urn contains earth from the cemetery of honor in Indonesia.

The monument was dedicated by Queen Juliana on 4 May, 1956, the national day of remembrance. Every year on this date, wreaths are laid here and a two-minute silence is observed throughout the Netherlands.

During other times, the monument is a place where young people from all over the world meet. If you'd like to learn a little more about the history of the Netherlands during WWII, then a visit to The Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) is a must. In addition to portraying the role of the resistance during the German occupation, the museum provides a great deal of information related to civilian life during this harrowing period of history.

Address: Dam, 1012 JL Amsterdam

Kalverstraat and Vlooienmarkt

There comes a point in every vacation when a little shopping therapy is needed. Amsterdam boasts many great places to shop, whether for high-end luxury goods, local crafts, or fun souvenirs. The best known — and usually the busiest — is the Kalverstraat with its many smart boutiques, galleries, perfumeries, cafés, and restaurants. While the crush of humanity can be a little intimidating (especially on a Saturday), it's an outing you won't soon forget.

For a completely different shopping experience, head over to the Vlooienmarkt, Amsterdam's famous flea market, held here since 1886. It's a veritable smorgasbord of wares, with everything from antiques and food to clothes, both new and used.

Most of the best shopping streets in Amsterdam fan out from the Muntplein , a city square that was once home to a sheep market in the 15th century. Rising above the square is the Munttoren (Mint Tower), which dates from 1672 when Amsterdam was the site of the mint for two years while the French occupied Utrecht.

Another unique shopping experience awaits at the Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt), a historic floating market that once sold every type of plant imaginable (while a few flower stalls remain, many of the remaining businesses are souvenir shops).

Amsterdam Museum

Housed in the former municipal orphanage built in 1414, the Amsterdam Museum consists of a number of spacious courtyards where visitors can learn about the constantly changing role of Amsterdam in the country and in the world. Highlights range from prehistoric finds and the town's original charter to items from the present day, as well as displays describing how the land was reclaimed from the sea.

The inner courtyards are also fun to explore and house other highlights such as the old shooting gallery. There's also an on-site café. The library possesses a rich collection of literature on the history of the city, and graphics and drawings can be viewed by prior arrangement.

English language guided tours are available, and a café is located onsite.

Address: Kalverstraat 92, 1012 PH Amsterdam

Official site:

NEMO Science Museum

Rising high above the water like the hull of a mighty warship, this ultra-modern structure has housed the NEMO Science Museum since 1997, and more than 20 years later is no less impressive than the day it opened.

Located in the city's old eastern docks, this world-class science center is spread across five floors, each chock-a-block full of fun (and informative) interactive exhibits that appeal to families with kids of any age.

Highlights include areas dedicated to the human body and the mind, countless hands-on, high-tech gizmos and gadgets, plus a number of short movies. A playground, a museum shop, and a rooftop café are located on-site, the latter making a great spot for a break while you enjoy the views across the city.

Address: Oosterdok 2, 1011 VX Amsterdam

Official site:

EYE Film Institute

Another ultra-modern building worth taking a look at, even if it's just from the outside, is the EYE Film Institute Netherlands . With its sharp angles and ultra modern design, it almost resembles an alien spacecraft, and certainly grabs the attention.

Opened in 2012, the EYE houses the country's national film collection, along with copies of pretty much every foreign movie ever shown in the Netherlands, and it looks quite different from every angle. If you do get inside, in addition to catching one of the frequent movie screenings, you'll enjoy viewing the excellent film-related exhibits.

English language guided tours are available, as well as a variety of workshops and learning opportunities geared to specific age groups. A great restaurant is located on the premises, and there's also a gift shop on-site.

Address: IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam

Official site:

National Maritime Museum

A must for those interested in ships and the long rich history of Dutch military and merchant fleets, the National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum) is a must-visit. The museum provides a fascinating insight into the impact this small nation of seafarers had upon the world over the centuries, using its many displays to showcase its impressive collection of maritime-related artifacts.

In addition to exhibits focusing on sailing and shipping, the museum houses a vast area of model ships, historic weaponry, maps, and artwork, including many depicting some of the important sea battles involving the Netherlands.

The museum building itself boasts a long history. Built in 1656, it served for much of its life as a naval warehouse. A highlight of your visit will be exploring the impressive Amsterdam , an accurate replica of one of the country's most famous vessels. Guided tours of the ship and the museum are available, as are English-language audio guides. A restaurant and a shop are situated on-site, too.

Address: Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam

Official site:

Museum of the Tropics

The Museum of the Tropics (Tropenmuseum), established in 1864, is a fascinating excursion for those with an interest in the history of the Netherlands' former colonies.

Set in a cavernous hall built especially for it, the museum contains numerous displays of art and everyday objects from tropical and subtropical areas.

It's fun to explore as you wander around the authentic bazaar and peek inside the houses of the Far East, as well as the fully stocked oriental shop. The museum also hosts regular concerts of Eastern and Asian music using traditional instruments. English language guided tours are available.

Address: Linnaeusstraat 2, 1092 CK Amsterdam

Official site:

Hermitage Amsterdam

Another great museum collection can be enjoyed at Hermitage Amsterdam , an outpost of the famous location in Saint Petersburg.

Opened in 2009 in a majestic old building dating from the 1680s known as the Amstelhof, the museum features permanent exhibits focusing on the long-standing relationship between Russia and the Netherlands, as well as one that portrays the history of the building itself. There's a lovely courtyard garden worth visiting, along with a good restaurant.

Address: Amstel 51, 1018 DR Amsterdam

Official site:

If you're traveling to Amsterdam for the first time, the best area to stay is in the World Heritage-listed city center, also known as the "Canal Ring." Amsterdam Central Railway Station borders this area to the north; the Leidseplein and the Museumplein (home to the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Stedelijk Museum) lie to the south; and the Jordaan neighborhood, with its art galleries and trendy cafés, occupies its western edge. Most of the city's top tourist attractions lie within this compact and easily walkable area. Here are some highly rated hotels in these charming neighborhoods:

Luxury Hotels:

  • In a collection of 17th-century palaces on the prestigious Herengracht, in the heart of the city, Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam pampers guests with its personal concierges, Michelin-starred restaurant, spa, and elegant decor.
  • Also on the Herengracht, Ambassade Hotel occupies an ensemble of 17th-century canal houses, and its plush rooms and suites feature Louis XVI-style furnishings and modern accents.
  • Steps away from the Anne Frank House, The Toren is a family-run, boutique hotel in two historic canal houses, with individually decorated rooms and suites.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • A 10-minute walk to Amsterdam Central Railway Station, the pet-friendly boutique Hotel Sebastian's has chic rooms that echo the dramatic style of its luxury sister property, The Toren.
  • If you plan to focus on museums, the homey Hotel Fita is steps away from Museumplein.
  • Right next to its namesake station and a short stroll from the city center, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam Centraal Station features compact, light-filled rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and Apple iMacs.

Budget Hotels:

  • Within walking distance of Museumplein and the Leidseplein, the eco-conscious Hotel La Boheme accommodates guests in clean rooms with comfy beds. Rates include breakfast.
  • Adjacent to Museumplein, Hotel Museumzicht is full of character, with a steep staircase, discerning artwork, and homey guest rooms.
  • Near Dam Square and the Jordaan neighborhood, Clemens Hotel also has steep stairs, which lead to cozy, compact, and comfortable guest rooms.

Amsterdam Day Trips:

  • If you have time to head outside the city, there are some great tours available. To see the beautiful Dutch countryside, including the famous windmills and small fishing villages, take a Zaanse Schans Windmill, Markem and Volendam Half-Day Trip from Amsterdam . This scenic tour includes transport by coach, a short boat ride between fishing villages, a visit to a cheese factory and clog maker, and free entrance to a windmill.
  • If you want to visit another city, the Bruges Day Trip is a full-day excursion with coach transport to and from Bruges in Belgium and includes five hours of free time to enjoy some sightseeing. This is an easy tour that will save you the hassle of planning, driving, and parking.

When it comes to visiting Amsterdam, the high season isn't necessarily the best time to go - aside from higher prices, you'll also have to deal with huge crowds and humid weather. Shoulder season (spring and fall) is more pleasant , more affordable, and easier to maneuver. Or you can always visit in winter to get the best deals and some charming holiday lights.

Spring : If you're coming to the Netherlands for tulips, this is the right season. April is the month for tulips , although flowering season runs from mid-March to early May. Spring is also sunnier and typically dry, with temperatures around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius during the day. It's great weather to walk around and for day trips outside Amsterdam, including a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens, where over seven million flowers bloom in spring.

Spring nights can be chilly, so bring a scarf and layers if you're visiting in March or April. King's Day on April 27th (as well as the weekend immediately before or after) is a major street celebration in Amsterdam -expect large crowds, expensive accommodations, and lots of noise if you visit around that time.

Summer : Summer has nice weather but is a very busy season in Amsterdam. If you're heading to popular attractions such as Anna Frank's house, you'll find long lines and waiting times. With canal cruises in full swing, even enjoying the water will be harder, and parks will be full of locals picnicking and enjoying the sun.

The summer months are great for bicycle rides, if that's something you want to try - especially if you're heading to the countryside and dreaming of idyllic rides with windmills in the background. A busy city means higher prices, so book your hotel early if you're looking for deals.

Summer weather is hot and often humid in Amsterdam. It's hard to predict what each month will feel like, but you can expect temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius in June and as high as 30 degrees Celsius in July, the hottest month . August is also hot but can be rainy and grey.

Fall : If you're planning on spending lots of time sightseeing, Fall is the best time to visit . Crowds thin out, prices start to go down, and the cities become more manageable.

The later you arrive in the season, the better all these conditions will be - though by early November , the weather will be cold and wet. Temperatures in November are usually in the single digits, and you'll see lots of drizzle and the occasional snow flurries.

September and October are better weather-wise, though temperatures can be unpredictable: some years you'll experience sunnier days and temperatures in the mid-teens, while other years, the temperature stays around 10 degrees Celsius with lots of grey, rainy days.

The earlier you arrive in the season, the longer and warmer the days will be, but a light jacket is always a must - evenings can be windy and chilly even in September.

Winter: Amsterdam winters are windy and cold, but the temperatures rarely dip below freezing . With average winter temperatures around 3 to 4 degrees Celsius, the city will feel much warmer than other destinations in Northern Europe, and spending time outdoors will not be too bad as long as you have the proper jacket, waterproof boots, and perhaps a scarf to bundle up.

January is the coldest and windiest month, with short, grey days where the sun sets at around 4:30pm. Although snow is rare in the Netherlands, if it's going to happen, it's likely to happen in January. Don't let that scare you off, through — the canal boats are beautiful when covered in a thin blanket of snow.

Visiting in winter does have its benefits, especially if you arrive during the Christmas Markets season. Amsterdam is home to many seasonal markets, from trendy, chic locations selling design products to Victorian-style markets where you'll find traditional crafts and sweets, like the spiced pepernoten biscuits.

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Great City Getaways : The massive port city of Rotterdam offers plenty of great things to do , from exploring the superb collection of historic vessels in the Maritime Museum and Harbor Museum, to wandering its streets and enjoying its mix of both old and new architecture. The country's capital of The Hague should also be included on your Netherlands travel itinerary and is home to no end of museums, galleries, and historic buildings. Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the country and is especially popular for the romanticism of its cathedral and cathedral square.


Small Town Attractions : The historic city of Breda is extremely popular for its well-preserved mix of historic architecture, ranging from medieval fortifications to the charming merchant's homes of its old town square. Another stop for the Allies, Eindhoven is well-known for its world-class museums and the nearby traditional villages, including one that remains largely unchanged since Van Gogh famously included it one of his paintings. Lovely Delft is another must-visit , as much for its charming public squares as it is for its famous Royal Dutch Delftware porcelain, a tradition that can still be enjoyed centuries later via factory tours.


Netherlands Vacation Ideas : The bustling city of Arnhem will forever be remembered for its roll in WWII, when it featured as the "bridge too far" for Allied troops, whose bravery is remembered in. numerous museums and monuments here. Medieval Maastricht is perfect for those wanting a smaller city experience, and is especially popular for its remarkably intact 6th-century church and treasury. Finally, the Netherlands is not without stunning scenery, some of the best of which can be enjoyed in Hoge Veluwe National Park , the country's largest nature preserve and home to everything from thick woodlands to sand dunes.

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Home » Europe » Netherlands » Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

By Author Laura Longwell

Posted on Last updated: June 12, 2024

Boats in a canal in Amsterdam Netherlands

Amsterdam is a glorious city full of markets, museums, and great restaurants and bars. Its majestic canals are lined with 17 th -century houses and buildings full of history. While the canal ring is home to some of the most popular attractions, new urban parks and developments outside the historic core mean there are fun, less-crowded places to explore, too. We’ve had the good fortune to visit numerous times and love uncovering some of the city’s best features. Here’s a look at some of our favorite things to do in Amsterdam.

Our top choices include… Sample Dutch classics on a food tour . Discover a 360-year-old hidden church . See the works at STRAAT , the incredible street art museum. Visit one of the many local markets . Explore Westergas , the city’s thriving cultural district. Read on for more details and fun places to go.

Visit Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum

Large brick building with gardens out front.

Amsterdam is home to two of the most renowned museums in Europe that are both top things to see in Amsterdam–the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.

The Van Gogh Museum features over 700 of Van Gogh’s works as well as paintings by artists who influenced him, such as Monet and Gauguin. It’s one of the most popular places in town, so buy tickets well in advance if you want to go.

Across Museumplein from the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum glorifies the works of hometown artist (and Dutch Master) Rembrandt, along with other artists from the Dutch Golden Age. It is home to thousands of works of art and artifacts from the 15th century to the present—the country’s largest collection.

The museums are busy! Skip the line at the Rijksmuseum with this guided tour .

Explore the Jordaan neighborhood

People sitting at a sidewalk cafe.

The most well-known neighborhood in the city, the Jordaan is one of the trendiest areas in Amsterdam. Built in the 17th century, its buildings still maintain much of their historic character thanks to careful renovation and preservation efforts.

The Jordaan is filled with galleries, eclectic shops, restaurants, and bars making some of the best cocktails I’ve had in Europe. You can still get a sense of Amsterdam’s history at places like Cafe Papeneiland , a brown cafe that dates from 1642 (and, incidentally, serves some killer Dutch apple pie). Get lost in the winding streets, marvel at the centuries-old buildings, and don’t miss some of the city’s best courtyard gardens.

Eat at Foodhallen

People sitting at the Gin & Tonic Bar.

From Bordeaux to Rotterdam , we love visiting food halls. They’re a great way to sample local ingredients and to visit lots of restaurants under one roof.

Foodhallen has 20 different stands where visitors can try anything from Dutch bitterballen to dim sum, sushi, or Basque pintxos. There are also four bars, so you’ll find your beverage of choice, whether it’s craft beer or a fancy gin & tonic. We enjoyed the live music and the local crowd–while everyone here speaks English, it doesn’t feel touristy.

Visit a local market

Floating glass booths in a canal comprise the flower market.

Visiting markets is always one of our favorite things to do in a city. Amsterdam’s most famous market is the Albert Cuypmarkt in the De Pijp neighborhood, which offers everything from food to fashion. It’s a great place to go for lunch or a quick snack or if you want to load up on Dutch sweets to take home (we did!). In the Jordaan, the Noordermarkt is a farmer’s market on Saturdays and an antiques fair on Mondays.

We also encountered the Waterlooplein flea market near the Rembrandt House, which features just about any kind of merchandise you could think of, including clothes weighed by the kilo. The city’s floating flower market, the Bloemenmarkt—actually in the Singel canal—is famous for both floating and being full of flowers.

Man serving coffee from a VW bug.

My favorite surprise was finding the Museum Market , which happens near the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum on the third Sunday of the month. It features cool arts and crafts and some great food trucks, including a few converted VW buses and cars, which always make me smile. If you’re visiting in December , don’t miss the festive Christmas markets .

See Our Lord in the Attic

Altar and religious painting in a church sanctuary.

My favorite church by far is Our Lord in the Attic , a clandestine church that was quite literally hidden in the top three floors of a canal house. Dating from the 1660s, this Catholic church was more-or-less secret for 200 years.

Our Lord in the Attic was born out of necessity. After the Reformation, Catholics could no longer practice their religion openly. But a church that didn’t look like a church was just fine. The presence of a shop downstairs and typical bedrooms and kitchen helped keep up appearances.

Visitors can see the church as it was about 300 years ago, complete with its beautiful Baroque altar and unexpected color scheme. If you’re looking for something unique to see in Amsterdam, this is it.

Try Dutch food

Meat skewers and vegetables on a plate.

There are so many amazing things to eat in Amsterdam . There are more typical items like cheese and stroopwafels as well as unexpected treats like delicious silver-dollar-sized pancakes (poffertjes) topped with butter, syrup, and powdered sugar.

If you like to dig into a place through its food, consider taking a food tour like we did. You’ll get to try a variety of delicious dishes while learning about the stories behind them and why they matter to the Dutch.

No matter what, make room in your trip to stop for Indonesian food. The food of the former Dutch colony is popular and amazing. Trying the rijsttafel (“rice table”)—a meal of 15+ small dishes of everything from eggrolls to satay–is a must do. We’re partial to Sama Sebo and Sampurna .

Visit MOCO Museum

Large brick townhouse with purple trim and a sign for

On a spot on Museumplein is the Modern Contemporary Museum known as the MOCO Museum . As the name indicates, the art showcased in this turn-of-the-century townhouse is modern, focusing on the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, and my personal favorites like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Their work, which is part of the permanent collection, is on the museum’s top floor.

The rest of the space in MOCO is dedicated to temporary exhibits from a changing list of artists. Roy Lichtenstein’s bright, cartoon-like works have been shown here alongside large exhibits featuring the pieces (some chiseled from walls) of the renowned street artist and political activist Banksy. Outside, you can see–and even climb on–a group of unusual sculptures. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream.

Red gummy bear statue holding a mug shot plaque.

Like the nearby museums, MOCO is super popular. But, unlike them, it is fairly small, to it’s not unusual for there to be a wait. Consider reserving tickets online ahead of time if the MOCO is on your list. If you reserve, you even get a small discount.

Rent a bike

Bikes chained to a bridge over a canal.

Like Copenhagen or Montreal , Amsterdam is a city of bikes. They’re everywhere. It’s easy to pick one up at any of the many rental locations around the city. Just know that many locals use their bikes for everything, so bike lanes can be crowded, and the riders—while courteous—zip around quite quickly.

Catch the view from A’DAM Tower

The best view of Amsterdam is unquestionably from the top of A’DAM Tower , a 22-story building in the city’s northern section. The observation point offers a panoramic view over the brilliant canals, historic houses, and other gorgeous spots.

The main feature of A’DAM Tower is Over the Edge, Europe’s highest swing, which sends visitors soaring 325 feet above the ground. People (like us) who aren’t quite as daring, can opt to visit the Tower’s restaurants and Sky Bar. At MA’DAM and the rotating Moon restaurant , you can take in the great view with a cocktail in hand and none of the anxiety of the swing. On one visit, we dined at Moon just before New Year’s and got to see numerous fireworks displays as our view changed.

Take the ferry to NDSM

Picnic tables on a beach with flags flying overhead.

NDSM is one of the most unusual areas in the city. A neighborhood in Amsterdam North, it’s an arts community with a lot of unexpected features like an abandoned submarine, rusting trams, cafes made from greenhouses, and the world’s largest street art museum .

The land was previously owned by a shipping building company, which explains its industrial nature, and a lot of visitors see that as part of its charm. We were drawn in by the chance to hang out on the beach right on the banks of the IJ River.

NDSM has a handful of restaurants, including Pllek and Kantine IJ . There are also unusual hotels like the BOTEL (you guessed it—it’s in a boat) and the Crane Hotel Faralda (yes, it’s actually in a crane). There’s lots of room to hang out here, sprawl on the beach, and explore the area. It’s frequently the site of festivals and performances and is a curious place to walk around for a few hours.

Find Begijnhof

Statue of Jesus in a courtyard surrounded by historic buildings.

The Netherlands is full of hidden courtyards surrounded by homes, and the Begijnhof in central Amsterdam is a unique example. These hofjes were usually almshouses where poor or elderly single women lived, and they served as a form of social security as far back at the Middle Ages. From Haarlem to Gouda , I’ve had the chance to peek inside several of them.

What sets the Begijnhof apart from other hofjes is that it’s easily accessible to the public (others are often closed), and it was originally built as a beguinage –a home for the religious community of the beguines. The beguines were religious women who did not take vows, so they weren’t nuns, but their communities feel similar to convents.

The buildings at the Begijnhof include typical town houses, many dating to the 16th century. There are also two churches that are open for visiting. I was lucky to catch an organ concert at one of them, so check the schedule for special events.

Try genever

Bottles and glasses of fruit brandy on a bar.

Stop into one of Amsterdam’s 300-year-old tasting rooms to try the traditional spirit of the Netherlands— genever . This clear spirit, flavored with juniper and spices, is a bit like gin but smoother. It’s traditionally drunk straight, so if that’s too strong for your taste, try one of the many liqueurs instead.

Depending on which tasting room you choose, there may be a handful of seats, or it may be standing-room only. If you just want a quick sip, go to Wynand Fockink . For a more leisurely experience, head to De Drie Fleschjes. Either way, enjoy the atmosphere, chat with the locals, and think of all the history that’s happened there.

Shop in the Nine Streets

An enclave in the western part of the Canal Ring, the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes) is one of the best places for shopping in the city. There are lots of designer boutiques, vintage and quirky shops, and antique stores with unique finds.

If you need a break from the shopping, check out the brunch items and crazy milkshakes at Ree7 or stop for coffee at Screaming Beans .

Visit Zaanse Schans

Windmills along the water.

Like most places in Western Europe, Amsterdam not only has convenient public transportation within the city, but it’s easy to get out of the city for the day, too. Consider visiting Zaanse Schans . A 40-minute bus ride will take you to this town/museum where you can climb windmills, have a cheese tasting, and learn about the history of the clog, among other things. It’s fun and completely different from anything you’ll experience in the city.

Wander the canal ring

Historic canal houses along a boat-filled canal.

Crisscrossed by bridges, 165 canals encircle the city. Together, they provide a beautiful and unique landscape to get lost in.

As you wander along the canals, you’ll find shops, galleries, museums, and 300-year-old cafés. Stop and watch the tourists and locals alike cruising around or just marvel at the houseboats parked against the banks.

See the exhibits at Oude Kerk

Exterior of a brick church with stained glass and a steeple.

There are a few unexpected things about Oude Kerk , Amsterdam’s oldest building. First, the structure (which is literally called “old church”), is in the Red Light District. Second, despite its history and appearance, it’s no longer a church.

Oude Kerk was first consecrated around 1305, but it was gutted in a series of clashes following the Reformation. As a result, much of the art and the magnificence of the interior was lost, although there is still a remarkable organ, stained glass, and lots of gravestones covering the floor.

After a decades-long renovation, Oude Kerk reopened as an art venue. There is a continual rotation of exhibits such as photography collections and installations. There are also regular performances and workshops on a variety of different topics, all of which benefit from their inclusion in this unique space.

Have a pint at IJ Brewery

Windmill next to sign for Brouwerij 't IJ.

An early entrant to the craft brewery industry in the Netherlands, Brouwerij ‘t IJ (the IJ Brewery) started in 1985. The Belgian-style brewery next to the De Gooyer windmill brews a selection of about a dozen beers with rotating specials and seasonal features. All of their beer is certified organic. You can join one of their guided tours and tastings or grab a spot inside or on the terrace to enjoy a cold one.

Visit Anne Frank House

Black doors with sign for

Anne Frank’s story is probably the most familiar personal tale to result from the horrors of the Holocaust. Just 13 years old when her family went into hiding above her father’s office, her diary shows a young girl living through unimaginable circumstances.

In this canal house now turned into the Anne Frank House museum , Anne lived for two years with seven others all hoping to escape capture by the Nazis during World War II. Exhibits take visitors through the trajectory of the war and explain the circumstances of the Franks and those who helped hide them until the annex was ultimately discovered and its residents were deported to Auschwitz . There is also an in-depth discussion of how Anne’s writing has influenced the world in the decades since her death.

Timed tickets are required and often sell out weeks in advance.

See inside the Royal Palace

Room with red curtains, wallpaper, and furniture.

Right on Dam Square stands the Royal Palace Amsterdam . Dating from the 1600s, it was the city’s town hall for 150 years but became a royal palace in 1806 when King Louis Napoleon moved in.

Central Hall with white marble work and sculpture of Atlas holding a globe.

Though it lacks the space and sprawling gardens of other European palaces like France’s Versailles and Vienna’s Schonbrunn , the interior of the Royal Palace is suitably marble-filled and adorned with art and tapestries. Don’t miss the central hall with its giant world maps on the floor and Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders.

The Palace is still used for formal events like receiving heads of state and awards ceremonies but is otherwise open to the public and often has special exhibits. A free audio guide is included in admission.

Take a canal cruise

Illuminated bridge over a canal at night.

The canals themselves are some of the best attractions in Amsterdam. A 75-minute canal cruise is a great way to see the features that the city is most known for. It’s also the perfect way to give your feet a break after a day of sightseeing. The cruises leave from a few select points in the city, so find the nearest one and hop on.

Combine a canal cruise with skip-the-line entry to the Heineken Experience on this tour . For a dinner canal cruise with drinks, check out this option . If you only want tickets to Heineken Experience, you can book in advance here .

Have the Heineken Experience

Heineken has been a part of Amsterdam for 160 years. Founded in 1864, it is one of the top three breweries worldwide. Its former 19 th -century brewery facility welcomes beer lovers to learn about its history—and taste its famous pilsner—at the Heineken Experience .

Across four floors, visitors learn about the history of Heineken and how it is made and marketed through engaging, multimedia exhibits. The visit ends with a visit to the Best ’Dam Bar and a lesson in how to properly taste the beer.

Explore Westergasfabriek

Outdoor seating at a brewery in a red brick building.

One of the interesting places to visit outside the city center is Westergasfabriek . Located in Amsterdam West, Westergasfabriek is a culture park in what was once the city’s gasworks complex.

The beautiful red brick buildings of the 19th-century gasworks company are designated as national monuments. But instead of merely taking up space as historic buildings of a defunct company, they have been converted into bars, cafes, movie theaters, and other places for people to enjoy. In the space around the buildings, there are regular festivals and outdoor markets.

High-top chairs by a bar.

On our visit, we stopped into Troost Brewery , which has enough space to brew their own beer on-site and to host regular live music nights. We also stopped into the wine bar and the unique Ketelhuis Cinema . The movie theater–run largely by volunteers–focuses on Dutch cinema as well as international art house films. With the full restaurant and bar, it’s the perfect place to spend an evening.

Visit Hortus Botanicus

Plants and trees in a garden.

In the Plantage district, the Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. It was founded in 1638 for practical purposes, serving as a herb garden for doctors and pharmacies. But, now, its greenhouses and plants are a source of enjoyment for the thousands of visitors who come each year.

People eating at a restaurant with glass walls.

The Hortus Botanicus has over 6,000 tropical and indigenous trees and plants around the grounds, and you can see hundreds of butterflies in the Butterfly Greenhouse. Enjoy lunch at the cafe in The Orangery or head to the De Plantage restaurant a block away like we did. The glass-enclosed conservatory surrounded by old sycamore trees makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a garden.

Discover House of Bols

Rainbow colored exhibit with jars of colored liquid.

In 1575, Lucas Bols founded his eponymous distilled spirits brand. This interactive cocktail museum traces the history of the Bols company and educates visitors about genever, the traditional spirit of the Netherlands.

The self-guided tour at the House of Bols will walk you through all the ingredients and the distillation process. You can also try to identify all the flavors that go into the 42 products Bols makes. And like all good cocktail and beer museums, the last stop is the bar, which features cocktails by the expert mixologists.

Learn about history at the Dutch Resistance Museum

Near the Hortus Botanicus, the Dutch Resistance Museum ( Verzetsmuseum ) offers a look at how regular Dutch citizens responded to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Throughout the museum, there are questions that make visitors ask themselves what they would do under similar circumstances.

Through photos, documents, and film clips, visitors see how the resistance movement formed and learn stories of those who took subversive action and tried to protect their Jewish neighbors.

Visit Nieuwe Kerk

Church with posters advertising an exhibit inside.

On Dam Square, Nieuwe Kerk (literally “new church”) dates from the 15th century. In its long history, the church has survived the ravages of the Reformation, numerous fires, and lots of renovations. While it still plays an important role for the Dutch royal family as the site of investitures and weddings, it no longer functions as a church.

Like Oude Kerk, Nieuwe Kerk is home to temporary exhibits, performances, and cultural events. The in-depth exhibition we saw included sculptures and other artifacts from ancient Rome—a great way to re-purpose the historic space in the heart of the city.

Try Van Stapele cookies

Chocolate chip cookies on a tray.

I’m a little bit of a chocoholic, which is why I had to make a beeline for the famous cookie at Van Stapele Koekmakerij . The bakery only makes one kind of cookie–Valrhona chocolate cookie dough with a white chocolate filling–but they do it to perfection. If you time it just right, you may even catch them warm straight from the oven.

The Van Stapele chocolate cookies are so popular that they sell out long before the close of business, and lines can get long during high season and the holidays. Thankfully, they have recently moved to a much larger space to increase production. To guarantee you get a cookie, head to the bakery at Rokin 17 (usually before 3pm). If you’re running late, call ahead to see if they have some left. It’s worth it.

Explore Haarlem

Wisteria covered alleyway between houses.

We absolutely love Amsterdam, but it’s a really popular place to visit, which means it can get crowded. Like, really crowded. Especially in high season. Haarlem is an equally beautiful–but somewhat less visited–city only 20 minutes away, making it a great place for a day trip from Amsterdam.

Haarlem is full of striking architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, fascinating art and natural history museums, and even a gorgeous 600-year-old cathedral where Mozart played . Our favorite spot is DeDAKKAS , a rooftop bar with great views over the city.

See the tulips of Keukenhof

Tulips along a pond with ducks going by.

Less than an hour away, you’ll find one of the area’s top attractions– Keukenhof gardens . For eight weeks every spring, over 1 million visitors flock here to see the gorgeous tulips and other flowers that the Netherlands is famous for.

Across the 80 acres of Keukenhof, you’ll find 1600 varieties of flowers. There are displays, sculptures, hands-on exhibits, and lots and lots of brightly-colored flowers. The grounds are expertly managed so there are flowers and trees to see whether spring comes early or late. After you visit the gardens, rent a bicycle in the parking lot and explore the nearby fields.

Where to Stay Tivoli Doelen Amsterdam Hotel — Five-star accommodations in a 17th-century building with a restaurant, bar, and valet parking. The Dylan — Boutique hotel on the Keizersgracht canal with a fitness center, massage service, and a garden with a terrace. The on-site restaurant Vinkeles has two Michelin stars. The Old Lady — Bed and breakfast in a canal house near the train station. XO Hotel Couture — Comfortable, budget-friendly hotel offering the best mix of price and amenities that we’ve found. Canal View B&B — Top-rated bed and breakfast on the Singel canal. Guests love the location, comfortable beds, and friendly service.

For some of these activities, we were the guests of IAmsterdam and Eating Europe. All opinions are our own.

amsterdam tourist things to do

Laura Longwell is an award-winning travel blogger and photographer. Since founding Travel Addicts in 2008, she has written hundreds of articles that help over 3 million people a year get the most out of their travel. In that time, she has visited nearly 60 countries on 5 continents, often returning to favorite destinations over and over again. She has a deep love of history, uncovering unexpected attractions, and trying all the good food a place has to offer.

In addition to Travel Addicts, Laura runs a site about her hometown of Philadelphia—Guide to Philly—which chronicles unique things to do and places to see around southeastern Pennsylvania. Her travel tips and advice appear across the web.

Fun Things to do in Amsterdam

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Tuesday 23rd of January 2024

I found myself holding my breath as I read your info and viewed the pics. We are all booked for March!!!! So excited. Thank you. This will be our first trip over.

Sophie Welten

Friday 29th of September 2023

I would also recommend to visit restaurant Blue in the Kalverpassage, where you have a beautiful view over the city.

Friday 28th of April 2023

We are planning a trip in September and wondered if it would still be worth the trip to Keukenhof Gardens since no tulips in the Fall? Are there other flowers blooming then worth seeing? Thank you

Laura Longwell

Saturday 29th of April 2023

The garden is only open until mid-May.

Monday 9th of January 2023

Thank you this was very helpful. i am going there in a few weeks and cant wait.

Jenny Desilva

Sunday 11th of December 2022

Oh my goodness! This article is so helpful. I now have several stops to include in my itinerary for my upcoming trip!! I am so glad you wrote this.

I'm so glad. Amsterdam is one of our very favorites, and we love hearing that the recommendations are helpful!

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Heineken Experience

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Take a canal tour.

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre 

No visitor should miss out on a waterborne tour of the splendid canals of Amsterdam. The canals were declared a UNESCO monument in 2010. They aren't just a picturesque attraction—they were essential to defense and transport in the 17th century. Hundreds of canals were filled in nationwide to accommodate the new mode of transport when the automobile arrived, but Amsterdam has retained 165 of its historic canals, more than any other Dutch city. 

A canal tour makes for a wonderful first impression because the tour boats take in much of the monumental architecture that lines the Canal Belt, four concentric semicircles that loop around the the historic Center. Although any canal tour will be an experience to remember, the options are plentiful: hop aboard an open-top boat from the St. Nicolaas Boat Club, or charter a private boat or a special themed or catered tour.

Amsterdam's Historic Canals

  • Amsterdam's Western Canal Belt in Pictures
  • Amsterdam's Eastern Canal Best in Pictures

Explore Dutch Art From the Old Masters to Mondriaan

Dozens of Amsterdam museums are devoted to the fine arts, which the Netherlands has pioneered for centuries. Rembrandt, a household name, has his own dedicated museum, the Rembrandt House Museum ( Museum het Rembrandthuis ). Its restored interior reproduces the atmosphere of the artist's former residence, but his classic  De Nachtwacht  resides at the Rijksmuseum , one of Amsterdam's top museums , next to thousands of invaluable masterworks across the scope of Dutch art history.

Amsterdam promises just as much for lovers of modern art: Its most visited museum, the Van Gogh Museum , is a tribute to the post-impressionist painter whose inventive technique and sympathetic subject matter have earned him countless admirers. The Stedelijk Museum has reopened for another temporary exhibit despite its renovation and is another can't-miss destination for modern art enthusiasts. Its Erezaal (Hall of Honor) is bedecked with classic canvases from Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Yves Klein and other celebrated artists.

More Amsterdam Art Museums

  • Amsterdam Canal House Museums
  • Hermitage Amsterdam
  • Cobra Museum of Modern Art (Amstelveen)

Remember Anne Frank and the Dutch World War II Experience

The Netherlands didn't escape the horrors of World War II. Memorials like the Dutch National Monument, the Homomonument and others commemorate the victims of this war, and three spectacular museums are devoted in whole or in part to this period.

The Anne Frank House is one such museum. Visitors can explore the secret annex where Anne hid for years with her parents, sister and three others as she composed her famous diary. Even the Gestapo soldiers who found them could scarcely believe the cramped existence these people lived out in the clandestine rooms. Brave individuals like the couple who harbored the Franks were part of the Dutch Resistance movement, and a museum is also dedicated to them: the Verzetsmuseum. It documents the tireless attempts of the resistance members to thwart the Nazis and has been voted the best historical museum in the Netherlands. The Jewish Historical Museum  retells how the Holocaust devastated Jewish communities in the Netherlands and how these communities have rebuilt themselves in its wake. Few visitors are left unmoved by the powerful exhibits at these museums.

Amsterdam History

  • Amsterdam Museum

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Tulips and other bulb flowers are the pride of the Netherlands, and nowhere is this more evident than at Keukenhof . The world famous bulb flower park in Lisse is 35 to 40 minutes by bus from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Stroll past rows upon rows of vibrantly hued tulips in this outdoor wonderland. Flower lovers come from far and wide to admire the seasonal blooms.

If you can't make it for tulip season, don't despair—there are other flowers year-round. The Amsterdam Tulip Museum is a temple to the Netherlands' favorite flower with exhibits that show off its manifold breeds. It revisits the cultural history of the tulip from "tulipmania" to the present. The Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) is a complex of stalls that float atop a canal for an utterly unique experience. Specially-packed tulip and other bulbs are available for international tourists to take safely back to their home countries. There's also the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam , whose flower and plant exhibits are sure to please any botanically-inclined visitor.

  • How to Get to Keukenhof

Explore De Wallen

Take a stroll in De Wallen, Amsterdam's red light district , to see what all the fuss is about ... and learn that there's more to this fabled district than the sex tourism it attracts. The red-lit windows where sex workers primp are often attached to historic townhouses, and monumental architecture abounds in this sliver of the city. The Oude Kerk (Old Church) was established in 1306 and presides over its own square. Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) is a former clandestine church sequestered in a townhouse attic. It testifies to a time when Catholic worship was forbidden—before the Netherlands became known worldwide as a beacon of tolerance. De Wallen is also home to a number of fine restaurants, and it's just a stone's throw from the diverse eateries of Amsterdam Chinatown .

And then, of course, there's the adult entertainment. The live sex shows at Casa Rosso and Bananenbar are popular with couples as well as  bachelor and bachelorette parties and others, but performance reviews are ambivalent. Prostitution isn't limited to "windows." There are also brothels and escort services that cater to more discreet clients. Be aware that prostitution in Amsterdam is not without its problems behind the scenes. Some sex workers are still coerced into the trade. Look for the "Pimp-Free Zone" stickers on window brothels for responsible fun. Take an informative tour of De Wallen  with a former sex worker for a behind-the-scenes look at Dutch prostitution.

Hop on a Bicycle

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Just about everyone cycles in Amsterdam and not just for fun. Fifty percent of locals use their bikes daily, and rush hour bike lanes teem with office workers in suits, students headed to class, and parents with tots piled into children's seats. Join the locals for a taste of this daily ritual and discover the city on its favorite means of transport.

Rental bikes are available all over town, from inconspicuous Dutch omafietsen (also known as "Dutch bikes") to ones that clearly hail from a rental company—an effective way of warning locals that a possibly inexperienced cyclist is at the handlebars. Specialized bike maps like the Amsterdam op de fiets map ("Amsterdam by Bicycle," available for EUR 4 at the VVV tourist information center ) are an indispensable resource for first-time cyclists in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Bike Safety

  • Is It Safe for Tourists to See Amsterdam by Bike?
  • Top 10 Tips for Bike Safety
  • Visual Guide to Bike Safety in Amsterdam

Taste Traditional Dutch Cuisine and That of its Former Colonies

Traditional Dutch cuisine typically consists of comfort food to warm one's insides in the cold season, which can feel eternal some years, but favorites like erwtensoep (split pea soup) and stamppot boerenkool  (mashed potatoes streaked with curly kale) are eaten all year.  Pancakes are treated like pizza, loaded with extras like ham and bacon. Wheels of artisanal Gouda stare out at window shoppers from the best cheese vendors, and French fries are consumed in abundance.

Sometimes it's nice to dip into more exotic fare. This is where two of the Netherlands' former colonies—vastly distant countries—come in: Indonesia and Suriname. The rijsttafel , a Dutch colonial invention that assembles dishes from all over Indonesia, is a veritable attraction in itself. Dozens of tapas-sized portions allow diners to sample a variety of Indonesian recipes.

Surinamese is a South American cuisine spiked with Afro-Caribbean, South Asian, Indonesian and Chinese flavors, courtesy of its intensely multicultural population.  Surinamese eateries are typically casual affairs that dole out impossible portions for moderate prices. Both cuisines are rare outside their home countries, so the opportunity to experience them is one that shouldn't be missed.

Tastes of Amsterdam

  • Best of Amsterdam Chinatown
  • Chocolate Lovers' Guide to Amsterdam
  • Best Bakeries in Amsterdam

Get Out of Town

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson 

I once met a woman who'd come to visit a relative in a city 40 minutes south of Amsterdam. She didn't realize until the final day of her two-week trip how effortless it is to travel between cities and towns in the Netherlands. The most populous cities are concentrated in the central west, the so-called " Randstad ." Train travel to these cities— Haarlem , Delft , Leiden and others—is a cinch. Most cities in the Randstad are less than an hour from Amsterdam by train, and hardly any city in the Netherlands is farther away than three hours. This makes the capital a convenient hub for day-trippers to anywhere in the country.

But where to start? A day trip I like to recommend to first-time visitors is Zaanse Schans , a town that's chock-full of traditional Dutch crafts and architecture. It offers six windmills, a wooden shoe workshop, a cheese farm and more. Ceramics lovers shouldn't miss the historic center of Delft  where the beloved "Delft blue" porcelain is produced. The list of wonderful cities and towns to see in the Randstad alone is endless, so read up in advance to find your ideal day trip from Amsterdam.

Day Trip Resources

  • Journey Planner for Dutch Public Transportation
  • How to Reach the Keukenhof Tulip Park
  • Best International Day and Weekend Trips from Amsterdam

Experience the Cannabis Coffeeshop Culture

Amsterdam is one of those rare places where you can purchase reputable quality weed and/or hash in a public transaction and not be branded a criminal. Almost half a million travelers come to Amsterdam each year expressly because of its cannabis coffee shops, and a quarter of all visitors step into a coffee shop at least once on their trip.

These establishments haven't turned the city into a den of depravity—far from it. For cannabis smokers, coffee shops are simply a laid-back alternative to cafes. You can relax with a joint and a cup of coffee, share a "space cake" with friends, or even have a full post-smoke meal. I find that individual coffee shops can even be attractions in themselves, not unlike small-scale museums with a focus on an alternative culture and its self-expression. Each has its own unique atmosphere and scene, and a few are veritable institutions. See my list of the top three coffee shops in Amsterdam to learn more about these industry leaders.

Amsterdam for Cannabis Smokers

  • Barney's Coffeeshop

Buy Yourself Happy at Amsterdam's Retail Hot Spots

Amsterdam is often overshadowed as a fashion capital by the nearby sartorial stars of Paris and Antwerp, but it sure is a fun place to shop . Retail outlets line the P.C. Hooftstraat —think Prada, Gucci and Versace. Unique, independent boutiques fill the Nine Streets area. Amsterdam administers retail therapy to shoppers of all stripes.

It also has an abundant share of specialty shops from toiletries to interior decor, and my favorite: culinary delicacies . Stroll down Nieuwendijk and Haarlemmerstraat , both just minutes from Central Station, for a sample of the fine specialty food stores in town, from cheese, oil and salt specialists to international importers.

Some locals will claim that there's no better place to drop a few euros than the beloved outdoor markets of Amsterdam . From fashion and art and antiques to food, there's a market for it. Most are open year-round, but April to September is peak season thanks to the abundance of sunny days.

Amsterdam for Shoppers

  • Top 10 Places in Shop in Amsterdam
  • Best Affordable Gifts from Amsterdam
  • Best Children's Stores in Amsterdam

The 18 Best Things to Do in the Netherlands

De Wallen, Amsterdam's Red-Light District

The 9 Best Things to Do in Dam Square, Amsterdam

Your Trip to the Netherlands: The Complete Guide

How to Spend One Week in the Netherlands

How to Plan a Perfect Trip to Amsterdam

LGBTQ Travel Guide: Amsterdam

Famous Squares of Amsterdam

13 European Rivers and Waterways to Cruise

Taking a Day Trip to Gouda

The Ultimate Itinerary for a European-Inspired Solo Trip Around the US

The 15 Best Restaurants in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Tourist Discount Cards

How to Travel from Amsterdam Airport to City Center by Train, Taxi, Bus, and Shuttle

February in Amsterdam: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See


50 Free Things To Do in Amsterdam

50 free things to do in amsterdam - I amsterdam sign

I amsterdam sign @ Museumplein

Free Things To Do in Amsterdam: 50 Activities, Experiences and Interesting Places to Visit for Free in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is one of the world’s top city trip destinations for many reasons. The picturesque canals , the compact layout of the city, unique & world-class museums , it’s open-minded attitude and the vibrant nightlife draw tourists from all over the world.

The capital of The Netherlands isn’t the cheapest destination in Europe. Luckily there are plenty of free Amsterdam experiences and attractions that you can enjoy on a budget. Explore our list to find free things to do in Amsterdam .

# 1 Free Walking Tour – Sandeman’s New Europe

Free Amsterdam walking tour by young guides working on a tip only basis. Departure is at 11:15am and 1:15 pm from the National Monument at Dam Square. This is one of the best free things to do in Amsterdam to discover the city and learn about it’s history. Dam Square

# 2 Floating Flower Market

Visit the famous floating flower market for free and enjoy all the colorful flowers with wonderful smells. One of the most unique features of the flower market in Amsterdam is the fact that it is floating on the Singel Canal. Singel 610 – 616

# 3 Take a Free Boat Trip

Ferry - Free things to do in Amsterdam

– “Buiksloterweg” – This one is the shortest of the three and crosses the river straight ahead (every 6 minutes) – “IJplein” – This one goes to a more residential area with some shops  (every 10 minutes) – “NDSM Werf” – This one goes left and goes much further than the other two. If you really want to get a nice view of Amsterdam from the water and the industrial harbor are this is the best one to take. (every 30 minutes) Central Station backside- De Ruijterkade

# 4 Canal Belt

In august 2010 the Amsterdam Canal belt was added as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The canal belt (Grachtengordel) was built in the 17th century around the old city center . Many beautiful Canal Houses are located on the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht with typical architecture for these gabled houses. Canal Belt Area

# 5 Begijnhof

free things to do in amsterdam Begijnhof-Amsterdam

# 6 Civic Guard Gallery

Hidden away, right in the city center of Amsterdam is a small glass-roofed walkway that exhibits 15 huge paintings from the 17th century. These paintings are portraits of the voluntary city guard from that period. The so called ‘Schuttersgalerij is part of the Amsterdam Museum and enterance to this part is the museum is free. Find the Schuttersgalerij between the Kalverstraat shopping street and Begijnhof.  Kalverstraat 92

# 7 Vondelpark

Vondelpark - Museum Quarter Amsterdam

# 8 Free Classical Lunch Concert: Concertgebouw on Wednesdays

On Wednesday from mid-September through to June you can go for a free concert in the Concertgebouw on Museum Square. The free Lunch Concert takes place at 12.30 with a 30 minute public performances as they rehearse for ‘official’ shows that evening. Lunch concerts at the Concertgebouw vary from public rehearsals of the Royal Concert Building Orchestra, considered one of the best orchestras in the world, to performances of ensembles of the Dutch Conservatory and chamber music by young talents.  Concertgebouwplein 2-6

# 9 Take a Picture With You and the I amsterdam Sign

This large ‘Iamsterdam’ sign was located in front of the Rijksmuseum. In 2018, the government decided to remove te letters due to the massive crowd and nuisance. But you can still find the letters at the airport, Schiphol.

# 10 Cat Boat (Poezenboot)

Poezenboot - free stuff in Amsterdam

# 11 Amsterdam City Archives

Delve into the city’s rich history. The Amsterdam Treasures collection (fittingly located in the basement Treasury of the building) is free to visit and features a host of fascinating items drawn from the archives. Vijzelstraat 32

# 12 King’s Day – April 27

Every year Amsterdam puts on a huge variety of free festivals and events. King’s Day festivities in April invite locals and tourists into Amsterdam’s open-air fun. In the streets, canals, parks and everywhere in between, the city is full with orange as Amsterdammers enjoy the biggest street party of the year! Read more about King’s Day in Amsterdam

# 13 Explore the Red Light District


# 14 Bridge of 15 Bridges

Just one bridge in the Amsterdam canal belt gives a view of no less than 15 bridges. This unusual sight is found at the crossing of the Reguliersgracht and the Herengracht. Standing on this bridge with your back to the Thorbeckeplein, you will see six arched bridges in a row. To the left you will find six more over the Herengracht and on the right you will see the next two. The 15th is the bridge you are standing on. It is particularly worth coming here at night as the bridges are illuminated giving one of the most beautiful and romantic views in Amsterdam.  Crossing Reguliersgracht 1 and Herengracht 536

# 15 Visit the Albert Cuyp Markt to Get a Feel for the ‘Real’ Amsterdam

The ‘Albert Cuypmarkt’ is the most famous and largest street market in The Netherlands. This daily market offers its wares for over a century! The vendors (more than 300 stalls) sell almost everything; cheese, fresh seafood, meat, fruit but also jewelry, clothes and flowers for example. The Albert Cuyp street market is situated in the heart of the 19th century neighbourhood De Pijp , Amsterdam’s “Quartier Latin”. Albert Cuypstraat

# 16 Reinier Sijpkens Music Boat “The Notendop”

Free things to do in Amsterdam - Muziekboot notendop

# 17 Urban Beaches

Despite the fact that Amsterdam is not located by the seaside, the Dutch have still managed to create three beaches in Amsterdam. Blijburg, Muiderlaan 1001 Amsterdam (at this beach you can actually swim) Strand West, Stavangerweg 900 Amsterdam Strand Zuid, Europaplein 22

# 18 Sunday Market Amsterdam

Free things to do in Amsterdam - Sunday Market - Westerpark Area Amsterdam

# 19 Visit the Haarlemmerstraat & Haarlemmerdijk

Only 500 meters away of the major trourist trap (Damrak) this is a great place to meet the Real Amsterdam. It’s a very cool shopping street with lots of little boutiques and a good vibe. Plenty to see! It’s fun just walking around with no particular place to go. Haarlemmerstraat & Haarlemmerdijk

# 20 Muziektheater on Tuesdays

Every Tuesday (12.30-13.00) from September through May there is a free lunch concert in the foyer of Dutch National Opera & Ballet at Waterloo Square. Waterlooplein 22

# 21 Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)


# 22 OBA Public Library

The OBA (Public Library Amsterdam) is much more than your usual library as it offers an awesome view of the city from the top floor. Oosterdokskade 143

# 23 Organic Farmer’s Market

The Noordermarkt (“Northern Market”) is a square in the Jordaan neighborhood . The weekly Organic famer’s market held on this square is one of the most popular markets in Amsterdam. Organic fruits, bread, vegetables, milk, cheese, meat & flowers. Every Saturday from 9.00 am – 4.00 pm. Noordermarkt

# 24 Rijksmuseum Garden


# 25 Seven Countries-Houses on the Roemer Visscherstraat

Right in the middle of the Roemer Visscherstraat (only 3 min walk from Museumplein and near the Vondelpark) you can find a group of houses in the national styles of several countries aka the Seven Countries-Houses. The Seven Countries-Houses were built in 1894 and his intention was to introduce how the national architecture developed in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Holland and England. Roemer Visscherstraat 20 – 30A

# 26 Barrel Organs in the Streets

Barrel organs belong in Amsterdam. The iconic organs are as Dutch as canals and clogs. They give an extra flair to the already colorful streets of Amsterdam. Barrel organ music is in theory free but the organ-man very much appreciates a small contribution in his collecting-box. The best chance to see a barrel organ is to go to the ‘Kalverstraat’ or Dam Square.

# 27 Free Jazz Session on Tuesday Evening

free things to do in Amsterdam - jazz bimhuis

# 28 Diamond Factory Tour

Amsterdam has been known internationally as the ‘City of Diamonds’ for over 425 years. If you would like to find out all about carats, colours, clarity and cuts, and learn about some of the history of this Amsterdam craft at the same time, join one of the free guided tours held seven days a week at Gassan Diamonds. Daily tours from 9 am to 5 pm in over 27 languages. Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 173-175

# 29 North-South Metro Line Viewpoint “M”

A 5th metro line for Amsterdam, the North-South line, is currently under construction and is due to be opened in 2017. Descend the stairs in the middle of Rokin street and behold the new subway system being excavated.  Rokin 96

# 30 The Narrowest House in the World in Amsterdam


The narrowest house in the world is to be found in Amsterdam, on the Singel, no.7. With a width of only one meter (about 3 ft., 3 in.), the house is barely wider than its own front door. In all fairness, it should be said that this is actually the rear façade of a house; the front is a bit wider. A better title for the house at Singel 7 would be the house with the narrowest façade in the world. For even more “narrow” experiences, visit the narrowest house in Europe, located at Oude Hoogstraat 22. This tiny house features a typical Amsterdam bell-gable. The façade is a mere 2.02 meters (6 ft., 7.5 in.) wide, and the house itself is six meters (19 ft., 8 in.) deep. Singel 7  Oude Hoogstraat 22

# 31 Wander Around the Nine Streets

Shopping in the Canal Belt - 9 streets

# 32 Uitmarkt

The Uitmarkt is the national opening of the cultural season and the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands. Over the years, the Uitmarkt has evolved into a festival attracting 500,000 visitors and featuring 2,000 performers at more than 30 venues. And it’s all free! Museumplein & Leidseplein

# 33 NDSM-Werf

Hop on the free ferry (every 30 minutes) behind Central Station and set sail for NDSM-werf in Amsterdam North , an abandoned shipyard turned into an avant-garde arts community. Check out the graffiti artists roaming the streets, recycled-junk sculptures, abandoned boats and trams and giant wooden tiki head watching over it all. Veer NDSM Werf

# 34 EYE Filmmuseum

EYE Filmmuseum is the Dutch center for film culture and heritage. Located on Amsterdam’s waterfront just behind the Central Station, the EYE Film Institute has become one of the main attractions in Amsterdam. A free ferry service (Buiksloterweg) runs right at the back of the train station and takes you across in less than 3 minutes (24/7). There is a large terrace with a spectacular view over Amsterdam. The bar and restaurant are open 7 days a week from 10.00pm to 01.00am. IJpromenade 1

# 35 Play Chess on XL Chess Board at Max Euwe Plein

The chess museum at the Max Euwe Centre in Amsterdam is free and here you can find out about the history of chess and more. You can even play a virtual game. It’s named after the only Dutch chess champion, Max Euwe and there is also an exhibition dedicated to his life and works here. You can also test your chess skills on the giant chessboard in the outdoor square. Max Euwe Plein is located between Leidseplein and Vondelpark. Max Euwe Plein 30A

# 36 Only in Summer: Free Open Air Theatre Vondelpark


# 37 Amsterdamse Bos

Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam forest) is another of the Dutch’s artificial inventions. Forest is a misleading name though – the area includes small pools, jogging and biking trails and a river. ‘Amsterdamse Bos’ can be found just outside the city on a 20 minute bike ride from the Museumplein. Inside the forest there is a little petting zoo with pigs, cows, horses, goats, sheep and chickens which is great for a visit with your kids. Bosbaanweg 5 Amstelveen

# 38 Homomonument

Westermarkt’s Homomonument was inspired by a symbol of persecution, the pink triangle the Nazis forced gay people to wear, which was turned into a badge of pride. It comprises three rose-toned granite triangles, one projecting out over the Keizersgracht canal. Keizersgracht Canal / Westermarkt

# 39 Friday Night Skate


# 40 Magere Brug a.k.a. Skinny Bridge

Free things to do in Amsterdam - Skinny bridge

# 41 Normal Amsterdam Peil (NAP) in the Town Hall

In the passage between the ‘Stadhuis’ (Town Hall) and the Muziektheater (Opera House) on the Waterlooplein, it is possible to see the “one and only” Normal Amsterdam Peil (NAP). A bronze button indicates the exact NAP water level. This bronze button acts as the standard from which the levels above sea in nearly all European countries are measured. Originally created in 1684 for use in The Netherlands, the zero level of NAP was the average summer flood water level in the IJ in the centre of Amsterdam, which at that times was still connected with the open sea. Waterlooplein 22

# 42 Cannabis College

The college, occupying two floors in a 17th-century listed monument in the Red Light District, provides the visitors with an array of information about cannabis (including its medicinal uses). The place is run by volunteers and admission is free. However, staff request a small donation if you wish to wander around the indoor garden. Oudezijds Achterburgwal 124

# 43 Rijksmuseum @ Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

The Rijksmuseum has a small venture located at the airport (beyond passport control between piers E and F). Original artworks from the Rijksmuseum collection can be seen here. Rijksmuseum Schiphol is open daily from 7 am until 8 pm and free of charge by showing a valid boarding pass.

# 44 Chinatown Buddist Temple


# 45 Gay Pride – Canal Parade

Free things to do in Amsterdam - Gay Pride Canal parade

# 46 NEMO Panorama Terrace

The NEMO panorama terrace is 22m high and can be reached by climbing up the steps on the eastern edge of the building – this is freely accessible to the public so there is no need to pay entrance fee to the NEMO Science Centre museum. During the summer the terrace has a “city beach” theme with comfortable deckchairs to sit on. The terrace also features a large chess set, a water feature and often exhibits some display boards. At the very top you will find the Rooftop Café which serves basic drinks and snacks. Oosterdok 2, Amsterdam

# 47 Waterlooplein Flea Market

This is Amsterdam’s bustling flea market with more than 300 stalls of merchandise offering a wide selection of items from secondhand clothing and antiques to leather coats and shoes. Open: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm; Saturday: 8.30 am –5pm. Waterlooplein 2

# 48 Church Carillon Concerts

The Westerkerk (Western Church) is definitely one of the most prominent landmarks on the Amsterdam skyline, as well as in the collective memory of residents: even Anne Frank wrote in her diary that she could hear the chimes of the church bells from her attic hide-out. The Westerkerk, which stands just outside the border of Amsterdam’s Jordaan district, is certainly beloved for its carillon concerts: its 48-bell carillon sounds out every Tuesday from 12pm – 1pm  Westerkerktoren: Tuesday 12pm – 1pm  Zuiderkerkstoren: Tuesday 2.30pm – 3.30pm & Saturday 7pm – 8pm  Oudekerkstoren: Saturday 4pm – 5pm   Vimeo Historic Towers of Amsterdam

# 49 Go for a Walk during Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival turns on the light in the darkest days of the year! With different events like a walking tour (free), a boat tour and a shopping night the Amsterdam Light Festival has something for everyone. For 50 days Amsterdam is home to international light sculptures in the water, on buildings or just in the air. The Amsterdam Light Festival is magical festival if you like to go for a walk in the evening!

# 50 Street Art in Amsterdam

Street Art is a very popular form of art that is spreading quickly all over the world. Amsterdam has a rich Street Art scene, where graffiti plays an important role.

Can you add one or more free things to do in Amsterdam to this list? Let us know in the comments below or share this article on Twitter or Facebook with your free things to do in Amsterdam!

By the way, the Dutch word for free is ‘gratis’. That might come of use.

 Save Money on Your Trip to Amsterdam:

  • Consider purchasing one of the Amsterdam Discount City Passes
  • Book a budget hotel in Amsterdam
  • Great deals on hostels in Amsterdam
  • Search for cheap & best airline tickets to Amsterdam


Author: AmsterdamTourist.Info

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Hey. I love the busking in the tunnel outside the entrance to the Ruksmuseum. Great classical music. Group changes every 15/30 mins. Technically free but u will want to drop them some money 🙂

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Great info!

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Hi! Just wanted to thank you for this list, it has made our trip brilliant! We’ve done at least 8 things on your list and plan to do more on our last day. Would larticu recommend the Gassam diamond factory, which was incredibly high quality and didn’t feel at all touristy (and had free tea and coffee!). Hope this list helps more people have a great time in Amsterdam.

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The 21 best free things to do in Amsterdam

Mar 13, 2024 • 7 min read

Amsterdam architecture over the tulips.

Admiring the incredible gardens and architecture of Amsterdam doesn't cost a cent © Vladislav Zolotov / Getty Images

With its Golden Age canals, treasure-filled museums and cutting-edge art, entertainment and design scenes,  Amsterdam is one of Europe's jewels, but it can be pricey.

Fortunately, you can find a surprising number of freebies, from art galleries to architecture and concerts in the  Netherlands ' capital, if you know where to look. These are the best free things to do in Amsterdam.

Canal in the city of Amsterdam with boats moored

1. Wander through the "living museum" of Amsterdam's Canal Ring

Roaming along the canals flowing through central Amsterdam (the city has more than Venice ) is like being let loose in an open-air museum. A feat of engineering from the Dutch Golden Age, lined by tilting, gabled canal houses and spanned by quaint hump-back bridges, Amsterdam's 400-year-old waterways are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Planning tip: For the quintessential "seven bridges" snap, stand on the Herengracht in front of the Thorbeckeplein, looking down the Reguliersgracht. You can actually count 15 bridges in all directions. It's especially pretty at night.

The interior of one of the shipyards at Amsterdam's NDSM-werf. where a giant red Lego brick is on display amongst the shipping containers

2. Watch artists create in former shipyard studios

In the up-and-coming, post-industrial neighborhood Amsterdam Noord, former shipbuilding warehouse  NDSM Loods now contains more than 80 studios, where upwards of 250 artists unleash their imaginations. Exhibitions are displayed beneath the hangar's girders in its gallery space, NDSM Fuse.

Planning tip: Set aside at least a couple of hours to walk or cycle through the vast site. Free passenger ferries cross the IJ river from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station (you can take bikes on board for free).

3. Marvel at millennia-old archaeological finds in a metro station

Objects dating back as far as 2400 BCE were unearthed when the Noord/Zuidlijn metro line was dug beneath Amsterdam’s streets and waterways – among them medieval ice skates, Golden Age pottery, 19th-century pocket watches and buttons and 20th-century tech, such as early mobile phones. They're now displayed in glass cases at Rokin metro station's exhibit  Below the Surface .

Planning tip: It's worth hopping on or off the metro at Rokin, a short walk from Amsterdam Centraal station, to see the displays (you'll need a transport ticket to access the station).

4. Ramble between rose bushes, hedges and elegant statues at the Rijksmuseum

An Amsterdam secret – unknown even to many locals – is that the Renaissance and baroque gardens of its premier museum, the  Rijksmuseum , are free and open to the public, along with occasional sculpture exhibitions held amid the greenery. 

Science Center NEMO - largest childrens science educational museum, knowledge institute and center of tourism in Amsterdam, Netherlands

5. Learn about sustainable energy on NEMO’s scenic roof terrace

Rising from the IJ river, Amsterdam's boat-shaped, green-copper  NEMO science museum is a city landmark. Its 22m-high (72ft) roof terrace is Amsterdam's largest and was designed as a public square, with a sweeping panorama over the watery city below. It also offers the opportunity to interact with the elements at the open-air Energetica exhibition, via a control-it-yourself kite and a sundial.

Planning tip: At the summertime Cascade, splash around with 4000L (1057 gallons) of water pouring through 30 receptacles and pools. The rooftop closes completely in bad weather.

6. Experience local life at the Albert Cuypmarkt

To get a feel for the "real" Amsterdam, trawl its largest street market, the  Albert Cuypmarkt . Unfurling along Albert Cuypstraat between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat, in the lively neighborhood of De Pijp , it's the place locals shop for shimmering fabrics, bike locks, socks, fresh flowers and a vast array of snacks, such as herring sandwiches and, of course, Dutch cheeses (stalls often offer samples).

Planning tip: The market sets up every day except Sunday.

7. Revel in electrifying jazz at a Bimhuis jam session

Rollicking jam sessions at the  Bimhuis – the core of Amsterdam's influential jazz scene – feature an eclectic array of local and international talent.

Planning tip: Free jam sessions take place every Tuesday at 10pm from September to June.

The grand interior of the Concertgebouw orchestra hall, with a full orchestra present on the stage, including a huge organ, and a large crowd filling the stalls

8. Preview classical music performances at the Concertgebouw

The  Concertgebouw 's free lunchtime shows are often rehearsals for musicians playing the famed classical hall later that evening; you might also catch chamber music by up-and-coming performers.

Planning tip: You'll need to prebook online (there's a nominal reservation charge). Concerts typically take place at 12:30pm on Wednesdays between September and June.

Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market in Amsterdam, Netherlands

9. Browse Amsterdam's colorful flower market

Take a heady stroll amid tulips, daffodils and other blooms along Singel between Muntplein and Koningsplein, home of the  Bloemenmarkt . The city’s "floating" flower market was founded against the dramatic canal backdrop in 1862, when horticulturalists sailed here to hawk their wares. Bulbs and fresh flowers are still sold here today, along with souvenirs.

10. Seek out the peaceful Begijnhof courtyard in Amsterdam's busy center

To find the hidden  Begijnhof , enter the door off Gedempte Begijnensloot (near heaving shopping strip Kalverstraat) and a tranquil oasis of diminutive 14th-century houses and gardens appears, along with two clandestine, relic-filled churches.

While the last of the Catholic Beguines died in 1971, it’s still the home of 105 women residents, so visitors need to be respectful (no photos) and preserve the hushed silence.

11. Explore the world's largest city archives

Amsterdam's  Stadsarchief occupies a glorious century-old former bank. Rotating displays from the city archives might include anything from a 1625 city map to a 1942 police report on Anne Frank's bike theft to photos from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in at the Hilton. The Amsterdam Treasure Room and most exhibitions are free.

A male employee sharpens a diamond using a microscope on the Gassan Diamond Factory Tour, Amsterdam

12. Discover diamonds' secrets on a factory tour

Don't know your princess cut from your marquise, or a river from a top cape? Get a debriefing on diamonds during a free one-hour tour of  Gassan 's beautifully restored 19th-century workshop. You'll watch pro polishers in action as a primer on assessing diamonds, then land in a gift shop selling sparklers.

13. Get schooled at Cannabis College

Nonprofit center  Cannabis College educates visitors about its eponymous herb, which flourishes here in its own organic garden. Chat with staff about coffee-shop etiquette, view displays of paraphernalia and browse hemp-made products.

Outside view of Amsterdam Central Library, the Centrale Bibliotheek, largest public library in Europe

14. Check out Amsterdam's awesome main library

At the Netherlands' largest public library, the light-filled  OBA: Centrale Bibliotheek , you can catch various exhibitions, screenings and events, or just settle into a cushy sofa for an afternoon's reading.

Planning tip: From April to October, don't miss the top-floor city panorama from the restaurant terrace.

15. Meet adorable kitties living aboard the "cat boat"

Afloat on the Singel, the quirky  Poezenboot has served as a stray-cat sanctuary since 1966. Today it's home to some 50 cats, many of whom are looking to be adopted. Admission is free, but donations are warmly welcomed.

16. Visit Amsterdam’s last remaining country mansion, Frankendael

See how wealthy 18th-century Amsterdammers spent summers in once-bucolic surrounds at  Huize Frankendael , the last country mansion standing within the present-day city limits. (There were once more than three dozen.) The beautifully landscaped gardens are free to explore.

Planning tip: On the last Sunday afternoon of the month, the house is opened to visitors and often hosts art exhibitions, while in the grounds, artisan producers showcase their creations at De Pure Markt.

17. View cutting-edge photography exhibitions at Melkweg Expo

Just around the corner from legendary nightlife venue Melkweg, late-opening gallery space  Melkweg Expo celebrates pop culture, society and identity through inspired contemporary photography at free exhibitions throughout the year. Enter via the Milk Cafe.

People at an open-air screening of Kenyan film "Supa Modo" at Vondelpark's Openluchttheater during World Cinema Amsterdam

18. Catch summertime shows in Amsterdam's most popular park

Amsterdam's leafy  Vondelpark is beloved by locals for its expansive lawns, striking sculptures (including one by Picasso) and festive atmosphere, which peaks on sunny summer days when free performances – world music, dance, plays, stand-up comedy and more – take place at its open-air theater, the Openluchttheater.

Planning tip: Concerts are held from Friday evenings to Sunday afternoons between June and September.

19. Track down contemporary exhibitions at OSCAM

Fashion, photography, art, craft and design exhibitions are on show at OSCAM (Open Space Contemporary Art Museum). All exhibitions are free. The bright, stark concrete space is situated on Bijlmerplein near the Amsterdam Arena in the city's southeast.

Planning tip: Gallery exhibitions set up between early September and mid-July.

20. Hear spellbinding organ music at De Duif

On the picturesque Prinsengracht in the Southern Canal Ring, listen out for music emanating from the neobaroque façade of  De Duif . The church's frescoed, neoclassical interior is dominated by the soaring pipes of its Smits organ, crafted in 1882, stretching to its vaulted ceiling.

Planning tip: Free organ recitals are held at 4pm every Sunday in summer, and 4pm every third Sunday the rest of the year.

21. Dance the tango at Oosterpark

In Amsterdam's Oost (East), the winding paths, ponds and leafy trees of the 19th-century  Oosterpark make it an elegant place to stroll. From spring to early fall, you can also dance here during free tango sessions – or just watch the dancers gliding around its wrought-iron bandstand.

Planning tip: Tango sessions take place at 3pm every second Sunday from May to September, weather permitting. 

This article was first published Jun 16, 2019 and updated Mar 13, 2024.

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

The Netherlands Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 18, 2024

a view of a canal in the Netherlands with a bike leaning against a bridge

When most people think of traveling in the Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam , with its semi-sleazy Red Light District, charming canals, historic windmills, and laid-back “coffee” shops where you can smoke pot.

But there is much more to the country than its largest city.

The Netherlands is a country filled with centuries-old brick homes, an interconnected system of canals (you can travel most of the country via the water), expansive farmland, and even some really nice beaches. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world. The people are wonderful, there are tons of small towns to explore, and its small size means it’s easy to visit in a short time.

Most travelers come here just to see Amsterdam for a few days before moving on.

Don’t do that.

Spend time exploring outside of Amsterdam and you can discover the country that keeps me coming back every year.

Whether you are backpacking or just traveling on a budget, this Netherlands travel guide can help you plan your trip, save money, and ensure you make the most out of your time here.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on the Netherlands

Click Here for City Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in the netherlands.

Cluster of bikes locked up along a canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

1. Visit Amsterdam

The capital and center of tourism in the country, Amsterdam is as beautiful as it is crazy. There are famous canals, beautiful and historic houses, tons of parks, a foodie scene, art, coffee shops, and, of course, the infamous Red Light District and its wild nightlife. It’s perfect for exploring by bike and it’s every museum lover’s dream, with exhibitions on everything from Anne Frank to van Gough. Take a free walking tour to really get a feel for the city.

2. Explore Rotterdam

Rotterdam is one of the busiest shipping ports in the world. It may not get the attention Amsterdam does, but this city is a great place to visit if you want good parks and modern architecture (most of the old buildings were bombed in World War II) — including some futuristic cube houses. The port has an interesting harbor to explore (you can learn more about it in the attached Futureworld) and a few decent museums. It’s an often-overlooked city that’s worth a few days of exploring.

3. Take a canal tour

Whether in Amsterdam or in another city, make sure you take a canal tour to see the canals that made the country famous. The canals are such an integral part of life that you can’t really understand the country until you spend time boating on the canals. You can take a tour with a large company (there are tons of different canal tours on offer including a pizza cruise, cruises with wine and cheese, and booze cruises with unlimited drinks) but if you can, I suggest you rent your own boat which is much more affordable (prices start at 50 EUR) and gives you a more intimate experience.

4. Tour Leiden

Head to this small town and see where the Pilgrims lived before they left for America. It’s a historic city and filled with beautiful 17th-century buildings and landscaped parks. There are over a dozen museums in this small city, including the Museum of Antiquities and the National Museum of Ethnology. It also boasts in one of the Netherlands’ largest flower-growing areas. Go in May to catch the best of the tulip season.

5. Wander The Hague

Other things to see and do in the netherlands, 1. day trip to historic haarlem.

Haarlem, located just outside Amsterdam, was a cultural and economic hub during the Dutch Golden Age (1588-1672). Wander the city and take in the historic homes of the merchant class who brought the city to prominence. There’s not a ton to do here but the town center has a good market, a towering Gothic church, and it’s a low-key alternative to the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam. It makes a nice escape for an afternoon.

2. Celebrate King’s Day (Koningsdag)

Every year on April 27th (April 26th if the 27th is a Sunday), the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their King, Willem-Alexander for Koningsdag . For 33 years, they celebrated Queen Beatrix on April 30th as part of Queen’s Day, however, in 2013 she passed the throne to her son so the holiday changed dates, and Queen’s Day became King’s Day. It’s a national holiday filled with outdoor concerts, lots of orange (the national color), plenty of drinking, and insane celebrations on the canals. It is one of the wildest national holidays I’ve ever celebrated.

3. Visit Edam

Edam is a popular cheese from the Netherlands. It’s also a town just 21 kilometers (13 miles) north of Amsterdam. Edam is a picture-perfect Dutch town with iconic windmills, rolling farmland, and quaint houses. It’s one of the most quintessential Dutch towns. You can explore the 18th-century cheese warehouses, go on a boat tour, or just come here to eat cheese and be as Dutch as possible!

4. Head to the Keukenhof

The Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, boasting 79 acres of spectacular floral displays. Located between Amsterdam and The Hague, the garden is open between March and May of each year when the tulips are in season. More than 7 million bulbs are planted annually and the garden has around 800 different types of tulips. When you picture Holland, you picture flowers and there is no better place to see them than here! Admission is 19 EUR.

5. Bike through Hoge Veluwe National Park

Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest national reserve in the Netherlands. Covering some 55 square kilometers (21 square miles), the park is composed of sand dunes and woodlands and is home to deer, wild sheep, foxes, badgers, boars, and more. You can rent bicycles to explore for 5 EUR. Don’t miss the Kröller-Müller Museum while you’re here. It has works by artists like van Gogh, Picasso, Rodin, and other masters. Admission to the park is 12.30 EUR.

6. Relax in Maastricht

One of the southernmost towns in the Netherlands, this city is famous for having the country’s only “mountain.” At 322 meters high (1,056 feet), Vaalserberg is really more of a hill and doesn’t take long to climb. But this often-overlooked city is a great place to experience Dutch life away from the hordes of tourists who frequent Amsterdam.

7. Go cycling

As one of the most popular activities throughout the country, you would almost feel out of place not on a bike. The Netherlands is covered by over 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) of paths dedicated to two-wheeled transportation. Hoge Veluwe National Park is a particularly beautiful place to ride, but the entire landscape of the country is quite scenic as well. Other popular places to cycle are the Dunes of Texel National Park, Kinderdijk (to see the windmills), and Lauwersmeer National Park. Bike rentals cost around 10-12 EUR per day.

8. Tour Delft

This is a fascinating little town, making it the perfect destination for a day trip. The town is known for its blue pottery (Delftware), but has a handful of other worthwhile sights to see too, including a Gothic church in the old town with a leaning tower (the foundation developed problems during construction); the Oostpoort, a city gate from 1400 that remains from the original city wall; and the stout City Hall building, part of which dates to the 17th century. The town lies just 20 minutes from The Hague and Rotterdam so you can visit as a day trip from either.

9. Admire van Gogh’s work

Open since 1973, this museum in Amsterdam is host to over 500 original works by Vincent van Gogh, in addition to works by some of his contemporaries and friends. The exhibits chronicle his life, showing the progress and development of his work, alongside Gaugain, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Van Gogh didn’t earn fame in his lifetime and was actually constantly struggling with poverty, making his accomplishments all the more impressive and inspiring. Admission is 20 EUR. Note: Pre-book tickets online to avoid massive queues when you arrive.

10. Visit “Venice of the North”

Slow-paced Giethoorn, located east of Amsterdam, is a charming place with lots of picturesque canals. With no cars allowed in the city center, this peaceful town is a good change of pace from the busyness of the Netherlands’ larger cities. Rent a small boat and spend the day floating by charming cottages and enjoying the slower pace of life.

11. Learn about the Netherlands’ past

Opened in 1912, the Netherlands Open Air Museum is a sprawling 100-acre space that highlights what life was like in historic Netherlands. You can see traditional cabins and houses, learn about trades and crafts, and discover more about the country’s history from the Middle Ages to the present. The museum is located in Arnhem and is a great place to visit with kids. Admission is 19.50 EUR.

12. Have fun at an amusement park

Efteling, in Kaatsheuvel, is one of the oldest theme parks in the world (it opened in 1952) and is the Netherlands’ biggest amusement park. It has all the usual theme park attractions like rollercoasters, games, and performances and is open year-round (each season has different features like fairy lights and bonfires in the winter, and tulips and Dutch terraces in the spring). Admission costs 38 EUR (prices vary by day and season). You need a reservation as well as a ticket.

  For more information on cities in the country, check out these guides:

  • Amsterdam Travel Guide
  • The Hague Travel Guide
  • Rotterdam Travel Guide
  • Utrecht Travel Guide

The Netherlands Travel Costs

The iconic Cube Houses near the Erasmus Bridge in sunny Rotterdam, Netherlands

Accommodation – Hostels typically cost between 15-35 EUR per night for a bed in a dorm with 6-8 beds. The most popular hostels in Amsterdam can be closer to 50 EUR in the summer so avoid visiting in peak season if you’re on a budget (and book early if you do). Private rooms in hostels cost at least 65 EUR per night for a room that sleeps two (closer to 115 EUR in Amsterdam). Free Wi-Fi is standard, and many hostels also have self-catering facilities. In some cities, the hostels close in winter.

Camping is available around the country, with campgrounds costing around 10-15 EUR per night for a basic plot without electricity.

Budget hotels with basic amenities such as free Wi-Fi, TV, and AC cost around 55-85 EUR per night. Expect to pay 10-20 EUR more in Amsterdam and The Hague.

Airbnb is also an option, with private rooms averaging around 50 EUR per night (it’s more like 80 EUR in Amsterdam) and entire homes (including studio apartments) averaging around 100 EUR per night (but again, much higher in Amsterdam). Book early or prices can double.

Food – The Netherlands isn’t famous for its food, but there’s still good stuff to be had. Dutch cuisine typically involves lots of vegetables, bread, and cheeses (gouda originated here). Meat, while historically not as prominent, is a staple of dinner meals. Breakfast and lunch usually involve open-faced sandwiches, often with cheeses and cold cuts. Dinners are very much a “meat and potatoes” meal, with meat stews and smoked sausage being two popular choices. For those with a sweet tooth, the stroopwafel (a waffle cookie with a syrup filling) is the go-to choice, though apple tarts/pies are also local favorites.

Other things to try include poffertjes (fluffy mini-pancakes served with powdered sugar), gouda and edam cheeses, and patat (thick-cut fries with toppings).

Cheap meals at fast food joints or places like Maoz or Walk to Wok cost around 10-15 EUR. Casual restaurant meals average around 15-20 EUR for a main dish while a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs around 30-35 EUR.

Chinese food costs between 10-15 EUR while a large pizza costs around the same. Beer costs 5 EUR while a latte/cappuccino is 3 EUR. Bottled water is around 2 EUR.

If you cook your meals, expect to pay around 40-65 EUR per week for groceries. This gets you basic staples like pasta, seasonal vegetables, rice, and some meat.

Backpacking the Netherlands Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking the Netherlands, expect to spend around 65 EUR per day. This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, cooking most of your meals, using local transportation to get around, and doing mostly free activities like walking tours and lounging in the parks.

On a mid-range budget of about 160 EUR, you can stay in a private hostel room or Airbnb, enjoy some fast food and other cheap eats, have a few drinks, take the occasional taxi to get around or rent a bike, and do more paid activities like guided tours and museum visits.

On a “luxury” budget of 280 EUR or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink more, rent a car to explore, and do as many paid tours and activities as you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you spend more, some days you spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

The Netherlands Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

While not the most expensive country in Europe, the Netherlands isn’t super cheap either. Here are some ways to help save money in the Netherlands so you don’t blow your budget:

  • Limit your partying – Many people go to Amsterdam to party — and to smoke pot. While the city is cracking down on this, it’s still an unnecessary expense that can add up quickly. Limit your smoking (and limit your expenses in the coffee shops; you don’t need to buy something in every shop).
  • Get the Museumkaart (Museum Card) – Good for one month for non-residents, this card gets you into several museums for only 64.90 EUR. You get access to 400 museums throughout the Netherlands and it’s good for repeat visits as well! If you’re visiting multiple cities in the country, this is a must! Compare the price to the museums you want to visit to see if it’s worth it for you.
  • Bike everywhere – Biking is the cheapest form of transportation. You can rent a bike for only a few euros a day. While most Dutch cities are easily walkable, cycling is what the locals do. It’s the most bike-friendly country in the world so don’t pass up the chance to explore on two wheels. Prices average around 10-15 EUR per day but can be as low as 5 EUR.
  • Attend a free festival – During the summer, everyone goes outside. Check local tourism boards for a list of free concerts, festivals, shows, and markets. Once the weather gets warm, the social calendar fills up!
  • Stay with a local – Couchsurfing is a service that lets travelers stay with locals for free. It’s a fun cultural exchange platform that not only saves you money but connects you with a local who can share their insider tips. Since a lot of travelers use this service, make your requests for hosts early (especially in Amsterdam).
  • Cook your own food – Dutch food isn’t going to win any culinary awards (sorry, my Dutch friends) so skip the restaurants and cook your own food. It saves you a ton!
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in the Netherlands

Here are some of my favorite places to stay in the Netherlands:

  • St. Christopher’s (Amsterdam)
  • Hostel Room (Rotterdam)
  • Stayokay Rotterdam Cube Hostel (Rotterdam)
  • Pink Flamingo Hostel (The Hague)
  • Kingkool (The Hague)
  • Stayokay Utrecht Centrum (Utrecht)
  • Hostel Strowis (Utrecht)

How to Get Around the Netherlands

A massive historic building near The Scheveningen Beach in The Hague, Netherlands

Public transportation – It’s easy to use public transportation to get around the Netherlands’ cities. One-way fares in major cities start at 4 EUR. All public transportation uses an OV-chipkaart, which you can load with money. You can also get a day travel pass (starting cost is 7-9.50 EUR).

Bus – Buses are an affordable way to get around the Netherlands, but they aren’t as fast or efficient as the train. Flixbus is the cheapest bus operator. A trip from Amsterdam to Rotterdam costs as little as 3 EUR and takes just over 1 hour, while Amsterdam to The Hague can be done for the same cost and takes 40-50 minutes.

Train – The Netherlands is so small that all major tourist destinations in the country are within a 2.5-hour train journey from Amsterdam. The national rail system is Nederlandse Spoorwegen and their service is clean and efficient. Train travel in the Netherlands is a thing of beauty!

You can use the official rail site to look up itineraries and ticket prices. Intercity train tickets around Holland are cheap and cost between 10-20 EUR, though for super short distances, they can be as little as 5 EUR. Amsterdam to Rotterdam is 11 EUR and takes 40 minutes while Amsterdam to The Hague is also 11 EUR and takes 50 minutes.

The national rail service also has special tour programs for travelers. This gives you unlimited travel throughout a period of consecutive days (such as 3-8 days of unlimited travel in a 30-day period). There’s also the Benelux Pass, which gives you access to public transportation like trams and buses for a certain number of days. Prices begin around 109 EUR and go up to 206 EUR depending on how many days you want (maximum is 8 days in a month).

To find routes and prices for trains around Europe, use Trainline .

Ridesharing – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by paying a small fee. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train and is perfect for medium and long-distance trips.

Bike rental – The Netherlands is one of the best cycling countries in the world and bike rentals here are cheap. You can rent bikes starting for around 10-15 EUR per day (sometimes as little as 5 EUR).

Car Rental – Car rentals can be as low as 25 EUR per day, but the bus and train systems in the Netherlands are so excellent and affordable that you really don’t even need to bother. For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars .

When to Go to the Netherlands

The Netherlands receives the most tourist traffic from mid-April to mid-October, but the real peak season is July and August. However, the weather is never very extreme, and visiting during the off-season or shoulder season is also worth your time. Prices are also a lot more affordable during the off-season, and if you come between mid-April and mid-May you can see the incredible tulip fields in bloom. Just bring a rain jacket.

The average daily summer temperature is around 19°C (67°F), but it can get a lot hotter than that during July and August. The average daily temperature in the winter is 2°C (35°F). Still, coming here during the Christmas season is always a good time as the cities light up with markets and festivities.

Since the Netherlands is located below sea level, you can expect to encounter a few days of fog or rain no matter when you visit. The winters can be damp as well. Be sure to pack a warm layer or two and a waterproof jacket if you’re visiting in the shoulder season or the winter.

How to Stay Safe in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel – even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent attacks are rare, as is petty theft.

There are a few common scams around, however, such as people trying to sell you used public transit tickets or stolen bikes. Avoid interacting with them and you’ll be fine.

If you’re worried about other travel scams, you can read about the most common travel scams to avoid right here.

Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

The Netherlands Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!

The Netherlands Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling the Netherlands and continue planning your trip:

The 8 Best Hotels in Amsterdam

The 8 Best Hotels in Amsterdam

The Best Walking Tours in Amsterdam

The Best Walking Tours in Amsterdam

Where to Stay in Amsterdam: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Amsterdam: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

The 34 Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

The 34 Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

The 9 Best Hostels in Amsterdam

The 9 Best Hostels in Amsterdam

My Suggested 3-5 Day Itinerary for Visiting Amsterdam

My Suggested 3-5 Day Itinerary for Visiting Amsterdam

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amsterdam tourist things to do

15 Amazingly Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam with Kids

W hether you’re traveling with teenagers or toddlers, there are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam with kids. With its gingerbread gabled houses, a medieval village full of windmills and wooden houses, and a rich cultural heritage, it’s truly impossible to get bored in Amsterdam (or anywhere you  visit in the Netherlands  for that matter!)

With so many things to see and do, you need a family-friendly game plan that keeps everyone engaged. In this curated family travel guide, you’ll find the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids (besides wandering aimlessly around the canal ring)!

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our  disclosure policy  for more details. Thank you for your support!

Where to Stay in Amsterdam with Kids

  • Hotel Pulitzer – A luxury collection of 25 restored 17th and 18th-century canal houses. near the Anne Frank House. Their family room sleeps four (kids in an upstairs loft), and they have a Very Important Kids program to ensure younger guests feel at home during their stay.
  • Renaissance Amsterdam – Good location near Central Station. They have a family room that sleeps 4, and a Royal Suite that will sleep a family of 5. Easy access to shops and restaurants.
  • Amsterdam Marriott – This property is an easy walk to Vondelpark and the Rijksmuseum. Their family room sleeps 4 and their connecting family suite can sleep up to 7.
  • Hotel Estherea – Complimentary snacks in the lobby are sure to be a hit with the kids, but parents will love the beautiful decor, details, and service. They have a triple room that will work for a family.
  • Hotel Sofitel Legend the Grand Amsterdam – Five-star historic hotel with family rooms for 4 and family suites that sleep up to 6. Located in the medieval city center, De Wallen, with good access to shops and restaurants.

15 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam with Kids

1. take a walk through the streets of amsterdam.

The Dutch capital is mesmerizingly beautiful and the best way to begin an Amsterdam vacation is simply by walking around aimlessly. Kick off your adventure by strolling the canal belt (Grachtengordel) which was built in the 17th century.

The city center is full of tilted gingerbread houses, Dutch baroque buildings, and bicycles that have been decorated with flowers. The four main canals in Amsterdam are Singel, the Keizersgracht, the Herengracht, and the Prinsengracht, and they’re all charming in their own way. 

Want to save money in Amsterdam? Grab your Amsterdam Pass here!

2. Get hands-on NEMO Science Museum

There are so many interactive displays at the NEMO Science Center , we are sure your kids won’t want to leave! This is the biggest science museum in the Netherlands so give yourselves plenty of time to explore.

Check out Sensational Science where kids can learn about the scientific basics of things they see every day. Or check out the laboratory where kids can make their own experiments and record the results.

Like every good science museum, NEMO has an awesome water play area, so plan on little ones getting soaked. This is one Amsterdam museum kids always request.

3. Cruise along Amsterdam’s world-famous canals

People  come to Amsterdam  for many reasons, but almost always it’s for the canals. Venice may be known as the City of Canals, but Amsterdam is a close second.

There are many types of boats leisurely cruising the canals of Amsterdam, but the best one for your family might be the pedal boat. It’s a bicycle on water, and for sure, kids will have a blast. It also gives parents a chance to get off their feet for a while. 

Canal cruises are the best way to explore the city’s rich history and get a glimpse into modern-day Dutch life. There are plenty of kid-friendly boat tours in Amsterdam that can be found around Amsterdam Centraal. Most of the operators are pretty similar, so don’t be afraid to choose one on the spot. All guided boat rides in the city are safe and child-friendly.

You can also consider taking the hop-on, hop-off canal boat . This allows you and your family to check out different spots along the canals as your boat will stop at several areas. You just have to choose the best place to hop off. On this boat ride, you can see some of the museums and other attractions along the way, or maybe even grab a quick bite in one of the many restaurants nearby.

4. Pet exotic animals in Artis Zoo

Artis Royal Zoo is one of the leading tourist attractions in Amsterdam. It is also the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in Europe. Families can’t get enough of the animals and sights at the zoo’s aquarium, planetarium, botanical garden, and museums.

What makes Artis Zoo very attractive and unique is that there are several areas where the animals can freely roam and interact with people. Children may touch and pet them and even feed them at designated times and places.  

There are more than 6,000 animals here. Some of the species you can’t see anywhere else in Europe. The animals love it here because many of them were born at the zoo grounds.

You can find Artis Zoo on the east side of Amsterdam. Most city tour packages include a trip here and children 2 and under are free.

5. Run around with farm animals at Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve

Running and playing with animals on a real rural farm in the heart of Amsterdam Forest is definitely a unique experience. You and your kids can do just that at Geitenboerderij De Ridammerhoeve, a goat farm with many goats, chickens, pigs, cows, and horses.

Children can learn about organic farming, how to make cheese, how to milk a goat, and how to care for the animals. It’s an immersive and interactive experience where your kids will learn and have fun at the same time while developing a better appreciation of life on a farm. The farm is perfect for kids of all ages.

There are a couple of other petting zoos in Amsterdam including:

  • The  Elsenhove Play Farm  where you’ll mingle with rare breeds of Dutch cows, rabbits, chickens, and goats, and learn all about nature and sustainable living.
  • Inside the  Amstelpark  Park in Amsterdam-Zuid, you’ll find an urban farm with rabbits, donkeys, and chickens who love having cuddling sessions. 

6. Visit Tropenmuseum and learn about Dutch history

Tropenmuseum is a special ethnographic museum that hopes to teach children about the history of the world from a Dutch perspective. It’s a hidden gem in Amsterdam .

Families can “travel” to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America – places in the world that used to be Dutch colonies. There are eight permanent exhibits and some ongoing series of temporary exhibitions.

Children have a blast seeing 5,500 musical instruments representing different cultures around the world. There are also masks, puppets, and around 21,000 textile artifacts, mostly from Indonesia.

Students get a special discount here, while children three years old and below are free. Tropenmuseum offers special programs, workshops, and guided tours for children and teens visiting Amsterdam . There is a special spot exclusively for the kids – Tropenmuseum Junior with interactive exhibits. Around 30,000 children come here every year.

7. Cycle around Amsterdam

The capital city is like a living museum. There is so much art and culture wherever you go, not to mention important museums and historic buildings standing side by side. Rent a bicycle and pedal around the city to see what Amsterdam is all about.

Cycle along the Jordaan neighborhood and the famous 9 Streets. Check out cafés and boutiques while letting your children play in an outdoor playground.

Bicycles are literally everywhere in Amsterdam and all over the country. Expect to see younger children and elderly grandparents leisurely pedaling along with the many networks of bike paths in the city.

Biking in the city is generally safe in the Netherlands, compared to any other city in the world. You and your children should be able to manage it fairly easily. Bike and rental companies are everywhere. Get a tandem bike or a cargo bike so you can cruise along as a family.

Make your way to Vondelpark and lose yourself. There is plenty of green space here – walk around, grab a snack, go on a picnic, cycle, read a book, or simply lie on the grass and watch time pass by.

Vondelpark is the most famous park in Amsterdam and it’s a well-known hang-out area for families. Children come here to play and meet new friends. A picnic in Vondelpark is cheap and it’s the perfect place to spend a lazy sunny afternoon.

8. Learn about history at the Anne Frank House

Not all ages will be able to understand or appreciate the Anne Frank House, but older kids can certainly understand a tour of the house where Anne Frank hid with her family during World War II.

It might be a good idea to read Anne Frank’s Diary or Who Was Anne Frank? before a visit so children have context about what they’re visiting. Anne Frank’s house can get busy, so consider buying your tickets online in advance .

9. Visit A’dam Lookout, the Highest Swing in All of Europe 

Amsterdam is a hotbed of thrilling adventures. But nothing gets your heart pumping quite like swinging 100 meters above the ground. Perched atop the highest floor of the A’dam Tower you’ll find an observation deck that boasts unbelievable 360-degree views of the city. 

If the little adventurers aren’t too excited about the views, don’t worry about it. Their minds will be blown when they come face to face with “Over the Edge,” the highest swing in Europe. You or anyone who dares can swing back and forth over the edge and get your adrenaline pumping.

There isn’t anything like it. If no one’s up for a swing, you can have a blast staring at the daredevils who try it.  Just FYI, there’s a minimum height requirement of 1,20 meters (47″).

10. Take Photos and Shoot TikToks at the WONDR Experience

Forget about “boring” art museums and galleries. Get filled with wonder at this immersive pop-up adventure that will tickle every one of your senses.  WONDR  is the first playground where people of all ages – including adults – can explore the art of play in a series of rooms. 

Designed by a skillful team of artists, every corner is the perfect Instagram backdrop to take some cool pictures or record a TikTok. Get in touch with your inner child and play under a sky full of glittering stars or take a dip in an ocean of pink marshmallows. This is the best way to plan a fun-filled day for the whole family!

11. Visit KattenKabinet, Amsterdam’s Most Unique Cat Museum

Pets are like family and no one knows that better than Bob Meijer, who founded the KattenKabinet  (cat museum) in 1991 after losing his beloved cat, John Pierpont Morgan. The ginger kitty faithfully accompanied Mr. Meijer throughout his life (or perhaps, it was the other way around). 

Over the years, Morgan the cat received lots of unique presents, including a bronze statue and a painting of himself. When the cat turned 15 years old, Meijer’s friends and admirers put together a quirky booklet titled, “A Cocky Cat from Toulouse and Other Cats”, which featured a collection of funny limericks inspired by Morgan. 

Meijer decided to pay homage to Morgan by opening the cat museum and he filled it with all these unique works of art, poems, and curiosities on the bottom floor of his fabulous 17th-century canal house. Now, the KattenKabinet features a vast collection of vintage cat posters, sculptures, paintings, lithographs, and cat-related oddities.

12. Explore one of Amsterdam’s Art Museums

If your children love art or art history, don’t miss two of the best museums in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

The Rijksmuseum is more formal, showcasing the works of Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer as well as other famous artists. The museum covers over 800 years of Dutch history and is home to Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” which is truly impressive in person.

Tip: If your kids don’t want a big museum experience, consider visiting Rembrandt House where they can learn about the painter at the historic house where he lived and worked in the 1600s. 

At the Van Gogh Museum kids can explore the world’s largest collection of the artist’s work. Have them read a copy of Van Gogh and the Post Impressionists for Kids before they go and they are sure to appreciate the museum in a way you never thought possible.

13. Get a Human Anatomy Lesson at Amsterdam’s Body Worlds: The Happiness Project

At “The Happiness Project” in Amsterdam’s Body Worlds exhibit , you’ll get an educational insight into the human body and understand the science behind the things that make us happy and healthy.

The exhibit features over 200 real anatomic bodies that show the kids how illnesses and organs work, among other things. It’s located near Dam Square. Check out their website to see if your kids would be interested in visiting it. 

14. Visit the Spectacular Muiderslot Castle

Travel back in time by visiting Muiderslot Castle, one of the most famous and best-preserved castles in the Netherlands. It’s about a 15-minute ride from Amsterdam.

The castle is 700 years old, and as you can imagine, it’s no stranger to spooky stories and a turbulent past, (which you can learn more about  here ). Skip the line and take the whole family on a historical adventure with a guided private tour through the Muiderslot . During the tour, kids can engage in a scavenger hunt while walking through numerous 17th-century rooms. 

15. Stop by the Banksy Exhibit at Moco Museum 

Is it raining outside? Of course. It’s the Netherlands! Rainy days in Amsterdam deserve a visit to the  Moco Museum . This boutique museum has an incredible collection of modern art by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and the mysterious British artist, Banksy. 

Banksy’s controversial art pieces can be found all over the world, but here’s your chance to come face to face with iconic pieces, such as Girl with Balloon, Laugh Now, Kate Moss, and more. You can take photos, too, so bring a charger for your camera or phone! 

These are some of the best things to do when visiting Amsterdam with kids. They are easy, practical, and delightful. It’s no wonder Dutch kids are the happiest children in the world. The city was designed, streets were laid out and attractions were built with them in mind. Come visit Amsterdam with your children and let them have a slice of the happiness that only the Netherlands can offer.

Author Bio: Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about  Ask The Dutch Guy .

If you’re looking for more ideas of places to go in the Netherlands with kids, don’t miss our articles on Utrecht and the best things to do in the Netherlands with teens .

Europe Travel Tips

Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner . If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights , a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.

If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.

Book Your Accommodation

We regularly use and to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.

If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide .

Book Your Transportation

For rental car agencies, try . We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups .

When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe .

Book Your Tours and Travel Photos

We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals .

If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City . Both are worthwhile investments.

Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout .

One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer . They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth , Travelex , or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.

The post 15 Amazingly Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam with Kids appeared first on Kids Are A Trip™ .

Looking for things to do in Amsterdam with kids? These are some of our favorite spots in this Dutch city. This family travel guide shares the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids including the best Amsterdam attractions, parks, and museums.


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    Life of Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour. Zaanse Schans, Edam, Volendam & Marken Bus Tour (most popular day trip) Van Gogh Museum Ticket (sells out really fast so make sure to grab them as soon as possible) Heineken Experience (must-have tour for beer lovers) Best Places to Stay in Amsterdam.

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    On top of that, the KattenKabinet is situated in a house on one of Amsterdam's most sought-after streets, making it a wonderful place to get an up-close glimpse of those famous Dutch buildings ...

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    Albert Cuyp Markt. $. This street market on Albert Cuypstraat, between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat, has been at it for over 100 years. It's one of the largest markets in Europe with ...

  8. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Amsterdam

    6. Our Lord in the Attic Museum Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder. 3,593. Speciality Museums. Hidden in the heart of the city centre of Amsterdam is a small wonder: Our Lord in the Attic Museum. Visitors will be going on a journey in a unique well-preserved canal house from the 17th century…. See ways to experience (24) 7.

  9. The 10 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

    Admission tickets from £20. Gunther von Hagens' BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project in the heart of Amsterdam tells the amazing story of our own body and the impact of happiness on our health. More than 200 anatomical specimens…. See ways to experience (7) 2023. 12. ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. 7,212.

  10. 33 best things to do in Amsterdam in 2024 [UPDATED]

    12. Experience something new at the Red Light District. The Red Light District is one of the most interesting things you can do in Amsterdam. Image: Depositphotos. For centuries, the Red Light District in Amsterdam has been a sexy hotspot for tourists and locals, looking for things to do in Amsterdam.

  11. Attractions and sights

    Travel to Amsterdam. Visitor information. Rules and regulations. Accessibility for all. Getting around. Public transport. Park and Ride (P+R) Cycling in Amsterdam. ... Things to do with your parents when they visit Amsterdam. 24 May 2023. Watch Ajax Amsterdam in the Johan Cruijff ArenA. 02 January 2024. Amsterdam (un)leashed: exploring the city ...

  12. 15 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

    7. Vondelpark. Source: Z. Jacobs / shutterstock. Vondelpark. This fantastic park is an absolute pleasure to walk through on a summers day and is a haven in the centre of Amsterdam. The park lies on the edge of the canal rings and is close to the Rijksmuseum and the Heineken Experience.

  13. 24 TOP Amsterdam Sights & Tourist Attractions (+Map & Tips)

    4. Van Gogh Museum. Located close to Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum is another must on the list of Amsterdam tourist attractions. One that will appeal to visitors of all ages too. So if you are looking for things to do in Amsterdam with kids, this is a great place to be too.

  14. 30 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam (From a Local)

    Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers. Address: IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands. Located in the Overhoek neighborhood, the EYE Filmmuseum is a museum and film archive offering Dutch and foreign film screenings. If you're a film buff, visiting this cultural landmark is one of the best things to see in Amsterdam.

  15. 50 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam

    Look for De Dolphijn at 140-142, built in 1600 and once home to Frans Banninck Cocq, the central figure in Rembrandt's masterpiece, The Night Watch. The Munttoren on the Muntplein, looming over the Bloemenmarkt, once belonged to one of the main gates in Amsterdam's city wall. 17. Red Light District.

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    If you don't want to visit the Amsterdam Dungeon or the Amsterdam Museum, you can instead visit Body Worlds exhibition, Madame Tussauds or the Ripley's museum. They are all located in the same area. Day 2: Take a walk in Jordaan neighbourhood. Have a look at the Cheese Museum.

  17. 24 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

    Discover the best places to visit in this dynamic city with our list of the top attractions and fun things to do in Amsterdam. On This Page: 1. See the Art Collections at the Rijksmuseum. 2. Visit Anne Frank House. 3. Experience Great Art at the Van Gogh Museum. 4.

  18. 29 Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam

    Visit Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam is home to two of the most renowned museums in Europe that are both top things to see in Amsterdam-the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh Museum features over 700 of Van Gogh's works as well as paintings by artists who influenced him, such as Monet and Gauguin.

  19. Top 10 Attractions in Amsterdam

    Things to Do With Kids in Amsterdam. Shopping in Amsterdam. Amsterdam's Top Markets. Live Music in Amsterdam. Amsterdam's Must-Visit Museums. Guide to the Keukenhof Flower Gardens. Must-Try Food in the Netherlands. Craft Beer in the Netherlands. Heineken Experience.

  20. 20 things to know before visiting Amsterdam

    4. Budget for a (higher) tourist tax. In 2024, Amsterdam's tourist tax - which is added to the cost of accommodation per night - has risen from 7% to 12.5%, making it now the most expensive in Europe. The tax is charged at a percentage of your accommodation cost, and is payable on arrival.

  21. 50 Free Things To Do in Amsterdam

    One of the least known sightseeing attractions for free in Amsterdam is the garden by the Rijksmuseum. This 14.500 m2 green "outdoor gallery" has beautiful flowerbeds, fountains and summerhouses, but also an exhibition of important monumental works by Henry Moore and a children's garden with playground. Museumstraat 1.

  22. Uncover Amsterdam's Charms

    Discover the things to do in Amsterdam, away from clichés. Experience a sophisticated Amsterdam with captivating canals and more. Discover the things to do in Amsterdam, away from clichés. ... Dive into our curated guide to discover the city's top destinations—far from the usual tourist trails and into its most inviting enclaves.

  23. 21 best free things to do in Amsterdam

    Amsterdam's Stadsarchief occupies a glorious century-old former bank. Rotating displays from the city archives might include anything from a 1625 city map to a 1942 police report on Anne Frank's bike theft to photos from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in at the Hilton. The Amsterdam Treasure Room and most exhibitions are free.

  24. 7 TOP Things to Do in Amsterdam & Must-See Attractions

    Join a Pub crawl in Amsterdam. 7. Catch the free ferry to Amsterdam Noord (NDSM) Even if often overlooked by tourists, one of the absolute best things to do in Amsterdam is going to Amsterdam NDSM, the biggest cultural hotspot in the city hosting a big artist community, located north of Amsterdam Central Station!

  25. The Netherlands Travel Guide: See, Do, Costs, & Save in 2024

    Other Things to See and Do in the Netherlands 1. Day trip to historic Haarlem. Haarlem, located just outside Amsterdam, was a cultural and economic hub during the Dutch Golden Age (1588-1672). Wander the city and take in the historic homes of the merchant class who brought the city to prominence.

  26. 15 Amazingly Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam with Kids

    This family travel guide shares the best things to do in Amsterdam with kids including the best Amsterdam attractions, parks, and museums. ... Artis Royal Zoo is one of the leading tourist ...