Planning an upcoming trip to Amsterdam? From taking in the beautiful canals to experiencing history in all of the incredible museums, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do, sights to enjoy, and food to try! Here’s an Amsterdam guide post with the best things to do, see, and eat in Amsterdam.
AMSTERDAM GUIDE: BEST THINGS TO DO, SEE, AND EAT
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Top Things To Do in Amsterdam
When it comes to European cities, Amsterdam is certainly one of the most well-known. The canals alone are enough to draw in millions of tourists each year. But Amsterdam is about more than just canals. It’s a city with rich history dating back centuries, beautiful architecture, and of course, plenty of things to do. Whether you’re into art or history, something is bound to interest you!
Walk Along the Canals
Amsterdam isn’t called the Venice of the North for nothing! With miles of gorgeous canals throughout the city, you could spend your entire trip just strolling along. Pick up a coffee to go and take a morning walk to see the hustle and bustle of downtown. Or plan a mid-day walk and pop into whatever cafes catch your eye!
Take a Canal Boat Tour
You can’t experience Amsterdam without properly appreciating the beauty and ingenuity of its canals. Get even more familiar with them by taking to the water! There’s big hop-on, hop-off boats if you want to join a public tour, or reserve a private small boat tour for a more personalized experience. You can even make it a romantic date night with a candlelit dinner and cruise!
Enjoy Dutch Art in the Rijksmuseum
To see Rembrandts, Van Goghs, and Vermeers in all of their Dutch glory, you have to check out the Rijkmuseum! The building itself is a work of art, so don’t forget to enjoy the view. Once inside, you can take in over 800 years of Dutch history and art through their free app, which has multimedia tours as your stroll around the museum.
Go(gh) to the Van Gogh Museum
You can take in the incredible artwork of Vincent Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum. As one of the most famous artists in the world, he has a lifetime of beautiful works displayed on the walls of the museum. Plus, you can learn more about the artist behind the art thanks to all of the research the museum does.
Explore the Beautiful Streets (and Canals) of the Jordaan Neighborhood
If you want to spend a day wandering around Amsterdam, the Jordaan neighborhood in the city center is an ideal spot to do so. There’s a million different little streets and canals to stroll down, all lined with cute boutiques, delicious restaurants, and classic Amsterdam architecture. There are even weekly flea markets where you can find amazing, hidden treasures!
Stroll Around the Botanical Garden
There’s nothing like a beautiful botanical garden for a moment of peace and quiet! The Hortus Botanicus is just the spot in Amsterdam. It opens at 10am and even has a cafe! Catch their ‘Crown Jewels” aka their most amazing exhibits like the medicinal herb garden, ginkgo Biloba tree, or palm greenhouse. The entire garden is lush, colorful, and the perfect quiet spot to do some reflecting on your travels (and take insta-worthy pics)!
Live Your Floral Dreams in the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
What’s better than a flower market? A floating flower market! And Amsterdam just happens to have the only one in the world: the Bloemenmarkt. You can even smell it from down the street! Stalls sell bouquets and single flowers to brighten up your hotel room. Or bring the magic home with their ready-for-export bulbs to plant in your garden!
Experience the Red Light District
Chances are when you tell people you’re going to Amsterdam, their first thought is probably the Red Light District. And while it may conjure up images of seedy brothels, dirty streets, and crime, that’s not reality. Actually, the Red Light District is safe and really friendly (just maybe not family-friendly)! There are clubs, shows, and bars for people trying to get a more intimate experience. But if you merely want to see what it’s all about, just walk along the windowed shops and take it all in.
Here’s a few tips to make sure you have a good time:
- Don’t take pictures of any of the women working! It’s not allowed and the womens’ bodyguards can get quite aggressive if you take out your camera.
- Keep a careful eye on your belongings! The Red Light District has a lot of pickpockets looking for distracted tourists’ phones and wallets.
- Go at night! Yes, that is the busiest and most vibrant time to visit. If you go during the day, it’s just not the same.
Celebrate Local (and International) Flavors at Foodhallen
Foodies first, second, and last stop should be at Foodhallen in Amsterdam-West! You can try local treats like kroket, the Dutch version of croquettes filled with meat and cheese. Or go for international fusion cuisines like Crusty Crab Bao Buns or warm pitas. Either way, you’ll leave happy and very, very full!
Pay Your Respects at the Anne Frank House
It’s one thing to read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, but it’s a whole other thing to actually visit where she and her family hid for over two years. The Anne Frank House allows you to do just that. You can visit the secret annex where Anne Frank wrote her diary, learn more about life in the Netherlands during WWII, and pay respects to the Frank family.
Get to Know Beer at the Heineken Experience
Grabbing a cold beer at the Heineken Experience is a right of passage for Amsterdam travelers! Not only do you get to taste the final product, you’ll also have a chance to learn more about the brewing process, local ingredients used, and how Heinkekin became the beer of choice for people around the world! It’s a social place to start a night out, especially if you’re a solo traveler.
Appreciate Modern Art at the Moco Museum
For modern and contemporary art, you have to go to the Moco Museum (get it?). In a 100+ year old townhouse, you can see amazing street art by Banksy, the iconic works of Andy Warhol, and colorful pop art by Keith Haring! Plus, there’s constantly new immersive exhibits that are so much fun to walk around.
When in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do: ride a bike! There are tons of rental places around the city, so ask your hotel or Airbnb host for their recommendation. It really is the best way to get around–riding a bike on cobblestones is so much better than walking on them! You can cycle from spot to spot or just aimlessly ride around to take in the beauty of the city.
Relax at the Vondelpark
To see Amsterdam from a locals point of view, spend a sunny afternoon in the Vondelpark! It’s the largest park in Amsterdam and full of people enjoying its natural beauty. Join along with a walk or bike ride. Plus, you can visit Groot Melkhuis, a gorgeous little cafe right by the water with a sunny terrace!
Get Wild at the ARTIS Royal Zoo
For a fun-filled day, head over to ARTIS, the Royal Zoo and botanical garden! You’ll see over 900 species of animals like elephants and lions. Plus, their aquarium has a mini Amazonian rainforest, coral reef, and traditional Amsterdam canal where you can see native species!
Take a Day Trip to Belgium
One of the best things about Amsterdam is how easy it is to travel to and from other places in Europe. For a quick and easy day trip, head over to Belgium for beautiful architecture, delicious food, and lots of history.
If you want a big city with museums and loads of restaurants, check out Brussels. Home to the European Union and NATO, there’s always something cool going on! Plus, it’s less than two hours away from Amsterdam by high-speed train.
If you’d rather stroll around a medieval town dripping in charm and history, go to Bruges. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Plus, it has traditional Belgian food like Waterzooi, a creamy seafood soup that’s super comforting on colder days, or a classic Belgian waffle. It’s a bit longer of a journey, about three hours by train, but so worth it!
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Best Places to Eat + Drink in
Highest Rated Restaurants:
Here is a list of the highest-rated + best restaurants (and recommended by a local) in Amsterdam:
Best Bars + Pubs:
Here is a list of the best bars and pubs in Amsterdam:
- SkyLounge Amsterdam
- Oedipus Brewing
- Proeflokaal Arendsnest
- Cafe Gollem Raamsteeg
- Tales & Spirits
- Hiding in Plain Sight
- Flying Dutchmen Cocktails
- Rosalia’s Menagerie
- Law & Order Cocktail Bar
- Cafe Old Sailor
- Bar Bukowski
- Beer Temple
- Café Soundgarden
- Lost in Amsterdam Lounge Cafe & Cocktail Bar
- Excalibur Café
- The Waterhole
- Café Hill Street Blues
- Cafe Gollem
- The Pool Bar
- Duke of Tokyo
- The Papeneiland Café
- Cafe Brecht
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ
- Gollem’s Proeflokaal
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