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Things to do in Amsterdam
Written by Dikshya Shaw on August 16, 2021 Share on

15 Best Things To Do In Amsterdam

Name a European city that is more fun, diverse or simply eclectic than the Dutch capital. I know it’s difficult, right? Amsterdam is the flourishing capital of the Netherlands and the most populated city in the country. It has approximately 842,000 people living in the central municipality. With a wide variety of things to do, Amsterdam is a city where you can visit museums, clubs, engage in outdoor sports, etc.

During its early years, Amsterdam was a major city and saw a great boost due to trade with the Hanseatic League. It then became a centre for free press in the 16th century after the Dutch revolt and the eighty years’ war. After its decline in wealth and development during the 18th and 19th centuries, in the modern world, Amsterdam has become a modern and diverse city that is famed worldwide. From highlights and must-dos, Amsterdam is a city of hidden gems.

Also Read: Amsterdam Travel Guide

 

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15 Things To Do In Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers endless opportunities from a wide range of historical architecture, public parks, quality museums, diverse attractions to several things to do. It is one of the prime tourist destinations in Europe. From the below list of things to do in Amsterdam, choose which activity suits you the best.

  1. Visit the Anne Frank House
  2. Heineken Brewery Tour
  3. Canal Boat Tour
  4. Discover the Emperor’s Canal
  5. Explore the Van Gogh Museum
  6. Travel to the Rijksmuseum
  7. Have fun in the Vondelpark
  8. Stroll around Dam Square
  9. Take a walk down the streets of the Red Light District
  10. Experience the Royal Palace
  11. Visit Body Worlds Museum
  12. Gaze at the animals in the Artis Zoo
  13. Pick a flower at the the Flower Market
  14. Taste the local and International cuisines
  15. Take part in Amsterdam’s local festivals

1. Visit the Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House, Holland
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Amsterdam tour is not complete without visiting this historic house. Anne Frank was a girl who hid from the Nazi’s during WWII. She left an extensive diary that has been punished worldwide. Now, it provides a look at what it was like for the Jewish people during those troubled and dark periods. The actual building where Anne and her family hid does not contain a museum dedicated to her.

Inside, you can find reconstructed rooms, many artefacts from the time and the original house, and even a reconstructed bookcase. This bookcase was used to hide the entrance to the secret annexe the family hid in. This is truly one of the interesting and touching things to do in Amsterdam. However, be wary of the queues as you may be in only after a long wait.

Also Read: Anne Frank’s House: Guide to the Secret Annex and Around Amsterdam

2. Heineken Brewery Tour

Heineken Brewery Tour, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

Amsterdam is home to the famous brew. Here, at the ‘Heineken Experience’, you can experience the famous Heineken brewery tour. It is a fun-filled attraction, where you will both learn about the brewing process and also enjoy a couple of cheeky drinks. You will be taken through the brewery and shown how the drink is created. Also, discover many cool historical artefacts from the history of Heineken, like different beer mats.

Did you know there is also a 3D ride that lets you witness the creation process which is quite entertaining and surprising? There is a lounge area decorated with beer bottles and cans and a section where you can create your Heineken bottle with a personalised label. Look at the large hop tanks, taste the pure alcohol and watch the beer being bottled.

Also Read: 15 Best Places to Visit in Amsterdam

3. Canal Boat Tour

Canal Boat Tour, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Pexels

You must think this is one of the clichéd touristic things to do in Amsterdam, but you simply cannot go to Amsterdam without taking a boat tour on the canal system. These canals are one of the main reasons that make Amsterdam so popular, so why not experience them first hand on a guided tour? The huge waterway that runs through the Centrum in Amsterdam stretches for miles.

It creates many stunning portions of the city, such as the Emperor’s Canal and its beautiful architecture. You can engage in many canal cruises, but the most notable one is run ‘Gray Line’ that has collection points and a ticket stand in the Damrak canal near the train station.

Also Read: Visit Dam Square In Amsterdam – The Heart of the City of Canals

4. Discover the Emperor’s Canal

Discover the Emperor’s Canal, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Pexels

One of the main canals in Amsterdam, Emperor’s Canal is named after Emperor Maximilian of Austria. The city of canals presents the Emperor’s Canal, which is central to three of the main waterways that form the semi-circular ring around the Centrum and Old Town. The canal is 31-metres wide, and as you ride along this canal, you’ll find yourself surrounded by trees, opulent bridges and buildings. 

The trees lining the water, the opulent bridges cross the water, and the buildings that run parallel with the water have a typical Dutch style with gabled roofs and a myriad of colours. You’ll also see many bicycles lined on the bridge. Did you know in winter the waters often freeze and you can skate along the ice? Sightseeing on the canal includes the ‘House with the Heads’, the ‘Homomonument’, the ‘Syrian Orthodox Church’ and the ‘Greenland Warehouses’.

Also Read: Top 10 Free Things to Do in Amsterdam for a Fun Time!

5. Explore the Van Gogh Museum

Saunter the Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Nederlands
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most renowned and intriguing artists in history. The Van Gogh Museum is the museum that holds his namesake is a fantastic place to learn about the man and his works. The museum is located within a few miles from Vondelpark on Paulus Potterstraat and close to the Rijksmuseum.

Did you know, apart from the stunning artworks, there is also a selection of letters and drawings and also information about why he is such a renowned and iconic figure? This large museum showcases a huge amount of paintings from Van Gogh with select collections from other artists such as Monet and Matisse.

Also Read: Amsterdam Museum – An Archive Of The Dutch History!

6. Travel to the Rijksmuseum

Travel to the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Passage, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

Another one of the best things to do in Amsterdam is travelling to the Rijksmuseum. A stunning building that has a similar design and style to the Centraal Station, Rijksmuseum has a huge collection of crafts, art and history dating back as far as the 1200s. Also, the amazing ‘I Amsterdam sign stands outside on the Art Square.

You’ll get to see over 1 million objects in total, of which only 8000 are on display, which is a large amount. Some of the paintings included are from the Dutch Golden Age, the stern of the HMS Royal Charles and a dedicated Asian Pavilion. Go and spend hours in this delightful and eternally interesting establishment.

Also Read: I Amsterdam: The Most Popular Square in the City of Canals

7. Have fun in the Vondelpark

Have fun in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

Vondelpark is one of the famous parks in Amsterdam. It is a fantastic park to walk through on a summer’s day and is a haven in the centre of Amsterdam. You can visit this from the Rijksmuseum and the Heineken. Experience as the park lies close to the edge of the canal rings. Also, there are several small lakes surrounded by trees and sculptures where the locals and tourists of Amsterdam sit by and relax.

Sit on the well-tended grounds of this park. At the open-air theatre, free concerts are played, and you can also hire a bike to cycle through the many winding paths. Moreover, the park also has six play areas where the children can have a gala time.

Also Read: Cycling tour in Amsterdam

8. Stroll around Dam Square

Stroll around the Dam Square, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Dam Square is the main square in central Amsterdam that lies only a 10-minute walk from the Centraal Station. Built in the 1400s, this has been a central point for the city ever since. Attractions on the square include the Royal Palace, the National Monument and the Nieuwe Kerk Church, also known as the New Church.

The amazing Royal Palace is is a brilliant destination in its own right. Whereas the National Monument pays tribute to fallen soldiers and the Nieuwe Kerk Church often contains art exhibitions. Did you know, here, you will also find a selection of architecturally rich hotels and shops, including Madame Tussauds museum?

Also Read: 10 Best Beaches In Amsterdam

9. Take a walk down the streets of the Red Light District

Take a walk down the streets of the Red Light District, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Red Light District is a “not-to-everyone’s-taste” part of Amsterdam. But it is what makes Amsterdam famous. 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. This place is also known as De Wallen. The district is located in the centre of Amsterdam around the Damrak canal.

Take a walk down the streets and look at the variety of shows, shops and the infamous Cannabis Cafe. But always be on alert while walking here, especially at night. Although this area is highly policed, there are some less than reputable characters. So keep a close eye on your belongings.

Also Read: 10 Interesting Things to do in Amsterdam at Night

10. Experience the Royal Palace

Experience the Royal Palace, Amsterdam City, Netherlands, Europe
Image Courtesy: Pixabay

Located in Dam Square, the Royal Palace is an imposing structure that gives the square an air of importance and culture. It was originally built as a town hall. However, it was later used as a palace for the Dutch Royal house. The striking front face of the palace and the large central tower make for an impressive building, but the interior confirms it even more.

The central hall is over 100ft long, and its marble floor contains a huge and detailed map of the world. The world map shows the exploration of the Dutch East India Company. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is open to the public. Admire the various galleries containing historical works of art and the fantastic decorations of the palace room. Guided tours are also available at certain times.

Also Read: 15 Places to Visit in Amsterdam in May

11. Visit Body Worlds Museum

Go to the Body Worlds Museum, Transparent skull model
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

You will find something completely different and unique in Body Worlds Museum compared to most museums. Find this intriguing place in the heart of Amsterdam that features an exciting and revealing display about the human anatomy and what makes it so special. Know about what makes our bodies work and why they are so fragile but at the same time so resilient.

Get a true visual insight into what’s inside our bodies from over 200 anatomical displays. Are you looking for something out of the ordinary and want to understand more about our special race? If yes, then Body Worlds Museum is the perfect place to visit.

Also Read: 15 Things to Do in Amsterdam in February

12. Gaze at the animals in the Artis Zoo

Artis Zoo, Plantage Kerklaan, Amsterdam, Nederlands
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

The Artis Zoo in Holland is the oldest in the country as well as mainland Europe. Apart from the various zoological displays, there is also an aquarium and planetarium. Once you are here, you will discover over 700 species of animal, 200 varieties of tree, a fantastic Botanical Garden and Micropia, which features a mind-boggling amount of information on microorganisms.

The planetarium will offer you a huge amount of vivid information on the solar system, planets and the universe. The zoo takes well care of all the animals and have spacious enclosures. There is even a petting zoo for younger children together with a wealth of information on each species and its habitation etc.

Also Read: Best Hostels to Stay in Amsterdam For Couples And Solo Travellers

13. Pick a flower at the the Flower Market

Pick a flower at the the Flower Market, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

The Flower Market is a true delight to the senses and shows a different side to Amsterdam. Did you know this is the only floating flower market in the world? It can be found on Singel street in between Vijzelstraat and Koningsplein. The display of colours and the amount of different aromas is truly marvellous.

Here you can find row after row of market stalls selling flowers, seeds, spices, herbs and plants. The market is open from Monday to Saturday till 17:30. Even if you do not want to make a purchase, you should still walk through this amazing place. Buy plenty of tulips and gift them to your loved ones.

Also Read: 10 Best Places to Shop in Amsterdam And Go on a Shopping Spree

14. Taste the local and International cuisines

Taste the local and International cuisines, Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Unsplash

Amsterdam will confuse you with restaurants offering mouthwatering dishes. From street food to Michelin dining, indulge in a few of the International cuisines such as Asian, Italian, French and Moroccan. The Dutch love to eat at home and bring their lunch to work; eating out has become more popular over the years. Either you are up for brunch, high-wines or fine dining, this is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

Discover almost 180 different cultures in Amsterdam’s culinary scene. While in Amsterdam, you should certainly take the opportunity to try out a traditional Dutch dish. The ‘Stamppot’ is a variation of mixed mashed potato and different kinds of vegetables, served with gravy and meat. Are you looking for a fine dining experience? If yes, then reserve a table at one of the many Michelin star restaurants such as Librije’s Zusje.

Also Read: 10 Best Restaurants In Amsterdam To Visit For Great Food

15. Take part in Amsterdam’s local festivals

Take part in Amsterdam's local festivals,  Things To Do In Amsterdam
Image Courtesy: Pexels

If you are planning to visit in whichever season, there are always plenty of things to do in Amsterdam. From exhibitions and fairs to festivals and street markets, it is an eventful city all year round. It is better if you visit the city during the summer months, from May till September as not a weekend goes by without an outdoor festival. From food festivals to music festivals, it excels in offering the best local and international dishes.

October also offers you the ‘Amsterdam Dance Event’. Get over to see 2,500 DJs and artists as they perform in Amsterdam’s finest and most unique locations. Dance in the passage under the Rijksmuseum or in an old church. Do you love clubbing? If yes, then this is an event not to be missed. Ice skate on ‘Museum Square’ or stroll past the stalls at one of the Christmas markets.

Also Read: Amsterdam in October- A Pocket Guide to a Fantastic Trip!

Tips for Your Amsterdam Tour

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. Amsterdam is a small city, so you can easily discover the city by walking or biking. There is a high chance you might encounter cobblestones in some places, so I don’t recommend heels unless they are quite thick. Booties are a favourite of Dutchies as they are comfortable and fashionable!
  2. For unique souvenirs, avoid the tourist areas! The ‘9 Straatjes’ or the ‘9 Streets’ is unique and popular for interesting souvenirs. This lovable neighbourhood of Amsterdam along the canals is full of cute boutique shops where you can look for unique souvenirs, including cheese, and find something different.
  3. Book your hotel or hostel early, especially for peak seasons like Spring and Summer. Book your hotels as early as possible; otherwise, hotel rates will go up. Saturdays are typically high, but Sundays are surprisingly affordable.
  4. If you are interested in trying the local liquors, be sure to try Jenever. Jenever is sometimes called Genever in English. This place offers a traditional Dutch drink made from juniper berries that predates gin.
  5. Explore the history of the city. Don’t only stay inside the ring, but also try out some historical sites.

Also Read: 10 Best Day Trips from Amsterdam

Frequently Asked Questions for Your Amsterdam Trip

What major cities are close to Amsterdam?

Major cities that are close to Amsterdam include Haarlem, Utrecht, Hague and Rotterdam.

Which activities should I focus on when in Amsterdam?

If you are all for museums, visit the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum. For a person who loves the calm and quiet, you should take a canal boat trip. However, if you are a history fanatic, do a quality walking tour through Amsterdam’s centre to get an understanding of the history of one of the world’s prettiest cities.

Is there a train from Amsterdam airport to the city centre?

Yes, Amsterdam Centraal Station, the main train station, is located right in the heart of the old medieval centre of Amsterdam.

What are the best day trips from Amsterdam?

Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof (Kitchen garden) and Haarlem are the best day trips from Amsterdam.

What is Amsterdam famous for?

Amsterdam is famous for its beautiful canals, houses, tolerance towards soft drugs and prostitution, many museums and rich history.

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With all the lovely and exciting things to do in Amsterdam, what are you waiting for? We know for sure this article has given you enough inspiration to make your stay in Amsterdam as incredible as possible. Bike around, be astonished, take loads of pictures and stay safe. Go visit Pickyourtrail from where you will get the already pre-packaged Amsterdam trip packages. Also, you can customise your Netherlands itinerary and choose what suits you the most.

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