Things to Do in Amsterdam

credit:
credit::  Jim Nix

Are you looking for tips on things to do in Amsterdam?

As part of our city guides series, we interviewed Monique Rubin, who has lived in the Netherlands and traveled to Amsterdam for 14 years.

Monique shares with us her insider tips on the best things to see and do in Amsterdam, plus recommendations on where to stay, eat, drink, and explore.

things to do in amsterdam
Monique in Amsterdam

Why Visit Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is home to roughly 750,000 inhabitants is proof positive that good things come in small packages.

There are more museums per capita in Amsterdam than any other European city and its city center has thousands of protected historic buildings, including the famously narrow, lofty former merchants’ houses by the canals.

There are also a number of wonderful attractions, gorgeous parks and trendy neighborhoods teeming with shops, restaurants and cafes.

Things to Do in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is known as the “Venice of the North” because it has so many canals, and a canal boat tour is a great way to see some of them, including the four main ones – Singel, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Prinsengracht – which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Anne Frank Museum, housed in the building where Anne and her family lived in hiding during World War II, is an absolute must.

The Museumplein is where you’ll find the world famous Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, as well as the city’s contemporary art museum,
the Stedelijk. Though both the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museums are currently under renovation, a wing of the Rijksmuseum is still open, where some of its most famous works are displayed, including Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”, and the museum reopens entirely in spring 2013.

I also recommend the Hermitage Museum and the Tassenmuseum (Museum of Handbags and Purses).

Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joanet/5797835372/
Beautiful canals                Credit:  jo@net

Best Neighborhoods to Explore?

I like to wander around the old Jewish quarter, Jodenbuurt, where you’ll find the Waterlooplein fleamarket, held daily, Rembrandt’s House, the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum.

The New East is the old dockland area on the River Ij which run alongside Amsterdam is an up and coming area where you’ll find Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen and the museums NEMO and the Scheepvartmuseum (Dutch Maritime Museum).

Where to Eat?

  • The city’s best fries can be found at Vleminckx
  • Be sure to get a dollop of slagroom (whipped cream) on your Appelgebak (apple cake) from Café Winkel 43 
  • Housed in an enormous greenhouse, De Kas (greenhouse in Dutch) serves organic, healthy dishes with the emphasis on fresh produce.
  • Go to Blauw for traditional Indonesian cuisine served in trendy setting. The rijsttafel (rice table) is a must.
  • The best sandwiches in Amsterdam can be found at Singel 40 and for as little as €5. The sandwich with avocado, smoked chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and melted brie is a definite winner.
things to do in amsterdam
vleminckx fries        credit: tastytouring

Where to Drink?

  • Enjoy a beer at Brouwerij t’IJ, also known as the brewery at De Gooyer Windmill, is the small brewery found in the former Funen bathhouse next to the windwill.
  • Reservations are a must at the exclusive cocktail bar, Door 74, as well as a discerning eye, because there is nothing that indicates from the outside that it’s a cocktail bar, such as a sign or open door, just the house number 74 and a door bell.
  • Bar Lux is a popular place to hang out and grab a cocktail before going to a club.
things to do in amsterdam (2)
Brouwerij t’IJ             credit: Johann Richard

Best Place for a Night on the Town?

Get an amazing meal and spectacular views of Amsterdam at Ciel Blu, a 2-Michelin star restaurant on the 23rd floor of Hotel Okura, then dance the night away at Jimmy Woo, the stylish nightclub where you can see Holland’s BWers (famous people).

Where to Stay?

Some of the accommodations I recommend are the Flying Pig Hostel and Hotel Zandbergen, which is located on a quiet residential neighborhood across from Amsterdam’s Vondelpark and the Park Plaza Victoria. Both great for families.

For more high-end options I like the Hotel Pulizer and the Conservatorium.

Markets and Shopping?

Waterlooplein flea market and the Albert Cuyp market are a must.

The bloemenmarkt (flower market) is a floating flower market situated on barges on the Singel Canal is filled with an impressive array of plants and flowers, including the famous Dutch tulips.

De Negen Straatjes or 9 streets is a wonderful shopping area in the heart of Amsterdam filled with boutiques, jewelers, specialty shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. It is the perfect place to spend a day shopping.

things to do in Amsterdam
famous floating flower market                  credit:: zac mc

Major Events and Festivals?

There are close to 100 festivals in Amsterdam every year, including Amsterdam Roots Festival, Amsterdam Pride, De
Parade, Uitmarkt Amsterdam and Holland Festival.

There are also a number of festivals which are outside of Amsterdam, but still easy to get to such as, Parkpop in The Hague and North Sea
Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.

Getting Around?

The trams and buses in Amsterdam are quite efficient and go everywhere. But because the city is so small, walking is actually the best way to get around, or if you want to go Dutch, hop on a bike.

things to do in amsterdam
Bike Amsterdam        credit:  TXMagpie

Is Amsterdam WiFi friendly?

Free WIFI is available at a number of cafes around the city such as Bagels & Beans, and of course McDonald’s and Starbucks.

I suggest going to the Starbucks on Rembrandtplein which is the biggest in Europe and located in the historic Amsterdamshce Bank building, or to the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Public Library) where you not only get free wifi, but also a look at the largest public library in Europe which has received awards for its intelligent, ecological design.

For other places in Amsterdam that offer free WIFI, check www.wifi-amsterdam.nl.

Best Time of Year to Visit?

The best time of year to visit Amsterdam is the spring, so that you can take a day trip to Keukenhof to see the tulips, or autumn. In autumn, the weather is often nicer than it is during the summer and it is much less crowded.

things to do in amsterdam
tulips at Keukenhof           credit:  Toni Escuder

Favorite Side trip?

My favorite side trip from Amsterdam would be a full day in Rotterdam. It takes less than an hour on the train, and the city has a totally different vibe: contemporary, gritty and much more ethnically diverse.

Getting There and Away?

You can always find reasonable airfares to Amsterdam on EasyJet and Transavia.

Amsterdam is an easy 20-minute train ride from the airport. Trains, especially hi-speed ones are a great option for those traveling from Belgium, Paris or even some places in Germany and the ferry is an easy option from those traveling from the UK.

Best “insiders” tip for travellers?

For a panoramic view of the city, go to the sloped-roof terrace of NEMO Science Center. Take a (free) boat ride across the River IJ to North Amsterdam.

Be mindful of trams AND bikes.

things to do in amsterdam
NEMO science center           credit:   redjar

I love Amsterdam because ______?

It’s everything I could want or need, all wrapped up in one pretty, little package.

More Resources for Amsterdam

Check out these helpful travel guides:

BIO:

Monique Rubin is a freelancer and the travel blogger behind Mo Travels where she shares her journeys about travel from the Netherlands to Zanzibar. She’s also a big social media enthusiast and can be found on twitter and facebook.

 Do you have any tips on things to do in Amsterdam?

Craig
Craig Makepeace is the founder of yTravel Blog and has been traveling the world since 2002, first with his wife Caz, and now with his two daughters. Get his free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow him on Google+

20 Comments on “Things to Do in Amsterdam”

  1. We really enjoyed visiting the House of Bols on our last visit to Amsterdam. The Bols distillery is the oldest still working distillery in the world. They produce Genever (a Dutch liquor kind of like gin) and flavored liquors. They have a great interactive exhibit and the entrance fee includes some generous cocktails at the end.
    Shanna Schultz recently posted..Driving in France: How I Overcame My Fear of Driving in a Foreign Land
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    Reply
    • Hi Shanna,

      Thanks for the tip on the distillery. Sounds great! Always up for a cocktail, or five :-)

      Reply
      • You need to brush up your site. Both the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh and Stedelijk Museum are open again!

        Reply
  2. I appreciate the informative article. I do have one question that isn’t addressed here though. Where are the best places to stay? Do you have any preferences?

    Reply
    • Hey Boyde,

      It was mentioned here:

      Where to Stay?
      Some of the accommodations I recommend are the Flying Pig Hostel and Hotel Zandbergen, which is located on a quiet residential neighborhood across from Amsterdam’s Vondelpark and the Park Plaza Victoria. Both great for families.

      For more high-end options I like the Hotel Pulizer and the Conservatorium.

      Reply
  3. What an informative artilce. Definitely one to bookmark for any future trips to Amsterdam. Funny, I worked just outside the city when I was 18 and don’t remember an awful lot, so this was a memory jerker.
    Johanna recently posted..Amazing Western Australia 2012 Highlights in 113 Pictures.
    Johanna recently posted..Amazing Western Australia 2012 Highlights in 113 Pictures.

    Reply
  4. Great tips on Amsterdam. Been a few years since I’ve been there so I need to go back. So much more of the city that I want to experience. I was there in Spring but was a little jet lagged with cool temps and cloudy. Would love to explore the city on a bike and just get lost.
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    Jeremy Branham recently posted..The top 10 best places to see in Barcelona

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  5. Being Dutch and having lived in Amsterdam for years i’m always surprised what kind of things people do when in Amsterdam. These are good tips!
    For me the best way to experience Amsterdam is the Vondelpark in the summer. It’s the best place to escape the heat and relax on the grass with some beers and friends.
    Also, go to Haarlem. It’s only a 10/15 minute train ride from Amsterdam. It’s Hollands coolest city, close to the beach, good city center, loads of very good restaurants. If we are ever coming back to Holland, it will be for Haarlem!
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  6. I’m just home from a few days in Amsterdam. Although I did visit most of what is recommended in this post, there’s so much more that is excellent too!
    As mentioned about, the House of Bols is great. Although the tour is short and self-guided, it is quite interesting and the free cocktail and 2 shots at the end were great!
    I also visited the Heineken Brewery, which is possibly one of the best tours I have done. It too is self-guided but very interactive and the staff are incredible – so knowledgeable and helpful! They give you plenty of samples and 2 free drinks are included in the entry fee. Well worth a visit!!
    We stayed in De Pijp district – Amsterdam’s Latin Quarter. It is by far my favourite area. It is a little off the tourist trail which I loved – Dam Sq was fine during the day, but it was lovely to get to a quieter area for dinner at night.
    Another area that is slightly off the tourist trail is Jordaan. It is absolutely beautiful and well worth attempting to navigate the tiny streets for a walk around.
    Anne Frank’s House tour is a must, although be prepared – buy tickets in advance or go early in the morning or just before closing.
    And finally, I agree about the library! It’s a hidden treasure. I could have happily spent all day on the music floor of it. Shelves after shelves of CDs and plenty of iMacs to listen on – bliss. The cafe on the top floor is absolutely fantastic. Food is cooked fresh in front of you and the selection is incredible. Great value too! Go on a still day, and you can enjoy your lunch on the terrace over-looking all of Amsterdam.

    I’ve just blogged about my time in Amsterdam if you would like to read about it – http://ramblingsofhannah.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/amsterdam.html
    Hannah recently posted..Amsterdam
    Hannah recently posted..Amsterdam

    Reply
    • You’re a legend Hannah!! Thank you so much for taking the time to write and share your suggestions for our readers. This is such an awesome resource for them. And cheers for sharing more with your blog post.

      Reply
  7. Love the stories you been writing, ive been to amsterdam a ton of times now and expect to be back soon so your tips are great.

    Reply
  8. After this post I absolutely must go to Amsterdam! How beautiful. Thanks for sharing!!

    Amsterdam holiday

    Reply
  9. Joy Exton

    I’m heading to Amsterdam in October with a mate and looking forward to sampling all of the above suggestions. very helpful ideas, :)

    Reply
  10. If you’re looking for a good and cheap hotel in the historical centre of Amsterdam,
    http://amsterdamtip.blogspot.nl/

    Reply
  11. […] Deze is leuk, op een Australisch blog, wordt iemand geïnterviewd die 14 jaar in Amsterdam heeft gewoon. Goede tips. Hoewel ik nog nooit van ‘nieuw oost’ heb gehoord, maar ok… Amsterdam […]

    Reply
  12. Thanks for such informative post on the eternal beauty of The Netherlands. You just portrayed everything so perfectly. I still remember my trip. It was a delightful read.
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  13. Dear Ytravelblog Readers,
    Most of the tips are still excellent choices. One edition however. The Hotel Zandbergen has been completely renovated by us, the new owners. And now sails under the flag of Hotel The Neighbour’s Magnolia.
    Hope to see you all soon in this great city! Elvira

    Reply
  14. This is a great post! My brother and sister in law took a trip in October and blogged about it on http://peekabootravel.com/blog/?p=119. They stayed at the Banks Mansion which had a full breakfast, open bar, complimentary liquor in the room and a canal view! Most of the activities they did were pretty touristy so this is a great list of other places to see and do, thanks!

    Reply
  15. One of the real must being in Amsterdam is a visit to “Concertgebouw” built in the late 19th century, the home of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra is known for outstanding acoustics, “A pilgrimage spot for music lovers”

    Reply
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