18 Best things to do in Amsterdam 2023: What you just CAN’T miss on your holiday
Do you know what’s amazing about Amsterdam? It’s that it never fails to surprise and entertain visitors. There are SO many things to do in Amsterdam. Picnics in the parks, boat rides through the canals, museum hopping (including the worldwide famous Van Gogh Museum), cycling… you name it! Options are endless in the city of contrasts. To discover them, all you have to do is read on!
The best things to do in Amsterdam in a nutshell
Go to Anne Frank House to discover the secret life of the 13-year old diarist
Visit the best free museums and galleries in Amsterdam
Tour the famous Red Light District to peak into the erotic side of Amsterdam
Visit Van Gogh Museum to discover the life and work of the famous artist
Go for a canal cruise through the scenic canals of Amsterdam with meal on board
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The best fun things to do in Amsterdam
Well, it’s not a secret. Amsterdam has a world-famous cycling culture, with over 800,000 bikes moving around the city! The bike is not only an eco-friendly means of transportation but also an ideal way to explore the city and introduce yourself to the urban culture. You’ll find numerous bike rental spots all around the city, so renting a bike is very easy. If it’s your first time in Amsterdam, though, we highly recommend joining a bike tour to make sure that you’ll see all the city’s cool spots!
Fact: If you’re planning on going on a cruise along the canals, don’t worry about your bike. Most ferries allow bikes onboard without any extra charge.
Going on a cruise through the city’s scenic canals is one of the must things to do in Amsterdam. The UNESCO-protected Amsterdam canal belt comprises 165 picture-perfect canals, which cross the city, offering perfect views of Amsterdam’s iconic architecture. But, cruising along the canals of the city is one thing, and doing it while you enjoy a delicious meal is another. Luckily, you’ll find many cruise tours that offer hearty meals onboard, from BBQ to burgers!
At the De Pijp district lies the home of one of the most popular beer brands in the world! Sitting where the Heineken brewery was originally located, Heineken Experience operates as a museum for all beer lovers, offering the ultimate beer experience. Inside the museum, you’ll find brewing artifacts and interactive exhibits, you’ll learn about the over 150-year history of the brand, and you’ll -of course- enjoy a glass or two of perfectly chill beer. Cheers!
The best things to do in Amsterdam for free
If you’re searching for a green place to relax in the heart of the city, your best bet lies in Vondelpark. This park boasts a beautiful setting, full of trees, paths, ponds, and lawns and is perfect for cycling, skating, wandering, or just chilling. What’s more, every summer, from June to August Openluchttheater, the park’s open-air theatre, plays host to free music, cabaret, and theatrical performances. It offers the perfect opportunity for free entertainment!
Tip: Go to Vondelparkpaviljoen, the neo-Renaissance café restaurant on the northwest side of the park for a drink after your stroll!
Visiting the city’s floating market flower market (Bloemenmarkt) is arguably one of the best things to do in Amsterdam! Sitting literally in the Singel canal, between Muntplein & Koningsplein, Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. On the market’s floating stalls you’ll find a wide variety of flowers (including local tulips), as well as bulbs. Wandering the flower market as you smell the delicate scents of the flowers is a feast for your senses!
Begijnhof is one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in Amsterdam. Located in central Amsterdam Begijnhof originally operated as a beguinage, a home for single religious women (beguines) in the 14th century. Today, at this very spot you’ll find a secret garden surrounded by traditional houses many of which date back to the 16th century. One of them is Het Houten Huis (1420), the oldest house in the city. If you want to dig deeper into the history of Amsterdam, this is a must place to visit!
Museum hounds, rejoice! Amsterdam is full of museums, many of which are entrance-free. Options are endless. There’s Melkweg Photogallery, where you can enjoy a different photography exhibition every month, Reflex New Art Gallery, where you can enjoy a collection of paintings and photos, Huis De Pinto, a historic library housed in a 17th-century building, Multatuli Museum, where you can explore the working space of the writer and former general Edward Douwes-Dekker, Hermitage Museum Courtyard, Schuttersgalerij, the gallery of the Amsterdam Museum, and the list goes on. Make sure that you visit as many museums as you can!
The best things to do in Amsterdam with family and friends
This former-gasworks-complex-turned-into-cultural-park is a go-to destination for families and groups of friends alike. Inside the impressive industrial building of Westergasfabriek, you’ll find everything from sophisticated restaurants and cafes to movie theatres, designer shops, and a TV (!) studio. Westergasfabriek is an ideal place for an all-day entertainment experience, Amsterdam-style!
Tip: There’s always something going on at Westergasfabriek, so don’t forget to check the upcoming events before your visit.
Moco Museum is a boutique contemporary art museum located on Museumplein. The museum, which opened its doors in 2016, hosts a permanent collection of interesting works by world-wide famous modern artists including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, as well as a temporary collection. The highlight of Moco Museum, though, is its garden. Full of peculiar modern sculptures, it’s the absolute Instagram paradise!
Heads up foodies! This is the ultimate place to try a bunch of local and international delicacies -all under the same roof. Foodhallen is located at the hip Oud-West and boasts an interesting setting, as it is housed in a former tram depot. Housing 21 delicious food stalls, Foodhallen offers a wide variety of food options from falafel and sushi to hot dogs and pizzas. Foodhallen also hosts several culinary and music events that turn the venue into a party paradise!
The best places for sightseeing in Amsterdam (Top attractions and monuments)
Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdan. This museum, which opened its doors in 1973, hosts the most extensive collection of Van Gogh’s works (over 700) in the world! Not only paintings, but also drawings, letters, as well as artworks of other contemporary artists influenced by him, like Monet, Gauguin, Signac, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Van Gogh’s excellent works are divided into the 5 periods of his art career (Nuenen/Antwerp, Paris, Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers-Sur-Oise) and are presented accordingly.
Tip: Since the Van Gogh Museum is the most popular museum in the Netherlands, waiting lines are usually long, so we highly recommend that you pre-book your ticket or that you opt for a guided tour.
On the banks of Prinsengracht canal in Amsterdam lies Anne Frank House, the place where the famous 13-old diarist hid from the Nazis with her family from 1942 to 1944, before being deported to Auschwitz. The girl’s tragic story became popular after her father (the only survivor of the family) published her diary in 1947. Inside the canal house, you’ll get a glimpse of the conditions and the environment the family was living in during World War II. You’ll also find the secret annex that served as a hideaway for the family, Anne Frank’s items, letters, and photographs from that era. Next to the house, there’s also a museum dedicated to Anne Frank’s life.
The Royal Palace is located right on Dam Square and is arguably one of the most impressive buildings in Amsterdam! This 17th-century architectural masterpiece was originally built as a city hall before becoming a palace in 1806 by King Louis Napoleon. The interior of the Royal Palace is stunning, as it is decorated with marble floors, embellished chandeliers, patterned tapestries, and elaborate sculptures. Every summer, the palace hosts an exhibition about its glorious history, but the Royal Palace is open to the public all year round!
The Red Light District is one of the most interesting and mysterious parts of the city. Located at Oudezijds Achterburgwal, this neighborhood is home to sex shops, peep shows, and strip clubs -Amsterdam is well-known for its tolerant policy. Although it used to be a dangerous place in the past, the Red Light District is now a friendly and regulated place to be, as it is protected by policemen and even bodyguards hired by the prostitutes themselves. Apart from window prostitutes, in the Red Light District, you’ll also find fascinating museums, like the Museum of Erotism, the Museum of Prostitution, and the Museum of Cannabis. A tour around the Red Light District is one of the most alternative things to do in Amsterdam!
The top places to eat & drink in Amsterdam
Housed in Rijksmuseum, one of the best museums in Amsterdam, Rijks is the culinary equivalent of the museum’s Dutch art collection! Rijks restaurant was founded in 2014 in the Philips Wing of the museum and since then, it has become one of the city’s gastronomical hot spots. So, what to expect? Creative dishes prepared with the finest local ingredients, an extensive list of international wines, and a refined atmosphere. Don’t miss the beetroot millefeuille, the dry-aged Simmentaler rib-eye, and the roasted peas!
Info: Museumstraat 2, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands Tel: 31206747555
As its name indicates, this bar is hidden in a quiet area close to Amsterdam city center. The award-winning Hiding in Plain Sight is considered one of the best cocktail bars in the city -for a good reason. Its vintage 1920’s atmosphere, speakeasy vibe, classy style, and strong cocktails have made HPS a go-to for locals and tourists alike. Try the Walking Dead, the Voodoo Child, and the Kiss cocktails – you’re going to love them!
Info: Rapenburg 18, Amsterdam, Netherlands Tel: 31625293620
Best day trips from Amsterdam
A day trip to Zaanse Schans is an amazing experience! Full of well-preserved windmills, traditional bakeries (there’s even a bakery museum), and wooden houses, this place breaths Dutch history. In Zaanse Schans, you can also enjoy several activities in nature, like sailing, walking, and cycling. But, if you’re not a fan of outdoor activities, there are still plenty of things to do, like visiting the Zaanse Museum and the Windmill Museum, going for cheese tasting at Catharina Hoeve Farm, joining a clog workshop, learning about the chocolate production process at CacaoLab, and many more!
Don’t even think about leaving Amsterdam without going on a trip to the postcard-perfect tulip fields in Keukenhof, which are also known as the Gardens of Europe! Just an hour away from Amsterdam, Keukenhof gardens are an absolute flower paradise with over 1,600 flower varieties and more than 7 million flowers, including the super-famous Dutch tulips. The setting is truly amazing!
Just imagine an endless sea of colorful flowers, from dahlias and lilies to roses and orchids spreading on a huge area of gardens and pavilions for as far as the eye can see -simply breathtaking!
How to get to Amsterdam?
The main ways to get to Amsterdam are by air, by train, by bus, and by car. Generally, getting to Amsterdam by air is better if you’re traveling from non-European countries, while the bus, the train, and the car are better options if you’re traveling from Europe.
Where to stay in Amsterdam?
The best areas to stay in Amsterdam are Old Centrum (for first-time visitors), Oud Zuid (for sightseeing), De Pijp (for nightlife), and Plantage (for families).
What is the best time of the year to visit Amsterdam?
Since the weather in Amsterdam is quite cold in winter, most tourists visit Amsterdam in the summer. However, if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the city, we recommend visiting Amsterdam in spring (April/May) or early fall (September/early October). If you wish to visit the tulip fields on their bloom, opt for your visit to fall in mid-April. If, on the other side, you want to enjoy the landmarks, avoid summer, as the city is cram-full of tourists and the waiting lines are long.
What are the most famous attractions in Amsterdam?
The most popular attractions in Amsterdam are Anne Frank House, the canal ring, Vondelpark, the Royal Palace, and the Van Gogh Museum.
What are the must-try foods in Amsterdam?
The best foods to try in Amsterdam are stroopwafel, Dutch cheese, raw herring, and tompouce.
Now we ‘d like to hear from you
Are you already mentally exploring Amsterdam? Or is it just us?
There are so many amazing things to do in Amsterdam that you’ll never want to leave.
Visit the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, the Heineken Brewery, cruise through the canals… There’s no way you’ll run out of things to do!
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