For many years, the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands was primarily known for its infamous Red Light District. But there are many things to see and do in Amsterdam that have nothing to do with its most salacious attraction. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city that is rich in history, culture, and personality.
Photo courtesy of VBC17
Between its magnificent parks and gardens, world-class museums, phenomenal dining, and entertainment options, Amsterdam is a city for everyone. Its variety and charm make Amsterdam one of the top travel destinations in the world. These are the top 10 things to see and do in Amsterdam!
Explore Amsterdam by Bicycle
Amsterdam is a bicyclist’s paradise. It’s the most bike-friendly city in Europe (and arguably, the world) and caters to cyclists with special signs, traffic lights, and paths just for them. There are numerous bike rental locations all over the city.
Photo courtesy of Luca Sartoni
Familiarize yourself with cycling safety tips before exploring Amsterdam’s historic city center or riding through Jordaan. Once you do, a bike ride through the city’s streets is one of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam!
Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Art enthusiasts have to make a stop at the Van Gogh Museum, which is one of the most amazing things to see and do in Amsterdam. Pieces on display include “The Harvest,” “Sunflowers,” and Van Gogh’s final piece, the incomplete “Tree Roots.”
Photo courtesy of Tomasz Baranowski
I recommend buying your ticket to the Van Gogh Museum online before you visit. As the most-visited museum in the city, the lines to buy tickets can be long. If you want extra time to look around, visit on a Friday when the museum stays open until 9 p.m.
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Take a Cruise Along the Historic Canals
Another of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam is to take a boat ride along its historic canals. They were built in the 17th century to keep the waters of the North Sea at bay and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Photo courtesy of mauro
There are many canal cruises tourists can take, including dinner cruises and sightseeing cruises. Viewing the dancing houses along the waterways and the stellar architecture by boat is a fantastic way to explore the city!
Dive into Dutch Cuisine
One of the most immersive ways to explore Amsterdam is to check out its incredible food scene. Gouda cheese is a staple in Dutch cuisine and can range from smoky to sweet to nutty. Also, be sure to try the delicious beer-battered fish known as kibbeling!
Photo courtesy of Max Handelsman
Adventurous eaters can try some raw herring, while sweets fanatics will love the Dutch apple pie and the treacle-topped pannekoeken. Don’t forget the famous stroopwafel, which consists of caramel between two thin waffles!
Explore the Jordaan Neighborhood
Visitors looking to explore the food, culture, and history of Amsterdam should look no further than Jordaan. This beautiful neighborhood between four of the city’s canals is packed with dining and shopping options and amazing art galleries.
Photo courtesy of Nicolas Vollmer
Saturday’s Noordermarkt is a great place for foodies to try crepes, cheeses, and baked goods. With so many offerings, Jordaan is without question, one of the top things to see and do in Amsterdam!
Visit the Anne Frank House
One of the most educational and heartbreaking looks at Amsterdam’s history can be found at the Anne Frank House. There, a 15-year-old Anne Frank documented the two horrifying years she spent hiding from Nazis during their occupation of the Netherlands.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Jankowski
The home now serves as a museum and is one of the top things to see and do in Amsterdam. It’s almost always packed, so visit early or book tickets online to beat the lines. Inside, you’ll learn about the atrocities committed against Jews while viewing documents, photographs, and personal belongings from those who hid alongside Frank and her family.
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Shop at De Negen Straatjes
Also known as The Nine Little Streets, paying a visit to De Negen Straatjes is one of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam. It consists of nine streets between the Prinsengracht and Singel canals that are lined with shops and boutiques. There, you can find vintage clothing, home décor, leather goods, and more.
Photo courtesy of taver
While the area has become more touristy, you’ll likely find lots of locals browsing the shops along with you. There’s also a strong food scene there, so be sure to pop into a café for a snack before you leave!
Visit Some of Amsterdam’s Best Beer Spots
With a local beer scene that boasts established tasting houses, young breweries, and taprooms selling craft and specialty beers, Amsterdam is one of the top cities in the world for beer enthusiasts.
For some specialty beers, stop by Craft & Draft or one of Brouwerij Troost’s four locations. Enjoy a tour and private tasting session at Brouwerij ‘t IJ, which is located beneath Amsterdam’s largest windmill. If you want some fantastic food to go along with your beer, head over to Delirium Café, where more than 720 different beers from around the world are offered! It’s one of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam!
History and art buffs have to make room on their itinerary for at least a few hours at Rijksmuseum. One of the top museums in Amsterdam, Rijskmuseum boasts an impressive collection of 8,000 objects. Much of that includes Dutch artwork from the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.
Photo courtesy of Eric de Redelijkheid
Creations by renowned artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Frans Hals can be viewed here, along with a small collection of Asian artwork as well. Note that the museum is busiest on weekends, so visit during the week if you want to beat the crowds.
See the Famous Tulips at Keukenhof Gardens
To see one of the Netherlands’ most famous landmarks, you’ll have to take a day trip 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam. There, in the town of Lisse, you’ll find Keukenhof Gardens, where over 7 million tulips in every color imaginable bloom every spring. In total, roughly 1,600 flower varieties can be found there. It’s a never-ending sea of flowers!
Photo courtesy of Lin Mei
This 79-acre garden also boasts a maze, playground, and petting zoo. Other activities include boat rides, bike rentals, birds of prey shows, and musical entertainment. This gorgeous park is easily one of the top things to see and do in Amsterdam!
There’s no doubt Amsterdam is a special city. Rich in history and brimming with phenomenal food, visiting this city is an education on the Netherlands and Dutch culture. Its magnificent museums will transport you to the past even amid a modern, cosmopolitan city. You must experience its beauty for yourself! Book a trip to Amsterdam today!
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