Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There’s beauty everywhere! Once you enter the city center of Amsterdam, you will see how stunning this historic city is.
Get ready for these best things to do in Amsterdam!
We might be biased, as we are Amsterdam locals ourselves. But what’s better than getting tips from locals?! This list includes the popular Amsterdam attractions and some of our favorite insider tips.
Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands, and it’s most famous for its beautiful canals, stunning bridges, cute gingerbread houses, cobblestone streets, coffee shops (not for coffee!), welcoming people, and many bicycles. There are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam; how crazy is that?!
But Amsterdam has a lot more to offer; there is something for everyone.
Continue reading for the top things to do in Amsterdam to add to your Amsterdam itinerary.
Top Things to do in Amsterdam
The best Amsterdam restaurants, must-visit neighborhoods, most interesting Amsterdam museums, must-try Dutch snacks, Europe’s highest swing, and the best parks. We will discuss it all!
And don’t forget to continue reading for our Amsterdam transportation and accommodation tips toward the end of this article.
Good to know before your visit: in the Netherlands, you visit a café for coffee and a coffee shop for smဝking!
- Wander Around the Neighborhood the Jordaan
The city center of Amsterdam is very picturesque. You see canals and beautiful houses everywhere! So make sure to bring your camera with you while wandering around.
There are multiple neighborhoods in the city center, and especially the neighborhood Jordaan is well known for its cute streets and typical Amsterdam vibes. It’s a neighborhood not to miss during your time in Amsterdam.
The famous Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) is a must-visit in the Jordaan neighborhood. The Negen Straatjes is full of boutiques, cafés, art galleries, vintage clothing shops, restaurants, and hidden gems.
These streets are gorgeous and cute and often used in Dutch movies.
The following nine streets are part of the Negen Straatjes: Reestraat, Hartenstraat, Gasthuismolensteeg, Berenstraat, Wolvenstraat, Oude Spiegelstraat, Runstraat, Huidenstraat, and Wijde Heisteeg. Just wander around the neighborhood and enjoy!
If you are a pie fan and want to try Dutch apple pie (so delicious), you simply have to visit Cafe Winkel 43 in the Jordaan. They serve the best apple pie in the city.
- Visit One of the Many Amsterdam Museums
There are many museums in Amsterdam, try to visit at least one of them! We are huge fans of modern art, so we love the Moco Museum.
The Rijksmuseum is the most significant art museum in the Netherlands, hence the name National Museum of the Netherlands. The exterior of the building is as beautiful as the art inside! The museum has many paintings, with the Night Watch by Rembrandt as the most famous piece.
Other well-known and worthwhile museums in Amsterdam are Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum), and we love the photography museum FOAM.
Good to know: if you get an I Amsterdam City Card, you can enter many museums (and other attractions) for free.
- Eat Dutch Snacks at the Albert Cuyp Market
The Albert Cuyp Market is one of Amsterdam’s oldest and most significant markets. The market is located in the neighborhood of the Pijp and is open from Monday to Saturday.
Something you have to eat when you visit the Netherlands is stroopwafels. You can find them freshly prepared on the market; those are the best!
Other Dutch things to eat on the market: poffertjes (tiny pancakes, these are our favorite), and if you like and eat fish, try out haring (herring) or kibbeling (battered chunks of fish). And, of course, Dutch cheese!
Another fun market in Amsterdam is the flea market at Waterlooplein.
Interested in Dutch recipes? These are the best Dutch recipes you should try!
- Enjoy Amsterdam’s Best Restaurants and Cafes
Dutch cuisine isn’t that special, so you won’t find many typical Dutch restaurants (Moeders is one of them if you want to try Dutch food). Traditional Dutch food is primarily homemade meals.
We love the dish boerenkool (mashed potato with kale) but never had it in a restaurant. Though, there are many food and snacks to try out in the Netherlands.
Must-tries: Dutch apple pie, drop, kroket, frikandel, and kaassouflé. And the stroopwafels and poffertjes we talked about above.
At the snack bar, the FEBO, you can get a kroket, frikandel, and kaassoufflé out of the wall. Go to the FEBO, and you will see what we mean by “out of the wall.”
These are our tips for the best cafes and restaurants in Amsterdam:
Hannekes boom is a great spot to go if the sun is out! Enjoy some food and a drink next to the water with a great view of the NEMO Science museum, close to Amsterdam Central Station.
Hannekes Boom is one of our favorite spots in Amsterdam during summer.
A green oasis in the Eastern part of Amsterdam. Bar Botanique is amazingly decorated with many plants and is the perfect spot to go to for a drink and some food.
They also have vegetarian and vegan food available on their menu.
Cafe de Ceuvel
We love the vibes at Cafe de Ceuvel! Once a shipyard, now a café, restaurant, and community center in a sustainable development project. It’s very relaxed here, and the waterside views are great too.
Cafe de Ceuvel is entirely vegan and offers delicious food for everyone.
Are you interested in more vegan restaurants in Amsterdam? We highly recommend checking the Vegan Junk Food Bar and Mr. & Mrs. Watson! Or see our complete list of the best vegan restaurants in Amsterdam.
Another of our favorite spots in Amsterdam during summer! And one of the best spots to watch the sunset in Amsterdam.
Pllek lies in Amsterdam North at the NDSM Warf, which you can reach by free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station. It’s built out of old shipping containers and looks very cool.
And the most remarkable thing at Pllek is probably the sandy beach they created, overlooking the IJ river. A beach in Amsterdam?! Yes!
Sit on the beach while enjoying a drink, or get inside or on their terrace for some great food too!
A cool canalside bar located in the city center, under a parking garage! It gets swamped here when it’s sunny, as it’s such an excellent spot for a drink.
They also have Surinamese and Surinamese-inspired food, burgers, and some Dutch snacks like bitterballen available.
The Avocado Show
The Avocado Show has everything avocado! And not only is the food fantastic, but the whole restaurant is also the cutest.
Plus, they use sustainable avocados, and the dishes look too good to eat. Make your way to the Avocado Show if you love avocados.
There are multiple locations in the city, but we highly recommend going to the one in the Pijp, close to the Albery Cuyp Market.
- Explore the Amsterdam Canals by Boat
Amsterdam has over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of canals. So obviously, you have to see the city from the water during a canal cruise; it is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam!
The Amsterdam canals have a UNESCO World Heritage status; during this boat trip, you will see why! You will learn about the city highlights, but now from the water.
Spot the Westerkerk (church), the Amstel river, and the Skinny Bridge, and enjoy the beautiful canals and Amsterdam houses.
Fun fact: Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, and the city has over 1,200 bridges!
Many companies organize canal tours through Amsterdam. Rederij P. Kooij (at Rokin) and Lovers Company (near central station) are great companies.
There are many options! It’s also possible to rent an (electric) boat yourself and drive around the city. Or paddle around on a paddle boat. Or go on an open boat canal cruise or evening canal cruise!
Especially during summer, it can get very crowded on the canals with boats. Therefore, it’s not allowed to swim in the canals. You can go to a designated swim spot if you want to swim (our favorite is Amsterdam swimming spot is at Het Marineterrein).
- Bike Around Amsterdam
Another fun way to see the city is by bicycle!
There are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam; how crazy is that?! Between the two of us, we own five bicycles, as you never know who’s visiting and needs to borrow a bike!
And Dutchies just love to bike. We bike everywhere: to work, school, shops, anywhere. You will notice parents biking with 2 or 3 kids on the bike – or in a bakfiets (cargo bike).
Luckily, the Netherlands has no mountains, so it’s easy to bike around. You can find bicycle lanes everywhere.
We highly recommend renting a bicycle to enjoy Amsterdam the way locals do. Though, you need to have some bicycle skills.
Many people ride bikes in the city, so it can get crazy, partially due to tourists that forget they are walking on the bicycle lanes (tip: if the ground is red, move! You’re standing on a bicycle lane).
Remember: bicycles rule the traffic! And always lock your bike.
Looking to rent a bike? Consider MacBike Amsterdam, Yellow Bike, or Black Bikes.
- Relax in one of Amsterdam’s Amazing Parks
While exploring a city, it’s also important to enjoy some nature, right?! We always love relaxing in a park to gain energy after a long time walking around.
In the city center of Amsterdam, the place to go to is Vondelpark. When the sun is out, many people head to Vondelpark to meet friends, picnic (or even barbecue), or exercise.
It can get crowded in the park, with a nice mix of locals and tourists. You can also (practice) biking around the park.
If you fancy a more extended bike trip, head to Amsterdamse Bos (forest). The Amsterdamse Bos is about three times bigger than Central Park in New York City!
Here you can fully enjoy nature and even jump in the ponds for a swim. In spring, there are beautiful Sakura blossom trees in the Amsterdamse Bos.
- Roam through Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Next on this list of the best things to do in Amsterdam is Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam.
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world! You can find these botanical gardens in the city center of Amsterdam, making it perfect for a green escape from the city.
Once established for medicinal herbs (in the 1600s), it now features a cafe, butterfly house, a greenhouse, beautiful outdoor gardens, and a palm house. Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam also has endangered plants.
The greenhouse is divided into different areas with varying climatic conditions, simulating the tropics, subtropics, and deserts.
And don’t forget to walk on the metal canopy walkway. It’s a beautiful place to explore.
If you get the I Amsterdam City Card, you can visit Hortus Botanicus for free.
- Hop on a (Free) Ferry to the NDSM Wharf
One of our favorite spots in the city is the NDSM Werf (wharf). We talked about it earlier in this article, as here you can find the restaurant Pllek!
Behind the central train station, you can hop on a free ferry, and in about 15 minutes, you reach the wharf (bicycles are allowed on the ferry).
It’s an industrial area with cool street art, excellent cafés, restaurants, galleries, and a fabulous crane hotel. The site makes for great pictures.
Once a month, the biggest flea market in Europe is held at the wharf, de IJhallen, which is great to visit if you want second-hand things (like clothing).
Our favorite cafés and restaurants here are Noorderlicht and Pllek. Especially during summer, Pllek is fantastic. You can sit, or lay, next to the water with your feet in the sand and a beer in your hand.
The Feralda Crane Hotel is the place to stay if you want to sleep in a super unique place. It’s a crane overlooking the IJ-river and has a hot tub on top!
STRAAT is a museum in one of the enormous former warehouses. It’s a graffiti and street art museum featuring 150 different artworks. If you want to enjoy the public artworks outside the warehouses (don’t miss the giant Anne Frank mural) and inside, we highly recommend visiting this museum!
- Swing on Europe’s Highest Swing ‘Over The Edge’
Across the IJ-river, behind Amsterdam central station, there’s a tall building: the A’DAM Tower. You can go to the top of the tower, to the A’DAM LOOKOUT observation deck, and enjoy a beautiful view of Amsterdam.
Something we love even more is the swing on top of the tower. Dangle 100 meters (328 feet) above the ground, swinging back and forth over the Edge of the A’DAM Tower. Over the Edge is the highest swing in Europe; how cool?
Drink and eat something at their panorama rooftop bar and restaurant afterward.
- The MUST-SEES of Amsterdam
Last but not least on this list of the best things to do in Amsterdam are the absolute must-sees in the city.
There are some spots in Amsterdam we haven’t mentioned yet, but you simply have to see them when visiting Amsterdam!
- The Begijnhof
- Dam Square
- Damrak (with its dancing houses)
- The Museumplein
- De Wallen (Amsterdam’s Red Light District)
The last three are great if you want a place to drink and eat!
As we said before, Amsterdam is a picturesque city; you’ll want to take pictures everywhere! But there are some spots we recommend if you want to take the best photos of the city. Read all about it in our Amsterdam photography post!
And if you are coming to the Netherlands between Mid-April and Mid-May, you have to visit the Dutch tulip fields too, not far from Amsterdam!
Continue reading for more information about when to visit Amsterdam, how many days in Amsterdam, Amsterdam transportation, and the best Amsterdam hotels.
When to Visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a great city to visit all year round. The weather in Amsterdam and the Netherlands is unpredictable; you can have good or bad weather year-round (even within one day).
During the warmer months, everybody goes outside to sit on terraces and in the parks.
In spring, the tulip season starts. Usually, in April, there’s a tulip festival around Amsterdam. For the large flower fields, you must leave Amsterdam and visit the Keukenhof, for example.
And in April, King’s Day also takes place on April 27, our favorite day in the Netherlands! On King’s Day, the whole country colors orange and goes out to party and sell or buy things at flea markets.
Amsterdam in Winter
In winter, the city is very romantic with many lights, and if you’re lucky, you can go ice skating on the canals. That sadly rarely happened over the last years.
In December and January, you can always ice skate at the skating rink at Museumplein!
In fall, Amsterdam turns all orange, and in summer, it can get nice warm – every season has charm.
How Many Days in Amsterdam?
3 days in Amsterdam is enough time to see the city’s most important highlights and neighborhoods.
And 3 days is enough time to visit some museums (which we discussed before), head to the parks, and enjoy its fantastic nightlife.
If you have less time than this, don’t worry! Amsterdam isn’t a massive city so you can see a lot in a short time! Just pick what you want to do from this article on the best things to do in Amsterdam and make the best of your time.
And depending on your Amsterdam itinerary, perhaps you can even add a fun trip out of town to the windmills of the Zaanse Schans, for example.
Eindhoven is a fun city to visit in the Netherlands too! Read about our tips for the top things to do in Eindhoven.
How to get to Amsterdam?
You can reach Amsterdam in many ways, as the city is an important international hub. Many flights, busses, and trains go to Amsterdam. Or get in your car and drive to this beautiful city.
Amsterdam Schiphol airport is the main airport in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. International flights from all over the world arrive and depart here. The airport is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southwest of Amsterdam.
There are regular trains between Schiphol airport and the city center (it takes only 15 minutes), making it easy to reach Amsterdam, even during a layover. Other options are to travel by taxi or bus to the city center.
The train station is located directly below the terminal building.
Once you’ve made your way to Amsterdam, we recommend exploring Amsterdam locally by bicycle. But only if you know how to ride a bike.
Biking in Amsterdam can get crazy (even for experienced Dutchies). There are more bicycles than people in the city, and people on bikes are the bosses on the streets (so watch out if you are walking!).
You can find shops to rent bicycles in many places in the city. When locking your bike, make sure to attach it to something (like the rack), as many bikes get stolen.
Another option is to walk around the city center. It’s very doable to see many places on foot.
Public transport in Amsterdam is convenient, but not so cheap. There are trams, buses, and metros going through the city.
The OV-chipkaart (public transport chip card) is used to travel on public transport by locals. If you visit Amsterdam as a tourist, it’s most convenient to get a one-hour or day card (valid for one or seven days).
The I Amsterdam city card provides free entrance to many attractions in Amsterdam and offers unlimited public transportation.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam has many fantastic accommodation options. We recommend staying in one of the following areas: in the city center, the neighborhood of the Jordaan, around the Westerpark, on the canals, or in the area of the Pijp.
This way, you are closest to the top things to do in Amsterdam! And you might even get to stay in a typical and beautiful Amsterdam canal house.
Best Amsterdam Hotels
Amsterdam isn’t a cheap city, but luckily there are also some options if you want to spend less on accommodation. From the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam to mid-range and budget Amsterdam hotels, here are our best tips!
Luxury Amsterdam Hotels
De L’Europe Amsterdam offers luxurious rooms in the heart of Amsterdam. The 5-star hotel lies next to the Amstel river.
Within 10 minutes of walking, you can reach famous Amsterdam landmarks such as Dam Square, the flower market, the Begijnhof, and de Negen Straatjes.
But the hotel itself also has lots to do, as it features a Michelin star restaurant, another restaurant with a terrace overlooking the canal, a bar serving excellent drinks, and a spa.
If you want luxury in Amsterdam, this is the place to be.
Another fantastic hotel in Amsterdam, The Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam, is a luxurious Dutch and French-styled hotel next to de Wallen (Amsterdam’s famous Red-Light District).
With 177 rooms, 52 suits, multiple bars, a spa, a Michelin star restaurant, an indoor pool, a private boat for canal tours, and a library, it’s a big hotel that offers everything you want.
Plus, all rooms have butler service. Don’t forget to visit Salon de Thé nearby, the smallest house in Amsterdam.
We love the beautiful monumental building of the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam hotel.
The hotel is a traditional-style hotel located on the banks of the Amstel river, offering panoramic views of the city and river.
The location is quieter than the other two luxurious hotels mentioned above, but you can easily reach the city center by public transport, by foot, or by taxi from here.
Mid-Range Amsterdam Hotels
The Pulitzer Amsterdam is a modern and traditional style hotel located in different 17th and 18th-century canal houses. It’s a fantastic place.
And it’s located ideally, close to many of the best things to do in Amsterdam. Stay at Pulitzer Amsterdam to get the best Amsterdam experience while staying in a canal house.
W Amsterdam is a hip and quite luxurious hotel. This hotel brand attracts the younger generations, is trendy, and always has many events.
We love the swimming pool on the rooftop of W Amsterdam, overlooking the city. Plus, it has an excellent bar for drinks.
The Hoxton is a beautiful trendy hotel located in 5 canal houses in the city center of Amsterdam. Close to everything and right on the canals, the location is perfect.
The Hoxton is the kind of place you never want to leave after you arrive.
Budget Amsterdam Hotels
No, this is not just a place for students. And it’s not just a hotel. It’s a hub for co-living and co-working where travelers, locals, and students meet, stay, work, and play.
The Student Hotel Amsterdam City offers hotel rooms for a short stay and student accommodation for students wanting to live in Amsterdam for a more extended period.
This new CitizenM hotel in Amsterdam is a perfect place to stay if you want something more affordable.
We love their minimalistic rooms but with luxury. Also, all their facilities are very convenient, and the staff is friendly.
The Volkshotel Amsterdam has rooms for everyone, from more expensive luxurious rooms to cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms. If you are on a budget, those rooms with shared bathrooms are perfect.
On the rooftop, they offer a mini spa with a sauna and three hot tubs, which is the best. Plus, a restaurant on the rooftop provides excellent views of the city.
Best Hostels in Amsterdam
Not looking for a hotel, but a hostel instead? Don’t worry; we got you covered.
The St Christopher’s Inn backpacker hostels are fun and great places to stay. Especially if you want to meet other people.
And St Christopher’s Inn at the Winston is located at a great spot in Amsterdam; the central station is just a 10-minute walk away.
Generator Amsterdam is located in the east, a bit further from the top spots in the city center. This trendy designer hostel is lovely to stay in! In general, we love Generator hostels all around the world.
It’s next to the Oosterpark, with many great bars and restaurants nearby. De Biertuin Oost, Louie Louie, and Bar Bukowski are all popular amongst locals.
We’ve never stayed at this hostel, but we heard great stories about it. Located in the northern part of Amsterdam, on the opposite side of the IJ river from the central station, you can find ClinkNOORD.
A free ferry ride takes you to the other side of the water, to this hostel with everything you need.
Best Things to do in Amsterdam Map
Enjoy these best things to do in Amsterdam!
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