Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Europe. With its canals, museums, and friendly people, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Located in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is also a convenient starting point for exploring the rest of Europe.
The Netherlands is known for its cheese, flowers, and windmills, so be sure to try some of the local specialties while you’re in town. Below, you’ll find 15 popular things to do in Amsterdam to help you with your travel itinerary!
The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands and is dedicated to Dutch art and history. If you only have time for one museum during your visit, many locals recommend visiting the Rijksmuseum. If you are an art lover, you should consider an audio or guided tour. Give yourself at least two hours to appreciate the museum thoroughly.
As you stroll through this beautiful museum, you will find works of art by famous Dutch artists such as Vincent Van Goh, Aelbert Cuyp, and Rembrandt. You’ll also find sculptures, model ships, lighthouses, royal dining sets, old films, and many other artifacts during your visit.
2. De 9 Straatjes
The Nine Streets in Amsterdam is a beautiful neighborhood that should be on your Amsterdam travel itinerary! The area has bridges crossing the four main canals and picturesque homes. You’ll also find shops, boutiques, coffee shops, cafes, and art galleries. The neighborhood is great for riding a bicycle or grabbing lunch with friends.
During your visit, keep an eye out for elaborately decorated bikes! The Flower Bike Man of Amsterdam decks out donated bicycles in gorgeous flowers of the Netherlands for visitors to ride and enjoy.
3. Amsterdam Canal Cruise
An Amsterdam canal cruise is a great way to get to know this quirky city. You can take an uncovered or covered canal boat with a tour guide and glide through Amsterdam’s canals while sipping a drink. The tour guide will highlight famous landmarks and give you intimate information about their city. It will also allow you to ask a local any burning questions about the city.
Fun Fact: There are 1.6 million bicycles in Amsterdam. That is almost twice the population size. There is a graveyard for unclaimed bicycles that are eventually recycled. As well, most residents have two bicycles. They have a “crappy” bike for everyday use and when leaving their bicycle in areas where it may get stolen, and a “nice” bike for dates and outings.
4. Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to the Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her experiences. The building is where Anne Frank and her family hid during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The museum is dedicated to preserving the memory of Anne Frank and other victims of the Holocaust.
It contains original artifacts from the Frank family’s time in hiding, as well as interactive exhibits that provide visitors with an insight into the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust. The Anne Frank House is a very popular museum. Be sure to get your tickets in advance.
5. The Jordaan
The Jordaan is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Amsterdam. With its quaint canals and cobbled streets, it’s no wonder that this area is a popular tourist destination. However, the Jordaan is more than just a pretty face. It has a vibrant community of artists, musicians, and other creative types.
The Jordaan has long been a haven for those seeking an alternative to the city’s more mainstream culture. In recent years, the area has undergone a renaissance, with new bars, restaurants, and shops.
6. Electric Ladyland
The Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art is the first of its kind. You’ll enter a tiny house that is filled wall to wall with eclectic fluorescent artwork. However, the real show is downstairs in the basement.
You’ll be asked to take off your jacket and shoes, and you’ll be given a clean pair of socks– this is to protect the painting on the floor in the basement. You’ll then go down a set of old narrow steps into a dark room filled with minerals, posters, artifacts, and artwork.
The artist, Nick Paladino, will take you on a tour and tell you all about the significance of his fascinating collection of minerals and artifacts that illuminate under different frequencies of UV light. They have a collection of minerals from around the world, but a hotspot for these fluorescent rocks is apparently in New Jersey.
7. Red-Light District
If you’re feeling a little risque, stroll through the Red-Light District. It is a street that the city has allowed for the use of prostitution. If you walk through the district in the daytime, you will not see any nudity in the windows.
You’ll find fascinating museums such as the Museum of Prostitution, the Sex Museum, and the Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum. If you’re looking for a bit of lingerie or something to spice up the bedroom, you’ll find boutiques and other shops selling erotica.
In the evening, however, the red lights turn on, and you’ll see workers in around 370 windows along the street. The area gets very busy at night, and the bars and cafes are packed. It’s a sight like no other.
While marijuana is illegal in Amsterdam, it has been decriminalized. You can find coffee shops that sell cannabis products all around the city.
The coffee shops look much like regular American coffee shops, but in Amsterdam, you can smoke a joint, have an edible, or some other concoction that contains marijuana. Remember, it is not legal, so smoking outside of a coffee shop is not wise.
Be sure to research the most up-to-date laws before visiting!
9. Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Amsterdam. It is home to the largest collection of works by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, as well as many other impressive paintings and sketches. The museum was founded in 1973, and since then, it has attracted millions of visitors from all over the world.
10. Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience is a unique interactive tour that takes you behind the scenes of the world-famous Heineken brewery. The tour begins with a short film that introduces visitors to the history of Heineken and the brewing process.
From there, guests are taken on a self-guided tour through the brewery, learning about the steps involved in making Heineken beer. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a refreshing pint of Heineken in the on-site bar. Visiting the Heineken brewery is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.
11. Albert Cuyp Market
The Alert Cuyp Market is named after Dutch artist Aert de Gelder, who painted a view of it in 1719. The market sells fresh produce, flowers, and many other goods. It’s a great place to find a thoughtful souvenir for a friend or a little something for yourself. The street is quite long, and the stalls lead into the shops. While you’re strolling, don’t forget to try a Stroop waffle! It is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Vondelpark is one of the most popular parks and things to do in Amsterdam, and it’s easy to see why. The park has plenty of space to relax, play, or stroll. The gardens are beautiful, and there’s even a lake where you can swim. Vondelpark is also a great place to watch people, as it’s always full of locals and tourists. In the summer, the park comes alive with music and events, making it the perfect place to spend a sunny day.
The Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market and has been a fixture on the canals of Amsterdam since 1862. Situated along the Singel Canal, the market has various floral stalls selling everything from tulips to sunflowers. The market is also a popular tourist spot, and visitors can take boat tours through the canals or stroll along the market’s riverside promenade. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or enjoy browsing through colorful flower displays, the Bloemenmarkt is worth a visit.
14. The National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is one of the world’s leading maritime museums. Founded in 1656, it houses an impressive collection of ship models, paintings, and other maritime artifacts. The museum is also home to an extensive library, making it a popular research destination for scholars from all over the world.
15. Day Trip: Rotterdam, Delft, and The Hauge
Amsterdam is in the northern province of the Netherlands. Many options exist for day trips on luxury buses or taking the train. A day trip out of the city is quite an eye-opener to the rest of the country. If you want to see a different city, I highly recommend a full-day Rotterdam, Delft, and Hague tour from Amsterdam.
Rotterdam is a city in the Netherlands known for its modern architecture and lively nightlife. The city is home to Erasmus University, which attracts students from all over the world. Rotterdam also has a large port, which is one of the busiest in Europe.
Rotterdam was founded in the 13th century, and it has been a major center of trade and commerce ever since. World War II particularly hard hit the city, but it has been rebuilt and now thrives as a vibrant metropolis. You can enjoy its many museums and galleries, as well as its lively cafes and restaurants. And be sure to add a guided river cruise to your itinerary!
Delft is a city with a long history dating back to the Middle Ages. It is best known for its blue and white ceramic products, which have been produced in the city since the 17th century. Delft is also home to important historical sites, including the New Church and the Old Town Hall. In recent years, the city has become a popular tourist destination, and its vibrant mix of old and new architecture is one of its most appealing features.
The Hague is the site of the Dutch parliament, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State. In addition to being the political center of the Netherlands, The Hague is also a popular tourist destination. You can explore its museums and art galleries or take a stroll through its parks and gardens. The Hague is also home to a number of international organizations, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.
Amsterdam is a vibrant city with very kind people. There are many unique and quirky things to do in Amsterdam during your visit. The city is incredibly bike-friendly and is easy to walk around. Be sure to try the local cuisine and add a Stroop waffle and bitterbal to your menu! Enjoy your upcoming trip to Amsterdam!
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This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and escape! Alex’s mission is to help peopl find the perfect vacation destination.