Things To Do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is incredibly popular with people who spend their layover or a few days in the city. Therefore, it’s usually busy at the tourist attractions like the dancing houses of Damrak, Dam Square, and the Royal Palace. Pay a quick visit to these places and continue with the following things to do in Amsterdam.
1. Wander the 9 Straatjes
The ‘9 Straatjes’ (nine streets) is the name for nine photogenic, lively streets filled with galleries, sandwich shops, boutique clothing stores, and restaurants.
2. Amsterdam Museums
The city of Amsterdam is world-famous for its art and history museums. Just on Museumplein alone are four major museums; Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and Moco Museum. Additionally, visit the Anne Frank House or the Maritime Museum.
The Moco Museum is home to modern and contemporary art from artists like Banksy and Kaws. With their digital art exhibition, they are making art even cooler and attracting a younger audience. An audio tour is built into the Moco app so make sure to download this. (Book your tickets here)
Rijksmuseum is the most visited museum in the Netherlands. It is a treasure trove of Dutch arts and history, with Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ as an absolute highlight. Please note that booking a Rijksmuseum ticket in advance is necessary.
3. Cruise Amsterdam’s canals
Cruise the canals of Amsterdam, go under the old bridges and pass the beautiful houses. This might be the best way to see the city! Rent a boat in Amsterdam and enjoy the freedom of being on the water with friends. We recommend having a look at electric boats as these are quieter and greener.
Alternatively, join a canal cruise on a shared cruise boat. These have guides onboard explaining about the city and its history.
4. Hortus Botanicus – Botanical Gardens
One of the world’s oldest botanical gardens is located in the center of Amsterdam! Hortus Botanicus is an escape from the city, established in the 1600s for medicinal herbs, and now features a greenhouse, butterfly house, palm house, and stunning outdoor gardens.
The greenhouse with a metal canopy walkway is divided into three different zones with varying climatic conditions to simulate the subtropics, the desert, and the tropics.
The palm house is a super picturesque building, housing centuries-old palms. Also, visit the cafe at the entrance for a drink or snack.
5. Amsterdam’s Restaurants and Cafes you have to see!
There are numerous incredible cafes and restaurants in Amsterdam. The following are our favorites, taking into account its look, unique location, and tasty food. Note that none of these places are located in the city center but because of that these spots are more unique.
Bar Botanique is, as they say, a green oasis in the heart of the colorful lively neighborhood. It is beautifully decorated and has a fantastic menu with a few vegetarian options too. Open daily! (Location)
Pllek (best thing to do in Amsterdam in summer)
Get your feet in the sand at the city beach of Pllek! A restaurant in Amsterdam North constructed from old shipping containers and decorated with mostly second-hand and recycled items. Their food is made from organic products and they have vegan and vegetarian options available. The easiest way to get here is by ferry from Amsterdam Central Station. Open daily. (Location)
Waterkant is an artsy waterside terrace just outside the city center and located nearby to the nine streets. It is great for drinks, with both out and inside seating. Open daily. (Location)
De Ceuvel Cafe
A creative hangout at a former shipyard; De Ceuvel Cafe is the spot to enjoy green, sustainably focused, tasty food and drinks on a terrace in the sun at the waterside. It is located in Amsterdam North and the easiest way to get there is by using the metro. Closed on Mondays. (Location)
6. Vintage Shopping
Vintage shopping is well-represented in Amsterdam. There are countless unique, and great, second-hand stores all over the city. Vintage clothing is so popular because of its exclusive, good-looking pieces. Plus, it is environmentally friendly!
7. Biking in Amsterdam
The Netherlands is a cycling country. There are over 23 million bicycles, with 17 million inhabitants! Rent a bike in Amsterdam, as it makes exploring the city so much easier and a greater adventure. The Jordaan is the prettiest neighborhood and fantastic to cycle through!
Biking in Amsterdam does, however, comes with a set of rules. For example: use the biking lanes, watch out for the tram tracks, always make room for others, and always lock your bike.
Bike Rental Shops in Amsterdam Are:
- Black Bike – Offers bike models that locals would drive. Pick-up and drop-off at 13 locations.
- MacBike – cheapest option, least pretty bikes.
- Yellow Bike – bike rental and guided tours.
8. Vondelpark Amsterdam
Escape the hectic city life, as the locals do, by visiting Vondelpark. A large public park centrally located near Rijksmuseum. It is also the largest park in Amsterdam and visiting Vondelpark is free! Take in the local life of people cycling, running, or skating through the park.
9. Day trips from Amsterdam
Public transport in the Netherlands is well arranged. Making day trips from Amsterdam is, therefore, usually very easy and efficient.
Windmills at Zaanse Schans
Windmills are a symbol of Dutch cultural heritage. The colorful windmills of Zaanse Schans can easily be visited on a short day trip from Amsterdam.
Visit typical Dutch villages like Marken, Broek in Waterland, and Volendam, each with beautiful wooden houses, narrow alleys, and drawbridges. Additionally, rent an electric boat at Teagarden Overleek to sail along the grassland with grazing cows, and through authentic villages like Broek in Waterland.
Important to remember
There are so many other things to do in Amsterdam, that aren’t named in this travel guide. Therefore, we want to point out a few basic rules and common misconceptions.
- Smoking weed is legal, but only inside the coffeeshops! Police will fine you for smoking weed in public.
- Do not take photos of the women at the Red Light District.
- Tulips are not located in Amsterdam. Visit tulips near Amsterdam at Lisse, Keukenhof or the Noordoostpolder.
- Kingsday, a national holiday is on the 27th of April. (previously April 30)
Where to stay in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam has a large selection of accommodations throughout the entire city. The Canal Belt is the most expensive area with a hotel at an average price of 130 EUR per night. Airbnbs in Amsterdam (± 80 EUR a night) have been cut down in their number but are still an ok option.
Favorite hotels in Amsterdam
Getting Around in Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s city center is relatively small, however, it’s just a bit much to explore all on foot. Hence locals cycle through the city! But luckily it has great connectivity with public transport throughout the entire city as well.
By bicycle: Rent a bike in Amsterdam and get from A to B fast and easy. You can easily rent one in the city for about 10 – 15 EUR a day. Cycling is the quickest way to get around the city center.
By foot: Most distances in this Amsterdam travel guide are walkable. But taking a bus, tram or metro will be useful at some points. When crossing the streets, watch out for cyclists as they have priority.
By public transport: The easiest way to get around is by using the bus, metro, and tram. GVB is the transport company, and they have good deals on day passes.
How to get to Amsterdam
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is a hub connecting to other international destinations. The city of Amsterdam is a quick 15-minute train ride from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station.
Costs of traveling in Amsterdam
It is good to budget your trip to Amsterdam. It is slightly more expensive than other cities in the Netherlands, like Rotterdam. Plan to spend around 90 – 140 USD per day, with accommodation and restaurants as the largest expenses.
- Hotel: 60 – 300 USD / night
- Hostel: 50 – 150 USD / night
- Price per meal: 15 – 60 USD
- Entrances: 15 – 35 USD / ticket
- Transport: 10 – 30 USD / day
Best time to visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great city to visit year-round. However, weather-wise, April to September has the most days of sunshine. The best time to visit Amsterdam will be April and May with rays of spring sunshine, temperatures between 10 – 20 degrees, and a city that isn’t too crowded with tourists.
Alternatively, winter from November to March can have beautiful days too and even the chance of the canals being frozen. Ice-skating on the canals was a yearly returning event twenty years ago, but it has unfortunately become very rare due to climate change.