Known also as the ‘Venice of the North’, the capital of the Netherlands is one of the favourite party destinations in Europe for a reason. Amsterdam has more than 250 canals and more than enough reasons to win your heart over in a second. World-class museums, vintage shops, quirky festivals, lovely houses, delightful restaurants and much, much more… the list of things to see and to do in Amsterdam never ends, but check out which ones are an absolute must when visiting this spectacular city!
1) Hop on a bike
With more than 800 000 bicycles across the city (more than people!), Amsterdam is one of the world’s most cycle-friendly cities. There is no better way to explore streets, canals, hidden passages and attractions than by bike. Although there are countless tourists on the streets, cycling in Amsterdam is safe and enjoyable, so do as the locals do and hop on your bike. The rental offices are almost on every corner, so don’t worry about finding one for you. An average price of bike rental per day is €14.
2) Wander in Jordaan
Often referred to as Amsterdam’s most charming district, Jordaan will give you an insight to the past. Once a working class area, today Jordaan’s narrow streets and antique buildings now make up one of the city’s most favourite quarters, full of art galleries, shops, courtyard gardens and lovely bars and restaurants. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow streets that spread east from Prinsengracht canal known also as the 9 Streets, one of best shopping adventures in Amsterdam.
3) Get some cultural education in Museumplein
Museumplein is home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, so it makes sense why it is the cultural beating heart of the Dutch capital. Recently renovated to a world class standard, the lovely 19th century Oud-Zuid district is a utopia for every art lover, full of open-air exhibitions and markets. In the winter, the square becomes an outdoor ice rink. However, if you want to escape the crowds at the biggest museums in the city, check out some lesser known like FOAM or Tropenmuseum.
4) Take a canal cruise
Dating back to the 17th century, when it was created to keep the sea at bay, Amsterdam’s UNESCO canal belt is a picturesque vision of the city. Floating along the canals by guided tour boat (tickets can be found for €13) is a great way to learn many interesting facts about the city and to see Amsterdam from a totally different perspective. There are various canal cruises to choose from, from hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tours to romantic, candlelit night cruises with dinner and wine.
5) Visit Anne Frank’s House
There’s probably not one single person who hasn’t heard of Anne Frank’s diaries, which reflect on the atrocities committed against the Jews during World War II, written in the Prinsengracht house where Anne was hiding with her family until the Nazis found their hideout. The front of the house is now a provoking museum, but the back part has been preserved to give an idea what it was like to have to hide there for 2 years. The chilling tour costs €9 and we recommend you to buy the ticket online to avoid the long queues.
6) See the Red Light District
Well, this tip is not for families traveling with children. In Amsterdam’s Red Light District women from all over the world sit behind windows, lit by red lights, and try to catch the attention of people outside. The city and the prostitution have been legally together since 1811, so don’t be surprised by the number of women waiting to earn some money. Although it is always full of people, they are usually tourists just passing by. If you want a deeper insight into the world of the job, visit the Museum of Prostitution for an entrance fee of €8 or €9.50 with audioguide included.
7) Have a drink at the ExtraCold Ice Cafe
As you can already guess it by the name, at the ExtraCold Ice Cafe everything, from walls and the bar to the seats and glasses, is frozen solid. 60 tonnes of ice was used to complete the interior and, together with fantastic ice sculptures, it will give you a once-in-a-lifetime atmosphere. A visit to the bar is approximately 30 minutes long and, to embrace the cold, you’ll get special thermal clothing including gloves before you enter the Ice Cafe. The admission fee is €19 per person and the ticket includes free drinks.
8) Shop at the city’s markets
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for some bargain stuff, local delicacies or just trying to feel the atmosphere, visiting one of the many markets in Amsterdam is a really unique experience. There’s literally everything, from antiques and vintage clothes to artisan food and books. Some of the most popular markets across Amsterdam are Albert Cuypmarket in De Pijp, Lindengracht market and the Waterlooplein flea market. However, visiting Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without buying a flower or two, so head to the Bloemenmarkt, the famous floating flower market and the only one of its kind in the world.
9) Make a one day trip from Amsterdam
If you’re staying in the Dutch capital for more than a few days, leave the city for a short while to explore the attractions in the area nearby. Only 20 km from Amsterdam Central by train you’ll find the picturesque city of Harleem with rich history and culture, together with a great offer of shops, restaurants and bars. On the other hand, if you care more about the beaches, then the wonderful beaches at Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort aan Zee will amaze you with golden sands, dunes and many watersports to choose from.
10) Taste food and drinks at Westergasbafriek
Located at Westerpark, this complex of what were once industrial buildings used as the city’s municipal gasworks, today is transformed into a colorful cultural spot and a home to numerous bars, restaurants, a mini brewery, arthouse cinema and lots of creative businesses. Check out the food markets, festivals and events held at Westergasfabriek, such as the Sunday market held on the first Sunday of every month throughout the year or the first Amsterdam mass techno raves known as the Awakening parties.