Amsterdam is quickly becoming one of the most visited cities in Europe. Known for being the capital of the Netherlands and for its elaborate canal system, Amsterdam truly has so much to offer! Kevin and I visited Amsterdam in the fall, September to be exact, and we were blessed with wonderful weather and nice long days full of sightseeing. Since there is so much to do and see in this beautiful Dutch town, we have narrowed it down to 11 of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam!
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As everyone knows Amsterdam is known for its biking culture so it’s only appropriate to view the city in the most authentic way! Rated the world’s 2nd most bike-friendly city, Amsterdam has more bikes than people and 320 miles of the city roads are dedicated to cyclers.
That being said bikes can be rented at Bike 4 You for 9 euros per bike for 24-hours. Though this is a cheaper option than Ubering and a safer option than driving yourself, biking in Amsterdam should be taken very seriously! On any working day more than 2 million bikes can be found on the road between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning so the streets get very crowded.
Located in Amsterdam’s southern canal belt is Bloemenmarkt. Bloemenmarket is Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market and is a must-see for first-time guests of Amsterdam. This unique flower shop is made up of a number of small stalls located atop houseboats floating in one of the city’s famous canals.
Bloemenmarkt was created in 1862 and has been a thriving business ever since. This unique market is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, however, on Sunday’s it is only open from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm. In addition to being open daily, Bloemenmarkt is open year-round. For those of you traveling to Amsterdam in December, take notice that Bloemenmarkt even sells Christmas trees!
Bloemenmarkt is also a wonderful place to purchase souvenirs for yourself or a loved one. Bloemenmarkt sells bouquets, single flowers, bulbs, wooden flowers, clogs, and more.
Looking to do some shopping while visiting Amsterdam? Check out The 9 Little Streets. The 9 Little Streets, located in the World Heritage Canal Belt, consists of…you guessed it nine picturesque shopping streets.
Along The 9 Little Streets are lively bars, quaint eateries, authentic and unique shops, and a great deal of Amsterdam’s history. Each shop and eatery in this area is located inside one of Amsterdam’s unique historic buildings dating as far back as the 17th Century! This is definitely an area you won’t want to miss!
10/10 recommend unless you don’t like beer of course! The Heineken Experience is located on Stadhouderskade 78, only a few blocks from Albert Cuyp Market, inside the original Heineken Factory and is something you’ll definitely want to make time for while exploring Amsterdam.
The Heineken Experience is a 90-minute tour educating guests on how a small Amsterdam brewery grew to become one of the world’s most popular beers. Each tour guide at The Heineken Experience is well-educated on the brewery and able to answer any and all questions while making the experience very enjoyable. In addition to learning about the business, the brewing, and the beer, The Heineken Experience ends in quite an exciting fashion…with beer samples!
Not interested in learning about the brewery, the brewing process, or the history of Heineken beer in general…no problem. The guides are more than willing to allows guests to walk through the tour at their own pace. Whether you want to listen to the information or just get downstairs to the free beer the option is completely yours!
The Heineken Experience is 18 euros per person if you book in advance online. If you purchase tickets at the door the tour costs 21 euros per person.
The brewery is open 365 days a year, so no matter when you are traveling to Amsterdam, The Heineken Experience will be open and ready to give you and your friends the tour of a lifetime. Check out the hours below!
If you are hoping to enjoy a walk through an area of Amsterdam a little less city-like we recommend strolling through Vondelpark. Vondelpark is a 120-acre public park located in the borough of Amsterdam-Zuid. Named after the 17th Century playwright, Joost van den Vondel, Vondelpark brings in over 10-million visitors yearly.
Vondelpark is full of great things to see and do for families, couples, and/or singles. The park contains bike paths, unlimited grass areas for field sports, an open-air theatre, a number of famous statues (Joost van den Vondel, The Fish, Mama Baranka), and four bars/ restaurants.
Looking to have drinks or lunch in the park? Kevin and I recommend going to Groot Melkhuis if you want something quick and self-serve or Vondeltuin if you are looking for something more relaxing where you can sit down and enjoy a cooked-to-order meal.
This is another must in our opinion! Much like a gondola ride in Italy, a cruise along the Amsterdam canals is just something you have to do!
Though we don’t have any photos (we were too busy drinking, eating, and having a good time I suppose) we did take a boat cruise with Those Dam Boat Guys. During the cruise we learned a lot about Amsterdam’s history and the history of the canals. In addition to learning about Amsterdam, we also met some really cool people we would not have otherwise met.
As I stated before I think we were too busy eating and drinking to take any photos while actually on the cruise. That being said Those Dam Boat Guys encourage you to bring your own food, drinks, and/or smoke if you choose.
Though Amsterdam is beautiful both during the day and at night, between November 28th and January 19th it becomes even more breathtaking, if that’s even possible. It is during these months that the Amsterdam Light Festival occurs. The Amsterdam Light Festival consists of twenty light-art installations from both local and international artists throughout the city center. These light installations highlight different aspects of Amsterdam’s history, making it something you’ll definitely want to see if you are in town.
In addition to public and private tours, Those Dam Boat Guys also offer a private three and a half-hour “Brews Cruise.” During this cruise, the guide cruises you and your friends around the beautiful canals of Amsterdam while also stopping at various canal accessible bars and breweries that you may not be able to make it to on foot!
Though many do not go to Amsterdam for the museums, the Anne Frank House is one museum we recommend checking out. The history and story behind the Anne Frank House is truly inspirational.
For those who do not know, Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl born in the German city of Frankfurt in 1929. As a child, Anne grew up during a time that was stricken with poverty, high unemployment rates, and the growing popularity of Adolf Hilter. Due to poverty and lack of jobs in Frankfurt, Anne’s family moved to Amsterdam where her father was able to finally find work. Not long after moving to Amsterdam, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and were sending out “call-ups” for labour camps. Concerned, Anne’s parents started building and furnishing a hiding place in the basement of her fathers’ business. After two years of being in hiding, Anne and her family were discovered and sent to concentration camps. Unfortunately in February of 1945, Anne died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after contracting typhus.
While in hiding though, Anne kept a diary that is very well-known today. This diary also helps bring guests of the Anne Frank House back in time so they can truly relate to what this inspirational little girl went through.
80% of tickets for Anne Frank house are released two months in advance. The other 20% are released the day of at 9:00 in the morning.
Protip: Tickets for Anne Frank house can only be purchased online and there is a 0.50 euro booking fee.
With over 12 locations in Amsterdam, you are bound to run into at least one or two while exploring the city. Henri Willig is a local cheese shop in the Netherlands that has been around since 1974 and is named after the owner and creator Henri Willig. After taking over the family’s dairy company, Henri Willig developed a cheese farm that quickly flourished into a tourist attraction within The Netherlands.
Now Henri Willig exports his cheeses to over 35 countries and the shops located in Amsterdam welcome millions of visitors per year!
Not sure if you will like the cheese? Every location offers tastings of every cheese! In addition to the cheeses, Henri Willig also sells jams and spreads, stroopwafels, and utensils such as cheese knives and cutting boards.
Sure Amsterdam has a lot of go-to bars and breweries, however, one of the most original bars is Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam. Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam is made completely of you guessed it, ICE. Everything from the bar to the drinking glasses is ice, even the walls! That being said you can only stay in the “ice bar” for 30 minutes.
Tickets for Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam should be purchased online in advance. With your ticket you will receive three free drinks, one in the “warm bar” before entering the ice bar and two in the ice bar. You will also receive jackets and gloves to wear once you are inside the bar. So for those not necessarily dressed for winter, it is okay!
Amsterdam Icebar Tickets are 20.50 euros per person and you must arrive 20 minutes before your reserved time to check into the bar.
Xtracold Icebar Amsterdam is open daily from about 11:45 am until 1:00 am. For a full list of hours please see below.
Though this isn’t really something to see in Amsterdam, you must try an original Stroopwafel while visiting. Located at the Albert Cuyp Market just a few blocks behind The Heineken Experience you will find “Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels” food truck. This food truck has been baking the original “Goudsche Siroopwafels,” according to the traditional recipe, for generations and it is simply delicious!
Other than being Amsterdam’s most famous cookie, the Stroopwafel is essentially two very thin spice cookies held together by caramel. During our cruise with Those Dam Boat Guys, we were told that the Stroopwafel was created after a local baker was finished baking cookies but did not use all of his batter. Instead of throwing the excess away, the baker decided to use the leftover batter to produce thin waffle-like cookies. After realizing that the cookies were to thin to eat by themselves, the baker decided to add caramel to the center of two cookies making them sturdier and easier to eat. Is this a correct story of how the Stroopwafel was created? I am not sure, but it sounds realistic to me so I’m going with it!
While in Amsterdam make sure to take a stroll through Old Town. Old Town Amsterdam is truly the home of Amsterdam’s history and architecture, it is also home to the famous Red Light District. Located between Dam Square and Amsterdam Central Station, Old Town Amsterdam is where many places of interest can be found. These places include Kloveniersburgwal (an outer city canal where militia practiced using their rifles in the 16th century), Schreierstoren (a building where sailors in the service often said goodbye to their loved ones before departing), Royal Palace, Wooden House (built-in 1550, this is one of the two remaining original wooden houses in Amsterdam), De Nieuwe Kerk (the cultural heart of the city and where Queen Beatrix was inaugurated in 1980), and more.
In addition to places of interest, Old Town Amsterdam is also full of mouth-watering restaurants, lively bars, and quaint Dutch shops.
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Interested in adding Amsterdam to your next European adventure, then we hope you find this post helpful. Amsterdam is full of mouth-watering cuisine, delicious beer, beautiful history, and hundreds of breathtaking canals. So how do you decide what to see and do in such a fantastic city? Let us help, in this post we have outlined 11 of the best things to see and do in Amsterdam.
Have a recommendation that we forgot? Please leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you and discover additional things to see and do in this lovely Dutch city.