40 Unforgettable Things to Do in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is one of the most eclectic cities in the world. Art enthusiasts, hippies and green thumbs mesh with businessmen, historians, and architects. Whatever you’re seeking — whether its world-renowned museums, endless shopping, a foodie haven, green space or a crazy nightlife — you’ll find it here in the capital of the Netherlands. These 40 sites and activities are some of our favorites to enjoy in Amsterdam, but we guarantee you’ll come home with an interesting list all your own.

#1. Visit the World’s Only Floating Flower Market

Photo credit: Emanuele
Photo credit: Emanuele

Often regarded simply as the “Flower Market Amsterdam,” the Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world (the flowers are sold from stalls on house boats). Whether you have a green thumb or not, the Bloemenmarkt’s fragrances, colors and variety of flowers is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Best time to visit: The Bloemenmarkt is open year round and is gorgeous in all seasons, but if you have a lot of holiday spirit, you’ll love when the greens and Christmas trees come out in winter.

Cost: Free

#2. Tour the Van Gogh Museum

Photo credit: Minke Wagenaar
Photo credit: Minke Wagenaar

Although Vincent Van Gogh’s fame didn’t come until after his death, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam South will make you appreciate all of the aspects of his life. The museum serves as a tribute Van Gogh’s life and work with an incredible collection of paintings, etchings, prints and correspondence.

Best time to visit: The Van Gogh Museum is an extremely popular Amsterdam attraction, so consider visiting on Friday evening when it stays open until 10 p.m., and crowds are fewer. Purchase your tickets ahead of time to forgo lengthy ticket lines.

Cost: $21

#3. Explore Amsterdam on Bicycle

 

Photo credit: Pablo
Photo credit: Pablo

Bikes are one of the most common ways to get around in Amsterdam, so you’ll fit right in with the locals when you rent one from one of the many rental companies in town. Be sure to pick up a bicycle map from the VVV tourist information center to help you get around without too many U-turns.

Best time to ride: Avoid bicycling during the busy rush hour times, because many Amsterdammers use bikes to get to and from work.

Cost: About $11 per day or $6 per day for multiple days

#4. Shop and Dine in De Pijp

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Photo credit: Sonny Abesamis

Amsterdam’s “Quartier Latin,” or De Pijp, is known for its breathtaking 19th-century architecture, unique shops and cafes just one mile south of the city’s center. The Albert Cuyp Market, one of Amsterdam’s famous street markets, is also located in the trendy De Pijp area.

Best time to visit: This area is always happening, but if you’d like to shop the Alberty Cuyp Market, be sure to visit Monday through Saturday.

Cost: Free

#5. Visit the Anne Frank House

Photo credit: Espino Family
Photo credit: Espino Family

The Anne Frank house draws nearly one million visitors every year. This awe-inspiring attraction includes Anne Frank’s actual diary, a reconstruction of her bedroom and the Secret Annexe, where the Frank family was forced to live silently in despair. This Amsterdam attraction is a must-see that’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

Best time to visit: Because so many other tourists also set their sights on the Anne Frank House, visit early or late in the day to avoid crowds.

Cost: $12.50 for adults

#6. Get Out on the Town in Leidseplein

Photo credit: r.g-s
Photo credit: r.g-s

Leidseplein is a hotspot for entertainment in Amsterdam, including movie theaters, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, casinos, concert venues and coffee shops. The nightlife is vibrant, exciting and loud, so if you like mingling and dancing, you’ll love this area.

Best time to visit: Leidseplein really shines after dark, so reserve an entire evening for dining, drinking and dancing here.

Cost: Free (until you start buying concert tickets and drinks)

#7. Discover Begijnhof

 

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

Architecture enthusiasts and historians (and just about everyone) will adore Begijnhof — a former convent from the 14th century that is now an Amsterdam oasis for tourists and locals alike. Wander the courtyard admiring the picturesque gardens, beautiful houses and famous Begijnhof Kapel.

Best time to visit: Begijnhof is open to visitors from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Arrive early to enjoy a more serene visit.

Cost: Free

#8. Catch Some Live Music

Photo credit: keriluamox
Photo credit: keriluamox

Amsterdam is teeming with live music venues ranging from hole-in-the-wall bars to the famous Concertgebouw, which sees roughly 850,000 visitors each year. Reserve at least one evening of your stay for a show at Concertgebouw (the world’s busiest concert venue), and we guarantee you wont be disappointed.

Best time to visit: Log onto the Concertgebouw website for a schedule of upcoming performances.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

#9. Admire Oude Kerk

 

Photo credit: Coy!
Photo credit: Coy!

Every first-time visitor must pay a visit to Oude Kerk — Amsterdam’s oldest building. Oude Kerk was built in 1306 to honor St Nicholas, the city’s patron saint, and its tower offers what is arguably the best view in the entire city.

Best time to visit: Oude Kerk is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Cost: $7 for adults

#10. Take the Kids to Artis Royal Zoo

Photo credit: Kitty Terwolbeck
Photo credit: Kitty Terwolbeck

You don’t have to have kids to enjoy the Artis Royal Zoo, but if you do, there’s no doubt that a visit to this famous zoo will be the highlight of their trip. Be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to visit the butterfly house, aquarium, planetarium and insectarium too.

Best time to visit: The Artis Royal Zoo hosts roughly 1.2 million visitors each year, so avoid weekends and mid-day hours to beat the crowds.

Cost: $28 for Adults

#11. Visit the Royal Palace

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The Royal Palace was constructed as a town hall back in 1648, but it has served as a palace since the 19th century. The recently renovated interior offers gorgeous marble work that screams royalty. Queen Beatrix used the palace for ceremonies until 2013, and events still take place there often, so always check the website for closures before visiting.

Best time to visit: The palace is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday from September through June, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in July and August.

Cost: $14 for adults

#12. Indulge in the Heineken Experience

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There’s no doubt you’ll have a Heineken or two when visiting Amsterdam, but it’s best to get the whole Heineken Experience. The Heineken Experience is held at the old Heineken Brewery, where you can enjoy a virtual reality ride, learn the history of the famed beer company and indulge in a tasting.

Best time to visit: The brewery opens daily at 10:30 a.m., and the self-guided tour takes roughly 1.5 hours to complete.

Cost: $25 per person (includes beer tasting)

#13. Have a Picnic in Vondelpark

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There’s no better place in Amsterdam to take a break from your sightseeing than beautiful Vondelpark. This refreshing green space features winding paths, ponds, playgrounds, statues, and open-air theatre and all of the makings of a relaxing picnic spot.

Best time to visit: Visit Vondelpark any time of day.

Cost: Free

#14. Go off the Beaten Path at Amsterdams Verzetsmuseum

Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama
Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama

Amsterdam is packed with famous museums and sites, but many of the not-so-famous attractions are just as noteworthy. Amsterdams Verzetsmuseum, also known as The Resistance Museum, gives visitors an inside look into the lives of those who lived during the Nazi occupation and answers many questions you may still want answered after visiting the Anne Frank House.

 Best time to visit: The Resistance Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $14 for adults

#15. Take a Canal Tour

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The city of Amsterdam is home to 165 historic canals, and a canal tour makes for a wonderful day spent outside in the city. Tour options vary from private charter boats to large, open-top boats, so you can choose one that suits your travel style.

Best time to visit: Canal tours vary in length and time of day, so browse the variety of tour companies to find one that works for your schedule.

Cost: $19 for adults

#16. Explore the Rembrandt House Museum

Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama
Photo credit: Ana Paula Hirama

Enter the restored home of Rembrandt van Rijn, where the famed artist once housed the country’s largest painting studio. Admire an incredible array of his etchings as well as an interesting collection of Rembrandt’s possessions, including musical instruments, Roman busts, seashells and military helmets.

Best time to visit: The Rembrandt House Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: $17 for adults

#17. Stroll Through De Wallen

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De Wallen is Amsterdam’s famous “Red Light District,” and although the area isn’t a good place to take your kids, it’s perfect for people watching. Take a quick tour of the area after dark to drink in Amsterdam’s signature liberality.

Best time to visit: De Wallen really comes alive at night, but visit in the daytime for a more mellow experience.

Cost: Free

#18. Scarf Down Some Dutch Cuisine

Photo credit: Enric Martinez
Photo credit: Enric Martinez

Amsterdam is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and foodies have fallen in love with the tiny Marius restaurant in the Western Islands. The famed Chef Kees Elfring buys only the freshest local foods for his ever-changing, daily four-course meals.

Best time to visit: Call ahead to make reservations, because this famous restaurant fills up quickly. Marius is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Cost: Varies by selection

#19. Get Outside in Amsterdamse Bos

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Amsterdam’s green spaces are all breathtaking, but Amsterdamse Bos is arguably the best place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life for an afternoon. Amsterdamse Bos is a 2- by 5-kilometer forest littered with lakes, meadows and paths. Rent bikes, go kayaking, visit the goat farm, hit the climbing park or hang out in a cafe.

Best time to visit: Amsterdamse Bos is frequented by tourists and locals, but because of its large size, you can visit any time without having to deal with crowds.

Cost: Free

#20. Fill Your Pint at Hoppe

Photo credit: MollySVH
Photo credit: MollySVH

Beer lovers will feel right at home at the 300-year-old Hoppe pub and cafe. This quaint Dutch pub fills up in the evenings just about every time of year, so you’re guaranteed to wake up the next morning with some stories to tell.

Best time to visit: Visit hop after dinner and join in on the fun.

Cost: Free (except for that hefty bar tab)

#21. Experience an Amsterdam Coffee Shop

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When most people think of Amsterdam, they imagine hippie-laden coffee shops with smoke streaming out the door. In reality, Amsterdam’s coffee shops vary greatly in their looks and offerings. Experiencing one of the city’s many cannabis coffee shops is a must. In fact, you’ll probably want to pay a visit to a few.

Best time to visit: Anytime

Cost: Varies

#22. Geek Out in the Central Library

Photo credit: Morningtime
Photo credit: Morningtime

Libraries aren’t typically tourist attractions, but Amsterdam’s Central Library is definitely a sight to see and a great place to spend an afternoon. This 10-story-tall, 28,500-square-meter, 1,200-seat library offers far more than books. The library houses an auditorium, the Gerard Reve Museum, the Library Museum, a gorgeous terrace and a self-service restaurant.

Best time to visit: Anytime

Cost: Free

#23. Wander Through the Rijksmuseum

rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The Netherlands’ top art museum, the Rijksmuseum, offers a stunning array of artwork that no visitor to Amsterdam should miss. A 10-year-long renovation that was completed in 2013 has made the museum and its grounds as incredible as the countless masterpieces inside.

Best time to visit: The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. You can avoid crowds by visiting early on weekdays.

Cost: $21 for adults

#24. Act Like a Local in the Jordaan District

Photo credit: Anas Balushi
Photo credit: Anas Balushi

Forgo a day of museum touring for a day of dining, shopping and mingling like a local in the Jordaan district. This quaint neighborhood, which once housed Amsterdam’s slums, is now a thriving area with winding alleyways, gorgeous canals, 17th century architecture, cafes, boutiques and specialty shops that will all give you a taste of Amsterdam below the city’s touristy surface.

Best time to visit: Any time of day is enjoyable in the Jordaan, but the daytime is best for exploring the shops.

Cost: Free

#25. Admire ‘Our Lord in the Attic’

Photo credit: Casey and Sonja
Photo credit: Casey and Sonja

Our Lord in the Attic is one of Amsterdam’s most impressive historic attractions located in the city’s busy centre. The Catholic church concealed within the museum was constructed in 1663 as a place for Catholics to worship after they lost their right to worship as they pleased. The museum on the lower levels, featuring refurbished rooms and an incredible collection of religious artifacts, is just as remarkable as the building’s signature church.

Best time to visit: The church and museum are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., on Sunday.

Cost: $8.50 for adults

#26. Be Quirky at the Museum of Bags and Purses

Photo credit: bertknot
Photo credit: bertknot

The perfect place for a girls’ day out — the Museum of Bags and Purses — takes visitors back through 500 years of women’s hand bag history. With exhibits on designer bags, unique shapes, contemporary designers, materials, techniques and more, you’ll leave with more handbag knowledge than you every imagined.

Best time to visit: Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $13.25 for adults

#27. Hit the Beach

Photo credit: C.H.R.E.C.
Photo credit: C.H.R.E.C.

Amsterdam is more famous for its canals than its beaches, but if you venture just 15 minutes from the city center, you can turn your city vacation into a beach vacation too. Zandvoort, a small beach bordering the North Sea, is especially fun in summertime, when you can take a 30-minute train ride from the city to the sand.

Best time to visit: As with most beaches, Zandvoort is best in the warmer months of summer.

Cost: Free

#28. Hop on a Vespa

Photo credit: bill lapp
Photo credit: bill lapp

Avoid frustrating city traffic by renting a Vespa instead of a car on your trip to Amsterdam. Vespas are Amsterdam staples, and they’re a fun and exciting way to see the city when you don’t have a ton of time to spare.

Best time to visit: Beginners should avoid the streets during busy rush hour traffic.

Cost: Roughly $35-$42 per day

#29. Act Sophisticated at the Amsterdam Pipe Museum

Photo credit: blondinrikard
Photo credit: blondinrikard

Amsterdam is a hotspot for quirky museums, and some visitors even prefer these off-the-beaten-path attractions to the city’s more famous sites. The Amsterdam Pipe Museum offers a historical look into pipes and pipe smoking around the world, and it continues to impress visitors with an unbelievable collection of pipes, whether they’re smokers or not.

Best time to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: $11 for adults

#30. Play a Round of GlowGolf

Photo credit: Raúl José
Photo credit: Raúl José

It’s easy to fill your Amsterdam vacation with museums and historic sites, but it’s important to make some time for some of the city’s more abstract fun. GlowGolf Amsterdam offers a three-dimensional, glow in the dark golf experience that will make you think, “Only in Amsterdam.”

Best time to visit: Make it an evening and follow your round of GlowGolf up with a drink at the Noah’s Arq pub above. Avoid busy Friday and Saturday nights.

Cost: $11 for adults

#31. Shop ‘Till You Drop at the Albert Cuyp Market

Photo credit: NH53
Photo credit: NH53

The Albert Cuyp Market is the busiest and largest of its kind of Amsterdam, offering everything from herbs and spices to flowers, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, snacks, gadgets and clothing.

Best time to visit: The market is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Visit around lunchtime to take advantage of the cozy nearby eateries.

Cost: Free

#32. Learn at the Het Grachtenhuis

Photo credit: *_*
Photo credit: *_*

The list of museums in Amsterdam seems never-ending, but there are some you simply don’t want to miss. Museum Het Grachtenhuis, or the Museum of the Canals, is a  must-see. Head to this museum before you take your canal tour to get a better understanding of the history of Amsterdam’s famous waterways.

Best time to visit: The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $14 for adults

#33. Find Your Inner Hippie at Electric Ladyland

Photo credit: ilovebutter
Photo credit: ilovebutter

Looking to add a little excitement to your day exploring Amsterdam museums? Electric Ladyland is quite possibly Amsterdam’s most eccentric museum. This groovy wonderland is the first museum of fluorescent art, and although it’s small, it continues to receive rave reviews from those visitors who stumble upon it.

Best time to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Cost: $7 for adults

#34. Don’t Miss Nine Little Streets

Photo credit: David Feltkamp
Photo credit: David Feltkamp

Nine Little Streets, or De Negen Straatjes in Dutch, is exactly what it sounds like. The nine streets that span between the Singel and Prinsengracht streets feature boutiques, vintage clothing stores, florists, interior design shops and plenty of cozy cafes to duck inside when you need a break from shopping.

Best time to visit: Anytime

Cost: Free

#35. Snap a Photo at the Bridge of 15 Bridges

Photo credit: Green_p
Photo credit: Green_p

Amsterdam’s bridges are as gorgeous as its canals and being able to see 15 of them at one time is nothing shy of incredible. Take a moment one evening to find the bridge crossing of the Reguliersgracht and the Herengracht. Stand at the side with the odd numbers with your back turned to the Thorbeckeplein. At this point, you will be able to see six bridges in front of you, six to the left and two on the right. The 15th is the one on which you’ll be standing.

Best time to visit: Head to the Bridge of 15 Bridges after dark to see all of the bridges illuminated.

Cost: Free

#36. Eat Your Heart Out at Foodhallen

Photo credit: Logan Campbell
Photo credit: Logan Campbell

Foodhallen, Amsterdam’s new indoor food market, opened just last year in October of 2014. It’s a great place to visit in Amsterdam’s colder months, and there are so many different options for food and drink, you can go back day after day without having to eat the same thing twice.

Best time to visit: It doesn’t matter when you visit, but you must show up with an empty stomach.

Cost: Free to wander, but bring your wallet for food and drink.

#37. Explore Amsterdam’s Old City Centre on Foot

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If you’ll be spending some time in the city, the best way to explore it is on foot. Take a guided walking tour of the Old City Centre to learn about the sights. A number of tour companies offer private, small group or large group tours, so you can choose one that’s perfect for your travel style.

Best time to visit: Take an early city centre tour, and you’ll have the rest of your day to explore museums or other parts of town.

Cost: Roughly $30-$40

#38. Plan a Day Trip

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One of the best parts of Amsterdam is what lies outside of the city as well. There are countless charming towns and sites to see just a short train ride from the city. Plan a day trip to Zaanse Schans to admire gorgeous windmills and traditional Dutch architecture, shops and farms. Or spend a day in Lisse during tulip season to pay a visit to the breathtaking Keukenhof tulip and bulb flower park.

Best time to visit: Anytime

Cost: Free (aside from your train fare)

#39. See the Largest Private Collection of Van Gogh

Photo credit: FaceMePLS
Photo credit: FaceMePLS

The Kröller-Müller Museum is known worldwide for its awe-inspiring collection of 19th and 20th-century art. One of the biggest draws of the museum is that it houses the world’s largest private collection of Van Gogh pieces. Once you’ve finished marveling at Van Gogh’s work, you’ll probably find that the Beeldentuin Sculpture Garden is just as impressive.

Best time to visit: The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. The sculpture garden closes at 4:30 p.m., so head there first if you’re running late.

Cost: $25 for adults

#40. Visit the World’s Largest Flower Market

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If you have a green thumb, you’ll want to take the one-hour trek outside of the city to the world’s largest flower market and fourth largest building, the FloraHolland Aalsmeer. Attend the incredible flower auction to see the international flower trade in action.

Best time to visit: Arrive early to watch flower and plant traders bid rapidly against the clock. The auction takes place Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Cost: About $8.50 for adults.

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About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

Comments:

  • How can you forget to visit the AMSTERDAM ARENA ? AJAX FC supporters create a super atmosphere especially for the Champions league and Europa league games !!

  • I think this article is well done, and it can be very useful.
    After reading the article, I would like to have a picnic in Vondelpark, and to take a canal tour in Amsterdam!

  • The best activity that I can do in Amsterdam is the number 31! I love shopping , i love visit shops and windows of it ! Even if i haven’t a lot of money .. I can go in each shops and try lot of clothes, teast food loke chees , or enjoy myself walking and meeting people , because of this place is very busy. Besides, i’d like go in this place with my Friends because I’m sure that they love this place !! To surm up , I hope that One day, I’m going to visit Amsterdam to try to do several activities because I’d like visit this exciting city !!

  • I have visited Amsterdam 3 years ago yet and I have seen any place yet. However, i’d like to visit the Van Gogo museum and admire the royal palace. Also I’d like to take a canal tour again!

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