Amsterdam is not just about the coffee shops, the Van Gogh Museum and the Red Light District…There’s so much more to discover in the capital of the Netherlands! Part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, Amsterdam is full of charming canals, cultural trends, and delightful little streets worth exploring.
Here is our list of 24 things to do in Amsterdam that will have you experiencing the city like the locals do…
1. Rent a tandem bike
Riding a bike in Amsterdam is serious business. It’s the preferred way to get around the city by both locals and tourists. It can get quite busy in the centre of town, so watch out for other bikers and traffic rules. Have fun and rent a tandem bike with your friend or partner. You might want to stick to the less congested roads and parks for this one!
2. Take a walk along the Bloemenmarkt
The Bloemenmarkt flower market is a beautiful floating flower market on the Singel Canal. Freshly cut flowers, seeds, and wonderful bouquets produce a fantastic display of colours and smells. It’s a must-see in Amsterdam even if you aren’t looking to buy any flowers.
The Bloemenmarkt flower market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM, and on Sunday from 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
3. See a concert at Vondelpark
The city’s most famous park, Vondelpark was built specifically to host concerts. Find out what’s on and make sure to spend an afternoon here. There are plenty of free concerts at Vondelpark during the summer.
4. Go shopping at Albert Cuyp Market
The Albert Cuyp Market is Europe’s largest street market. Its 260 market stalls sell everything from fresh vegetables to accessories and clothes. Street vendors also sell delicious treats to eat while you look around. Pick up a mouthwatering hot stroopwafel to eat with a steaming cup of coffee. Delicious.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
5. Sample some Dutch cheeses
You may already know Gouda, Edam and Leerdammer, but Holland has plenty of other interesting cheeses that will blow your mind! Try some samples at a market stall to get a feel for what you like, and make sure to bring a couple of slices home with you. The Cafe Van Mechelen located at Sloterkade 96/97 it’s an excellent place to eat cheese and try some new beer (or wine).
6. Enjoy a classical music concert at Concertgebouw…
The Royal Concertgebouw is one of the most famous concert halls in the world. It is known for its perfect acoustics and delivers a sublime musical experience to all those who attend. It is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for free… if you go on the right day! Every Wednesday at 12.30 pm there is a free concert in the hall.
7. Visit The Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank house is a museum dedicated to life and times of wartime diarist Anne Frank. Visit the 17th-century canal house and see the secret annexe where Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution. This emotional piece of history is a popular thing to see in Amsterdam, so we advise buying tickets online instead of having to wait in the queues.
8. Go antique shopping in Spiegelstraat Nieuwe
Satisfy your artistic curiosity by visiting the many art galleries and antique shops in the area. Walk around the picturesque neighbourhood and take in the unique trinkets that line the street windows. You can also pick up some vintage threads while you’re here. Episode is a great place for vintage shopping. To get your daily fix of art, The Public House of Art, number 29 (of the Spiegelstraat Nieuwe) is a must-visit.
9. Browse the Amsterdam Library (Openbare Bibliotheek)
Visiting the popular sights of a city can be tiring. You may feel like you’ve done all the things there are to do in Amsterdam and are now looking for a place to unwind. Whether you’re looking to pick up a book to read or want to get some work done in peace and quiet, the Amsterdam Library is the place to go. It’s absolutely stunning and is one of the biggest libraries in Europe. You’re almost bound to find a quiet corner with no one to disturb you. The Openbare Bibliotheek is open every day from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
10. Have a typical Dutch brunch
The Dutch are extremely fond of brunch, and it’s one of the best things to do in Amsterdam before a big day out! You’ll just have to walk around Amsterdam for a few minutes and notice the sheer number of brunch places and cafes. A classic dutch brunch consists of eggs benedict with Hollandaise sauce. Go to Lovefood dans Koggestraat (Koggestraat 1, 1012) for the best brunch around!
11. Take a break from the most famous museums
Amsterdam has undoubtedly some of the best museums in the world, but don’t miss out on the smaller ones too. These lesser-known spots such as the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, Museum of Spectacles, and The Coffee and Tea Museum are all well worth a visit.
12. Stop by a “bruin cafe”
All that cycling certainly merits a coffee break every now and then. Stop off at a typical Bruin Cafe for some refreshment. Bruin cafés are to Amsterdam what pubs are to London. They are cosy, friendly spots that welcome passersby, usually serving local food and a good selection of beers. Whether it’s for a coffee, breakfast or beer, these secluded spots are a cosy place to use as a base for planning your day ahead in Amsterdam.
13. Visit the Begijnhof secret garden
Hidden behind an enormous door is Begijnhof secret garden. The garden has existed since at least the 14th century, and although the surrounding houses are private properties, the garden itself is free for everyone to enter. There are two entrances to the Begijnhof, one at Het Spui, and another at Begijnensteeg. You can access the Begijnensteeg entrance via Schuttersgalerij, the museum street at the Amsterdam Museum.
14. Watch a horse show
The Hollandsche Manege in Amsterdam is the oldest riding school in the Netherlands. Watch the professionals during a horse show, or take a lesson for yourself. If you’re a group of ladies visiting Amsterdam, we recommend the Dutch High Tea and Ladies Saddle Ride package.
The Hollandsche Manege is open during the week from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM, and on the weekends from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
15. Visit the Zuiderkerk church
A church so beautiful that Monet himself painted it on his visit to Amsterdam in 1874. Step into Monet’s boots and take a picture of the church tower and surrounding canal houses whilst you’re standing on the bridge in Staalstraat. This is the exact view that inspired Monet to paint the church. To visit the inside of the church, take a guided tour which goes every 30 minutes from 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM.
16. Have cocktails at Tales and Spirits
At Tales and Spirits bar, each cocktail tells a story and comes out in unique, vintage glassware. Recently named as the best bar in Europe, the cocktails here are second to none. Even though the venue is big and spreads across multiple floors, the atmosphere is cosy and relaxed.
The Tales & Spirits bar is open from 5:30 PM to 1:00 AM from Tuesday to Thursday and on Sunday, and from 5:30 PM to 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday,
17. Watch a movie or simply visit the Tuschinski
The Tuschinski is a magnificent Art Deco theatre built in 1921. Spend an evening watching a movie here, or simply pass by for the architecture if you haven’t the time for a movie. The lobby itself is a work of art, designed to make theatregoers feel as if they’re stepping into an illusion. Whilst the main auditorium hosts mainly premieres of Dutch films, there are some international screenings too, so make sure to check what’s on when you’re visiting. Audio tours take place every day from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM for €10 (and includes a coffee or tea!)
18. Attend a private party
No, we don’t mean crashing someone else’s house party. Private parties are a very popular thing to do in Amsterdam. They pop up all around the city in garages, barbershops or fast-food restaurants. They’re open to all who can find the password to enter. Do a bit of digging and find out if there’s a private party near you. Some of them will even give you a password hint to help you out on the door.
19. Give in to temptation at a pastry shop
We recommend tasting a delicious Stroopwafel which is the most popular pastry from the Netherlands. Lanskroon is a small unassuming bakery on the Singel canal. They do a proper stroopwafel – one of the few tearooms in the city that still sell them freshly-baked. Choose a honey or caramel filling and wash it down with a hot mug of coffee.
20. Buy an original piece at one of the many vintage shops
The trendy Pijp neighbourhood in Amsterdam is a vintage lovers’ dream. The Penny Lane Vintage boutique is a treasure-trove of hand-picked vintage items. All in great condition and sold by the kilo. The best part of all? You’ll be welcomed by a steaming cup of coffee to sip on while you browse. This little known spot is a must-do in Amsterdam if you love shopping! The Pijp neighbourhood is also the best place to stay if you’re visiting for a weekend. There are plenty of well-priced hotels to choose from, in one of the trendiest areas of Amsterdam.
21. Check out the outskirts of Amsterdam
There’s plenty to see outside of the centre of Amsterdam. Go for a walk around Delft. It’s 50km outside of Amsterdam, easily accessible by train. A pretty village on the river, it’s a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. The houses here date back to the 18th century!
22. Have a beer at the Brouwerij ‘t IJ
The name may seem complicated, but Brouwerij ‘t IJ is in fact a windmill brewery (The IJ Brewery). A beer here will set you back €2 and you’ll be able to take in the old-fashioned surroundings whilst you’re there. Enjoy your beer on the outdoor terrace – open every day from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
23. Buy tulip seeds
Fresh flowers are synonymous with Amsterdam. Sadly, it’s quite hard to take fresh flowers home with you as a souvenir and not have them die on the plane. Seeds, however, are the perfect answer. Take some seeds back with you and plant real Dutch tulips in your garden!
24. And to finish up: go to a coffee shop
It’s not a trip to Amsterdam without a visit to one of its famous coffee shops. This is by far one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam. Whether you choose to immerse yourself fully in the coffeeshop experience, or you wish to visit one just to see, they are well worth a visit thanks to their unique atmosphere!
PS – Check out our Amsterdam Fun Facts video!