Amsterdam may be well known for its coffee shops, red light district and nearby tulip fields, but we wanted to highlight the best things to do, eat and see in Amsterdam city! From canal boat trips, cycling, eating a Dutch stroopwaffel and visiting a local beer museum – there’s much more in Amsterdam than you might think.
Where Is Amsterdam?
If you don’t know already, Amsterdam is situated in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands. Located at the northwestern part of the country, Amsterdam is the largest city of the Netherlands. Of course it is also the capital of the Netherlands, making it also the most touristic.
What Does The Amsterdam Flag Look Like?
As you may already know, Amsterdam is known for the three ‘XXX’ with the flag showing the colours red, black and red. Some think this is ultimately related to the red light district of the city, but it’s actually once for a fisherman called St Andrew. St Andrew was a local fisherman who was unfortunately tortured on a cross in the shape of an X back in the first century. But the actual meaning of why the crosses were used is still unknown.
Facts About Amsterdam
Before visiting Amsterdam, here are some fun facts to know:
- Dutch and International companies have their European headquarters in Amsterdam (such as Booking, Tesla, ING, TomTom and Uber).
- Amsterdam is home to the worlds third’s busiest airport: Schiphol
- The city is referred to the “Venice of the North” due to all the canals
- There are 165 canals in total (more than 100km in length)!
- Around 14 million tourists visit Amsterdam yearly
- The city has a nickname called Mokum, which comes from the Hebrew word of makan – meaning city.
- The Amsterdam language is of course Dutch – but most speak also English pretty well!
For more interesting facts about Amsterdam, check here!
Things to see and do in Amsterdam
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to try one of the most famous (and delicious) Dutch cookies; a stroopwafel.
Stroopwafels are two thin round waffles with a layer of caramel syrup in between. You can buy them in pretty much any supermarket and tourist shop, but the best way to eat stroopwafels is at market stalls when they’re freshly made. The waffles will still be warm from the iron and the caramel syrup will be hot and liquid.
One of the best places to find freshly baked stroopwafels is at the Rudi Original stroopwafel stall at the Albert Cuyp Market. You can find them in front of number 182 at the Albert Cuypstraat from 11:00-17:00 every day of the week except for Sundays.
Written by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts
A star attraction of Amsterdam, Heineken brewery is also one of the most fun places to visit in the Netherlands!
Founded in 1864 the iconic brewery is where the Heineken beer was born. Today, no longer in use for production, it is open for public tours. The 1.5 hours long self-guided tour will take you through numerous interactive exhibits spread over four stories of the building. Some of the interesting ones include old creatives, coasters, and photographs.
Through photographs and audio-visual exhibits learn how a small family brewery grew into an internationally loved brand. As you continue you will get insights into the brewing process – copper vessels, large barrels, and a 4D movie – all put together to create the ‘Heineken experience’.
In the indoor stables, you can see the horse-drawn carriages that were used for the transportation of the barrels. The tour ends at a bar – and with your ticket, you get to taste two glasses of cold beer for free!
Pijp, which is where the museum is located, is central and can easily be reached by public transport – metro (Vijzelgracht station) as well as by boat. You also have the option to get a combined ticket for a canal ride and the Heineken Experience.
Written by Vidyut from Triplyzer.com
Street art has had a significant impact on many different aspects of society. Its unique style and message have resonated with people all over the world, and have led to it becoming one of the most popular forms of art in recent years.
STRAAT (Street in English) is an international initiative dedicated to preserving the history of street art. We want to share the enthusiasm for this revolutionary form of artistic expression with the general public, featuring some of the most well-known and up-and-coming artists from across the world and the museum is one of the best art museums in Amsterdam (and still highly underrated). A committed group of enthusiasts made it possible for us to build STRAAT Museum.
Their team of professionals has a shared passion for contemporary art, especially street art. We all feel that this type of art needs to be preserved and made accessible to as many people as possible.
The STRAAT Museum is the first museum in the world that is completely dedicated to street art. The museum is located in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The museum has a collection of over 150 different artists of street art, making it the largest collection in the world.
The mission of the STRAAT Museum is to preserve the history of street art and to make it accessible to as many people as possible. The museum offers a variety of educational programs, including workshops, lectures, and tours.
Written by Kyle from Viatravelers.com
A Walk Around The Jordaan
Jordaan is a fun, trendy neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Located in central Amsterdam and bordered by some famous canals, the Jordaan feels a world away from busy Dam Square which is only a 10 minute walk away.
There are lots of things to do in the Jordaan including great restaurants and shopping. You can take a food tour of the Jordaan that will show you how eclectic the cuisine in this neighbourhood is. The best apple pie in all of Amsterdam is supposed to be found at Winkel in the Jordaan, as mentioned above. The Jordaan also has some fun quirky museums like the Houseboat Museum, the Tulip Museum and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum.
Written by Shobha from Justgoplacesblog.com
A’dam Toren is one of the coolest spots in Amsterdam for views, food, drinks and fun! Directly across the River IJ from Amsterdam Centraal Station (via a FREE ferry), A’dam Toren was originally built by the Shell Corporation in 1971 and used to be called Shell Tower.
The city of Amsterdam bought the tower from Shell, renovated and reopened it in 2016 as A’dam Toren, which is just a shortened version of Amsterdam Tower. The municipality also added the observation deck on top of the tower, which is now home to the highest swing in Europe, where you can actually swing out over the edge of the tower with the river and city of Amsterdam below your feet!
Along with the observation deck (where you can also enjoy Amsterdam views without having to brave the Over the Edge Swing) there’s a bar and restaurant directly below called Ma’dam, which serves delicious cocktails. A’dam Toren is also home to a fancy revolving restaurant called Moon (underneath Ma’dam) and The Butcher Social Club on the ground floor. The Butcher Social Club is a great spot for a boozy milkshake and burger, plus there are board games, foosball and a ping pong table for guests to enjoy.
As if all that wasn’t enough, there’s even an underground club called Shelter and the hotel Sir Adam housed within A’dam Toren, so visitors will never get bored.
Written by Kristy from Tassie Devil Abroad
Dutch Apple Pie at Winkel 43
One of the foods in Amsterdam that you must try when visiting the city is Dutch apple pie. You can find the delicious treat in several cafés around the city, but Winkel 43 in the Jordaan neighbourhood is the most popular spot.
Dutch apple pie is different from traditional apple pie in that it is topped with a streusel and a crumbly topping rather than a top pie crust. The pie is served warm and is best with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Winkel 43 is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth after a day of exploring Amsterdam. The café also serves lunch and dinner, but there won’t be any judgment if you just stop in for a slice of their famous pie!
Written by Sydney from A World in Reach
Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam is a city of beautiful retro charms with numerous canals, cobblestoned walls, beautiful parks, and museums. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is the most famous in the Netherlands.
The museum symbolises his artistic grandeur, was established in 1973 and had the most extensive Van Gogh paintings collection. These paintings are arranged in chronological order to show the artist’s progress in his work. Vincent Van Gogh is regarded as the most influential European painter of history. The museum also provides information about his life through his works and letters.
There are four floors in the museum. While the ground floor is mainly filled with his self-portraits, the second floor has his letters and personal belongings on display. Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters are some of the well-known works displayed here. A cafeteria and bookshop are also present within the museum premises.
Tourists can buy tickets in advance from the museum website. Early morning is the best time to explore the place.
Written by Ruma from Theholidaystory.com
Herring is something you have to eat while visiting Amsterdam. Raw Herring, to be precise, is one of the absolute must-eats in Amsterdam. Throughout the city, you’ll find food stalls, fishmongers and restaurants serving this Dutch culinary delight. Raw Herring is a street food item and something eaten on the go, as a snack and to enjoy while exploring Amsterdam. One of the best ways to try Herring is on an Amsterdam Food Tour for the insights, history and great tasting!
Herring is a local, cured fish from the North Sea that is served in chunks accompanied by gherkins, raw onions and sometimes mustard. It usually arrives on a white paper plate, with a napkin and a wooden stick with the Dutch flag on top to mix the ingredients in one bite. If you love fish/seafood, you’ll appreciate this fish snack as it’s slightly sweet, slightly salty and definitely has a distinct fishy odour.
Although you are usually served the Herring in small bites, the traditional way it’s eaten all over Holland (West of The Netherlands), is to hold it by its tail and let it slip down your throat.
Written by Shireen from The Happy Days Travels
Among the museums on Museumplein, easily accessed by tram from the centre of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see, especially for art enthusiasts. You get to see some of the most famous paintings of Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer, including the former’s ‘The Night Watch’, which was recently restored in-situ.
There are also collections taken (some might say ‘stolen’) from around the world, including former Dutch colonies like present-day Indonesia, and a few van Gogh works that are not in the nearby eponymous museum. Expect to spend at least a good half-day here exploring the galleries, and more if your children want to join in the games and the workshops.
Adults pay 20 euros to enter while everyone else 18 years of age and below enjoy free admission. Downloading the Rijksmuseum app also provides a handy guide to getting around and access to special multimedia tours.
Written by Nicholas from Rambling Feet
A required stop for a foodie in Amsterdam is Foodhallen in the Oud-West neighbourhood. The food hall is the brainchild of college friends inspired by the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid. They wanted to provide a variety of the best foods in Amsterdam in a setting that promoted gathering and socialising.
The Foodhallen today is the most famous food market in Amsterdam. It hosts 21 stalls of both authentic Dutch fare and foods from around the world. There is a venue by a Michelin star chef, one specialising in fried chicken, a French pastry shop, authentic Italian pizza, and of course Dutch meatballs and Bitterballen. Visit Foodhallen to sample all the best Amsterdam street food in one stop!
Written by Megan from Wandertoes.com
NEMO Science Museum Rooftop
For a free view of Amsterdam from above, head to the NEMO Science Museum, just a 12-minute walk away from the central station. On the top you can find an outdoor terrace and a restaurant, and you can view the city, its canals, and spot the Maritime museum.
The visit to the roof is free, and you do not have to buy tickets to the NEMO Science Museum if you’d like to visit the rooftop. But of course, you can combine your visit to the viewing point with a visit to the museum as well. The roof can be accessed between 10.00 and 17.30.
Written by Rebecca from Becksplore-travel.com
The Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is one of the most visited sites in Amsterdam and well worth a tour. Witnessing the secret hideaway of the Frank family during World War II is both moving and fascinating. A sober reminder of history, the information is provided through an audio tour, videos, and quotes.
It’s interesting to see Anne Frank’s original diary, her room, the bookcase that opened and was the secret entrance to the annex, and even original wall markings drawn by her parents showing the heights of Anne and her sister, Margot. The pictures, artefacts, and location are very well preserved.
The place can get crowded, but is still worth a tour even if you’re only planning a short trip to Amsterdam. Tickets must be purchased in advance through their website.
Written by Deanne from Scenicandsavvy.com
Riding a Bike
One of the best activities to add to your Amsterdam itinerary is riding a bike. There are plenty of rental shops around the city that you can rent a bike from on an hourly or daily basis.
The best advice for cycling in Amsterdam is to stay out of the main city centre until you are used to navigating the busy streets. The challenge comes from adhering to the cycling rules in Amsterdam to keep yourself safe and the locals happy. Make sure you indicate with your arm when you are turning, follow the cyclist traffic lights, and do not block the cycle lanes so people can overtake if needed.
For a scenic bike ride, head to one of the numerous parks in Amsterdam, such as Vondelpark or Westerpark. You can also go to the outskirts of Amsterdam and cycle around the stunning Amsterdamse Bos (forest).
Written by Samantha from Continuousroamer.com
With over 100 kilometres of canals, Amsterdam is a city best seen from the water. Dating back to the 17th century, Amsterdam’s Canal Belt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that contains a plethora of historically and culturally significant places. The complex canal system makes the city one of the most unique urban landscapes in the world.
As the most popular attraction in the city, tourists can choose from a fleet of over 200 unique tour boats to float them down the waterways. There are several different styles of canal cruise to choose from, including hop-on hop-off tours, sunset tours, and booze cruises. Departure points can be found in various different locations all around the city.
Written by Nicole from Niki In New Zealand
Rembrandt House Museum
As of writing, it costs €15 for adults, with children under 18 only €6,00 and children under 6 for free. It’s open daily, except for Mondays, so make sure to make time for the museum on another day of your visit.
Written by Katie from KatieCafTravel.com
Relax In The Vondelpark
Vondelpark is the largest and most famous city park in central Amsterdam. It’s located in the Museum district, southeast of Leidseplein. Originally named Nieuwe Park in 1865, it got today’s name thanks to the Dutch playwright Joost van den Vondel.
The park attracts more than 10 million visitors annually who enjoy its lakes and sunshine. The open theatre hosts free concerts in the summer. A rose garden also offers a delightful atmosphere.
The cozy accommodation takes place in the StayOk hostel and Flying Pig hostel. Houses of Seven Countries is a lovely hotel located on a parallel street. Visitors can enjoy a tranquil meal in the several cafe bars and restaurants.
The popular film institute Eye Vondelpark is nestled right in the park. A former church Orgelpark offers unique concert experiences.
Written by Gabi from Underflowerysky.com
Enjoy Vegan High Tea At Koffie ende Koeck
Location: Haarlemmerweg 175, 1051 LA Amsterdam, Netherlands
This charming café in Westerpark is the perfect place to grab a coffee or light and flaky pastry, but what you really can’t miss is their famous high tea service — it’s 100% vegan! Forget about skipping out on this traditional British experience or only eating the berries; at Koffie ende Koeck, plant-based eaters can dive into everything — scones, savoury treats, mini sandwiches, quiche, and so much more.
You need to pre-book the tea service online, there is a minimum of two people, and the cost is €29,50 per person. This is one of the best places for vegan food in Amsterdam — don’t miss it!
Recommended by Rebecca from Veggies Abroad
Shop At The Pretty Bloemenmarkt
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to visit Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market dating back to 1862. It is located on the Singel canal between the streets of Muntplein and Koningsplein. This unique flower market is open daily from 9am–5:30pm (Sunday hours start at 11am).
Here you can shop for many types of flowers including the famous Dutch tulips, narcissus, and many other varieties of flowers. You can buy the bulbs here to grow your own flowers or if you want fresh flowers there are endless options. Tulip season is from April to May when many tourists flock to the city. You can even visit the many nearby tulip fields during that time.
Written by Jackie from Jou Jou Travels
Enjoy A Michelin Starred Restaurant Spectrum
If you are looking for fabulous tasting menus in Amsterdam look no further than Michelin starred Restaurant Spectrum. Led by Chef Sidney Schutte and restaurant manager, Ralph van Hattem, Spectrum is a fabulous restaurant with a proud Dutch heritage. They offer an amazing menu, incorporating exciting ingredients that you may never have never heard of – Sepia anyone? With such innovative flavours and combinations in each course, the menu flows beautifully and thrills the diner throughout.
Each course is wonderful but Spectrum is also full of surprises. For example an interesting ‘table decoration’. Pale and fluffy, very sponge like in appearance; sits there unassumingly, unusual but unusually beautiful. Add a tarragon oil and the decoration turns its pale tone to a vibrant green as you move through courses.
Arrive at the dessert course and the mystery is revealed. This is tremella, a Chinese fungus. A section of tremella is sliced and placed on plates to complete a fabulous dessert- tremella, tarragon, peppercorns and BBQ white chocolate. An example of Spectrum’s brilliant theatre and taste. A dish to be talked about for a long time after.
Another example of the creativity here can be found in their chocolates. Designed to repeat the flavours of the whole tasting experience, you are taken back through the menu with each one. Some unusual but delicious flavour combinations and all incredibly beautiful. A restaurant not to be missed.
Written by Melanie Varey from Thebestthingstodoincambridge.co.uk
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