The Best Things To Do In Amsterdam
Between the gorgeous canals that meander through the city to the mass number of museums, shops and points of interest at every turn, Amsterdam is a world-renowned destination that keeps people coming back time and time again. From the beautiful architecture to the progressive lifestyles of the locals, Amsterdam – and the Netherlands in particular – offer so much in terms of travel and experiences.
One of the iconic features of Amsterdam – aside from its reputation around the world – is the beautiful canals that take you through nearly every aspect of the city. When exploring Amsterdam, there’s no telling what you might find at any turn – whether you come across a quaint little garden, a vintage boutique with some of the rarest finds or even a sweet café with the best coffee you’ve ever tasted – Amsterdam is the place to explore without an itinerary because there’s just no way you can plan for some of the adventures that will come your way. While it’s always recommended to arrive in Amsterdam and explore your way through the city on foot or bike, there are some things you will definitely want to make time to see – the tulips for one thing. A rainbow of colors is featured in many public spaces that create the essence of a landscape painting – something you will truly have to see in order to understand just how gorgeous the vibrant colors look against the backdrop and architecture of the city.
Plenty of Dutch influence is also seen throughout Amsterdam, from the buildings dating back hundreds of years to the ultra-modern homes that are cropping up throughout the city – this major destination in the Netherlands is quite a visual experience. As you walk around, you’ll also find some of the newest breweries serving up the finest concoctions in Europe, as well as high-energy nightclubs, tech hubs and so much more. Whether you want to see the old-world Amsterdam or want to experience all the newness that the Netherlands has to offer, you’ll find it walking or cruising throughout much of the city!
HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN AMSTERDAM…
Anne Frank House (Anne Frank Huis)
The dairies of Anne Frank come to life at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Feel the courage mixed with constant trepidation; absorb the in-depth information on the life of this remarkable girl and see the secret annex where the family stayed in silent hiding for over two years during WW2! Just remember to purchase tickets online in advance!
The Museum of the Netherlands (Rijksmuseum)
A trip to Amsterdam must include a visit to the Rijksmuseum – the National Museum located at the Museum Square in the borough of Amsterdam South. Wander at your leisure and absorb the beauty and history of the 8000 objects of art and history on display, selected from over 1 million objects held by the museum. While the focus is on the art of this country, there is also a small exhibition of Asian art on display!
Canals of Amsterdam
The Amsterdam Canal Ring has been a living part of the city since it was first constructed back in the 1700’s. Wander along the canals and absorb the magnificent history as you try to imagine life back in the Dutch Golden Age. Admire the residences that line waterways and picture this amazing feat of engineering – achieved so many years ago – as you cross some of the hundreds of bridges that link the canals with the city.
Visit the Keukenhof Gardens this spring, and float through the beauty and colour of seven million blooming tulips – there are 800 varieties on display! As you slowly stroll around the 32 hectares of magnificent gardens, you will see flower shows, unique art, and special events. Children will also enjoy these gardens, with a maze to explore and animals to pet – it’s a fun and spectacular day out!
If having a beer is enjoyable to you, then the Heineken Experience is a joy to behold! Visit the old brewery and see the brewing process in action, as you follow it right through to bottling and learn how this magnificent technique has evolved over the years! Become a marketing guru – watch the old commercials and see how the logo was developed, and then go back in time and drive a virtual dray-horse. This is great way to learn about this world-famous beer, and get bragging rights with your friends at the same time!
Red Light District
The Amsterdam Red Light District is a fascinating place, but probably don’t take your maiden aunt – after all, it has been infamous for promiscuity since the fourteenth century! With that said, there is so much more to see and do than its reputation suggests – for example, you can take in the bars and restaurants and admire the canals that the city is famous for! Of course, it’s also a great place to just sit and people-watch as you enjoy a few drinks or a meal!
Van Gogh Museum
An absolute must-see in Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum. When you visit, you will get to admire the world’s largest collection of artworks by Vincent Van Gogh. Examples of the featured works will be “Sunflowers,” and “The Potato Eaters,” and as you stroll through the hallways, take time to look at the personal effects also on display and maybe pick up a memento at the museum gift shop! The museum often has special exhibitions so check the website for current displays.
Just 15 kilometres north of Amsterdam, step back in time to seventeenth century life at the open-air museum, Zaanse Schans. During your visit you won’t just see the history, you experience it, by wandering around the village and seeing craftsmen at work, as well as re-created homes, an historic shipyard and a traditional grocery store. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the windmill was the primary source of power, and over 600 stood tall, make sure you explore the few that remain!
The oldest flea market in Amsterdam – the Waterlooplein Market – is also one the trendiest markets in town. Any day but Sunday, head towards the area between the Leprozengracht and Houtgracht canals and browse through the 300 stalls that sell anything from antiques, quirky and quaint second-hand goods, to cheap souvenirs. This eclectic mix of stalls is heaps of fun, and a just a little bohemian!
When you visit Amsterdam, you will no doubt pass through Dam Square – the hub of the city, located in the historical centre. Take some time to examine the National Monument that remembers the Dutch victims of WW2, then rest for a while and people-watch while you decide where to head next. Dam Square is so close to many of the old and new attractions – like the Royal Palace and Madame Tussaud’s – that it is the perfect place to start the days’ sightseeing!
Just 45 minutes from Amsterdam is the mini city of Madurodam – extremely popular, very quirky and beautifully quaint! This mini city has been built on a scale of 1:25, with the beautiful miniatures displaying Dutch history and culture through realistic buildings, ornate bridges, winding canals, and or course, windmills. But this extraordinary accomplishment is not just to be admired, there are also many activities to participate in too, like creating a miniature 3D scanned model of yourself – what a terrific memento!
Looking for something totally different? The Xtracold Icebar beckons! After being taken on a virtual trip to the North Pole with fifteenth century explorers, experience what it’s like to party with them too! Don a thermal poncho and mittens, and enter the Icebar where everything – even the chairs – have been crafted from 60 tonnes of ice. Quirky, different and a whole lot of fun, it’s time to stay warm with a drink!
The city of Amsterdam owes its economic strength to the Amstel River; it was after all the foundation around which the city grew up! Times change, and today as you meander along its shores you will see colourful houseboats gliding along the waters past the historical mansions, which are beautiful reminders of the past. You will come across many landmarks and attractions as you follow its path, so this walk is a perfect way to explore the city.
The Hague is one of the largest cities in the Netherlands and is home to many of the countries government buildings; but government doesn’t always mean boring! You will find some of the most fascinating architecture in Europe, as well as beautiful parklands and a rich history!
Just a short one-hour drive from Amsterdam is Delft, a picturesque university town that offers a smorgasbord of things to see and enjoy. Ringed by canals, and famous for its pottery, explore the historic landmarks and meander through the markets and boutique shops.
Enjoy a trip back in time to “Old Holland” with a visit to Volendam, a short 20 kilometres drive from Amsterdam. Volendam is a picture of tradition; an old fishing village with colourful houses lining the streets. Enjoy the magnificent seafood on offer and admire the traditional dress worn by the locals!
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