Taking a trip over to the Netherlands? Looking for things to do in Amsterdam? You won’t be short of things to choose from. Known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, just getting out and about you’ll get a great feel for the city. Looking for that little bit extra? Here’s some of the best things I recommend doing, to really complete your visit.
So what better way to kick off your trip, than with a Hop On Hop Of Bus Tour? This one goes one step further as not only do you get the bus, but also a boat ride for the full package! (It also has the best reviews of them all so is certainly a great option!) Discover the best of Amsterdam and visit all the top sights. Marvel at Van Gogh’s famed paintings, contemplate the heart-rending history of the Jewish community at the Anne Frank House, walk the famous alleys of the Red Light District, and discover the multicultural spirit of Amsterdam’s Flower Market. I recommend doing this on your first day for the perfect way to settle in and see what’s around you.
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam has GOT to be a scenic cruise along the canal waterways at night. Already done a cruise in the day? Don’t worry, it’s a completely different experience when it comes to the night! See the picturesque bridges and merchant houses, all magically illuminated. A great Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise is this one. Best reviews and best price all round. A special memory you’ll certainly take back home with you. Couldn’t recommend more!
3. Go Museum Hopping
There are SEVENTY FIVE museums in Amsterdam, so I guess it would kind of be rude not to go to at least one whilst visiting! Based on TripAdvisor Reviews, the top three are: Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House (more on that shortly!) and Van Gogh Museum. If you’re looking for something different, you might also want to check out Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. These are dotted all over the world, but from my last visit to one in London, I can certainly recommend them! If you’re feeling even more daring, how about the famous Amsterdam Sex Museum? We visited here and in all honesty, it was not for me! But, it can prove pretty popular… particularly amongst big groups, as you could imagine. (The giant penis’s go down a treat!) It’s only 5 euros for entrance so may be worth popping in if you’re passing!
Branching off from the museum theme, how about a museum all about BEER!? If you love beer, this one’s not even up for discussion. Go and discover what lies behind the doors of the former Heineken brewery in Amsterdam, and learn everything there is to know about the world’s favourite beer. You can get tickets for the Heineken Experience here, which includes the tour, a tasting, plus two beers. Perfect!
If beer’s not your thing -which I must admit, it’s wasn’t for us- then another great alternative is to go to Amsterdam’s Ice Bar. This was the first ice bar Becky and I had actually ever been to, which made the experience all the better for us.
You start in a general themed bar on arrival, where you get a free cocktail before getting all wrapped up and guided through to the main ice bar. It’s full of ice sculptures, has such a great atmosphere in there and the best part is- you get these cool shots to drink from frozen ice glasses! (I’m not a big shot drinker… in fact, I don’t even down them, I have to sip them! But the shots here were really nice. Flavoured vodka or non-alcoholic versions available for those who are not big drinkers.)
The place has 35 tons of natural ice and is kept at -10 degrees Celsius, so it’s certainly a bar you won’t forget in a while! Click here for more info.
Follow in the footsteps of kings and queens and explore the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. This stunning 17th-century monument is still used for state visits, award ceremonies and other royal receptions to this day. Not only is it impressive from the outside, but all the more mesmerising once you step inside. When you pre-buy your ticket not only do you get a great price on your ticket (inc. audioguide) but you also get to skip-the-line for no queues. The Royal Palace really shows a whole different angle of Amsterdam, so it’s a great thing to experience.
Whilst in Amsterdam you HAVE to take a bike tour. It is THE way to get around, and so much fun! When it comes to different companies, you’ll be swamped with a lot of choice. But if you’d like to narrow it down, I recommend this tour. It’s two hours long, takes you through Rijksmuseum, the Red Light District, the charming Jordaan Quarter and finishes off in the beautiful Vondelpark. This was my favourite place in the tour: away from the bustling city and out amongst nature! Vondelpark is a must-visit in itself so this combines two great things into one! You also have your own guide and small groups on this tour, so you get to hear all about the history as you go along. Click here for more info.
Head up to one of Amsterdam’s newest attractions, the A’DAM Observation Deck. Here, you will get a bird’s eye panoramic view of the canal belt & port, whilst relaxing in their sky bar. We got their Premium Ticket’s as they were far better value, giving us two free drinks up at the top, plus a digital photo. It was a great experience and one I would certainly recommend. They also have interactive exhibitions, giving you an insight into the history of Amsterdam, plus a mini glass floor-way so you can literally stand with the huge drop below your feet (don’t worry, if you’re scared of heights, you don’t have to stand on this!) It’s the perfect afternoon / early evening activity and if you’re lucky- you could even catch the sunset up there! Click here for more info.
9. Experience the Nightlife
So we talked about the Beer Museum, mentioned the Ice Bar, but it’s also worth visiting here just for a good night out! Amsterdam’s nightlife is really thriving with venues, dance festivals and club nights to suit every taste! If you’re traveling alone or even just looking to meet new people, you might want to have a look at the Red Light District Pub Crawl or the Ultimate Leidseplein Party Pub Crawl. They take you around the best bars and clubs for a night to really remember (or I guess not… depending on how much you drink!)
10. Anne Frank House Museum
Saving the best until last, I can honestly say if there’s one thing you do in Amsterdam, let it be a visit to the Anne Frank House Museum. It has got to be the biggest highlight of the whole trip for me, that still stays in my mind to this day. Hidden amongst houses, you’ll find the very house that Anne Frank stayed in when hiding. I’d never read her book before, but as you walk around with your audio guide and really hear the full story, you’re instantly connected to the little girl that touched so many hearts with her beautiful words.
“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains…” – Anne Frank
The Anne Frank House is an independent non-profit organisation to increase awareness of Anne’s life story all over the world. If you enjoyed your visit here, I also recommend the Anne Frank Walking Tour. This takes you around the city, sharing stories of WW1 through the eyes of Anne Frank. It’s available in different languages and honestly gives so much more depth, that will stay with you even after you’ve left.
Where To Stay In Amsterdam:
When searching for properties and the best areas to stay in Amsterdam, what you’re simply looking for is a city-centre location. Amsterdam is actually relatively small with only 850,000 inhabitants sharing 219.3 square kilometers / 84 square miles. To put it into perspective, it takes a thirty minute walk or ten minute tram ride to get from one end of the city centre to the other! This makes most places in the city centre walkable, so anywhere within the centre is ideal.
How To Get Around Amsterdam:
Amsterdam boasts an impressive public transport network including metros, buses, trams, ferries and trains to help you get around the capital. If you’re using public transport in Amsterdam and beyond, the public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart) is used for travel on trams, buses and metros. The most convenient option for visitors is a disposable one-hour card or day card (valid for one to seven days). One-hour tickets can be bought from the conductor or driver on the tram or bus. Day tickets can be bought on the tram or purchased in advance. Day cards can not be bought from the driver on the bus. Tickets are valid across the whole network from the first use, allowing you to take as many journeys as you choose within your chosen time-frame. Save money on travel with the IAmsterdam City Card, which offers unlimited use of the GVB public transport system for 24, 48 or 72 hours
The Amsterdam City Card:
To make your visit to Amsterdam easy and affordable, you may like to look at the I amsterdam City Card. This gives you gives you unlimited access to Amsterdam’s public transport system, entrance to the best museums and attractions (more than 60 to choose from!), plus exclusive discounts to use during your time in Amsterdam. For more information, click here.
Wishing you all a wonderful trip. Any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments box below. Happy traveling!