Amsterdam is a city unlike any other. Skinny canal houses line shimmering waterways and eager bikers navigate the cobblestone streets. There are many spots that are must-see in Amsterdam, like Dam Square, the Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum, but there are even more delightful experiences that might surprise you! Whether you wish to visit a sporting arena, make a traditional craft, or watch an erotic performance, here are 10 of the best non-touristy options in Amsterdam.
There’s something fun about doing an activity you’ve done at home in a new city or country. And there’s something even more fun about doing an activity you’ve played outside in the dark! Playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf at Powerzone in Amsterdam is a unique way to have a fun, family-friendly evening out on your trip. The game is reasonably priced and can easily be booked online ahead of time. Players get 45 minutes on the course, which is pirate themed and shaped like the hull of a ship. You’ll also encounter glowing sculptures of cannons, pirates, and even sea monsters as you put around!
Amsterdam: Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf at Powerzone
Duration: 45 minute
The Portuguese Synagogue is one of the most important landmarks of Jewish heritage in Amsterdam. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dutch Republic was known for its religious tolerance and Jews fled to there from persecution in Portugal and Spain. The Portuguese Synagogue was completed in 1675 and was one of the largest buildings in Amsterdam at the time. A unique way to experience this beautiful spot is by attending a candlelit concert in the synagogue. Held in the evenings, these classical concerts last about an hour and are all the more stunning because of the synagogue’s excellent acoustics and the hundreds of candles that create a peaceful ambiance.
Amsterdam: Candlelight Concert at Portuguese Synagogue
Duration: 1 hour
Football, or soccer as it is known in the US, is a beloved sport in Amsterdam! While attending a game is thrilling, it can be even more exciting to take a behind the scenes tour of a football stadium and see spaces that are not shown on TV. Amsterdam is home to one of the most successful professional football clubs in the world, the AFC Ajax, and visitors can tour the Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium and see spots where usually only players are allowed. The 75-minute tours are led in English and Dutch and take guests into the dressing room, dugout, and holy pitch!
Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium 75-Minute Tour
When it comes to memorable souvenirs, often travelers will purchase a locally made item to bring home. However, an even better way to remember the trip would be to make something yourself! This workshop in traditional Staphorst paint stamping is the perfect way to make a unique souvenir. Staphorst paint stamping is a traditional method of decorating fabrics by stamping dots of paint in different colors onto a surface. As shapes and colors are created, a unique pattern is developed. This workshop is 1.5 hours long and at the end, you’ll have learned the history of Staphorst and created your own cotton bag!
Staphorst Paint Stamping Workshop
Duration: 1.5 hour
The Amsterdam Pipe Museum offers two unique experiences in one: the opportunity to see one of the largest collections of smoking and tobacco pipes, and a chance to tour an authentic 17th-century canal house! The Pipe Museum contains over 25,000 artifacts and displays over 2,000 items from around the world dating from the year 500 BC to the present day. Tours by expert guides give visitors an informative and fascinating look at the collection. The setting for this interesting museum is a 350-year-old canal house with many of its original elements intact. The museum shop is the perfect place to get a gift for smoking pipe enthusiast or to purchase a one-of-a-kind souvenir to bring home!
Guided Tour in the Amsterdam Pipe Museum
Duration: 1 day
Water shapes everything in the Netherlands: the canals of Amsterdam and the windmills dotting the countryside exist because of Holland’s low land surface close to sea level. One of the most interesting ways to experience the Netherlands’ many waterways is by boat, like on this guided canoe trip right outside of Amsterdam! Accessible by public transportation from the city center, this trip lasts about five hours. Two to three people per boat will paddle through the wetlands and get a unique vantage point of the Dutch countryside. There will be a picnic stop and even the opportunity to swim if it’s warm enough!
Amsterdam 5-Hour Guided Canoe Trip in the Wetlands
Duration: 5 hour
Though it looks like a typical 17th-century canal home from the outside, the Museum of Our Lord in the Attic is a unique place to learn about Amsterdam’s cultural and religious history. Originally it was built in 1663 during the Reformation when it was forbidden to celebrate Catholic Mass in public. The church is built over three floors of the canal house and must be reached by winding through corridors and a narrow staircase. This is also one of the oldest museums in Amsterdam, dating back to 1888 when a group of private collectors bought the building to preserve the secret church inside.
Amsterdam: Our Lord in the Attic Audio Guide Tour
Duration: 1 day
The Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra is world renowned for its talented musicians and beautiful performances. It was formed in 1985 after the merger of several existing ensembles, and is known for bringing classical music to a larger audience and for being ‘the orchestra for everyone’. The group performs in the Royal Concertgebouw, a 19th-century theater with acoustics that further enhances their wonderful sound. This opportunity to see them live in concert includes a ticket as well as two drink vouchers to add to the luxurious experience.
Amsterdam: Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Concert
Duration: 140 minute
Although Amsterdam may not strike you as one of the world’s fashion capitals like Paris or Milan, it is home to the world’s largest collection of handbags at the Museum of Bags and Purses. This museum is considered one of the world’s top fashion museums and contains over 5,000 bags. The bags range from the 15th century to contemporary designs and the collection contains bags owned by Margaret Thatcher, Madonna, and others. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to visit while one of the museum’s interesting exhibits is still open, like It’s a Man’s World, which brings together a collection of men’s bags, and Cut! Bags in Movies, which has bags that have appeared in features like The Darjeeling Limited and Sex and the City.
Amsterdam: Museum of Bags and Purses Admission Ticket
Duration: 1 day
One of the things Amsterdam is most famous for is its large Red Light District. In addition to the hundreds of sex shops and legal sex workers, the area is known for its erotic entertainment options. One of the best erotic live shows can be seen at the Casa Rosso Red Light Theater. The programs include stripteases, a soft S&M show, and the banana show. At a show like this in one of the most sex-positive cities in the world, going to a show will make for a truly unforgettable night!
Amsterdam: Casa Rosso Erotic Theater Entry Ticket
Duration: 2 hours
A city full of surprises
Amsterdam is full of windy streets and alleyways that can lead you to unexpected places. The same is true of the city’s attractions, which range from the famous and well known to the unconventional and surprising! Whether it is your first time in Amsterdam, and you want an experience unlike anyone else’s, or your umpteenth time visiting and you just want to try something new, there is an experience just waiting off the beaten path for you to stumble upon!
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