Amsterdam is known for being one of the Netherlands’ most historical places and, at the same time, it is able to exude modern vibes. It’s no wonder this lovely city has welcomed over 7 million travellers annually. Amsterdam is also known for its galleries, bars, and amazing architecture, and it is a city that attracts different kinds of travellers, including young and old, laid-back and adventurous. Clueless on what this city has to offer? Convinced that the city only offers prostitution, drugs and general debauchery? You’ll probably be surprised at the great diversity that Amsterdam offers for all.
Here are 25 reasons why you should visit Amsterdam:
1. Visit De Pijp
One of Amsterdam’s most famous neighbourhoods, De Pijp, which translates to “The Pipe”, was formerly a working class quarter built to ease the overpopulated Jordaan in the 19th century as well as to house labourers. Currently, it’s populated by mostly the young hipster crowd, drawn especially to its abundance of cafés and underground bars. When you’re there, don’t miss out on the Albert Cuypmarkt, which is a daily food market that sells really great street food and fresh fruits and veggies. It is open every day from 9 am - 6 pm and is closed on Sundays.
2. Overdose on Amsterdam’s Street Food
Okay so travelling is to explore, and to explore you HAVE to eat, right? Life is too short to worry about calorie intake when on your adventures! Make sure that you try a selection of Amsterdam’s tasty street food. The previously-mentioned Albert Cuypmarkt (Albert Cuyp Market) has many Dutch specialities, such as bitterballen (fried meatballs of ghoulash), poffertjes (small pancakes served with powdered sugar), and the very famous stroopwafe (two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup). Tempting snacks are available all day long, perfect for any hungry stomach.
Address: Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: 9 am - 5 pm.
Not convinced yet? This video must just do the trick:
9. Visit the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s biggest museum
Amsterdam’s biggest museum, the Rijksmuseum, is a must-see when you visit the city. It features the art and history of Holland from the Middle Ages to the present, including world-famous highlights from the Dutch Golden Age including Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid. There are up to 80 rooms featuring more than 8,000 objects that tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history. Look forward to works such as the Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn, which is the museum’s most well-known painting in the Netherlands and also throughout the world, and the collection of Delft Blue pottery that ranges from tea sets to vases. It is recommended to purchase your tickets to the museum online so you won’t have to deal with waiting in line at the counter.
Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071XX Amsterdam
Price: from 19.2o USD upwards
Opening Hours: 9 am - 5 pm.
Access: Bus 170, 172, 197 stop: Rijksmuseum
3. Visit some mores museums - Van Gogh & Anne Frank
Amsterdam has more than 50 museums in the city. Yes, 50! Amsterdam has museums that cater to every lover of … anything! From photography, war, history, and art, there’s something for everyone. There’s even a museum dedicated to erotica! Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is popular, and it is a great place to take the kids.
One of the city’s must-visit museums is Anne Frank House. This museum houses diary excerpts and photos of Anne Frank, one of the most recognisable figures of the Holocaust. It is where the famous diarist hid during WWII, and is sure to trigger a host of emotions.
Anne Frank House
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: 9am - 10pm.
Website: Anne Frank Museum
4. Relax over a cup of coffee at Vondelpark
Maybe you’re just looking for a good chill out day after a late night. Visit the beautiful Vondelpark, then! The largest park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark welcomes about 10 million visitors annually. In the summertime, it hosts concerts for free at its open-air theatre located at the park’s bandstand. Fun fact: since 2008, it is officially legal to have sex in the park! Well, that is as long as it’s carried out during the night and no condoms are left behind!
5. Get lost in time in Jordaan
Jordaan is home to narrow streets and quaint buildings that date all the way back to when Jordaan was still a working class area. Today, Jordaan is known as one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, complete with art galleries, antique shops, courtyard gardens, and atmospheric bars and restaurants. To complement your journey, we recommend renting a bike, especially with the very helpful cycling routes and flat landscape that Amsterdam offers. Also, Amsterdam is known as one of the world’s most cycle-friendly cities!
6. Go on a hop-on hop-off bus tour
Fancy a sightseeing tour that allows you to discover the top places at your own pace? CitySightseeing Amsterdam offers you the perfect sightseeing opportunity without having to deal with time-crunched itineraries. Their routes are carefully designed to enable you to enjoy panoramic views of the amazing landmarks that Amsterdam has to offer. Be prepared to marvel at interesting sights such as the Royal Palace, the Western Church, the Skinny Bridge, Amsterdam’s tallest windmill, and more. The hop-on hop-off bus and boat tour packages are available for 24 hours and 48 hours; just show your ticket during its validity and have fun exploring the city.
Price: from 31.90 USD onwards
Duration: 24 or 48 hours ticket validity
Access: The tour has different stops at which passengers can start the tour
Website: Hop On Hop Off
Contact: +31-20-420 4000
7. Go cheese tasting
The Netherlands is well-known for producing a variety of tasty cheese. There are multiple cheese shops in Amsterdam that offer cheese-tasting opportunities, such as the Old Amsterdam Cheese Store. For just a 1-hour tasting experience, you’ll find out how cheese is made and be able to tell the difference between various kinds of cheese and, of course, sample the cheese. There will also be wine provided to complement the 5 different type of cheese you’ll be sampling. Additionally, to cleanse your palette between tasting one cheese and the next, you’ll be served fig bread and water.
Old Amsterdam Cheese Store
Address: Damrak 62, 1012 JS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Opening Hours: 9 am - 10 pm.
Website: Amsterdam Cheese Store
8. Visit Amsterdam’s Royal Palace
Amsterdam is home to many beautiful and historical landmarks that are guaranteed to give you the picture-perfect shot. A very famous and well-liked landmark is the Royal Palace. It is situated in Dam Square and located at the heart of Amsterdam. It is one of the three palaces in the state.The Royal Palace has hosted royal events such as the reception of the foreign heads of state during their visits to the Netherlands, and the King’s New Year reception. The palace is open to the public for most of the year except on Mondays and on days of royal events. It is advisable to visit their website to check the days when the palace is open, as well as finding out dates for upcoming royal events.
Amsterdam Royal Palace
Address: P.O. Box 3708, 1001 AM Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Price: from 10 USD upwards
Opening Hours: 10 am to 5 pm.
Website: Royal Palace
Contact: +31 20 6204060
10. Take a countryside tour
To catch a glimpse of historic windmills, charming fishing villages, and picturesque canals, take a trip into Amsterdam’s countryside! Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam and visit Volendam, Marken, Edam, and Zaanse Schans to experience traditional Dutch culture and scenery. There are guided tours where you can take a boat trip to Volendam for a typical Dutch lunch, witness the art of wooden shoe-making in Marken, enjoy cheese-tasting in Edam, and admire the famous windmills of Zaanse Schans.
Dutch Windmills and Countryside Day Trip
Price: from 115 USD upwards
Duration: around 8 hours required.
11. Go on an evening canal cruise tour
For the romantics, an evening canal cruise tour would be perfect. One operator is BlueBoat Evening Cruise.
Amsterdam turns into a romantic city in the evening where the buildings, bridges, and boats become illuminated and almost exude a fairytale-like appearance. Enjoy the views and drinks while listening to the audio story in one of the 17 available languages through their Personal Audio System. This 90-minute evening cruise will also sail through part of the famous red-light district, providing an all-round Amsterdam experience.
BlueBoat Evening Cruise
Website: Blue Boat
12. Visit Efteling, a cool theme park
Efteling theme park offers life-size fairytale dioramas, vintage carousels, and affordable treats, a pleasing alternative to the Disneylands and Universal Studios around the world. This historic 160-acre (64.7-hectare) fun park is located about an hour south of Amsterdam and started operations all the way back in 1952! This theme park is the biggest in Amsterdam, and offers a unique concept with its surrounding greenery and a variety of rides that are suitable for the young and old, for large groups or solo adventurers, and for daredevils or those looking for some tamer fun. Efteling also has park shows, mascots, and affordable treats, so mummies won’t have to deal with endless negotiation with the little ones!
Efteling Theme Park
Address: Europalaan 1, Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands
Price: from 38.80 USD onwards
Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm
Contact: +31 (0)416 537 777
13. Visit Amsterdam's zoo
Visit Artis Royal Zoo, which is home to 750 species of animals including zebras, giraffes, elephants, and chimpanzees. It is also the oldest zoo in Amsterdam where 300 species of trees and many gardens blossom every spring as well. Artis also offers well-preserved 19th-century architecture and is known as the biggest Planetarium of Holland. From aquariums, planetariums, and more, Artis Royal Zoo aims to provide visitors with an all-round zoological experience.
Artis Royal Zoo Amsterdam
Address: Plantage Kerklaan 38 40, 1018CZ Amsterdam
Price: from 20 USD upwards
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm.
Website: Zoo info
Contact: +31 20 52 33 694
14. Go pub / bar hopping
Okay, we already know that Amsterdam is known for its nightlife so why not experience it first hand? Amsterdam’s bars and pubs come in all shapes and sizes, from the humble hole-in-the-wall ones to the grand cafés. You’re sure to find one of your choice. A good place to start your bar discovery journey is Bloemers, which is a popular neighbourhood bar on the eastern fringes of De Pijp. Its dark wood interior is enlivened with old posters and chandeliers and it serves affordable brews as well!
Address: Hemonystraat 70 Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10 am - 3 am.
15. Visit the red light district
From brothels and museums to sex shops, Amsterdam’s red light district has so much to offer for people who are looking to experience a different kind of travelling experience. The Red Light District in Amsterdam is known for its women that come from a variety of nations, parading their wares in red-fringed parlour windows, many ready to offer more than a school boy peep-show in a private cabin. It is important to note that photography and filming of the women is strictly banned!
Amsterdam Red Light District
Address: De Wallen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
16. Visit the Museum of Prostitution
Probably one of the most must-see attractions of Amsterdam, Red Light Secrets, or the Museum of Prostitution, is the world’s only prostitution museum that offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about an intriguing topic and also discover the secrets of Amsterdam’s red light district. The museum is located in the centre of the red light district and there will be ladies inside that’ll share their experience and secrets of their prostitution life. Visitors can also experience how it feels to sit ‘in the window’ as well!
Red Light Secrets
Address: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60H, 1012 DS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Price: from 9 USD upwards
Opening Hours: 11 am - 12 midnight.
Website: Red Light Secrets
Contact: +31 20 846 70 20
17. Visit an ice bar
Think you’re strong enough to survive the cold in a bar that is fully designed with just … ice? If yes, then head on down to Xtracold Icebar, the coldest bar in Amsterdam! It is made from 60 tons (54.4 tonnes) of natural ice, which is shaped into the coastline of the country. Upon entering the ice bar, you will be given a thermal coat and gloves to keep you warm at in the cold temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). The furniture, the walls, and the art are completely made of ice. Even the glasses used to serve the drinks are made of ice too! For those that are not fans of the cold, there is the lounge available where you can sit down, relax, and drink your free welcome cocktail or large Heineken while enjoying good music in a warmer environment.
Address: 1017 AG Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 12:30 pm - 1 am.
18. Go on a Pizza Cruise
Pizzas, on a cruise? Count me in! On a canal cruise, your favourite pizza gets delivered to you while you enjoy a cruise through the canals of Amsterdam. This dinner cruise will start with a light snack and a drink and soon moves on to your pizza. Enjoy the enchanting surroundings too. During this 1.5-hour-long journey you’ll be passing through many beautiful places. Additionally, as the cherry-on-top, the pizza feast and the canal cruise will be concluded with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. There will be complimentary drinks and free Wi-Fi on board as well!
Canal Company - EcoTours
Address: Damrak pier 6, 1012 LG Amsterdam
Price: from 43.90 USD upwards
Opening Hours: Departs daily at 6 pm and 8 pm.
Duration: around 1.5 hours required.
Website: Pizza Cruise
Contact: +31 20 217 0500
19. Visit Amsterdam's coffee shops
Amsterdam’s coffee shops have been part of the city since the 1970s and have always existed in a legal grey area. Today, Amsterdam’s City Council, through agreement with the coffee shop union Bond van Cannabis Detaillisten (BCD), allows coffee shops to operate with the provision of set, non-transferable licences which are displayed by an official, green and white sticker in the window. Most of these coffee shops offer a chilled atmosphere with colourful and cosy interiors. An example would be The Rookies, which is famous amongst expats, tourists, and locals.
Address: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 145 - 147, 1017 PZ Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 10 am to 1 am
Contact: +31 20 6390978
20. Visit the herring carts
Herring is actually a Dutch healthy snack that is frowned upon by tourists, expats, and immigrants. Herring is eaten by grabbing it by the tail, throwing one’s head back, and, while gently lowering the fish, biting off tasty morsels. It is known for lowering cholesterol levels. However, contrary to popular belief, the herring is NOT eaten raw; it is partially gutted on board of the fishing vessel (or sometimes upon arrival at the port), it is then salted and frozen for a minimum of two days, resulting in the fish’s taste and tenderness. The fish is further cleaned and prepared at stalls, such as the herring carts. Herring carts are available all around Amsterdam and sell herring delicacies that are mostly priced between 2.80 USD to 3.90 USD.
21. Go shopping around The Nine Streets
For shopaholics, De Negen Straatjes, or ‘The Nine Streets’, is perfect. This neighbourhood is bursting with vintage and designer shopping, speciality stores, and cosy cafés. Known to locals as the the city’s most photogenic micro-neighbourhood, De Negen Straatjes contains quaint and quirky streets that straddle Amsterdam’s grandest canals. De Negen Straatjes is located just a stone’s throw away from Dam Square and is a one-stop place for your fashion needs. The shops are mostly packed with basic second-hand goods and vintage designer labels. So from upscale vintage accessories through to retro furniture and other assorted goods, you’ll find everything that you are looking for here.
De Negen Straatjes
Address: Keizersgracht 217G, 1016 DT Amsterdam, Netherlands
22. Go beer tasting
Amsterdam is known for its finely-crafted local beers. From rich tripels (strong ales) and fruity white beers to dark brown bocks and thirst-quenching pilsners, you’ll find plenty of tasty brews to sample in Amsterdam. There are multiple breweries located around Amsterdam and there are tours conducted as well. An example would be the Bierfabriek, which is the latest addition to Amsterdam’s brew pub scene. It offers two beers brewed on location and special tables for groups with built-in taps as well!
Address: Rokin 75 1012KL Amsterdam
Opening Hours: 3 pm - 1 am.
23. Visit Amsterdam's courtyards
For a more relaxed day activity, take a trip to one of Amsterdam’s many courtyards. Amsterdam’s courtyards have been around from as early as the 14th century and currently feature beautiful historical architecture and surroundings. For example, Begijnhof, which was originally built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns, has beautiful houses, including Amsterdam’s oldest of Het Houten Huis, which has been around since the 1420s. These houses overlook Begijnhof’s well-kept green garden and also have a fascinating collection of wall plaques with biblical themes on their adjoining walls. You should respect the privacy of the occupants in Begijnhof, who are mostly single women.
24. Discover your love for tulips
Tulips are an integral part of Amsterdam’s life and culture so much so that it’s almost impossible to picture Amsterdam without including tulips. Fun fact: in the 17th century, people even remortgaged their houses just to get hold of some tulips! Dutch tulip growers still dominate the world tulip bulb industry, producing close to 4.32 billion tulip bulbs each year. Looking to have a taste of what the whole tulip craze is all about? Take a trip down to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum that is located in Jordaan. Additionally, traditional National Tulip Day is held at Amsterdam’s Dam Square every January where tulip-lovers can pick their own blooms for free from a specially-constructed ‘picking garden’. Tulip Festival is held all throughout April where visitors can marvel at a variety of colourful and rare tulips in the gardens of museums, private homes, and institutions throughout the city.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Address: Prinsengracht 116, 1015 EA AMSTERDAM
Opening Hours: 10 am - 6 pm.
Website: Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Contact: +31 (0)20 421 00 95
What better way to experience the culinary scene in Amsterdam than to have local, home-cooked food prepared just for you? There are food tours where you can be contented with the fulfilling flavors of Dutch cuisine during an authentic culinary experience with a Dutch host in a local home. In this tour, you will purchase ingredients with your courteous host followed by watching them prepare a traditional Dutch dinner just for you. Expect local specialities like pannekoeken, a sweet or savoury pancake, or sizzling stews.
Viator's Eat Like a Local in Amsterdam: Traditional Dutch Meal in a Local Home
Price: from 58.40 USD upwards
Duration: around 3 hours required.
All in all, Amsterdam proves to be more than just a place known for its bars, nightlife, and prostitution. Make a trip to Amsterdam to experience the Dutch culture and to learn more about its history. Before you start planning your stay, do note that Amsterdam is a safe city but watch out for pickpockets, especially where there are crowds of tourists! With that, start packing up your bags and check on the next available flight to start your Dutch journey discovery now!