Amsterdam is one of the most vibrant and diverse cities in Europe, with a rich history, a thriving cultural scene, and a picturesque canal network. Whether you are looking for art, history, nature, nightlife, or just a relaxing stroll, there is something for everyone in this city. Here are 30 unique things to do in Amsterdam that will make your trip unforgettable.
1. Learn about Anne Frank’s Story
One of the most famous and moving attractions in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House, where the young Jewish girl and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. You can see the secret annex where they lived for two years, and learn about their tragic fate through the diary of Anne Frank and other exhibits. Book your tickets online in advance to avoid long queues.
2. Check out the books at the Cuypers Library
If you are a book lover, you will be amazed by the Cuypers Library, located inside the Rijksmuseum. This is the largest and oldest art history library in the Netherlands, with over 400,000 volumes dating back to the 15th century. You can admire the stunning architecture of the library, browse through the books on display, or even request to see some rare manuscripts.
3. See the sights around Dam Square
Dam Square is the heart of Amsterdam, where you can find some of the most iconic landmarks of the city. You can visit the Royal Palace, which was once the residence of the Dutch monarchs and is now used for official events. You can also see the National Monument, a white pillar that commemorates the victims of World War II. And don’t miss the Nieuwe Kerk, a beautiful Gothic church that hosts exhibitions and ceremonies.
4. Cycle around the city like a local
One of the best ways to explore Amsterdam is by bike, as the city has an excellent network of cycle paths and flat terrain. You can rent a bike from one of the many bike shops or use a public bike-sharing system like OV-fiets or Donkey Republic. Cycling in Amsterdam will give you a sense of freedom and adventure, as well as a chance to see some hidden gems along the way.
5. Have a kickabout at the home of Ajax
If you are a football fan, you will love visiting the Johan Cruyff Arena, the home stadium of Ajax Amsterdam, one of the most successful clubs in Europe. You can take a guided tour of the stadium and see behind-the-scenes areas like the dressing rooms, the press room, and the pitch. You can also visit the Ajax Museum and learn about the history and achievements of the club.
6. Have a beer or two at the Heineken Experience
Heineken is one of the most famous and popular beers in the world, and it originated in Amsterdam in 1864. You can learn about the history and production of this beer at the Heineken Experience, located in a former brewery. You can see how Heineken is made, taste some samples, and even create your own personalized bottle. You can also enjoy some interactive games and activities that will make you feel like a beer expert.
7. Visit the royal palace
The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is one of three official residences of the Dutch royal family, and it is open to visitors when not in use for state functions. The palace was built in the 17th century as a city hall and was later converted into a palace by King Louis Napoleon. You can admire the impressive architecture and decoration of the palace, as well as some paintings by Rembrandt and other Dutch masters.
8. Eat some cookies at Van Stapele
If you have a sweet tooth, you will love Van Stapele, a tiny bakery that sells only one type of cookie: a dark chocolate cookie with a white chocolate filling. These cookies are so delicious that they often sell out before closing time, so make sure to get there early or order online. You can also watch how they are made through a glass window.
9. Explore the arty Jordaan
The Jordaan is one of the most charming and picturesque neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, with narrow streets, quaint buildings, and canal views. It was once a working-class area but now it is home to many artists, galleries, cafes, and shops.
10. Discover the hidden gems of the 9 Streets
The 9 Streets are a network of narrow streets that connect the main canals of Amsterdam. They are filled with charming shops, cafes, and restaurants that cater to every taste and budget. You can find everything from vintage clothing and antiques to organic food and designer labels. The 9 Streets are also a great place to admire the architecture and atmosphere of the canal district.
11. Enjoy the nightlife at Leidseplein
Leidseplein is one of the most lively and popular squares in Amsterdam, especially at night. It is surrounded by bars, clubs, theaters, and cinemas that offer entertainment for all kinds of audiences. You can watch a comedy show at Boom Chicago, listen to live music at Paradiso or Melkweg, or dance the night away at Club NYX or Sugarfactory. You can also enjoy some street performers and food stalls on the square.
12. Visit the world’s largest flower garden at Keukenhof
If you are visiting Amsterdam in spring, you should not miss the opportunity to see Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden. Located about 40 minutes from Amsterdam by bus, Keukenhof covers an area of 32 hectares and displays over 7 million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowers in stunning colors and patterns. You can also enjoy some exhibitions, events, and activities related to flowers and gardening.
13. Admire the masterpieces at the Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most visited and acclaimed museums in Amsterdam, dedicated to the life and work of the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. You can see over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters by Van Gogh, as well as some works by his contemporaries and influences. You can also learn about his personal struggles, artistic development, and legacy.
14. Experience the Red Light District
The Red Light District is one of the most notorious and controversial areas in Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal and regulated. You can see sex workers displaying their services in red-lit windows along the narrow streets and canals. You can also find some erotic shops, museums, shows, and bars in this area. The Red Light District is not for everyone, but it is part of Amsterdam’s history and culture.
15. Relax at Vondelpark
Vondelpark is the largest and most popular park in Amsterdam, located near the Museum Quarter. It is a green oasis in the city, where you can enjoy some nature, fresh air, and tranquility. You can walk, bike, or skate along the paths, or sit on a bench or a grassy spot and watch the people and animals go by. You can also find some playgrounds, ponds, fountains, statues, and cafes in the park.
16. Taste some cheese at a cheese museum
The Netherlands is famous for its cheese production and consumption, and Amsterdam has several cheese museums where you can learn about this delicious product. You can visit the Cheese Museum Amsterdam or the Henri Willig Cheese Farm Store & Museum to see how cheese is made, taste some samples, and buy some souvenirs. You can also join a cheese tasting tour or workshop to expand your cheese knowledge and palate.
17. See some windmills at Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is an open-air museum that recreates a typical Dutch village from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is located about 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train or bus, and it features several windmills that were used for various purposes such as sawing wood, grinding spices, or producing oil. You can also see some traditional houses and workshops
18. Experience the Dutch Golden Age at the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is the largest and most visited museum in Amsterdam, showcasing the art and history of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the present day. You can see over 8,000 objects and artworks, including some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. You can also admire the stunning architecture of the museum, which was recently renovated and restored.
19. Enjoy some coffee and cannabis at a coffeeshop
Amsterdam is famous for its liberal attitude towards cannabis, which is tolerated and sold in licensed establishments called coffeeshops. You can find over 200 coffeeshops in Amsterdam, offering a variety of strains, edibles, and drinks. You can also enjoy some coffee, tea, or juice and relax in a cozy and friendly atmosphere. Some of the most popular coffeeshops are The Bulldog, Barney’s, and Dampkring.
20. Visit a quirky museum
Amsterdam has some of the most unusual and interesting museums in the world, covering topics that you might not find elsewhere. You can visit the Sex Museum, the world’s first and oldest museum dedicated to sex and erotica. You can also visit the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, which explores the history and culture of cannabis. Or you can visit the Cat Cabinet, which displays art and objects related to cats.
21. Take a ferry to NDSM Wharf
NDSM Wharf is a former shipyard that has been transformed into a creative and cultural hotspot. You can take a free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station to reach this area, where you can find some street art, galleries, studios, cafes, and bars. You can also attend some events and festivals that take place here throughout the year, such as music concerts, flea markets, and art fairs.
22. Shop at a flea market
Amsterdam has some of the best flea markets in Europe, where you can find some bargains and treasures. You can visit the Albert Cuyp Market, the largest and most famous street market in Amsterdam, selling everything from food and flowers to clothes and souvenirs. You can also visit the Waterlooplein Market, the oldest flea market in Amsterdam, selling antiques, books, records, and vintage items.
23. Watch a movie at a cinema
Amsterdam has a vibrant cinema scene, with many theaters that offer a diverse range of films. You can watch some Hollywood blockbusters at Pathé Tuschinski, a stunning Art Deco cinema that dates back to 1921. You can also watch some independent and foreign films at The Movies, the oldest cinema in Amsterdam that has a cozy and retro vibe. Or you can watch some documentaries at EYE Film Institute Netherlands, a modern and futuristic building that also houses a film museum.
24. Take a photo at the I amsterdam sign
The I amsterdam sign is one of the most iconic and popular symbols of Amsterdam, representing the city’s spirit of diversity, creativity, and openness. You can find this giant red and white sign at various locations in Amsterdam, such as Museumplein, Schiphol Airport, and Sloterplas. You can take a photo with the sign and share it on social media to show your love for Amsterdam.
25. Eat some pancakes at a pancake house
Pancakes are one of the most popular and delicious dishes in Amsterdam, and you can find many pancake houses that serve them in different styles and flavors. You can try some traditional Dutch pancakes (pannenkoeken), which are thin and large and can be topped with sweet or savory ingredients. You can also try some mini pancakes (poffertjes), which are fluffy and served with butter and powdered sugar.
26. See some diamonds at a diamond factory
Amsterdam is known as the City of Diamonds, as it has been a major center of diamond trade and cutting since the 16th century. You can visit some of the diamond factories in Amsterdam and see how these precious stones are processed and polished. You can also admire some dazzling displays of diamonds and jewelry, and even buy some souvenirs. Some of the most famous diamond factories are Gassan Diamonds, Coster Diamonds, and Royal Coster Diamonds.
27. Take a day trip to Giethoorn
Giethoorn is a charming village in the province of Overijssel, about 90 minutes from Amsterdam by car or train. It is nicknamed the “Venice of the North” because of its many canals and bridges that connect the thatched-roof houses and farms. You can rent a boat or a bike and explore this idyllic place, or visit some of the museums and attractions such as the Museum De Oude Aarde, which displays fossils and minerals.
28. Enjoy some jazz at a jazz club
Amsterdam has a long and rich tradition of jazz music, dating back to the 1920s when it was introduced by American musicians. You can find some of the best jazz clubs in Amsterdam, where you can listen to some live performances by local and international artists. You can also enjoy some food and drinks while you groove to the music. Some of the most popular jazz clubs are Bimhuis, Jazz Cafe Alto, and Bourbon Street.
29. Visit a brewery
Amsterdam has a thriving craft beer scene, with many breweries that produce and serve some quality beers. You can visit some of these breweries and see how they make their beers, taste some samples, and learn about the history and culture of beer making in Amsterdam. You can also join a beer tour or a pub crawl to discover some of the best pubs and bars in Amsterdam. Some of the most famous breweries are Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij de Prael, and Oedipus Brewing.
30. See some street art
Amsterdam is a city that celebrates creativity and expression, and you can see that in its street art scene. You can find some amazing murals, graffiti, stickers, and sculptures that adorn the walls, bridges, and buildings of Amsterdam. You can also visit some galleries and festivals that showcase street art, such as Street Art Museum Amsterdam, Urban Art Festival Amsterdam, and Street Art Today.
I hope you enjoyed this article about 30 unique things to do in Amsterdam. Have fun exploring this wonderful city!