21 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam is known to be one of the most popular, fascinating, and exciting destinations in Europe; also to be the most artistic and vibrant city in the whole world!

The best things to do? Well, good question tho! With its fascinating architecture, rich history, and beautiful scenery; it’s easy to understand why the Dutch capital is always Europe’s travelers’ favorite to visit over and over again. Amsterdam is also often referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of its large canal system which also forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It’s a charming city that will appeal to your sense of wonder and adventure from late at night until shepherd’s delight and beyond, whether you want to wander in museums and envelope-pushing galleries or enjoy world-famous nightlife and party scenes. In this blog post, I’ll give you a list of the best attractions you must visit in Amsterdam to help you get the best out of your experience in this wondrous city!

Everybody, strap yourselves in because Giorgy aka G-Extreme is about to reveal the very Best Things To Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands! Check out and judge yourself whether it’s Europe’s most exciting city.

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check before you go anywhere what modifications have taken place to avoid any inconvenience!

1. Anne Frank’s House

What is it?
The Anne Frank House is a museum that preserves the hiding place of Anne Frank and her companions.
During World War II, Anne Frank hid from Nazis with her family and four other people in hidden rooms in a 17th-century canal house, known as the Secret Annex for two years. She did not survive the war but her wartime diary was published in 1947 and has been widely popular ever since.

Why go?
Everyone has heard of the heartbreaking story of Anne Frank and her diaries. Opened in 1960, the museum contains Frank’s original diaries, historical documents, photographs, film images, and belongings from those in hiding. The museum is truly an eye-opening and emotional experience as it provides visitors with an insight into how it was for Jewish people during World war II.

Helpful Tip: Try to get there early as the museum is known for having very long queues or get yourself a private tour for immersing in Amsterdam’s Jewish history.

2. Van Gogh’s Museum

What is it?
As the name suggests, Van Gogh’s Museum is dedicated to the works and life of one of the best and most renowned artists in history: Van Gogh. Due to its popularity, the museum is one of the places where you’ll face long queues, so arrive early or purchase your tickets online for a swifter visit! 

Why go?
Located in Paulus Potterstraat (not far from Vondelpark and in close proximity to the Rijksmuseum), the museum is listed as the most visited museum in the Netherlands and it contains a huge amount of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings in the world including “Almond Blossoms” and “Sunflowers”. Together with select collections from other artists such as Monet and Matisse.

The museum also contains a collection of the artist’s letters which dive into his personal life and depression, making the experience more authentic. It also features some of the most famous artworks from some of Van Gogh’s contemporaries like Monet and Matisse.

Hey Goofball: Save money and get exclusive discounts with the “I Amsterdam City Card” by allowing yourself of getting access to all major highlights and more than 70 museums (this one and other mentioned beloved), city-wide public transport, a canal cruise, and bicycle rent!

3. Have a Picnic in the Vondelpark 

What is it?
This 120-acre park is known to be the biggest in Amsterdam and the most famous in the entirety of the Netherlands.

Why go?
This beautiful park is a popular getaway for those who want a change of scenery and some relaxed time in nature. With a beautiful rose garden, numerous ponds, play areas (for children), and bike paths, you can cycle, play sports, have a picnic, or even enjoy one of the performances that take place in the open-air theater during the summer months – There is something for people of all ages.

Vondelpark is also home to a sculpture by Pablo Picasso himself that’s definitely worth a look! News flash: This park is free to visit!

Hey Goofball! If you’re based in Oost, Flevopark is the place to head for a relaxing walk, cycle, or just some fresh air. If you prefer a chilled-out break after a stroll through the city center, have a visit at the Westergasfabriek.

4. Rijksmuseum

What is it?
Rijksmuseum is considered one of the top 3 museums in Amsterdam, it’s located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, and it’s the largest in the country. After a 10-year renovation, the magnificent Gothic and Renaissance building reopened in April 2013.

Why go?
This museum hosts more than 1 million objects, with 8000 of them on display. The collection spans almost 800 years and it includes more than 2000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by notable artists such as Rembrandt, an Asian collection, and the stern of the HMS Royal Charles.

Download the museum’s app through the play store and enjoy 14 guided tours through the museum for the best experience!

Hey Goofball! While the famous “I am Amsterdam” sign on the art square is no longer there, I am pretty sure you are going to spend hours in this delightful and eternally interesting establishment.

5. EYE Film Institute

What is it?
The impressive tower across the water from the central station: A’dam Toren. It’s much more than a cinema, it’s home to a film museum, including of course a restaurant and cafe, educational activities for kids and much more!

Why go?
Movie Lover? Don’t skip this place. Expect cult classics, documentaries, and a lot of new indie releases. The shop offers also an excellent range of fights and memorabilia for film buffs.

6. Electric Ladyland

What is it?
This is another amazing hidden gem museum of Amsterdam: it’s the first (and only) museum dedicated to fluorescent art in the world! It’s also considered a scientific and educational shrine to minerals, stones, and art that glows under ultraviolet light.

Why go?
This is another one-of-a-kind experience you can have in Amsterdam and it’s way more fascinating than you could ever think of! Keep in mind you need to book an appointment ahead.

7. Wander Around the Canals

What is it?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Amsterdam is known for its mesmerizing canal system; and the best way to take in the city and its beauty is definitely by taking a guided boat tour!

Why go?
Of course, Amsterdam’s bike tours are an excellent way to discover the city, but boat tours are not only effortless, but they also provide you with the most picturesque scenes of the city, especially after sundown with fairy lights flickering on bridges and reflecting on the water. Just plan plenty of time to snap pictures as you go!

Tour operators offer many different kinds of boat tours around Amsterdam, so you can take your pick of the ones that suit you the most.

Hey Goofball: The I Amsterdam City Card offers you is an affordable way to hop on a cruise!

8. The Nine Little Streets (De Negen Straatjes)

What is it?
The western part of the Canal Ring is a labyrinthine neighborhood, known as De Negen Straatjes, or the Nine Little Streets, which is a district that lies between the Singel and Prinsengracht canals.

Why go?
This is the perfect place if you want to get a less touristy experience of Amsterdam; the district is lined with vintage shops and antique boutiques where you can buy memorable souvenirs.

You can hop in one of the neighborhood’s cozy cafes or restaurants for a cup of coffee or a quick meal. The district’s unique and authentic atmosphere will make you feel like a local! 

Hey Goofball! Do you wanna live a surreal experience? You should definitely check out the Begijnhof, located a few meters from the shopping madness of Kalverstraat. It’s a secluded garden and courtyard is overlooked by a set of medieval houses built for the Beguines (group of unmarried religious women).

9. Heineken Experience

What is it?
The Heineken Experience is an interactive self-guided tour through one of the most famous breweries in the world!

Why go?
For a small fee and nearly 2 hours of your time, you’re going to learn about Heineken’s rich and successful history, the brewing process, and on top of that, you’ll get to enjoy two Heinekens at the end of the tour.

You also get to explore the historical artifacts from the old brewery and create your own Heineken bottle with a personalized label. With the perfect mix of fun and education, this tour really has it all. 

Useful Tip: If you are in possession of the I Amsterdam City Card it offers you an additional discount for the Heineken Experience. Otherwise, be sure to buy your Heineken Experience ticket online before you go to skip the line!

Hey Goofball! If you are not a fan of Heineken, you should check out Amsterdam’s original microbrewery: Brouwerij’t IJ leading you to beer heaven!

10. Red Light District & Coffee Houses

What is it?
The Red Light District often warrants mixed feelings and it’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s part of what makes Amsterdam what it is, and it’s definitely a fabulous place to see and explore. 
Otherwise known as De Wallen, the district is known to be Amsterdam’s largest and most attractive red light district.

Why go?
Red Light Districts are considered to be ground zero for prostitution in Amsterdam and their name comes from the red neon lights that highlight the 300 windows where women are working. Contrary to popular belief, this district is not only about sex work and sex shops; it’s one of Amsterdam’s oldest neighborhoods that has lots of monuments and churches that you can visit and explore!

You can also hop into one of the district’s cannabis cafes. As bizarre as it may be, the Red Light District will definitely leave an impression and it’s not all brothels! Lately, this area has largely transformed into an art and cafe district so there’s something for everyone these days.

Hey Goofball: it’s forbidden to film women working behind windows, so it’s advisable to keep your camera or phone in your pocket while touring the place.

11. Nightlife At The De Ton Ton Club

What is it?
Ball pit and bar mixed together? Ton Ton Club offers it for you. Ready to be kidult again?

Why go?
You get different ways to please your inner child: playing Super Mario Kart, Mortal Combat, and other games – or falling directly face-first into the ball pit! Have fun I would say!

12. Getting to Know More About The Sexmuseum

What is it?
The Venustempel, or temple of Venus, is the world’s first and oldest sex museum, it’s located in the center of Amsterdam and it opened in 1985. 
As is obvious from the name, this museum is dedicated all to sex, the human body, the evolution of human sexuality, and how its portrayal has evolved over the years.

Why go?
The museum contains various displays, pictures, paintings, statues, and figures that explore the history of sex and how it changed over the ages. 
There are different rooms that are dedicated to specific people in history and their stories where you can learn more about their sexual history with an accompaniment of audio backings.

It’s truly an interesting experience where you’ll be surprised to find out how open, diverse, and free past civilizations were.

13. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam

What is it?
Located in Dam square, this 17th-century Royal Palace was originally built as a town hall during the Dutch Golden Age.

Why go?
Designed by architect Jacob Van Campen, this imposing structure has a gorgeous interior and a rich history. Throughout the years the palace has been used by Dutch Royalty for royal events by an act of the Parliament, and when not in official use, it’s open to the public.

One of the palace’s main attractions is the Citizen’s Hall, a 30-meter high room with marble floors that contains an impressively detailed map of the world. Other smaller rooms like the Throne Room and the Royal apartment are open for visits and they contain original furniture from the Napoleonic period.

14. Going Up the A’dam Toren

What is it?
A 22-story tower home to an array of young music, advertising, and events companies, looms over the waterfront across the River IJ.

Why go?
This building has “Over The Edge” aka Europe’s highest swing!!! If you are not that Extreme you can still enjoy a cocktail at the Skybar or eat at one of the two gourmet restaurants on the top floors! (I know, Giorgy is just speaking about food in here lol).

Hey Goofball! If you want to enjoy a cultural hotspot with a rich mix of arty events, bars, and restaurants not that far from IJ; check NDSM Wharf!

15. Visit the Albert Cuyp Market

What is it?
This is another place that will give you a real taste of Amsterdam. Albert Cuyp Market is a street market located in the heart of the De Pijp neighborhood and it has been around for more than 100 years!

Why go?
Not only does this market offer a wide range of goods like fresh vegetables and fruits, flowers, clothes, fish, meat, chicken, and more, but it also gives you the chance to blend in and observe local Amsterdammers in their element. 
It is a really authentic place to find a souvenir, expect some bartering!

16. MOCO Museum 

What is it?
The cool new kid in town, The Moco (Modern Contemporary) Museum Amsterdam is a relatively new independent museum that was opened in 2016 and dedicated to modern and contemporary art.
The museum is located in the Villa Alsberg townhouse on Museumplein and it was designed by Eduard Cuypers the nephew of Pierre Cuypers, designer of Amsterdam Central Station, and the Rijksmuseum.

Why go?
It features a wide range of artworks from artists like Banksy, Warhol, and Basquiat making it a thought-provoking experience and an entry into the world of contemporary art. 
The museum offers a free audio tour, available in six languages, accompanying the exhibitions.

17. Eat your Way around Food Stalls in Foodhallen

What is it?
Foodhallen is the best food market in Amsterdam, with more than 30 food stalls and bars. Once it was an old tram depot transformed into Oud-West’s very own quirk culinary destination.

Why go?
Located in the fantastic De Hallen district which is known to be the center for media, culture, fashion, and food, Foodhallen is the ideal place for you to experience a diverse and delicious array of food and drinks ranging from authentic dutch classics to Vietnamese and Mexican goodies. It’ll certainly bring out the foodie in you!

Too busy to take pictures… I was enjoying the food… GNUM GNUM… Of course, tasting all of them!!!!

18. Vuurtoreneiland

What is it?
Speaking of food, who wouldn’t after a once-lifetime dinner experience? Vuurtoreneiland is well known as a boat that takes you to this small, rugged island in the IJmeer with an old abandoned fort with just a lighthouse, and a large greenhouse dining room.

Why go?
You are going to be served with a five-course set menu of the freshest regional produce and eating in and of nature! Just keep in mind that booking is essential!

19. Floating Flower Market

What is it?
Founded in 1862,
the floating flower market, or Bloemenmarkt, is the only floating flower market in the world.

Why go?
This stretch of the Singel canal in the city center is filled with all sorts of tulips, geraniums, narcissus, violets, and many more! You can also find seeds, house plants, and herbs.

This vibrant flower market will definitely brighten up your day and you can walk away with bulbs ready for planting as a lovely souvenir from the flower capital! 

Wanna know a bit more about the history of the floral world of Amsterdam? It is indeed way more interesting than you’d think and well worth reading upon.

20. The Rembrandt House Museum

What is it?
The Rembrandt House Museum is an art museum located in Jodenbreestraat in the former home of painter Rembrandt where he lived and worked between 1639 and 1656.

Why go?
The museum features a collection of his etchings in addition to artworks by his contemporaries. The interior of the house was reconstructed to show how it would have looked during Rembrandt’s life.

You can now tour the house and find out more about the artist’s history and life. 

Hey Goofball! If you want to check out once Amsterdam’s best-kept secret, check the “Museum of Our Lord in the Attic” aka “Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder”. This is a former church, spread across the top three floors of a 17th-century canal house, was where Catholics would come to pray after public displays of worship were banned by the Alteration of 1578.

21. Blijburg aan Zee

What is it?
This is the only inner-city beach, located on the artificial island of IJburg: “Blijburg aan Zee” which is just a short tram ride and walk from the center.

Why go?
Who said that you have to just stay in the city center when you can easily chill on a beach on a sunny day nearby Amsterdam? Blijburg aan Zee offers decent restaurants and cafes that make it easy to spend a whole day splashing around and sunbathing.

Do you understand why Amsterdam is Europe’s most exciting city? Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular cities for a reason, and it’s a top destination for most, if not all tourists. It’s a diverse city with a relaxed atmosphere that will definitely have you falling in love head over heels!

These are my recommendations for the 15 best things to do when you visit. What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!


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