With so many things to do in Amsterdam, there is no surprise so many tourists come to see this incredible city. We were absolutely amazed by Amsterdam: the food was tasty, the culture scene was blooming and the city itself was very photogenic. Every way we looked, there was something worth photographing, seeing, experiencing. Whether you are into museums, markets, food or hipster indie shops, Amsterdam seems to have it all. Once you decide where to stay in Amsterdam, it's time to make a list of all the best things to do in Amsterdam. Here are our top 50, which we think you will absolutely love too.
Table of Contents
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh as well as some of his contemporaries. We were incredibly lucky as we planned our trip during the exhibition entitled "Van Gogh & Japan". For two people who love all the things to do in Tokyo, this exhibition couldn't have been more interesting. We learned so much about Van Gogh's love and fascination for Japan and saw how much he was inspired by various Japanese prints. Who knew Japan played such important role in Van Gogh's technique and imagination? This was our highlight during our stay in Amsterdam. Remember this is only a temporary exhibition. You will be able to see other incredible works of art which change every three months or so.
Love art and history? Then we should be friends... and then you should go visit the Rijksmuseum which a Dutch national museum dedicated to art and history in Amsterdam. Did you know, the museum was initially founded in The Hague in 1800 then moved to Amsterdam in 1808. This museum has on display over 8000 objects of art and history including pieces from Rembrandt. If you love Asian arts, Rijksmuseum has a small Asian collection located in the Asian pavilion.
Nothing compares to a fun walking tour in Amsterdam, especially if you are into exploring a new city by foot. We are the type of people who love getting walking tour from locals, in order to learn more about the place. We suggest booking yours in advance to avoid disappointment. We mostly prefer getting tours from history students as they tend to know the most about the place we are visiting.
Anne Frank House
We know the Anne Frank House is one of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam and that's why we decided to add it to the list. However, we are not going to lie: we didn't actually go in as we didn't have a chance to reserve a date and time. Anne Frank House receives over 1 million visitors a year and it is the 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands.
Here's the deal: super cool sign but it will be impossible to photograph the whole sign alone. It gets pretty busy so don't expect people to wait in the queue for a picture. Either way, we wanted to see it and decided to photograph from afar. Please be careful when you climb on the sign to avoid injuries.
Ok, we admit it, we are both loving a bit of couple romance. We really enjoy river cruises. Last time we took a dinner cruise on the Danube in Budapest and really liked it, so we wanted to try again in Amsterdam. We lived in the UK for so long and never took a river cruise on a narrow boat. We were so excited to finally try it. It was a lot of fun and one of the cutest things to do in Amsterdam for couples.
We love a cool creative space and Kunststad is a network of workshops for over 250 creatives. Initially, a shipbuilding warehouse, Kunststad is located in NDSM and if offers visitors a chance to either walk or cycle around the area and admire huge artworks hanging from the ceilings.
Want to see a panoramic view of Amsterdam? Then head over to A'DAM Lookout where you can admire the city from the observation deck. Oh, and if you love a little more adventure and adrenaline, there is the "over the edge" which is a swing on the sky deck. You can swing 100 m above the ground. Do you dare?
The Eye Filmmuseum is an archive as well as a museum which preserves Dutch films and some foreign films screened in the country. Eye Filmmuseum houses over 60,000 posters, 700,000 photographs (yes, really) and 20,000 books. Did we mention the museum has over 37,000 film titles too?
Fresh food and nice bakery items? Head over to the Landmarkt a local market, with fresh produce which changes seasonally. If you love Italian meals, you'll find a great selection of pasta.
Brouwerij 'T IJ
Brouwerij 'T IJ is a beer hall / brewery next to a beautiful windmill which produces organic blonde and dark beer. You can join a short tour as well to learn a bit more about beer. You can have lunch here too.
Rent a bike
Amsterdam is full of bikes. So much so, that we sometimes had to look around five times before crossing the road. Bikes are so much fun, especially for soft adventure lovers. We really like cycling from our time when we lived in Bristol. We wanted to go back on time and experience Amsterdam on a bike. Most hotels have bikes available to rent so it will be easy to find your city bike. Get a bike with a basket in the front so you can carry your shopping from the market with ease. Sunglasses on and you are now ready to rock Amsterdam like a local.
Rembrandt House Museum
This is a historic house as well as a museum where painter Rembrandt lived and work between 1639 and 1656. The interior has been reconstructed and the collection has works of art and paintings from Rembrandt and his contemporaries.
Distilleerderij 'T Nieuwe Diep
Distilleerderij 'T Nieuwe Diep is located in a renovated pumping station near the entrance to Flevopark. It is a small distillery partly owned by a former archaeologist who has an interest in the Dutch tradition of distilling spirits. Many visit it because of its picturesque location.
Tropenmuseum is known to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Netherlands. Tropenmuseum is an ethnographic museum founded in 1864. If you love learning more about rich cultural diversity, then a visit to the Tropenmuseum is a must.
Dappermarkt has over 250 stalls and sells anything and everything from tulips to textiles. This is also the place to find hard to source ingredients, as well as fresh produce such as fish. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 AM till 5 PM.
Waterlooplein Market is home to over 300 stalls open 6 days a week. This flea market is on a site dating from the 19th century. We came across it by complete coincidence and found a variety of cool Dutch souvenirs as well as some handmade clothes. If you love shopping you'll find many things here at affordable prices.
NewWerktheater used to be a daylight theatre now turned into a restaurant. The reason why we find this place so interesting is that they change their dining and cocktails menu every Thursday and Friday night.
The Flower Market or Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. You will find a variety of plants and flowers as well as tulip bulbs. We were told by friends that should visit so we can find cute souvenirs. We found several flower seeds we wanted to purchase, so we were pretty excited about the trip. We also recommend crossing on the other side of the flower market, to get a really pretty picture of it.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
This beautiful Dutch palace was built as a city hall in the 17th century. It is a historical building and it is the only palace in the country that is both in active use and available for the public to visit. Remember to check the official site to ensure the palace is not closed due to Royal Events.
Who loves beer? Back in my teenage days, I used to only drink Heineken. I don't know if it was because of the taste of beer or how cool I thought the brand was, but somehow I really liked it. For so long I wanted to visit the Heineken brewery and learn about its incredible history. You can do so in Amsterdam by enjoying the Heineken Experience in the former brewery. There is a tasting room at the end.
De Vergulden Eenhoorn
De Vergulden Eenhoorn is located in Oost and it is a converted farmhouse dating back to 1702. It features a beautiful terrace and garden where you can relax with a drink or devour a delicious plate of Burgundian delicacies.
We never leave out a visit to the local botanic garden when visiting a new city. Hortus Botanicus is a beautiful green place located in the Plantage district. It is a major tourist attraction and for the right reason, because is a green oasis right in the heart of a busy European city.
Admire the interior of the Portuguese Synagogue which is pretty much intact since the 17th century. On the premises, you will also find the oldest functioning Jewish library in the world.
Walk around the Red Light District
Sure, this may not be the most romantic thing to do in Amsterdam, but it sure is different. We visited Kabukicho in Tokyo and even wrote a Tokyo adult guide, but it was nothing like Amsterdam. The Red Light District is quite common for bachelor parties but our experience was relatively quiet. Maybe we visited off-season or too early in the evening, but the streets seemed less busy than we imagined.
In case you didn't know, "red light district" comes from the red neon lights that highlight the windows where women are working. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands but not on the streets, hence the women behind the window with their own rooms.
Scheepvaartmuseum is the 11th most popular museum in the Netherlands and it attracts over 400,000 visitors a year. Learn how the sea influenced the Dutch culture and explore interactive exhibition to discover half a century of Dutch maritime history.
I think you might have gathered thus far that we love street markets. If you want to experience even more shopping, Albert Cuypmarkt has a laid-back atmosphere with over 300 stalls lined on both sides of the Albert Cuyp street in the neighbourhood of De Pijp.
This is a small izakaya which sells popular Japanese food. As you may know, we travel vegan so no yakitori for us, but we went in to enjoy Japanese sake as we really missed it ever since we came back from our Japan itinerary.
Het Koninklijk Concertgebouw
As a couple who loves classical concerts and goes to the opera during a romantic weekend in Paris, we are absolutely going to recommend Het Koninklijk Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Het Koninklijk Concertgebouw is a concert hall where you can take guided tours or simply sit back, relax and listen to a wonderful classical concert. Don't forget to check the schedule in advance and buy your tickets from their official site.
Have you ever heard of Banksy? He's kind of a hero in Bristol, UK, where are used to live. The Moco Museum is an art museum which houses a wide range of modern and contemporary art featuring works of Dalí as well as Banksy. If you like art, don't skip it, you will like it a lot.
Posh shopping enthusiast? Head over to PC Hooftstraat and indulge in an immersive shopping experience from classy boutiques like Dior or Prada.
Stedelijk Museum is a modern art museum also nicknamed the bathtub. The museum was founded in 1874 by a group of private citizens in Amsterdam. The collection contains over 90,000 artworks and objects from interesting posters to room size installations.
World of Food
This non-pretentious food court is over 3000 square metres, housed in a parking garage. It offers you a trip around the world where you will taste an array of flavours from 25 different kitchens such as Liberian or Armenian cuisine.
Nelson Mandela Park
Nelson Mandela Park used to called Bijlmerpark and has plenty of space for sports and recreations. Our friend recommended it for the magnolia valley, although the trees were no longer in bloom when we visited. Don't forget to visit the arboretum as well.
Love vegan food? We've got you covered. We spent most of our time eating our way through Amsterdam and we found no better place than Vegan Junkfood bar. They sell juicy vegan burgers with amazing onion rings and tasty chips. A true joy to be naughty and enjoy a bit of junk food, whilst still keeping your vegan witts. There are a few other restaurants here like the Meatless District or the Dutch Weed Burger Joint.
This is one of Amsterdam's largest parks. It's a cultural hotspot with various markets and food trucks during summer festivals. It's a great place to relax after a long weekend of exploring the city.
We stayed very close to Rembrandtpark and really loved the park. We got off the tram a few stops earlier so we can make our way to the park and have a relaxing walk before sleep. We had really lovely weather during our visit, with fresh evenings, perfect for a romantic walk hand in hand.
Jordaan is a trendy neighbourhood, part of the centre of the city. It features narrow canals and is flanked by indie boutiques, cosy pubs and hip eateries. Most streets and canals in the Jordaan area are named after trees and flowers. There is still some debate on where the name Jordaan comes from, although some suggest that it comes from "Jardin" the French word for garden.
Museum Het Schip
Het Schip or The Ship is an apartment building built in the architectural style of the Amsterdam School of Expressionist architecture. This building has an interesting and unconventional appearance from all angles. It was designed in 1919 and it contains 102 homes for the working class, a small meeting hall and a post office.
Explore Amsterdam’s historic churches
Some of Amsterdam churches are over 500 years old and were built either before or during The Reformation. Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam for example and has a very interesting and surprising history. This church was initially used for Catholic services but during the Reformation, Dutch Protestants transformed into a Calvinist Cathedral. The Amsterdam skyline is dominated by many churches, each with a unique story.
If you love the outdoors just as much as we do, head over to Vondelpark, Amsterdam's most famous park built in 1850. You can explore it on foot or by bike or even join a guided tour so you can learn more about its history.
As you might have gathered, we are vegan, so no cheesy experiences for us, but we know so many tourists go to Amsterdam to enjoy the local delicacies. Cheese happens to be one of them. You go to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum to learn more about the history of cheese. At the end you can taste some, or be like us and look at it from afar.
First time in the Netherlands? Then you must try a Stroopwafels. A Stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of dough filled with caramel syrup. I first tried one of these back in 2008 en-route to London via Amsterdam. Whilst at the airport, I remember seeing a family eating these cool waffles with so much appetite so I went to buy one as well. Super sweet, but life-changing.
Buy a Delft Blue House
If you wish to purchase a unique souvenir, get a miniature traditional Dutch house. These houses were and continue to be, presents for travellers on a KLM business flight. KLM started issuing these miniature houses in 1952 and were used as bottles for a Dutch Genever.
No, I'm not talking about Jimi Hendrix 's album, but about a cool museum in the heart of Jordaan, Amsterdam. This is a one of a kind museum because is dedicated to fluorescent art. It's a unique place which celebrates the true colours of art and nature.
KattenKabinet is a museum dedicated to works of art which depict cats. This one is more for feline lovers, although the museum also includes painting, drawers and sculptures from artists such as Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec and Rembrandt.
Well, microbes really freak me out, but what better way to deal with them than by first learning more about their impact on our environment. It's a great concept which teaches you a lot about the world around us. You can see an array of colours from microbes magnified which can be seen with our naked eye.
Poezenboot is a cat sanctuary which floats on the river. Normally, you wouldn't imagine cats on water, but Poezenboot likes things done differently. Poezenboot houses stray cats and it is run by a charitable organisation. You can donate to help the feline residents or you can even adopt one as a pet.
Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum
You are in Amsterdam, so it seems only right to explore the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum. The museum includes a live cannabis garden in various stages of growth. The museum offers information about the historical and modern uses of cannabis.
Are you ready to explore all these cool things to do in Amsterdam? What will you do first? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Finally, we think Amsterdam is one of the most photogenic cities in the world. There is something to photograph at every corner. So we invite you to just grab your camera and enjoy a photo tour of Amsterdam. Don't forget to send us an email with your favorite snap. We love seeing your pictures. Enjoy Amsterdam!