Amsterdam is an amazing city that truly has a lot to offer. There are many different experiences you can have depending on your personal likes and dislikes when in Amsterdam, so I put together this list so you can make the most of your time in this beautiful Dutch city!
Walk around the Canal Ring
- This is the main circle of the city that, as you could guess, is a ring of canals. The canal ring is the main part of the city and the reason most people visit Amsterdam. This area of the city is not accessible by cars, only bikes, trollies, and boats on the canals. Walk around over the many bridges around the canals and try not to get ran over by any bikers.
Sun tan in Vondelpark
- A large and beautiful park on the outskirts of the canal ring. This park is massive but so worth a walk or bike ride through part of it. If you go during the warmer months, it is a great spot for sunbathing. If laying out in the middle of a park in your bathing suite doesn't sound like your thing, then go grab some goodies from the coffee shop and just hangout.
Walk through Anne Frank's House
- As long as you don't live under a rock or in a cave, you know who Anne Frank was and all about her diary. This is the actual house her family and her hid in the attic of, and you get to walk through it. I will warn you that the line to get in is super long, but it is so worth the wait! It is one of the most emotional/creepy places you will see in the city, but again worth seeing.
Hop on a Canal Cruise
- Since the city is basically made from canals, it is a must to take a canal cruse. You may have walked around the city on foot, but seeing the buildings and bridges from this angle was an unique experience. You will also get to see the harbor and if you're lucky enough to get a cool boat driver, they may tell you all the fun facts about the canals (if not just ask, there are a lot of good ones).
Go on a Biking Tour though the city
- Biking is the main method of transportation in the city. There is an unreal amount of people that bike around Amsterdam, so make sure your biking skills are decent before going on a bike tour of the city. Since there are so many bikers, they have dedicated bike lanes and traffic signals just for the bike lanes. If you want to get a tour guide, you can pay for one, but I would suggest just renting a bike and riding around.
See the Red Light District at night
- If you don't know what this is, google is because I don't have the time or desire to explain it here. But as strange as this might be, it is just something you have to see for yourself. Sex workers have a long history in Amsterdam, so this is just part of their culture, well for some of them. Be warned, you cannot take pictures, like at all. Don't even try to take your phone or camera out or snap a picture, someone will take your phone/camera and break it.
Experience a classic Amsterdam Coffee Shop
- I think you know what I mean by coffee shop, yes we are talking about weed. A coffee shop is what they call places to get weed in Amsterdam, but if you really want coffee you are going to want to go to a cafe. If you want to "when in Rome" your Amsterdam experience, you are at the perfect place in a coffee shop. I would suggest grabbing a brownie or cookie, chilling in the shop while you eat it. Then explore the city some more and enjoy being in Amsterdam.
Climb on top of the I AMsterdam sign
- So I know that I said to climb it, but you didn't hear that from me! Although I am not really even sure if you are "allowed" to climb on the sign, everyone is doing it, so why not join in on the fun (just be careful). At most, just find the sign outside the city and take a picture of it, with it, with you on top of it, with you in a letter, and with you and a hundred other tourists. It's a popular location, but still something cool to see. It is really rare that I was able to get the photo above with no people in it! (I was standing there for a while waiting).
Adventure to the Tulip Fields in the Countryside
- As you could guess, this is a seasonal activity, but if you are visiting Amsterdam in the spring time, you have to see the tulip fields in the country! If you did not pick spring to visit this city, taking a trip to the countryside is still worth the time. You will get to see cute little house with streams running through their yards, farms with animals roaming free, and of course windmills. Easily put, no matter what season, get away from the city to see the Dutch countryside.
Be apart of a weekend Bar Crawl
- It's no joke that the locals really know how to party in Amsterdam. Let me just briefly explain the bar crawl that I was apart of while there. It all starts normal, we all meet at the first bar where you get together with the group, get a few shots and a drink, chill at the bar for a little, then the fun begins. As we moved along the crawl to the next bars, there was a rule, to get into the next bar you had to take a shot at the door of whatever the bouncer had on hand. Sometimes it was pouring a bottle of random liquor into your mouth, sometimes it was tube shots, and sometimes it was the worst tasting shot ever that you had to take back. Needless to say, it was a blast!
Visit a local Cheese
- If you didn't know, cheese is a big deal in the Netherlands and for good reason, it is ah-mazing! Seeing a local cheese maker at work is so cool, plus you get to walk out of there with extremely fresh cheese that is unlike any other you have had (or at least it was for me). If you are not feeling the whole process thing that day, there is a cheese museum in the canal ring that is a close second.
Do outdoor shopping at Albert Cuyp
- I could tell you where to find this, but honestly, I can't even remember how we got there. But don't worry, once you do, you will know you are there. Albert Cuyp is a huge outdoor flee market style shopping. It is a great place for the best deals on all things Amsterdam, plus a few more touristy like tents. Get some shopping done, meet some locals, and do it all while enjoying some street food.
Enjoy the Heineken Experience
- This is coming from someone that doesn't even like beer that much, but it still made the list because it is just a place you have to see. I know there are breweries all around the world and probably one close to the tour you are from, but this is an historic old brewery. Oh and if it is your birthday or anniversary tell them, you will get drink tokens.
Shop for flowers at Bloemenmarkt
- Located in the canal ring, this is a flower market that is floating on a canal, cool right?! To make this even cooler, it is the only floating flower market in the world. Go to support locals selling flowers and other random items. And if you can't make it to the tulip fields, this is a good second option.
Get inspired at the Van Gogh Museum
- I don't care if you don't "love" art or even "get" art. Just go to this museum. It is amazing to see his work up close. I must warn you not to get super excited to see all of his famous pieces. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of famous ones here and really beautiful not-as-famous ones too, but not all of his work is at this museum.
Attend an event in Dam Square
- Thing of this as the old fashion town square where everyone goes to meet, and have events, and to people watch. There are always events in the square, but if you happen to go and there aren't people watching is great. The architecture of the buildings all around the square are pretty great too.
Walk through Chinatown to the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple
- As you walk through Chinatown, there is no way you are missing this building. It is beautifully ornate and interestingly placed between two more normal looking buildings. I wasn't able to look inside when I was there, but if you get the chance to, do it! If the outside of the building an indication of what the inside will look like, you will be definitely happy you did.
Watch a Clog Maker create wooden shoes
- Since clogs are so popular in Dutch culture, it only makes sense to see how they are made. And you will be glad you did so, it is mesmerizing to watch them craft these shoes out of wood blocks. What is even more amazing is how quickly they are made. If you are lucky and go to a clog maker that also has a painter there, you can see the intricate hand painting of the designs on the top of the clogs.
Search for the inner court of Begijnhof
- I could tell you where to find it, but that wouldn't be much fun now would it. I will, however, tell you that it is within the canal ring of the city and you can find it on google maps. Once you find it and step through the doors into the court, you no longer feel like you are in a city. It is quiet, peaceful, and a great place to step away from the bustle of the city. The houses around the court are mainly all privately owned houses, so be respectful.
Go inside the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
- Located in Dam Square, you can hit two birds with that visit and also see this building. The architecture of this building is stunning, but walk inside and you will be even more amazed. While you are getting swept away by the decor and architecture, learn about the history of this building, and how it connects to the history of the city. That building has a lot of history in it, and if you are a history fan like me, you will enjoy it.
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