As an Amsterdam local there are always a lot of people asking me for tips on what to do in Amsterdam. There are just so many things that I usually end up writing back a small novel to those asking for tips. So now I’ve decided to make one big post listing all the best activities, sights, museums and restaurants. Besides the touristy stuff I have also disclosed lots of local secrets in this list for you to enjoy.
Fun things to do in Amsterdam
1. Highest swing in Europe: At a 100m high you’ll swing over the edge of the Amsterdam Lookout tower. From here you have an incredible view of the city. If you need some time to recover after this exciting ride, stop by the bar for a drink with a view.
2. Canal tour: Super touristy, but it is a great way to get to know the city.
3. Get high in a local coffee shop: I actually never go to coffeeshops so I can’t recommend a particular one, but you won’t have trouble finding one.. they are everywhere.
4. Ice skating in front of the Rijksmuseum: An iconic dutch activity in an iconic spot. The rink is open from November through January. A lot of people don’t know this, but it’s cheaper to buy the ticket online.
5. Rent a bike: In my humble opinion the only right way to see Amsterdam. However, please make sure you know how to cycle. Plenty of tourist have run into me, because they didn’t know how to use the breaks.
6. Picnic in the Vondelpark: If you want to do what Dutch people do on a nice warm day, get yourself some wine, some food and head to the park!
7. Go to an outdoor movie: In summertime lots of places organize movie nights and sometimes in cool locations as well!
8. Gay pride: The first weekend of August the gay pride will take over the city. You have to be able to handle crowds and chaos, but you can’t find a bigger party than this.
8. See the light festival: Winter is (surprise surprise) not my favorite season, but the light festival gives me a reason to brave the cold. The festival runs every year November through January.
9. Stroll down Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street, Kalverstraat: Not my favorite shopping area by a long shot, but if you’re looking for all the commercial stores this is where you will find them.
10. Find cute gifts in the 9 streets/’9 straatjes: The 9 streets are located in the canal area and people come here for vintage stores, designer boutiques and cute cafes.
11. Watch the sunset from the Hilton sky lounge: Conveniently located next to Central Station this is an easy to get to location. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see a sunset like in the picture below.
12. Climb the tower of the old church: The tower is open for tours April through October. You can only enter if with a guide and entree is €8
13. Take the free ferry to North Amsterdam: There are several ferries so make sure you take the right one. One goes directly to the lookout tower and eye museum and the other one takes you to the NDSM wharf. The NDSM is an up-and-coming neighbourhood and one of Amsterdam’s new hipster hotspots. If you’re looking to get out of the center, there are lots of things do to in Amsterdam North.
14. Go to a free lunchconcert in the The Royal Concertgebouw: If you like classical music jump on this chance to see a free concert on Wednesdays. (Do check the schedule, because they sometimes change the date) Go here for more exclusively free things to do in Amsterdam.
15. See a concert in Paradiso: The most beautiful concert venue in Amsterdam.
16. See the street art on the NDSM wharf: This area is complete different from the rest of Amsterdam. The old ship wharf still looks really industrial and there is cool street art all around. It’s also a very popular spot for photographers. I love to shoot here too! Click here for more photos spots in Amsterdam
Cool Restaurants and Cafés
17. Pllek: Restaurant that is made out of shipment containers with a glass wall so you can overlook the IJ. It is situated in the north of Amsterdam. To get there you take the free ferry to the other side of town.
18. Hannekes boom: Very popular among students especially in summer. They have a pretty big outside terrace that fills up quickly when the sun comes out.
19. Dignita, Hoftuin: Where are my brunch lovers at? Brunch is possibly the best meal of the day and this is my favorite brunch spot in Amsterdam. Try the hot smoked salmon royale or zucchini & chickpea fritter. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
20. The Hoxton: This is a hotel with a very cool loft style restaurant. While you’re wandering the canals of Amsterdam stop here for lunch of for a drink.
21. Escobar: Cool bar/restaurant in area ‘de pijp’. This is a great spot for drinks in the evening.
22. Vegan Junk food bar: This might just be my favorite place in Amsterdam. Us veggies and vegans like junk food too, but this place will also satisfy the carnivores among us. There is no elegant way to eat the enormous Daddy Mc Chick’n burger, but it sure is delicious!
23. Drie graefjes: Who doesn’t like cake? Here you’ll have plenty of options! Do make sure you’re hungry, because the slices here are enormous.
24. Winkel13: When exploring the canals stop here for the best apple pie in Amsterdam
25. Pluk: This is another cute little lunch spot in one of the streets between the canals. Look here for more cool lunch spots in Amsterdam.
26.IJhallen: This is Europes biggest flea market. One weekend a month you’ll be able to scour the market for treasures. You get there by taking the free ferry at the back of Central station.
27. Albert Cuyp market: This is possibly the most popular market in the Netherlands and actually Europes biggest day market (thank you google for this fact). You’ll find food, plants, but also clothing, bags and jewelry.
28. Flower Market: This is the place to buy your tulip bulbs to take back home!
29. Waterloo square market: Look for hidden treasures at this classic Amsterdam flea market. You can find books, clothing and al types of weird trinkets.
30. Anne Frank house: Anne Frank’s story is one I think we all know. The Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam is where she lived in hiding with her family for more than two years during World War II. This museum and Anne Franks story is bound to make an impression you.
31. Rijksmuseum: This museum is home to some of the Netherlands biggest artistic masterpieces. The museum houses pieces from the Middle Ages to present day. It’s most famous work is the night watch by Rembrandt.
32. Van Gogh: The name gives it away. This museum is full of painting by one of the Netherlands most famous artists.
33. Stedelijk museum: If modern and contemporary art is your thing, you should visit this museum. It’s on the same square as the Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum, although I don’t recommend trying to do all three museums in one day.
34. Foam photography museum: This International photography museum is located in an old Canal house and always has inspiring expositions.
35. Nemo: This is a science museum that is especially great for kids, but grown ups will definitely enjoy it too;)
36. Palace on the Dam: I think a lot of people initially aren’t that impressed with the palace on the Dam, but the inside is just beautiful and it has a very interesting history!
Awesome foodie things to do in Amsterdam
37. Lunch at Avocado show: Are you a hardcore avocado fan like me? Are you unable to live your life without Guac? Then you need to stop by here. You many have heard of this place as they went viral on social media. Me and my friend ended up waiting an hour here before we were finally seated, but I must say that that the food lived up to the hype.
38. Food festival ‘rollende keukens’: This is an awesome five-day food truck festival in the Westerpark. The name means : Weekend of the Rolling Kitchens. May 28th-June 1st, free entrance.
39. Try a snack from the wall: After a night of going out grab a snack from the wall to satisfy those late night cravings.
40. Visit brewery ‘het ij’: The brewery is located right next to a windmill. What better way to enjoy your locally brewed beer then with a view of an iconic Dutch windmill.
41. Go to a cheese shop: Every time I’m traveling I have a craving for Dutch cheese. Give it a try, but I warn you.. It will be hard to live without it after tasting it.
42. Try dutch salty licorice: Us locals love feeding unsuspecting foreigners this type of candy. Mostly because it has a very particular taste and we love seeing the faces you pull. It something you either love or hate.
43. Eat traditional Dutch pancakes. Head to ‘pannekoekenhuis upstairs’. You go up a very narrow flight up stairs and reach a cute restaurant with teapots hanging from the ceiling.
44. Try a fresh warm ‘stroopwafel’: I must say that this is one of the better Dutch food traditions and I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t love the flat caramel waffles. You can find a stand every day except Sunday on the Albert Cuyp market near Bazar restaurant.
45. Cookies at Van Stapele: Without doubt the best best cookies in Amsterdam. The store is tiny and they only have one type of cookies, but when a cookie is this good, it’s all you need!
Daytrips from Amsterdam
46. Kinderdijk: An impressive Unesco world heritage site. This village is famous for the 18th century windmills. It takes about 2 hours to get there from Amsterdam by public transport.
47. Zaanse schans: At only 30 minutes from Amsterdam, you can’t afford to miss it. It is an area with stunning windmills and wooden houses located along the river Zaan. There are several interesting museums to visit as well.
48. Tulip fields: For just a brief period of time, the end of march to the beginning of may you have an opportunity to see these colorful carpets of flowers. I advice to rent a bike at the Keukenhof and explore the nearby fields.
49. Giethoorn: The Venice of the Netherlands. This little peaceful town is famous for its waterways and can only be explored by boat.
50. Castle de Haar: This is the Netherlands biggest and most beautiful castle. The castle itself is impressive, but also the interior and the gardens surrounding it are stunning!