There’s so many things to do in Amsterdam… visiting the Museum Quarter, the Rijksmuseum, the National Monument, the Heineken Experience and so much more that it might be hard to make a good selection on which items to include in your itinerary.
That’s why we’ve made this ‘must see and do’ list that shows the best of the best! Not just a top 10 but a top 50 of the best attractions! These are the things that we highly recommend to include in your program, we’ve listed museums, activities, a canal tour, the best districts to visit and much more. This will definitely help you decide which places to visit in Amsterdam, what activities to do and sights to see.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Amsterdam:
1. An Amsterdam City Walk
This is the activity I recommend the most. Especially the guided tours (check the reviews of the guide beforehand) are a must for everyone visiting Amsterdam. You’ll learn more about the city it’s rich history and the guide knows the best places to visit, to enjoy the nightlife and to grab a bite. For this reason it is best to put this activity on your first day, the tips you’ll get will help you to make the best of the following ones.
2. Take a Bike Tour
The Dutch love traveling by bike, as well as a means of transport as a hobby and exercise. You’ll notice that there are an enormous amount of bikes in the capital city and see lots of people going about on their ‘fiets’ as they are called in Dutch. You even have to be careful not walking into one:) So what better way to enjoy Amsterdam and its surroundings than a bike tour? There are many tours available, like tours that include a cheese tasting, a clog demonstration, countryside tours and many more. Yes I know… I’m all about the tours… but I seriously think its the best way to get the know the city. And just check out the reviews these tours get, seems like everyone is truly enjoying them. A cheaper option would be to rent a bike and plan your own trip or free roam the city.
Check out this list of available bike tours for more info and prices.
3. Canal Cruise
A great and relaxing way to view some of Amsterdam is by taking a cruise on what Amsterdam is famous for: it’s many canals. You can go for a day cruise or a night cruise, there’s the sightseeing cruise, the hop-on-hop-off canal bus, the pizza cruise, a cocktail and many more. And if you’re together with your loved one I would definitely go for a romantic dinner/candlelight cruise!
4. Visit the ‘De Pijp’ neighbourhood
De Pijp in Amsterdam is by many considered their favorite neighborhood and translates into ‘The Pipe’. The quarter was built to ease the overpopulated Jordaan district and to house laborers, this makes that De Pijp is a melting pot of cultures and nationalities. Today its also known as the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam and is surely one of the most vibrant districts of the city. Visit one of the many typical Amsterdam pubs, the must see Albert Cuypmarket with its many shops and try one of the international restaurants. And afterwards you can relax with a stroll through the Sarphatipark, a peaceful oasis in a bustling neighborhood.
5. Albert Cuypmarkt
Named after the Dutch artist Albert Cuyp this large street market is the largest in the Netherlands. I already mentioned it in my paragraph on the ‘De Pijp’ neighborhood but it’s worth mentioning separately as well! Experience the real multicultural Amsterdam. Since 1904 the market has grown to over 300 stalls.
6. The Vondelpark
Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam and the most popular and well known park all throughout the Netherlands. With over 10 million visitors each year it surely is one of Amsterdam’s most visited ‘attractions’. Especially during the spring and summer many are relaxing and enjoying the sun while having a picnic, drinking a beer or smoking a joint. There’s people jogging, rollerblading, a free open air theater (June, July and August), several cafe’s, monuments and more. Best thing to do here? Have a picnic in the park and go people-watching. More about the Vonderpark
7. The Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national art and history museum that features over 8,000 exhibitions of works of art and historical artifacts highlighting the rich and storied culture of the Dutch. It is the most popular museum of the Netherlands and I personally love this one! It showcases the works of famed artists, Frans Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt, just to name a few. More about the Rijksmuseum
8. The Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House (Dutch: Anne Frank Huis) is where Anne Frank and her family hid during the German occupation in World War II. Its a historical museum showcasing Anne’s life, the secret annex and an exhibition on discrimination and persecution. A museum with a collection and story that’s sure to impress. More about the Anne Frank House
9. Van Gogh Museum
This museum houses the largest collection of works from Vincent Van Gogh in the entire world (how surprising right:)). Van Gogh is one of most famous painters in the history of the Netherlands (and the world!). It comprises 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by Vincent van Gogh. More about the Van Gogh Museum
10. The Royal Theatre Carré
If you’re into theater (and possibly even when you’re not!) this is one stop not to be missed! This theater only seems to be getting raving reviews on how wonderful a show was given, how great sounds was and how beautiful the building. So why not attend one of the shows?
11. The Resistance Museum (Amsterdams Verzetsmuseum)
The Dutch Resistance Museum holds a fascinating collection of memorabilia recording the activities of Dutch Resistance workers in World War II. The museum is located in a building in the Plantage neighborhood of Amsterdam. Part of the museum is dedicated to the younger visitors and features stories, belongings and other items that were part of the children’s life during that period. More about the risistance museum
Leidseplein is the most popular square in all of Amsterdam. It can also be considered as Amsterdam’s nightlife hub as you’ll find many of the most popular cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants around the square or the surrounding streets. Fun both during the day as a great starting point in the evening to explore the nightlife. More about the Leidseplein
13. Artis Royal Zoo
Officially named Naturis Artis Magistra, this zoo dates back to 1838 which makes it the oldest Zoo in Holland. Among others it features an aquarium, planetarium and an insectarium and butterfly pavilion. More about Artis
14. The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes)
The Nine Streets is the ultimate authentic shopping experience in Amsterdam and is named after the nine side streets connecting the main canals. Full of shops and places to eat or have a drink it boasts a great and unique atmosphere that is described in many guides as a must visit area of the city.
15. The Red Light District
One of the first things, besides coffee shops maybe, that tourists think of when thinking of Amsterdam, The Red Light District really has it’s own charm and whether or not you approve of the pragmatic approach of sex trade in the Netherlands this is an area to be included in your list of area’s to visit. Tip: don’t make photo’s of the ladies as it might get you in trouble. More about the Red Light District
16. Science Center NEMO
Uncover the secrets of life and technology at Science Center NEMO! It’s the fifth most visited museum in the Netherlands and has five floors filled with exhibits and hands-on experiences. Especially the interactive exhibits make for a fun visit for young and old alike. More about NEMO
17. Rembrandt House
The Rembrandt House Museum, known as Rembrandthuis in Dutch, is a unique museum that allows visitors to catch a glimpse of what Rembrandt van Rijn’s life would have been like during the 17th century. The museum is housed in the very same home that Rembrandt lived in for two decades. More about the Rembrandt House
18. Museum of Bags and Purses
Ladies… how about a collection of more than 4000 bags dating from the late Middle Ages until today? I’ve been told it’s truly a great experience and fun museum to visit… I’m not that into bags and purses myself though:P More about the Bags and Purses Museum
19. Our Lord in the Attic Museum
Located in the Red Light District this small canal house has a little secret church at the top which will make for an interesting stop. The history and displays are truly amazing. Be prepared to climb some stairs.
20. Flower Market
Be sure to check out the Flower Market floating on the Singel canal! Although the flowers are not delivered by boat anymore, the ethics and the culture still remains strong and it’s sure fun to walk by. More about the Flower Market
21. Royal Palace of Amsterdam
The Paleis op de Dam, or the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, is located in the very heart of the city on Dam Square. It is one of three palaces that are at the monarch’s disposal thanks to an Act of Parliament. It is often used for Royal Events and official receptions and open to the public most of the year. More about the Royal Palace
22. Old Church
Old Church, or Oude Kerk, is the oldest building in the city and the church of the Red Light District. The building is used for both religious and cultural activities and is open to the public. More about the Old Church
23. Postcard Experience
Don’t buy a postcard on of the streets vendors but go to the Postcard Experience to get your digital postcard instead! In this small studio your will get your own video (you’re filmed in front of a green screen) of your visit in Amsterdam. Super fun to share with your friends and as a great memory! More about the Postcard Experience
24. House of Bols
This cocktail and jenever tasting bar is named after the Lucas Bols spirit, the oldest brand of spirit in the world. There are several area’s in the House of Bols: Hall of Taste, Bols Flairbooth, the Mirror Bar, the Bols Shop and the Bols Bar Tending Academy. Awesome experience as is proved by winning the Dutch Design Award for Best Exhibition & Experience. More about the House of Bols
25. Heineken Experience
Heineken is one of the most popular beers in the world, now wonder they’ve made an attraction about it:P Get a first-hand look at the brewing process and journey through the history of Heineken beer and the Heineken family. Be aware that you’ll have to be at least 18 years old or accompanied by an adult (of course you also won’t get to taste any alcohol under the age of 18). More about the Heineken Experience
Explore the world in the Tropenmuseum. This museum displays a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions about domestic and foreign culture, and social phenomena from around the world and is one of the leading anthropological and ethnographic museums in Europe. There’s even an interactive space specifically designed for the young. More about the Tropenmuseum
27. Dam Square
Dam Square is a square created in the 13th century and was renowned for its Dam Square hippies in the sixties. This vibe still lives on today. Around the square you’ll find highlights like the Bijenkorf, Magna Plaza, The Diamond Center, the Royal Palace, Madame Tussauds and more. Great starting point for day of fun.
28. Madame Tussaud’s
Although the main museum of Madame Tussaud is located in London the branch in Amsterdam is also definitely worth a visit. So what’s the main thing tourists do here? Well taking pictures of themselves together with the wax sculptors of celebrities like Lady Gaga and Brad Pitt. More about Madame Tussaud
This is one of the oldest inner courts in the the capital city and consists of a group of nice historical buildings around a courtyard and used to be a Béguinage. Most famous is the restored wooden house that dates back to 1528.
Amsterdam’s Chinatown is located next to the Red Light District and the Nieuwmarkt. And as the name suggests you’ll find Asian shops, restaurants and markets in this neighborhood, a better name should be Asiantown as it’s not mainly focused on China. Highlight is the Chinese Budhist Zeedijk Temple which is an impressive building with cool bright colors and typical Chinese roofing.
31. De Poezenboot
Ok I might be a little biased as I have two cats and really love those animals but the Poezenboot or Catboat is really one of a kind. It’s the only animal sanctuary that literally floats as its located in a houseboat on the Amsterdam canal belt and has become a world famous attraction. Be generous and leave a donation!
32. Electric Ladyland
This is a museum of which no other exists int he entire world. It’s the first museum of fluorescent art and amazes many by its beautiful art and colors. Low-priced and considered by many to be a great and impressive visit.
33. Wester Church (Westerkerk)
You’ll only get to the top by guided tour only but climbing up the Westerkerk Tower is surely to give you one of the best panorama views on Amsterdam. Start snapping those photo’s and selfies:P More about the Westerchurch
34. Hermitage Amsterdam
Explore Russian Culture and History in the Heart of Amsterdam in the Hermitage Museum. This is actually a branch of the Hermitage Museum found in Saint Petersburg, Russia and features exhibitions on Russian history and culture. This number 4 on the most visited museums in the Netherlands. More about the Hermitage Museum
35. Amsterdam Cheese Museum
Interesting museum on which Holland is famous for: Cheese! It’s located across the canal from the Anne Frank House so it might be a fun idea to combine the both… and entrance is only one euro.
36. Amsterdam Dungeon
Are you brave enough to enter the Amsterdam Dungeon? With 11 shows, live actors you’ll get a truly unique experience. Be aware, there’s as well laughing as screaming involved. More about the Amsterdam Dungeon
37. Museum van Loon
Centrally located on the Keizersgracht in the city stands the house of the Amsterdam regent family Van Loon. Willem van Loon was the co founder of the Dutch East India Company. The house is open six days a week so the public can have a look at the beautiful collection and garden. More about Museum van Loon
38. Basilica of St. Nicholas
The Basilica of St. Nicholas was built over 125 years ago and owes most of its beauty to Adrianus Bleijs. Known as Sint-Nicolaasbasiliek in Dutch, the church sits in the Old Center in Amsterdam. Both Baroque and Renaissance styles can be seen in the construction. More about the Basilica of St. Nicholas
39. The IJ Brewery
A taste of tradition and history, The IJ Brewery (in Dutch: Brouwerij ‘t IJ) is a small microbrewery producing organic beer, housed in an old windmill called De Gooyer which is national monument and the tallest wooden mill in the country. Do the tour and of course… taste the beer! More about the brewery
40. Allard Pierson Museum
Explore the world of ancient archaeology at the Allard Pierson Museum. This museum houses artifacts from ancient civilizations around the world, including Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire. More about the Allard Pierson Museum
41. The Cat Cabinet
Again I love cats so no wonder this is one is my list… This museum features an impressive collection of art of the feline persuasion. Did you know this museum often works together with the Rijksmuseum and van Gogh museum to display special works of art? Well it does:) Highly recommended, especially by cat lovers. More about the Cat Cabinet
42. Gassan Diamonds
This cutter, polisher, importer and exporter of of a girl’s best friend: diamonds is located in an impressive building which was a former diamond factory, that used to be powered by steam. You’ll be able to see the diamond cutters at work and if your wallet allows it you can get some really nice stuff. More about Gassan Diamonds
43. Maritime Museum
Discover the maritime history of the Netherlands in this really awesome museum… and if you’ve read into Dutch history a little you know we’ve been a big player in the maritime world throughout history. There’s model ships, globes, maps, paintings, other objects and even a replica of a VOC ship that you can board. More about the Maritime Museum
44. Jordaan District
The Jordaan has risen from a working-class district to one of the upscale neighborhoods of the city and is known for the boutique restaurants, specialty stores and galleries it houses. Its also known for its folk singers (among the Dutch that is of course) of whom you’ll find several statues. Also see: Map with city walk inner courts courtyards of the Jordaan in Amsterdam
45. Amsterdam Museum
A complete museum about the city itself, well what better location to learn about the city, its history, culture and traditions. Its located in the Kalverstraat which is one of the most famous shopping streets in the country! More about the Amsterdam Museum
46. Singel – The Narrowest House
Well most of you will know that you’ll find some narrow houses along the canals of Amsterdam but this one is narrowest and barely wider than its own front door! Located at Singel 7 its really fun to see and I’m sure you’re gonna want to take a picture of this one.
Huh? You’re stopping now? That’s only 46. Yes I know but I’d like you to continue in the comments section below. Share what you find the best spots/activities/attractions in Amsterdam!
Or you can continue with the Ultimate Top 50 of things to do in the entire Netherlands!