Top 17 things to do in Vibrant Amsterdam

A Man Pouring A Drink At Cambridge Public House.
The Cambridge Public House Paris
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A Martini Glass At Little Red Door Bar In Paris.
Little Red Door Paris
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A Man Pouring A Drink At Cambridge Public House.
The Cambridge Public House Paris
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A Martini Glass At Little Red Door Bar In Paris.
Little Red Door Paris
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Amsterdam is a vibrant and exciting city, arguably, considered as the heart of The Netherlands. It’s enclosed by a series of intricate canal systems giving rise to uniquely beautiful views. While this European city may be infamous for the Red Light District and marijuana coffee shops, it offers far more than just that.

Here’s a list of the top 17 things to do while visiting Amsterdam:


1. Anne Frank House Amsterdam

 First on the list is the Anne Frank House. Here you can spend time reading through actual excerpts from Anne’s diary, view the house and the hinged bookcase, the entrance to the Secret Annex, where the family hid from the Nazi regime and a gain an impression of the hardships endured. It’s an eye opening and solemn experience which leaves you feeling truly heartbroken. Definitely a worthwhile experience. Be sure to book well in advance. The visiting slots book out several weeks ahead of time. More information here

 2. Rijks Museum

 One of the most popular and largest museums in Amsterdam, Rijks is the national art museum of the Netherlands. The museum showcases 800 years of Dutch history and numerous exhibitions throughout the year. The museum strives to promote sustainability and inclusivity. The architecture of the building itself is impressive boasting a seamless blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles; something one needs to witness first hand. Once again, make sure to book your ticket well in advance. You can find more details here

 3. Get Lost in the City Centre

Close Google Maps, put your phone away, hide the fold-up old school tourist maps and wander around the city centre. The canals create an interesting maze effect. You’ll be sure to lose your way and stumble across some interesting sightings. The best way to explore any new city, is to get lost in it.

 4. Canal Tour

 This is a must-do experience for anyone visiting Amsterdam for the first time. It’s the perfect way to view the landscape and the architecture from a unique vantage point. There are many companies offering various deals. Some offer lunch or dinner, others offer a glass of bubbly and some provide tour guides who’ll keep you informed and entertained. So do your research (check which options best suits your needs and budget) and book in advance.

 5. Hop On – Hop Off Bus

 Another great way to experience any big city for the first time is via a tourist “Hop On - Hop Off” bus like City Sightseeing and Big Bus. The bus takes you around all the major tourist spots and you can listen to a pre-recorded tour guide inform you of all the attractions as you pass by them. Many of these tour companies offer an option inclusive of a canal tour too, so be sure to check all the latest offerings online before booking.

 6. Rijks Restaurant

If you’re looking for a special foodie experience, I can’t recommend Rijks enough. Rijks is a Michelin star restaurant led by Executive Chef Joris Bijdendijk and Kitchen Chefs (chef du cuisine) Ivan Beusink and Yascha Oosterberg. The restaurant strives to showcase Dutch produce in exceptional modern cuisine. The food is phenomenal and the service impeccable. The restaurant boasts a young vibrant team who do a fantastic job without all the unnecessary pretentiousness of some more traditional Michelin star restaurants. Here’s a link to a full review of Rijks including location and costing

 7. Flying Dutchmen Cocktails

Flying Dutchmen Cocktails is the most amazing bar in the heart of Amsterdam. It’s a small, intimate and stylish bar owned by Tess Posthumus and Timo Janse. They serve up some beautiful, creative and delicious cocktails and are listed on the Worlds 50 Best Bars. If you love cocktails, be sure to add Flying Dutchmen Cocktails to your list. Here’s a link to a full review, including location and costing

 8. Take a Walk in the Community Gardens of Tuinpark Nut & Genoegen

If you’re looking to experience unique, tranquil, natural environments, I recommend visiting Tuinpark Nut & Genoegen. This a local community garden space with little local Dutch houses in a large open park area boasting big trees, beautiful flowers and a few small canals. This beautiful park houses a maze of intricate pathways making it a tranquil and peaceful spot to enjoy a morning stroll.

 9. Manneken Pis Vlaamse Friet

These seem to be very popular fries in the Netherlands with two branches in Amsterdam alone. The potato chips are deep fried and served with a sauce of your choice. They’re a great option for a quick snack while walking around exploring the city. The chips are fairly well priced (even the medium size portion is rather large). However, the sauces are processed and have an artificial taste to them, so don’t expect the quality to be on par with a homemade dipping sauce. For my South African audience, I’d say they compare well to “Chip n Dip” style of fries. In general, great value and perfect snacking food.

 10. Try Stroopwafel

 Stroopwafel is essentially a syrup waffle sandwich. This is the quintessential Dutch snack. You can find them all over Amsterdam, in grocery stores, tourist hotspots, bakeries, etc. (avoid buying them from tourist vendors unless you’re prepared to pay double the price). They are absolutely delicious and pair perfectly with your morning coffee for a quick breakfast before exploring the city (don’t follow me for health tips).

 11. Buy Some Local Cheese

The Dutch are well known for their cheese. Once again, this is something you can find throughout the city. I’d recommending visiting the smaller delis outside of the city main centre. Many offer small tastings so that you can get a feel for which cheese types you prefer prior to buying. Get some crackers, bread and a bottle of wine and you have the perfect picnic basket to enjoy while overlooking this beautiful city.

 12. Restaurant Red

If you’re looking for a mid-range restaurant recommendation, you can’t go wrong with Restaurant Red. They offer a great selection of meals including beef fillet, lobster, chicken and sole. It’s a lovely cosy little restaurant located in the city centre. Portions are very generous and meals are fairly well priced. They’re quite a popular restaurant so best to book in advance.

13. Shopping in the City Centre Binnenstad

Amsterdam is a fantastic city for shopping. The city centre, Binnenstad, boasts an array of stores all within short walking distance of each other. There’s also a great variety of stores to suit both your fashion sense as well as your budget. Clothing stores include Primark, Tommy Hilfiger, Zara, Nike, Ted Baker, H&M, etc. For my South African audience, you’ll love Primark (Saffas love a good bargain). They house fashionable clothes at very affordable prices.

 14. Visit the Bloemenmarkt

You can’t go to Amsterdam and not visit the Bloemenmarkt. It’s one of the oldest and largest flower markets and is the only floating flower market in the world. Here, you can treat yourself to some beautiful flowers or even a Dutch souvenir or two. It’s well worth the visit.

 15. Van Gogh Museum

If you’re an art lover, this one is for you. The Van Gogh Museum is a Dutch art museum dedicated to showcasing the life and works of Vincent van Gogh. Here, you can see the progression of his work throughout his life. This is another popular tourist destination, so be sure to book your tickets well in advance. Further information here

 16. Amsterdamse Bos Parkrun

If you enjoy staying active while travelling, I’d recommend partaking in the Amsterdam Parkrun, Amsterdamse Bos. It’s an organised 5km route, which can either be run or walked, through a beautiful park area. It’s well organised and a great way to burn off some of those stroopwafels and cheese. Here’s a link with some details

 17. Heineken Brewery

Last on the list is the Heineken Brewery. This one is for the beer lovers. You can visit the first ever constructed Heineken Brewery in the city centre of Amsterdam. Here, you can partake in a one and a half hour self-guided tour and learn all about the history of Heineken and the brewing process. After the tour, you’re welcome to enjoy a Heineken or two. You can find more details here

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