Discover the 24 best things to do in Amsterdam for a holiday like no other.
Amsterdam is packed with unique, historic and exciting things to do. However, when looking online for the top things to do you will notice all of them have the same touristy sites and activities. Of course, going to the hotspots of Amsterdam is fun, but the real way to experience the magic of this city is through a local’s eye. This list of things to do in Amsterdam is some local favs that will allow you to live like an Amsterdammer for a day.
Keep reading for the 24 BEST things to do in Amsterdam below.
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24 Best Things to do in Amsterdam
Go for an Early Morning Walk
There is no better time to walk around and explore Amsterdam than in the early morning. When the streets are quiet and few people are out Amsterdam feels almost mystical. Experiencing it during this time is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam to see the city at its best.
Going out from 7 AM – 10 AM is when you will find the streets the most empty. Heading to places that get extremely busy later on in the day like the 9 Streets or Dam Square is the best way to experience them in their most authentic form!
Have a Drink at The Dylan
The Dylan is the perfect place to go for coffee, cocktails and food in a hidden garden within the heart of the city. This is a luxurious 5-star hotel with its own restaurant and cafe open to the public. The hidden garden is super unique and offers a welcome relief from the busy streets just outside. Be sure to make a reservation if you are going for a meal as in the summer months it gets very busy.
Enjoy the Best Pastries at Fort Negen
Venture just a short distance from Amsterdam’s city center into Amsterdam West and be blessed with delicious pastries. Fort Negen is a bakery that makes mouth-water fresh pastries daily. There is usually a line out the door with people eager to try the famous almond croissants, cinnamon bread croissants, pear muffins and more!
Have a Beer at Cafe Brandon
Cafe Brandon is not just any old cafe in Amsterdam, but one of the oldest in the city! Opened in 1626 Cafe Brandon not only serves as a great meeting place for locals but also is a very historic place in the city.
Heading here after 5 PM for a beer amongst locals is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam to experience a more local side of the city. Going for Borrel – loosely translated to “drink time”- is a very popular thing to do after work amongst Dutch coworkers and Cafe Brandon is a top choice of bars in the city.
Apple Pie at Winkel 43
Winkle 43 is the most famous place in Amsterdam to get authentic Dutch apple pie. The restaurant often has a line down the street with people eager to taste the famous creation. Prepare yourself for a line, especially if you are visiting Amsterdam in autumn.
Go to a Festival / Event
Going to a festival is easily one of the top things to do in Amsterdam year-round. Amsterdam is a vibrant party city with events and festivals around the year. From street parties to concerts, to famous DJs and more, there is no shortage of shows to attend.
If you want to visit Amsterdam during the most special events be sure to visit for Kings Day (April 27th) and the Pride Prade (The first weeks of August).
Evening Canal Boat Ride
Going for a canal cruise in the evening is 100 times more special than a daytime canal cruise. During the evening the city is much quieter and romantic with the soft lights and slow sounds. Many people opt for daytime cruises but at night you can enjoy something a lot more interesting. This is also one of the best Amsterdam date ideas if you are looking to enjoy a more romantic getaway.
You can even book a tour with dinner, drinks and more!
Go on a Day Trip
Leaving Amsterdam and venturing to some of the other beautiful cities, villages and attractions in the Netherlands is a must! There is so much more to the Netherlands than just Amsterdam and depending on when you visit, you can see some pretty amazing things!
If you want to visit the tulip fields you only have a 1.5-month window in the year: from April to early May is ONLY when they are in bloom.
Here are some of the best day trips from Amsterdam:
Breakfast at Happy Pig Pancake Shop
If you are a pancake lover and looking for the best pancakes in Amsterdam look no further than Happy Pig Pancake Shop. This small hidden gem serves both sweet and savoury pancakes made with organic ingredients. They also make pancakes in vegan and gluten-light forms!
Have a Beer at Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a modern and iconic brewery in Amsterdam located beside a windmill. The huge, authentic Dutch windmill is one of the draws to this brewery as you can enjoy your beers with this amazing view! Here you can enjoy organic local blonde beers, dark beers & running short tours.
Enjoy Rooftop Drinks
Going for rooftop drinks in any city is garnetted to be a good time, and the same is true for Amsterdam. Heading to one of the many rooftop gems is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for a special and more classy night out.
Some of the best rooftop bars in Amsterdam are:
Join a Calming Yoga Class
Amsterdam is full of amazing yoga studios! Travelling can be pretty stressful and hard on your body and there is no better way to relax and unwind than with yoga. Check out this list of the 10 best yoga studios in Amsterdam and plan to visit one during your stay.
Dinner at Impero Romano
Going to Impero Romano for dinner is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for a memorable and delicious meal. This Italian restaurant serves only a few tasty meals and offers the iconic pasta made in front of you in a wheel of cheese. If you want to go here be ready to book weeks or MONTHS in advance!
Go to an Interactive Museum
Amsterdam is home to many museums, some full of traditional art, and others more interactive and fun. Heading to one of the many fun and interactive museums is one of the best ways to feel like a kid for a few hours. This is also one of the top things to do if the weather isn’t good.
Some of the best interactive museums in Amsterdam are:
Coffee at De Koffieschenkerij
Amsterdam is full of amazing cafes that are perfect for an early morning coffee and city admirations. One of the best cafes in Amsterdam is the hidden in plain sight De Koffieschenkerij. This cafe is open 9 AM – 6 PM daily inside the famous Oude Kerk in the Red Light District. The little garden and cozy interior are perfect in summer and winter.
Get a Croissant from Crossanterie Egstorf
Crossanterie Egstorf is a local favorite place to get fresh pastries, especially croissants! This small bakery is located in the heart of Amsterdam and is run by the sweetest owner and baker. Here you can get the best croissants in the city center at a great price!
Spend an Afternoon at a Classic Museum
Amsterdam is a place packed with art and culture, which means many museums! One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to go to one of the museums and spend a few hours admiring the rich artistic history of the city. Some of the top options are Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and more.
NDSM is an up-and-coming area in Amsterdam North built on an old shipyard. It is a real character neighbourhood that is a little more rustic and underground than the rest of the city. Heading here is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam to see a completely different side of Amsterdam.
Bike Down the Amstel
Biking in Amsterdam is HARD. Many tourists come to Amsterdam thinking they will rent a bike and enjoy a calm ride through the city. But you should take this very seriously as many people get injured biking incorrectly in the city and it is incredibly hectic!
If you want to bike one of the best places to enjoy a more relaxing ride is down the Amstel river. Here you can cruise without having any oncoming traffic or too many tourists to look out for.
Catch a Film at Pathé Tuschinski
Pathé Tuschinski is a stunning movie theatre in Amsterdam ideal for a rainy day in the city. The theatre looks like it’s ready for an opera and not modern films making it a magical place to watch new releases. Check what is playing when you’re in Amsterdam and plan a movie date like no other!
Evening at Ton Ton Club
Ton Ton Club is an adult Arcade where you can go to enjoy every arcade game you can think of. This adult playground also serves food and drinks so you can make it a fun tipsy game night. Heading here is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam for a fun night out.
Go to a Street Market
Visiting a street market is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam to feel like a local. Here you can walk around and find local goodies like cheese, meat, veggies, desserts and more! Some of the best are Albert Cupy Market, Noordermarkt, and Ten Katemarkt.
Poffertjes are a traditional Dutch food that is similar to mini pancakes but special in their own Dutch way. These small pancakes are puffy and round and typically served with powdered sugar and butter. They are best enjoyed hot and can be found at many restaurants and street market food stands!
Stroll Around the Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens in Amsterdam are some of the oldest in the world. They were founded in 1638 and were originally used as a herb garden for medicine for the city’s doctors. Strolling around these gardens is not only beautiful but also a full historic ride.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
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There is no shortage of things to do in Amsterdam!
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