Travel Guide: The Top Things to Do in Amsterdam

2023 Travel Guide: The Top Things to Do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, a city rich in history, art, and culture, awaits your arrival. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world of picturesque canals, vibrant neighborhoods, and a bustling culinary scene. Prepare to uncover the hidden gems of this European treasure trove and explore the top things to do in Amsterdam. This city, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system, and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age, is a traveler’s paradise. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and numerous bike paths exist. So, pack your bags and prepare to embark on an unforgettable journey through this iconic city’s winding streets and tranquil waterways!

Short Summary

  • Explore Amsterdam’s history and culture through its renowned museums, neighborhoods, landmarks, and outdoor attractions.

  • Enjoy a unique nightlife experience with the city’s bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

  • Take day trips to nearby cities such as Haarlem for stunning architecture and rooftop bars.

Must-Visit Museums

Must-Visit Museums Amsterdam

Amsterdam, a city steeped in history and artistic heritage, boasts numerous museums that will leave you in awe. Some of the must-visit museums in Amsterdam include:

  • Anne Frank House: This is not just a museum but a beacon of hope in the heart of the city. Here, you can step into the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II and feel the poignant atmosphere that still lingers.

  • Van Gogh Museum: Step into the world of Vincent Van Gogh and admire his masterpieces. This museum houses the largest collection of works by the Dutch artist, making it a must-visit for art lovers.

  • Rijksmuseum: This national museum of the Netherlands invites you to explore Dutch art and history. Home to a vast collection of artworks from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, the Rijksmuseum is a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage.

  • MOCO Museum: If you’re a modern and contemporary art fan, the MOCO Museum is the place to be. Here, you can admire works by renowned artists like Banksy, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein.

Each museum offers a unique experience that will enrich your understanding of the city’s past and present.

Visiting Amsterdam and exploring its museums is a great way to learn more about the city’s culture.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House, located in the heart of Amsterdam, serves as a poignant reminder of the struggles Anne Frank and her family faced during World War II. As you visit Anne Frank House, stepping into this historic canal house, you will gain insight into the circumstances of the Franks and those who aided them in hiding until their eventual discovery and deportation to Auschwitz.

Pre-booking your tickets online for a designated time slot is essential, as they sell out quickly. Don’t forget to take advantage of the complimentary audio guide available in nine languages, which helps to deepen the understanding of Anne’s life and writings.

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is a must-see destination for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. Housing the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works, the museum showcases over 200 paintings, drawings, and letters that offer an intimate glimpse into the life and mind of this tormented genius.

Allocate at least two hours to fully appreciate the masterpieces on display. Book skip-the-line tickets online beforehand to make the most of your visit, ensuring you don’t miss out on this mesmerizing experience.


As you wander through the city center, the Rijksmuseum’s majestic façade beckons. This national museum is devoted to Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day, showcasing masterpieces by renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. The museum glorifies the works of these Dutch Masters, highlighting their contributions to the Dutch Golden Age.

To make the most of your visit, arrive early in the day to avoid queues and fully immerse yourself in the stunning building, grounds, and art.

MOCO Museum

For a taste of modern and contemporary art, look no further than the MOCO Museum, one of the most captivating art museums. This intimate museum features exhibits by renowned artists such as:

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat

  • Damien Hirst

  • Andy Warhol

  • Keith Haring

Visitors are captivated by the aesthetically pleasing interior and thought-provoking exhibits.

The audio tour, packed with informative insights, adds depth to your experience as you explore the works of these groundbreaking artists.

Exploring Amsterdam’s Neighborhoods

Amsterdam's Neighborhoods

Venture beyond Amsterdam’s bustling center and immerse yourself in the city’s enchanting neighborhoods. Discover the charming streets of Jordaan, the lively multicultural atmosphere of De Pijp, and the creative hubs of Amsterdam West. Each of these neighborhoods is a world in itself, offering a unique blend of historic charm, vibrant street life, and diverse culinary experiences.

Once a working-class area, Jordaan is now one of the most upscale locales in Amsterdam, known for its art galleries, specialty shops, and courtyard gardens. De Pijp, famous for its bohemian vibe and ethnic diversity, is filled with a multitude of international eateries, cozy pubs, and the city’s largest street market, the Albert Cuyp Market. On the other hand, Amsterdam West is a creative hotspot with trendy design stores, cutting-edge fashion shops, and hip cafes.

These neighborhoods, each with its distinct character and charm, offer a more intimate and authentic experience of Amsterdam, away from the main tourist trails. So, put on your walking shoes and get ready to explore the hidden gems of Amsterdam’s enchanting neighborhoods.

Each area offers its own unique blend of local shops, galleries, and cafes, inviting you to explore and create unforgettable memories.


The picturesque neighborhood of Jordaan, with its narrow streets and historic buildings, is a delight to explore. Stroll along the main streets lined with eclectic shops, galleries, and eateries, as you uncover the area’s vibrant art scene.

Don’t miss the opportunity to join a food tour like Eating Europe Food Tours, where you can indulge in traditional Dutch treats such as:

  • apple pie

  • raw herring

  • Gouda cheese

  • stroopwafel

The nearby Biologische Noordermarkt, operating on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., offers a chance to sample fresh local produce and mingle with the locals.

De Pijp

De Pijp, a trendy neighborhood known for its multicultural atmosphere, is the perfect destination for those seeking an authentic Amsterdam experience. Bursting with unique shops, bars, and restaurants, this area offers a plethora of options for those looking to explore and indulge in the city’s diverse flavors.

Located just a stone’s throw from the famous Heineken Experience, De Pijp is also home to the bustling Albert Cuyp Market, where you can sample an array of street food and shop for souvenirs.

Amsterdam West

Amsterdam West is an up-and-coming area where creativity and culture converge. Converted industrial spaces now house art galleries, studios, and cultural events, providing a unique blend of old and new. The Westergasfabriek, a former gasworks complex turned culture park, offers a range of activities, from visiting stylish boutiques and design stores to enjoying a fine dining experience at the upscale Restaurant Adam or a more casual meal at Staring at Jacob.

This less touristy neighborhood offers a glimpse into the city’s thriving creative scene, making it a must-visit destination.

Canal Adventures

Amsterdam Canal Adventures

Amsterdam’s iconic canals, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed treasure, are best experienced through guided cruises, walking tours, or private boat rentals. Each offers a unique perspective of the city, allowing you to uncover hidden gems and marvel at the architectural wonders that line the waterways. These waterways, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”, are an integral part of the city’s landscape. They form a network of water channels that crisscross the city, providing a stunning backdrop to the city’s historic architecture. Whether you’re on a guided cruise, learning about the city’s history from an experienced guide, walking alongside the canals soaking in the city’s charm, or navigating your own private boat under the city’s many bridges, you’re bound to fall in love with Amsterdam from a whole new perspective. The canals are especially enchanting in the evening, when the bridges are illuminated, creating a magical atmosphere that’s hard to forget.

Cruises provide a leisurely way to explore the city, with knowledgeable guides providing insight into the city.

Canal Cruises

A leisurely canal cruise is the perfect way to explore Amsterdam’s historic waterways. As you glide along the majestic canals, you’ll:

  • Learn about the city’s history and architecture

  • Take in the breathtaking views

  • Delve into the stories that have shaped Amsterdam’s distinctive character

Cruises typically last for an hour, providing ample time to admire the sights and immerse yourself in the city’s rich culture.

Book through local tour operators or online platforms to secure your spot and save money as you embark on a memorable journey through the city’s aquatic arteries.

Walking Tours

For those who prefer a more intimate experience, walking tours offer the opportunity to explore Amsterdam’s picturesque canal ring on foot. Led by knowledgeable guides, these tours provide insights into the city’s rich history and architectural heritage while uncovering hidden gems along the way.

Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, walking tours cater to a wide range of interests and provide a truly immersive experience.

Private Boat Rentals

Consider renting a boat to navigate the canals at your own pace for a more personalized adventure. Private boat rentals offer a unique perspective of the city, allowing you to explore Amsterdam’s waterways as you please. Choose from various vessels, from motorboats to sailboats, and set off on your own aquatic adventure.

Rental companies are available throughout the city, making it easy to embark on a memorable excursion.

Historical Landmarks

Amsterdam Historical Landmarks

Its historical landmarks best encapsulate Amsterdam’s rich history and architectural heritage. Visit the Royal Palace, Oude Kerk, and Begijnhof to gain an appreciation for the city’s past and the stories that have shaped its present. These landmarks, each with its own unique history, serve as a window into Amsterdam’s past, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s evolution over the centuries. From the opulent Royal Palace, which stands as a testament to the city’s regal past, to the Oude Kerk, a symbol of Amsterdam’s long-standing religious traditions, and the Begijnhof, a quiet sanctuary that once served as a haven for a religious women’s community, each landmark has a story to tell. As you explore these sites, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the city’s historical fabric and its journey from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis. Don’t miss the opportunity to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Amsterdam’s history.

These landmarks are a testament to the city’s long and varied history and offer an unforgettable experience.

Royal Palace

The Royal Palace, situated in the heart of Amsterdam, is a stunning example of 17th-century architecture. Originally constructed as a city hall, it now serves as a royal residence and is open to the public for exploration.

The palace’s magnificent interiors are adorned with marble, art, and tapestries, offering a glimpse into the opulent lives of the Dutch monarchy. Take advantage of the complimentary English audio guide, which provides fascinating insights into the palace’s history and many treasures.

Oude Kerk

As Amsterdam’s oldest building, the Oude Kerk holds a special place in the city’s history. Dating back to the 13th century, this Gothic-style church has seen its fair share of transformations over the years. Today, it serves as an art venue, hosting rotating exhibits and performances that showcase the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Step inside and immerse yourself in the centuries-old atmosphere, surrounded by striking stained-glass windows and intricate wooden carvings.


Hidden away in central Amsterdam, the Begijnhof is a tranquil courtyard oasis, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling city streets. This unique example of almshouses has provided social security for single women since the Middle Ages, and the historic buildings that surround it are a testament to the city’s architectural heritage.

Wander through the courtyard and marvel at the well-preserved structures, imagining the lives of the beguines who once called this place home.

Food and Drink Experiences

Amsterdam Food and Drink Experiences

Amsterdam is a culinary paradise, offering diverse food and drink experiences to satisfy even the most discerning palate. From food tours and local dishes to bustling food halls and markets, there’s something to tantalize every taste bud. The city is a gastronomic delight, boasting a variety of eateries that cater to every craving. Amsterdam has got you covered whether you’re a fan of traditional Dutch fare, international cuisine, or vegan and vegetarian options. The city’s food scene is a melting pot of cultures, reflecting its diverse population and its openness to global influences. So, prepare your senses for a culinary journey as you immerse yourself in the flavors of Amsterdam, a city that loves to eat and drink.

Amsterdam has everything, whether you’re looking for a traditional Dutch meal or something more exotic.

Food Tours

Food tours offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s culinary scene, guided by locals who share their passion for food and culture. Sample Dutch and international cuisine, including cheese, bitterballen, and Indonesian rijsttafel, as you explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and markets.

Not only will you taste delicious dishes, but you’ll also learn about the history and traditions behind them, making for a truly unforgettable experience.

Local Dishes

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without trying some of its traditional Dutch dishes. From poffertjes (fluffy mini pancakes) and herring to the iconic stroopwafel (two thin waffles filled with caramel syrup), the city offers a mouthwatering array of local delicacies.

Be sure to pop into local restaurants and cafes to sample these authentic flavors, and don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from the locals – they’ll gladly point you in the right direction!

Food Halls and Markets

Head to one of its bustling food halls or markets for a taste of Amsterdam’s culinary diversity. Foodhallen, a popular indoor food hall, features 21 stands offering a wide range of local and international cuisine and four bars to quench your thirst.

If you prefer a more traditional market experience, explore the Albert Cuyp Market or the Noordermarkt, where you can sample street food, shop for fresh produce, and mingle with the locals.

Amsterdam Nightlife

Amsterdam Nightlife

As the sun sets, Amsterdam’s nightlife comes alive with a myriad of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues to explore. Whether you’re interested in the infamous Red Light District, joining a guided bar crawl, or simply venturing into the local bar and club scene, there’s something for every night owl in this vibrant city. The city’s nightlife is as diverse as it is exciting, offering something for everyone. From the sleek and stylish cocktail bars and high-energy dance clubs in Rembrandtplein to the laid-back pubs and historic breweries in the Jordaan district, Amsterdam is a city that truly never sleeps. Its nightlife offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern vibrancy, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all who venture out after dark.

From the bustling pubs of the Jordaan to the chic cocktail bars of the De Pij.

Red Light District

Amsterdam’s Red Light District, often referred to as the city’s most notorious neighborhood, offers a unique experience for visitors looking to explore the city’s more risqué side. The district is home to red-lit windows, sex shops, bars, sex shows, and the Museum of Prostitution.

This area provides a fascinating glimpse into the controversial industry of prostitution, with an erotic museum nearby showcasing its history and cultural impact. Additionally, the sex museum offers a unique perspective on human sexuality.

While the Red Light District may not be for everyone, it’s certainly an unforgettable part of Amsterdam’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Bar Crawl

If you’re keen on experiencing Amsterdam’s bars and clubs, joining a guided bar crawl is a safe and affordable way to do so. Led by local party experts, these tours take you to some of the city’s most popular nightlife spots, introducing you to fellow travelers and ensuring a fun-filled evening.

With drink specials, skip-the-line access, and the chance to make new friends, a bar crawl is the perfect way to experience the city’s lively nightlife scene.

Local Bars and Clubs

For a more laid-back night out, Amsterdam’s local bars and clubs offer diverse options to suit any mood. The city boasts an impressive array of venues to explore, from cozy brown bars and craft breweries to energetic dance clubs.

Whether you’re in the mood for a quiet pint or a night of dancing, there’s a spot for every reveler in Amsterdam.

Outdoor Attractions

Amsterdam Outdoor Attractions

Amsterdam’s natural beauty can be enjoyed at various outdoor attractions, including Vondelpark, Hortus Botanicus, and the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans. These picturesque spots provide the perfect opportunity to unwind and soak up the city’s charm. Don’t forget to bring your Amsterdam city card for a seamless experience.

Vondelpark, the city’s largest park, is a haven for nature lovers and a great place for a picnic or a leisurely walk. Hortus Botanicus, a beautiful botanical garden, is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city, offering a diverse array of exotic plants and flowers. The historic windmills of Zaanse Schans, located just outside the city, are a testament to the Netherlands’ rich history and a great place for photography enthusiasts.

These outdoor attractions offer a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and provide a unique perspective on Amsterdam’s history and culture. Whether you’re a fan of nature, and history, or just love exploring new places, Amsterdam’s outdoor attractions are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the lush gardens of Vondelpark.


Vondelpark, the city’s largest green space, offers a serene escape from the bustling urban landscape. With its lush lawns, meandering paths, and tranquil ponds, the park is perfect for picnicking, strolling, and people-watching.

Vondelpark hosts concerts, festivals, and other events throughout the year, providing a lively atmosphere for visitors and locals alike. Don’t miss the chance to explore this beloved park and experience the vibrant spirit of Amsterdam.

Hortus Botanicus

Just a short walk from the city center, the Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. With over 6,000 trees and plants, the garden offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

In addition to its diverse collection of flora, the Hortus Botanicus is home to a butterfly greenhouse, where visitors can observe hundreds of butterflies in their natural habitat. After exploring the garden, enjoy a meal at the nearby restaurant, which offers a seasonal menu inspired by the garden’s produce.

Zaanse Schans

Just a short drive outside of Amsterdam, the Zaanse Schans is an open-air museum that transports visitors back in time to the 17th and 18th centuries. Here, you can explore the historic windmills, taste authentic Dutch cheese, and learn about traditional clog-making techniques.

With its charming wooden houses and picturesque landscape, the Zaanse Schans is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience a slice of Dutch history.

Day Trips from Amsterdam

Day Trips from Amsterdam

While Amsterdam offers a wealth of attractions and experiences, venturing beyond the city limits allows you to explore the beauty of the Netherlands even further. Nearby destinations like Haarlem provide a glimpse into the country’s rich history, striking architecture, and vibrant culture. Not only does this give you a broader understanding of Dutch life and traditions, but it also allows you to see different landscapes and architectural styles that are unique to each town or city. These day trips can provide a refreshing change of pace from the bustling city life of Amsterdam, giving you a chance to experience the peaceful Dutch countryside, traditional windmills, and quaint, historic towns. So, while Amsterdam is a treasure trove of experiences, don’t miss the chance to broaden your horizons and discover the diverse beauty the Netherlands offers.


Just a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam, the picturesque city of Haarlem awaits. Known for its striking architecture, museums, and rooftop bars, Haarlem is an ideal destination for a day trip from Amsterdam. Wander through the charming streets, marvel at the stunning Grote Markt, and explore the Teylers Museum and Frans Hals Museum, both dedicated to Dutch art and history.

After a day of exploration, unwind at one of the city’s rooftop bars, taking in the breathtaking views and savoring the atmosphere of this beautiful city.

Explore Amsterdam with Ease

To ensure you make the most out of your Amsterdam adventure, I’ve created a custom Google map, pinpointing essential waypoints throughout the city. This interactive map is your guide to Amsterdam, helping you navigate its picturesque canals and cobblestone streets effortlessly. Whether you’re looking to locate the iconic museums or cozy coffee shops, this map is a crucial tool for enhancing your exploration.


Amsterdam is a city that truly has something for everyone. From its rich history and vibrant art scene to its picturesque neighborhoods and lively nightlife, there are countless experiences to be had in this European gem. Whether you’re exploring its iconic museums, wandering through its charming streets, or venturing beyond the city limits, Amsterdam offers a wealth of unforgettable memories just waiting to be made.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Absolutely! Three days is the perfect amount of time to explore Amsterdam, as it offers many attractions. With a little planning, you can easily fit in all the must-see sights and enjoy your time there. Amsterdam has something for everyone, from the Anne Frank House to the Van Gogh Museum. There is no excuse.

Generally, a visit to Amsterdam should last between 2-4 days to fully experience the city’s most popular attractions and landmarks. With longer stays, travelers can explore more of the city’s neighborhoods and cultural offerings.

Discover Amsterdam’s unique culture and vibrant attractions by visiting its stunning architecture, leisurely biking through picturesque canals, and exploring the city’s lively nightlife.

Experience the culture of Amsterdam by visiting its iconic attractions. From the Anne Frank House to the Red Light District, this vibrant city has so much to explore and enjoy. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to experience all that Amsterdam offers.

Amsterdam is generally safe for tourists and hosts approximately 5 million travelers every year. With its high safety record, people can enjoy a worry-free vacation in this fantastic city.

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