Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in the world, and for good reason. With its laid back reputation, gorgeous canals, dozens of museums and vibrant nightlife, it has something for everyone. It’s also an ideal base for those who want to explore surrounding countries and cities.
But you don’t have to take it from us. Plenty of people have added Amsterdam to their list of favorite cities. Here’s a list of 95 fun things to do, see and eat in Amsterdam and the surrounding regions, including top suggestions from the ladies on the Girls LOVE Travel® Facebook group.
50 Top Things to Do in Amsterdam
Looking for the best things to do in Amsterdam? There’s so much to do and see in the city, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed trying to take it all in.
Don’t worry, though, because Amsterdam’s bicycle-friendly layout and easy-going culture make it one of the easiest European cities to navigate. Here are 50 places to visit and things to see as you explore.
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1. See Electric Ladyland
Sure, it’s a Jimi Hendrix album, but it’s also a museum of fluorescent light in Amsterdam. Visitors to Electric Ladyland can explore fluorescent minerals and even create their own fluorescent art. Visiting this trippy, large-scale art installation is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.
2. Stroll Through the Keukenhof Gardens (Hint: Tulips!)
Besides windmills and wooden shoes, tulips are arguably the thing most closely associated with Amsterdam. If you love these charming, bright flowers, you’ll want to plan your visit around spring, when the tulips pop up in shades of red, pink, purple, yellow and orange.
Tulip fields are all around the outskirts of the city, but you can also get your fill of flowers at Amsterdam’s Keukenhof Gardens. According to the Gardens’ website, the best time to visit is around mid-April, but weather fluctuations can affect blooming times, so check back closer to your trip.
3. Visit the Anne Frank House
Amsterdam is a city that is steeped in history, and this is one landmark that you don’t want to miss. For anyone who has read The Diary of Anne Frank, you know what a profound and heart-wrenching story lies behind this historical house. It might not be the typical light-hearted faire that you find in Amsterdam, but this is definitely worth the trip.
With 1.5 million visitors every year, the Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most visited tourist destinations. The website recommends purchasing tickets well in advance, as demand often exceeds the number of available tickets.
4. Swing Through the Red Light District
For many visitors, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is both tantalizing and a little bit scary. What is it, exactly? Is prostitution really, truly legal? Can you take your grandma there?
As the official Amsterdam tourism site explains, the Red Light District is in some ways exactly what it sounds like. However, it’s got a lot more to offer, including historical areas that make up the oldest parts of the city. If you like architecture, for example, you won’t want to miss Oudezijds Armsteeg, which features six restored Delft Blue houses.
There’s also plenty of adult fun ranging from bars and nightclubs to sex shoes and the popular Sex Museum of Amsterdam. No matter what you’re into, it’s definitely worth a quick stroll through the streets and alleyways. (If you’re looking to keep things more tame, we definitely recommend going during the day.)
5. Get a Birdseye View (and Swing on Europe’s Highest Swing Set) from the A’DAM Lookout
Adventure seekers will love the A’DAM Lookout, an observation deck and swing that lets you literally see the whole of Amsterdam from the edge of your seat…in a swing set. There’s also a rooftop restaurant and bar, as well as a high-tech interactive city exhibition that lets you explore Amsterdam with both feet safely on the ground. If you’re a creative in the city, A’DAM&Co is a private club you might want to check out – they have sister clubs in NYC, Paris and London, too.
6. Visit Museum Vrolik
Into weird medical stuff? The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia often makes headlines for its collection of odd and sometimes gruesome collection of medical specimens, but you can find an even bigger collection in Amsterdam. Home to 10,000 medical and anatomical curiosities, Museum Vrolik’s collection dates back to the 1700s.
7. Windmill Through Zaanse Schans
What could be more Dutch than windmills? If you came to Amsterdam to see them, you shouldn’t miss the neighborhood of Zaanse Schans, which is home to historic windmills and quaint wooden houses. Located on the River Zaan, this residential area will take you back to what life was like in 18th and 19th century Amsterdam.
8. Play in Efteling Park
The United States isn’t the only place you can find theme parks. The Dutch know how to do big, bold entertainment, and they prove it at Efteling Park – which quite frankly, has some pretty creepy stuff. Often referred to as “The Dutch Disneyland”, it’s the largest theme park in the Netherlands. It’s open 365 days a year, which makes planning your visit really easy.
9. Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Home to the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and drawings in the world, the Van Gogh Museum is located in Amsterdam South. As a bonus, it’s within easy traveling distance of the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Concertgebouw, so you can make a day trip out of it. You won’t find Van Gogh’s most famous painting, Starry Night, here, but this sprawling collection of works presented chronologically is as moving as it is education.
10. Book a Street Food Tour with Hungry Birds
Love immersing yourself in local culture? Love eating? You can do both with a street food tour with Amsterdam travel company, Hungry Birds. Pick from Daytime, Evening, Breakfast and East Experiences. (Just wear your comfy pants.)
11. Take the Heineken Beer Factory Tour
Heineken has been around since 1864, and it looks pretty darn good for its age. The famous beer factory gives Heineken Experience tours 365 days a year — all led by ‘Dam locals who can tell you lots of fascinating information about their city.
12. Visit Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
History buffs won’t want to miss Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, which is located about five minutes from Central Station on foot. Built in the 17th century, the museum is a Catholic church built on top of a canal house. Known as a “schuilkerk” or “clandestine church,” the museum allowed people in past centuries to worship without fear of religious persecution.
13. Rent a Bike and Get Lost in the City
One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit Amsterdam are the bicycles. They’re everywhere! In fact, there are more bicycles than actual residents in the city, making bike tours one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.
Like many medieval towns, Amsterdam struggled to adapt when cars came on the scene. After a period of high pedestrian deaths, city officials launched a massive campaign to build bike paths in the 1970s.
As a result, bicycling has become practically synonymous with Amsterdam. As you realize when you get there, it’s incredibly easy to move around the city on two wheels. You can find bicycle rentals just about everywhere.
14. Wander Through Jordaan
If you like antiquing and picking up unique works of art, the quaint neighborhood of Jordaan is probably right up your alley. The narrow streets are home to an eclectic collection of shops, cafes and art galleries.
15. Foodie? Get Thyself to Foodhallen
Who doesn’t want to visit a place called Foodhallen? We don’t even need to speak Dutch to know it’s exactly kind of spot we need to check out. At Foodhallen, you can sample the best culinary creations Amsterdam has to offer.
16. Visit Zandvoort Beach
If you’re hitting up Amsterdam in the summer, you don’t want to miss Zandvoort Beach, a long stretch of soft sand with plenty to do and see. There’s even a nude beach if you’re into that sort of thing. With all the biking you’re likely to do in Amsterdam, you’ll probably have a beach body ready if you’re inclined to show it off.
17. Eat Some Herring
Next to bicycles, herring carts are probably the most common thing you’ll see on every street corner in Amsterdam. It’s served raw, but don’t let that scare you. The fish is caught fresh, and it has a sweet taste. You can also request a “broodje haring” to get your fish served on bread with pickles and onion.
18. Grab a Selfie with the IAmsterdam Letters
If you visit Amsterdam, you have to get your photo taken with the city’s iconic letters, which stand over two meters tall. Until December 2018, you were able to visit the letters in the square behind the Rijksmuseum, however, the city council had them removed because they were deemed to be “too individualistic.” But never fear! You can still visit the letters (and take a killer selfie) in other locations, including in Noord and in front of Schiphol airport.
19. Book a Walking Tour
Many people get around Amsterdam by bicycle, but walking tours can also be a fun way to explore the city. Knowledgeable guides show you historic sites and interesting places. You can find pretty much any kind of walking tour you’re looking for, including food tours and even treks through the Red Light District.
20. Visit Albert Cuypmarkt
Started in 1904, the popular Albert Cuypmarkt boasts over 300 stalls that sell a variety of food, flowers and clothes. This is also one of the best places in the city to enjoy a freshly made stroopwafel!
21. Relax in Vondelpark
Nature lovers will want to check out Vondelpark, which was designed by landscape architect L.D. Zocher and features restaurants, cafes and an open-air theater.
22. See a Show at The Royal Theatre Carré
Opened in 1887, The Royal Theatre Carré features musicals, concerts, variety shows, cabarets and dance.
23. Ice Skate at Leidseplein
Visiting Amsterdam in the winter? You don’t have to skip outdoor fun. Leidseplein (Leiden Square) features festive holiday days and ice skating around a bustling shopping area.
24. Visit the Dutch Resistance Museum
Located in the Plantage neighborhood, the Verzetsmuseum features exhibits from the Dutch Resistance during World War II. You can buy tickets online ahead of time, and tickets are good for six months from the date of purchase.
25. Check Out the Amsterdam Zoo
Located in the center of Amsterdam, Artis (short for Natura Artis Magistra) is one of the oldest zoos in mainland Europe. In addition to exotic animals, there’s a botany and zoology library, as well as 27 historic buildings to explore.
26. Shop at The Nine Streets
Located in the Jordaan neighborhood, The Nine Streets (De 9 Straatjes) is a shopping district filled with boutiques, home decor, cafes and specialty shops.
27. See Science Center NEMO
If you’re traveling with kids — or you just love science — you’ll want to check out Amsterdam’s Science Center NEMO, a museum that features both exhibits and hands-on experiments.
28. Tour the Rembrandt House
It’s called Museum het Rembrandthuis in Dutch, and it’s a favorite destination for fans of the famous 17th century painter. Rembrandt lived in the house between 1639 and 1656, and the interior has been reconstructed to depict life during the time period. You can also see Rembrandt works of art during your visit.
29. Visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam
England isn’t the only European country with a royal family. The Dutch have one too, and you can tour one of their three official residences by visiting the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. It’s located in the heart of the city and boasts a number of historical, architectural and artistic masterpieces.
30. Explore the Museum van Loon
Built in 1671, the Museum van Loon is a canal house still owned by the family that built it. History buffs might be interested by the fact that the van Loon family had a hand in founding the Dutch East India Company, one of the world’s first megacorporations.
31. Squeeze Into the Narrowest House
Although you can’t venture inside (it’s privately occupied), you can visit the outside of the narrowest house facade in the world. At only 1 meter (3 feet) wide, it’s definitely a cozy one.
32. Visit the Bags and Purses Museum
Love purses? The Museum of Bags and Purses has exhibits dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. There are over 5,000 items on display.
33. Chill Out at the Icebar
When you visit Amsterdam, you soon learn that the nightlife is hot…and cool. The Amsterdam Icebar is made entirely of, you guessed it, ice. Bring your coat, because the inside temp is kept at a constant -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit). The website recommends purchasing tickets online ahead of time, as the bar can fill up fast, leaving you out in the cold.
34. Hike Through an Artificial Forest
Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdam Bos) is one of the largest parks in Europe, which is pretty impressive considering all of the trees were planted by hand. You can explore nature, grab a picnic lunch, go sailing or even snuggle up with goats. Although the park is man-made, the landscape is very real.
35. See Chinatown
Amsterdam’s Chinatown is the oldest in Europe. The neighborhood got its start in the early 1900s, when Chinese sailors migrated to the city to work on Dutch steamships. The area is within walking distance of the Red Light District, so it’s easy to plan a day or evening around both sites.
36. Stop at the Torture Museum
Who says vacations have to be relaxing? Europe is known for its medieval past, which featured grisly public executions and centuries of warfare. At the Torture Museum, you can get up close and personal with the more unpleasant parts of the past.
37. View Some Rare Books
Are you a fan of Dan Brown? The author was inspired by books found at Amsterdam’s Ritman Library, which is home to over 23,000 books, including rare collections. The museum is located in the Jordaan neighborhood.
38. See Amsterdam’s Oldest Building
Founded around 1213, the Oude Kerk (Old Church) is the oldest building in Amsterdam. Prostitutes use the square around the church to solicit business, which is just about the most Amsterdam thing we’ve ever heard.
39. Peek in the World’s Loveliest Public Urinal
As they say, when you gotta go, you gotta go. In Amsterdam, you get the privilege of doing your business in a public urinal designated a National Monument. Located near the old City Hall building, the urinal was built in 1926, which might explain its aesthetically pleasing design.
Of course, the gents are a bit more privileged than the ladies when it comes to public bathrooms in Amsterdam. According to Atlas Obscura, there are just three public ladies’ rooms compared to a whopping 35 for men.
40. Decorate with Droog
Sweden has Ikea, and Amsterdam has Droog — a uniquely Dutch take on interior design. Housed in a 17th century former textile manufacturing building in the center of Amsterdam, Droog is a store, cafe and tearoom.
41. Stroll Through the Waterlooplein Flea Market
Amsterdam is home to a lot of old stuff, and the Waterlooplein Flea Market is no exception. In fact, it’s the oldest in the Netherlands. In addition to hundreds of stalls, there are food trucks featuring cuisine from all over the world. Located in the center of the city, the market takes its name from the 1815 Battle of Waterloo.
42. Check Out the Library
Libraries don’t often make people’s list of must-see travel destinations, but Amsterdam’s Central Library (Oosterdok) is definitely something to behold. For starters, it’s 10 stories tall and offers 1,200 places to sit. In addition to books, it also sports several museums, a gorgeous terrace and a restaurant. It’s also free to visit.
43. Calling All Cat Ladies: Visit De Poezenboot
De Poezenboot. Yep, it’s the cat boat. A boat with cats. If you love kitties, check out this unique floating sanctuary for stray and abandoned cats.
44. Explore the Begijnhof
Known as an almshouse in English, the Begijnhof is a collection of houses built around a courtyard in the heart of Amsterdam. Although there were similar almshouses in Amsterdam, the Begijnhof is the oldest, dating back to the 14th century. The houses were once communities for women known as Beguines, who chose to dedicate themselves to religious life without taking the formal vows of a nun.
45. Take a Canal Cruise with Those Dam Boat Guys
Amsterdam isn’t known as The Venice of the North for nothing. The canals are gorgeous, and they’re definitely worth exploring. You can make a whole day of it with a tour from Those Dam Boat Guys, who operate canal tours starting from Cafe Wester. According to their site, passengers can bring whatever food, drinks or smokes they wish when they board.
46. See the Rijksmuseum
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands. The museum houses a vast collection of Dutch art, including works by Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer.
47. Smell the Flowers at Bloemenmarkt
Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. You can buy tulips, of course, along with many other types of flowers. The flowers are placed on barges, which is how they used to make their way into the city before modern times.
48. Recharge (or Kick Back) at a Coffee Shop
If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve come to the right place. Amsterdam has over 250 coffee shops. Marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, so you can also enjoy a smoke with your coffee if you prefer. The legal age for consuming cannabis in the Netherlands is 18, and you must have ID. Here’s a list of 15 of Amsterdam’s best coffee shops, ranked by locals.
49. See Central Station
If you plan on hopping a train, you’ll need to visit Amsterdam Centraal station out of necessity, but the building is worth visiting in its own right. Opened in 1889, it’s the largest train station in the Netherlands. If you love Gothic or Renaissance architecture, it’s definitely worth adding to your list.
50. Take a Dip in Flevopark
Sometimes you just want to reconnect with nature. The city can get hot in the summer. Fortunately, Flevopark offers a way to cool down and relax. It’s Amsterdam’s only outdoor swimming pool, with paths for jogging, walking and bicycling. There’s also plenty of green space for picnicking.
10 Restaurants to Try
Between sightseeing and adventuring, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Fortunately, Amsterdam’s more than got you covered. Here are 10 restaurants to check out while you’re in town.
1. Dine at Ristorante Due Napoletani
You don’t have to hop a plane to Italy to enjoy excellent Italian cuisine. Ristorante Due Napoletani, which is run by a husband and wife team, is Kari and Kelly’s absolute favorite restaurant in Amsterdam. With a homey family vibe, amazing service, and some of the most incredible food you’ll find anywhere in Amsterdam, this is one dining experience that you absolutely won’t want to miss.
All the food is made fresh daily by Chef Nunzio, and no matter what you pick off the menu, you’re sure to be blown away. However, some of Kari and Kelly’s favorites are the carpaccio, the pasta al parmigiano — and don’t forget to save room for one of 50 delicious varieties of tiramisu prepared daily!
2. Amsterdam Pancakes. ‘Nuff Said
Belgium has its waffles, but Amsterdam is known for its pancakes, and that’s just fine by us. In Amsterdam, you can eat pancakes with just about any topping you can think of, and some of the top 10 pancake restaurants in Amsterdam feature unique locations like carousels and boats.
3. Drink Beer Under a Windmill
Amsterdam has eight windmills inside the city, and the De Gooyer windmill stands right next to a the IJ Brewery (that’s Brouwerij ‘t IJ for the locals). The beers are certified organic, and you can sample indoors or outside on a large terrace.
4. Eat at Omelegg for Breakfast
Love omelettes? You’ll want to stop at Omelegg Amsterdam for breakfast — or lunch or dinner. Omelegg gets rave reviews on travel sites, with visitors calling their meal “hands down the best breakfast we have ever had.”
5. Pick Up a Steak Dinner at Black and Blue
Carnivores will want to check out Black and Blue, an Amsterdam restaurant known for its steaks. Located in the Jordaan neighborhood, visitors praise its friendly servers and welcoming atmosphere.
6. Dine on Top of the World at Moon Restaurant
Located on the A’DAM Tower, Moon Restaurant offers phenomenal food and an unbeatable 360-degree view of the city. The dining room rotates, so you can explore the city from 19 stories up.
7. Le Garage
The name is so good, it just begs to be left alone. Le Garage offers French cuisine (but of course), and reviewers say it’s a bit pricey but worth it. It’s more of an upscale place, so you might want to plan your wardrobe accordingly.
8. Go for Some Gs
With a website URL of “really nice place,” you can bet Gs is, well, really nice. The restaurant has three locations: De Pijp, Jordaan and a brunch boat that travels the canals. Gs is best known for its brunch and bloody marys, which come in no less than 13 versions.
9. Make a Reservation at MOS Amsterdam
Conveniently located near Central Station, MOS earned a Michelin star in 2016. It uses traditional French culinary techniques with Dutch ingredients. As one reviewer put it, “If you are addicted to food don’t miss this amazing restaurant on the Amsterdam IJDock.”
10. Eat Dutch Fries at Wil Graanstra Friteshuis
Love French fries? Then you need to try Dutch fries. Specifically, you need to try fries at Wil Graanstra Friteshuis. The fries (frites) stall has been open since 1956 and regularly sells out by the middle of the afternoon. You can get them with ketchup, but locals typically eat them with mayo.
25 Day Trips to Add to Your Schedule
One of the best things about Amsterdam is its close proximity to some of the most amazing historical and cultural sites in the world. When you stay in the ‘Dam, a sizable chunk of Europe is at your fingertips — or at least within a short drive.
If you’re going to spend time in Amsterdam, here are 25 day trips you don’t want to miss.
1. Visit Utrecht
The city of Utrecht has all the good things Amsterdam has to offer, without all the tourists. Located just 30 minutes away from Amsterdam, Utrecht offers canals, cafes, cozy coffee shops and plenty of beautiful green space to explore.
2. Relax on the Beach in Den Haag
When most people think of Amsterdam, they don’t picture the beach. Fortunately, reality is a lot more exciting than your imagination. Den Haag (The Hague in English) has a fabulous beach, complete with a pier, ferris wheel, bars and a boardwalk. In fact, there are 11 kilometers (6 miles) of coastline.
3. Check Out Bruges
Aside from being the hometown of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies, Bruges makes for a great day trip if you’re based in Amsterdam. You’ll see spectacular churches, drink plenty of amazing beer and even see Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child.
4. See Vianden Castle
If you’re a castle lover, you have to check out the fairy tale castle in Vianden, which is located north of Luxembourg — about four hours south of Amsterdam. Built between the 11th and 14th centuries, Vianden Castle is one of the biggest castles from the Romanesque and Gothic periods.
5. Get Your Cheese on in Gouda
Love cheese? Never mind, that’s a rhetorical question. Gouda gets its name from the city of Gouda, which is located south of Amsterdam. As you might guess, it’s famous for its cheese, but it’s also a great place to find picturesque churches, gorgeous scenery and marketplaces foodies will swoon over.
6. See Haarlem
Hankering for a quick day trip? Haarlem is the perfect spot to do it. Located just 15 minutes from Amsterdam by train, it’s got a huge street market, medieval architecture and a breathtaking cathedral dating from the 14th century. Because the city is compact, you can explore without feeling like you’re up against the clock.
7. Go Ghent
Ghent is about two hours southwest of Amsterdam, and it makes for a lovely day trip through some of the best medieval architecture in Europe. Many people describe Ghent as a “best-kept secret” because it doesn’t generally attract the same amount of tourist traffic as other cities.
8. Visit Antwerp
If you fancy a short trip to Belgium, you can spend a day or two in Antwerp, which is just under two hours southwest of Amsterdam. Antwerp has a lot to offer, including the Plantin-Moretus Museum, the only museum in the world to hold a title as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
9. Make a Day Trip to Delft
If you’re a fan of blue and white porcelain, you don’t want to miss Delft. The city is the home of the famous pottery, which got its start in the 16th century.
10. Hang Out in The Hague
The Hague isn’t just the home of the International Court of Justice. A 45-minute trip from Amsterdam, the city of over 1 million offers museums, gardens, shopping and a beautiful beach. You don’t want to miss Den Haag.
11. Rock Rotterdam for a Day
Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling to Amsterdam. Located around an hour southwest of Amsterdam, it’s home to Markthal, a covered market hall and apartment complex that spans over 13,000 square yards.
12. See Clervaux Castle
Dating back to the 12th century, Clervaux Castle has been completely rebuilt, so you can get a look at what life was like before the time of indoor plumbing and Netflix. It’s located in northern Luxembourg, which is about four hours from Amsterdam by car.
13. Spend a Weekend in Giverny
Amsterdam is a great base for exploring surrounding cities and countries. Case in point, you can travel to Giverny in northern France in just over five hours by car. There, you can visit the famous Monet Garden, which inspired the artist’s work.
14. Get a Small Town Feel in Zwolle
For some people, one of the downsides of traveling is feeling lost in the big city. If you crave a small town vibe, check out Zwolle, a charming hilltop city with a medieval core that overlooks four rivers.
15. Tour the De Koningshoeven Brewery
Founded in 1884, De Koningshoeven Brewery is operated by Trappist monks inside Koningshoeven Abbey. Reviewers on Tripadvisor describe it as “the best beer I have ever had in my entire life” and the brewery tour as a “must do beer experience.”
Koningshoeven Abbey is located in Berkel-Enschot, a village that borders Belgium. It’s about an hour south of Amsterdam, so you might want to make a day trip out of it.
16. Visit Maastricht
Love history? You’ll want to take a day trip to Maastricht, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. It’s home to Saint Peter’s Fortress, which allowed the Dutch to defend the city from the French in the early 18th century. The city also has a wealth of medieval sites to explore.
17. Cruise Through Giethoorn
If you can’t make it to Venice, you can still experience travel by canal. Giethoorn village in the northeastern province of Overijssel is almost entirely free of car traffic. Instead, locals get around by canal, and most people live in thatch-roofed cottages. You can also check out the village farm museum to learn about the region’s agricultural history.
18. Spend Time in Edam
Located about 35 minutes from Amsterdam, Edam is a charming countryside village with canals, markets and museums that showcase the region’s history. Edam is also known for its cheese, which sailors in the 17th century used to buy for long voyages. The cheese has a long shelf life, and you can still see farmers bring it to town by boat and horse in the summer.
19. Get a Little Luxembourg on the Side
Just four hours away by car, Luxembourg is a popular destination for people who use Amsterdam as a European jumping off point. The small country (just 1,650 square kilometers) is surrounded by Belgium, France and Germany, which gives it an interesting cultural mix. There are 10th century castles, UNESCO World Heritage sites and famous thermal spas fed from underground spring water. Yes, please!
20. Visit Naarden
Want to visit a town shaped like a giant snowflake? You can, if you take a trip to Naarden. Located just 30 minutes east of Amsterdam, the fortified town is one of the best preserved in all of Europe and makes up one of the medieval fortifications of Amsterdam.
21. Check Out Muiderslot Castle
If you watch a lot of television shows about the Middle Ages, you might have seen Muiderslot, which is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Europe. Located at the mouth of the Vecht river, the castle has turrets, suits of armor and over 750 years of history to explore. It’s also just 25 minutes from Amsterdam.
22. Take a Day Trip to Leuven
Leuven is a city near Brussels, Belgium and a little over two hours from Amsterdam by car. Fans of Gothic architecture will want to see the Stadhuis, the city’s impressive town hall, which perches above cobbled streets. There’s also the Oude Markt — a string of pubs and bars so extensive it’s been called “the longest bar in the world.”
23. Say Cheese at Alkmaar Cheese Market
Just 30 minutes from Amsterdam by train, Alkmaar Cheese Market is open every Friday morning and Tuesday evening between April and September. This is the place to go for a full-blown Dutch experience, from cheese bearers in traditional costume to Dutch girls in wooden shoes. The market has been going for 400 years, and the town even had to demolish homes to make room for it as it expanded.
24. Go Back in Time in Marken
Marken is a small village on a peninsula in North Holland, about an hour from Amsterdam by car. Because the village used to be an island, many of its cultural customs and architecture have been preserved. You’ll find quaint green seaside houses, as well as picturesque lighthouses and sailboats.
25. Get Starstruck at Bourtange
If you travel to Bourtange, you’ll want to see the town’s magnificent fortress, which is built in the shape of a star. Constructed in 1593, it’s known as the fortress that has never been conquered. The village, which is home to under 500 residents, is located inside the fortress itself.
10 Festivals You Have to Experience
Amsterdam hosts over 300 festivals every year, so it’s a safe bet you’ll be able to add at least one to your trip itinerary. From music and dance venues to film and culinary events, there’s a festival for every interest. Here are 10 Amsterdam festivals you have to see.
Milky Way in English, Melkweg got its start as a milk factory in the 19th century. Today, it’s a sprawling music venue that offers live music, festivals and cultural events.
The Amsterdam Dance Event is a five-day electronic music festival held each year in October. Attendees can see world-famous DJs and mingle with music and technology professionals.
Mysteryland is an electronic music festival held in Amsterdam every year over the summer. The festival features 17 stages, which showcase performances across a variety of musical genres, including hip hop, house and trance.
4. Bacchus Wijnfestival
What’s better than a wine festival? A wine festival in the heart of Amsterdam. The Bacchus Wijnfestival takes place in the summer every year and features live music, plenty of food and wine from all over the world. Attendees can purchase a pre-paid credit card with credits, so there are no worries about getting tipsy and losing your wallet or purse.
5. The Parade
The Parade, which travels through the Netherlands, has been going for nearly 30 years. This unique roving festival starts in Rotterdam and winds its way through the countryside before ending its route in Amsterdam. There are over 80 different musical, dance and theater performances, along with food, drinks and barbeque.
6. Amsterdam Gay Pride
For a party on the canals like no other, you’ve got to see Amsterdam Gay Pride. People celebrate on boats, bridges and streets, and then head to after parties at various venues near Central Station. Amsterdam Gay Pride takes place the first weekend of August every year.
If the U.S. has Woodstock, the Netherlands has Lowlands — only the Dutch have kept their celebration going strong for decades. Started in 1967, Lowlands takes place every year over the third weekend in August. The main events are musical performances, but there is also dance, theater and even stand-up comedy.
8. Light Festival
Although many of Amsterdam’s most famous festivals take place in the summer, you can also find lots of exciting celebrations in the winter months. The Amsterdam Light Festival is held anytime between early December and late January. Light designers from all over the world head to the city to display their installations around the canals. The water reflects the light, making this a festival you’ll want to see after dark.
9. King’s Day
Pack something orange, because King’s Day is all about celebrating the Dutch Royal Family, which is known as the House of Orange. Held on April 27 (the current king’s birthday) every year, King’s Day is a city-wide celebration in the streets and on the canals. The partying starts in the morning and doesn’t end until well after sundown.
Unlike a lot of other music festivals, Awakenings takes place at several locations throughout the Netherlands over several weeks. The main genre is techno, and fans gather from all over the world to hear the most popular DJs and musical groups perform live.
Ready to Spend Time in Amsterdam? (Ja!)
So there you have it — 95 of the best things to do in Amsterdam. The best part of this list is that it’s just a starting point. Amsterdam has so much to offer, you’ll want to come back again and again.