With this list of the best things to do in Amsterdam in hand you’ll never find yourself wandering around looking for ways to occupy your time.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city that’s criss-crossed by canals and it’s one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited.
From the shady red light district to the many different parks and other areas across the city you can hang out and relax, this list of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a visit to some of the more popular tourist destinations.
If you’re only visiting for a few days you’ll want to spend your time walking along the canals, visiting the attractions, and getting to learn the city.
Should you return in the future that’s the best time to look for more off the beaten path and lesser known ways to spend your time and entertain yourself.
The Best Things to Do in Amsterdam
Get Lost Among the Canals
Whether you’re strolling around on foot or pedalling along on a pedal-boat, the canals in Amsterdam are one of the best things to see in the city.
If there’s one thing that Amsterdam is famous for, besides marijuana, it’s the canals and seeing them up close and in person is the only suitable way to enjoy them.
Don’t expect to see all of the canals though.
There are over 100 kilometers of canals that run across the entire city and metropolitan area of Amsterdam.
This means that there are a lot of bridges to cross, over 1500 at the latest count, so watch your step and don’t forget to stop every so often to enjoy the view!
Relax in Vondelpark
At the edge of the city is the sprawling and enormous Vondelpark.
This urban park is popular with both locals and tourists and even on a rainy day you can be sure to run into someone enjoying themselves in the park.
It’s a good idea to grab a baguette and some lunch items at a nearby grocery store and bring a picnic to Vondelpark.
In the summer you can even rent bicycles and explore the area on two wheels.
Try to stay out of the bushes or you might run into a group of kids smoking pot or interrupt a drug deal in progress.
Rent A Bike and Explore
With so many canals it should come as no surprise that Amsterdam is extremely flat.
There are countless bike rental shops across the city and you can rent for as little as an hour or as long as the entire day.
Bike tours are also available from a handful of providers across the city.
I think that every city is best seen by bicycle and Amsterdam is no exception.
You can easily cross the city in an afternoon and see a lot of things you wouldn’t normally have if you were walking around on foot.
Be careful around the canals though, you don’t want to fall in and lose your rental deposit!
Cruise the Red Light District
Of course, the Red Light District is obviously one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.
Where else can you go in Europe to have any of your desires legally fulfilled?
If that’s not your thing you still need to cruise around the Red Light District at night and check out the ladies dancing in their windows.
It’s completely safe so don’t worry about heading down there at night.
The area surrounding the Red Light District is also one of the oldest in the city so try to take in some of the architecture as well.
During the day and even at night the area is full of people and there’s always something going on around every corner.
Head to the Rijksmuseum or Check Out the Van Gogh Museum
The Rijksmuseum is an interesting museum in Amsterdam and even if museums aren’t your thing it’s situated in an awesome looking building so it’s still good for a photo op.
Here you will find exhibits dedicated to the national culture, history, and art of Amsterdam.
The Van Gogh Museum is, of course, dedicated to the famous Dutch artist and houses many of his famous works.
It boasts the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the entire world and is one of the most popular museums in all of the Netherlands.
Eat Something At One of the Famous Up and Coming Restaurants
Home to some great Michelin rated restaurants, finding something to eat somewhere in the city is one of the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam.
If you’re looking for something high quality and fancy or you just want a quick bite on the go you’re bound to find something suitable for your tastes.
No matter where you are there are small cafes, eateries, and even grand scale restaurants everywhere.
Simply pick a place you think looks interesting, check out the menu, and enjoy a nice meal.
If you plan it right it’s unlikely you’ll have a bad bite to eat during your entire visit.
Marvel at the Historic Old Town
Right in the heart of the city is the historic Old Town.
This is where you’ll find most of the tourists but also many interesting and unique examples of Dutch architecture.
Dominating the main square is the Amsterdam Royal Palace, which is one of only three palaces in all of the Netherlands.
The winding narrow streets and lack of canals gives the Old Town a completely different feeling than the rest of the city.
Even though it’s packed with tourists it’s easy to veer off the main road and find yourself lost among the mysterious rows of townhouses and coffeeshops.
Take the Typical “I Amsterdam” Sign Photograph
Right behind the Rijksmuseum you’ll find the “I Amsterdam” sign.
This is the sign you see in the photos of everyone who visits the city.
The huge red and white letters have become a tourist attraction all on their own and stand as a symbol of the locals and the city itself.
Cast a funny pose and take your selfie early on in the morning because by the middle of the day the park surrounding the sign is busy with tourists and locals.
Pay Your Respects at the Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is where the young girl, Anne Frank, hid from the Germans during World War 2.
Today it’s a museum dedicated to her life and you can experience an interesting showcase of what Anne had to endure during the war.
As the 3rd most popular museum in the Netherlands try to buy one of the tickets that allows you to bypass the line.
Otherwise you’ll be standing and waiting for at least an hour before getting in.
Visit a Coffeeshop and Eat Some Waffles
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without a visit to a local coffeeshop.
Whether you’re buying a hot drink or maybe a little something to smoke and relax, the coffeeshops are plentiful.
Take your pick of the one that calls out to you and you’re bound to enjoy yourself.
After visiting a coffeeshop you might have the munchies.
Keep an eye out for one of the many famous crepes or waffles eateries across the city.