25 Best Places To Visit in Amsterdam (Things to do and see)

Last Updated on 10/05/2022 by Alfred

Amsterdam is a colorful city in the Netherlands. There are many best places to visit in Amsterdam. You can do many crazy things there. The city is vibrant culturally and in terms of activities, so you will not be bored during your visit to Amsterdam!

You can stroll along the canals or in the flowery parks by bike or foot.

In terms of activities, you will find many unusual places to discover. You will also visit the many museums and markets (about twenty), including the Waterlooplein, the most famous flea market in the city.

Of course, there are famous coffee shops where the sale of cannabis is legalized in small quantities.

The latter are mostly found in the famous Red Light District, where women who sell their bodies live together and Amsterdam’s most beautiful churches are located.

Amsterdam is worth visiting. I went to all the main sights and made you a small (non-exhaustive) selection of places to see and visit in Amsterdam.

25 Best Places To Visit in Amsterdam (Attractions For Adults)

Prepare your trip to Amsterdam

When is the best time to visit Amsterdam to make the most of it?

The best season to visit Amsterdam is during spring.

If you come in winter, it’s not bad too because you will be able to see the Festival of Lights.

I advise you to plan a minimum of 3 optimal days to visit the Dutch capital.

Which Amsterdam Tour Pass to buy?

As often in big cities, you can benefit from a Pass that will allow you to have free transport and discounts on many visits and attractions.

I’ve listed 2, so you know what to do in Amsterdam:

The Amsterdam City Pass

The Amsterdam City Pass at 69,50€ allows you to have:

  • 2 free tickets to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.
  • A one-hour cruise on Amsterdam’s canals
  • 10% discount on several tours and attractions.
  • Amsterdam airport transfer by train from Schiphol.
  • The POPGuide Amsterdam audio guide app with over 100 points of interest in the city and offline access to interactive digital maps and navigation
  • 1 audio guide with over 14 points of interest around Dam Square

The I Amsterdam City Card

The I Amsterdam City Card from 65€ for 24 hours:

  • Free museum admission.
  • A one-hour cruise.
  • Free transport with the company GVB.

It’s up to you to see, according to your program, if this type of City Pass can save you on your visits and attractions.

Best Places To Visit in Amsterdam (Attractions For Adults)

Transport in Amsterdam (how to get there and on the spot)

To get to Amsterdam, the 2 best options are to take either the plane or the train.

The plane ride takes 1h 15min from Paris, and you can find flights from 60€ if you do it well in advance.

For the transfer from the airport to the center of Amsterdam I advise you to take the train (online ticket here). This costs 9,50€, and the journey is only 15 minutes. 

If you opt for the train, it will take an average of 4h to reach Amsterdam.

Since Amsterdam is not a large city, you’ll be able to get around quite easily by walking.

If you want to know what to do in Amsterdam, you can also do like the locals and ride your bike!

If you don’t like walking, the city has an excellent public transport network.

Accommodation for sleeping in Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam is very touristy, and accommodation is usually quite expensive.

At the level of hotels in Amsterdam, it is difficult to find rooms for less than 60 €.

But if you do it in advance, you can find good deals like at the Budget Hotel Tourist Inn or Amsterdam City Hotel.

To get the best deal, it is best to search twice with a specialized comparator.

For the lowest prices, look at the different hostels and the rental apartments from individuals. You can even stay directly in a homestay with sites like Couchsurfing or Homestay.

Cultural activities to visit Amsterdam

The visit to the Van Gogh Museum

You can’t visit Amsterdam without visiting the Van Gogh Museum, which contains the painter’s most important collection. There are more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and nearly 700 letters at the venue.

But there are also works by other painters who influenced Van Gogh and were influenced by him.

The artist’s works are exhibited chronologically and divided into five periods. They each represent a phase of his life and work.

It is one of the most famous museums in the city, so I strongly recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket.

Take advantage of your visit to the Van Gogh Museum and take a well-deserved break at the Vondelpark. Indeed, it is located right next door, in the city’s heart.

It is the largest park in Amsterdam and the most popular. Visiting Van Gogh Museum is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

In the 60s, it was the gathering place of hippies, and it has kept this atmosphere. Many cultural events are organized throughout the year; concerts, dance shows, theatre, open-air cinema… etc.

A bit of history with the Anne Frank House

Another must-see museum when visiting Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House.

It is located in the Jordaan district, a “bobo” district full of small shops, cafes, and markets.

The flea market, smaller than the famous one mentioned above, is open every Monday morning until 1 pm and the organic market every Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm.

Returning to the Anne Frank House, the exhibition is dedicated to the young Jewish writer of the Second World War. We discover her life and her time, but it is also in this place where she and her family hid from Nazi persecution.

It is an ideal place to visit with the family but often crowded, so you still have to provide a skip-the-line ticket to avoid the wait. Anne Frank House is one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam.

Visit the Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is located in the south of Amsterdam and offers a real journey back in time on the history of Dutch painting.

You can find all the great artists of the Golden Age, such as Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt.

Many different collections are gathered in the Rijksmuseum.

On the menu are Chinese porcelain, dollhouses, and all the icons of Dutch history.

You can get your skip-the-line tickets here before you go or read my article on how to visit the Rijksmuseum. Admission is free for children under 18 years old.

A dose of contemporary art at the Stedelijk Museum

It would be a shame not to continue the momentum after seeing Amsterdam’s two most famous museums.

So if you appreciate modern and contemporary art, I advise you to go to the Stedelijk Museum. Indeed, it has one of the largest collections of modern art globally with all the greatest artists.

The Nemo Science Center

Another visit not to be missed in Amsterdam, which is also a nice activity to do for young and old, is the NEMO science center.

It is an imposing building that honors modern architecture. It houses a variety of fun and interactive exhibitions that are constantly renewed.

It is referenced as the largest science and technology center in the Netherlands. An excellent place to visit Amsterdam differently.

Dam Square

In the heart of the historical center, the Dam is Amsterdam’s main square. This large rectangular square has existed since the 13th century! It was here when the city built the very first dam (hence the name “dam” = dam in Dutch).

The nerve center of Amsterdam, Dam Square, has always been a high place for locals to gather and meet. It connects many streets and shopping streets and has some nice cafes and bars.

Several historic buildings include the Royal Palace, the National Monument, and the Nieuwe Kerk, a Gothic church. This is also where the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum is located.

The Royal Palace of Amsterdam: A Historical Place in Amsterdam

For architecture lovers, it’s impossible to visit Amsterdam without visiting the Royal Palace! Nicknamed the “8th wonder of the world” by the people of Amsterdam, the Paleis op de Dam is a major building in the city’s history.

Originally built as a town hall in the 17th century, it became a palace in 1808 by the decision of Napoleon Bonaparte, the then King of Holland. The royal family uses it more as a reception venue than a residence today.

Excluding official events, the Royal Palace is open to the public. The interior is grandiose: gigantic chandeliers, marble floors, period furniture, and a superb collection of paintings and sculptures. Temporary exhibitions are also held there regularly. 

Zuiderkerk Church

Zuiderkerk Church is a small Protestant church in Zuiderkerkhof, near the Nieuwmarkt underground stop. Dating back to 1614, it is worth seeing for its majestic bell tower and Renaissance-style architecture.

It is also possible to climb its bell tower to admire a breathtaking panorama of Amsterdam. In addition, it regularly hosts exhibitions and conferences and acts as an event center. 

For the record, three of the sons of the painter Rembrandt are buried in Zuiderkerk. Its beauty even inspired the impressionist Claude Monet, who immortalized it in painting.

Visit Amsterdam and its unusual places.

Experience the Heineken Experience

Experience the Heineken Experience

It’s impossible to get to the Dutch capital without going through the Heineken Experience. This is one of the unusual places to visit in Amsterdam!

Formerly a brewery, the former Heineken brewery is now a museum for lovers of one of the most famous beers in the world.

You will be introduced to the history of Heineken beer and its manufacture.

You can also taste two types of beer at the end of the tour. It’s a great adventure to do with friends!

Tickets only cost 16 euros, so with beers, it’s cooler.

Discover the Body Worlds Exhibition

A completely different venue that contains one of the most unusual exhibitions to do in the city is the Amsterdam Body Worlds.

More than 200 human bodies (real bodies!) are preserved by a new preservation technique based on silicone and other polymers invented by Gunther von Hagens.

This interactive exhibition aims to explain to visitors the powerful connection between our physical state, our mental state, and the effect of happiness on our bodies.

When you visit Amsterdam, this original activity can be fantastic or very difficult to see, depending on your character!

Amsterdam’s Red Light District / Red Light District

Aaah, Amsterdam, and its famous Red Light District! Despite its debauchery reputation, this neighborhood has nothing gloomy or sordid. It’s even one of the most touristy places in Amsterdam, and it’s constantly teeming with people. Visiting Red Light District in Amsterdam is a crazy thing to do in Amsterdam.

If the sulfurous past of this district intrigues you, the best is to take a guided walking tour. You will learn a lot about the history of Amsterdam and the country’s relatively liberal stance toward drugs and sex. You can book your visit here or there.

Otherwise, sex shops and prostitutes in the window apart, the Red Light District is an excellent place to party. There are many lively bars and coffee shops, and the atmosphere is always electric.

Other unusual activities in the Red Light District include the Museum of Eroticism, the Museum of Prostitution, and the erotic theater experience at Casa Rosso. Red Light District is one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam for adults.

Amsterdam’s Coffee Shops

Another typical Amsterdam institution is the coffee shop! Yes, every year, thousands of tourists go to Amsterdam with the aim of smoking cannabis legally.

Even if it’s not your cup of tea, going through the door of a coffee shop is still quite a must in Amsterdam, if only to satisfy your curiosity. Moreover, there are as many coffee shops as there are different atmospheres: from large establishments on several floors to small intimate cafés.

Namely, alcohol is strictly prohibited; on the other hand, most serve hot drinks and soft drinks and even sometimes eat. Coffee shops are great places to visit in Amsterdam with family.

The Dungeon of Amsterdam

If you’re one of those who love to be afraid, don’t miss a visit to the Amsterdam Dungeon! This original attraction is held within the walls of an old church, as some elements of the décor still testify.

The principle? Through a dozen theatrical shows, the dungeon invites you to discover the dark side of Amsterdam. From the witch hunt to the inquisition to torture scenes, a troupe of professional actors stages more than 500 years of history.

The actors are talented, and the sinister and frightening atmosphere quickly takes us to the guts. Be careful; this attraction is generally quite popular with tourists. Therefore, booking your tickets in advance during high season is better to avoid long lines.

Periodic events to visit Amsterdam

The Festival of Lights

After the museums and other exhibitions in Amsterdam, there is also a one-off event that returns every year in winter.

Well, it’s true; I told you above that the best season was spring (milder temperatures and flowery park, we will come back to it below). But if you are not too chilly, then go and visit Amsterdam between the end of November and mid-January.

There is the Festival of Lights, and you will not be disappointed with the trip!

It has only been in existence since 2013 but has already proven itself. Many artists are invited and have carte blanche to decorate the city’s canals.

In addition, the museums also light up for the occasion and organize activities related to the festival.

And if you have the chance to come during the Christmas parade, then the city will seem even more magical.

Walks to do during a visit to Amsterdam

Cruises by riverboat

When you visit Amsterdam, one of the must-do activities is the flyboat ride on the city’s canals.

Romantic and unforgettable, this will allow you to discover the city and its different attractions from another point of view than by bike or on foot.

There are many starting points, and tours are guided in several languages.

There are two options:

  • or take a cruise of about 1h30 with one of the companies
  • Or choose the “hop-on-hop-off” service. It will allow you to jump off the boat whenever you want. Ideal for alternating walks on the water, activities, and visits to the city.

And if you come during the Festival of Lights then sailing the canals of Amsterdam is a great opportunity.

The Jordaan district: A beautiful Place to Visit in Amsterdam

A nice activity to do when you visit Amsterdam is to stroll in the very picturesque Jordaan district. Located to the west of the old town, it offers a relaxing break to recharge your batteries.

This district was built during the 17th century to house the popular classes of the city (workers, craftsmen) before serving as a land of welcome to French Huguenot refugees. Today, the Jordaan is considered Amsterdam’s bohemian and art district par excellence!

There is a very peaceful atmosphere with its beautiful canals, vintage shops, thrift stores, and flowery alleys. Several points of interest include the Anne Frank House, the amazing Woonbootmuseum, and the Westerkerk, a Protestant church.

To better enjoy your walk, I strongly advise you to take a guided tour of the Jordaan district. It is a great place to visit in Amsterdam.

Nieuwmarkt

Nieuwmarkt Square is a nice little square to visit in Amsterdam. It is located in Chinatown, not far from the Red Light District: you will surely pass by it as you wander around the city.

It is particularly famous for the unusual monument in the center: the Waag. The building with the appearance of a small castle, built during the 15th century, was once used as a gateway to the medieval city.

Several markets are also held there on weekdays and weekends, including a flea market every Sunday.

Albert Cuyp Market

Taste the culinary specialties and soak up the local atmosphere; there’s nothing like a market! It turns out that the Albert Cuypmarkt is one of the best markets in Amsterdam and even in the entire Netherlands.

You will not know where to look with its 250 stands of fruits and vegetables, cheeses, typical pastries, and ready-made dishes. Of course, it’s not just food: flowers, clothes, handicrafts… Enough to bring home lots of memories!

The Albert Cuyp Market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 5 pm.

Oude Kerk, the oldest church in Amsterdam

The Oude Kerk means “old church,” which is (as the name suggests) the oldest church in Amsterdam. Built in the early 12th century on the ruins of a wooden chapel, it houses the burial of many local personalities.

This church is nestled in the heart of the red-light district: a quick detour should take you there. If the entrance is a little expensive (12 € / adult), the exterior, mixing Gothic and Renaissance styles, is worth looking at. Occasionally, the Oude Kerk also hosts exhibitions.

Nature breaks to recharge your batteries in Amsterdam

The visit to Keukenhof Park: A beautiful place to visit in Amsterdam

To finish your visit to Amsterdam in style, a walk in the garden of Keukenhof is a must, the most beautiful and largest floral park in the world!

Located a few kilometers from Amsterdam in the city of Lisse, it is very easy to get there, and it is open every year from mid-March to mid-May.

The park star is the tulip, a flower symbol of Holland.

But you will also see many other flowers, such as hyacinths, roses, lilies, orchids, and narcissus. To spend time with the family, go for a walk filled with colors and smells.

Thousands of visitors go there every year, and to avoid the queue, I advise you to anticipate getting a skip-the-line ticket.

Vondelpark

Want to take a breath of fresh air after this urban immersion? Then head to the Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam, which owes its name to the Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel.

This natural area of 48 hectares is ideal for a walk or a picnic in the middle of trees and water points. It is very well appointed and maintained; it also houses some restaurants, cafes, and playgrounds for children.

You can walk or cycle for a typical Amsterdam experience. If you plan to visit Amsterdam during the summer season, you may have the chance to attend one of the many shows and musical performances free of charge at the park.

What to do around Amsterdam?

Have you made a list of what you would like to do in Amsterdam and its surroundings? That’s good; there are also plenty of things to see in the capital’s surroundings!

Zaanse Schans

Who has never seen a photo of these famous windmills at the water’s edge? This landscape is in the village of Zaanse Schans, and we can contemplate it. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the site is very pretty, although quite touristy.

The main attraction in Zaanse Schans is a visit to the Dutch mills, of which there are eight. Namely, they each have a different function: oil, spices, sawmill, paint … The village also has several museums showcasing local culture and crafts.

Every day, buses and trains travel to Zaanse Schans. You can also opt for a day trip with a French guide, such as this one done by bike. An original and fun way to see the mills!

Les villages du Waterland

How about a country getaway in Waterland, right in the heart of the Dutch countryside? Known for its bucolic landscapes and picturesque villages, Waterland refers to the northeast region of Amsterdam.

Among the many villages to see in this region is Volendam, an adorable fishing village by the sea. Edam (yes, the cradle of the cheese of the same name), Broek, or Beemster, listed with UNESCO. It is one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam.

Haarlem

A 15-minute train ride from the capital is Haarlem, a pretty historic city with typical Dutch charm. Crossed by canals, it is full of beautiful houses and ancient monuments dating from medieval times.

Take the time to walk quietly and explore all its hidden corners. Not to be missed is the Grote Markt, the central square where the town hall sits, and the Vleeshal, a magnificent 17th-century building.

The Frans Hals Museum (of the “Golden Age”) is a must-see in Haarlem for art lovers. Dedicated to the painter Frans Hals, it houses a beautiful collection of his works and other Dutch artists from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century.

Zandvoort

Who said there was no beach in Amsterdam? About thirty minutes from the capital, there is Zandvoort, the “pearl by the sea.” With 9 kilometers of clean and well-maintained beach, this seaside resort is very popular with Amsterdam residents.

Sunbathing on the fine sand, a beach volleyball or cocktail game with a sea view, and a DJ in the background… The city has everything you need if you need a summer vibe! Connoisseurs will be able to go for a ride at the Zandvoort Formula 1 circuit, renowned internationally.

Giethoorn: Best Places To Visit in Amsterdam

120 km northwest of Amsterdam (about a 1h 30 drive), discover the idyllic setting of Giethoorn, the “Venice of the Netherlands.” Nestled in the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, this small village crossed by canals looks like a fairy tale!

Small funny detail, we move there only by bike or boat. To explore it from its best angle, the idea is to take a cruise on its canals.

Aboard a boat, you can sail peacefully on the water while contemplating the magnificent old farmhouses with thatched roofs, flower gardens, and wooden bridges. An enchanting experience!

This Giethoorn tour includes bus transportation and a one-hour boat ride with an English-speaking guide.

Top 5 reasons to visit Amsterdam

1- A unique city that is unlike any other!

It is the kind of city like Venice, Rome, New York, or Barcelona with a particular style, architecture, atmosphere, and charm that is not found anywhere else in the world!

2- Sailing on the canals of Amsterdam

What gives Amsterdam this unique charm are its canals that run through and draw the entire old town in the shape of a fan.

Life swarms on and around the canals.

Boats, barges, and small boats crisscross the city while cyclists and motorists follow them on the streets them.

It’s a must to have an aperitif on a rented small boat with friends. That’s one of the locals’ favorites.

3- The architecture of the houses of Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s homes are both sublime and scary.

Sublime by their architectural style, glued to each other, make large windows and facades with rounded capitals.

They are scary because they give the impression that they will collapse on top of each other. Some are leaning to the side because of the city’s water-based foundations.

4- Getting around Amsterdam by bike

When you arrive in Amsterdam, the most striking thing is the number of bikes circulating and parking in the city!

I’ve never seen so many bikes per square meter as there.

There is a bicycle parking at the station’s exit, which is on several floors and which alone gathers several thousand bicycles. You can rent bicycles and explore the best places from the “best places to visit in Amsterdam‘ list.

So nothing is easier than renting a bike and visiting the city and its canals.

There are bike paths everywhere, and the priority here is for cyclists!

Be careful to break; it is done in backpedaling: confusing when you are not used to it. So prepare your stop at the stop sign^^

5- The dark and illegal side of Amsterdam

And yes, in Amsterdam you can do things that you can’t do at home!

Marijuana is over-the-counter, and the house clauses are legal and regulated. When you visit the city, it creates scenes and situations that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.

It is a city where bakeries rub shoulders in a disconcerting nature with sex shops or coffee shops in front of clothing stores.

In short, there are so many unique things to see when visiting Amsterdam that you have to go!

And in addition, we often hallucinate about what we saw ^^

What I liked most during my visit to Amsterdam

The pedestrian side

There are plenty of streets in the old town which are pedestrian where people can wander around without worrying about traffic.

It creates a rustic and relaxed atmosphere that I love when I visit the city.

Walk on the canals

Getting around on a houseboat or a small boat lets you see and discover the city from a different angle.

When you are on the canals, there is tranquility and majesty that makes you want to return to the bustle of the streets.

The Best is to rent a small boat to go at your own pace.

On the other hand, make sure you activate the GPS on your smartphone since we easily get lost in this maze of channels !!

Twilight in Amsterdam

This is my favorite time in Amsterdam!

When it is still a little daylight, the first lights of the houses and bridges begin to illuminate the city. The reflections on the water it’s magical.

Cycling to visit Amsterdam, of course

What a pleasure to move from one point to another without taking the metro, bus, or tram!

Amsterdam offers this possibility because the must-see and unusual of the city are close to each other.

And with the bike paths, it’s super fast.

In addition, there are plenty of bike rental companies in the city.

The “house” barges on the edge of the canals.

I think it’s great to see houses floating on the water in the middle of a European capital.

It’s both unusual, and finally, it seems so natural in Amsterdam! Barges and even often ferries were converted into housing.

People live without worrying in the slightest about the eyes of passers-by. And when you disregard the opposite, the setting is just beautiful.

Conclusion on places to visit Amsterdam

Here are all the important places to visit in Amsterdam and spend an ideal stay with friends, family or lovers.

You can fill up on culture, unusual activities, and romantic walks.

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