WHAT TO SEE & DO IN AMSTERDAM
There are endless things to do in Amsterdam in any weather and many of the most rewarding experiences lie beyond the well-trodden tourist paths of the city centre. To lead you through the wealth of wonders, we’ve whittled down the selection to this essential guide.
Many of the museums and sights included are covered by the I amsterdam City Card - a handy visitor pass which gets you free entry to Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, plus free public transport for the duration of your stay.
*Sourced by iamsterdam.com
GET LOST IN THE ARTY JORDAAN
Often cited as Amsterdam’s most charming neighbourhood, wandering into the Jordaan feels like stepping back in time. Originally a working-class area, the Jordaan’s narrow streets and quaint buildings now make up one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with independent art galleries, antique shops, courtyard gardens and atmospheric bars and restaurants. Ditch the map and lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow lanes that sprawl eastwards from Prinsengracht canal known as the 9 Streets, one of Amsterdam's most rewarding shopping experiences.
CYCLE TO HIDDEN GEMS
There are over 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. That’s more bikes than people! Cycling in Amsterdam is a way of life, made easier by the city’s unbeatable network of cycle routes and flat landscape. Amsterdam regularly comes out on top in lists of the world’s most cycle-friendly cities, and there’s no finer way to explore the region’s attractions than by pedal power. Hop on your bike and head to Sloterplas for a dip in the sprawling lake, or cycle over to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel to explore a 12th-century village idyll packed with historic sights. Many of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets can be discovered from the comfort of your saddle.
MUSEUMS & MAJESTIC BUILDINGS IN MUSEUMPLEIN
Home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and The Royal Concertgebouw, Museumplein is the cultural beating heart of Amsterdam. Recently renovated to a world-class standard, the leafy and architecturally astounding 19th-century district of Oud-Zuid is an art lover’s utopia. The open square between the buildings pulses with activity all day, with open-air exhibitions, markets and a large paddling pool to dip your toes into on warmer days. In the winter months, the square transforms with a vast outdoor ice rink. Get free entry to the museums with the I amsterdam City Card.
CRUISE PAST CANAL HOUSES AND BRIDGES
Created in the 17th century to keep the sea at bay, Amsterdam’s UNESCO protected canal belt is the quintessential postcard-perfect vision of Amsterdam. It is an unbelievably pretty sight, especially after sundown when the bridges are lit up by fairy lights and the whole area takes on a magical feel. Floating along the canals by guided boat tour is a great way to get under the fabric of the city, and you’ll learn lots of fascinating facts along the way – such as why the tilting homes along the canals are known as ‘dancing houses’. There are many different canal cruises on offer, from hop-on-hop-off sightseeing tours to atmospheric candlelit night time cruises with food and wine. Get a free canal cruise with the I amsterdam City Card, or book a canal cruise online with the Canal Cruise Ticket.
VISIT ANNE FRANKS HOUSE
Reflect on the atrocities committed against the Jewish people during World War II at the Prinsengracht house where diarist Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years after fleeing persecution in Germany. The front of the Anne Frank House is now a thought-provoking museum but the back annexe has been preserved to give an idea of what life was like for Anne and the families she hid with. Waiting times are often lengthy, so visit early in the morning or book online in advance to beat the queues.
VISIT EUROPE'S BIGGEST FLEA MARKET
If you love bargain-hunting, quirky curiosities and sprawling industrial warehouses, make time for a visit to IJ-hallen, one of the best markets on the continent. Take the ferry from the harbour behind Central Station to the NDSM-yard and from there it's just a 5-minute walk to the market. Step into the cavernous space, or browse the many stands that spill out onto the wharf, to rifle through a wild collection of records, vintage clothing, home furnishings and antiques. If you can’t find something special here, you aren’t looking hard enough.
DISCOVER AMSTERDAM'S INDEPENDENT SHOPPING STREETS
While many visitors head straight to the busy chain-store mecca of Kalverstraat, those in the know get their retail therapy at one of the city's more locally flavoured shopping meccas. The most well-known of these is De Negen Straatjes or ‘The Nine Streets’ at a quaint warren of cobbled streets that connect the main canals between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat. Here you’ll find over 200 retailers, including a fine selection of independent boutiques, vintage shops and specialty stores selling everything from designer dresses to handmade cosmetics. If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home, skip the tourist traps and shop for authentic Dutch design and quality Amsterdam brands at the Local Goods Store in De Hallen or the I amsterdam Store in Central Station.
EAT PANCAKES IN THE CENTRAL PARK OF AMSTERDAM
Amsterdamse Bos, on the southern edge of the city, is almost three times the size of New York’s Central Park. This lush urban oasis provides ample opportunities for bike rides, picnics, swimming, strolling over hills and flower-blanketed valleys, or just barbecuing with friends. In the forest, you’ll find Goat Farm Ridammerhoeve, where you can meet goats, lambs, chickens, pigs, cows and horses and then fuel up at its charming restaurant that serves delicious goat cheese. For heartier fare, head to Meerzicht Farm and Pancake House where the Dutch-style pancakes are beyond delicious. It also has a big playground for the kids and a stable of daintily antlered deer sure to elicit ooohs and ahhhs from your own dears.
Yes, they’re as clichéd as clogs, but tulips are a definitive symbol of Dutch culture, and a trip to the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without feasting your eyes on these beautiful blooms. If you’re visiting Amsterdam in spring, then take the short 20-minute trip out to the world-famous tulip fields (Bollenstreek) – stretching out in colourful stripes across miles of lowland fields between Haarlem and Leiden. There are also ample opportunities to stop and smell the tulips right in the heart of the city; the bulbs spill out of bouquets at the Bloemenmarkt, line the windows of the Tulip Museum and seem to burst forth from every possible planter during the Tulip Festival, which lasts all of April.
TRY LOCAL BEER AT A HISTORIC BREWERY
There are eight remaining windmills in Amsterdam and the easiest to visit is De Gooyer in the Oostelijke Eilanden (Eastern Islands) neighbourhood. And this isn’t just any windmill – for under the sails of this striking landmark is Brouwerij ‘t IJ, an award-winning artisan microbrewery with a large outdoor drinking terrace and 30-minute guided tasting tours. The brewery produces a range of organic standard and seasonal ales that you'll find in many Amsterdam bars, though nothing tastes quite as good as beer brewed on the premises. Just try to pace yourself because the city is brimming with craft beer bars and microbreweries that will beckon you in for one more frothy fluitje.
EXPLORE WINDMILLS, COUNTRYSIDE AND BEACHES
If you’re in town for more than a few days, then plan a day trip to explore the diverse attractions of the surrounding area. Just a short hop from Amsterdam lies a rich landscape of gorgeous countryside, beaches, windmills and historic towns – all easily reachable from the city centre. Just 20 minutes from Amsterdam Central by train, the picturesque city of Haarlem overflows with history and culture, plus a great selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. And if lying on a beach is more your thing, then the beautiful golden stretches at Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort aan Zee will be happy to oblige with golden sands, dunes and plenty of watersports. Looking for picture-perfect views of windmills, rolling grassland and winding canals? Set your sights on the Zaanse Schans, a pastoral paradise that’s so photogenic it is basically why Instagram was invented.
Please reach out to Eve Riley if you require anything else for your visa (including any letters from the hotel).
For more information reach out to Eve Riley.