Things to do in Amsterdam, Holland

Offering a heady blend of the historical and contemporary, Amsterdam is among the top tourists destinations in the world, and attracts more than 4.63 million international visitors per year. In addition to being renowned for its art museums, rich architectural history, picturesque gardens, and the quaint canals that snake through the city, Amsterdam is also famed for its cannabis coffee shops, the notorious Red Light district, and the fabulous shopping experience it has to offer.

While Amsterdam provides a delightful experience, visiting any city for the first time can be a bewildering experience – however, if you happen to be planning a trip to Amsterdam, here are a few activities that are essential in order to complete your experience of the city.


  • 1

    Out and about on the streets of Amsterdam, it’s impossible to resist the urge to shop. Large departmental stores such as De Bijenkorf and Maison de Bonneterie are a haven for shoppers, while a variety of specialty shops, which sell everything from cheese to sportswear, are dotted all over the city.

  • 2

    Notable and popular shopping districts include De Negen Straatjes (a series of nine little streets), as well as Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat, which were voted the Netherlands’ best shopping streets in 2011. In addition to stores and shops, tourists might also want to experience the city’s open-air markets, such as the Dappermarkt and Albert Cuypmarkt.

  • 3

    Food is a vital part of any culture, and what better way to tap into the spirit of Amsterdam than through food and drink? Dutch cuisine offers a variety of delectable fare, including traditional dishes such as stamppot boerenkool, pancakes loaded with savoury toppings such as ham, and of course the iconic and ubiquitous wheels of Gouda cheese.

  • 4

    For a more exotic culinary experience, tourists often opt for the rijsttafel, a colonial Dutch meal which is typically reserved for festive occasions, and features an assortment of dishes from Indonesia – a former Dutch colony. For an unforgettable rijsttafel experience, try out the Tempo Doeloe restaurant, or its neighbouring restaurant called Bojo.

  • 5

    In addition to food, Amsterdam has plenty to offer its thirsty travellers, and local cafes and bars abound, among these Twee Zwaantjes, Wynand Fockink, and Café Thijssen.

  • 6

    Sightseeing is a great way to soak up the local culture, and delve into the city’s history. In Amsterdam, the artistically-inclined are bound to appreciate the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, while the Stedelijk Museum is perfect for modern art lovers. The Anne Frank House is also a popular museum, and offers an insight in to the life of the young Jewish diarist.

  • 7

    The sprawling Vondelpark and the Amsterdamse Bos are great spots for nature-lovers as is the Bloemenmarkt, or Flower Market, where tourists can enjoy flowers in bloom, and purchase bulbs of Netherlands’ famed tulips.

  • 8

    Meanwhile, if you fancy a walk on the wild side, the more adventurous option might be to explore the city’s famed Red Light district De Wallen, or step into a cannabis coffee shop, where you can kick back, and share a joint and a meal with friends.

  • 9

    No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without taking a tour of its historic canals atop a boat. For this purpose you may simply catch an open-top boat from the St. Nicolaas Boat Club, or hire a private boat for a more exclusive tour.

  • 10

    Bicycles are among the prime methods of transport in Amsterdam, and cycling through the streets can be a great way to acquaint yourself with the city. Places such as Mac Bike and Rent-A-Bike offer bikes for hire, while companies such as the Yellow Bike company offer guided tours.

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