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Things to do in Amsterdam: tips from a local!

Things to do in Amsterdam: tips from a local about well-known and lesser-known highlights and the nicest places in Amsterdam. About museums, handy maps to discover the city, canal cruises, the Heineken Experience, parks, good food and drinks, festivals, visiting different neighborhoods and nice places, the Dam Square and the Damrak, Madame Tussauds and the Amsterdam Dungeon, a swing from the roof of the Amsterdam Lookout and much more. Discover Amsterdam here!


Things to do in Amsterdam: tips. Discover Amsterdam and learn more about the highlights, hippest and hottest places in Amsterdam!

Book your hotel in Amsterdam city here:

1) Buy (combi) tickets for sights and public transport

It is practical to purchase the I Amsterdam City Card, which allows you to visit more than 70 museums and highlights in and outside Amsterdam (Haarlem, Zaanse Schans, Volendam and more). It also includes a one-hour canal cruise and free use of public transport. A very practical card which offers a lot!
If you buy the Go City All-Inclusive Pass, you can visit more than 25 top attractions in Amsterdam. With the accompanying digital city guide you will receive instructions and tips to plan your route.
There is also a limited Go City All-Inclusive Pass that allows you to visit 3-7 attractions.

Amsterdam’s public transport

Do you only want to buy a public transport ticket? You can do that here! There are also cards available that allow you to travel in Amsterdam and between Amsterdam and Schiphol, for example a card for 1-7 days, with a return airport shuttle pass, or a card for three days. Another option is the card that offers you to visit (the region of) Amsterdam, the Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans and Volendam, the so-called ARTT Pass.

2) Make a cruise through the canals of Amsterdam

A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a cruise through the canals of Amsterdam. The seventeenth-century canals within the Singelgracht are on the Unesco World Heritage List. Admire the beautiful old houses with their special facades, the chic Keizersgracht and enjoy life in the city and on the water. Listen to the stories about Amsterdam through an audio guide in different languages. You can buy the aforementioned I Amsterdam City Card to make a canal cruise, or book a ticket below for just a canal cruise. You can also choose, for example, a canal cruise with tasty snacks and drinks, an evening canal cruise or a combination of the Heineken Brewery and a canal cruise:

3) Wander across the Dam Square and visit the Royal Palace

From Central Station you walk via the Damrak to the Dam Square, a central square in the heart of Amsterdam city. The commemoration of the victims of the Second World War takes place here on 4 May every year. Pause for a moment at the monument and then take in the hustle and bustle. It is always busy here, with tourists and street performers. Organized protests, e.g. against war, may take place here as well. The Royal Palace of Amsterdam is not to be missed and is often referred to as the Palace on the Dam Square. The palace is used by the Royal Family as a reception palace and exhibitions are held here as well. You can visit the palace, book your ticket below for priority access including an audio guide:

4) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Visit the Anne Frank House

An absolute must if you are in Amsterdam. The diary of Anne Frank and the story about Anne Frank and her family are world famous. Every day there are queues of tourists in front of the Anne Frank House. Don’t let this put you off and learn more about World War II. Discover the bookcase that provided the secret access to the so called ‘Achterhuis’ where Anne and her family lived. Learn more about the life of Anne and her family. A truly impressive visit that you will certainly remember. It is also impressive to do an Anne Frank walking tour, you can book a ticket here.

5) Visit one of Amsterdam’s many museums

Amsterdam has many museums, the 100 best museums can be found here. You can visit part of them with the I Amsterdam City Card and Go City All-Inclusive Pass mentioned above. If you have a museum card, you have free access to all museums for one year. Of course you can also buy a separate ticket for a museum:

6) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Beer tasting at the world famous Heineken Brewery

From a beer brewery that initially had to fight for its existence, Heineken has become one of the most famous beer brands in the world. Heineken’s slogan became world famous as well. Book a ticket for the Heineken Experience and listen to the impressive story of Heineken. The Heineken Experience consists of an interactive tour and a beer tasting. You can also combine the Heineken Experience with a canal cruise, or book a VIP tour:

7) Make a swing from the roof of the Amsterdam Lookout

Something you should not miss in Amsterdam! Visit the Amsterdam Lookout with your I Amsterdam City Card, the Go City All-Inclusive Pass or during a guided walk through Amsterdam-Noord, a hip neighborhood that has developed over the past years. Step into the hypermodern elevator full of colors and lights and go up to the roof of the Amsterdam Lookout (the Amsterdam Tower). Buy a ticket for the swing ‘Over the edge’. Swing from the roof and enjoy the amazing views over Amsterdam.

Swing from the rooftop of the Amsterdam Lookout.

8) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Shop till you drop in the famous 9 streets

The 9 streets are a shopping area in Amsterdam with all kinds of nice and cozy shops. The Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht and Singel are connected by the 9 streets. More information about the 9 streets, shops and restaurants can be found here.

9) Discover the cozy Jordan district with a guide

Jordan is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Amsterdam. There are several theories about where the name comes from, for example from the biblical river ‘Jordan’. Jordan then refers to the Prinsengracht and the name has been transferred to the neighborhood behind it. Behind the Jordan River, according to the Bible, was the Promised Land. Another theory is that it comes from the French word Jardin, which means garden.

From poor working-class neighborhood to hip city district

The famous working-class neighborhood has undergone enormous changes over the centuries. While workers and large families used to live here in small houses under poor conditions, in recent decades many young and wealthy people have taken up residence in the Jordan district. The neighborhood has become increasingly trendy and popular, also with tourists. Book a tour and discover Jordan with a guide. Visit a courtyard, there are lovely food tours for foodies and you can make beautiful walks or discover Jordan by bike.

10) Relax on a terrace along the Amstel River

It is wonderful to take a walk along the Amstel River and to relax on a terrace. Surely one of the things to do in Amsterdam: tips for the best terraces along the Amstel River can be found in my blog that will appear in English soon!

Things to do in Amsterdam: tips, drinking a beer on a terrace along the Amstel River.
Things to do in Amsterdam: tips, me enjoying a drink on a terrace along the Amstel River.

11) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Relax in one of the beautiful parks

Do you want to relax during a day or city trip in Amsterdam? You can do this in one of the many parks in Amsterdam. The famous Vondelpark is the largest park in Amsterdam. Stroll along the ponds, have a picnic in the grass or relax on the terrace of ‘t Blauwe Theehuis. You can also enjoy delicious food and drinks on the terrace of Park Zuid. In the beautiful Amstelpark you can enjoy good food and drinks. There are markets on Sundays, playgrounds for children, animals and art. Check the link for more information! The event the Parade is held every year in the Martin Luther King Park near the Amstel River. The Rembrandtpark in Amsterdam-West is a wonderful city park, as is the Oosterpark in Amsterdam-East. Amsterdam has many more beautiful parks and recreational areas, look here for more information.

12) Discover the different neighborhoods of Amsterdam

Amsterdam has very nice and diverse neighborhoods. Below you will find an overview of the districts and discover what makes them special.


From poor working-class neighborhood to hip city district, see above in this blog for what you can do here.

Amsterdam North

Amsterdam North is under development and will become a hip neighborhood with nightlife and beautiful architecture. You can enjoy a lovely walk along ‘t IJ, enjoy good food and drinks, visit the Amsterdam Lookout or the Eye Film Museum and there is also plenty to do at the NDSM wharf.


In Westerpark you will find a combination of architecture, culture, a green environment and a vibrant nightlife. The grounds of the Westergasfabriek offer entertainment for everyone. There are concerts, markets, festivals and exhibitions regularly. Enjoy lovely beers and delicious nachos at the Troost Brewery. Tast foods and drinks at the various restaurants and pubs on the Westergasfabriek grounds. You will also find a cinema and a dance club here. In the Gashouder, festivals take place regularly, e.g. Awakenings and the Amsterdam Wine Festival, which I love to visit.

Amsterdam South East

Enjoy the recreation area on the Gaasperplas, the shops in the Amsterdamse Poort and taste flavors from all over the world. In Amsterdam South-East you will find many different cultures in an authentic neighborhood. Flavors and products from various parts of the world come together in the Shopperhal, it makes you feel like travelling abroad. Recommended!

Amsterdam West

Visit the delicious and trendy Foodhallen, located in an old tram depot in Old-West. You can enjoy international food here. The Foodhallen are part of the Hallen, a cultural center with food halls, a cinema, bars and shops.

13) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Paddleboard tour through the canals and on the Amstel River

To stand on a paddleboard has become really hip and hot. It is a wonderful combination of being active and enjoying what is happening on and along the water. Join a tour through the canals and on the Amstel River and discover the beautiful city of Amsterdam.

14) Visit the Johan Cruijf Arena during a guided tour

Of course, a visit to Amsterdam is incomplete without a visit to the stadium of Ajax, the Johan Cruijf Arena. Take a guided tour and walk on the famous grass, visit the changing rooms and press areas and learn more about Ajax. Or book a VIP Tour with extras. A fun activity for young and old!

15) Experience the horror in the Amsterdam Dungeon

Learn about the dark history of the Netherlands on a creapy tour through the Amsterdam Dungeon. You can visit the Amsterdam Dungeon with your I Amsterdam City Card (for sale at the top of this blog), or book your ticket below. You can also opt for a combi ticket with Madam Tussauds.

16) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Discover famous people at Madame Tussauds

A visit to Madame Tussauds is a must when you are in Amsterdam. Visit Madame Tussauds with your I Amsterdam City Card (for sale at the top of this blog), or buy a ticket below. Which famous people do you recognize? There are many of them, from the past to the present. From the window at the top of the building you have an amazing view over the Dam Square and the Damrak!

Things to do in Amsterdam: tips, DJ Armin van Buuren and me at Madame Tussauds.
Things to do in Amsterdam: tips, view from Madame Tussauds on the Damrak and the Dam Square.

17) Discover special animals and more in Artis

Natura Artis Magistra, or Artis, consists of a zoo and a botanical garden right in the center of Amsterdam. Artis is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and therefore very special! Another thing that makes Artis special is that it not only consists of a zoo, but also of a planetarium, an aquarium, an arboretum, the Groote Museum and Micropia. Enough to see and do for a day out!

18) Take the hop-on hop-off bus through Amsterdam

A very handy way to discover all the highlights of Amsterdam: book a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus and combine it with a canal cruise. Or book your ticket below:

19) Things to do in Amsterdam: tips! Visit one of the many festivals

Amsterdam has many festivals. Below you will find an overview of well-known festivals and a link to all festivals in Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam Dance Event: a world-famous festival in October that attracts many locals and tourists;
  • Amsterdam Gay Pride in August. A period that is all about being who you want to be. The highlight is the annual Canal Pride, when people sail on decorated boats through the canals of Amsterdam;
  • The Parade in Martin Luther King Park. A place for theatre, music, tasty snacks and drinks, a merry-go-round, silent disco and more;
  • The Uitmarkt in August is the start of the cultural season every year. Visit stands, participate in the Musical sing-a-long that is broadcast on TV, enjoy delicious snacks and drinks and think about which cultural activities you want to book next year;
  • Amsterdam Wine Festival: this festival takes place twice a year in the Gashouder on the grounds of the Westergasfabriek. I love coming here!
  • Of course there are many more festivals: check out all festivals in Amsterdam here!
Amsterdam Wine Festival overview.
Amsterdam Wine Festival glasses.

20) Visit the Keukenhof, Zaanse Schans, Volendam, Edam and Marken

A must: visit the world-famous Zaanse Schans and the fishing village of Volendam. Have your photo taken in traditional costume and taste the most delicious fresh fish. Even if you are not a fish lover, you can enjoy delicious food and drinks in one of the many bars and restaurants. Visit the cheese market in Edam and taste different types of cheese, one of the products that the Netherlands is known for and proud of. Marken is a village, located on the peninsula of the same name in the Markermeer. This used to be an island, but since 1957 Marken has been connected to the mainland by means of a dike. Here you will discover an authentic part of the Netherlands, where you go back in time. During a visit to the world-famous Keukenhof you can enjoy a sea of ​​flowers in all sorts and colours. Recommended!


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