113 Things to do in Amsterdam | Unique reasons to visit Amsterdam

There are probably a million reasons to visit Amsterdam, but we’ll go ahead and only cover 113. From fun touristy things to local gems that you have to live here to know about, I created this list of 113 things to do so you have an absolutely incredible time in Amsterdam — my favorite city.

things to do in amsterdam

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that my husband and I moved to Amsterdam in 2014, then bought a house in the Amsterdam Noord neighborhood in 2017. This is our adopted home and we want you to love it as much as we do. That said, you don’t want to miss out on the easy day trips from Amsterdam either.

I know, there’s a lot to do. I recommend staying at least a week in the Netherlands if it’s possible. That way you can hang out in Amsterdam for a few days, then check out other cool parts of the country. It’s a really cool place and each province has so much to offer.

But, for now, let’s focus on my favorite city in the world, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, and the plethora of reasons to visit.

Canal Houses in Amsterdam

Stunning architecture. Take it all in and understand it all with an ARCHITECTURE TOUR around the city.


Incredible history. Beyond the beautiful facade, there have been some dark times. Learn more about Anne Frank and World War II on a HISTORICAL TOUR.


Street art in Amsterdam Noord. You can easily take the NDSM (free) ferry from behind Centraal Station and walk around the NDSM area and take in all the street art. Or contact ALLTOURVATIVE AMSTERDAM.


Bungee jump off an old harbor crane in Amsterdam Noord. If you’re looking for a very unique and thrilling experience, head up a couple of elevators and jump from a harbor crane over 50 meters above the ground. That’ll get your heart pumping! Head over to BUNGEE AMSTERDAM for more information.


Weekend markets. We have some fabulous markets that only happen on the weekends…and some don’t even happen in the same place every weekend! Check out NOORDERMARKT on Saturday for an organic farmer’s market and antiques, PURE MARKT on Sundays in different parks around the city , and the SUNDAY MARKET is on the first Sunday of the month and is one of my favorites!


Green parks. You must visit the parks! Check out Vondelpark just outside of the center of the city, Rembrandtpark for a local park, and Westerpark for another local park next to a cultural center.


boat in amsterdam canal vertical

Canal boat rides. Yes, it’s SUPER touristy, but I love ‘em. You can either take a BIG BOAT TOUR (they are cheaper) or spend a little more and get a SMALL GROUP TOUR.


Genever tasting at DISTILLERY ‘T NIEUWE DIEP. Ask for suggestions when you get there and definitely try the apple genever with a little stroopwafel liqueur. It’s like an apple pie in a tiny glass! Don’t forget to bow to take the first sip. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Watch my foodie (and drink) experience VIDEO!


Michelin-star dining. Amsterdam isn’t known for great food, but that just means you’re in on the secret! We have 27 restaurants with either one or two stars, and another 23 with the Michelin Plate designation and 17 with the Bib Gourmand designation. Yeah…we’ve got good food.


Dinner on an island. This is a whole experience. Head to VUURTORENEILAND for a lunch or dinner you’ll never forget. You’ll take an hour-long boat ride to the island, have a 3-hour lunch or dinner, and head back.


Rooftop bars. We have some great bars with incredible views and the I Amsterdam site has a GREAT LIST.


Dutch food on a food tour. For those on their first trip to Amsterdam, I’d recommend the beginner’s FOOD TOUR IN THE JORDAAN. Ok, that’s just what I call it because after you visit Amsterdam, you’ll definitely know these foods. But, if you’ve been before and want to check out one of my favorite neighborhoods (and eat!) take the OUD WEST FOOD TOUR.


The home of Heineken. Take a TOUR of the famous Heineken Brewery. You can also combine the visit with a CANAL CRUISE to save some money


The House of Bols. It’s a full-on genever and liqueur experience with cocktails at the end! Get your TICKET HERE.


Anne Frank’s House. To make life easier, BUY A TICKET ahead of time! This is one of the most popular tourist places in the city.


Pay Homage to the Homomonument. Learn more about the HOMOMONUMENT from Atlas Obscura.


Be an Instagram star. Check out WONDR or YOUSEUM for a colorful, fun, and playful day.


brewery in a windmill

See the famous windmills in town at BROUWERIJ T’IJ or in the West. You find one in a RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD and one near WESTERPARK.


Learn about the history of prostitution in Amsterdam at the PROSTITUTION MUSEUM.


Explore the famous Johan Cruijff ArenA Stadium, where the AJAX play, with a behind-the-scenes TOUR, or combine it with a CANAL CRUISE.


Swing over the city on the A’DAM TOWER.


Take The Ultimate Flight Experience in the The is Holland building for a BIRD’S EYE VIEW over the area’s most famous attractions.


Eat traditional Dutch pancakes at the PANNENKOEKENHUIS UPSTAIRS. Make reservations and bring cash!


Awe at the interior of the Concertgebouw in Museumplein with a behind the scenes TOUR or a FREE CONCERT on Wednesdays.


Take a Jewish history tour. There’s a lot to learn and these WALKING TOURS do a great job of explaining what happened to the Jewish population during World War II.


Have a cheese and wine tasting to experience the best of Dutch cheese. There are many places that give mini cheese tastings, but this TASTING is a little more robust.


Have a picnic in Westerpark, where the LOCALS GO.


Window-shop on HAARLEMMERSTRAAT and Haarlemmerdijk.


Have a beer tasting at a favorite LOCAL BAR.


Above the Dutch countryside

Take a bike tour into the COUNTRYSIDE.


Experience the only museum for microbes at MICROPIA.


Visit a speakeasy. Amsterdam is just cool enough to have SPEAKEASIES 😉


Discover a hidden church in an attic. Check out the hours and VISITING INFORMATION.


Take yourself on a DIY sweets tour. We made a nice article just to help you find the best DESSERTS IN AMSTERDAM.


Visit a replica Dutch trading ship at the Maritime Museum. It’s free with the I AMSTERDAM CARD.


Go axe-throwing. It’s a real thing. Test your AXE-THROWING skills!


See the inside of a houseboat at the HOUSEBOAT MUSEUM or STAY IN A HOUSEBOAT.


See the inside of a canal house at the HET GRACHTENHUIS and learn about the city and the history of the canals.

Try an escape room. There are so many! Here’s one called ESCAPE THROUGH THE MOVIES, one which has a few themes called ESCAPE FACTORY, then there’s SHERLOCKED which has a traditional and mysterious escape room and they have a break-in experience called The Vault! Choose your adventure!


Catch an English comedy show at BOOM CHICAGO.


Take a cooking class and learn how to MAKE A STROOPWAFEL.


Paint your own Delft Blue Tile in the center of Amsterdam. While I totally recommend a day trip to Delft, you can learn about the famous Delft Blauw tiles right here in the city and make your own tile with HEINEN DELFTS BLAUW.


Get off the tourist path with a BIKE TOUR of the newest land in Amsterdam, IJburg.


BBQ in the park after reading where you can SAFELY/LEGALLY do so. Buy a mini grill and supplies at many grocery stores and have a blast!


Jess with fries at the Albert Cuyp market

Eat all the food at the ALBERT CUYP MARKET. I did, and you can WATCH THE VIDEO here!


Visit a diamond factory. Learn why Amsterdam has been the CITY OF DIAMONDS for over 400 years.


Walk through the Rijksmuseum garden — a very underrated SPOT in the city.


Shop the Nine Streets. This area is filled with cute boutique shops and great cafes. THE NINE STREETS are lovely spot for a stroll.


Have a picnic on the side of the canal. It’s cute. It’s romantic. It’s perfect.


Play a self-discovery game on the EASTERN DOCKLANDS.


Have vacation photos taken so you can have those awesome memories in a professional PHOTOGRAPH.


Have the perfect Gin & Tonic at MUSSEL & GIN in the Westergas complex.


Get your putt-putt on with glow-in-the-dark MINI-GOLF.


Fly above the water with a water jet pack during a FLYBOARDING EXPERIENCE.


Experience the work of local artisans at the MAKERS MARKET.


de Foodhallen

Eat at de Foodhallen. Located in the Oud West part of the city, this food court-style venue has 21 FOOD STALLS plus a couple sit-down restaurants. Check out our guide to AMSTERDAM WEST.


Experience our national pride on KING’S DAY when the whole city parties, sells everything during a city-wide flea market, wears orange and watches the canal parade. You can watch our videos from 2015 and 2019.


Have a rijsttafel at RESTAURANT BLAUW.


Drink incredible coffee at BACK TO BLACK. The coffee culture in Amsterdam is very real and my coffee-snob friends love this place. (I don’t drink coffee, so I’ll trust my friends with this one!)


Stay in an old harbor crane in the EASTERN DOCKLANDS neighborhood. There’s also a direct ferry just steps from the door that brings you to my neighborhood– AMSTERDAM NOORD!


Rooftop movies in the summer. Isn’t this a COOL IDEA?!


Hit the beach on Ijburg. You can find it on the map HERE. We also have a FULL POST on this beach, including how to get there.


Enjoy plants from all over the world at the HORTUS BOTANICUS.


Find some seriously quirky bridges in the Eastern Islands and ZEEBURG.


Feel like a kid again at the TONTON CLUB which is a modern-day arcade with boozy extras and good food.


Have an afternoon tea at the stunning CONSERVATORIUM HOTEL. It will be a charming and delicious afternoon treat.


Have a beer on a sunny day at one of the popular outdoors terraces like HANNEKES BOOM. It has a super cool history, so definitely check out their website.


Watch a movie in the historical PATHE TUSCHINSKI theatre where we have all the red-carpet movie premieres with world-famous movie stars.


Amsterdam Pride 2019

Sit canal-side for the famous Pride parade in August. Part of the week-long PRIDE CELEBRATIONS is the canal parade. It’s full of colorful and packed boats with fun themes and lots of dancing.


Eat the famous chocolate cookie at VAN STAPELE. I know Amsterdammer who don’t know about this cookie. Be better than the local and enjoy this cookie…especially when it’s warm. There may be a line, it’s worth it. Oh, and they only sell one thing, so you only need to know how many you want.


Eat fries at the hole-in-the-wall spot called VLAAMS FRITESHUIS VLEMINCKX.


Find the Picasso in the Vondelpark. Yep, a SCULPTURE designed by Picasso just sits in the middle of the park!


Cruise the canals with a guide or cruise yourself and GRAB A PIZZA canal-side from your boat.


See the unassuming prison under an Amsterdam bridge. It’s called THE TORENSLUIS and is now open to the public.


Visit a beautifully-styled horse riding school in the middle of the Oud West neighborhood. It’s a sight you must see with your own eyes and since there’s a cafe in there, you can grab a tea and WATCH THE HORSES.


Street art in Nieuw West

Talk a tour through an outdoor street art museum. Visit a different part of Amsterdam that many visitors never see and be rewarded with spectacular street art. This GUIDED TOUR will take you on a walking tour in the south-west part of the city to see their curated artwork.


Stay in an old bridge house on the Amstel River. This one is SUPER cool because it’s in the MIDDLE OF THE RIVER. But there are other options, as well, all over the city.


Visit the floating houses on STEIGEREILAND. These are not houseboats as you know them, but there are more like canalhouses created to be put on water to help with the housing crisis in Amsterdam. The project was featured on Extreme Engineering years ago.


Visit Amsterdam’s urban winery in the Amsterdam Noord neighborhood called CHATEAU AMSTERDAM.


Discover the hofjes in the Jordaan…or even just wander through the neighborhood. HOFJES are basically courtyards hidden behind a door and surrounded by home. They are so beautiful and quiet.


See Amsterdam differently from the Cafe-Restaurant BLUE located in the shopping center, Kalvertoren.


24H Noord 2017 Branding pond-Irina Raiu Photography-Redactioneel

Take the free ferry to Amsterdam Noord. The FERRIES are located behind the central station.


Like cats? Visit DE POEZENBOOT for a cat sanctuary on water.


Visit a small city farm in Westerpark called BOERDERIJ WESTERPARK.


Experience one of my favorite Amsterdam neighborhoods, the Westelijke Eilanden, the Westerdok islands. Reward yourself with a walk or cycle through them and find the MINI PALM TREE PARK on Prinseneiland.


Have a drink with a unique view at the top of REM EILAND— a former broadcast platform of a pirate channel to a bar-restaurant.


If you’re on a budget, still head out to the REM eiland (by bike is easiest) and take a picnic blanket. If you walk down the narrow walkway towards the big ships and tankers, the little bit of grass is a great place for a quiet picnic.


Go plastic fishing! Hop in a boat with PLASTIC WHALE and help clean up the Amsterdam waters from plastic. As a bonus, that plastic gets recycled and creates more boats for Plastic Whale.


Get on the canals on a stand up paddle board! Try something totally different with SUP. It’s a unique way to GET ON THE CANALS and see the city by water.


Electronic music-lovers love the AMSTERDAM DANCE EVENT. It takes over the city!


Jessica Ice Skating

Ice skating rink at Museumplein. Skate (or attempt to) in front of the iconic RIJKSMUSEUM, then cozy up with a hot chocolate. It’s one of the many things you can do when you’re in AMSTERDAM IN THE WINTER.


SAIL. This event happens once every five years and is well worth a visit. Be sure to catch SAIL-in when all the tall boats arrive in the city. While they are docked, you can visit the inside of many. It’s a cool experience.


Visit a beautiful graveyard in Oost. When we first moved to Amsterdam, we lived in the east (oost) and mistakenly thought this was a park as it was shown on GOOGLE MAPS. It’s not, but it’s so beautiful and if you like to walk through and ponder this lives of those before us, this is a great place to visit.


De Kas. This restaurant in Oost (remember, east) makes it on this list because it’s so cool, in a great place, and awesome food. Ever since we moved here, people told us to go to DE KAS. It took 5 years, and now I’m sad we missed out earlier! Don’t be us. Make a reservation.


Nieuwe Kerk. It’s a former church that was dedicated in 1409, but is now THE NIEUWE KERK used for art exhibitions, and when necessary, national and Royal events.


Fromagerie Abraham Kef Noord. Go local and enjoy a cheese tasting with French and Dutch cheese at this fabulous CAFE (with the cheese shop next door). Have a wine or beer pairing and sit outside on a warm day.


Bitterballen tasting platter at DE BITTERBALLEN BAR in de Foodhallen. It’s a delicious Dutch treat. Don’t miss it!


Brouwerij t’IJ. Enjoy a locally brewed beer under a windmill. BROUWERIJ T’ IJ is a favorite for locals and visitors and you cannot go wrong if you love beer. They also have a tasting room in Vondelpark if you want to get out in nature.


Oedipus Brewery is in Amsterdam Noord (yes, I’m biased and think my neighborhood rocks 😉 ) So, get off the tourist path and head to OEDIPUS for plenty of unique brews. There’s seating inside and outside on a nice day.


Brunch at Dignita Hoftuin or Greenwoods. This is a twofer. The brunch game in Amsterdam is elevated. There are plenty of good choices, but I’m mentioning these two because they are in some fantastic places. DIGNITA HOFTUIN is in the middle of a garden and the terrace of GREENWOODS is canalside. Picturesque doesn’t even begin to describe it. Oh, and the food is excellent at both!


You’ll find the biggest flea market in Europe at IJ-HALLEN in Amsterdam Noord. Usually held once a month, this market is packed with bargain hunters. Will you be one of them?


Flower Market, Amsterdam

Buy flowers at a corner stand in the neighborhood you are staying in.


Visit one of Amsterdam’s most famous towers, the WESTERTORNEN. Anne Frank writes about it in her diary and it’s mentioned in many songs.


See the dancing houses on the Amstel from this HANDY SPOT.


Walk along the Ringdijk in the Watergraafsmeer neighborhood where you are level with the water and looking down at the houses. It’s a CRAZY SIGHT!


Cycle down Nieuwendammerdijk for a special look at stunning DUTCH HOMES that aren’t the Amsterdam canal houses you think about, but are just as beautiful. You can get a peek of the area in by Amsterdam NOORD VLOG.


Have some peace and quiet in a garden behind the ORANJEKEREK (Orange Church) in the de Pijp neighborhood. Not open every day, but should be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons.


My Light Is Your Light
My Light Is Your Light

Amsterdam Light Festival. This is one of my FAVORITE EVENTS in Amsterdam. Learn more about it and then, when it’s the season, book an Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise with BOAT AMSTERDAM. They are my favorite!


Ride a bike through Amsterdamse Bos. It’s our CITY FOREST and is so peaceful. It’s pretty massive too, and worth exploring.


Visit the moving I Amsterdam sign. The famous I Amsterdam sign can be seen in a few places. Check their WEBSITE to find them all.


Swim in Amsterdam. Click-through THIS SITE to see where it is deemed safe.


The Royal Palace because…well…it’s Royal! Ok, so the King and Queen don’t live in the Palace (they live near The Hague), but it is still a place for Royal functions. GET A SNEAK PEEK!


The Beurspassage is a quirky part of a bustling shopping area. Pop into THE PASSAGE for a fun photo, to fill your water bottle from a fish’s mouth, or go shopping!


Did you make it through this massive list? I want to know! Leave a comment or share the list on social media and tag us! If you visit Amsterdam, let us know what you got up to. We love to hear from you.

Wishing you joy and travels!

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