Best Things to Do in Amsterdam
This post lists the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam, including free activities, family-friendly attractions, and things to do after dark.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
This is our top 10 list of things to do in Amsterdam. It includes events, free activities, family-friendly attractions, the best food to eat, evening entertainment, and tours.
Check out our other popular Amsterdam posts here:
- Attraction Discount Passes
- Things to Do in the Red Light District
- Where to Store Luggage in Amsterdam
(1) Go on a Sightseeing Tour
One of the best ways to learn more about any city is by taking a sightseeing tour. Amsterdam, luckily, has a variety of fun tours to take.
There are free walking tours that cover a variety of neighborhoods and subjects. From food tours and alternative culture tours to classic city center tours.
You can take advantage of the fact that there are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam by taking a bike tour! Your guide will lead you through the city’s many bicycle lanes as you see the sights.
Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour through the city, or a boat tour through the canals. These tours include audio narration of the sights and might also come with combo tickets for other experiences.
Of course, the Red Light District tours are popular, since the neighborhood is the subject of much fascination. You’ll learn about the history of the lit windows and today’s current culture and prostitution laws.
(2) Catch Some Live Music
It’s easy to find live music when you’re in Amsterdam, no matter what genre you’re looking for. Jazz is a popular genre thanks to the influence of American soldiers during World War II, and you can find regular concerts at Bimhuis. You can also find some high-quality classical music from the Royal Symphony at Concertgebouw.
There are multiple great venues that have a variety of modern artists and DJs performing throughout the year:
Click here to find all the concerts available in Amsterdam.
For more things to do at night, check out the section below.
(3) See a Professional Sporting Match
The Netherlands is home to a few big football teams – and one of the most popular ones, Ajax, calls Amsterdam home. You can find all the games happening here.
Football (Soccer) Teams:
Don’t forget to look at all the sporting events in Amsterdam, since there are occasionally championship games and competitions for various professional sports.
(4) Enjoy the Food Scene
Amsterdam has a diverse range of cuisines to enjoy, as well as some famous spots you shouldn’t miss.
Number one is Foodhallen. It’s best to arrive on an empty stomach and with a friend or two, so you can sample as many dishes as possible. You’ll find a wide variety of food vendors selling dishes like dim sum, tacos, French pastries and desserts, and seafood, among others.
When it comes to traditionally-Amsterdam eating establishments, try a brown cafe, which are traditional Dutch pubs. We have a list of coffeeshops, brown cafes, and sit-down restaurants in our evening activities post here.
The city also has popular food tours and pub crawls. If you like to hear about the traditions behind popular local foods and restaurants, don’t miss the food tours!
(5) Explore the Red Light District
The Red Light District in Amsterdam is famous for its red-lit windows where the legal prostitutes wait for customers. Since it has been legal since 1811, visitors have been fascinated by the openness of the practice.
Of course, there are a few rules of conduct that tourists should be aware of, and there are more things to see than just the workers in their windows. See our full post on the Red Light District to find out what else there is to do in the district.
(6) Find a Panoramic View of the City
Amsterdam has a unique skyline, thanks to the beautiful Dutch architecture and abundance of canals.
The OBA Central Library has a panorama terrace on its 7th floor and is free to access!
If you don’t mind paying for drinks or a few snacks, head to Blue Amsterdam, a top-floor restaurant and cafe that offers a panoramic view of the city center.
You can also get a great view from the top of the NEMO Science Centre, which is included for free on several Amsterdam tourist passes. If you’re looking for other budget-conscious ideas, check out the free activities section below.
(7) Rent a Bike or Bakfiets
Did you know there are more bicycles than people in Amsterdam? Amsterdam and the surrounding towns are full of bike lanes and bikes. Whether you just want the experience or are looking for a convenient form of transportation, we suggest renting a bike for at least a day.
If you have small children, get a bakfiets so they can also come along for the ride.
(8) Explore Vondelpark and Amstelpark
The city has plenty of green spaces to complement the canals. In both Vondelpark and Amstelpark, you’ll find locals and visitors lounging on the grass during sunny days, riding bikes, and running on the footpaths.
We suggest taking a picnic to enjoy by one of the ponds or flowerbeds. If you have a football (or soccer ball) or frisbees, this is a great place for friends or kids to run around and play a pickup game.
Younger children will especially be entertained by Amstelpark’s playgrounds, mini-golf, and a petting zoo.
Vondelpark also has a Friday night skate that is free to attend – you just need to find your own skates. Check the website to see whether or not the skate will take place, as it depends on the weather.
Find more fun, kid-friendly activities in the section below.
(9) Take a Boat Tour of the Canals
Amsterdam has 165 canals, which is 15 more canals than Venice, Italy. With all those waterways, there are almost endless opportunities for taking boat rides in the city. Whether you’re a fan of hop-on-hop-off tours or are looking for something a little different.
We suggest taking a small, open-boat canal cruise for a more intimate experience. Of course, there are options for everyone:
- Evening Cruises
- Luxury Cruises with Beer, Wine, and Snacks
- Pedal Boat Rentals
- Private Cruises with Pizza
If you’re entertaining younger kids, the Blue Boat company as a pirate adventure-themed boat ride which is fun and interactive.
(10) Save Money with a Tourist Attraction Discount Pass
Amsterdam is not a cheap city, but you don’t have to break the bank to see the popular attractions. Tourist passes work by allowing you to bundle admission tickets for heavy discounts. You could get up to 50% off retail prices on several passes – or get in for free with an all-inclusive pass.
Attractions Included on Some Passes Include:
- Rembrandt House Museum
- Heineken Experience
- Hop-On-Hop-Off Boat or Bus Tour
- ARTIS Zoo
- Madame Tussauds (with Fast Track Entry)
- Amsterdam Dungeon
See which pass can save you the most on your trip with our in-depth comparison post.
FREE THINGS TO DO
Here is our list of the top 10 free things to do in Amsterdam.
- Visit the Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt).
- Enjoy a live music performance.
- Take a ride on a ferry across the river.
- Visit the Begijnhof Courtyard.
- See the Civic Guards Gallery(included in tourist passes).
- Visit the Rijksmuseum Gardens.
- Go to a street market.
- Enjoy a panoramic view of Amsterdam.
- Take a walk through the historic canal belt or Chinatown.
- Take a free walking tour.
Amsterdam might be the real city that never sleeps.
There’s always something happening, even when the moon is out! For more detail about this top 10 list of nighttime activities as well as even more ideas, check out our full things to do at night post.
- Take an evening dinner cruise.
- See an evening concert or hit the clubs.
- Find an open-late museum like Madame Tussaud’s or the Red Light District museums.
- Explore a few of Amsterdam’s coffeeshops to see Cannabis culture.
- Enjoy the Heineken Experience.
- Rent a bicycle for sightseeing and transportation.
- Enjoy the jazz scene.
- Explore the Red Light District.
- Get a panoramic view of the city lights at the Public Library.
- Have a cocktail at the Bond-themed Vesper Bar.
Don’t forget to check out our full list of things to do at night in Amsterdam.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY THINGS TO DO
You can find plenty of family-friendly activities in Amsterdam!
Here is our top 10 list of the best things to do with kids in the city, from tours to events and interesting attractions.
- Take a kid-friendly boat tour.
- Tour a fun museum like the NEMO Science Museum.
- Go to the Children’s Theatre.
- Rent a bakfiets for cycling through the city.
- See a football game.
- Enjoy some delicious food at kid-friendly restaurants.
- Explore and play in Vondelpark.
- See the animals at Artis Zoo.
- Visit a windmill outside the city.
- See the Mouse Mansion from the children’s book series.
Make sure you check out our full post of family-friendly things to do in Amsterdam.
- Luggage Storage in Amsterdam
- Free Amsterdam Walking Tours
- Red Light District
- Tourist Attraction Discount Passes