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: 

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.

1) 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 have a post that compares the city’s various canal cruises available to you.

 

 

We suggest taking a small, open-boat canal cruise for a more intimate experience. Of course, there are options for everyone:

If you’re entertaining younger kids, the Blue Boat company as a pirate adventure-themed boat ride that is fun and interactive. 


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) 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.


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) 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 popular attractions.

Tourist discount 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. 

 

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Attractions Included on Some Passes Include: 

See which pass can save you the most of your trip with our in-depth comparison post


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. Find out more about renting a bike in Amsterdam.

TIP: If you’re exploring and need a place to store your luggage, check out this post with details on convenient and safe bag storage locations.


8) Visit the Anne Frank House

The story of Anne Frank is quite sad, but it’s also one of the most important tales from throughout the history of Amsterdam and WWII.

If you’ve ever wanted to see the place where this young girl was once hidden, the Anne Frank House Museum is open to public tours all year long, and there are a lot of things to see here.

 

 

In addition to seeing the room where she was kept, they also have some interesting exhibits including some of the other things she wrote.

This attraction is included at no extra cost with some Amsterdam tourist passes. To learn more, please read our post covering the Anne Frank House.


9) 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 is a traditional Dutch pub. 

We have a list of coffee shops, 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!


10) Go to the Van Gogh Museum

Vincent Van Gogh is one of the most beloved artists of all time, and Amsterdam is home to a museum full of his work.

There are over 1400 paintings and drawings on display at this location, including several popular examples such as his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, The Bedroom, The Potato Eaters, and Irises.

 

 

In addition to those exhibits, there is also a collection of artwork crafted by some of Van Gogh’s most notable friends and artists who were inspired by him.

Admission to this attraction is provided by multiple Amsterdam tourist passes. If you want to learn more, check out our post about visiting the Van Gogh Museum.


Honorable Mention: Self-Guided Exploration Games

If you’re looking for an interesting way to discover Amsterdam, there are a few different mystery games you may want to consider.

 

 

These games will give you clues to help solve a puzzle, and each clue will take you to another notable location in the city.

 


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FREE THINGS TO DO

Here is our list of the top 12 free things to do in Amsterdam. 

 

 

  1. Visit the Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt).
  2. Enjoy a live music performance.
  3. Take a ride on a ferry across the river.
  4. Visit the Begijnhof Courtyard.
  5. See the Civic Guards Gallery (included in tourist passes).
  6. Visit the Rijksmuseum Gardens. 
  7. Go to a street market
  8. Enjoy a panoramic view of Amsterdam.
  9. Take a walk through the historic canal belt or Chinatown.
  10. Explore Vondelpark and Amstelpark.
  11. Visit an Observation Deck (OBA Central Library, Blue Amsterdam, etc).
  12.  Take a free walking tour

 


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NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES

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

  1. Take an evening dinner cruise
  2. See an evening concert or hit the clubs
  3. Find an open-late museum like Madame Tussaud’s or the Red Light District museums.
  4. Explore a few of Amsterdam’s coffee shops to see Cannabis culture. 
  5. Enjoy the Heineken Experience
  6. Rent a bicycle for sightseeing and transportation.
  7. Enjoy the jazz scene. 
  8. Explore the Red Light District
  9. Get a panoramic view of the city lights at the Public Library.
  10. 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.

 


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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. 

  1. Take a kid-friendly boat tour.
  2. Tour a fun museum like the NEMO Science Museum.
  3. Go to the Children’s Theatre
  4. Rent a bakfiets for cycling through the city.
  5. See a football game
  6. Enjoy some delicious food at kid-friendly restaurants.
  7. Explore and play in Vondelpark.
  8. See the animals at Artis Zoo
  9. Visit a windmill outside the city. 
  10. 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.

 


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THINGS TO DO BY MONTH AND SEASON

Below are annual events that occur during the 12 months of the year, and if you click on the link you will be taken to our detailed posts of these events and more.

We also included links to the typical weather for each month so you know what to expect and pack accordingly.

 


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