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Things To Do in Amsterdam – Netherlands

The hometown series has taken us around the world, to small towns and big cities as travel bloggers highlight the many unique things to do and food to try. While giving you some exciting destinations around the world to explore, the series also encourages you to appreciate what is right in your own backyard! In past articles we visited the city of lights Paris, Prague in the Czech Republic, the Spanish City of Valencia, the U.S. city of Boston, the German city of BerlinSan Jose in California, and more! Now, we will head over to the Netherlands capital city of Amsterdam with Guido from Counting Our Footsteps!

All my life, I’ve lived in a town only 15 minutes away from Amsterdam. So, it’s safe to say that everything I did – for entertainment, shopping, boredom and more – I did in Amsterdam. I know the city and its surrounding area quite well, and therefore I love sharing things to do in Amsterdam. Because Amsterdam is so touristy, there is SO MUCH to do. In my opinion, these are the best things! Indulge yourself in Amsterdam’s pretty architecture, beautiful canals, and learn about its history and art.

Top Things to Do in Amsterdam

1.) Enjoy the Many Canals

Amsterdam is famous for its canals and their pretty bridges, and stunning architecture alongside them. I recommend spending some time along them and watch the people in their boats and take in the Amsterdam life. Visit the famous bench from All Of Our Stars along the canal or take a boat tour for yourself!

bike draped in flowers against a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam
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Amsterdam Canals. Photo Credit: Counting Our Footsteps.

2.) Amsterdam Light Festival

Every year in December, the Amsterdam Light Festival is hosted along the canals of Amsterdam. Take a bout tour and see all the artworks made with light. Or do the walking route along the Canals. It’s possible to do this for free, but if you buy a map (they’re cheap!) you support the artists and make it possible for this festival to be hosted every year.

3.) Visit the Body Worlds Museum

This fascinating museum in conveniently located between Central Station and Dam Square, walking distance from both. As you might have guessed, it’s all about the human body. Everything you see in this museum, the bodies, organs and nervous systems, are REAL. Learn about the effects of smoking, alcohol, exercise and find out what your body composition is.

Maybe not for people with a sensitive stomach.

4.) The Albert Cuyp Market

This market is the biggest daily market of Europe, and has been around since 1905. You can find everything from fruits and vegetables to clothes, and household products. Also a great place to grab a Dutch delicacy of fresh stroopwafels and raw herring with onions and pickles. It might not sounds delicious, but the Dutch love it!

It’s open from Monday till Saturday from 09.30 till 17.00.

5.) The Rijksmuseum

The most impressive museum in Amsterdam, and for that reason, also the most popular. You’ll have to buy a ticket and reserve a time slot in advance, so this is not something you can do spontaneously. Inside you’ll find the Nachtwacht, a massive, beautiful painting by Rembrandt, which will be the highlight of the visit. But other than paintings, you’ll learn about the Dutch colonial past, abstract art, sculptures and more.

the Rijksmuseum building with people walking in front of it.
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The Rijksmuseum. Photo Credit: Counting Our Footsteps.

6.) The Heineken Experience

Experience a tour of the world’s most famous beer brand, Heineken. Close to the Albert Cuyp market you’ll find the old brewery. Learn about the history of Heineken, the beer-brewing process, and get a couple of beers included.

7.) The 9-straatjes

A block of 3×3 picturesque streets in the historic center of Amsterdam. Here you’ll find quirky shops, great cafés, and the world-famous Fabel Friet, where you get hand-made fries. Expect a line.

8.) Explore the Pijp, my favorite area of Amsterdam

The Pijp is special to me. This is where my grandparents lived, and my parents were born. These days it’s a very trendy area, with lots of vintage shops, hipster bars, and vegan restaurants. This is where you’ll find the Heineken Experience and the Albert Cuyp Market.

Why not get a take-out from the Vegan Junk Food bar and have a picnic in the Sarphati Park?

9.) Visit the Amsterdam Museum 

I always find it important to learn about the places I visit. We made a habit of visiting local museums and doing walking tours through historic centers.

The Amsterdam Museum is a place where you’ll learn all about current and historic Amsterdam. It’s less visited by tourists, which I find a shame. I highly recommend going, because Amsterdam has a very interesting history! 

homes lining a canal in Amsterdam
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Amsterdam Canal. Photo Credit; Counting Our Footsteps.

How to Get Around Amsterdam

Getting around Amsterdam is quite easy. There is a very extensive and affordable public transport network to get you from anywhere to anywhere in the city.

I recommend buying multi-day public transport cards. It’s the cheapest, and easiest way to get around. Use the 9292 app for routes and schedules.

Where to Eat in Amsterdam

There are so many incredible places to eat in Amsterdam. My go to places in Amsterdam are The Vegan Junk Food Bar, which has multiple locations all over the city. Even for non-vegan or veggies it’s a great place to eat!

My second, one that I frequent a little too much is The Vegan Indian, close to the Leidse square. A good place to have dinner, and enjoy the many bars around it after! They are merged with Bollywood Indian, so if you want the vegan food, specify you want the separate vegan menu. It’s just as good as the non-vegan one!

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Since I have lived so close by, I’ve only stayed in a hotel a couple of times. My recommendation would be to stay ‘within the ring’, meaning the ring-shaped highway that goes around the center. Some hotels specify this, but if not, check the map to see if you’re within it. It should be obvious. From within the ring you have the best public transport options.

My go-to hotel, that I’ve used for every stay is Boutique Hotel View. It’s very affordable for Amsterdam standards, located on a canal in an authentic building. It’s just around the corner of the Leidse Square, so incredibly close to public transport and nightlife!

About the Author

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Guido lived his whole life just outside of Amsterdam before leaving to travel the world full time with Callie. Together they now run their Travel Blog Counting Our Footsteps where they share their travel tips and advice from around the world.

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