Ah, Amsterdam. The city of bikes, canals, stoners, and raucous nightlife.

It should come as no surprise that this city is one of the most visited destinations in Europe. After all, it’s brimming with old-school charm, oodles of history, a fascinating culture, and super nice people.

If you’re anything like me though, you probably want to experience Amsterdam beyond those usual Van Gogh selfies and overly crowded canal cruises.

Well, I’ve got good news for you: there are a lot of hidden gems in Amsterdam that lie well away from the regular tourist trails. Like, a heck lot: Think miniature hidden houses, historic temples, 14th-century courtyards, and more!

Don’t worry if you’ve never visited the city before: I’m here to dish out the full scoop on the BEST hidden gems in Amsterdam! So, grab your comfiest shoes as we set out in search of the (many) treasures that beckon in the Venice of the North!

Red neon light art reading "memories are souvenirs too" on the side of the canal at night
Say no more.
Photo: @Lauramcblonde

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What’s Amsterdam Like?

What comes to your mind first when you think of visiting the Netherlands? Undoubtedly, Amsterdam!

The red lights, the raucous party, the joints… and you’ve also got those brightly hued tulip fields, artsy cafes, quaint windmills, and an undeniably turbulent history. You’d be absolutely right that they all make this capital city one of the most unique places in the world to visit. 

That’s the thing about it, though: this eclectic destination’s got something for everyone. Whether your plan is to uncover those secret spots or take in the most popular sights, you bet there’s something in the city with your name on it!

Of course, we can’t talk about Amsterdam without mentioning its most popular landmark: the iconic Anne Frank House. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this is among the most visited places in the city, so I would strongly recommend that you get your tickets ahead of time.

And if you ask me, it wouldn’t quite be a trip to Amsterdam without the quintessential canal cruise or visit to the Van Gogh Museum.

But enough about these already-famous attractions; let’s amble off the beaten track!

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    15 of the Best Hidden Spots in Amsterdam

    Gearing up for a backpacking trip around Amsterdam? Here are 15 of the best hidden gems in Amsterdam that lie well away from those massive crowds of overly-excited tourists!

    1. Check out the Hidden Gem Cafes and Restaurants

    Foodies, rejoice! If you don’t mind skipping those ultra-popular restaurants, check out this secret food tour that’ll introduce you to some of the best hidden gems in Amsterdam.  

    Begin your day with a classic Dutch breakfast consisting of Poffertjes. It’s a local delicacy that consists of small, gloriously fluffy pancakes made up of buckwheat flour and yeast.

    A person's hand dipping a fried ball into some mustard
    Street food is part of the journey!

    After breakfast, you’ll embark on a guided tour of the authentic Jordaan area, one of the coolest places in Amsterdam to stay in that still retains vestiges of its former French colonial past. You’ll also learn how the hell raw herring is a Dutch delicacy.

    As you venture off the beaten track, you’ll explore a hidden garden courtyard that most travellers don’t know about. Cheese lovers will be glad to learn that the tour even features a tasting session of the finest Dutch cheeses.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: $88
    • Personal Opinion: An absolute haven for foodies!  

    2. See the Light Sculptures on the Water

    Here’s an activity that perfectly lends itself to art lovers or couples looking for unique things to do in Amsterdam!

    First things first, though; this activity only takes place in the winter and sells out quickly, so you be sure to book your slot ahead of time.

    Colorful tulip light sculpture in Amsterdam
    Colors in motion.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    You’ll set sail on a small boat that’ll take you close to the light sculptures sprinkled across the canal. More importantly, the boat will be sailed by a genuine art connoisseur who’ll be more than happy to tell you more about the artists behind each installation.

    And that’s not all: you’ll be treated to 3 classic Dutch sweets, a selection of winter teas, and mulled wine. Blankets and heated seats are also provided to keep you nice and comfy.

    To wrap up the evening, head to The Hoxton Amsterdam, a cozy spot where you can continue the festive vibes with a cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace.

    • Rating: 10/10 – Hidden Gem Alert
    • Cost: $30
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip this one!   

    3. Bike Your Way Through the Hidden Gems

    It won’t take you long to realize that Amsterdam is super bike-friendly! Locals tend to bike to as many places as they can, and the city has over 500 km of dedicated bike lanes. Beats stewing in the traffic, don’t you think?

    One of the things that makes Amsterdam a truly unique city in Europe is its bike culture. It’s the easiest way of unearthing the (many) hidden gems out there – not to mention the most eco-friendly!

    Riding a bike through a park in the Netherlands with person fist pumping ahead
    And the best view in the city.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Fancy a day trip around Amsterdam? I recommend this guided bike tour that’ll take you to some of the best secret spots in Amsterdam. I’m talking hidden courtyards, local hotspots, historic churches…the works! Best of all, you’ll cycle those quaint backstreets alongside a local who knows every nook and cranny of the city.

    During the tour, your guide will also tell you more about the history and origin of each site.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About.
    • Cost: $30
    • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.

    4. Amsterdam Winter Paradise

    Not shown: me freezing my arse off.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Although it’s cold, windy, and probably rainy too, winter is still one of the best times of year to visit Amsterdam. As well as being filled with all the pretty Christmas lights and treats, they hold one of Amsterdam’s top festivals: Winter Paradise.

    You can expect some scenic Christmas markets, some overpriced food and drinks, a funfair, and an ice skating rink that’s an ideal place to make a fool of yourself. Though, it doesn’t have to cost the Earth if you can’t afford it.

    The first time I went, I could only afford to bring a thermo of tea from my cheap Amsterdam hostel and my own snacks. But it’s worth it to take some pretty pictures and watch other people having fun.

    • Rating: 7/10 – Would go back.
    • Cost: As cheap or expensive as you need it to be.
    • Personal Opinion: A winter must-do.

    5. See the Miniature Houses

    As far as hidden gems in Amsterdam are concerned, this one is a real doozy! While most gems are located off the beaten track, the miniature houses are actually hidden in plain sight!

    The city may be famous for its canals, but not a lot of travelers know that hidden in Westerstraat is a cluster of tiny hidden houses. And by tiny, I do mean tiny.  

    Westerstraat miniature, Amsterdam
    Gotta zoom in to see ’em!
    Photo: Greger Ravik (Flickr)

    Head to North Westerstraat and you might notice a gap between house numbers 54 and 70. Peer closely, and you’ll realize that there are seven tiny abodes between the main houses.

    These were originally installed by an advertising agency as a solution to the mishap between the numbers. In my opinion, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot is definitely a reminder to notice and appreciate the little things!

    • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: FREE!
    • Personal Opinion: Packed full of hidden gems!   
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    6. Be Awed by the Secret Library

    Okay, not such a huge secret anymore – again, thanks to social media.

    But up until recently, the Cuypers Library was one of the most cleverly concealed treasures in the city. It’s still devoid of the usual tourist crowds, though. But this may not be the case in a couple more years, so here’s your chance to see this place and maybe discover some good books about Amsterdam while you’re there.

    Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Tour
    The Rijksmuseum has a vast collection of art, literature, and historical documents.

    Set in the Rijksmuseum Museum, this hidden gem in Amsterdam almost feels like stepping back in time, with its wooden floor-to-ceiling shelves, a distinct Neo-Gothic design, and old-school charm. It’s absolutely not surprising since it’s one of the oldest and largest art libraries in the country.

    The library is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday. And if you’d like to mosey around the museum as well, you can always check out this guided, skip-the-line tour of the Rijksmuseum.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About.
    • Cost: $75
    • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.

    7. Marvel at the He Hua Temple

    Not only is this one of the most magical places in Amsterdam, but this site is also perfect for travelers who’d like to soak up some culture.

    Located in Amsterdam’s Chinatown area (a hidden gem on its own if you ask me!), the He Hua Temple is actually the largest Buddhist temple on the European continent.

    Colorful and traditional Chinese architecture of the He Hua Temple in Amsterdam
    The He Hua Temple in Amsterdam is an architectural masterpiece.

    While you can amble around on your own, the temple does offer free guided tours every Saturday – perfect for travelers who’d like to learn more about Buddhism.

    An absolute treasure in Amsterdam, the temple also offers various types of cultural experiences, including calligraphy workshops and Chinese Dharma courses.

    • Rating: 10/10 – Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: $
    • Personal Opinion: Cool experience of multicultural Amsterdam.

    8. Wander the City Alongside a Local

    Is there anything better than discovering all those local haunts when exploring a new city? I think not!

    Not only will you experience the city through the eyes of a local, but this guided walking tour will also help you uncover those underrated places in Amsterdam!

    You can choose from 3, 4, 6, or 8-hour tours – perfect for travelers who want to cover more ground in less time. So, strap on your most comfortable walking shoes and get ready for an epic stroll around Amsterdam.

    A bicycle with flowers parked on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam.
    Better when they don’t cover landmarks in scaffolding.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde

    Your guide will share heaps of interesting stories about the city’s culture, history, and scrumptious food scene as they lead you off the beaten track in search of those lesser-known gems.

    One of the highlights of the tour is no doubt the De 9 Straatjes area, which is basically a micro-neighborhood. You’ll also visit Bloemenmarkt, which dates back to 1862 and was the very first floating flower market in the world.

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
    • Cost: $95
    • Personal Opinion: Great experience if you’re in the area.

    9. Visit the Hortus Botanicus

    As an ancient botanical garden, this secret spot in Amsterdam packs quite a punch – especially if you’re interested in medicinal plants.

    Founded in the mid-1600s, the Hortus Botanicus is located in the aptly named district of Plantage (just west of the city center).

    Man taking pictures of plants in Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam
    Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world.

    If you’ll be spending some time in the city, you may wish to get an I Amsterdam City Card, which offers discounts or free access to over 40 attractions, including the Hortus Botanicus Garden! Unlimited access to public transportation is also offered.

    When exploring the garden, keep your eyes peeled for the Century Hexagonal House that dates back to the 17th-century and the 20th-century Palm House.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Worth Bragging About
    • Cost: FREE with the I Amsterdam City Card!
    • Personal Opinion: A true hidden gem, sure to make you smile.

    10. Stroll Through the De Pijp Neighborhood

    Located south of the city center, De Pijp Neighborhood is a must-see hideaway for your Amsterdam itinerary.

    In addition to providing a delightful respite from the crowd, De Pijp happens to be one of the oldest neighborhoods in Amsterdam. Dating back to the 1800s, this area was actually set up to provide shelter for immigrants and workers during the city’s expansion.

    Group of houses with red roofs in De Pijp, Amsterdam

    Also referred to as the Latin Quarter, De Pijp is also known for its artsy and hip vibe, all punctuated by ethnic restaurants, hidden gem cafes, and brightly colored buildings.

    You can visit Albert Cuyp, which is known as the largest street market in the Netherlands. It’s open 6 days a week and has around 260 stands selling just about everything from fresh stroopwafels to ethnic snacks.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: $
    • Personal Opinion: Packed full of hidden gems!   
    Hidden Gems in Amsterdam
    Best HotelBest HostelBest Private Stay
    The Arcade Hotel AmsterdamAmsterdam Hostel SarphatiApartment for two persons in De Pijp

    11. See the Secluded Courtyard of Begijnhof

    Another magical place in Amsterdam that’s hidden in plain sight, Begijnhof is easily one of the best places in the city.

    This charming secret spot is awash with everything you need for a relaxing afternoon outdoors: a picturesque setting, an abundance of lush greenery, and two inner courtyards.

    Begijnhof's garden surrounded by buildings with many windows and red roofs with a statue in the middle.
    Begijnhof is one of Amsterdam’s tranquil hidden gems.

    While this place is steadily growing in popularity thanks to social media, it’s still devoid of the usual tourist crowds – well, at least for now!

    Dating back to the 14th century, the courtyard was originally designed to be a semi-self-sufficient nunnery. If you’re planning a weekend in Amsterdam, you can pass by the Courtyard of Begijnhof to read a book and take in the site’s natural beauty.

    • Rating: 9/10 – Worth Bragging About.
    • Cost: FREE
    • Personal Opinion: An impressive find you’ll tell friends about.
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    12. Head to NEMO’s Rooftop

    Okay, it’s no secret that the NEMO Science Museum is among the most popular attractions in Amsterdam. But what most tourists don’t know is that this famous spot houses a treasure of its own – and by that, I mean the museum’s rooftop!

    NEMO Science Center Amsterdam
    Get ready for the five floors
    Photo: WikimediaC (WikiCommons)

    This space was created by Renzo Piano, a renowned architect, who wanted to transform the rooftop into a piazza.

    Offering some of the most beautiful views of downtown Amsterdam, NEMO’s Rooftop is said to be the highest square in the city. It also happens to be an excellent spot for families. It’s got these great kinetic water features for the kids to play in and even a café where you can fuel up after a day of sightseeing.

    • Rating: 6/10 – Worth a Deeper Look
    • Cost: FREE!
    • Personal Opinion: Great experience if you’re in the area!

    13. See the Seals in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    The UNESCO Site of Wadden Sea isn’t quite in Amsterdam as such, but it’s just a 45-minute ride away and well worth a visit in my opinion! More importantly, you won’t need to arrange for your own transportation since this small-group tour provides pickup and drop-off in Amsterdam.

    Home to the world’s largest tidal flats system, the Wadden Sea area is packed full of treasures. If you’re a nature lover like me, I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy the drive across the beautiful Dutch countryside and the boat ride that’ll take you to the Wadden Sea.

    The Eierland lighthouse surrounded by white houses with red roof on the island of Texel in the Netherlands

    This area serves as a natural refuge for various types of mammals, including harbor porpoises, gray seals, and harbor seals.

    After exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll have time to amble through the historic town of Medemblik, known for its museums and breweries. Drinks, snacks, and binoculars to spot the seals are all provided!

    • Rating: 10/10 – Bucket List Essential
    • Cost: $270
    • Personal Opinion: Don’t miss it! A must-visit gem of excellence.

    14. Sip the Local Gin at a Historic Liquor Store

    Amsterdam may have one heck of a beer scene, but did you know the city produces some excellent gin as well? In fact, locals will tell you that the OG gin was first made in Amsterdam – only it was known as ‘Jenever’ at the time.

    While classic, modern-day gin is made from just about anything from barley to grapes, Jenever is strictly made from grains.

    Wynand Fockink, Amsterdam
    Photo: Jos, Joanna, Micaela, Finn, and Davey Purvis (Flickr)

    If you’d like to know more about the local gin scene, I can totally recommend a visit to the Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal and Spirits, one of the most underrated places in Amsterdam.  

    As the oldest tasting room in Amsterdam, this distillery is still based in a historic 17th-century store. Best of all, this place still uses the original crafting method that was first developed way back in 1679. In addition to various types of Jenevers, the tasting room also offers a range of Old Dutch liqueurs.

    • Rating: 8/10 – Genuine Delight
    • Cost: $$
    • Personal Opinion: A refreshing detour from the local beer scene.

    15. Check Out the Mouse Mansion

    Of all the hidden gems in Amsterdam, the Mouse Mansion is definitely among my favorites – not to mention an excellent venue for families travelling with kids!

    This absolute treasure of a place was handcrafted by local artist Karina Schaapman back in the 1960s. Now a popular book series, this intricately detailed doll house is bursting with mouse-sized rooms, hallways, and workshops.

    Parents will be glad to learn that the Mouse Mansion also features a studio as well as a shop where you can stock up on supplies to make your very own miniature mansion for the kids.

    • Rating: 10/10 – Hidden Gem Alert!
    • Cost: $
    • Personal Opinion: Definitely don’t skip this one!

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    FAQs About Hidden Gems in Amsterdam

    Here are some common questions people ask about those secret spots in Amsterdam.

    Final Thoughts on Hidden Gems in Amsterdam

    I’m sure by now you’ve realized that Amsterdam is a complete smorgasbord of history, culture, exciting activities, scrumptious food, and even better drinks! Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the whole host of sick coffeeshops to enjoy a fat biff too. But I can’t promote that without advertising flipping their lid…

    Not only will you find an abundance of hidden gems of Amsterdam to explore, but this historic city also perfectly lends itself to travelers from all walks of life. And if those Dutch secret spots captivated you, you can even consider embarking on an epic backpacking trip across the Netherlands.

    Canal boat going under a bridge in Amsterdam on a sunny day
    I’ll be kickin’ it until the sun calls it a day.
    Photo: @Lauramcblonde
    Looking for more info on travelling to Amsterdam and The Netherlands?

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