Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People come from far and wide for the canals, the cannabis, the culture. Visiting is pretty much a must.
Naturally, with so many tourists in town, there are a ton of things to do in Amsterdam. From strolling around its many art galleries and other bastions of culture to taking a peek at the notorious Red Light District, this bicycle-friendly city has a lot of things to do for its many, many visitors. The sheer amount of visitors however, does mean that it can be tricky to feel like you’ve escaped the tourist trail.
That’s where we come in. If you’re looking for unusual, unique, or off the beaten track things to do in Amsterdam, look no further. Our guide to the weird and wonderful parts of this cool city, from cat-centric art galleries to the best chocolate cookies in town (maybe ever) will have you covered from the moment you touch down in Amsterdam. Let’s get to it.
- Top Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Unusual Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Things to Do in Amsterdam at Night
- Where to Stay in Amsterdam
- Romantic Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Things to Do with Kids in Amsterdam
- Other Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Day Trips from Amsterdam
- 3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
Top Things to Do in Amsterdam
It wouldn’t be a trip to Amsterdam if you didn’t pay a visit to the Anne Frank House. Learning about her life and her story is important, making this one of the most unmissable things to do in Amsterdam. It’ll give you a deeper understanding of the events of WWII, including the deeds of the Dutch Resistance.
Walk around the centuries-old Jewish Quarter, visit the Portuguese Synagogue (dating back to the 17th century), and read about the background of this Jewish neighbourhood along the way. Anne Frank’s House, where she wrote her diary in the 1930s and ’40s, has to be booked in advance, but walk-up tickets can be bought in the afternoon. Tip: if you don’t like queues, go around dinnertime or book a guided tour.
2. Check out the books at the Cuypers Library
The largest – and oldest – art history library in all of the Netherlands; and this grand temple to books has been going strong since 1885. Multiple floors and many multiple shelves of books make it a dreamland for book lovers, but it’s the interiors that might have more of the wow factor for other visitors here.
It’s got an arching, glass-paneled roof, high shelves, and very cool spiral staircases. We think it’s one of the best off the beaten track things to do in Amsterdam. Tip: go to the second floor to take the best snaps, but be quiet: people actually work here. You could too, if you felt like it, because there are free wi-fi and iPads to use.
Headed To Amsterdam?
3. See the sights around Dam Square
Dam Square is the centre of the city and is pretty much where everything goes down. Established in 1270, it’s where you’ll find a load of the city’s grandest architecture and a mix of locals and tourists doing their thing. It’s the historical centre of Amsterdam, after all, so you can’t expect it to be not busy.
There are sights such as the 15th century Nieuwe Kerk and the National Monument, to lap up here, as well as upscale shopping opportunities and the suitably majestic NH Grand Hotel. Needless to say, visiting to gawp at it all working is touristy but a top thing to do in Amsterdam.
Westerpark is close enough to the city centre to make exploring a breeze, yet just far enough away to offer a more chilled out stay in Amsterdam, making it one of the best places to stay in Amsterdam.
- Relax at Het Stenen Hoofd, an urban beach that’s popular with locals
- Get your gaming head on and go retro at Ton Ton Club, a cool arcade with classic machines
- Sample local beers at De Prael brewery and Troost
Amsterdam is bikes. It is cycling, it is pedalling around. It’s one of the most bike-able cities in the whole wide world and that’s how pretty much everyone gets around. Everything is super geared up and ready to go for cyclists, so why not join them; trust us: pedalling around the city is one of the most quintessential things to do in Amsterdam.
Watch the beautiful Golden Age architecture fly by as you use one of the city’s many, many cycle lanes; head to one of the green spaces of the city for a pedal about; and wonder why your home city couldn’t be this good for cyclists.
Calling all football fans: this one is for you. When you’re in Amsterdam, it would make sense for you to visit the Johan Cruijff ArenA, which (as you probably know) is the home of AFC Ajax.
You can go for a game, if there’s one on, or if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the ground’s inner workings, go on a stadium tour. Definitely one of the best things to do in Amsterdam if you’re keen on the beautiful game, you’ll get to tour the ground and glimpse behind the scenes places you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise – with a bit of history thrown in for good measure.
Say “Amsterdam” and people will usually think a few iconic things. Coffeeshops first, then maybe canals, then it’s probably going to be the Heineken Experience. Possibly more famous than the lager itself, the Heineken Experience is set inside the former Heineken brewery (built in 1867) and is more than a brewery tour with tastings. Like, a lot more.
Of course, you’ll get to learn about how the beer’s brewed, and all that sort of thing, but the best bit is the Brew U Ride, where you get to experience what it’s like to be a bottle of Heineken, from the start of the process to the end result. Pretty trippy but ultimately amazing; seriously one of the most awesome things to do in Amsterdam.
Unlock the secrets of traveling on a budget!
Sign up for The Broke Backpacker newsletter to receive regular tips on how to travel for less plus a FREE copy of The Backpacker Bible!
It’s weird to think that the Netherlands, a liberal place of legal marijuana and prostitution alike, even has such a conservative thing as a royal family. But it does. They like cycling (no, they do). And a good place to see just how regal it is? The Royal Palace, of course. Still used for award ceremonies, royal receptions and state visits, this ornate pile is situated in Dam Square and dates back to the 17th century.
Though looking at it from the outside is nice enough, we’d recommend stepping inside its hallowed halls. You’ll get to see where various heads of state sleep when they’re in town, where the banquets are held, and see the marble-clad Citizens’ Hall. Needless to say, it’s one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.
8. Eat some cookies at Van Stapele
Said by some (ok, many) to be the best cookies in Amsterdam, Van Stapele – with its cute, vintage-style interiors – provides a must-try experience for anybody with a mouth and a tongue to taste things with. Even better if you like sweet stuff.
Located on a tiny street just off Spui Square, Van Stapele sells just one specific thing: freshly made chocolate cookies with a white chocolate centre (just 1.85 Euros each). Once you try these bad boys you’ll understand why there’s a line outside. When it comes to things to do in Amsterdam for foodies, or for anyone really, this is truly one of the most mouthwatering.
If you’re in Amsterdam, you really shouldn’t miss out on the Van Gogh Museum. Honestly, this is one of those must-see, quintessential things to do in Amsterdam where you’ll get to see art from the master himself.
Unappreciated in his own lifetime, Van Gogh left behind a legacy of paintings that got him pretty famous only after his death. Learn all about his struggle through informative exhibitions – including 750 letters between Van Gogh and various other luminaries of the time – as well as the all-important art. You can even see the famous “Sunflowers” here, as well as “The Potato Eaters” and “Almond Blossom”. Taking a guided tour will provide much more insight and context than going it alone.
Some of Amsterdam’s best attractions aren’t cheap. If you’re going to visit museums or take tours, pick up tickets online at Tiqets.com to get the best possible price without waiting in admission lines!
Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District is somewhere you should probably go and see. There’s all sorts of things to see, from S&M specialist sex shops to “elite streets” and video cabins; you can even go to the Condomerie and the Prostitution Information to learn all about it. You can even catch a tour from here if you wanted as well.
An unmissable thing to do in Amsterdam, it’s the oldest and most controversial area in the city. So there’s actually a lot of history steeped in these sinful streets – you can even find the Oude Kerk, the city’s oldest church (dating back to 1213), in this area, which may or may not say something about the mindset of the city! There’s also coffee shops, jazz bars and pubs to visit here.
Unusual Things to Do in Amsterdam
Though it may sound weirder than it is, Our Lord in the Attic is actually a Catholic church set across three canal houses – purpose-built during a time in Amsterdam’s history when being a practicing Catholic was punishable by prison, torture or death. Travel back in time on a visit to this 17th-century house of worship for one of the more unusual things to do in Amsterdam.
You won’t find hordes of tourists at this former clandestine church, which is good because there’s lots to explore: think winding staircases, narrow corridors, even kitchens, all set inside this pretty normal house. It’s not until you get to the attic that you find the actual place of worship. It’s pretty special.
12. Make some feline friends at KattenKabinet
Probably one of the most off the beaten track things to do in Amsterdam, KattenKabinet combines two great things of our time: art and cats. Set up in memory of the owner’s cat, this “art museum” is situated in a grand old house from the 17th century, with all the fittings and fixtures you’d expect, but it’s the art that’s more interesting.
A lot of the paintings and sculptures are cat-themed. They’re either of cats or feature cats in them. There are also cats (five, apparently) wandering around the place. It has the motto “We trust no dog”. Anyway, you get the idea. It’s unusual and kooky and if you want to get off the tourist trail, here’s the place.
13. Get funky at Electric Ladyland
Another one of Amsterdam’s quirky museums, Electric Ladyland bills itself the world’s only museum dedicated to fluorescent art. It is suitably crazy and would be made even more trippy after some time spent at a coffeehouse, we would imagine.
The basement of Electric Ladyland, in particular, has been sculpted into some sort Martian landscape with neon colours adorning it in mad patterns for a decidedly psychedelic finish. Basically this place is a psychedelic wonderland that needs to be on your list of unique things to do in Amsterdam. Tip: This place is by appointment only, so make sure you call ahead.
Safety in Amsterdam
Plenty of people go to Amsterdam and have a perfectly safe time. However, there are some nuisances to watch out for. There are pickpockets and petty thieves on public transport, in busy touristed areas, and around the airport so keep watch of your items at all times.
Make sure that you respect people’s actual property. The many ‘hofjes’ around town are open, but they’re not museums or playgrounds for wanderlust tourists. Be quiet and try not to make your presence known if you’re feeling snap-happy.
Drugs and alcohol can be an issue in Amsterdam. Don’t drink crazy amounts, especially if you plan on combining that alcohol with cannabis. Speaking of which you can only have this, and other “soft” drugs, in coffee shops.
Watch out around the canals if you’ve been drinking – these can be genuinely deadly. Be aware, also, of how you’re acting around the Red Light District; photos or recording are generally not ok. Check out our roundup of the best travel insurance.
Things to Do in Amsterdam at Night
There’s nothing quite like a city view after dark, with all the glimmering lights and glamour of it all, don’t you think? So the A’DAM Tower is the place to go to get your bird’s eye view of the city for one of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night.
Peer out across the Canal Belt and see the warm glow from all the canal houses reflecting in the water, and people going about their business. The best way to get your skyline view, however, would be to give yourself a little more time up here and stop for a drink at the rooftop bar. It’s not the cheapest view in the world, but it’s worth it; especially if you go on the mad Over the Edge swing.
15. Have a drink at In’t Aepjen
Not only is stumbling into (and then out of) In’t Aepjen one of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night – it also has one of the most fascinating backstories of any bar ever. In fact, it’s one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam! After the city was almost completely wiped out by a fire in 1451, everything was rebuilt in brick – but not this bar. It was a popular spot for sailors back in the day.
About the name… “In’t Aepken” literally means “In the Monkeys” and refers to sailors who, bereft of money, were allowed to pay their tab using exotic monkeys they’d picked up on their travels. Fun fact: after customers kept complaining of fleas, a regular took the monkeys on and created a private garden, which went on to become ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo. It’s one of Europe’s oldest!
Note that monkeys are no longer acceptable currency.
Amsterdam is famous for a lot of things – its nightlife included. So for one of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night, hitting up the city’s nightclubs, nocturnal bars and other good nightspots is definitely a good way to go.
The scene doesn’t really get up and running until late, kicking off from 10 to 11pm most nights, which is when this hedonist’s playground gets into full swing. Depending on what you’re into, you can go to the brutalist nightclub Shelter (for the hardcore only), the more fun, friendly Club X, or De School – set inside an old school, obviously – to name just a few. Take your pick!
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
Best Hostel in Amsterdam: Cityhub Amsterdam
Located just south of Westerpark is the super modern and ‘techy’ Cityhub Amsterdam. Why so ‘techy’? Because instead of a traditional dorm room – you get your own private pod/cabin and it looks more like a spaceship than a bed!
Cityhub is a unique mix of the classic social vibes of old-school hostels, mixed with a new innovative experience – that’s probably why the ratings are so high!
Best Hotel in Amsterdam: Hotel Weber
Located near Leidse Square, this boutique hotel is in a prime position close to many places of interest. Rooms are en-suite and you’ll find the fridge stocked with goodies for breakfast.
Fresh bread is brought to your room each morning too! Rooms also have a TV, Wi-Fi, a safe, a phone, and a coffee maker.
Best Airbnb in Amsterdam: Best Amstel view
For a novel stay in Amsterdam, what could be better than renting your very own private houseboat? This cool Airbnb can sleep up to seven people in three bedrooms (plus a sofa bed in the living room). The comfy living room provides incredible views over the water, and you can sit and chill on the outside deck too.
There’s a long dining table and a well-equipped kitchen. The boat has an additional separate toilet as well as the main bathroom.
Romantic Things to Do in Amsterdam
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in Amsterdam when you visit with your partner, this has got to be one of the better things out there. Nothing quite says “romance” like a cruise some sort of body of water, so in Amsterdam, that simply has to be on its canals.
It’s possible to book yourself on an evening cruise along some of Amsterdam’s picturesque canals, past old merchants’ houses, under iconic bridges – all lit up elegantly at night time for extra romance. It’s a magical way to see the city and definitely one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for couples.
18. Go and see a movie at an Art Deco cinema
Since the dawn of time, going to the movies together has forever been a couples thing to do. Lucky for you, there’s plenty of good spots in Amsterdam to catch a flick: there’s Pathé Tuschinski, for a start. This place was built in 1921 and is Amsterdam’s premiere spot to watch films and all sorts of other forms of on-stage entertainment.
Showing stuff from the latest blockbusters to art house films, Pathé Tuschinski is a marvel to look at from the outside, too, with its castle-esque, eclectic style. Grand, glamorous and comfortable, sitting in these hallowed seats is definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Amsterdam. We guarantee.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Best Free Things to Do in Amsterdam
19. Visit the floating flower market Bloemenmarkt
Since 1862. the Bloemenmarkt has been selling Amsterdam’s famous flowers come rain or shine. It also happens to be a floating market. Situated on Singel Canal, here you mingle with locals and tourists alike as you browse for fragrant flowers. It’s great – and it costs nothing to visit (the flowers are not free, obviously).
It’s all set on barges turned marketplace – complete with purpose-built glasshouses added to the top – and is open every day from 9am (11am on Sundays) till 3:30pm. One of our favourite free things to do in Amsterdam, it’s more unique than some of the other more popular stuff you can get up to in this city.
20. Hang out in Vondelpark
Vondelpark is the biggest urban park in Amsterdam. It attracts many, many people to come and hang out in the summer and stroll around in winter. You can catch a show at the open-air theatre, stop and smell the flowers at the Rose Garden, and even rent skates to rollerblade around the paths if you feel like it.
It’s a cool (and free) thing to do in Amsterdam. Even the shows at the open-air theatre are free, too. The various restaurants and cafes located around Vondelpark, however, are not; but still, picking a spot on a terrace when the weather’s nice and chilling out with a coffee and people-watching, is a good way to spend your time.
21. Stroll around hip Jordaan
Jordaan is Amsterdam’s answer to all other hipster-centric enclaves in cities all over Europe. Something about the canals and the old townhouses and the narrow streets makes it much cooler and more authentic-feeling than other hip hang outs across the globe, however. Naturally, exploring Jordaan is an awesome, if quite hipster-y, thing to do in Amsterdam.
Here you’ll find indie boutiques, a plethora of cafes (not coffeeshops), organic food, vegan fare, and the Noordermarkt Square Market. There’s loads of little pubs to hang out in, galleries, all sorts of stuff. We’d recommend getting lost in this relatively compact area (one of our favourite neighbourhoods of the city).
Books to Read in Amsterdam
The Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free! Get your copy here.
Things to Do with Kids in Amsterdam
22. Pet the goats at De Dierencapel Kinderboerderij
There is something of a tradition in the Netherlands of having spaces for children to play and one of the most common of these is the very cute Kinderboerderij, which is basically a city farm.
One of Amsterdam’s favourites is De Dierencapel. Easy to get to, being pretty close to the central station, this is the ideal place to take your little ones and makes for a fun thing to do with kids in Amsterdam. Run by volunteers, and free to enter, you get to meet ducks, chickens, goats, pigs and sheep – even some very fluffy rabbits. Very few tourists make it here.
If you’re looking for things to do in Amsterdam with kids that will entertain them and keep them occupied for more than just an hour, then we would recommend making a beeline for the Nemo Science Museum. This place is the bomb for curious minds. We’re talking hands-on science, all about fun and education in equal measures.
The biggest science centre in the Netherlands, with all sorts of activities set over five floors, this is the place where your kinders can learn how rainbows are formed, why the wind blows, and get to do things like blow bubbles bigger than their heads. There’s a whole plethora of interesting, interactive exhibitions that’s fun for children young and old (we mean you!). It’s just a 10 minute walk from central station. Bring your kids here once they’ve had enough of the Coffee Shops and Red Light districts.
Other Things to Do in Amsterdam
24. Shop for new threads at Waterlooplein Market
If you like fashion and picking up some bargain gems, then visiting the oldest flea market in Amsterdam is going to be on your list of the top things to do in Amsterdam. Waterlooplein Market, on Waterloo Square, was established 163 years ago and is still going strong today.
Here you can pick up books, bikes, music, as well as jewellery and a whole lot of clothing – old and new. There’s even antiques if you feel like getting something Instagrammable and mid-century for your new flat. It’s a legendary market with an interesting mix of stalls and, for when you start getting hungry, a load of food vendors to fill you with tasty stuff.
The Moco Museum is all about art, but not art as you would maybe imagine it: here it’s all about street art, pop art, and all sorts of art from the modern and contemporary era that challenges the art world and public opinion. You’ll find stuff by Banksy rubbing shoulders with Andy Warhol, for example – it’s that sort of place.
Strolling around this well-curated museum is great to stroll around for any art fan. It gets busy though, so definitely make sure you get tickets in advance. Being under cover, it’s a good thing to do in Amsterdam when it rains, too!
If you’re in Amsterdam with family and have children with you who just won’t be into the culture side of things in this canal-ridden city, well, we understand and recommend taking a break from all that with a day at a theme park. Not just any theme park, however: Efteling is the largest amusement park in the whole country!
Good not just for children but adults too, this fun day trip from Amsterdam will see you pack in a load of cool attractions bound to get that adrenaline pumping. There’s wild rollercoasters, a ghost ship to explore on De Vligende Hollander, and Baron 1898 – a mine-themed ride. There’s less scary stuff too, like the Fairytale Forest and Aquanura, the biggest water show in Europe (apparently).
27. Look at the pretty buildings in Begijnhof
Begijnhof is one of Amsterdam’s oldest hofjes. What’s a hofje, you say? It’s a courtyard surrounded by almshouses that have existed since the Middle Ages in the Netherlands. Basically, they’re about as Amsterdam as they come. And Begijnhof is the granddaddy of them all, we’d say.
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam would be to simply get yourself over to Begijnhof and admire the sheer loveliness of it all. Because, really, this is a very cool, very old place to be. Because of its age, it’s still at “medieval” street level, and that means a metre below the rest of the old city. Tip: visit Houten Huys (built in 1528, it’s one of two remaining timber houses in the city).
28. Have a coffee at Café de Sluyswacht
A wonky, wooden watering hole that was, once upon a time, a lock-keeper’s cottage, Café de Sluyswacht is a cosy place to visit. It’s very easy to spend a few hours here, especially on a chilly winter’s day – or even in the summer, when you spend time on their terrace watching the world go by.
Dating back to 1695, Café de Sluyswacht it definitely looks like it’s over 300 years old; the walls are warped and there’s even a wooden ladder leading up to the second floor. It’s not just about coffee here, however as you can get some good old fashioned Dutch pub grub (and even vegan options) along with a glass of wit bier – white beer. It’s a day spot, it’s a night spot, it’s anything you want it to be.
29. Hunt for antiques at Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
A veritable mecca of all things antique, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is the place to go for all the knick-knacks, classic items and actually valuable old objects you could ever want. Set along the south of the Canal Belt, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is a pretty neighbourhood awash with townhouses and makes the browsing even more picturesque.
Each shop has a different collection of unique goods for sale – like, the lampshade shop or the chair shop, or even a store dedicated to ceramics. One of these, for example, is Toussaint Bonnet, which has been selling period furniture for generations; another is Kramer Art & Antiques. Don’t expect bargains, but do expect a lot of pretty things.
30. Learn all about the herb at the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum
You’ve been scrolling through this list wondering when we’d properly mention something about Amsterdam’s cannabis credentials – well, here it is. Since this city is renowned for its weediness, a good idea would be to educate yourself about the history of how it all started at the Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum.
Set across two buildings, this space tells the story of hemp, the medicinal uses of marijuana, and how it can be used in the modern-day. You might learn a thing or two. There are even a few artworks to gawp at in this since-1985 museum. One of the more interesting and unusual things to do in Amsterdam, that’s for sure.
There are plenty of coffee shops nearby as well in case you fancy trying some of the green stuff for real – it is legal here afterall!
31. Go and see the windmills at Zaanse Schans
One of those must-see, unmissable things to do in Amsterdam, taking a trip out of town to nearby Zaanse Schans to see the windmills sort of has to be done. A quintessential image of the Netherlands as a whole, windmills are an important part of the country’s industrial heritage. Coming to see them here, then, is made all the more important.
What’s cool, though, is the fact that you can climb up some of them. And they’re all for different things: one mills mustard, one is actually a saw mill, and another is for various spices. They do all sorts of jobs. The windmills here were moved from various places in the country to better preserve them in one place. Just 15 minutes on the train, it’s an easy day trip from Amsterdam.
Day Trips from Amsterdam
There are so many gorgeous villages, towns, and landmarks that surround Amsterdam. If you’re based in the city for a longer time, and you’re wondering what else The Netherland’s have to offer, booking a day trip to one of these fantastic spots is a great idea!
This is a magnificent 3-in-1 day trip. This trip shows off the brilliant Dutch countryside, complete with blooming tulip fields, lush green lawns, and refreshing ponds. Explore Amsterdam off the beaten path. Enjoy a ride in an air-conditioned single-decker bus, with a live guided commentary as you go.
Stop off at a cheese and clog making farm, view the windmills of Zaanse Schans, and explore the village with insider tips and historical facts given by your guide.
Back in Amsterdam, you’ll head straight to take in the breathtaking panoramic views from A’Dam Lookout. Once done there, your trip will end back in Amsterdam central.
Take a scenic bus ride with your tour group from Amsterdam to Brussels on this full-day trip. You English-speaking guide will be along to help you experience the best of Brussels and sights along the way.
In Brussels, you will get to enjoy a chocolatier demonstration, as well as a taste of their delectable Belgian chocolates. There is also a walking tour of Brussels to be enjoyed, with stops at attractions such as the Royal Palace and the Atomium.
You’ll get some free time as well, to experience your own choice of a Brussels adventure. At the end of the day, you’ll be transported safely back to Amsterdam center.
Visit Bruges for a day with an English-speaking tour guide, and enjoy some must-see sights along the way. This tour will take you all the way from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Bruges, Belgium. Once in Bruges, you’ll have the chance to see the UNESCO World Heritage sites of the city.
As a bonus, you’ll be given a discount card to save you some cash, and apart from being guided along all the important things to see, you’ll have some free roaming time too. Use this time to explore the chocolate and lace shops, and grab a bite of delicious Belgian food to eat.
3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
So there you have it: a ton of cool things to do in Amsterdam. But with so many things you could be doing in this fun city, you might have some trouble creating an itinerary that you can stick to without feeling like you’re everywhere all at once. Don’t worry though: we’re here to help with a 3 day Amsterdam itinerary that’s going to pack your schedule with only the best of the best.
Day 1 – Classic Amsterdam
Your first day in Amsterdam, soaking up all that is classic about this city, begins in Dam Square. Here you should marvel at the buildings, take all the photos you can, before hopping inside the Royal Palace for a tour of how the royals in the Netherlands do things. After an hour or so, you’ll probably get hunger pangs; stop off for something to eat at the nearby Het Stadspaleis, an organic joint.
Then, when you’re fully satisfied, it’s time to start making your way to the Anne Frank House (make sure to book in advance), which is a 10 minute walk or 10 minutes on the number 13 or 17 trams from your lunch venue. Learn all about the diarist and the events of WWII, then make a loop on foot to explore the Jewish Quarter, ending up back at the house.
Jordaan is on your doorstep, and where you’ll be spending the evening. Wander around, admire the narrow streets and townhouses, and then find somewhere for dinner. Try out some Dutch fare along the canal at Restaurant Moeders, a quirky spot serving up classics, or dine on Mexican plates at Cafe Struik. Round your evening off with drinks at Cafe Sound Garden, featuring DJ nights and live music.
Day 2 – Weird Amsterdam
Start your day at the KattenKabinet, either before or after you start your odyssey through the world of cat-related art, have some breakfast at Lavinia Good Food (the clue is in the name). After this, your next destination is a 20 minute walk away – or a simple matter of 18 minutes on the number 2 tram. After this, you’ll arrive at Electric Ladyland, a fluoro wonderland that you have to book in advance.
Have a fun lunch at Cafe Sonneveld before heading off again to one of Amsterdam’s premiere attractions: the Heineken Experience. Catch the number 5 tram (24 minutes; or a half an hour walk) to get there. This is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam, but it’s still a pretty odd way to spend your time. You’ll love it.
Then it’s time for another mainstay of the city: the Red Light District. 16 minutes on the number 28 tram, or a 20 minute walk, will have you at the doorstep of the Prostitution Information Centre – a good place to start exploring this illicit district. Drink at In’t Aepjen (you can no longer pay with monkeys), and hit the clubs after; 24-hour De School is 30 minutes away on the number 13 tram.
Day 3 – Chill Amsterdam
After probably a pretty drink-centric night, you may (or may not) be feeling worse for wear, so here’s a day to see the sights at your own pace thanks to the addition of a bicycle. Pedal around on the safe cycle lanes of the city, making sure to pick Waterlooplein Market as your first, preferably morning, spot. Bagels & Beans is a perfect breakfast spot here, by the way (you’re welcome).
After browsing the market, it’s a 5 minute bike ride to Van Stapele. You know you’ve got room for a freshly baked cookie, right? Pick up a couple, chow down, then keep on cycling (9 minutes) to Vondelpark. Once you’re here, you can cycle around the park, find somewhere to chill for a while, watch a show at the theatre, stop off for a snack midway at the Blue Teahouse (since 1937). It’s a chill place.
From there it’s a 3 minute pedal to the charming Café de Sluyswacht. Yes, more food. But this is a great hang out spot; if it’s cold, sit inside, if it’s nice weather, sit outside. It’s very easy to spend a while here, with an alcoholic beverage or caffeinated drink – your choice. Your evening awaits in the form of a canal cruise. Book online, read reviews for the most reputable companies, and enjoy.
Amsterdam is definitely not an off the beaten track destination. In fact all year round Amsterdam stays busy. There are famous museums, famous things to do, and famous cityscapes to soak up. It’s virtually impossible to get away from all the canals and all the bridges – we mean, that’s Amsterdam. But it relatively simple to take a different turning and find something unusual to do in Amsterdam.
We made sure our guide had a mix of famous, not-so-famous and outright local stuff to do, so you can take your pick of activities and sights for your Amsterdam trip. Combine with our handy itinerary and your travel plans are sorted.
Find out how YOU can support the site.
We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers (that’s you!). Please visit the link to find out how you can help keep the site going 🙂
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a piece of gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only link to stuff that members of the Broke Backpacker team has actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support!