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Dotted with lovely interconnected canals and numerous bridges, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands offers travelers a wide range of experiences. Depending on your interest, you can enjoy diverse things to do in Amsterdam from discovering its museums to exploring the outdoors. While the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are must-visit Amsterdam tourist attractions, the Anne Frank House, and Rembrandt House too is significant.
Walk along the canals or take a boat ride to see life along the waterways in the city. Its neighborhoods are quite diverse–Jordaan is a charming area with cafés and art galleries while you can see a very different side to the town at the Red Light District. You can also relax, go biking or enjoy a picnic at the scenic Vondelpark.
Many tourists associate the Netherlands with flowers especially tulips, and a visit to the Keukenhof Gardens near Amsterdam in spring is a feast for the eyes. Another picture-perfect attraction near the city is Zaanse Schans with its beautiful windmills and pretty houses.
There are various other fabulous Amsterdam tourist places you can visit to get an insight into the city. So, let’s take a look at what to see in Amsterdam for an exceptional travel experience.
Why should you visit Amsterdam?
A popular destination, Amsterdam in the Netherlands offers a lot to many tourists every year. Many stunning and traditional architectures and bridges are the main attractions in Amsterdam. Like Venice, there are many lovely canals in Amsterdam and so this city is known as Venice of the North.
A boat rides along the canals is a must-do activity during your trip. If you enjoy biking Amsterdam is the perfect destination for you, just rent a bike and explore the city in your way.
Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum are must-visit for artists and art lovers around. The Garden of Europe, Keukenhof is also one of the top popular destinations to visit nearby Amsterdam.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Practical information and Amsterdam travel tips
- 2 Experiences and top things to do in Amsterdam
- 3 Top Landmarks and attractions in Amsterdam
- 4 Where to stay in Amsterdam?
- 5 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Practical information and Amsterdam travel tips
When is the best time to visit Amsterdam?
- Summer (May to August)
- Summer is the highest season and you can expect big tourist crowds around this time of the year
- Early May is the tulip season
- You can witness the Gay Pride street party and boat parades in August
- The average temperature in summer is 22°C
- Autumn (September to November)
- The middle of October is also good to visit Amsterdam; you can expect fewer tourists and looks so nice to see golden leaves fill the canals and streets
- The weather is starting to get colder at nights
- Towards the end of autumn and the beginning of winter starts to be a bit rainier
- You can enjoy many cultural activities and witness exhibitions
- Winter (December to February)
- Winter in Amsterdam is coolest and damp
- The average lowest temperature is -1°C
- There are lesser crowds as this is the low season for this city
- Plenty of events are there to enjoy during this time
- Spring (March to April)
- The best time to visit Amsterdam and can expect less traffic of tourists comparatively to summertime
- Trees are starting to bloom and there’s more sunshine
- Tulip season starts from the middle of March
- You can visit the world’s largest garden Keukenhof
Do you need a visa for Amsterdam?
The Netherlands is part of the Schengen area and citizens of the EU group of countries can freely enter while citizens of the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia can enter the country just with their passports and stay for 90 days. You can check our complete guide on how to get a Schengen visa and as well to see if you’re eligible to enter the country with just your passports or if you’ll need to apply for a visa prior entry.
Where to book your flights to Amsterdam?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need an insurance?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Experiences and top things to do in Amsterdam
Here’s what to do in Amsterdam for some outdoor relaxation–visit Vondelpark. Gardens, ponds, pathways, playgrounds, an open-air theater, and places to eat, make this a favorite hangout for locals and tourists.
It is the perfect place to relax on a sunny day–enjoy a picnic, have a beer, go biking or merely walk and soak in the ambiance.
You can also see a rose garden with various varieties of the flower. There are some sculptures/statues in the park too including one by Picasso. From June to August, you can look forward to live music, and dance shows at the theater. The entry is free.
Explore the Canals
All around the city, you can see the network of canals that are an integral part of Amsterdam sightseeing. Along the waterfront are some incredible buildings, tree-lined areas as well as shops and cafés.
You can visit the canals of Prinsengracht, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Singel to see life along the canals including houseboats. You can also go on a boat tour to explore the city. Or take a walk while looking at the impressive buildings that line the canals.
Biking too is an excellent option to see the areas around the waterways. Be it day or night, the canals add a magical touch to the city and exploring them is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.
Plus, when you get hungry roaming around, head off and check out some for the best restaurants in Amsterdam around the area.
Neighborhoods – Jordaan, and the Red Light District
Amsterdam is home to neighborhoods that showcase diverse facets of life in the city. Jordaan is a neighborhood that has a charming vibe with its art galleries, restaurants and a range of marketplaces for various merchandise.
It is one of the delightful places to visit in Amsterdam. You can sit on a patio, eat, drink, people watch, explore the markets or visit the Woonboot houseboat museum on the Prinsengracht Canal.
In contrast, the Red Light District is a popular area with tourists although many might find it a seedy part of town. If this doesn’t interest you, give it a miss, but if you are curious, you can take a look at this neighborhood.
Keukenhof Gardens, and Tulip Fields
If you wish to know what to see in Amsterdam during spring, the answer is the Keukenhof Gardens as well as the tulips fields.
You can only visit the gardens from mid-March to mid-May as that is when the flowers are in bloom. A 45-minute drive from Amsterdam takes you to the extensive Keukenhof Gardens that are a glorious sight in springtime.
Flowers of every hue including daffodils, orchids, bluebells, and of course tulips are the highlights here. You can also see tulip bulb fields on your visit to the area. There are tours available, or you can go to visit the gardens on your own.
Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken, and Volendam
For those who want to know about where to go to Amsterdam for a day trip, the Zaanse Schans Windmills is a superb destination. Its picturesque landscape along the River Zaan is dotted with windmills and pretty houses.
You can visit the windmills, some of which are still in use, and see the museums and workshops that are located here including the Weaver’s House and Bakery Museum. Also positioned close by are the charming fishing villages of Marken and Volendam. Scenic and atmospheric, these places are among the tourist attractions in Amsterdam that you must not miss.
There are many other exciting things to do in Amsterdam, but this list covers all the significant points of interest that you must see on your trip. You now know what to do in Amsterdam and where to go when you travel to this city.
Top Landmarks and attractions in Amsterdam
Anne Frank House
Very few people remain unmoved after knowing the story of Anne Frank, a young victim of the Holocaust. It was at the Anne Frank House that the Jewish Frank family hid for two years to escape Nazi atrocities.
On your visit to this building located along a canal, you can see the rooms especially the secret annex in which the family stayed in hiding till they were caught. Anne Frank’s diary where she jotted down all the details during this period is a significant exhibit in the house along with some other items.
You can also view photographs and listen to an audio guide as you see the house. It is undoubtedly one of the unmissable things to see in Amsterdam as it is a poignant reminder of the young girl.
Van Gogh Museum
A museum that not only displays the work of the well-known painter but also reveals details of his life, the Van Gogh museum is one of the most popular Amsterdam attractions. It is fascinating to see the chronologically arranged artwork and the personal correspondence of the artist.
See Van Gogh’s paintings including The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Bedroom in Aries, Almond Blossoms as well as self-portraits. And, get a glimpse into his life that was cut short at an early age by suicide.
You can also see paintings by other artists. An audio guide is available. The museum has two buildings–the main Rietveld building, and the Kurokawa wing for temporary exhibitions.
One of the Amsterdam top attractions, the Rijksmuseum building, is as remarkable as the collection of art and history exhibits that it houses. The major highlight of the museum is its collection of paintings by Dutch artists.
A primary draw is The Night Watch by Rembrandt, but there are other equally astonishing works by Johannes Vermeer (The Milkmaid) and Frans Hals. You can also see some other fascinating items on display including porcelain, jewelry, doll’s houses, weapons, sculptures, furniture, and much more. There are some interesting exhibits in the Asian section too.
Download the museum app on your phone to get an audio tour of the museum. You can also grab a bite at its restaurant.
There are several Amsterdam activities for museum lovers. One such fabulous museum is the restored Rembrandt House where the famous painter lived for several years in the seventeenth century. The original house, as well as a more recent annex, give you a glimpse into the life of the troubled artist.
You will not find any of his paintings here. Instead what you get is a look into the rooms where he lived, the studio where he painted and other fascinating areas. You can also see several of his etchings, various other objects as well as paintings by other artists.
This one is for beer lovers. And, also for those who want a fun experience. A brand name that all beer lovers are familiar with, Heineken’s Amsterdam facility was used for brewing till around three decades ago. This facility now provides an enjoyable experience to visitors with a historical journey of the brewery, entertaining information about its products, and other delightful interactive activities.
Yes, you can also guzzle three beers during your visit. It is one of the most fun Amsterdam tourist attractions where you will be left asking for more.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Take a look into the life of royalty in the Netherlands by going on a tour of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Although not used regularly, it is one of the few royal residences across the world open to the public. However, it is closed for official functions.
You can go on a self-guided tour of this majestic building for only 10 euros. Explore the ornate halls and rooms of this stunning palace and see magnificent paintings, sculptures, furniture, and other unique items. It is a beautiful way to experience the grandeur of a royal palace.
If you wish to have a more premium experience, you can opt for a guided tour. Put this on your list of what to see in Amsterdam.
Where to stay in Amsterdam?
Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam
The 5-star Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam hotel is beautifully decorated and features all kinds of luxurious comfort for their guests. Every room and suite elegantly furnished and equipped with all modern facilities. This hotel also offers a fitness center, spa, and indoor pool. The popular attraction Rijksmuseum is just within a walking distance of the hotel.
The 5-star Pulitzer Amsterdam is a boutique hotel in central Amsterdam. Each room of the hotel uniquely decorated and equipped with all modern facilities. Some rooms come with canal views and terraces. There is a garden, gym, restaurant, and bar as well for guests. This hotel is also pet-friendly. Rijksmuseum is 1.6 km away from the hotel.
Hotel Estheréa is a 4-star boutique hotel in Amsterdam. All rooms and suites are luxuriously decorated and offer all modern amenities. Some rooms come with canal views. The popular Anne Frank House museum and also many other museums, theatres, shopping centers, are within a walking distance of the hotel.
Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.