30 Things To Do In Amsterdam
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Sometimes it's good to have all the options right in front of you, so today we've compiled a list of the 30 best things to do in Amsterdam. Browse at your leisure and book whatever takes your fancy. For our top recommendations, see numbers: 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 21, 22, 28 & 29.
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The tours and attractions are listed A-Z.
1, Amsterdam Cheese Museum:
A stone's throw from the Anne Frank house, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum celebrates 600 years of one of Holland's most popular exports. Visitors arrive to sample an abundance of cheese- the gouda remains a perennial favourite- from this cosy shop which is full of local and national varieties. However, it's not just about the yellow stuff. The museum hosts a children's play area as well as regular scavenger hunts, making it a great place for the whole family to visit after seeing the capital's more conventional sights.
Downstairs you'll find various exhibits that retell Amsterdam's long history with the food stuff, including artefacts and souvenirs. Visitors can take home something for dinner, too, with everything from cheddar to Parmesan on offer. The Amsterdam Cheese Museum is open seven days a week, from 9:00 to 19:00, and can easily be reached by tram.
Photo Credit: Sherif0mar.
2, Amsterdam Diamond Museum Workshop:
They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, well visitors will find thousands of these sparkly jewels at the Diamond Museum - one of Amsterdam's most popular attractions. The museum's exhibits recount 400 years worth of diamond production and let visitors experience how a fine gem is made from scratch. Moreover, it even boasts a diamond-making workshop, where guests can see what it takes to become a professional cutter. A friendly instructor makes the whole experience worthwhile.
Then there's the astounding collection itself, a menagerie of colour comprising famous pieces such as the Katana, Ape Skull, and Rembrandt Diamond. Formed over decades, it's a glistening display that needs to be seen to be believed. The Amsterdam Diamond Museum is located next to Museum Square, snuggled between the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Visitors can travel here by tram or bus, and visit one of the local cafes for lunch after touring the building.
Photo Credit: kunstkieken.nl.
3, Amsterdam Dungeon:
Amsterdam might be a safe, modern city with sparkling high-rises and contemporary buildings, but it wasn't always this way. The Amsterdam Dungeon tells tales of the city's grizzly past, capturing its darkest days in gory detail.
It's a great place for the whole family, with a range of live shows and interactive experiences that entertain and send shivers down your spine. Check out the "Labyrinth of Lost Amsterdam," a maze based around the city's winding, cobbled streets, or discover the desolate days of the Great Plague when the metropolis was plunged into despair. The Amsterdam Dungeon is a must-see for anyone seeking a kooky twist on the city's enthralling history. There's even a gift shop where you can pick up a scary souvenir.
4, Amsterdam Museum:
Seeking a proper retelling of Amsterdam's rich history? Consider moving the Amsterdam Museum a few steps up your itinerary list. Established in 1926 on the site of a former orphanage, this attraction houses a vast civil and anthropological collection. Come and discover what makes Amsterdam tick as you examine the city's history from the Middle Ages right through to the present day!
The experience consists of a plethora of photographs, archaeological findings, and paintings. You can also check out a replica of the Café ‘t Mandje, one of the city's most famous pubs. The museum is situated in the bustling heart of the capital, and is open every day until late.
5, Anne Frank House:
Anne’s father, Otto Frank had a business in a building at Prinsengracht 263. During the German occupation of Holland, Anne Frank and her family lived in an extension (or annex) of this building. They shared it with the Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer. The doorway to this secret area was covered by a movable bookcase.
Since they were hiding from the Nazis, food and news from the outside world had to be brought in by a group of trusted office personnel. Though as Benjamin Franklin famously said, three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. The hiding place was eventually betrayed and its residents were caught and arrested by the Ordnungspolizei. Tragically, only Otto Frank survived the ensuing months of horror and chaos.
Nowadays, the Anne Frank House serves as a poignant attraction for both locals and tourists. Preserved just as it was following the Frank's arrest, whispers of the past hang thick in the air. You'll see quotes from Anne’s diary, photographs, historical documents and various personal articles belonging to the family members. A dedicated multimedia section takes visitors on a virtual journey through Anne’s house, revealing more details about the other people who were also hiding. All-in-all, an experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
6, Artis Zoo:
Artis Zoo is a great attraction for children and adults fascinated by the natural world. Being the oldest and foremost zoo in the Netherlands it is home to around 750 animal species, from zebras and elephants to lions and chimpanzees. Additionally, the spaces between the enclosures are embellished with 200 species of tree, creating a beautiful parkland atmosphere.
Travellers can experience a range of natural environments at Artis Zoo. See wildebeests and gazelles in the recreated African Savannah or sharks and coral reefs in Artis-Aquarium. The zoo is very convenient for most visitors since it is located right in the heart of Amsterdam. Plan a date, head straight to this world-class zoo and create timeless memories.
Photo Credit: Roberta Gibillini.
7, Body Worlds: The Happiness Project:
Having captivated visitors the world over, this somewhat controversial exhibition of human specimens became a permanent Amsterdam attraction in 2014. Also known as the Happiness Project, it hosts a vast selection of plastinated human specimens (including whole body plastinates, translucent cross sections, and organs). Sounds rather morbid, yet the aim of the exhibition is to explore the effects of happiness on overall human health and wellness.
It's the brainchild of German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, whose delicately preserved and posed subjects (200+ in all), show the complexity, vulnerability, and resilience of the human person.
Body Worlds is located just a 10 minute walk away from Amsterdam Central Station within the former American Express building. This venue was extensively refurbished to house the Body Worlds exhibition, and has since attracted 40+ million visitors from around the globe.
8, Efteling Themepark:
Located in the lush countryside of North Brabant, Efteling theme park is a curious mix of 17th century castle garden and 21st century attraction. It's the largest and oldest site of its kind in the Netherlands and is said to have inspired even the imagineers at Disney. As such, it offers an ideal fairy tale escape for singles, couples and families alike.
Rides and shows all feature a medieval/fantasy theme, namely the 'Flying Dutchman', which reaches Disney standards by combining a roller coaster, a ghost train, and a flume ride. Efteling also boasts river rapids, carousels, looping coasters and incredible live action shows such as 'Raveleijn'.
To get there from Amsterdam, simply take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Tilburg station. From Tilburg station, take the 136 line or express bus 300 to Efteling (weekdays), or bus lines 301 and 302 (weekends).
9, Escape Rooms Amsterdam:
Nothing spells laughs and head-scratching in equal measure like an escape room. We know of 10 in Amsterdam, each boasting a unique theme and varying levels of difficultly. They're mostly suitable for adult groups, with the basic precept being that you must solve a series of fiendish puzzles before the room seals up and you're all trapped. Some put a twist of the formula by throwing hungry zombies into the mix or threatening global catastrophe should your team fail.
Check out our break-down of Amsterdam's 10 best Escape Rooms and see which one suits your group's skills and nerve.
10, Gastronomic Canal Cruises:
The waterways of Grachtengordel may be a spectacle in their own right, but cruises needn't be limited to a simple 1-hour round-trip. Book one of Rederij Lovers' gastronomic canal cruises and add a foodie's twist to the standard canal boat experience. Options include: Pizza, Burgers & Fries, Wine & Cheese and even a full 4-course dinner. Live English-language commentary is available on all four voyages.
11, GlowGolf Amsterdam:
Glow Golf Amsterdam is an in-door mini golf experience that combines stunning neon-lit decorations with all the fun of a 15-hole tee off. The course is split into a series of thematic zones ranging from pre-history and time travel to ancient china and mythical Atlantis. It's an ideal attraction for both adult and family groups, with extra special offers available to the latter such as party food and diner packages. If you're looking to book a session for a hen or stag party then you should contact Glow Golf directly here.
Photo Credit: Glow Golf Amsterdam.
12, Heineken Experience:
The Heineken Experience is a self-guided, interactive tour that showcases the history and brewing process of Holland's most famous lager export. It's housed within the original brewery on Stadhouderskade, a beautiful Art Deco building where corporate heritage and modern panache collide.
On one hand the Heineken Experience functions like a typical museum; you'll see historical artefacts, photographs, medals and more. The brewing hall even hosts live brewing demonstrations, while other multimedia exhibits shed light on the current production process. However, visitors can also expect fun interactive games, 'multisensory' activities such as the 'Brew U' simulation, and an opportunity to design their own Heineken bottle. All tours finish with a tasting session and admission to the Star Bar, where you'll be give two complimentary, ice-cold Heineken's.
13, Hermitage Amsterdam:
Hermitage Amsterdam is an art museum whose exhibitions focus on the cultural relations between Holland and Russia, and on the history of the Amstelhof building. This 17th century structure used to be a care home for the elderly, and only became a museum in 2004. In its current state, the Hermitage showcases rare art collections brought in from St. Petersburg. Works include everything from busts and sculptures to famous portraits of historical leaders such as Alexander the Great.
The museum itself is very large and beautifully arranged, two qualities that give its venerated halls an authentic yet pleasingly modern feel. Besides viewing art, there are plenty of other things to do. Hermitage Amsterdam hosts regular classical music concerts, study halls for viewing, and a library. There's also an on-site restaurant which serves good food.
Photo Credit: vegan_travelrr.
14, Het Grachtenhuis:
Het Grachtenhuis is a waterfront museum dedicated to the history of Amsterdam's canals. Its main exhibition occupies the entire first floor of a famous 17th century townhouse and boasts five interactive zones.
While exploring the multimedia space, visitors will learn about Grachtengordel's fascinating 400-year evolution. Better yet, you'll discover how Amsterdam's canals have influenced the capital's modern character. The entire experience is aided by intricate scale models as well as state-of-the-art projections and holographic technology.
Guests who visit Het Grachtenhuis can take advantage of the museum's free audio guides. These are available in seven different languages and have been designed to bring Amsterdam's rich history to life through engaging stories and fun facts. For example, did you know that Amsterdam has more bridges than Venice, or that 2,500 house boats call the city home?
15, Het Scheepvaartmuseum | The National Maritime Museum:
If the previous attraction sounds interesting then Het Scheepvaartmuseum (the National Maritime Museum) is another one worth checking out. It's no secret that Holland once controlled a vast, far-flung empire using its powerful fleet of ships. Countries such as Indonesia, for example, went from VOC assets to nationalised Dutch colonies over some 400 years, a fact that surprises many tourists.
Het Scheepvaartmuseum aims to shed light on this romantic (and often dark) era of seafaring with its permanent exhibition 'See You In The Golden Age'. Here visitors meet with a unique opportunity to tour an authentic, full-sized, East Indiaman ship - the type once used by Dutch merchants to shuttle exotic commodities around the Dutch Empire. Kids will also love the chance to explore the ship's hold and 'fire' a replica cannon.
Other exhibitions worth noting include, 'Voyage at Sea', where visitors can appreciate the harsh realities of life as a sailor, and 'Port 24/7', which provides a historical bird's-eye view of Amsterdam and its network of canals.
Photo Credit: Amsterdam Maritime Museum.
16, Madame Tussauds Amsterdam:
Madame Tussauds Amsterdam is located in Dam Square above the Peek & Cloppenburg department. While this famous wax museum has attractions in many other cities, Amsterdam boasts several one-of-a-kind exhibits that set it apart from the rest. As you walk through the front door, you'll be greeted by the burly figure of Claas Janszoon. At 18-feet tall, he is the world's largest wax figure that uses animatronics.
Various other figures at Madame Tussauds Amsterdam have been animated as part of the museum's modern makeover, and all of the galleries now incorporate some form of multimedia. For example, the attraction has an interactive 'Model's Zone' and 'Pop Idol Experience' that's very popular with teenagers and fans of reality television. History fans will enjoy the special 'Dutch Golden Age' exhibit. Other familiar faces from the past include Albert Einstein, Elisabeth Taylor, Vincent Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
Finally, the building itself offers wonderful views of the streets below from a large round window on the top floor - perfect for a few holiday snaps.
Photo Credit: Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.
Micropia is colourful and dynamic science museum centred around the world of microbes. Passing through a fascinating series of interactive exhibits, you'll explore this normally invisible kingdom up close, seeing a mix of living and virtual microbes, and learning about the roles they play in our daily lives.
As an attraction, Micropia is very much geared towards family visitors. Amongst other things, you'll find out how microbes break down the human body after death. You can also take part in experiments and get a glimpse of what it's like to work as a lab technician. On top of all this is the museum's vast Petri dish collection, a remarkable display that's part art, part visual science.
Amsterdam has long been associated with medical science, and Micropia is the first attraction of its kind anywhere in the world. The museum is open daily from 09:00-18:00. It even features a gift shop where you can pick up a memento of your trip.
Photo Credit: Micropia.
18, Museum Het Rembrandthuis:
Rembrandt House, locally known as Rembrandthuis, is located right behind Amsterdam's Red Light District - not too far from the Chinese quarter. It was owned by famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn from 1639 to 1660.
Constructed in 1606, the house proudly displays this date in gold by its main entrance. It's a relatively wide structure, built across 2 adjoining lots in what was once the newest and most fashionable part of Amsterdam (the eastern side). Many successful financiers and merchants of the day also bought residences in this side of town.
That said, a modern annex was recently added to Rembrandthuis. Together, they form a museum showcasing one of the world's largest collections of art by the Baroque master. Additionally, the original house and annex serve as a small, albeit stylish, congress centre. This is mainly on account of the fact that the Rembrandthuis Museum conveys lesser known details and aspects of Rembrandt’s artistic life. The next time you're in Amsterdam, be sure to check out this must-see attraction. On top of the original artworks themselves, it offers visitors unique, personal insights into the life and times of Rembrandt.
Photo Credit: Rembrandt House Museum.
19, Museum of Bags and Purses:
The Museum of Handbags and Purses is the largest attraction of its kind in the world and has even been voted one of the world's top 10 fashion museum's. It boasts over 5000 handbags, the oldest of which dates back to 1600. Other highlights include a Versace handbag flaunted by 80s music legend Madonna, as well as one carried by former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
After touring the museum guests can enjoy a sophisticated high tea or a period room lunch. Located within a historic canalside house, the Museum of Handbags and Purses is ideally suited for such refreshments. Lastly, there's an on-site shop where you can select and purchase your own handbag or purse.
Photo Credit: Museum of Handbags And Purses.
20, NEMO Science Museum:
The NEMO is a hands-on science and technology museum housed inside a giant green hull on Amsterdam’s Eastern Dock (Oosterdok). Everything here is geared towards learning about the physical world and experiencing its processes. Visitors of all ages can take part in fun workshops and demonstrations, plus view films and theatre performances. Each of these enable you see, feel, hear, and smell how the world works.
The largest science centre in the Netherlands, NEMO has 4 fascinating floors. Get your white coat on and do a few experiments in the Chemistry labs, produce sound and music in the Media Lab, and so much more. Especially if you're visiting Amsterdam with kids in tow, book a ticket before you travel and discover the wonders of the natural and mechanical world.
Photo Credit: NEMO Science Museum.
21, Red Light District Walking Tour:
Amsterdam's Red Light District Walking Tour is a professionally guided sightseeing trip around the underbelly of De Wallen. During this 2-hour tour you'll learn about the history of prostitution in the Netherlands as well as the evolution of the district itself. Locations visited range from sex shops and peep shows to theatres and famous brothels both past and present. Each tour is topped-off with a visit to the Red Light Secrets Museum (admission included).
- Book Tickets.
- Book Tickets with Canal Cruise.
- Book Tickets with Bus Tour.
- Book a guided tour with Van Gogh Museum.
Also referred to as the State Museum, the Rijksmuseum is globally famous for its vast collection of masterpiece paintings and other works of art. It holds iconic works by Rembrandt (such as the Night Watch), Vermeer, Jan Steen and van Dyke. Additionally, you'll encounter a treasure trove of antique objects from Dutch culture, as well as thousands of rare photographs, drawings, and prints.
The principal art museum of the Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum illustrates the country's creative trends from the Middle Ages right down to the present day. Many view it as heavily focused on the art of the Dutch Golden Age, and while this may be the case, extensive refurbishments since 2003 have opened up many new displays, such as East Asian sculpture and even modern art.
23, Ripley's Believe It or Not! Amsterdam:
Ripley's Believe It Or Not Amsterdam is an odditorium boasting a whole variety of kooky objects and historical artefacts. Examples of some of the 500 objects currently on display include a genuine shrunken head, cannibal skulls, a prehistoric cave bear skeleton and a 7 foot tall robot fabricated out of spare car parts.
Guests will also have a chance to see how they measure up against the tallest man who ever lived. Robert Wadlow, also known as the Alton Giant and the Giant of Illinois, measured 8 feet, 11 inches and weighed a whopping 439 pounds!
Ripley's Believe It Or Not Amsterdam sprawls across five floors and features enough exhibits to keep guests entertained for several hours. It even boasts a state of the art, 5D theatre. Guests who are feeling peckish or thirsty can stop by Ripley's Lounge, a cozy café offering spectacular views of Dam Square.
24, Royal Palace Amsterdam:
Situated on Dam Square right in the heart of Amsterdam, the Royal Palace is an opulent 17th century building where the city's magistrates once held court. Now open to the public, its lavish interior tells a tale of Dutch power and prestige. Glistening marble floors are furnished with one of the country's most spectacular antiques collections, and the walls bristle with Rembrandt-inspired paintings and beautiful reliefs.
Collection highlights include the rich array of bronze and marble carvings that adorn the baroque Citizens Hall. These embellishments show stylish interpretations of a universe centred around Amsterdam. With its classical facade and central location, the Royal Palace has been a favourite with tourists since it became a state property in 1936. If you decide to pay this grand old palace a personal visit, be sure to book yourself on its daily guided tours.
25, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam:
The Stedelijk Museum is the largest international museum in Amsterdam dedicated to contemporary art and design. Its collection contains extraordinary works of art by internationally renowned artists - including pieces by major 20th century Dutch artists.
Visiting the Stedelijk Museum will take you on a journey through the last century and a half of art. It features definitive works by Picasso, Warhol, Koons and many more. The design collection, on the other hand, traces the history of artistic design from the turn of the 20th century right down to the present day. Here you'll find a diverse display of ceramics and furniture.
To discover all the major movements in modern art since 1870, book your tour of the Stedelijk Museum before you travel.
26, The Resistance Museum:
The Resistance Museum offers insights into Dutch history from the 1930s to the 1950s. This period marks the invasion and takeover of the Netherlands by the Nazis, the rise of the resistance movement, numerous general strikes, and the persecution of Jews in Amsterdam. Its impressive collection also touches on the widespread food shortages, how espionage groups smuggled information across to Britain, the liberation and post-war Holland.
The main exhibition is marked by thousands of personal stories, propaganda posters, artefacts, and photos. All of these displays work hand-in-hand to paint a vivid picture of life in Holland during the Resistance period. Expect to see everything from simple household items (such a strainer fashioned out of a German military helmet) to forged identity papers and ration books.
Small yet deeply interesting, the Resistance Museum will explain everything you ever wanted to know about the Netherlands' role in World War 2. Book a tour today and immerse yourself in one of the most compelling periods in Dutch history.
Located in a striking Neo-Gothic building, the Tropenmuseum is one of Amsterdam's best-loved attractions. It was established in 1864 as an anthropological museum celebrating the diversity of world cultures. Today it boasts 175,000 objects as well as a whopping 10,000 paintings and documents, with collections from the Americas, Asia and Africa all under one roof. Come along if you love to expand your cultural horizons.
Located in a striking Neo-Gothic building, the Tropenmuseum is one of Amsterdam's best-loved attractions. Originally established in 1864 as an anthropological museum, it currently boasts over 170,000 objects plus a whopping 10,000 paintings and documents. With collections from the Americas, Asia and Africa all under one roof, wander along and expand your cultural horizons.
Explore its collection of photographs from the former Dutch colonies, which span from the late 19th-century to the early 21st. These visual documents surmise a bygone era when the Netherlands had one of the world's most powerful empires. There's also a collection of musical instruments to admire, as well as a range of textiles from around the world. Located close to the city's other must-see attractions, the Tropenmuseum is a fun educational experience well worth seeking out during your next trip to Amsterdam.
Photo Credit: Tropenmuseum.
28, Ultimate Party Pub Crawl:
Looking for a night on the town without the hassle of reviewing venues, admission fees or queues? Join the Leidseplein pub crawl by Ultimate Party Amsterdam. This 5-6 hour romp runs every day of the week at 19:45 and covers 5 popular bars and a club. Vodka shots are free for the first 30 minutes of the crawl, but this doesn't include the single free drink party-goers receive upon entry to each of the venues.
If you feel you can keep up and have a great time gather a bunch of friends together and book your crawl in advance online. All entry fees are included in the price and girls receive a free souvenir t-shirt (provided by the guides). The Leidseplein pub crawl is ideal for individual travellers as well as hen and stag weekenders.
29, Van Gogh Museum:
- Book Tickets.
- Book Tickets with Canal Cruise.
- Book Tickets with Bus Tour.
- Book a guided tour with Rijksmuseum.
In Museum Square near the Concertgebouw, you'll find the Van Gogh Museum. Opened in 1973, it features works by Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries. The 2nd most-visited museum in Amsterdam, it is home to the largest collection of Van Gogh's drawings and paintings in the world. 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by the famed Post-Impressionist are currently on display.
The museum actually consists of two buildings. The four-story Rietveld building houses the permanent collection, with Van Gogh's work being displayed chronologically. The Kurokawa building is three stories and houses temporary exhibitions. Museum highlights include Van Gogh's painting 'Sunset at Montmajour', a once-lost painting that was rediscovered a few years ago in an attic. The collection also includes his famous 'Sunflowers' painting. Paintings by other artists including Toulouse-Latrec, Monet, Manet, and Seurat are part of the museum's permanent collection. Sculptures by Rodin are on display, too. For visitors who appreciate Van Gogh's work or impressionist art in general, this attraction is a definite itinerary highlight.
30, Yellow Bike Tours:
It's often said that original's best, and in the case of Yellow Bike it's an adage we're inclined to uphold. Yellow Bike are a sightseeing tour and bicycle rental company who've been operating in Amsterdam since 1990.
Visitors wishing to experience the quite, secluded quarters of Amsterdam are well served by the Big and Small City Bike Tours. These excursions run daily and are led by a friendly local guide. In the company of like-minded sightseers you'll be taken down winding streets, shown famous attractions such as the Anne Frank house, and introduced to some of the Dutch capital's most scenic spots. Both tours offer individual and group bookings, with the only difference being that the Big Tour lasts 3 hours (with a 20 minute break) and the Small 2 hours (with a 15 minute break).
Yellow Bike's other main excursion is the Countryside Bike Tour. Starting near Amsterdam Central Station you and your fellow travellers will embark on a 25km cycle around the Waterland district north of Amsterdam. During the 4 hour journey you'll ride through quint, traditional villages, cross waterways and learn about the history of the region.