Things to do in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam

When we lived in Lille, we used to go once a year to spend a weekend in Amsterdam. In only 3 hours drive, we were in the capital of the Netherlands. A very beautiful city, exotic and interesting, to discover. Discover in this article, my essential things to do in Amsterdam.

First, zoom in on Amsterdam

Renowned for its artistic heritage, narrow, colorful gabled houses, canals and loose morals, Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most interesting cities to visit. Very well connected with the main cities of Europe, it is easy to get to Amsterdam for a weekend of 2 or 3 days. Accessible by train, bus, plane or car, it is easy to travel from Paris to Amsterdam with Omio. A platform that allows you to know all the travel options: train, bus, plane and even ferry.

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With its 750,000 inhabitants, Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands. It is home to some of the main places in the country like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Royal Palace. Of course, as in the whole country, the bicycle is king in Amsterdam. There are many cycle paths and bicycle parking lots. Finally, it takes its name from the river on which it was built: Amstel. This has earned it the nickname of “the Venice of the North”. With its magnificent canals that cross the city and its beautiful gabled houses, it has a lot in common with Venice.

Things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal cruise and walk


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Covering an area of ​​more than 100 kilometres, Amsterdam’s canals are the city’s number one charm asset. Whether walking around the canals or on a canal cruise, you will be amazed. Impossible not to fall in love with the canals of Amsterdam. With some 1,500 bridges crossing them, the canals connect nearly 90 islands. The main canals in the city are Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Singel, Brouwersgracht and Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Surprisingly, thousands of families live on the canals aboard more than 2,500 barges. Finally, the banks of these canals are home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

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Culture in art museums

Amsterdam is home to some of the finest and most interesting museums in the Netherlands. Namely the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum or the Rembrandt House Museum. Founded in 1973, the Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh. The Rijksmuseum is devoted to fine arts, crafts and the country’s history. The Stedelijk Museum is a foundation for modern and contemporary art. As for the Rembrandt House Museum, it is located in the house in which Rembrandt lived from 1639 to 1656. It recreates the artist’s living space and exhibits his works as well as paintings from his entourage.

You will understand, there is something for everyone. Impossible for us to visit Amsterdam without discovering one of the city’s art museums.

Take in the Grachtengordel and Jordaan districts

Both peaceful and lively, the Jordaan and Grachtengordel districts are among the most beautiful residential areas in the city. Green, flowery and crossed by canals, they have an undeniable charm. With their beautiful typical Dutch houses, cozy cafes, art galleries and small shops, they are a must in Amsterdam. Lose yourself in the alleys of these neighborhoods to discover the Amsterdam of the locals. If you’re in the neighborhood when schools leave, you’ll see those neighborhoods fill up with bikes. Indeed, here you don’t pick up your children by car when leaving school, but by bike.

Explore Amsterdam’s Red Light District

It is impossible to visit Amsterdam without passing through the mythical and historic De Wallen district. Also called Red Light District, because of the red lights of the prostitutes’ windows, it is the red light district of the city. Coffee shops, bars, exotic themed museums and of course shop windows for prostitutes, De Wallen is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. With its 2 faces, calm during the day and lively/weird at night, it is a must in Amsterdam. De Wallen is home to some gems of the city like the Oudezijds Voorburgwa and Oudezijds Achterburgwal canals as well as the Armbrug bridge.

To learn more about the red light district, I recommend this 2-hour guided tour (from 18.

Visit the Royal Palace in Amsterdam

royal palace amsterdam

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The Paleis op de Dam is a royal palace which is located in the main square of the city (Dam Square). Built between 1648 and 1665, it was intended to be the Town Hall of Amsterdam. Eventually over time, it will serve as

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Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Enter the Begijnhof convent

An emblematic place, the Begijnhof convent, classified by UNESCO, is a beguinage or monastery for women. Built in 1386, it consists of a large inner courtyard surrounded by houses in which the beguines lived. Women belonging to a religious community. A true haven of peace in the heart of Amsterdam. Classical music concerts are held regularly in the courtyard of the Begijnhof on Tuesday evenings in July and August.

Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Buy tulips in the flower market

amsterdam tulips

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The Bloemenmarkt is a Dutch flower market, permanently established on the Singel canal. Small peculiarity, it is the only floating flower market in the world. Filled with vibrant colors and the scent of fresh flowers, the Amsterdam Flower Market welcomes tourists and locals alike. In addition to finding many tulips and plants, you will also find a wide selection of typical Dutch souvenirs (cheese, Christmas balls, jewellery, etc.). The Bloemenmarkt is one of the must-see places to discover in Amsterdam.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Discover the Anne Frank House

And yes, it is in Amsterdam that the Anne Frank house is located (14€). Today, the Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to the Jewish girl writer of World War II. You will discover how was the life of the illegal immigrants, the particular content and the history of his diary. Not to mention temporary exhibitions on fascism and its consequences, then and now.

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Admire Amsterdam from the A’DAM Lookout

To gain height over the city, head for the A’DAM Tower with its A’DAM Lookout (14.50€). Rising 100 meters above the ground, it offers a 360 degree panoramic view of Amsterdam. Especially on the historic center, on the port and even on the canals. In addition to the view, the A’DAM Lookout offers an interactive exhibition and an audio tour about the history and culture of Amsterdam. And even, for thrill seekers, the highest swing in Europe “Over The Edge” (24.50€).

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Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rent a bike and explore Amsterdam’s residential neighborhoods

visit amsterdam

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Among the essential things to do in Amsterdam, there is of course the bike tour. Whether with a self-service bike or on a guided bike tour, you will discover Amsterdam in a different way. Like a local! Discover our experience of visiting Amsterdam by bike in our article: Visit Amsterdam by bike. 2h30 of bike ride to discover the ultra modern and avant-garde architecture of Amsterdam. As with the guided walking tours, it is possible to take thematic guided bike tours. For example: nature to discover the surroundings of Amsterdam (Zaanse Schans mills, Zaan river, small picturesque and typical villages, etc.), Street Art (graffiti, stencils, mosaics, sculptures, etc.) or even Modern Architecture.

Rest in Vondelpark

Finally, the Vondelpark is the largest park in the city. Opened in 1865, it is located south of Leidseplein and west of Museumplein. It is home to an open-air theatre, play areas for children and numerous bars and restaurants. It is the ideal place for walking, cycling, playing sports or resting.

Where to sleep in Amsterdam?

Discover our addresses of hotels and apartments for accommodation during a stay in Amsterdam. During a first visit to Amsterdam, I advise you to favor the districts of the city center such as Binnenstad, Jordaan, Grachtengordel, De Pijp, Oud-West or Oud-Zuid.

  • Conscious Hotel Amsterdam City : We like the eco-friendly concept proposed by a new generation of accommodation. This modern and stylish hotel is ideally located in the heart of Amsterdam. It offers double rooms with private bathroom, air conditioning and wifi from €77 per night.
  • Motel One Amsterdam-Waterlooplein : We love the contemporary style of this charming hotel which mixes modernity and old style. Double rooms with king bed with private bathroom, air conditioning and wifi from €148 per night with free cancellation. Favorite for the bar in the hotel lobby.
  • GH Amsterdam : Enjoy an entire apartment on the ground floor with kitchen, private bathroom, wifi, terrace in the heart of Amsterdam. From €150 per night with breakfast and with free cancellation. To feel at home while enjoying the city.
  • Modern Hideout Ace Location : We appreciate the central location of this hotel in the heart of the city centre. 400 meters from the Rijksmuseum, this accommodation offers double rooms with private bathroom, wifi and balcony from €155 with free cancellation.

Find your hotel in Amsterdam on booking.

And you, what are your essential things to do in Amsterdam?

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