Amsterdam is a city that excels in mixing 17th-century grandeur, interesting activities and fishing village roots. Structured around its UNESCO recognized canal belt, the city is one of the most popular European cities to visit.
You probably already have a long list of places and things you want to see and do. In case there is room for a few more, here is a list of 12 must-dos in Amsterdam. Armed with our suggestions and your initial ideas, the question ‘What to do in Amsterdam?’ is easily answered.
Artsy must-dos in Amstrdam
Marvel at the art of the Rijksmuseum – The Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands. It’s boasting the most complete collection of Dutch paintings from the 15th up to the 19th century. But its main focus is the work of the 17th-century Dutch Masters of the Golden Age. This includes Rembrandt’s magnificent painting The Night Watch.
Come face-to-face with Van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum – The Van Gogh Museum houses the world’s largest Vincent van Gogh collection. It introduces you to the man behind the painter. While walking through his life, you’ll get acquainted with his work. One of the most popular activities in Amsterdam, pre-ordering tickets for this museum is a wise choice.
Step into Rembrandt’s House – At the Museum Het Rembrandthuis (‘Rembrandt House Museum’), you can visit the house and painting studio of Rembrandt van Rijn. He lived here from 1639 until 1658, at the height of his career. Inside, there are daily demonstrations and small exhibitions to enjoy.
Historical must-dos in Amsterdam
Reflect on history in the Anne Frank House – This is the original building where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazi regime during WWII. You’ll see not only the hiding space but also Anne’s famous diary. In addition to a memorial, the museum is an educational place. To learn more about Anne, her family and the Holocaust in general. With over a million visitors to the house each year, waiting times can be extremely long. So, be sure to order your tickets well in advance.
Feel like royalty at the Royal Palace – The Royal Palace (‘Koninklijk Paleis’) Amsterdam was built between 1648 and 1655 as a city hall. The building, located at Dam Square, did not become a royal palace until 1808. Nowadays, the palace is open to the public when it is not used in an official way.
Amusing things to do in Amsterdam
Snap pictures from the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus – If you haven't considered a trip on the big red bus, then you don't know what you are missing. In addition to the informative commentary, the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus can be a great way to get your bearings.
Shop until your wallet screams in the ‘9 Straatjes’ – These nine side streets are located at a mere two-minute walk from Dam Square. They connect the main canals between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat. You’ll find everything from vintage stores to artisanal businesses there, and even some nice hidden cafes and galleries.
Relaxing things to do in Amsterdam
Sit back and relax on a canal cruise – One of the best ways to experience the city of Amsterdam is from the water. So, make sure a canal cruise is on your to-do list in Amsterdam. Cruises depart throughout the day and even in the evening.
Relax at Vondelpark – If the sun is shining, be sure to head in the direction of Amsterdam’s most popular city park, Vondelpark. The park of around 470,000 square meters (47 hectares; 120 acres) is named after the 17th-century Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel.
Watch a film at the Eye – No, we don't mean a human body part. The Eye Film Institute Netherlands is a Dutch archive and museum that preserves and presents Dutch and foreign films. Their collection includes over 37,000 film titles, 7 million photographs, and 60,000 posters.
Animal hotspots in Amsterdam
Pet cats on the Poezenboot – You probably already knew that Amsterdam has its fair share of houseboats. But did you also know that there is a houseboat that has been converted into a cat sanctuary? Founded in 1966, the Poezenboot (‘Catboat’) can be found on the Singel canal. It is open for a few hours each day, except on Wednesdays and Sundays. Visiting this place is one of the more unique activities in Amsterdam.
Visit the animals at the zoo – Established in 1838, Artis Royal Zoo is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands. The zoo has around 900 species of animals and heaps of 19th-century architecture.