Things to do in Amsterdam: here are my 8 favorite things to do

Updated on 22 Nov 2022

Home of canals and the important Schiphol airport, Amsterdam sets itself apart from the rest of Europe as a hub for culture, art, and commerce. With just as many canals as there are streets, a bustling red light district, and a large museum district, you will never run out of things to do and sights to see in this city full of charming architecture and quaint vibes. From houses restored after World War II to the Van Gogh Museum, here is a list of top things to do in Amsterdam.

Looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam? Don’t forget to check out my 10 favourite Hostels in Amsterdam.

1. Rijksmuseum

One of the more famous landmarks of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum, which literally means national museum in Dutch, is a must-see when in the city and is one of the art museums in the world that you have to visit. Filled with iconic artworks from the Dutch golden age like The Night Watch by Rembrandt, you’ll learn a lot about the rich history and art of the Netherlands surrounded by exquisite architecture. Visits must be booked in advance with a fee of 20 EUR for adults age 18 and up.

2. Van Gogh Museum

Just steps away from the Rijksmuseum, The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of works from Vincent Van Gogh in the world. It’s no wonder how it became the most visited museum in the Netherlands with famous paintings like Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters on full display. Tickets must be booked online with a set start time for only 19 EUR per adult over 18 years old.

3. Anne Frank House

Just off the city center, bring life and put an image to the words of the famous diary in the Anne Frank House. learn about the plight of Anne Frank who, at age 13 during World War II, had to hide from the Nazis as a Jewish girl. The 3rd most visited museum in the Netherlands, Anne Frank House is set in a historic 17th century canal home that preserves the original rooms she hid in. Tickets must be booked online with an accompanying time slot with a booking fee of 1 EUR per person, and a price of 13 EUR for adults and 6 EUR for children aged 10-17.

4. Rembrandt House Museum

Aside from the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House Museum is also a must-see for art lovers. Though it does not have much in terms of famous paintings, it does have the largest collections of etchings done by Rembrandt himself. Located in his restored former home, the museum is a simple down-to-earth view into the life of an artist from the Dutch golden age. Tickets can be purchased online or at the museum for 17 EUR for adults and 6 EUR for children aged 6-17.

5. Royal palace

Located in the heart of the city center, The Royal Palace Amsterdam is one of the remaining handful of palaces in the world inhabited by a still-existing monarch. Officially a reception venue for King Willem-Alexander, experience the elegance for yourself with public tours and exhibitions. Tickets can be purchased online or onsite for 12.50 EUR for adults and EUR 9 for students with a free audio-guided tour. Personnel-guided tours are also available for heftier 95 EUR.

6. Canal Cruise Tour

Venice isn’t the only city famous for canals as Amsterdam, which lies below sea level, is full of them. With a more laid-back vibe and equally pretty houses, a canal tour of the city is definitely not a bad idea. With different hop-on-hop-off points around the canal ring that surrounds the city center, give your feet a rest and explore the city in a unique light with a canal tour. Some tours offer cocktails on board, while others offer guided tours, so be sure to check ahead when booking tickets.

7. Vondelpark 

The Central Park of Amsterdam, Vondelpark is a public park featuring 47 hectares of undisturbed green space. Surround yourself with fresh air and reconnect with nature in a calm and quiet atmosphere in one of the most visited parks in the country. With ponds and many restaurants and hang out spots, it’s no wonder why millions of people flock to this green lung each year. Take a stroll around the rose garden or grab a blanket and a book and kill some time with no fees at all.

8. Red Light District

Whether you’re down for something dirty or just want to see what’s up, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is a place definitely worth visiting. The butt of jokes and source of stereotypes, it’s actually one of the few if not only planned red light districts in the world. With risque shows and adult shops clustered in this little corner of the city center, experience something only A’dam can bring you. As a friendly tip, if you see anyone modeling by a window, do not take a picture of them if you don’t want to pay for their time. 

Do’s and Don’ts in Amsterdam in city center

  • DO: Get an OV card. If you don’t plan on biking around town, then an OV card is a great alternative as it gets you easy access to the city’s public transportation.
  • DON’T: Walk along the bike paths. Amsterdam prides itself in its bike culture and standing in their way is like standing on a busy street.


Can you do Amsterdam in 3 days?

3 days is a good amount of time for visiting all the famous spots in Amsterdam. This is enough time to hop around the museum district, take a canal tour, and try out the great food.

What is Amsterdam known for?

Amsterdam is most known for its art, red light district, and canals.

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