Amsterdam has always been on top of my ‘Most Happening Places’ bucketlist. So whether I get a chance to go there in the near future, or not, I still keep surfing about the place out of curiosity.
Like every other city in Europe, Amsterdam has many museums. But none of the others have 400 museums! That’s right. Amsterdam has about 400 museums and art galleries. There’s Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandt for history buffs, a museum of Bags ans Purses for the fashionistas, a Cheese museum for the gourmands, and Torture and Vrolik museums for the weirdos.
A lot of people think Amsterdam is only about museums, canals and sex. I thought the same earlier. But after all this spying and obsession with the place, I realized that these all are just one phase of the coin. Although these are very integral parts of Amsterdam, but there’s plenty more.
So I have scriven a fairly detailed blog on Things to Do in Amsterdam, including Amsterdam’s main Attractions and activities you just can’t miss!
7 Must-see Museums in Amsterdam
It’s an incomplete trip without a visit to the Rijksmuseum
The State Museum is the biggest and the oldest art and history museum in Amsterdam, almost 200 years old. Rijksmuseum is a World Culture Center and houses some most exquisite masterpieces like Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’.
Among thousands of other masterstrokes are Johannes Vermeer’s ‘The Milkmaid’, and works by modern artists like Hugo de Groot, Hendrick Avercamp and many others.
There’s Van Gogh Museum for the Art Buffs
This Museum is more popular globally than the epic Rijksmuseum. This six-storey contemporary building holds the largest collection of this troubled artist. Paintings like Sunflower, The Potato Eater and The Bedroom are stationed here.
Other than that, there are intriguing collections of work by his contemporaries like Monet, Bernard, Ganguin and Toulouse Lautrec. The place is always crowded, so book yourself in advance.
Check out the Anne Frank House if you are a ‘Fault in Our Stars’ Lover
You would know about this House turned Museum if you’ve read or seen the bestseller ‘The Fault in our Stars’. This house is where 15 year old Anne hid for two years, only to be betrayed and taken to a Concentration camp.
It’s a pretty small place with narrow staircase and minimal facilities. The tour won’t take you longer than an hour or two. Plan a visit during early or late hours, to avoid the frightful rush.
Rembrandt House, if you are looking for some Roman sentience
The House where Rembrandt lived and worked has now been restored and converted into a museum. This place obviously has all his etchings intact here, ranging from musical instruments to Roman nakedness.
I do not ‘highly’ recommend this place as it doesn’t have any of his paintings, just the etchings. So you can save your time and bucks, there’s anyway a lot more to see!
Visit the Bags and Purses Museum to get a Sneak-peak into the Fashion History
When in Amsterdam, go beyond the ordinary. Rise up above the old faithful museums and try something new. Especially if you are fashion focused, try the quirky Tassenmuseum, famous for its collection of bags and purses as old as the 15th century.
What’s different here than a regular Bags shop? Well, there’s a Judith Leiber’s Diet Coke Can Purse, 1980’s Dallas Handbags, a Swarovski crystal covered purse (the replica was flashed in the first Sex and the City movie) and ‘The Cupcake’.
The Vrolik Museum is for the Braveheart and Skeleton Fans
This spooky and weird museum is for the truly self-respecting Stephen King fans, or eerie horror movie lovers.
This museum displays a collection of various human body parts- skeletons, embryos, aborted fetuses (that’s right! Eww!), preserved specimens of the Siamese Twins and the Cyclopean Babies.
So if you throw out a lot, abstain from going, or visit the place empty stomach.
Take your Kids to the Science Center NEMO
Yes, there’s something for the kids too. NEMO is a Science Center housed inside the harbor of a ship-like building. The place has abundant hands-on activities, so the kids can spend hours creating chemistry experiments and concocting structures.
Although, if you don’t have kids yet and are an ardent science freak yourself, this is SO for you!
What to do in Amsterdam
Aside from these obvious Amsterdam Points of Interest, there are loads of other things to see and do here. Here’s a list of the 20 totally necessary things to try out in Amsterdam!
Rent a Tandem Bike and Ride in Every Direction!
Going with your partner? Do try the Tandem Bike. There are more bikes here than people (metaphorically speaking), almost 8,00,000!
Cycling is Amsterdam’s way of life. The city’s unparalleled network of cycle routes is one to die for. So engage in this invigorating experience and travel like a local. If there’s a tourist strolling in the Bike Path, yell out loud!
To get some peace from the hurly-burly city attractions, take you bike on the train to Haarlem. Your trip to Amsterdam won’t be complete without feasting your eyes on these gorgeous tulip blooms.
Needless to say, head on to the Red Light District
Well, everything that you have heard about this place is true. There are umpteen red lights, and there are women standing near the window trying to woo men in. And what goes on inside the buildings? Have a look yourself!
Take a Canal Ride with your Beloved
I’d suggest you to take this UNESCO Protected Canal Belt ride in the late hours after dusk. The Bridges are lit up by Fairy lights and the European sidewalks take you back in time.
Try falling into it after being adequately liquored (as you won’t do it in your senses). It is said that one in five Amsterdammers take an accidental spill into the water. Think of it as your city-christening. Just don’t drown!
For Brew Lovers, Amsterdam is the Place to Be
Amsterdam offers some extraordinary Beer experiences. Almost all the cafes near the canal have outdoor seating; a perfect place to have a booze and watch people.
Even if you are not so much of a Beer fan, you’ll adore the Heineken Experience here. Heineken International Headquarters, stationed in Amsterdam are open for public tours and exploration.
Grab the most scrumptious Waffles with Maple Syrup
While strolling around the city, you will often smell a mouthwatering aroma of something sweet. That’s Waffles my friend!
Waffles are extremely popular in Amsterdam. Try a Stoopwafel at ‘Delicious Amsterdam’. The place also sells loads of Nutella and strawberries.
Get some Rest at the Vondelpark
Tired of all the walking and cycling? Well, with 30 huge parks in the city, you will never be short of a resting place cum picnic spot. The 47 acre Vondelpark is the largest one, housing three bars and restros, and an Outdoor Theatre showcasing Live concerts in the summer. It attracts more than 10 million visitors a year!
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are not just for Coffee
I am not referring to Starbucks here. Amsterdam is known for the legalization of ‘soft’ drugs like Marijuana, which sell at many coffee shops (around 200 dotted around the city). If this is, in fact, your kind of interest, try a drag.
Splurge out at the one of the Markets
Amsterdam is brimming with markets for both luxury and street shopping. The famous building of Magna Plaza was once a Post Office. It has now been converted into a Shopping Complex with top-notch shops for both men and women. Other than the luxury brands, you’ll find some really nice salons and health stores. There are some fine dining options too.
The quaint cobbled street called ‘The Nine Streets’ (De Negen Straatjes) stretches along the main canal between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat. Here, there are over 200 retailers, including some fine boutiques, specialty stores and vintage shops. You can spend on designer apparels and handmade cosmetics here.
Not to mention the famous Albert Cuyp Street, which sells everything from handmade jewelery to local street foods.
Do some Bird-watching at the Dam Square
Dam Square is the historical center of Amsterdam. Popular touristy spires like the New Church, The National Monument and the Royal Palace are in close vicinity. Other than that, there are many options for shopping as well.
If you get hunger pangs, try out ‘t Nieuw Kafe overlooking this Square. It is reasonably priced and offers delicious breakfast and lunch.
Climb the Westertoren if you are fit enough
This 40 m historic building is the prettiest and tallest tower in Amsterdam. The views from the top are, obviously, unequaled. The crown of King Hapsburg lies on top, with Rembrandt and other eminent personalities buried below.
Entry is with a guided tour only, and six people are sent up every half an hour. Make sure you reach the place at early hours to get your seat booked.
Go Bunjee Jumping at the New Crane Hotel
One of the most thrilling adventures in Amsterdam is the 35m Rope Jump and Giant Swing. This new NDSM Hotel gives you 30 minutes to admire the vistas over the IJ, and then down you go!
Attend a concert at the Concertgebouw if you are an Acoustics fan
This place displays free lunchtime concerts, that are said to play the most amazing Acoustics in the world. Attend a concert on Bruckner and Mozart and travel back in time.
Winning Ajax Playing a Home Game
Even if you are not a Soccer fan, the thrill and fervor of the game is contagious enough to give you the best time of your life. Learn a bit of Dutch to understand and enjoy the taunts these fans throw in the game.
If you are a Night Owl, here’s where you need to go
Radion, Cruquiusgilde and the new incarnation of the legendary Trouw are the most famous clubs here, having a 24 hour license.
Other than that, there are ample open dance parties happening around in summers. Interact with a local to find out what’s the event of the day.
Don’t miss the Sex Show
Like I need to tell you that! Sex Shows are the heart and soul of Amsterdam. Freshers think of it as a scary experience, but it’s so not it!
Cassa Rosso is the most famous sex show in the city.
Try a Raw Herring from the Food Truck
Eating a raw Herring may sound yikes, but give it a go if you are true fish-lover.
There are ample HaringHandels (Herring carts) sprawling around the city. Order a Broodje Haring to get a small fish sandwich, served with pickles and onions.
Do your own Fruit-Picking in the Farms around the city
Plucking edible plants grown around the city has become a new rage among the tourists visiting Amsterdam. From hippie to high-end restros, everyone is offering this service
Buy a Senz Umbrella for a Souvenir
This funny-shaped umbrella may seem to make no senz (Sense) at all, but it totally suits the needs of locals.
Grab a meal at the Garlic Queen
For all the garlic lovers, The Garlic Queen serves everything from a garlic aperitif to garlic ice-cream. In the end, they give you a pin that apologizes to everyone who comes near you (you know why!). Carry a mouth freshener while visiting this place.
Ride up to the North
It’s a shame that many people don’t visit this culturally vibrant part of Amsterdam. This area, situated along the banks of IJ is all about food, drinks and party. Visit the cultural hotspot NDSM and enjoy the many hippie hangouts, festivals and events.
I’d suggest you to buy the iAmsterdam Card for a cheaper travel. This card grants you free access to most of the major museums, free canal ride, free bus/tram/metro rides and many discount options around the city.
Amsterdam is absolute fun! It’s the perfect vacation spot whether you go with your family, friends or your love. Make sure you learn some basic Dutch before your sojourn begins. At least the basic curses so you know what people throw at you!