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Things to do in Amsterdam?

That’s like asking where’s the party in the middle of the Rio carnival. Amsterdam is one of the greatest small cities in the   world.

Things to do in Amsterdam

From its canals to historical sights and world-famous museums, Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe.

Walking through the streets of the Old Center in Amsterdam gives me an immediate sense of the  60’s. They say if you remember the sixties, you weren’t there and, in truth, I wasn’t. However, all I have learned about the 60’s – free sex, artistic expression, getting stoned and living edgy seems to be projected within this city of tolerance and diversity.

Amsterdam Cool

Amsterdam naughtyMaybe I’ve seen too many movies, but Amsterdam represents a Euro coolness that is amiss in the more conservative societies of the US and UK.

It feels like the land of forbidden fruit. However, to suggest that the identity of Amsterdam should only be gauged on the marijuana coffee bars and a shrinking Red Light District is wrong. 

It  would be a gross and unjust  over-simplification of a city that is a slicker place then perhaps it once was.

Mature and edgy

Amsterdam has grown into the European mainstream, a bit like a rebellious teenager who is beginning to find a balance between responsible adulthood and pre-adult hedonism. All the while it maintains an artistic and creative flair of youth.

Whatever its perceived growing pains and transitions, Amsterdam remains as one of Europe’s most relaxed cities .With the people, the streets and the canals, there’s a distinct laid-back feel to the place. Getting around is simple and does not take long with the canals and many streets.

What makes Amsterdam different?

Amsterdam is different because it is truly unique. That may sound somewhat nonsensical in grammatical terms but when you visit the city, you’ll get what I mean. The canals alleviate the normal heavy traffic expected of European cities.

Walking down the streets of the Old Centre in Amsterdam does not feel historic, but rather retro with small boutique shops, open coffee bars that spill onto the sidewalk and people riding about on bicycles, going about their business in a very green way.

Mixed with the taboos of dope and prostitution is an indescribable innocence and intellectual rhythm of a smart people who live on a land they ingenuously reclaimed from the sea


Amsterdam is an intimate and casual place. The Dutch word gezellig sums the place up perfectly – a word that covers the English equivalents of cosy or lived-in. If you were a budding author or artist, this would be the sabbatical home you would select for a refuge of creative expression and abandon.

visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam basic facts and figures

Population: approx. 820,500 (city).

Time zone: CET (UTC +1 hour).

Telephone area code: +20.

Country: The Netherlands (also known as Holland).

Things to do in Amsterdam – The Twenty Plus List

There are so many choices and a quick day trip would not come close to covering the places to go and things to do in Amsterdam.

things to do in Amsterdam - coffee in Amsterdam

  1. The Vondelpark Like parks? Then the leafy Vondelpark, inhabited by colony of parrots, with its ponds, footpaths is  by far the city’s most attractive park.
  2. Van Gogh Museum Famous and iconic. The world’s most comprehensive collection of the artist’s work – simply unmissable.
  3. Anne Frank Huis The museum created in the Secret Annex – home to Anne Frank and her family for two years during World War II – is the city’s most moving sight.
  4. The Jordaan holds many of the city’s most diverting secondhand and bric-a-brac shops – and some of its prettiest canals.
  5. Concertgebouw One of the finest concert halls in Europe, attracting some of the biggest names in classical music and opera.
  6. The Begijnhof  The fourteenth-century Begijnhof is one of the quietest and prettiest corners of the city centre.
  7. Brown cafés  Amsterdam is famous for its brown cafés – dark, cosy and very traditional.
  8. Oude Kerk  The city’s oldest and most venerable church, slap-bang in the middle of the Red Light District.
  9. The Heineken Experience  Although this is no longer a working brewery, the compensation is an excellent museum devoted to the art of brewing – with a few beers thrown in along the way.
  10. Bloemenmarkt  Masses of colourful blooms for sale, including – of course – tulips (in season).
  11. Coffeeshops  Nowhere else in the world can you smoke high-quality dope in such comfortable – and legal – surroundings.
  12. Cycling Get around the city like a local by renting a bike for the day.
  13. Koninklijk Paleis  Co-opted by the Dutch royals but originally Amsterdam’s town hall, this building speaks volumes about the city during the Golden Age.
  14. The Grachtengordel The elegant bends and handsome canal houses of the city’s seventeenth-century extension are what makes the city unique.
  15. Rijksmuseum  The city’s greatest museum – featuring everything from paintings to furniture and applied arts – is undergoing restoration, but you can still see the best of its paintings in the Philips Wing.
  16. Proeflokalen Served ice-cold, jenever, the Dutch version of gin, is the nation’s favourite spirit, and these “tasting-houses” are the traditional places to sample it in its various flavours.
  17. Indonesian food Fill up on Amsterdam’s ethnic food speciality.
  18. Amstelkring The last of the city’s clandestine Catholic churches now holds a fascinating museum.
  19. The Sex Museum Here you will find a collection of erotic art and exhibits that date back from throughout history . Fascinating, bizarre and explicit. Don’t go if you’re easily offended.
  20. Amsterdam Canals The title of “Venice of the North” is earned by the sheer number of canals to be found in Amsterdam. A trip to Amsterdam is not complete without a boat cruise on one of the Canals.
  21. The Eastern docklands Revamped and revitalised – this is one of Amsterdam’s trendy districts with some of its coolest bars, restaurants and contemporary architecture.
  22. The Leidseplein or Leidse-square as it is commonly known is the place to go for nightlife attractions. Filled with many restaurants, clubs, coffeeshops, cinemas and theatres in the area, the Leidseplein is vibrant and colourful. On warm summer evenings, tourists and locals alike take advantage of the pubs’ outdoor seating for a long, lazy drinks with friends. Street musicians, jugglers, fire-eaters and other performers liven up the square, often till the early hours.

One of the best things to do in Amsterdam, if you can time it just right is getting to Kings Day. This is the BIG event on the calendar to watch out for when visiting Amsterdam.

It happens on the 27 April (26 April if the 27th falls on a Sunday. This is the day when locals let loose and celebrate in an explosion of Orange, their treasured Kings Day (Koningsdag).

This is the city’s biggest and wildest municipal knees-up with festivals and a giant flea market where people sell things without a permit or VAT charged.

It is one crazy, wild day to be remembered! Include this destination in any European travel planning that you doing. You will not be disappointed!

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