10 things to do in Amsterdam

Hey guys! I’ve been wanting to share my Holland experience since a long time now. Last year I started my Euro trip with Hamburg, then Amsterdam followed by Tomorrowland (music festival in Belgium), Bruges, Black Forest and Colmar. Since it’s the perfect season to visit Amsterdam, I’m listing down top 10 things to do here. Between the medieval Dutch buildings, crowded squares, a zillion bikes, cobbled bridges and unending canals is where lies the beauty of Amsterdam. Often known as the Venice of the North, this city is buzzing with tourists all year round. Home to the Heineken headquarter, quirky festivals, laid back bars, interesting museums and the infamous coffeeshops, this city definitely has plenty to offer all its travellers.
P.S- The city derived its name from Amstellerdam, a dam in the river Amstel.

Here are the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam

1) Canal Tour: One of the most amazing ways to discover this city is through a canal cruise. With over 165 canals, this is the best way to learn some interesting facts and view the city’s attractions in a fun way. These canal tours are operated by several companies, pick one based on your location, requirement and mood. From a candle light dinner cruise to a hop on hop off they have it all. I tried the luxury cruise with Friendship Amsterdam and absolutely loved it. You can sip on your champagne, sail through the canals, learn about the tilting houses and munch on some Dutch cheese all at once. (www.friendshipamsterdam.com) Make sure to visit the canals of Singel, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Prinsengracht as they are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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2) Visit Coffeeshops:
A trip to Amsterdam is incomplete without a visit to the famous coffeeshops. Baba, Greenhouse and Barneys are amongst the popular ones.

3) Biking:
Amsterdam is undoubtedly the one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world. There are more bikes than people here. Cycling here is safe and so much fun. I suggest hire a bike and see the city.

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4) Art, History & Science:
If you are an art, science and museum lover then this is the place to be. The city is home to famous museums like the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Diamond Museum, the NEMO Science Centre (a great place to check out) and Eye Film Institute.

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NEMO Science Centre

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5) Shopping:
Shopping is quite cheap as compared to Dubai. If you’re looking for high street brands like H&M and Zara head to the busy Kalverstraat. If vintage finds and local boutiques interest you then head to the 9 streets. These nine cobbled streets connect the main canals between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat. For high end shopping head to De Bijenkorf or Magna Plaza Shopping Centre(previously a post office) located behind Dam Square (High end stores are cheaper as compared to India or Dubai).

6) Go Beer Tasting:
There are tons of places for the perfect beer experience. I recommend heading to the windmill Gooyer in the Oostelijke Eilanden neighbourhood. Adjoining this is the award winning microbrewery Brouwerij ‘Tij with a large outdoor drinking terrace (See pics below). I loved this place. You could also visit De Prael brewery or Butcher’s Tears. You definitely cannot leave without a visit to the home of the famous Dutch beer Heineken. The Heineken experience is a must see for visitors, this is something I’m going to try in my next visit. Also, if you’re up for something adventurous, ride a beer truck with your friends or fellow travellers.

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7) Blooms and Bulbs:
A trip to Netherlands would be incomplete without admiring the blooms and bulbs. Tulips are a symbol of the Dutch culture. Located in the Singel canal, Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. If you’re travelling between March to May then a trip to the famous Keukenhof is a must. Unfortunately I haven’t yet got a chance to visit this since all my trips were in July.

8) Eat, Eat and Eat!!!
Eat your way through Amsterdam. Here is a list of the famous Dutch foods you have to try:
Bitterballen:Deep fried meat balls served with mustard
Stroopwaffel: Two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup, best when fresh and hot. Try the one at Lanskroon Banketbakkerij, a famous bakery or Albert Cuyp market.
Frites or Patat: These thick Dutch Fries are so delicious. Served with mayo and other sauces this is a must have.
Raw Herring: Only if you’re a fan of raw fish then try this.
Dutch cheese: I’m a huge fan of these cheeses. You can taste them at a market or a ‘Kaas’ shop or head to the Cheese Museum, Reypenaer tasting Room or Henri willing Cheese shops for a guided experience.
Poffertjes: You can buy these little fluffly pancakes from any street market or vendor.

You could also try the upmarket food hall of De Hallen, this converted tram depot is a huge indoor food market offering a fantastic selection of items from local vendors. The Pancake bakery next to Anne Frank Museum (savoury Dutch pancakes too), Van Stapele Koekmakerji for the chocolate cookies, Burger Bar, Winkel 43 for apple pie, Lo Stivale d’oro for Italian, Sandwich in Singel 404, pancakes and waffles, Ice Bakery by Nutella, Café Espirit, B&B (near Double Tree by Hilton) are other famous eating spots. If you’re looking for a Michelin star experience the try Ciel Blu.

The delicious Omelette at B&B

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Fries from a Flea Market

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9) Visit Pubs, bars and other chill hangout spots:
These are my favourite: The Top deck of the science centre NEMO is a great place to chill and enjoy magnificent views of the city, Floor 17 at the Ramada Apollo hotel, Sky Lounge at Double Tree by Hilton (I loved it), Hannekes Boom is an eclectic hangout on the banks of OOsterdok, Edel (Fairy lit hideaway in De Baarsjes) and other small pubs near the canals.. If you’re into hardcore clubbing then visit Jimmy Woo nightclub, Supperclub (really good), Suzie Wong, Paradiso, Melkweg, AIR Amsterdam and Sugarfactory.

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Sky Lounge at Double Tree by Hilton

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Sky Lounge at Double Tree by Hilton

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10) Check out the local neighbourhoods:
It’s amazing how each and every neighbourhood in Amsterdam has its own charm and some of them even have an amazing flea market. Make sure to visit these

-Amsterdam Centrum: The Red Light district, Jordaan, The 9 streets and the canal ring, Leidseplein or visit the Blijburg Beach
– Dam Square area: it’s the centre with Madam Tussauds and museums
– Take a photo with the IAMSTERDAM letters or hang around the flea market in that area
– Noord: A free ferry from the Central station will take you to this district which has the city’s coolest architecture, fun hangout spots by the water and exciting festivals.
– De Pijp: A great mix of culture, cafes and cuisine. Do visit the Albert Cuyp market here.
-Bos en Lommer and De Baarsjes: Famous for their multicultural crowd and popular terrace bars.

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The flea market near Van Gogh Museum

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Lock Bridge

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The busy Dam Square

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Where to stay:
I absolutely enjoy staying in the crowded city centres. There’s a certain joy that comes in stepping out of your hotel into a busy district with people, trams, bikes, cafes and restaurants. So if you’re just like me then I recommend staying in the busy Dam Square area/ City Centre. There are several NH properties that are right in the centre. There are also tons of hotels near the canals like Radisson Blue, W Hotel, Sofitel etc. The last time I visited Amsterdam I stayed in Double Tree by Hilton, which was simply amazing, but it was around 10-15mins away from the centre. The views were incredible, the area was not that busy and the train station was right next to the hotel. Amsterdam caters to all kinds of crowds hence finding a hostel or a luxury hotel is no stress at all. Depending on your agenda and budget pick a location.

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Getting around:
The best way to explore the city is by foot or on a bike. Biking for me was the best because not only do you reach places faster but you also have so much fun. During my last trip we hired the Tandem bike (where 2 people can cycle on one bike) from Mac Bikes (www.macbike.nl). It was so much fun, I highly recommend trying it. Also the roads are perfect for biking as they have a separate cycling track across the city.

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How to Reach:
Emirates flies daily from Dubai to Amsterdam (7 hours non stop). Amsterdam city is an easy 20-minute train ride from the airport. Trains, especially hi-speed ones are a great option for those traveling from Belgium, Paris and Germany.

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When to go:
Amsterdam is great all year round. The busy time is between April to September with June, July and August being the peak touristy months. The temperature is usually warm during this time but it’s unpredictable too, it can rain anytime. The city is buzzing with outdoor activities and festivals. Book your hotels way in advance if travelling during this time. If you’re looking at minimizing the cost of your trip and you want to avoid the crazy touristy crowds and relax then take a trip between October to March. I visited this place in July 2015, even though it was extremely crowded I loved it.

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What to Pack:

When packing for Amsterdam do remember that unlike other European cities, this one is quite casual. Even if you’re going to a club people will turn up in flat shoes or sandals and a simple attire. So avoid anything too fancy or OTT.

If you’re travelling during the summer months (July/August) make sure to pack your denims and shorts, this ensures mobility and you can cycle and walk at ease. Skirts and dresses are not too advisable. A hoodie, sweater, jumper, shirt or some fun blouse will be great too. Since the weather is unpredictable, be equipped with a small umbrella, waterproof jacket or leather jacket at all times (no fur). Since the streets are cobbled, wear comfortable walking shoes (waterproof boots, brogues, sneakers and keds preferably in a dark shade), avoid flip flops and flat sandals as you have walk a lot. Don’t carry a shoulder bag, instead use a sling bag so cycling and exploring the city gets easy.

The locals are usually dressed in denims, shirts and leather jackets mostly in the shades of black, tan, military green and denim. Be prepared to layer up (even in July). The key is to be comfortable and stylish at the same time.

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Currency: Euro

Language Spoken: Apart from their native Dutch, everyone seems to be extremely fluent with English and some with French and German too.

Don’t leave without:
-Trying the Dutch Cheese
-Experiencing a Canal Cruise
-Visit to the coffee shops
– Visit to the NEMO rooftop
– A Photo in front of the letters IAMSTERDAM
-Trying local Dutch food and beer

Day trips from Amsterdam: 
There are tons of day trips that you can take when living in Amsterdam like Rotterdam, the Hague, Haarlem, Broek in Waterland (next on my list), Volendam, Cheese tasting in Edam, Zaanse Schans and other parts of the Dutch countryside.

Tips
-Ride in bicycle lanes only. Don’t walk on these lanes
-Don’t take photos of the Red Light District windows.
-Don’t hire a car to tour the city. Amsterdam is all about biking and walking.
-Don’t buy anything from people off the streets
-If you want to avoid a hole in your pockets, take a bus or train to the city centre from the airport. Cabs can be really expensive (50 to 60 euros)

Amsterdam is so picturesque, don’t forget to check out my snapshots below!

 

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The view from my hotel

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Do try at out the cafe on the top deck of NEMO

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Spotted a boathouse

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Snapshots from the canal cruise

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Snapshots from the canal cruise

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Snapshots from the canal cruise

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Snapshots from the canal cruise

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Snapshots from the canal cruise

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Quaint cafes

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11 comments on “10 things to do in Amsterdam”

  1. I was in Amsterdam this past fall and had a great time. I was only there for 2 nights and spent most of my time just wandering around looking at all the cute buildings. Also checked out the symphony and I think my friend and I were the only tourists there. It was cool. Love all these other ideas.

  2. wow it’s amazing Amsterdam is so beautiful I never got there but now I wish to be there after reading your review

  3. I pretty much want to do all of these things! Biking, beer drinking, and hitting the coffee shops are my biggest wants, but now I might need to plan a trip long enough to hit all your suggestions. Great list! Also, I love your photography. Makes me want to catch a plane tomorrow! :) Thanks for sharing.

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