Get to know what exciting places and activities await for you in Netherland’s capital city!
What is Amsterdam known for? What pops into your mind when you hear the word “Amsterdam”? Perhaps, you may have heard it from RINI’s song Meet Me in Amsterdam, or you may have watched the movie The Fault in Our Stars, in which it has featured Amsterdam as a filming location. Nonetheless, let me guess—is it museums, canals, or bicycles? If so, nice! Other than these main items, the Netherland’s capital city is more magical than you may seem.
I. Things to Do in Amsterdam
Go for a stroll, take a deep breath in, get your camera ready, and snap!
Although these simple things are arguably relaxing and fulfilling, there’s more to Amsterdam than its picturesque view of canals and aesthetic buildings. Here are a few activities you can do to further enjoy your Amsterdam trip:
Cycle Your Way Through Amsterdam
Bicycles outnumber cars and motorists on the roads of Amsterdam. With over 880,000 bikes in 2019, it claimed the title of being one of the world’s most bicycle-friendly countries. Walking down the streets will let you notice multiple bike garages, a vast network of cycle routes and flat roads. Cycling through the city takes on a new adventure as you continue to enjoy the city view. That being said, bicycle riding is indeed a must-do when in Amsterdam!
Shop to Your Heart’s Desire
If you’re finding some souvenirs to bring home, stop by to shop at the largest and most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands, Albert Cuypmarkt! I know, it sounds like a scholar’s name, but without any fees, you can dive in for some cheap finds—from second-hand books to freshly smoked fish! Also try to spare a few minutes to drop by at IJ-hallen, which is probably one of the best market on the country for its wild assortment of books, vintage attire, home decorations and collectibles. All you have to do is to ride a ferry from the harbor behind Central Station to the NDSM-yard and from that point, it’s simply a 5-minute stroll to the market.
Roam like Royalty
Walk around the luxurious palace grounds like a royal highness along Amsterdam’s many castles and fortresses. These tourist spots provide a glimpse into the royal history of the region. The Royal Palace Amsterdam is the official reception palace of King Willem-Alexander, where world leaders and heads of state are welcomed and entertained, but it is also open most of the year to tourists.
Just in case you’re down for a short drive not too far off Amsterdam, Muiderslot Castle is your next big bet. Surrounded by lily pad-filled waters, it is an elegant, square-shaped 13th-century castle in the province of North Holland, Muiden. It’s a perfect visit for a sunny day, especially for taking pictures.
Cruise and Chill
Tired of walking? Yet still you want to make the most out of the trip? A better way to indulge Amsterdam’s sights and attractions is to float around the city. The Port of Amsterdam stretches for about 20 kilometers up to the sea. Connecting to these ports are the well-known canals. Listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site, Amsterdam’s popular canal cruises attract most tourists. For usually an hour, you can sightsee the 17th century canal ring and learn historical facts along the way. If you opt for a different mood, you can check out other types of cruises made available, such as a child-friendly tour or a romantic candle-lit cruise. You can also hire a boat and explore the wonders of the city on your own!
Watch Sunset at the Beach
What’s a better way to end the day than to watch the sunset at the beach? Locals even enjoy dining by the shore and admire the fascinating golden streaks at Bloemendaal aan Zee and Zandvoort aan Zee. When travelling from Amsterdam town center, the journey to Bloemendaal aan Zee beach takes only less an hour. Take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Haarlem, then hop on bus 81 and get off at the 15th stop. Getting to Zandvoort aan Zee, on the other hand, only takes about a 7-minute drive from Bloemendaal. Both of these beaches are truly a paradise resort—a perfect getaway for cocktails and sunbathing.
II. Things to See in Amsterdam
Aside from these activities, there are more must-see attractions to explore in Amsterdam. So when when you’re wondering about “what is Amsterdam known for”, we hope that you will now have the answer:
Visit the Anne Frank House
Step in to the former humble home of diarist Anne Frank, where she and her family hid during most of the days of the Second World War. The popular Anne Frank House at Prinsengracht 263-267 has now been converted into a museum to help illustrate the events that took place there. Her original diary and notebooks are on display as well. A gentle note that this is a moving visit for those who want to make the trip! More specifically, it leaves a lasting reminder how Jews and others were cruelly and inhumanly underwent such persecutions.
Museumplein: Home to Iconic Museums
Bordered as the largest square of Amsterdam, Museumplein houses the most iconic and popular museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and Moco Museum.
The Rijksmuseum holds a vast selection of works of art and historical pieces, and is said to have somewhat a number of seven million art pieces that have taken hundreds of years to collect. That’s a lot! And to all bookworms out there—not only there are 250 rooms for you to visit, but also there is a library of more than 35,000 books! You may find Rijksmuseum in the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, just next to the Van Gogh Museum, which brings me to the next point:
Who would not miss an opportunity to see the Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works? That’s right—the Van Gogh museum houses the largest collection ofthe famous Dutch artist’s paintings across the globe! Here you can get to see over 200 paintings as well as sketches and letters belonging to this Western artist. Moreover, Van Gogh’s contemporaries like Pissarro and Toulouse-lautrec, 19th century French prints, and hundreds of his Japanese prints can be found in this notable museum.
Unlike the first two, the Stedelijk Museum showcases artworks from multiple artists such as Karel Appel, Marc Chagall, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Marlene Dumas, Lucio Fontana and Andy Warhol. The Stedelijk Museum centers more on painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, industrial design, installation, moving images and sound, drawings, prints and posters. If you’re an art enthusiast, particularly a fan of 20th to 21st century art styles such as Neo-impressionism, Bauhaus or Pop-art, this museum has it all for you!
Alas, we have the Moco Museum. As if moving forward to the modern world, the Moco Museum focuses on modern and contemporary art. It specifically highlights street art, with a twist of depicting the artists’ vision and ironic perspective of a modern society. One of its featured artists in Banksy, a street artist whose identity has yet to remain unknown.
III. Amsterdam Nightlife
Partygoers assemble! Of course, Amsterdam wouldn’t let down its people, especially visitors, for the intriguing nightly activities it has to offer.
Enjoy Live Music During Your Amsterdam Vacation
Jazz your night away at Bimhuis—one of the top jazz clubs in Amsterdam. Bimhuis sits on top of Muziekgebouw, with windows revealing the breathtaking view as the stage’s background. The size of the venue highly suggests more intimacy between the performers and its audience, so it really suits a fancy ambience.
Perhaps, you prefer jamming in a more open space? No worries! You can party your hearts out in Tolhuistuin, which is an outdoor venue that hosts music events. From a mixed line-up of jazz, rock and pop, it serves the best vibe of getting yourself carried away with the music and the crowd. Plus, snacks and drinks are served through camper vans!
Check out Amsterdam’s Nightclubs and Bars
Amsterdam is home to many nightclubs and bars as well. With Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein as its main night entertainment places, they offer hundreds of restaurants, late-night bars, coffee shops and popular clubs, such as Melkweg and Paradiso-cinemas and theatres. Meanwhile, Rembrandtplein’s clubs, bars and restaurants attract mostly wild Amsterdam locals and foreigners.
If you’re not the type to drink and rave the night out, Amsterdam has a variety of theater houses where you can enjoy classical music, modern music, opera, ballet, theatre, etc. The famous Concertgebouw, Stadsschouwburg or Muziektheater are some of your ideal options!
IV. Main Takeaways
In a hurry? Here is a list of your must-do and must-see places when you visit Amsterdam!
I. Things to do in Amsterdam
- Cycle your way
- Shop to your heart’s desire
- Roam like royalty
- Cruise and chill
- Watch sunset at the beach
II. Things to see in Amsterdam
- Anne Frank House
- Van Gogh Museum
- Stedelijk Museum
- Moco Museum.
III. Amsterdam Nightlife
- Live music
- Clubs and bars