Whoever knows me is aware of the fact that I’m completely in love with the Netherlands. I already had the chance of visiting different cities around the country, but I must admit that none of them compares to Amsterdam.
Despite being famous for its coffee shops, Amsterdam has a lot more to offer. It’s a popular destination among different kinds of people, including the most conservative ones. Besides being the centre of the Dutch culture, the capital is extremely charming, with its narrow canal houses.
I believe that 3 days are enough to get to know the city. You can even spend less time there, but I personally think that an amazing place like Amsterdam deserves to be explored with no rush.
Now, the big question: what is there to do in Amsterdam?
1 – Take lots of photos by the beautiful canals. In my personal opinion, they are just the perfect scenery!
I also enjoy taking photos in front of the cute narrow houses that are all around the Dutch capital:
2 – Stroll around the city centre and enjoy the great views. Take your time to visit the shops that are in the area, buy some souvenirs (and cheeses, of course!) and take photos in the giant Dutch clogs, like a proper tourist!
3 – It’s in the city centre that you will find the main tourist attractions, like the Dam Square, located in the heart of Amsterdam. There you can see the Royal Palace, built during the Dutch Golden Age, in the 17th Century. It’s considered the most important building from that time and, most of the year, it’s open for visitors. For more information, check the official website.
4 – Explore the trendy neighbourhood of Jordaan, which many people consider to be Amsterdam’s best. It’s full of little shops, cafés, bars and restaurants. I’d like to highlight the 9 Straatjes, or Nine Small Streets, the best shopping area in the city. They connect Amsterdam’s main canals: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.
Speaking of which, the famous Canal Ring was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010!
5 – Visit the Anne Frank House, also situated in Jordaan. by the Prinsengracht canal. For those who don’t know, Anne was one of the Jewish victims of Nazi persecution during the World War II and, for more than 2 years, her and her family hid in this house, until they were discovered and taken to the concentration camp. After her death, Anne Frank’s diary was turned into a best seller and she became famous worldwide. If you are planning to visit the house, which a major tourist attraction, I recommend to buy tickets in advance on museum’s official website. Queues are always massive!
6 – If you want to see something really different, don’t miss the Red Light District (or De Wallen, in Dutch). The area is famous for its legal brothels. There you can see women on lingerie being displayed on windows. If the curtains are closed, this means that they are “on duty”. Please be aware that it’s completely forbidden to take pictures of the prostitutes!
Ironically, in De Wallen, you can find two churches: the Oude Kerk (Old Church) and the Ons Lieve Heer op Solder, a small catholic church built on the top three floors of a 17th Century canal house. The Dutch name translates to “Our Lord in the Attic”, as it used to be a clandestine church during the Protestant Reformation, when the catholics were unable to celebrate Mass. The place was turned into a museum and it’s open for visitors. More information here.
7 – Visit the Museumplein, the famous Museum Quarter, where the “I Amsterdam” sign is. There you will find some of the best museums in the Netherlands:
Rijksmuseum: it’s the national museum, dedicated to arts and history, from the Middle Ages to present days. It hosts the richest collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, as well as masterpieces from Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. It’s considered the most important museum in the country and it’s open every day. Tickets are available on the official website. If you hold the I Amsterdam City Card (totally worth to have it, btw!), the entrance is free.
Van Gogh Museum: this museum is dedicated to one of the most famous and influential artists of all times. It hosts the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s artworks in the whole world, as well as pieces from his contemporaries. Do not miss the souvenir shop on the bottom floor! You can buy tickets on the official website. The entrance is free for those who have the I Amsterdam City Card!
Stederlijk Museum: it’s the largest Dutch museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. There you can find works from famous artists like Picasso, Monet, Chagall and Matisse. Tickets can be purchased on the official website and cost €17.50.
Moco Museum: this museum is not as famous as the previous ones, but I wouldn’t miss it! The Banksy exhibition is amazing, so if you are a fan of the British street artist I’m sure you will love it. Tickets here.
8 – Walk around the Vondelpark, the largest park in Amsterdam and the most famous one in the Netherlands. It’s within a walking distance from the Museum Quarter.
9 – Explore De Pijp, my favourite district! It’s quite different from the city centre, as there are no canals in there. It used to be a working-class neighbourhood, but it was later transformed into a trendy area, packed with bars, vintage shops, restaurants and cafés. Some of Amsterdam’s best brunches are in De Pijp, as I mentioned on this post. Do not miss Bakers & Roasters!
In De Pijp you will find the popular Albert Cuyp Market, the largest daily market in Europe. I already wrote a post about it and you can check it out here.
Another popular attraction in the neighbourhood is the Heineken Experience, a museum dedicated to the most famous Dutch beer. The original brewery was transformed into an interactive tour that finishes with a tasting session. For more information, check out the official website.
10 – Visit the Rembrandt House Museum (or Het Rembrandthuis, in Dutch), where the artist lived and work between 1636 and 1658. In 1911, Rembrandt’s house was transformed into a museum.The 17th-century interior has been reconstructed, but maintaining the original characteristics. If you hold the I Amsterdam City Card, entrance is free. More information here.
11 – Eat at the Foodhallen, the largest indoor market in the Netherlands. It reminded me a bit of the Chelsea Market in New York. There you can find stalls selling all types of food, from Dutch to Japanese. Have a look on the official website!
12 – Go on a day trip to Keukenhof, the largest flower garden in the world. It’s actually not in Amsterdam, but in Lisse, about 30 miles away. Unfortunately, it’s only open from mid-March to mid-May, during spring. Learn more about Keukenhof here, where I wrote about my personal experience.
13 – Buy the best chocolate in world: Tony’s Chocolonely. Since a Dutch friend introduced it to me, I decided the brand was my favourite. The best one is, without a doubt, salted caramel flavour. Just try it and thank me later! There is Tony’s Chocolonely shop in Amsterdam, but you can find their products in supermarkets all across the Netherlands.