This is my go-to list of fun things to do and see for when family and friends visit me in Amsterdam, Netherlands! I compiled this from suggestions from friends, colleagues, and travel guides; we haven’t done everything on the list, but we made a valiant effort. It’s Amsterdam-based/focused, since that’s where I live. Things with an asterisk are must-do’s!
These are accessible within Amsterdam, and typically some can be combined in one day. Look into buying a museumkaart – many of the museums in Holland are free with one.
– * Albert Cuypmarkt or Dappermarkt (open air markets) for fresh stroopwafels
– Amsterdamse Bos (nice for a picnic in the summer! requires cycling to get there)
– * Anne Frank house (you absolutely should buy tickets in advance to avoid the long queue; book ASAP!!)
– Bloemenmarkt (the flower market – pretty quick)
– * Canal cruise (this one is pretty good — I recommend going at dusk!)
– Cheese tasting (my brother and cousin both did this one at Reypenaer and loved it; book in advance!)
– Dam square
– * Eat an Indonesian rijsttafel (places I’ve been that I liked: Desa, Sampurna, or Kantjil & the Tiger)
– Heineken Experience (a tour through the old Heineken brewery with demonstrations on how they make Heineken beer; book tickets in advance, since the line gets long)
– Hermitage Amsterdam (art museum with a rotating exhibit, so check before going)
– Hortis botanical gardens (best in the spring and summer)
– Kalverstraat shopping
– Oude Kerk (oldest building in Amsterdam — founded in 1213!)
– * Parks – Vondelpark, Oosterpark, Amstelpark, etc. (Distilleerderij ‘t Nieuw Diep is a little cafe in Flevopark; there’s also a teahouse in Vondelpark)
– * Rijksmuseum: classic huge art museum with lots of stuff to see! The building itself is also gorgeous. I recommend starting at the top floor (in the “hall of greats”) and working your way down.
– Tassenmuseum (Museum of Bags and Purses, dating back to the middle ages!)
– Tropenmuseum (anthropological museum with many traces of the Dutch colonialism/imperialism)
– * Walk through the Jordaan canal district and old city center. Rick Steves has a free audioguide for walking around this neighbourhood. (navigational note: the city is laid out in polar coordinates, not Cartesian) (watch your step on the cobblestones and curbs, and always check for bicycles before crossing!)
Other places in Amsterdam for food: Winkel43 for Dutch apple pie, La Falote for classic Dutch food, Upstairs Pannekoekenhuis for Dutch-style pancakes (like crepes, but with the toppings cooked into the batter; also available at many other cafes), La Vallade for fancy upscale European food, Albina restaurant for Surinamese food, Le Petit Latin for French food, Ponte Arcari for Italian food, Tapas de Arroyo for Spanish tapas, Taytu Restaurant for Ethiopian food, India Roti Room for Indian food
Other places in Amsterdam for drinks: Gollem Raamsteeg or Gollem Daniel Stalpertstraat for Dutch and Belgian beers, Brouwerij ‘t IJ for local Dutch beers, Wynand Fockink for liqueurs and jenevers (like gin), Whiskycafe L&B for whiskeys, Mulligan’s Irish Pub for Irish beers and live music
Nearby in Noord-Holland
Close enough to Amsterdam that they can be a morning or afternoon trip (generally within the province of Noord-Holland). Tip: Use 9292 to plan train and other public transit journeys in the Netherlands!
– Aalsmeer flower auction
– Gouda or Alkmaar cheese markets (go for the full historical thing)
– Haarlem (they have a nice Saturday morning market in the old town square)
– * Keukenhof tulip fields (best in April, when the tulips are in bloom)(if you’re feeling cheap and just want a glimpse, take the train between Leiden and Schiphol/Haarlem, and you should pass by some fields)
– Zaanse Schans windmills & historic town
– Zandvoort aan Zee (the beach!)
Elsewhere in the Netherlands
These require a full day or more.
– * Delft (market in the old square, Nieuwe Kerk, Oude Kerk)
– Den Haag (Mauritshuis, Gemeentemuseum, Scheveningen beach)
– Maastricht, Valkenburg aan de Geul, and the 3-country point (will probably need to rent a car for this portion once you reach Maastricht, likely requires an overnight stay in the area)
– Rotterdam, Maeslantkering storm surge barrier, Kinderdijk windmills, boat trip around the Randstad
What would you add to the list? Are you planning to swing through the Netherlands on your next trip?