Amsterdam really is the city that has it all. Narrow cobbled streets, winding stretches of canals dotted with bobbing houseboats, iconic architecture and unique houses known for their wonky features - there really is so much to explore when visiting The Netherlands' impressive capital.
“I fell in love with the way the city is flooded with flowers during the spring season and the cobblestone streets of the canal ring filled with surprising little shops,” Lesia from Dutch Wannabe told us. “It is a great city for shopping antiques, art and vintage clothing as long as you’re prepared to splurge a little. But the culture and the museums are undoubtedly the best part.”
What to see in Amsterdam
The history and architecture make Amsterdam the perfect place for wandering and exploring. There’s so much to see around every corner that you’ll never be short of something to keep you occupied.
“In Amsterdam, the simple charm of the traditional Dutch architecture alongside the canals and bridge is pretty much like dreaming while awake,” Jessica from A Wanderlust for Life explained. “It also has a vibe that is unlike any other European city. It’s vibrant and laid-back at the same time.”
The main train station in Amsterdam is also one of the prettiest buildings in the city. With over 160,000 eager explorers passing through its doors every day, this imposing structure makes a real impression. When walking around the main hub of the city, you’ll catch a glimpse of the red brick building in the far distance, sitting pretty on the edge of the river Amstel.
Also known as pigeon square, the cobbled attraction that sits just off the main high street is always a popular meeting point for locals and tourists alike. Perch under the arms of the national monument whilst enjoying some fries or watch as the local street entertainers please the crowds.
Museum Het Rembrandthuis
The house that belonged to the world-renowned artist Rembrandt between 1639 and 1656 sits on the edge of the city centre now posing as a museum to his triumphant works. For fans of history and those looking to delve into the past of Amsterdam, head to the museum and pay your respects to a legend of the Netherlands.
Whether you’re planning to enter the Rijksmuseum or not, the building that plays host to some of the country’s oldest artwork is well worth a visit. The architecturally brilliant masterpiece is surrounded by green parks, cute cafés and canals to its left, the perfect location for a day's exploration.
What to do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is built for tourists and there is an abundance of attractions that can keep you occupied when your legs need a rest. Whether you’re looking for an adrenalin-filled experience or want to head beneath the streets for a glimpse into the dark history of Amsterdam’s gruesome past, it’s all just around the corner.
Much like its London and Edinburgh counterparts, Amsterdam Dungeons take you on a trip down memory lane into the hidden and dark part of the city. Head through the maze of rooms and uncover the mystical past that took place right under the feet of passers-by. It’s a real family attraction that will send you right back to life in the 1500s - although it is not recommended for those under 10 years old.
Anne Frank Huis
The home of Anne Frank sits in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam and is a location everyone visiting the city should see. Read Anne’s stories, explore the hidden annexe where she hid for almost two years and find out what happened after the war in this immersive and spellbinding museum experience.
Wander through the diversity of plants, animals, heritage and experiences at Artis Zoo, Amsterdam’s central zoo. Get up close and personal with some of the world’s most impressive animals, head to Micropia to understand the lives of millions of microbes or just enjoy a leisurely stroll under the shady trees that line the streets.
Head over the edge at the top of the A’DAM Lookout where the highest swing in Europe takes you on an adrenalin-filled ride over the Amstel River. Enjoy views across the expanse of Amsterdam as you swing over the edge of the sky deck on the duo of hydraulic swings. The perfect experience for those looking to fill their visit with adrenalin and excitement. Accessible on a free ferry over the river Amstel, the whole experience is an exciting one.
Lovers Canal Cruise
“If you only have time to do one thing on your cruise to Amsterdam, make sure you go on a boat tour on the Amsterdam canals on an open-air boat. It will be the highlight of your visit, not to mention a great respite from exploring the city on foot,” says Lesia. The meandering canals are one of the most popular attractions and a hot spot for those looking to see the city in all its glory. The Lovers Canal Cruises offer you a guided tour though the water streets whilst you discover the history of the waterways and the houses that surround.
Where to eat in Amsterdam
If there’s one thing that Amsterdam is well known for, it’s food! From Stroopwafels to frites and all kinds of cheese, there’s no shortage of delicious nibbles for you to tuck into.
Named the best fries in the Netherlands, Manneken Pis is the perfect spot to pick up an in-between snack. Served in a traditional chip cone with a range of Dutch sauces, there is a reason they are named the best.
Serving traditional Dutch cuisine, that as the name may suggest, your mother might make, Moeders offers a genuine insight into the Dutch way of life. The interior is covered with pictures of Dutch women who inspire the dishes that are served to passers-by every day. If a taste of real Amsterdam life is what you’re after, Moeders is the best option.
Serving fresh pancakes, perfectly cooked eggs and refreshing homemade smoothies, Pluk is an Instagram lovers heaven. With aesthetically pleasing interiors, the menu serves an array or organic sandwiches, smoothie bowls and salads in the heart of the Jordaan district.
Vegan Junk Food Bar
“Vegan Junk Food Bar is the new vegan hotspot in Amsterdam and there’s no doubt about it… there’s no vegan place like this!” says Vegan Junk Food Bar. A customisable vegan food bar on the outskirts of the canal ring, the Vegan Junk Food Bar is a real meal for the senses. Edgy designs, mouth-watering food options and an awesome vibe make it a real winner with locals and tourists alike.