10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam

Featured Image 10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam City Tour Walk Canal Houses

With our $450-each roundtrip tickets, we traveled from Toronto to Iceland (5-day stop over) and finally, to Amsterdam.  From our nature-filled/scenic adventures in the beautiful, remote Iceland, it was a welcoming change to experience the busy, crazy fun lifestyle in Amsterdam.  You will not run out of things to do in Amsterdam.  Needless to say, we had the time of our lives!  It is a charming city with lots of surprises especially for first-time visitors.

10 Things to Do in Amsterdam

1.  Canal Cruise

Among other things, Amsterdam is known for its picturesque canals.  But, did you know that Amsterdam is also called as the “Venice of North?”  It has more than 100 canals and 1000 bridges!  The best way to explore these is by riding the canal cruise.  It will take you around the famous canals of Amsterdam while you relax on the boat and admire the views of the 17th century canal houses, churches, houseboats, and other famous landmarks.10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Canal Cruise

There are several boat cruises available in Amsterdam.  City Sightseeing offers a hop-on hop-off boat cruise which allows you to travel around Amsterdam from the waters.  Think of it as a “free shuttle” to arrive at your next stop/attraction.  You could also combine the 24-hr valid ticket boat tour with 1 attraction and/or hop-on hop-off bus for bigger discounts!10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Canal Cruise (1 of 1)

Here are the other canal cruise options:
Amsterdam City Canal Cruise – $17 Regular sightseeing canal cruise and not a hop-on hop-off
Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise – $20 See the city lights at night and string lights hung on the bridges and canals

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Night Canal

We did the canal cruise during fall season and the trees lit up the canals with their colorful leaves.  It was so lovely!10 Things to Do in Amsterdam - Canal Cruise Fall

2.  I amsterdam Sign

This is the iconic sign for an “I was here in Amsterdam” kind of photo.  Tourists flock over this huge sign to get their photos.  It’s actually entertaining to watch people climb through the sign.   10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - I amsterdam Sign

You could also explore nearby attractions like the Van Gogh Museum (world’s largest Van Gogh collection) and Rijkmuseum (art museum for European collection).  In our case, we just took some photos at the I amsterdam sign and stayed longer at the marketstand close to the sign! 🙂  We ate some hotdogs and fresh stroopwafels. ♥ 

Tip: If you want to avoid the crowd, go there early.  

3.  Red Light District

Walk through the alleys with windows lit up by red lights and see one of Amsterdam’s infamous “tourist attractions.”  This one is NOT for all ages.  Behind the windows along the Red Light District, you will find women in provocative outfits trying to entice passersby.  The busiest time is during evenings with many tourists wandering the streets.  With the amount of people, it is quite safe to walk around the Red Light District.  In no circumstance did we feel threatened or in danger but it is still better to travel in pairs/groups.

Prostitution is legal in Netherlands and it is actually considered as a profession.  For those going to the Red Light District for the first time, keep in mind that taking photos of the prostitutes is prohibited.  If you do, you might get chased by the women or have your camera trashed.  Aside from the intriguing red-lit windows, it also has a Museum of Prostitution, cannabis coffeeshops, and many other shops that I will just leave to your imagination. 🙂10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Red Light District

For those of you who might be embarrassed to look through the windows or stroll the alleys of the Red Light District, it’s okay, I was too (at first) and many others might have as well.  The crowd will help you ease and there are MANY tourists, both men and women, who are as curious as you.  If you’re still not comfortable or you want to join a tour, you can check Amsterdam Red Light District Private Tour with a Local.

4.  Canal Houses

Find the leaning, skinny canal houses.  In less than 10 strides, you would be able to pass a house.  That’s how thin most of the houses are!  They are ornately built with tall windows, decreasing in length as the level goes up.  According to the canal cruise tour (yup, I listened!), the windows become smaller as it reaches the top level to give an illusion that the building is taller than it actually is.10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Canal Houses

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - 10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam Canal Houses

Look up on their roofs and you will notice hooks hanging and the forward incline of the houses.  These hooks are still used to pull up goods from outside and into the wide windows of the house!  Another amusing thing about the old canal houses is that you can check the year these were built.

5.  Amsterdam Centraal Station

Always filled with commuting locals and visitors, Amsterdam Centraal Station is one of the busiest railway stations in Netherlands.  It is a major railway hub connected to many national and international cities like Berlin, Brussels, London, and Paris.  One-way international train tickets can go as low as €29 for Brussels, €35 for Paris, €39 for Berlin, and €59 for London.  You can take advantage of these low prices by booking months ahead at NS International (operator of international train travel in Netherlands).    10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Amsterdam Centraal Station

If you need to stay near the Amsterdam Centraal Station, you can check for nearby hotels here.

Tip: Purchase an e-ticket in advance to avoid a paper ticket surcharge of €1.  €1 might not be much but if you will be staying outside of Amsterdam and would go in and out of the Amsterdam Centraal Station, the cost of this surcharge will add up!

6.  Dutch Cheese Stores

If you are a cheese lover like me, you should visit the cheese stores in Amsterdam.  They have an insane selection of flavors just for cheese and they have samples for ALL flavors!  Talk about a dream come true.

It was sooo good, we had to buy packs of truffle cheese and smoked cheese to bring home!10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Dutch Cheese

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Dutch Cheese

7.  Fresh Stroopwafels

A fresh stroppwafel is a must-try in Amsterdam.  There are small markets around the city that sell freshly-made, warm stroopwafels.  In case you’re wondering what a stroopwafel is, it is made of two thin waffles with a layer of gooey sweet syrup in the middle.  It’s super delicious!!

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Stroopwafel

Before we visited Amsterdam, we have already tried the packed stroopwafels.  We like them too but when we got to try the freshly-made stroopwafels from Amsterdam, oh, it’s a different level of goodness!  The thin waffles were crispy and at the same time chewy from the syrup!  It smelled so good and every bite melts in the mouth.  If there’s one snack I miss in Amsterdam, it’s the fresh stroopwafel.

8.  Anne Frank House

Visit Anne Frank’s house and discover where she hid and wrote her world-famous diary during the German invasion in Netherlands.  Online tickets get easily sold out.  Only those with online tickets can visit the museum from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.  Worst case, you can buy a ticket at the museum entrance from 3:30 PM to closing time.

Tip: Check the official website of Anne Frank House as early as 2 months in advance for online tickets.

9.  Ride a bike like the locals

The locals really love riding their bikes!  I haven’t seen a city that has as many cyclists as Amsterdam.  I’m also used to seeing multi-level parkings for cars but not for bicycles.  There are more people riding bikes than those driving cars which is understandable because the inner streets of Amsterdam are more bike-friendly.  There are also lots of tourists exploring the city by bike.

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - 10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam City Tour Walk Canals

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Multi-level Bicycle parking station
Bicycle Parking Station

It’s not advisable to drive a car in Amsterdam – the streets are narrow, some are one-way, and the amount of pedestrians and cyclists will just stress you.  It’s better to walk or to bike.10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Ride the Bike Like a Local

You could either rent a bike or join a guided bike tour.

Just be careful though if you’re touring the city on foot.  Watch out for the cyclists because they go really fast!  There are also paths for bicycles only (pedestrians are not allowed).

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam Canals Bike

Flipboard 10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam City Tour Walk Canals

10.  Be adventurous

Walk around the city and discover its streets and shops.  You’d be surprised with what you will encounter. Besides, it’s nice to see its charming old streets with narrow brick roads.  You might also want to try to join a free walking tour to get to know the city better.10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam City Tour Walk

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam City Tour Walk

During one of our walks, we reached a fairground at the Dam Square.  There were a few rides but, of course, we were more excited when we saw the food trucks and food tents serving dutch pastries, cotton candy, and grilled sausages and burgers. 🙂

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Dutch Pastries

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Grilled Sausages Burgers (1 of 1)

Along the streets of Amsterdam, you will also find several shops including souvenir stores selling baked cannabis goods – muffins, brownies, cookies, etc.  As to whether or not they have an effect, most sources say they do not.  Speaking of cannabis, don’t mistake coffeeshops as your regular coffee shop.  Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are not the same as regular cafés or coffee shops that serve actual coffee.  You’ll be greeted with a peculiar menu showing different kinds of cannabis that you can purchase and consume inside the coffeeshop.

10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam - Be Adventurous Amsterdam Cannabis Space Cake Muffins Brownies Cookies

If you are looking for the real café, there are many good cafés in Amsterdam.  The one that we tried is the lovely place called Café del Mar.  They serve excellent lattes and desserts.

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28 Replies to “10 Interesting Things to Do in Amsterdam”

  1. I haven’t been to Amsterdam in years and loved that you touched on all of the great things to do there. Riding a bike and taking a canal cruise are a must. Great post!

  2. There are so many cool things to do in Amsterdam and you have covered loads! Renting a bike like the locals is a great tip and the history of the Red Light District and the canal houses is also fascinating. Amsterdam is a great city! Thanks for sharing

  3. paulandcarolelovetotravel says: Reply

    Great post full of useful information for visiting Amsterdam. Your photography is excellent too! #feetdotravel

  4. Sadly I’ve yet to visit Amsterdam, though I keep hearing such fascinating things about it! I love the blend of the traditional and modern aspects of the city.

  5. Amsterdam looks so beautiful in the fall! I also remember being very surprised to see bicycle garages for the first time. 🙂

  6. Perfect timing! as we’re heading to Amsterdam in the next couple of weeks! Im looking forward to the food, can’t wait to try bitterballen and stroopwafel! thanks for your tips!

  7. Yes, Yes Yes. I am loving all of these Amsterdam blogs I am reading as I intend to go this September. thank you so much for such an organized and detailed oriented list. I have bookmarked it for when I start working on my Amsterdam travel binder.

  8. The museums were my favourite … Van Gogh especially. The canal ride is always so romantic … isn’t it. You have made me all nostalgic about our trip two years ago!

  9. That’s an awesome list! I’ve done it all except riding the bicycle! I’ve checked out the cheese shops but didn’t buy one! As you said, the Iamsterdam was indeed crowded. As luck would have it, it started raining when I went and the crowd scattered and I managed to get a good shot!! Lolz… Did you manage to check out the Erotic Museum?

  10. A really enjoyable post and one that really does cement Amsterdam as one of the most schizophrenic cities on earth. Certainly, while everyone knows about the seedier side of the city, there are just so many cultural things to do there while it is even just a great place to wander aimlessly through. Some great snaps in here too

  11. I miss Amsterdam! I loveed the central station, probably one of the best I’ve seen in Europe. But I’m definitely jealous of how you found such cheap flight tickets. I’m in Toronto too and lemme tell you, traveling around is a budget killer 🙁

  12. Wonderful things to do in Amsterdam. I like the idea of renting a bike and ride around. I pinned this for later use. Great photos and thanks for sharing 🙂 #feetdotravel

  13. Stroopwafels are one of my favourite foods in the world. This is such a great list of things to do. I’d love to go back one day and try them all. Especially eating all the cheeses.

  14. Oh my, I am so keen to try these stroopwafels – they look absolutely divine. And cheese..mmmmm. What a great list of suggestions. I can’t wait to visit Amsterdam!

  15. Love Amsterdam! This is a great list for first-timers to keep close while preparing their itinerary. Such an exciting and unique city. You’ve made me want to return!

  16. Love Amsterdam and a great list!! And stroopwaffels are delicious – can buy them in the UK now 😊

  17. All of these suggestions look so good, I’d have a hard time deciding which ones to do and which to leave out. We love food, so definitely the cheeses and stroopwafel. Those look so tasty!

  18. I think I crossed off maybe half of these when I visited – such a waste! I loved Amsterdam as a city and can’t wait to visit again, although would pay a lot more attention and cram a lot more in next time around.

  19. travellingslacker says: Reply

    I am embarrassed to admit that although I have read many articles on Amsterdam, the only thing that comes to my mind immediately is the red light district. But after this post I guess I will have more things to look for ward to. The Dutch cheese look amazing specifically.

  20. We recently visited Amsterdam too, I think my favourite bit was the Van Gogh museum. I’ve got to say, it wasn’t my favourite city ever – too seedy for my liking, which is a shame because beyond that it is so pretty. #FlyAwayFriday

  21. Those waffles look so delicious! And I’d really like to visit the Anne Frank House. #FlyAwayFriday

  22. What time of the year did you go? Looks absolutely stunning… I’m surprised I still haven’t made this trip! Must happen this year! Haha 🙂 #flyawayfriday

    1. businesstravelerswife says: Reply

      It was during fall season which made the views even better! 🙂 Hope you get to visit Amsterdam soon!

  23. Wonderful activities to do in Amsterdam. I like the idea of the canal cruise, stopping in the local shops and I like the idea of a guided bike tour. Thanks for sharing! #flyawayfriday

  24. The Stroopwafel looks delicious enough to make us travel to Amsterdam. A guided bike tour sounds like a great way to get around the city, understand the culture and exercise!

  25. The Anne Frank House and the Red Light District are 2 places I would LOVE to visit! Such a great list for someone that’s visiting Amsterdam. Thanks for sharing and joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo

  26. I love Amsterdam so much. I have been twice and have done nearly everything on your list with a few extra daring things like coffeehouses and the Heineken museum 🙂 Anne Frank’s House is one of my favourite experiences. Very humbling. Thank you for joining Fly Away Friday!! I hope to see you this friday Jen! 🙂

  27. nice photos! the canals brought back old memories…. 🙂

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