The Best Things to do in Amsterdam: A Complete City Guide

things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful and historic city in Europe filled with a multitude of things to do for any group. Amsterdam is the capital and largest city of the Netherlands. Located in the province of North Holland, it is known for its historic canals, beautiful architecture, and vibrant culture.

Amsterdam is home to a variety of museums, including the Rijksmuseum, which houses a collection of Dutch masterpieces, and the Anne Frank House, which is a museum dedicated to the young diarist who hid from the Nazis during World War II.

The city is also known for its lively nightlife, with a variety of clubs, bars, and restaurants to choose from. Amsterdam is a great destination for visitors who enjoy history, culture, and nightlife.

When to visit Amsterdam, Netherlands

You can visit Amsterdam anytime during the year. May – September will be warmer and easier to bike and walk around the city. November – March will be colder, but it is still possible to experience everything that the city has to offer! Plus, the Christmas markets are stunning November – December.

How to get to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the most accessible cities in Europe to travel to and also to use as a gateway to other major cities. Because of this, it is a great addition to a 10 day Europe trip route!

By plane

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is one of the busiest airports in Europe, with flights arriving from all over the world. From the airport, you can take a train, bus, or taxi to the city center. Public transportation is easy to navigate to get from the airport to the city-center!

By train

Amsterdam is well connected by train to other major cities in Europe, including Brussels, Paris and Berlin. You can take a direct train to Amsterdam from these cities or connect through other cities.

By car

Amsterdam is easily accessible by car, with several major highways leading into the city. However, it’s important to note that driving in the city can be challenging due to the narrow streets and busy traffic. It is often more convenient to use public transportation or park your car outside of the city center.

By bus

There are several bus companies that operate routes to Amsterdam from other cities in Europe. This can be a budget-friendly option, but it can also be a longer and less convenient way to travel.

Regardless of how you get to Amsterdam, it’s important to plan your travel in advance to ensure that you have a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Currency and Tipping in Amsterdam

The currency in Amsterdam is the Euro (EUR). It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand for small purchases, but most places in Amsterdam also accept credit and debit cards.

When looking for an ATM in Europe, we highly recommend using an ATM machine that is associated with a bank. Bonus points if you can find one that is located in the main entrance to a bank as this will not only have the best conversion rate but also elevated security to prevent any card scanners from being installed.

Do you need to tip in Amsterdam?

Tipping in Amsterdam is polite but not expected in many circumstances. In restaurants, it’s common to leave a small tip (5-10% of the total bill) if you’re satisfied with the service. In bars and cafes, it’s not necessary to tip, but you can round up the bill or leave a small amount if you want to show your appreciation.

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

When choosing where to stay in Amsterdam, it’s important to consider your budget, your interests and your preferences. There are accommodations available to suit all budgets, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. It’s also a good idea to consider the location of your accommodation and whether you want to be close to the city center or in a more residential area.

The best neighborhoods to stay in Amsterdam

There are many different neighborhoods in Amsterdam, each with its own character and charm. Consider browsing Airbnbs in these neighborhoods to see if there is a home-stay that will accommodate your needs for a more local experience.

The Old City (De Wallen)

This is the historic center of Amsterdam with narrow streets and picturesque canals. It’s home to many of the city’s famous landmarks, including the Anne Frank House and the
Red Light District. The Old City is a lively and vibrant area, but it can also be quite touristy and crowded.

The Jordaan

This is a bohemian neighborhood with narrow streets, charming houses, and a variety of independent shops, galleries, and cafes. It’s a great area to stay in if you want to be close to the city center but want to avoid the crowds.

The Canal Belt (Grachtengordel)

This area is known for its beautiful canals and elegant houses. It’s a popular area to stay in for visitors who want to experience the city’s more upscale side.

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The Museum Quarter

This neighborhood is home to many of Amsterdam’s major museums, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. It’s a good area to stay in if you’re interested in art and culture.

The best hotel options in Amsterdam

Luxury Boutique Hotels

The Dylan Amsterdam

Banks Mansion – All Inclusive Boutique Hotel

Mid-range housing options

XO Hotels Couture

BackStage Hotel

Budget housing options

Dutchies Hostel

Stayokay Hostel Amsterdam Oost

Traveling on a budget? Read 40 ways to travel cheaper here!

where to eat in Amsterdam

Famous Food to Try in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its diverse culinary scene, with a wide range of international and local dishes to choose from. Below are some famous foods to try in Amsterdam!


These thin, caramel-filled waffles are a popular Dutch snack. They are traditionally made by baking two thin waffle layers and filling them with a syrup made from butter, sugar, and spices. Stroopwafels can be found at many street vendors and markets in Amsterdam.

Dutch cheese

The Netherlands is known for its delicious cheese, with a variety of flavors and textures to choose from. Some popular Dutch cheeses to try include Gouda, Edam, and Maasdam. You can find Dutch cheese at many markets and cheese shops in Amsterdam.


These small, deep-fried balls of meat and gravy are a popular snack in Amsterdam. They are often served as a bar snack and are usually served with mustard for dipping.


These small, fluffy pancakes are a popular Dutch treat. They are traditionally served with butter and powdered sugar and can be found at many street vendors and markets in Amsterdam.


Patat is the Dutch word for French fries and they are a popular snack in Amsterdam. They are usually served with a variety of toppings, such as mayonnaise, curry sauce, or peanut sauce.

Where to eat in Amsterdam

There are many local restaurants in Amsterdam that offer a taste of traditional Dutch cuisine and a sense of the city’s local culture. Here are some of the best places to eat in Amsterdam!


This large food hall serves delicious dishes from all over the world. This is a great place to try a variety of foods – there is something for everyone in this food hall!

De Kas

This restaurant is located in a greenhouse and serves locally grown and produced food. It’s known for its delicious and innovative dishes and its commitment to sustainability.

De Italiaan

This Italian restaurant serves a variety of traditional Italian dishes using locally sourced ingredients. It’s known for its delicious pizzas and pastas.

Balthazar’s Keuken

This restaurant serves traditional Dutch cuisine with a modern twist. It’s known for its excellent food and warm, welcoming atmosphere.

The Pancake Bakery

This restaurant is known for its delicious Dutch pancakes, which are thin and crepe-like and can be topped with a variety of sweet and savory toppings.

De Carrousel

This restaurant, located in a carousel, serves traditional Dutch dishes in a totally unique setting.

Where to drink in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its lively nightlife, with a wide range of bars to choose from. Some of the best bars in Amsterdam include:

Door 74

This speakeasy-style bar is known for its excellent cocktails and cozy atmosphere.

Tales & Spirits

This cocktail bar is known for its innovative and delicious cocktails.

The Tailor

This cocktail bar is known for its intimate atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for a romantic night out.

The Hoxton

This hotel bar is known for its excellent cocktails and lively atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for a night out with friends.

where to drink in Amsterdam

Local bars in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a wide range of local bars to choose from, each with its own character and charm. Some fun local bars in Amsterdam include:

De Prael

This brewery and bar is known for its delicious craft beers and rustic atmosphere. It’s a popular spot for a casual night out.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

This brewery and bar is located in a windmill and is known for its delicious craft beers and its unique setting.

The Waterhole

This bar is known for its lively atmosphere and its live music.

Bar Bukowski

This funky bar is known for its intimate atmosphere and its excellent cocktails.

transportation in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam

Depending on your budget and length of stay, it may be worth it to buy the I Amsterdam City Card. It gives you access to tons of museums, use of public transportation and a canal cruise!

See if the Amsterdam city card is right for you.

Rijksmuseum Museum

This is the most famous museum in Amsterdam where you can see works by famous Dutch artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. Make sure to purchase your ticket in advance for this museum! Even if you purchase the museum pass, you will still need to reserve a time slot in advance.

Purchase your ticket here.

Take a canal cruise

Enjoy a canal cruise to see the city’s beautiful architecture and learn more about its history.

Book a canal cruise here!

Visit the Anne Frank House

Learn about the young diarist’s life during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Be sure to book your appointment for this far in advance as slots fill up quickly!

Purchase a ticket in advance here.

Van Gogh Museum

Visit this museum to see the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings in the world.

Purchase tickets in advance here.

Exploring the city’s many markets

There are a multitude of markets to visit such as the Albert Cuyp Market and the Flower Market.

Visiting the NEMO Science Museum

This is a popular destination for families with children.

Purchase your tickets here.

Take a bike or walking tour

Experience the city from a different perspective and learn about its history and culture during a tour.

Visit the Heineken Brewery

This is one of the most interactive and interesting breweries to visit in the world.

Purchase your tickets in advance here.

Diamond Museum

You probably were not aware that the crown jewels of England are actually created and held in Amsterdam. Learn about the history of diamonds at this museum.

Purchase your tickets here for this tour.

Walk through the Red Light District

The Red Light District is one of the most famous and historic areas of Amsterdam.

Important note: If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, keep in mind that many activities that are considered illegal in other parts of the world, such as marijuana use and sex work, are legal in Amsterdam. However, it’s important to remember that these activities are still regulated, and it’s important to respect the laws and local customs while visiting the city.

sites to see in Amsterdam

The best day trips from Amsterdam

Keukenhof Gardens and Zaanse Schans Windmills

Keukenhof gardens are located just outside of Amsterdam and are known for their colorful display of tulips and other flowers. They are only open from mid-March to mid-May, so be sure to plan your visit accordingly.

Zaanse Schans is a historic village is located just outside of Amsterdam and is known for its windmills, traditional houses, and museums. It’s a great place to learn more about the history and culture of the Netherlands.

Book this day trip here!

Rotterdam, Delft, and Hague full-day tour

This day trip is a great way to see many historic and charming towns on the outskirts of Amsterdam. They are known for picturesque canals, beautiful houses, and the Royal Delft porcelain factory.

Book this day trip here!


This charming town is located just a short train ride from Amsterdam and is known for its beautiful houses, picturesque canals, and historic center. It’s a great place to explore on foot or by bike.

How to get around Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a compact city and it’s easy to get around by foot, bike, or public transportation.


Amsterdam is a great city to explore on foot, with many interesting neighborhoods and landmarks within easy walking distance of the city center.


Amsterdam is known for its bike-friendly streets, and biking is a popular and convenient way to get around the city. There are many rental shops where you can rent a bike for the day or longer. Be warned, biking in Amsterdam is not for the faint of heart. These bikers are experts at maneuvering around people and tight turns. If you are not an experienced biker, we do not recommend trying to bike downtown Amsterdam!

Public transportation

Amsterdam has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including buses, trams, and metros. The city also has a network of ferries that can be used to cross the canals. You can purchase a single-use ticket or a day pass to use the public transportation system.


Taxis are widely available in Amsterdam, and they can be hailed on the street or ordered through a ride-share app. Taxis can be a convenient way to get around, but they can also be more expensive than other options.


If you plan to rent a car, be aware that driving in Amsterdam can be challenging due to the narrow streets and busy traffic. Parking can also be difficult and expensive, so it’s often more convenient to use public transportation or park your car outside of the city center.

Regardless of how you choose to get around Amsterdam, it’s a good idea to plan your route in advance and to be mindful of local traffic laws and customs.

Safety in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is actually known for being one of the safest cities in the world but just like any big city, there are safety risks. The most common crime against tourists is pickpocketing. Be sure to keep all personal belongings zipped and be aware of your surroundings!

Still planning your route? Here are the best 10 day Europe trip routes.
Remember these 15 Europe travel essentials for your trip.
Here is the only toiletry packing list you need.

We hope this complete city guide helps plan your trip to this historic and vibrant city! Let us know in the comments what is your favorite thing to do in Amsterdam.

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