Without of doubt, Amsterdam is one of my favorite places in the world. It has something for everyone, beautiful sights, amazing museums, great food, and great nightlife. Every time of the year is special there and I highly recommend visiting it. If you are looking for must do things in Amsterdam, and are looking for what to do in Amsterdam, this is the top ten things to do in Amsterdam
1. Flower Market
The floating flower market on the Signel canal is a great place to visit. While flowers are being brought in by truck and not by boat now, it is a beautiful place to walk around and look at the flowers that are for sale. You can buy plants and bulbs here as well, many of them are ready to export, make sure you ask so that you can bring it home. You can also buy souvenirs and trinkets here as well. Get there earlier in the morning so you can avoid the crowds.
2. Canal Belt
Amsterdam’s main canals are laid-out in a pattern of concentric half-circles. These include the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht canals. In 2010, UNESCO added the “Seventeenth-Century Canal Ring Area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht” to its World Heritage List. It is a beautiful place to walk around during the day and at night.
3. Street Food
The most popular street food that you will find in Amsterdam is french fries or chips. This is usually on a special plate with a small fork and mayonase. You can also find it with a mix of mayo, sate sauce and onions called “patatje oorlog”. The other big food that you can find is herring which you can find raw or in a sandwich. For a dessert try stroopwafels which are a thin hard waffle. Try one of the FEBO vending machines, they are pretty good, and very cheap.
4. Red light district
The Rossebuurt has brothels, sex shops, sex museums and a higher concentration of coffee shops, but it is also in the Red Light District you will find medieval alleyways and Amsterdam’s oldest building, the 14th-century Oude Kerk (Old Church). It is worth a walk around even if you have no interest in the Red Light District for the old buildings, the Nieuwmarkt square, and Chinatown is in this area. It is very close to the main train station and has some of the oldest buildings and most beautiful canals.
5. The Museums
The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s best museum in my opinion. It is The Netherlands State Museum and has masterworks like Rembrandt’s “Night watch”, several paintings by Vermeer, van Dyck and Jan Steenvan. It is a beautiful building that just went through a ten year reconstruction that reopened in 2013. It is opened every day 9-5 and I recommend buying your tickets online. The Van Gogh museum is another one of my favorite museums. It is the world’s largest collection of the works of Vincent van Gogh. It has 200 of his paintings, 500 drawings and art of his contemporaries. It is open on Friday until 10:00 and is a good way to spend a Friday evening. I recommend buying your tickets online as well for this museum. Most people read the amazing diary of Ann Frank growing up. Ann was a a young girl who hid in the attic of a building with her family and other people during World War 2. The Ann Frank Museum an amazing place to visit. While it is empty, it has the feel of when they lived there. This is a very popular museum and there will always be long lines. I recommend going late in the afternoon or at night as the lines are going to be shorter because tour groups and cruise passengers would have left.
6. The Jordaan
The Jordaan is the area at the west side of the ‘grachtengordel’ (main canals). It was built in the early 17th century, as a district for the working class and emigrants. Today it is a nice and quiet residential district, full of small bars, shops, and restaurants. It is a great place to walk around and relax after a busy day.
The Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam, it is close to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. It is a great place to hang out on a hot day and people watch. There are ponds, lawns, gardens and winding footpaths as well as restaurants and cafés.
8. Canal Cruising
No trip is complete without going on a canal cruise. It is a very different perspective to see the city from the canals. There are several operators that you can go on as well as a hop on hop off boat. All of these can be found by the train station. I like to go late afternoon or dusk to relax before my evening activities.
9. Dam Square
The Dam square is a quick walk or tram ride down from the train station. It is a crowded and busy square that has much going on. The main attraction of the square is the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Palace) which the royal family no longer lives in, but is used for official receptions. You can visit inside during the day. There is a National Memorial statue, erected in memory of Dutch soldiers and members of the resistance who died in World War 2. Many restaurants, food stands and shops are all around the square. My favorite is De Bijenkorf, which is Amsterdam’s biggest department store.
10. Latin Quarter of Amsterdam, the Albert Cuyp market
For cheaper shopping I recommend the Albert Cuyp Market which is in the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam also called De Pipj. Started in 1904 there are now 300 stalls selling things from vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, clothing, flowers, souvenirs and just about everything else. It gets very crowded on the weekends but is one of my favorite places to shop.
Enjoy Amsterdam, it is one of my favorite places.