Amsterdam has a lot to offer including endless canals, pop up markets, shopping, and things to do for everyone. We believe it is the perfect first European place to travel if you are from the US.
The Netherlands is the home of Amsterdam, and Dutch is the official language. Most also speak English as a second language making it easy to communicate.
Exploring Amsterdam does not have to be visiting a ton of museums or seeing the Anne Frank house to thoroughly enjoy your time. These are our suggestions starting with our favorites.
Rent a Bike
Many people that live here bike as their main form of transportation so be mindful to keep right and stay in the designated bike paths. Biking in Amsterdam is a great way to feel like a local.
We chose to rent a bike from Amsterdam Bike Company on Amsterdam Noord. There is less of a chance to impeding traffic and many bike trails make it easy to stay off of the road. Map out what trails you will be taking ahead of time. Remembering how to get back is crucial, but if you get lost google maps is your friend.
Heineken Brewery Tour
This old brewery is an interactive experience with two free beers at the end. We have been to many tours of breweries and this one was the most intricate. It was entertaining and informational. It even ended with a virtual ride.
Take the Ferry to Amsterdam Noord (North)
Amsterdam is a large place to explore. The Buiksloterweg Ferry is a free ferry that travels to and from Noord continually throughout the day. The i amsterdam sign is there right now. Remember to do your research because it is moved and sometimes removed from the city.
Go to the top of the A’dam tower on Noord for fantastic views on a clear day. If you are feeling adventurous pay extra to do the swing on top of the building.
There is a bar on both the top and the middle floor to stop at. The patio bar on the top can get windy so bring layers. The patio has a DJ and a great vibe to hang out for as long as you want.
Amsterdam Centraal Station
We flew in to Amsterdam and took the train to Amsterdam Centraal. This train station is massive and the architecture is gorgeous. There are many shops inside so if you are not taking a train you can still check it out.
This is the center of the action. Dam square is the best area for people watching. Also is the home of the Royal Palace and shopping.
Royal Palace Amsterdam
Take a tour at this 1648 palace that was originally built as the city hall. The marble architecture on the inside is unique.
We took the audio tour throughout the Palace. There are many sculptures of Gods and their importance. We did the tour in about 1.5 hours and is great on a rainy day.
Canal Boat Cruise
We took the Lovers Boat Cruise since there was a combo deal with the Heineken experience. This is an enclosed boat with windows all around. The information was interesting, but this was my least favorite tour. An open boat cruise would be a better option if the weather is nice. The windows on this boat made it hard to get great pictures. Also it gets hot quickly since their is lack of air flow.
Wander the Streets/Canal
Approximately 1,500 bridges and 60 miles of beautiful canals are in this one city. The amount of people that live in house boats is amazing Walking around is a great way to see the city. We always enjoy picking something to walk to. You see so many sights along the way, and get to know your way around the city this way. The photo ops are unending.
Bring a picnic to this park and hang out for awhile. Many of the locals hang out here to get out of the chaos.
We took a leisurely stroll through here, and it reminded us of Central Park in Manhattan. There are many port a potties, but don’t forget to bring your own toilet paper. A stranger was kind enough to lend me some, but you may not be as lucky.
We chose to run through this park one of our first mornings. It is not a large park, but has many restaurants and shops close by. It is a great place to stop for a morning coffee.
You will most likely come across a market because there is many throughout the city. Support local businesses by getting fresh fruit, flowers, meat and cheese for your stay. You will not be disappointed.
Red Light District
Prostitution is completely legal in Amsterdam, and this is the spot you go to if you are interested in that. This part of town has all types of people and interesting shops. Watch out for pick pocketers especially at night. Also, to respect their workers we thought it was best to not take any pictures.
We walked through this area two times. The first one was early in the evening and is highly recommended for those that do not want to see too much. The second time we saw people dealing drugs, women in scandalous outfits in their offices “the windows.” Beware after 7pm if you do not want to see these things.
Other popular things to experience
- Anne Frank House
- Van Gogh Museum
- Keukenhof Gardens