Best Things To Do in Amsterdam

SDAmsterdam › Tours & Things to Do
Updated: May 22, 2023
By Santorini Dave

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Best thing to do in Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum Museum is the cultural highlight of Amsterdam.

The Best Tours in Amsterdam

1. Rijksmuseum Skip-the-Line Museum Tour

Amsterdam Artist Tour
Amazing musuem. Vermeer, Rembrandt, and an overview of Amsterdam’s impressive history. Both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh are world-class but if you can only make it to one, then go to the Rijksmuseum. The above tour is very good. The Rijksmuseum Private Tour is great.

2. Van Gogh Skip-the-Line Museum Tour

Amsterdam Art Tour
Another wonderful museum just steps from the Rijksmuseum. And once again, the skip-the-line tour is good. The Van Gogh Private Guided Tour is great.

3. Amsterdam Bike Tour

Amsterdam Bike Tours
Bike tours are a wonderful way to see the city’s top attractions and this is a great tour of central Amsterdam’s highlights. If you want to bike to a few surrounding towns then do the Countryside Bike Tour (4 hours) or the Windmills, Cheese & Clogs Bike Tour (3 hours).

4. Canal Dinner Cruise

Amsterdam Boat Tour
Romantic tour of the Amsterdam canals while served a pretty tasty dinner (much better than you’d expect). There are meat, fish, and vegetarian options. For lighter fare do the Cheese & Wine Cruise.

5. Amsterdam Evening Pizza Cruise

Canal boat tour in Amsterdam.
This one doesn’t pretend to be romantic, chic, or trendy. It’s just plain fun – and the best family-friendly canal tour in Amsterdam.

6. Marken, Volendam, & Edam Full-Day Tour from Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal Day Trip
These are three picturesque charming towns just north of Amsterdam. The tour includes a cheese tasting, windmill visit, short boat trip, and lunch. (It’s also easy to rent a bike and get here on your own if that sounds more appealing than a coach.)

7. Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan

Food tour in Amsterdam.
The Jordaan is the hippest trendiest neighborhood in the city and this is the best food tour in Amsterdam. Our whole family loved this tour (kids were 11 and 14 at the time).

The 19 Best Things To Do in Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum • Museum Quarter

Rijksmuseum Museum in Amsterdam.
The Netherlands’ best art museum. One of Amsterdam’s heavyweight attractions, this is the biggest and best collection of Dutch art in existence. Make a beeline for the Gallery of Honour on Floor 2 to see Rembrandt’s Night Watch, Kitchen Maid by Vermeer, mind-blowing doll’s houses, and Delft ceramics; then head upstairs for the latest in Dutch design. Book your ticket online to avoid the worst of the lines.
• +31 20 674 7000

Canal Tour

Canal tour in Amsterdam.
Seeing the city from the water is a quintessential Amsterdam experience and there are almost as many canal cruise companies as there are canals. Most depart from Damrak in the Medieval Center, across from Centraal Station. Standout operators include Those Dam Boat Guys (entertaining, BYOB, expat-run, with plenty of quirky city history); Leemstar (small-group, 75-minute tours in a 90-year-old Dutch wooden saloon boat) and Blue Boat Company (mainstream tours, but with unique themed options, such as pirate-themed tour for kids). And if you want to drive your own, Canal Motorboats have small electric boats for hire (no boat license necessary).

Van Gogh Museum • Museum Quarter

Museum in Amsterdam.
The world’s largest collection of Van Gogh works spread across four levels and a stunning glass atrium. Look out for the artist’s self-portraits, as well as some of his most famous works – Sunflowers, Starry Night – and his earlier, gritty paintings, such as The Potato Eaters and Skeleton With Burning Cigarette. Access is by timed ticket only; book your time slot online using their website, or skip the line with a guided tour.
• +31 20 570 5200

Keukenhof Gardens

Carpets of blooming tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens
Every year, Keukenhof Gardens, an hour southwest of Amsterdam, opens for just two months (mid-March to mid-May). There’s no better place to see tulips than the gardens’ 79 acres, planted with a mind-boggling 800 varieties of the flower. The gardens attract hundreds of thousands of visitors; the most convenient way to visit is on a tour package with included transportation and skip-the-line admission.
• +31 252 465 555

Anne Frank House & Museum • Western Canal Ring

Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Step through the swinging bookcase and go up the steep steps to visit the living space where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years from the Nazis until they were betrayed to the Gestapo in August 1944. Standout exhibits include Anne Frank’s red-plaid diary. This is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions; prebook your ticket on the website to avoid queueing for hours.
• +31 20 556 7105

Royal Palace

Ornate exterior of Amsterdam's Royal Palace on a sunny day
The home of the Dutch royal family. When the King is not in town, you’re welcome to wander around the opulent rooms, filled with priceless art, chandeliers, gilded clocks, antique maps and furniture, left by Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Louis. The king actually lives in the Hague but uses the palace for state functions. During the King’s birthday in April, the streets around the palace fill with revelers dressed in orange – the royal color.
• +31 20 522 6161

Heineken Experience

Two people taste beer in a cavernous white brick brewery
You’ve tasted the beer, now come to the world-famous brewery for the self-guided, super-fun, multi-sensory ‘Experience’ on the northern edge of the De Pijp district. Allow an hour and a half to follow the brewing process from water and hops to bottling; the show-stopping finale is the 4D multimedia exhibit in which you become the beer – shaken, heated up, sprayed with water and bottled. Prebook online to save €2.
• +31 20 721 5300

Zaanse Schans Windmills

The Zaanse Schans windmills, seen from across the water in a tulip field
Synonymous with the Netherlands, these authentic windmills out in the countryside make for an excellent half-day trip from Amsterdam. One of the larger operators, Amsterdam City Tours run excellent excursions in luxury coaches, passing through the fishing villages of Volendam and Marken. But if you’re looking for something more intimate, That Dam Guide runs small-group tours to a 400-year-old windmill that’s off the beaten track, complete with a family farm visit and wine and cheese picnic.

A’DAM Lookout

Two people swing out above Amsterdam's canals
A 22-story viewpoint with an Over The Edge swing for daredevils. The former headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell in Amsterdam Noord has been transformed into a hip hotel with a revolving restaurant on the 19th floor and a rooftop viewing platform with epic 360-degree views of the city. Pay €5 extra to dangle your legs over the roof’s edge from Amsterdam’s highest swing.
• +31 20 242 0100

House of Bols

Red brick exterior of a gin distillery in Amsterdam
The interactive home of genever, the Dutch granddaddy of gin, conveniently located across the street from Amsterdam’s three heavyweight art museums. During the entertaining self-guided tour, you get to learn all about this Dutch spirit that’s making a comeback in bars across the country. Peruse centuries-old recipes, sniff the ingredients, knock back a shot in the psychedelic tasting booth, and learn to mix a cocktail with the expert mixologists.
• +31 20 570 8575

NDSM Wharf

Old wharf space filled with colorful art and plants
Abandoned shipyard turned hip art community. Reachable by frequent free ferries from Amsterdam Centraal Station, this hip, up-and-coming area in Amsterdam Noord has a bit of a post-apocalyptic vibe to it. Several warehouses have been converted into exhibition spaces, the abandoned trams provide a broad canvass for graffiti artists, an old submarine sits half-submerged in the harbor, and there are several excellent restaurants here – particularly popular in the evenings.

Stedelijk Museum • Museum Quarter

Striking modern facade of an art museum in Amsterdam
The Netherland’s biggest and best repository of contemporary art. A permanent collection of over 90,000 works call this striking building home, including Picasso abstracts, paintings by Piet Mondrian, Monet, and Willem de Kooning and Auguste Rodin sculptures. Exciting changing exhibitions by big-name artists take place in the Bathtub, accessed via a trippy escalator. Don’t miss the terrific restaurant in the lobby. Skip the ticket-buying line by purchasing in advance.
• +31 20 573 2911

Dutch Resistance Museum • Plantage

Exterior of the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam
Dutch heroism during WWII on display at this excellent interactive museum. The exhibits, made to look like wartime city streets, span the 1930s and Nazi occupation and comprise stories of resistance and heroism – including keeping 300,000 Jews hidden from persecution – as well as collaboration and betrayal.
• +31 20 620 2535

Hermitage Amsterdam • East Amsterdam

Stately entrace of the Hermitage building, flying a Dutch flag.
The Dutch branch of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. The result of Peter the Great’s admiration of the Netherlands, Hermitage Amsterdam dips into priceless collections of art and Russian palace treasures, on loan from St Petersburg. Try to catch one of the excellent temporary exhibitions and get here before 11am to beat the lines.
• +31 20 530 8755

Jewish Historical Museum • Nieuwmarkt en Lastage

Exterior of the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam
Beautifully-presented history of Jews in the Netherlands. Spread across four beautifully restored Ashkenazic synagogues, the exhibits walk you through Jewish cultural life in Amsterdam from 1600 to the present day. The harrowing WWII exhibits deal with hiding from the Nazis and post-war integration. The absorbing Children’s Museum introduces kids to Jewish culture, and tickets include entry to the stunning Portuguese-Israelite synagogue next door.
• +31 20 531 0310

Amsterdam Museum • Medieval Center

Exterior of the Amsterdam Museum
One thousand years of Amsterdam’s history in seven punchy, family-friendly exhibitions. Check out the interactive DNA exhibit, dress up as a civic guard with a ruffle collar for the Revolt against the King and Church, peruse porcelains and religious artifacts in the maze-like basement, and look out for Rembrandt’s macabre Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Deijman. Great rainy day fun.
• +31 20 523 1822

Rembrandt’s House • Nieuwmarkt en Lastage

Exterior of Rembrandt's House and the Rembrandt House Museum
This three-story canal house was the home, studio, and ultimate source of financial ruin for Dutch painter Rembrandt. He originally bought it with the help of his wealthy wife’s fortune, but couldn’t keep up the mortgage payments. Check out the original furniture, cabinet of curiosities, and Rembrandt’s famous etchings on the top floor. Don’t forget to pick up a free informative audioguide.
• +31 20 520 0400

Diamond Museum • Museum Quarter

Exterior of Amsterdam's Diamond Museum, lit up at night
Walk your way through the history of the Dutch diamond trade, from the carbon’s journey from the mines of Africa into the hands of Amsterdam’s diamond cutters and polishers. The world’s most famous diamonds on display here – the Orlof Diamond, the Maharajah – are clever, glittering replicas, as are the diamonds encrusting the crowns and swords.
• +31 20 305 5300

Bike Rental

Bike rental in Amsterdam.
There are bike rental shops all over Amsterdam. If you want a better quality bike for longer day trips or overnight journeys, then try Bike City. They come with saddle bags, locks, repair kits, and other extras. They also have a larger variety of bike sizes and trailers. I usually reserve an XL bike for my visits.

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