A day out in Amsterdam? 31 local things to do in the Dutch capital
There is plenty to do in Amsterdam and its vicinity. On the one hand it´s an impressively modern city, on the other hand you can still see the remainders of the 17th century trade city, with the canals, classic buildings and the well known Red Light District. Endless things to do and sights to see!
Let yourself be surprised by stepping beyond the shopping streets during your trip to Amsterdam.
Explore the bridges of which there are more than a thousand, the almost 60 miles of canals, impressive parks and the many museums. Each worth spending more than a day exploring during your trip.
And when deciding what to do, make sure to consider the vicinity of the city as well. Like Haarlem, the capital of the province, and only a 15 minute drive by train.
The Amsterdam city centre is a melting pot of architecture, entertainment, history and art. A daytrip into town, a weekend of exploring, actually you hardly even have to go beyond the limits of the city centre. There’s a lot to do.
Whether you prefer the shopping streets, the many squares or to take a guided tour through the Red Light District (‘de Wallen‘ in Dutch, referring to the embankments that were used to create the area) you’ll enjoy Amsterdam. That it’s worth a visit becomes evident from the millions of visitors the Dutch capital gets each year. Both foreign and Dutch.
The Amsterdam Arena is known for more than just soccer matches. Major concerts, great parties and more are definitely also being organized there. Opened in 1996 by Queen Beatrix, it's the largest stadium in the country with more than 50,000 seats. And did you know [...] Continue reading about Amsterdam Arena.
The Amsterdam Tower is a unique new sight to see when visiting Amsterdam! Come and enjoy the panorama bar and restaurant on the 20th floor, a spinning restaurant on the 19th floor and the members club on the 18th floor! This tower behind the Central [...] Continue reading about Amsterdam Tower.
Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo
Elephants trumpeting, the high-pitched shriek of a bird flying by and the splashing seals having the time of their life, that's what a day at Artis Amsterdam Zoo is all about! Both for kids and adults this zoo in Amsterdam has a lot to offer. [...] Continue reading about Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo.
This courtyard, of which the history goes back to the 14th century, should definitely be on your must-see list when visiting Amsterdam. With its entrance at the Spui, you'll immediately feel immersed by peace and quite in the middle of this vibrant city. Way back [...] Continue reading about Begijnhof.
Canals of Amsterdam
Dug in the 17th century, the canals of Amsterdam can be called world famous without any doubt. For millions of tourists that visit the Dutch capital it's a popular way to explore the city and it's no surprise then that tour boats, water bikes and [...] Continue reading about Canals of Amsterdam.
It's impossible to miss when you walk into the city center from the Amsterdam Central Station and just walk straight on, Dam Square! Obviously popular among many tourists and a variety of street artists, ranging from musicians to live statues. Really, there's not a moment [...] Continue reading about Dam Square.
Despite it sometimes being a bit busy to bring the youngest kids along, most have a great time exploring the many personalities immortalized in the wax statues in Madame Tussauds. Admittedly, standing next to Obama or Van Gogh is really quite a unique experience. Walk [...] Continue reading about Madame Tussauds.
Centrally located at the Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) is a much visited sight where you find both history represented in its decorative interior and modern day exhibitions. Since 1408 the church has served a variety of purposes and that tradition [...] Continue reading about Nieuwe Kerk.
Red Light District
The Red Light District in Amsterdam generally needs little introduction for tourists coming to explore Amsterdam. Who hasn't heard of the streets lit with red lights where you pass by prostitutes offering there services, erotic stores and theaters. Even a quick trip is really a [...] Continue reading about Red Light District.
Amsterdam hotspots from the Rembrandtplein to the Leidseplein
The Dutch word for square is plein. Hence Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein and Max Euweplein stand for Leidse Square, Rembrandt Square and Max Euwe Square. Each of these are populare areas for the visitors on a shopping trip but also in the nighttime they are popular spots to start clubbing. Other noteworthy squares are the Dam Square (plain Dam in Dutch) and Spui.
Besides tourist hot spots, these squares are also central to the National Memorial event and the celebration of the Amsterdam football team (Ajax). Each is easily reached whether you’re exploring the city on foot, by bike or by public transport. The many bars, restaurants, coffee shops and clubs are definitely worth visiting.
On the Leidseplein in Amsterdam you're sure to have a good time during your visit. Surrounded by bars and restaurants you can prepare for your shopping adventure through the Leidsestraat or simply drop by to see a film at the Pathé cinema. Located centrally between [...] Continue reading about Leidseplein.
The Max Euweplein between the Leidseplein and the Vondelpark in Amsterdam is a comfortable destination on a summer day, surrounded by stores, restaurants and bars. So for whomever is looking for a night out at the Hard Rock Café or Holland Casino this definitely is [...] Continue reading about Max Euweplein.
Though maybe not by name, with the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and the Royal Concertgebouw surrounding it, practically everybody knows the Museumplein in Amsterdam. Despite it's luxury scenery it's also a location for large events like the winter ice ring, historically the Uitmarkt [...] Continue reading about Museumplein.
The Nieuwmarkt is not as central as many of the other squares, but is nonetheless (or perhaps thanks to that) a recommendable destination for a night out and during the day for its daily market. In the middle of the Nieuwmarkt you De Waag (The [...] Continue reading about Nieuwmarkt.
The Rembrandtplein is where you find big names like The Cooldown and the Escape with just around the corner popular venues like De Heren van Aemstel, De Kleine Komedie and many party bars. With an abundance of terraces and the main square in the middle, [...] Continue reading about Rembrandtplein.
The Spui in Amsterdam is a side street of the Kalverstraat and thanks to its central location it's a great place for a break from your shopping trip. Also it's side streets are where you'll find a number of affordable bars and restaurants, which makes [...] Continue reading about Spui.
Hanging out with locals in Amsterdam parks
Just like every other major city, Amsterdam has a number of city parks where both inhabitants and tourists briefly escape from the busy daily life. We’ve listed a couple for your next visit to Amsterdam.
The Amstelpark in Amsterdam was build for the Floriade of 1971 and till the day the today remains a wonderful place for a walk and to enjoy nature. Thanks to the location outside the city center of Amsterdam and nearby the Amstel, you experience being [...] Continue reading about Amstelpark.
The Sarphatipark near the Albert Cuyp in the Pijp is frequently visited by both tourists and locals during the summer thanks to it's wide grass fields and the cooling water. Significantly smaller than the Vondelpark, it is less busy so nice for a stroll and [...] Continue reading about Sarphatipark.
The Vondel Park is like an oasis in the center of the city and is named after Joost van den Vondel, a Dutch poet and play writer. The Vondel Park is well looked after and has multiple ponds spread about the park. For both tourists [...] Continue reading about Vondelpark.
The Westerpark is mostly known for the Westergasfabriek than the park itself, but don't let this stop you from paying a visit. Better yet, having the facilities for a bite to drink and eat near, only adds to the green fields, ponds and fountains and [...] Continue reading about Westerpark.
Must see museums in Amsterdam
Of the dozens of museums that are found in Amsterdam, probably the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum are probably the most well known.
But don’t let this blind you from the other jewels that exist among the museums in the city. Like the photography museum Foam with frequent exhibitions by internationally renowned photographers.
For a better understanding of the history of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam (History) Museum, an old monestary, on the Nieuwezijdse Voorburgwal is definitely recommended. The exhibition Amsterdam DNA explains the details of the city which can also be experienced in person during a tour of Amsterdam. [...] Continue reading about Amsterdam Museum.
Anne Frank House
Millions of visitors continue to experience the unique story of Anne Frank in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Rightfully so, as this museum shares a unique perspective on the live of a family in hiding during the second World War that no history book [...] Continue reading about Anne Frank House.
Beurs van Berlage
Construction of the De Beurs van Berlage at the Damrak, one of the top 100 Dutch heritage monuments, started in 1898 when the existing stock exchange turned out to be too small for the increasing trade. Today the building is used for among others exhibitions [...] Continue reading about Beurs van Berlage.
Already from the Central Station you can see the EYE Filmmuseum, opened in 2012. It's unique form and location directly at the waterfront of Amsterdam North makes it impossible to miss. For movie lovers this museum is the place to be with an extensive collection [...] Continue reading about EYE Filmmuseum.
Not known by all, as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum tent to get most of the attention, the Foam Museum definitely deserves to be in the spotlight. With over 200,000 visitors a year it's proven to be worth the trip. Explore the world [...] Continue reading about Foam Museum.
In a building next to the Amstelin Amsterdam, previously known as a care center for the elder, today we find the Hermitage with major annual exhibitions which are put together in collaboration with the State Museum the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Next to the exhibitions, [...] Continue reading about Hermitage Amsterdam.
NEMO science center
Taking your kids to Nemo is an educational and fun experience they're sure to remember for a long time. The great thing about Nemo is that they organize a lot of activities that allow kids to participate, while they learn interesting things about science and [...] Continue reading about NEMO science center.
The flagship of the Museumplein is of course the Rijksmuseum. The stately building that has been in use since 1885 belongs to the Top 100 Dutch UNESCO heritage monuments, which makes it a museum piece worth viewing in and of itself. For 10 years the [...] Continue reading about Rijksmuseum.
In the warehouse of ’s Lands Zeemagazijn (National Sea Stockroom) of 1656 you find the completely modernized Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum) at no more than 5 minutes away from the Central Station in Amsterdam. The museum explains in a very interactive and extensive way the [...] Continue reading about Scheepvaartmuseum.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam underwent a large scale renovation up until 2012 and nowadays has a large extension, known as the bathtub, where visitors are welcome to explore the many art pieces on display. While visiting Amsterdam, this museum can hardly miss from your [...] Continue reading about Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Between Artis and the Oosterpark you find the Tropenmuseum, part of the Royal Tropical Institute, in a beautiful historical building, opened in 1926. The collection of the museum encompasses an impressive number of musical instruments, masks and pottery from cultures all around the world. You [...] Continue reading about Tropenmuseum.
Van Gogh Museum
For the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, you head over to the Van Gogh Museum at the Museumplein in Amsterdam. After the recent construction, the works of this Dutch master again shine in full glory in the exposition Van Gogh at work. Next to [...] Continue reading about Van Gogh Museum.
Day trips from Amsterdam
Except for Haarlem, there are plenty of other sights to visit and things to do in the vicinity of Amsterdam. Go spot airplanes at Schiphol, visit the beach in Zandvoort or admire the windmills at the Zaanse Schans, it’s up to you!
Haarlem is located at only 15 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station and is and ideal destination for either a day trip or a longer stay. Known for its fun shopping experience it’s also a great city to simply enjoy the terrace, discover the art and history in the Frans Hals Museum and hear the 16th century organ in the St. Bavo church on the central market square. A little calmer than Amsterdam, yet equally enjoyable!