Top 5 Things To Do In Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is an incredible place! With so much to do in one of Europe’s most visited cities though it can often be hard to decide which things to do, especially if you don’t have a lot of time in the city. Below are my top 5 things to do in Amsterdam based on my own personal experiences of the city. These offer a combination of the top tourist attractions and a taste of local Dutch culture.

The Free Tour

On my first visit to Amsterdam I was completely strapped for cash. This forced me to look for things to do on a strict budget and The Free Tour was one of the best! Aside from the fact it is completely free (other than the optional guide tip at the end), it was also a great way to get to grips with your bearings of Amsterdam upon arrival. They take you through all the main areas of the city centre, providing a thorough insight into the history of each place and monument as you pass. It was also interesting to hear the history of the famous Red Light District, and find out about how Amsterdam became known for its “coffee shops”. Our tour guide also broke down some common misconceptions on the legalities of marijuana and prostitution in the area – which was very helpful for all us travellers and tourists.

Tours depart every day at 11am and 1pm with two meeting points – The National Monument and Centraal Station. Guides will be wearing bright red t-shirts so you notice them upon arrival. A point to be aware of however is that at the National Monument there is a particular religious group who also wear bright red tops and who try to recruit followers in the same area! Many of the people in my group went up to them thinking they were the tour guide and it took a good 20 minutes to get them to leave! I’ve attached a pic of the t-shirt the guides wear beside this paragraph just in case there is any confusion!

The Anne Frank House/Museum

Amsterdam is known around the world as the party capitol of Europe (and for good reason!) Sometimes however, it is good to remember the history of this city, and the story of Anne Frank is one part of that which should not be forgotten. Being able to view the room in which Anne slept, and the stairs which the Nazi’s stormed up before taking her and her family to the concentration camps was very sobering. The price of entry was a little bit steep at 8.50 Euros. However when you compare this to the price of entry for other attractions in any of Europe’s main cities it’s not really so bad – especially when you consider there will only ever be one Anne Frank House in the world.


Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam, and is located near to the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and The Van Gogh Museum. It’s a great place to go for a picnic in summer after touring the museums, or a quick city getaway if you need somewhere to chill out away from the hustle and bustle for a bit. The best thing about Vondelpark though is that it’s loved by both the local people of Amsterdam and tourists! You will find a huge variety of people here going for walks, jogging, roller skating, walking the dog, or just lazing about in the sun. Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park’s bandstand and it is quite simply just a cool place to hang out. It’s also another great free thing to do in the city when you are travelling on a budget.

Have some frites!

One thing that the Dutch love is their frites! Frites are what the Dutch call fries (or chips to us in the UK), however I have heard a few other variations of the word used throughout the Netherlands. When most people think of fries they usually think of the kind you get in McDonalds. In Holland however, all their fries are cooked completely fresh, are served by little outdoor vendors, and usually come with a dollop of ketchup and mayonnaise! Of course, like anything that tastes great it is almost always bad for you, but the Dutch love it! If you go to Amsterdam or anywhere in Holland you have to try the local Dutch frites! They are yum!

Head to the coffee shop

Anyone who’s heard of Amsterdam will probably have heard of its world famous “coffee shops”. Unlike the coffee shops you get in most other places around the world however, the coffee shops in Holland don’t sell coffee, they sell marijuana! Personally I’m not that big into smoking pot, but I’m sure everyone who has been to Amsterdam at some point has smoked it, taken a space cake, or consumed marijuana in some shape of form. They may also have taken a magic mushroom. I guess it one’s of those “when in Rome” moments. That being said, on my travels in Holland out with Amsterdam I was actually surprised by how little the local people smoke it. Most café’s, restaurants, and pubs I went to outside of Amsterdam didn’t allow it to be smoked on premises, and to be honest, if you’re there for more than a week the smell of the stuff really starts to make you want to vomit (although that may just be me!) If you do want to head to a coffee shop while in Amsterdam, shop around, find the best deal, or alternatively head out to some of Holland’s other cities such as nearby Utrecht, and get a cheaper deal!

Amsterdam is an amazing city and somewhere that is always great fun to visit! If your time is limited in the city, or you can’t decide what to do, then the 5 tips listed above should be a good way to get you started!

14 Responses to “Top 5 Things To Do In Amsterdam!”

  1. Vondelpark is one of the places I greatly regret missing out on during my trip to Amsterdam. But the boat tour, long strolls along the canals with no destination in mind, the relaxed breakfast, again near a canal, the beautiful museums and the paintings sold on the streets did compensate for it 🙂

    One tip for all those going to Amsterdam or the Netherlands in general that enjoy photography, keep an eye on the sky! It makes for amazingly beautiful photos and it sometimes changes so fast it will make your head spin 🙂

  2. ayngelina says:

    Nice round up of options, almost wants to make me go back and rediscover the city.

  3. Drew says:

    Having lived in Amsterdam, I’d like to submit some more tips for anyone who has been already and seeks a “further adventures…” list for a weekend trip.

    If you hire a bike (and everyone should!), you’ll be able to discover various regions of the city and see how different they can be. The Oud Zuid (old south) for example is very different from Bos & Lommer in the west – and it’s very easy to get to and explore the Westerdok dock area to the west of the Amsterdam Centraal railway station.. it’s all quite a recent development but backs onto some traditional houses making it a fascinating combination.

    Don’t just settle for one park! One could easily imagine Vondelpark is “the one & only” since it’s the most famous, but Beatrixpark is a truly beautiful place with more peace and an “enchanted forest” feel – whatever the season! You can also easily ride south out of the city following the Amstel river to the Amstelpark and beyond – check out the route on Google Maps and you’ll be surprised at how quickly and easily you can reach the countryside without fear of getting lost!

    The Albert Cuyp Markt in De Pijp area is just south of the Heineken Museum and is a fantastic market open Monday to Saturday – a long strip of food, fabric, clothing and souvenir stalls. From there tram 16 can take you to Cornelis Schuytstraat (off de Lairessestraat) with a selection of delis and cafes in a beautifully kept – but often overlooked – district bordering the museums and Vondelpark.

    Bike out east a little (or get tram 10 or 14) to the Het IJ brewery…
    …take a photo of the beautiful windmill and enjoy the great atmosphere at this unique bar serving its own beers.

    For a great chance to look down over the seemingly flat city centre, visit the 6th floor cafe at Metz & Co. (Leidsestraat 34-36 – close to the Leidseplein entertainment area) – it’s not cheap, but worth grabbing a nice sandwich & drink to take in the view!

    Finally, of course if it’s springtime a trip to see the tulip fields is well worthwhile – check for a wonderful place to visit just over an hour from Amsterdam.

    I hope that’s a useful addition!

  4. Timothy Dobbins says:

    After 18 trips to A’dam, my top 5 would be:
    1. Anne Frank House
    2. Van Gogh Museum
    3. Canal Cruise
    4. Stroll through the flower market
    5. Willet-Holthuysen Canal House Museum (furnished and presented as the last owners left if just before 1900)

  5. Melvin says:

    I definitely go with “have some frites”! But there is more than just frites to get! The snack shacks got many nice tasty things like frikandel. Yummy!

  6. Great list, as a local I give you two thumbs up!

  7. barry says:

    frites , frieten or fries are from belgium , in belgium you have friethouses all over the place , certainly not something unique from amsterdam

  8. Thanks for the tips. Amsterdam is on my list of “Trips I Want to Take” I’m very fascinated with all the amazing design coming out of Amsterdam. I love Marcel Wanders, and think it would be such fun to do a summer internship at Eindhoven.

  9. Hursh salha says:

    You forgot to mention have a 3some with a hooker, I did. It was magic.

  10. Very well drafted article ! I was once there in 2005 but the city has changed a lot. Might try to go there with my kids this time : P



  1. […] I had my first experience of Holland almost 2 years ago now, and it was unexpected to say the least. I had been on my way to visit friends near Düsseldorf, when a few days before my flight I decided to check out the transport from the airport to the city. I suddenly realised that what Ryan air had described as Düsseldorf was actually 60 miles away in the small town of Weeze, just outside the Dutch border. Realising I would have actually been cheaper to fly with a more expensive airline right into Düsseldorf International, I decided to make an impromptu change to my trip , and booked a coach to Utrecht, a small city about an hours drive from Amsterdam. […]

  2. […] to Barcelona. I’d heard so much about pick-pocketing, and having had my handbag stolen in Amsterdam last year I was a bit over cautious wanting to make sure I didn’t re-live the […]

  3. […] Top 5 Things To Do In Amsterdam! by Runaway Jane. […]

Leave a Reply