Top Things To Do In Amsterdam | Complete Guide To Amsterdam

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Initially what was planned to be written in the traditional format of an itinerary changed last moment to this! Its not difficult chalking day-to-day itinerary for Amsterdam, but I figured since tourists visit Amsterdam and stay for a varying number of days, they are their best judge for picking things to do in Amsterdam that are more inclined towards their interests.

Amsterdam Canals Houses

Amsterdam – Picturesque and outright gorgeous

Amsterdam Streets Cycles Canals

Amsterdam’s Streets and Canals

Amsterdam Streets

Beautiful streets of Amsterdam during winter

Amsterdam during Winter

Should be a crime to be this surreal!

Based on the duration that’s needed for exploring something (which is mentioned in each) you can decide what to do on a particular day. Try not to stuff your days with too many activities. Stop for a coffee (or two!), observe the locals on the go, the hustle and bustle of the city and quaint little towns far away from it. Just let the feeling of a new place sink in, there is no feeling that comes close to that, its almost… liberating. Never ending queues at touristy spots that eat up your day and overstraining yourself to “see everything” are the biggest mistakes you could make while visiting a new town/country. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the one to preach “go offbeat”, “skip touristy spots/activities”. Because I like some of the touristy activities myself. Visiting tourist spots or doing conventional/must-do activities is not a crime. But wasting time on doing what everybody does is. Pick your choices well. That way the experience spikes up to another level totally.

Okay, enough with the lectures already. Lets get down to business, shall we? Winking smile

1. Walking Tours (Free)

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam Centraal Station

national monument dam square walking tours

Walking tours near Dam Square

Here’s how  free walking tours work in Amsterdam. There are loads of tour operators that take you on free walking tours where the guides are locals who mostly freelance for these tour operators. The guide and the group, which is usually of the size ranging from 10-30, move from place to place or street to street, learning about Amsterdam on the way. The tour lasts for about 2.5-3 hours. If you are happy with the tour and the guide, you tip them (even otherwise, its advised to tip them a nominal amount as they are not full-time employees and some of the tour operators don’t even pay them). This is one of the best ways to explore the city. Exploring places clueless-ly, not knowing about the history, city and its people, is equivalent to not doing it at all (unless of course if you know the history quite a bit already).

Like I mentioned at the beginning, there are many tour operators. I went along with the one called as SANDEMANs. They had the most reviews on Tripadvisor. The average group sizes were 30, which is quite a lot as you will not get to talk to your guide as much as you would like to. But the tour as a whole was quite good. Our guide, Robbert (Yes, with a double ‘b’), was humorous and entertaining even while he told some of the regular-plain-old facts about the city. He covered a lot during the span of 3 hours.

Some of the other tour operators are FreeDam tours, That Dam Guide, City Free Tour Amsterdam and many more. For some more, check out the top 10 free walking tours in Amsterdam.

Note: There are walking tours that charge ahead as well. If you are interested, you could go for those directly. If you are particular about going for these free walking tours then specifically search for the “free” tours only. You can crosscheck user reviews on a site such as Tripadvisor as well. The meeting point will be mentioned in your confirmation mail (I advise to book ahead, either online or via call).

Entrance Fee: Tipping system
Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours

2. Canal Tours

Similar to the walking tours but here your physical effort is spent less (you still pay though). But this is one of the beautiful ways to explore the city that Amsterdam is – surrounded by beautiful alluring canals. This is one of the top tourist activities to do in Amsterdam. People miss on walking tours but not canal tours Open-mouthed smile There are wide varieties available as well, dinner cruises, basic tours that start from EUR 9 that cover main canals and places or you could opt for a pricier private canal tour as well. This is the best option as you would get to speak to your guide and get to know lot more than just pre-recorded audio tours. Plus, exploring Amsterdam via its canals on a private boat is soul-satisfying for sure.

Canal Tours in Amsterdam

Canal Tours

Entrance Fee: Starting from €9
Duration: Starting from 1 hour

3. Van Gogh Museum

Honestly, I didn’t think I would enjoy Van Gogh Museum as much as I did as am not someone who is into art and hence do not understand the basics most of the times (while people gawk on an abstract painting for hours, I wonder why they are). But Van Gogh museum was a first-time for me (and the best so far Smile with tongue out). Even if you don’t know a thing about Van Gogh, just head out here without thinking twice. Every event since his birth is laid out in the form of stories in storeys Winking smile

Note: Van Gogh Museum is located in a street called Museumplein and as the name of the street suggests there are plenty of other museums as well. Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum are located within mere meters of Van Gogh Museum. So if you are a museum junkie, reserve your entire day (or two) just for Museumplein. The very famous Vondelpark is very nearby to Museumplein as well.

Entrance fee: €17
Duration: Min 2 hours

4. Rijksmuseum

This is again an art and history museum displaying the masterpieces of many, many world renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer to name a few. Rijksmuseum was the most visited museum in Netherlands in the year of 2013 and 2014. It is also by far the largest art museum in Netherlands.

Entrance fee: €17.50
Duration: Min 2 hours

5. Anne Frank’s House

Be prepared with tissues here. Its gonna get truly emotional. This is a Holocaust memorial in the name of a girl called Anne Frank right near the city center of Amsterdam. Anne Frank was a Jewish teenage girl who went into hiding at this house with her family for over 2 years. Imagine being voluntarily prisoned in a house that’s probably big enough for 2-3 people, but forced to live with 8. Now, imagine all these as if you were a 14 year old teenage girl (and that too with a truly liberal mindset). How can a 14 year old comprehend the extremities of war and its prolonged effects? Turns out, a lot! And you know what? Even during the hopeless life she was leading, she still held high hopes for humanity. That humans still have great potential to love one another. And in the end when you see Otto Frank (Anne’s father) talk about her daughter, her diary and her profound thoughts that baffled him after he read it, that is where it will hit you hard. Everybody who has spoken in the documentaries about Frank here, have talked about the catastrophic repercussions of holding a discriminatory mindset. Out of 1,40,000 odd Jews who were living peacefully in Holland, only less than 5,000 made out of the Holocaust alive. That’s a staggering number of innocent human lives lost, that too over a small, petty mindset. Those who did survive the war, were left with nothing. No family, no house and no job. Their pain never ceased despite the end of the war. This place is a reflection to the extent to which humans have gone to show their cruelty.

Tip: If you are sure about going to Amsterdam AND Anne Frank’s House, book the tickets to the museum as soon as you book your flight tickets. I’m not kidding! If it was as booked and crowded as it was during the peak winter season when I visited, I shudder to think how it will be during spring and summer.

Entrance fee: €9
Duration
: Min 2.5 hours (if you have booked, otherwise add many more)

6. Jordaan Area (suburb)

This quiet suburb area of Amsterdam called as Jordaan is where most of the local merchants settled down after a rich and extravagant life they lead long time ago. This suburb is across a canal beside Anne Frank House. Like I mentioned its a quite suburb and hence plenty of chances to meet a local to have your own experience of “talking with the locals”. Its also a very nice place for a laid-back-3-hour-lunch and a peaceful walk beside the canal.

Duration: 2-3 hours

7. Tulip Museum

With show of hands, let me know who else conjures up images of Tulips (and Windmills) when they think about Amsterdam? The mind-boggling fact is that Tulips weren’t even grown in this part of the world few centuries ago. How did they appear so much and so fast? (well, probably not so fast). The sailors those days brought back precious shrubs, herbs, plants and spices from India, Indonesia and other countries from their voyages. The tulip seeds were something that they brought from Indonesia.

The Tulip museum provides full information on the above mentioned one-line tale of the appearances of tulips in Amsterdam. You do have a gift-shop just like in other museums, if you would like to purchase something. Another tulip-related must-visit? Head to Keukenhof Gardens just outside Amsterdam if you are lucky enough to be in Amsterdam during summer.

Entrance fee: €5
Duration
: 1 hour

8. Amsterdam History Museum

Another must-do. We know about the Holocaust, we know about the tulips, we know about the cannabis and prostitution. What else do we know about Amsterdam? If you still get this question, head over to this museum near the bustling Red Light district of Amsterdam. Amsterdam History Museum describes exactly as its name says; the history of Amsterdam. This everything-from-nothing city has a staggering past. The past that makes you look into the streets of Amsterdam in a whole new way the next time you walk in one.

When you come out, you have whole of a shopping street to go crazy! Winking smile

The Amsterdam Museum

The Amsterdam Museum

Entrance Fee: €12,50
Duration: 2-3 hours

9. Red Light District

Need I say more? I could just skip this section entirely but let me sum it up for those who might not have heard about this side of Amsterdam. Amsterdam legalized prostitution in 2000, but the district has held its place from decades before that. During morning you might not find any difference between the streets of Red Light district and other streets of Amsterdam. But during the night is when the street transforms itself with brightly lit stalls, shops, restaurants and not to mention gawking drunk crowd and also curious tourists usually in large tour groups.

Now, some facts, dos and don’ts about Red Light District:

  • Just beside the Red Light District is the oldest church of Amsterdam called De Oude Kerk built during 1200s. Its crazy to see a church, a religious entity and numerous red/blue lit glass-doors lined up just beside that. Liberal is another name of Amsterdam after all.
  • Red Light District is right beside the Amsterdam Centraal! Approximately a 10 minute walk (or less).
  • Prostitution was legalized in 2000. From then all these girls are treated just like any other workers in Amsterdam. They have health insurance and they pay tax as well.
  • You are not allowed to take pictures of the girls here. If you are caught, lets just say you will be in lot more trouble.
  • If you misbehave with any of these girls, they have the facility to call-up the police with the help of a single button. If police show up first, you are in relatively good hands. Otherwise, the private security might get to you and god knows where and how you will end up Smile with tongue out

Duration: 0.5 hour (just to walk around. If you have lunch/dinner plans, add some more).

10. FOAM (Photography Museum)

FOAM was bit of a let down for me. I honestly expected to see lot more photographs. Either that or I didn’t like the exhibition that was put up there when I visited. There was too much macro photography, too much, nothing about the art in itself. Some were too abstract as well, with very little descriptions. If you have time do go through the numerous journals they have in a small library on the first floor, please do. Because I didn’t Open-mouthed smile

Entrance Fee: €10
Duration: 1 hour

11. Jewish Historical Museum

Jewish Historical Museum is located at the Jewish Quarter within walking distance (approx 1.5kms, or 5 mins in Tram) from the Amsterdam Centraal. The museum is the only one in Amsterdam that focuses on Judaism, the religion, culture, customs, the reasons associated with it, the elite Jewish families that lived in the past, personal stories and the persecution of Jews in the World War II. The ticket includes the entrance to 2 other Synagogues. If you are planning to visit all, make sure you reserve 4-6 hours.

Jewish Historical Museum Amsterdam

Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam

Entrance Fee: €12
Duration: 2 hours (add more if you are interested visit all the exhibits in the Jewish Quarter).

12. Oosterpark (suburb)

Welcome to the first large public park built by the municipality in Amsterdam. This park usually attracts culturally diverse crowd. This park has huge green trees, ponds, streams, wading pools for kids and even a monumental ‘stone’ symbolizing free speech, where people speak their minds every Sunday.

Entrance Fee: Free
Duration: Go nuts!

13. Our Lord In The Attic | Museum Amsterlkring

This museum will surely surprise everyone with its unique structure.To put it bluntly, the attic of a house conceals a Catholic church below (which shockingly received many enthusiast followers). This is the second oldest museum in Amsterdam and was built in 1600s. During the 17th century, Catholics were officially forbidden to go to churches and hence this church was concealed in a way that wouldn’t look like a church from the outside. Apparently the Amsterdam municipal also turned a blind eye towards this, as long as it wasn’t too obvious from the outside.

Let the church reveal the oldest paintings, artifacts, splendid art work through narrow passageways and stairways and take you back in time.

Entrance Fee: €10
Duration: 1-2 hours

14. Museum Van Loon

From the outside, this is just another typical Dutch house. But as soon as you enter, you will know that this house certainly belonged to an elite family in Amsterdam. It sure did. This house belonged to the Van Loon family since the 17th century. Van Loon, sounds familiar eh? Time to revisit history books. The Van Loons were the founders of the Dutch East India company. The house exhibits the rich, elegant, vintage, patrician interior designing with paintings, furniture and other decorative objects. Its a traditional Dutch canal house with a coach house behind and a garden. The extravagant interiors is surely gonna add colors to a dull and cold afternoon in Amsterdam, like it did mine Winking smile

Entrance Fee: €9
Duration: 1 hour

15. Vondelpark

The largest park in Amsterdam and the most visited park in Netherlands. This park is very famous among tourists and locals alike. On any day, including cold and snowy days, you can see the locals strolling, jogging, dog-walking, cycling etc.You’d be shocked to see how dedicated they are towards fitness, even on dull days. Its truly inspirational. Being extremely near to Museumplein, you can catch a break here from all the museum-exploration. The park is very well maintained and clean.

Entrance Fee: Free
Duration: 1-2 hours

16. Heineken Experience

One of the top touristy things to do in Amsterdam is going on a Heineken Experience Tour in one of the former Heineken breweries near Amsterdam Centraal. I skipped it, as it wasn’t a functional brewery. The ticket includes 2 beers and a thorough guide to beer brewing, with entry to several other exhibits such as old photographs, brass beer tanks etc. After the guided tour and the exhibition, you will surely get to know a lot about the worldwide pioneer beer company.

Note: Minors (below the age of 18) are allowed but with an adult. Also, minors are not served any alcoholic beverages by Dutch law.

Entrance Fee: €18
Duration: 2 hours

17. Waterlooplein Flea Market

Flea markets are a thing in Amsterdam. There are 4 major flea markets in Amsterdam and Waterlooplein is one of those. Waterlooplein Market is the oldest flea market in Amsterdam located behind the Red Light District and very near to Rembrandt House. Apart from new and used clothing, you will find many antique items. I especially liked the vintage storage boxes that one of the stalls was selling. They were as low as €3.

Waterlooplein Flea Market Amsterdam

Exploring Waterlooplein Flea Market

Note: It is closed on Sundays.

18. Amsterdam-Noord

Hey you adventurers, made the mistake of ignoring you throughout the post, didn’t I? Let me make it up to you. Amsterdam-Noord aka North of Amsterdam is separated from the rest of the Amsterdam by IJ Lake. This side boasts of vast green spaces, charming cute little villages, some of the well known museums, world known festivals, waterside restaurants and hangouts.

A must visit amongst these, for you my adventure lover, is A’DAM Tower. Widely known as A’DAM Lookout (short for Amsterdam Lookout, nice abbreviation after all, eh? Winking smile), this building’s terrace would be much more of interest to you because this is where you will get to absorb 360 degree jaw-dropping views of Amsterdam like a black hole. Not only that, you will also get to SWING above it Winking smile

A’dam Lookout boasts an “Over The Edge” swing that is sensational in every way. ‘Over The Edge’ is Europe’s highest swing perched over 100 meters high. We went on a freezing, rainy evening and swung over the cloudy, brightly-lit, beautiful in everyway that is Amsterdam. Say hello to adrenaline blissfully! Open-mouthed smile

Hungry after the little adventure? Head to Restaurant Moon on the 19th floor of the same building that will not fail to offer an unforgettable dinner with spectacular panoramic views of Amsterdam with IJ lake in near view. Probably a wonderful place to watch the ‘golden hour’ as the day slowly transforms to dusk. You could also head to Madam Amsterdam that is right below the terrace which offers the same view with a laid back bar, a perfect place to hang out with buddies after a long day.

Entrance Fee: €12.50 (for building entrance) + €5 for the swing ride
Duration: 1-2 hours (more if you plan for dinner)

 

19. Amsterdam Library

You will easily miss this building if your gaze is locked on the big blue-green, enormous, ship-like building far ahead (which is, to bust your curiosity, Nemo Science Museum). Book and music junkies are surely gonna spend much more time than I did. You can spend hours listening to and exploring music. But why I went there in the first place was the panoramic view it had to offer of the Amsterdam port from the top floor (7th floor) of the building. But unfortunately it was closed as the weather wasn’t in favor that day (so do not expect this to be open in winter/windy days). There is cafe right on the same floor where you can enjoy a hot beverage on a subpar inhuman temperature outside Smile

Amsterdam Library

Amsterdam Library

Nemo Science Museum from the Top of Amsterdam Library

Nemo Science Museum from the Top of Amsterdam Library

Entrance Fee: Free
Duration: 1 hour (more if you want to explore the library)

 

21. Royal Amsterdam Palace & Dam Square

Situated right near the heart of Amsterdam, which is the Dam Square, is The Royal Amsterdam Palace. This palace served as the city hall for the magistrates of Amsterdam. During the 17th century this was the largest secular building in Europe. This palace is a mere 5 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal station (you could also take a Tram from Centraal).

You can opt for a guided tour in groups (paid and need to be booked in advance). The palace is open throughout the year with exceptions to Mondays and royal events. Kindly check their website for the same.

Royal Palace Amsterdam Dam Square

Royal Palace at Dam Square

Dam Square - You can spend almost a day here!

Dam Square Amsterdam

Once you are done with the palace, whole of the Dam Square would be waiting for you with open arms. Shops and malls such as Gucci, De Bijenkorf, Magna Plaza, H&M and even Primark are surely gonna lure you in even during your utmost sobriety. So if you are on a budget travel here, leave your cards at your Hotel Smile with tongue out

Entrance Fee: €10
Duration: 1-2 hours + 3-4 hours to explore Dam Square

22. Stay in a Houseboat

This is one of the lesser done things by most of the tourists in Amsterdam. Houseboats were a way to deal with the shortage of housing facilities in Amsterdam but now offer a very unique experience for every visitor. You can find these houseboats in the main canals of Amsterdam or near the docks. Its a perfect romantic way to surprise your loved one. You can even hire this for the entire duration of your stay.

For Indians, especially those who are from Kerala or Kashmir or the likes, are well aware about HouseBoats. Yet, cruising through the calm and dreamy canals of Amstel River is something to do if you want a peaceful time away from the hustle and bustle of the urban crowd!

Here are some of the houseboat rentals in Amsterdam. There are loads of AirBnB options as well, through which you could book a houseboat that is ideal for you based on your budget, location, number of days etc. If you are going to book it through AirBnB, consider booking through the this link. I will get a small credit for referring you which you can do the same by referring someone else!

23. Visit Windmills

Who doesn’t think of windmills when the name ‘Netherlands’ pops up? Windmills were and still are an integral part of the Dutch landscape. Though drastically reduced in the recent past, there are still few windmills around Amsterdam that provides a time travel experience to its visitors.

Here are the two windmills in and around Amsterdam that you can visit together in a day.

Molen van Sloten – the only mill open to visitors in Amsterdam (it is a reconstructed one). The only surviving windmill within the city limits of Amsterdam is De Otter, which is unfortunately not open for visitors.

Zaanse Schans – 15 minute by train from Amsterdam takes you to a completely different windmill village altogether called Zaandam. The houses, windmills and every other major architecture in Zaandam was moved from another nearby village, to preserve its historic properties. Imagine, entire buildings moved in one piece! Zaanse Schans has working windmills which allow visitors to go up. This is also a perfect place for souvenir/gift shopping. Also, don’t forget to click a picture in those huge clogs Winking smile

Zaanse Schans Windmill Village

Zaanse Schans – A Windmill Village

Zaanse Schans Windmills Lake House

Windmills, Quaint little houses, Frozen Lakes – Do you want any more than that?

Zaanse Schans from the top of a windmill

Zaanse Schans from the top of a windmill

Zaanse Schans Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

On the way to Zaanse Schans - Kids

Met these kids on the way

24. Keukenhof Gardens

Keukenhof hosts the largest flower garden in the world with 32 hectares of bright colored tulips happily frolicking during the months of March and May. This is a seasonal activity to do in Amsterdam and the one not to be missed. How often do you get to visit such a place which is taken straight out of a dreamy fictional book? Also called as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof opened in 1950 and attracts thousands of tourists during the peak blooming season. It is approximately an hour away from the Amsterdam Centraal and easily accessible by a train/bus ride away from either Schipol Airport or Haarlem.

Entrance Fee: €16
Duration: 2-3 hours

 

25. Magere Brug

Also known as the Skinny Bridge, Magere Brug over the river Amstel was extremely narrow once upon a time. So narrow that 2 pedestrians couldn’t walk past each other. Talk about pedestrian one-way bridges, eh? A wider bridge replaced the skinny one in 1871. This is one of the most romantic bridges in Amsterdam due to the beautiful lighting as thousands of lights illuminate it at night. There is yet another reason why this bridge is famous, legend has it that any couple who kisses on this bridge will be in love forever Winking smile

Magere Brug

Magere Brug

Magere Brug Amsterdam

Magere Brug Amsterdam

Duration: 0.5 hours

26. Wertheimpark

Wertheimpark is the oldest park in Amsterdam, which was open to public in 1812. The park is named after a Jewish banker A.C.Wertheim. There is a small entrance from the main road that leads to the park inside. This park is rather small compared to other bigger parks in Amsterdam such as Vondelpark, but large enough for a stroll in the evening or morning with pets or a jog.

You can also find the Auschwitz Monument in this park which is made up of broken mirrors on the ground facing the sky. It was created by a Dutch writer and artist Jan Wolkers in the memory of the victims of The Holocaust who were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The glass tombstone above the monument reads “Never Again Auschwitz” in Dutch. An urn with ashes from the crematoria of Auschwitz camp is placed under the monument. A memorial service is held here every year on the last Sunday of January.

The quote beside the monument written by the creator himself says,

“You look up at the sky and can’t understand how that firmament could have stretched so serenely and indifferently above such horror, as though it were nothing but a field of flowers. And in a vision of justice, you see cracks appearing in that impassive blueness, as if the atrocities committed on the earth below her have violated eternity forever.”

The set of broken mirrors not only reminds us of the past but warns us as well, that it can happen once again.This monument is another stark reminder of the horror of the slaughtering of the Jews. The heaven is indeed broken and can never heal itself for eternity.

Holocaust Memorial at Wertheimpark Amsterdam

Holocaust Memorial at Wertheimpark Amsterdam

Walks along the lanes in Wertheimpark

Walks along the lanes in Wertheimpark

Entrance Fee: Free
Duration: 1-1.5 hours

27. NEMO Science Museum

Time to turn into kids 😉 Do not miss going there if you are there in Amsterdam as a family and your kids are dying to have some fun. You can also learn some subtle science facts as well as mind boggling concepts! Each floor is dedicated towards different areas of science, so make sure you see them all!

And the bonus for adults for keeping up with the kids for so long (I doubt, because there are more chances of you getting lost here in the world of science than your kid), you will be rewarded generously with the wonderful view of Amsterdam from the top most floor! The cold wind and a cuppa coffee was enough to recharge me to literally run towards next destination even during the coldest week of Feb.

Nemo Science Museum

Nemo Science Museum

Nemo Science Museum Bridge

“Are we there yet?”

Nemo Science Museum Bridge 2

“Almost, sweetheart”

Entrance Fee: €16.50
Duration: 2-3 hours

28. Visit quiet towns near Amsterdam

There are umpteen quieter towns near Amsterdam that transforms you to a completely different era by giving you Older Western Europe vibes. Visit towns such as Haarlem, Delft, Rotterdam etc on day trips. All these towns are well connected from Amsterdam Centraal. Need some peaceful and quiet time with family? Head towards these destinations and I can guarantee you that you will get one.

Haarlem Square

Haarlem Square – A sweet stranger just asked for a picture!

Haarlem Square

Haarlem Square – the way a photographer sees it 😉

Haarlem Square - 3

Beauty that is Haarlem <3

Haarlem Square

Peaceful, ain’t it?

Haarlem Park Exploration

Exploring the quaint Haarlem Park

Haarlem Park Inside

Beauty inside Haarlem Park!

Beautiful Haarlem Park

Postcard picture from Haarlem!

Where to stay in Amsterdam?

Now its time to address the elephant in the room. You might ask,

“Fine with all the wonderful places to explore in Amsterdam, woman. But Amsterdam is such an expensive city to explore, where on the face of this Dutch beauty do you expect us to stay AND be merciful on our pockets?”. Okay that was a bit dramatic, but hey, its my imagination Winking smile

I will split this section into two halves, one for those who can afford or always opt for luxury stays and second for those who prefer budget accommodations. The bonus section is the one where I suggest unique stays in Amsterdam Winking smile

View from our room in Amsterdam city

View from our room in Amsterdam city

Luxury hotels in Amsterdam

1. NH Carlton Amsterdam

2. DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station

3. Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam

4. Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Centre

5. NH Amsterdam Caransa

6. Ambassade Hotel

Budget hotels in Amsterdam

1. Zaanse Hotel

2. Dutchies Hostel

3. Hostelle – female only hostel

4. Budget Hotel Bargain Toko

5. West Side Inn Amsterdam

6. Campanile Hotel & Restaurant Amsterdam Zuid-Oost

Unique hotels/stays in Amsterdam

Apart from the houseboats I mentioned above, here are some of the few extremely unique stays that will knock your socks off! You are welcome in advance Smile with tongue out

1. Crane Hotel Faralda (Yes, its on a crane Smile with tongue out)

2. Pulitzer Amsterdam (Remember Ocean’s 12? That was show here. This is in one of the 1000 places to see before you die list!)

3. Amstel Botel (A former shipyard sailing on the IJ river. Need I say more? Wish you a nautical night Winking smile)

4. The Student Hotel Amsterdam City (Hang out with the younger lads to feel younger. You will feel you haven’t aged a day older Open-mouthed smile)

 

Tips to explore Amsterdam:

  • Buy & make the best use of Iamsterdam card. You will save a lot, unless you are hardly visiting one or two places a day. This card is for hardcore explorers. Lots of attractions are free and you get unlimited access to local transport system (run by GVB – trams, buses and boats) as well.
  • If you are here for longer than 3-4 months and you can’t get enough of these museums, buy a Museumkaart. Its a museum card that gives you free entry to all the museums in Netherlands (which is about 400 in number!). Apparently, you could go for multiple visits as well! Though I need to check this fact. Check out other available Amsterdam discount cards here.
  • Accommodations near Amsterdam Centraal can get quite expensive during peak seasons (and even shoulder/of-seasons). So pick a place that is nearer to Centraal and use trains or trams. This is THE BEST tip for you. We stayed in Sloterdijk which was hardly 5 minutes away from Centraal.
  • Iamsterdam card only provides you access to the local transport in Amsterdam, not the Intercity trains that go by the name Sprinter. So, if you are planning to visit multiple places or stay far away from the Centraal and need to visit it every single day, buy an OV-Chipkaart. You can either get a prepaid card and keep refilling the credits or have it on auto-reloading, which deducts the money from your debit/credit/forex card directly. You could also opt for a disposable card which is for limited number of uses. Visit any of the help centers near you.
  • If you are not interested to invest in OV-Chipkaart and if you need to travel only handful number of times, you can opt to buy ticket manually in the ticket machines placed at every train station. Just ask someone from the help center if you are not able to follow the instructions (or go to the ticket counter directly).
  • No matter which time of the year you visit Amsterdam, carry raincoat/umbrella, warm clothes and comfy sneakers/boots (not heels). Weather is the top most unpredictable thing in Amsterdam and the locals have made complete peace with it. Also, Amsterdam’s street pavements are made of cobbled stones. So those heels are really gonna give you painful struts after a few hours of strolling in Amsterdam (walking around is common as most Dutch cities are small and extremely walkable).
  • Instead of carrying a lot of cash, carry a multi-currency card from your home country such as Forex and keep only small amount of cash for emergencies or local spends (I recommend EUR 100). These cards let you pay the exact amount and you could easily avoid situations such as these while getting back home, where you won’t have a clue what to do with the heaps of change left Smile with tongue out FYI, you could withdraw money from these Forex cards as well. This way you avoid credit card transactional charges from your bank AND also avoid the risk and pain of carrying & maintaining cash!
  • Planning to get to other cities/countries from Amsterdam by Train or Bus? Book in advance. Bus tickets could get as low as EUR 10 (for example, from Amsterdam to Brussels/Bruges!) if you book ahead of time. Trains are a little bit expensive but some offer you fastest transport time, so pick your choices well. Trams are the best for intra-city exploration.

 

PHEW. There. A whopping 5000+ word Amsterdam guide exclusively for YOU! Bookmark this and you will never need another guide for places in Amsterdam. Amsterdam series post will continue till I cover most of the topics. Until then, follow us on Instagram to know more about our upcoming travels and spectacular pictures!

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Anuradha

A techie by profession and an ardent traveler & reader by passion. Wife to an equally travel-bug-bitten husband. Together finding solace in traveling.

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2 thoughts on “Top Things To Do In Amsterdam | Complete Guide To Amsterdam

  1. Katie

    I have heard so many great things about the Heineken Experience! Definitely would love to visit just for that! But would love to see the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Franks house! thanks for sharing, this will be so helpful when we do get to Amsterdam!

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