Whether you’ve got 48 hours or 4 weeks, you’ll never be short of things to do in Amsterdam. Good things come in small packages — and this compact European city punches well above its weight when it comes to history, culture, food, nightlife, and more. Wondering where to start? Here are 10 Amsterdam experiences you can’t miss.
1. Uncover shades of light and dark in the city’s past
Start your Amsterdam sightseeing on a somber note with a World War II walking tour. Taking in the Anne Frank House, the old Jewish quarter, and the Auschwitz Monument with an informed local guide will give you a snapshot of the city’s recent history and introduce you to the inspiring story of Anne Frank herself.
2. Say “Cheers!” to the Heineken Experience
The Netherlands is the homeland of Heineken, the self-proclaimed “world’s favorite beer.” Among all the Amsterdam attractions on offer, the Heineken Experience should be top of the list for every beer-lover. You’ll learn all about how the iconic beverage is brewed and bottled, and even pick up a few pointers on how to pull the perfect pint yourself!
3. Set your trip to cruise control
Sightseeing (while fun) can be hectic. Why dash from one landmark to the next when you could sit back and relax? A city canal cruise is the perfect way to soak in all the sights that Amsterdam has to offer, from the historical Golden Bend to ultra-modern Overhoeks.
4. See iconic paintings with fresh eyes
We all know a famous painting when we see one (on posters, t-shirts, and tote bags). That’s one thing. It’s another to come face to face with the work of a master. Get up close and personal with Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”and many more famous works at the world-class Van Gogh Museum.
5. Score yourself a stadium tour
Whether you’re an Ajax superfan or you simply love football, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Johan Cruijff Stadium is sure to be a winner. Get VIP access to areas normally off-limits to the public, including locker rooms, the dugout, and the pitch.
6. Have a royal time
You’ll feel positively regal as you stroll the halls and sumptuous grounds of Amsterdam’s Royal Palace. Lining up is for commoners, so make sure you sail past the waiting crowds with a skip-the-line ticket. Don’t leave without admiring the impressive royal art collection, featuring some of the Dutch masters.
7. Explore the picture-perfect countryside
Cheese, clogs, windmills — you’ll have a decidedly Dutch time when you make a day trip from Amsterdam to the surrounding countryside. Head to see traditional Dutch windmills at Zaanse Schans, enjoy a spot of cheese-tasting in Edam, and take a step back in time in the quaint fishing village of the Marken.
8. Get a new perspective on pot
Forget what you’ve heard about Amsterdam coffee shops: they’re not grungy hangouts filled with haze, but a central part of the city’s thriving culture. Learn about the role ganja plays in the life of a city with a knowledgeable local guide who’ll give you an insider’s perspective on cannabis culture.
9. Go to heaven for flower-lovers
If you’re a bloom-aficionado, you’ve probably already heard of Keukenhof Gardens. Just outside of Amsterdam, this sprawling complex blossoms into life every spring, with fields of tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils. Skip-the-line at the park’s entrance and get straight to frolicking in this floral wonderland!
10. Enjoy world-class art
Vermeer, Rubens, Rembrandt…you’ll find all these renowned painters and more in the epic Rijksmuseum. Modernists like Mondrian aren’t neglected either! And the grand museum is, itself, a work of art, designed in glorious 18th-century style. Needless to say, it’s popular among art-loving travelers and locals alike, so skip the line with priority entrance.