Amsterdam is a great city to visit, whether it’s just for a weekend or longer. It’s a place we go back again and again because it has to many facets to explore. In this post, we’ll show you to the best of Amsterdam, so no matter how much time you have to spend there, it will be filled with fun.
Before you you plan your trip, we suggest reading up on the best time to go to Amsterdam. You can choose your best time based on the activities you most want to enjoy while you’re there, but really there isn’t just one best time to go.
Get to Know the City of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands – a huge city with more than one million inhabitants, filled with incredible architecture, museums, food and culture. It is often referred to as the Venice of the North, because of the many canals that criss-cross the city and the 1,281 bridges that can be found along those canals.
There is something for every traveler here, whether you prefer culture and history, poking around in museums, doing some serious partying, or just enjoying the relaxing charm of an old European city. There are many distinct neighborhoods (or districts) within Amsterdam. The Old Centre is perhaps the best known. It’s visited by more tourists than any other area of town. Visualistan has a very useful infographic filled with 25 Insane Facts About Amsterdam to acquaint us with the city.
When is the best time to visit? Shannon McAllister from About Travel says that “In general, most travelers visit Amsterdam between April and September, when the days are longer and temperatures are milder than during other months,” but that the weather can often be unpredictable, so any time is a good time to visit.
What to do in Amsterdam
Some of the top things on traveler’s to-do list are the Anne Frank House, exploring the canals by boat, shopping at the floating flower market, the Van Gogh Museum, the Red Light District, and the Heineken Experience. You won’t miss a thing if you check out Netherlands Tourism’s Ultimate Top 50 guide to things to do in Amsterdam. It covers a lot of ground!
See what A Cruising Couple thought were the 7 Cool Things to do in Amsterdam. But don’t be too much of a tourist or you’ll miss out on what the city is really like. Check out Amsterdamming.com’s list of 10 of Amsterdam`s most overrated activities and what to do instead.
yTravel Blog asked a local, Monique Rubin, a Netherlands resident, for her insider tips and recommendations on the best things to see and do in Amsterdam, as well as where to stay, eat and drink.
If you’re starting to get a feeling that planning what to do in Amsterdam is overwhelming, so am I. The best way to handle the overload might be to consult Nomadic Matt’s 3 Days in Amsterdam itinerary. Day one starts out with a walking tour of the city center, followed by all the other obligatory things tourists do (see above).
One of the best ways to see the city through a local’s eyes is to book a tour through Viator, who work with local guides to deliver the best experiences. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Amsterdam Evening Canal Cruise with 4-Course Dinner and Drinks
- Skip-the-Line Rijksmuseum Admission
- Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields Tour from Amsterdam
Where and What to Eat in Amsterdam
On to the most important topic… what to eat! First we need to know what foods we absolutely must try in Amsterdam. Here is an infographic of 10 Dutch foods you must try in Amsterdam. The list is long, so check out iamsterdam.com’s list of 10 places to eat the aforementioned foods. Thrillist has a list of the 8 coolest restaurants in Amsterdam so you don’t have to spend hours combing through reviews.
Amsterdam is well known for its fries (frites) served in a paper cup with curry ketchup and mayo slathered on top. The one pictured below is from a popular place called Vleminckx, but here are five more places to find the best frites in Amsterdam.
I like to visit at least one Michelin-starred restaurant in every city we go to (if possible) just to see how the high-end food scene matches up to others around the world. In Amsterdam, some choices are one-star La Rive in the Intercontinental Hotel and Restaurant Vermeer, or the two-star Ciel Bleu on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura. Check out this list of the 8 Best Restaurants in Amsterdam for more luxury dining choices.
Where to Drink in Amsterdam
First thing, we need to know how to say “Cheers!”. Spottedbylocals.com tells us that when raising a glass in Amsterdam, “the cheers for a toast is ‘Proost‘. Most of the time this is accompanied by eye contact and the clinking of glasses, usually only with beer and soft drinks. When drinking wine, the Dutch tend to say ‘Santé‘.” Now we’re prepared to find the best drinks in Amsterdam.
If you’re well traveled you probably already know that Heineken is found on tap in almost every bar in the world. It’s brewed nearby and you can join the Heineken Experience tour and tasting at the old brewery to learn more about this Dutch beer. There are other Amsterdam-based breweries that are putting out some good local brews. And here are 15 Specialty Beer Bars where you can try just about any Belgium beer you’d like.
For a wider selection of drinks, Thrillist tells us about the 8 coolest bars in Amsterdam. At House of Bols, you can learn to make your own cocktail using their liquors, or just tour the facility and allow their bartenders to mix you up something good.
Another great city to explore!
A big thanks to all the websites and blogs featured here for putting together some terrific information on the best of Amsterdam.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
Heading to Amsterdam soon? We like staying near Dam Square in central Amsterdam. It’s fun and lively, close to or within easy walking distance of many of the top attractions, and easily accessible for public transportation. Below are the hotels we recommend. You can read reviews or book directly through our affiliate links below. (We always appreciate your support by clicking through our links!)
- Banks Mansion Expedia | Trip Advisor
Radisson Blu Expedia | Trip Advisor
The Toren Expedia | Trip Advisor
De L’Europe Amsterdam Expedia | Trip Advisor
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.