One of Europe’s cultural and gastronomy meccas, Netherland’s capital boasts a tourist experience like no other. Museums, food stalls, windmills, and tulip fields abound in Amsterdam, accessible for free compliments of the Iamsterdam City Card. If you’re looking for water action, there’s also noteworthy beaches and stunning cruises along the city’s extensive network of canals.
Check out this quintessential list of things to do in Amsterdam.
1. Delve into the world of film at the EYE Film Institute Netherlands.
Film connoiseur? A trip to the EYE Film Institute is a must. This iconic structure features 820,000 objects dedicated to cinema dating back to as early as 1895. The permanent exhibition boasts 700,000 photographs and more than 30,000 titles, including local and foreign films. Afterwards, drop by the on-site bar for sumptuous grub while enjoying a view of the IJ.
To get here, take the three-minute ferry ride from Central Station.
2. Grab a bouquet of fresh tulips at Bloemenmarkt.
Make your way to Singel and see the only floating flower market in the world: Bloemenmarkt. Since 1862, the market has been the premier source of blooms for businesses and homes in Central Amsterdam. Here, you will find 15 shops in barges offering gardening supplies, souvenirs, and of course, the Netherlands’ national flower: tulips.
3. Go on a culinary journey at De Foodhallen.
Once an abandoned tram depot, De Foodhallen or Food Hallen is now one of the hippest food and fashion hubs in Amsterdam. After its renovation, this center in Oud-West started hosting lifestyle shops and “gourmet” street food stalls, with a bar at the middle of it all. From cheese plates and desserts to tondoori, you will never run out of food to sample here. Pair it with craft beer or wine from one of the bars. There is also a library, theater, and hotel on site, plus a weekend market offering local cuisine.
4. Enjoy a cruise along the canal belt.
A visit to the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the canal belt (Grachtengordel). An acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site, the canal belt was built in the 17th century, alongside houses and bridges. Today, the streets contain some of the capital’s hottest pubs, cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops. Some of Amsterdam’s prized historical attractions also lie within the belt, including the Anne Frank House, Bloemenmarkt, and FOAM. The best way to experience these attractions is through a canal cruise, which range from hop-on-hop-off tours to romantic wine-and-dinner cruises.
5. See one of the Netherlands’ most iconic windmills.
Out of the Netherlands’ 1,200 windmills, eight are located in Amsterdam. Most notable of them is De Gooyer, a National Monument created in the 16th century. Towering 87.3 feet high, De Gooyer is the tallest of all Dutch windmills.
If you ever crave local beers, head to Brouwerij ‘t IJ (the IJ Brewery) just beneath De Gooyer. This award-winning microbrewery offers an extensive selection of brews, including IPAs, which can be enjoyed indoors or in an outdoor terrace.
6. Bask in the sun in Bloemendaal aan Zee, Zandvoort aan Zee, and Ijmuiden.
Only 30 minutes from the Central Station you will find North Holland’s pristine golden beaches. Perfectly positioned at the mouth of the IJ, windy IJmuiden is world-renowned for watersports activities including surfing, yachting, and sailing.
Nearby is Zandvort aan Zee, whose long sandy stretch hosts a plethora of resorts and bars. It is bound by undulating sand dunes that are popoular with hikers and bikers. Lakes and forests flank the sand dunes, making it an excellent site for appreciating endemic wildlife.
In the middle of Zandvoort and Ijmuiden is Bloemendaal aan Zee, which boasts a four-kilometer beach strip, including a nudist beach.
All three beaches feature cafes, restaurants, and Boho-inspired bars, should you crave a Dutch party.
7. Enjoy art, music, and vintage items at NDSM Wharf.
NDSM Wharf is a favorite destination for art, music, and bargains for tourists and locals alike. This shipyard-turned-lifestyle hub showcases an ever-growing number of restaurants, beach bars, cafes, and flea markets selling homemade delicacies and antiques – all amid a post-industrial setting. One of the more popular ones is the IJ-hallen flea market. With hundreds of vintage shops comprising it, it is touted as Europe’s biggest.
Music festivals and outdoor exhibitions are also held year-round at the wharf. If you’re visiting during the summer, head to the shore and take advantage of the free outdoor film screening, against the sound of lapping waves.
8. Take a trip back in time at Jordaan.
If you want to have a feel of an old Dutch neighborhood, Jordaan should be your go-to place. Built in the 16th century, this upscale neighborhood along the Prinsengracht canal features restored houses with centuries-old stone tablets detailing their inhabitants’ profession or family insignia. The houses are laid around quaint and narrow alleys, with beautiful inner courtyards called hofjes.
Be on the lookout for art galleries, markets, and specialty shops in the neighborhood, too!
9. Visit Anne Frank’s house.
At the tip of Jordaan, near Westerkerk sits the Netherland’s third most frequented museum: the Anne Frank House. Once the home of Jewish diarist Anne Frank, the 17th century house now stands as a biographical museum that offers an insight into the atrocities of World War II. It also contains the original hiding place that served as a refuge for Frank and her family during the war.
10. Appreciate Van Gogh’s art.
When it comes to Dutch art, there is no better place to visit than Museumplein. This 17th-century art district houses the country’s most coveted museums, including the Van Gogh Museum. On display is a thousand collections – from authentic paintings to letters – by Dutch native Vincent Van Gogh and other artists who were heavily influenced by the impressionist’s work.
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About the Blogger: Gretchen Filart is a travel writer, editor and a regular contributor at Dream Holidays Guide Blog.