13 Must-Do Experiences in Amsterdam
Collected by Melissa Adams , AFAR Local Expert
Shimmering canals, world-class museums, a potpourri of cultures, an eclectic shopping scene, and a raging nightlife are just a few of Amsterdam's must-do experiences. Use your time wisely and you can experience it all. Or just roam freely, letting Amsterdam lead you through its 400-year-old grachtengordel (canal ring), lined with must-do experiences and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beyond tulips, windmills, and weed, Amsterdam's global image is entwined with water. The Canal Ring (Grachtengordel) is made up of 165 fluid channels developed during the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. In the ensuing years, the water network has...
Herengracht 386, 1016 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
During Holland's Golden Age, when spice trade with Asia and North Africa was booming, wealthy merchants built mansions along the expanding canal ring that became Amsterdam. Today the fashionable homes have been reincarnated as upscale offices,...
Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam’s State Museum reopened in 2013 after a decade of renovations, and it is oh so worth a visit! Weave your way through the museum's vast assemblage of historic art (there are over 8,000 pieces!) to check out works from Dutch masters...
Dam, 1012 JS Amsterdam, Netherlands
The central hub of downtown Amsterdam is Dam Square, and it’s been at the heart of the city’s history since the 13th century. Today, the open-air public space is ringed by shops and restaurants and packed with people, including street performers...
1071 Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beloved by locals and popular with tourists, the Vondelpark is a 120-acre oasis of green in buzzing Amsterdam, southeast of the Leidseplein. Opened in 1865 as the Nieuwe Park, it was later renamed after 17th-century Dutch playwright Joost van den...
Leidsestraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's easy to have a love-hate relationship with Leidesplein (Leidse Square), a colorful if sometimes frenetic entertainment hub near Vondelpark, at Amsterdam's southern end. Accessible via trams 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10, the square is the stage for...
Oudezijds Achterburgwal, 1012 Amsterdam, Netherlands
It's one of Amsterdam's prettiest districts, where swans glide on tree-shrouded canals and gabled mansions recall Holland's Golden Age: de Wallen, better known as the Red Light District (RLD). Since 2000, prostitutes have plied their trade here as...
Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat, 1071 Amsterdam, Netherlands
From vintage shops and hipster boutiques in the Negen Straats (Nine Streets) to posh designer outlets on P.C. Hoofstraat, Amsterdam's shopping scene is nothing if not eclectic. There's something for everyone on Kalverstraat, a shopping street that...
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 39-A, 1012 DA Amsterdam, Netherlands
In a city that prides itself on its reputation as Europe’s Sodom and Gomorrah, Koningsdag (King's Day) is the one day of the year when everyone gets f*cked-up. It's when Dutchies honor their monarch by parading down canals in festooned...
Kerkstraat 52, 1017 GM Amsterdam, Netherlands
While Europe has many gay-friendly places, Amsterdam is, by many accounts, its most gay-friendly city. With dozens of LGBT bars, restaurants, shops, nightclubs and even a few saunas and hotels catering to gays, the Dutch capital is heaven for any...
Herengracht 427, 1017 BR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Exploring Amsterdam aboard a canal boat is an iconic way to see the sights, with myriad tours and cruises plying the 65 miles of waterways that lattice the city. From many spots you can join simple, hour-long cruises with narrators describing...
Singel, 1012 XG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Since 1862, fresh flowers and plants have arrived by barge from the Dutch countryside to Amsterdam. While this assemblage of flora still shows up daily, it comes by van, not boat, to the Bloemenmarkt, the world's only floating flower market. Here,...
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