14 things to do in Amsterdam and event guide for 2020
Do as the locals do in Amsterdam and see the sights in what is bound to be a great holiday.
You won't find a shortage of things to do in Amsterdam: from cultural and education museums to exploring the infamous Red Light District, there's bound to be something to pique your interest. Try the tastes of the local coffee shops and add cruising on the canals to your must-do list.
All in all, Amsterdam is a city filled with activities to keep you busy during your holiday in the Dutch capital.
Discover the world of Anne Frank
Anne Frank House is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam. It's best to book in advance to ensure you can secure a time to visit. After visiting Anne Frank's House, dig deeper with a guided walking tour around Amsterdam. Your expert guide will share stories about Anne's love of writing, her living conditions in the annex and her father's life after the war.
- Pocket-friendly option: The Anne Frank Story and Neighbourhood Walking Tour
- The ultimate experience: Life of Anne Frank Walking Tour
Cruise the canals
The Amsterdam canal system is a World Heritage site, so jump on board a river cruise and find yourself gliding past mansions that date back to the Golden Age. Explore the city at a relaxed pace and take in views of the historical buildings and bridges that combine the old and new parts of Amsterdam. A day cruise gives you the best views of your surroundings, whereas a night cruise with sparking views is perfect for a date night.
Explore Amsterdam's infamous coffee shops
If there's one thing that Amsterdam is known for besides its canals and bikes, it's the coffee shops that inconspicuously fill the streets. Take a tour to understand the coffee shop culture with a local guide who will tell you about its history and legalisation, where you can find the best coffee shops and the dos and don'ts of visiting a coffee shop as a tourist.
- Pocket-friendly option: Cultural Ganja Walking Tour of Selected Coffee Shops
- The ultimate experience: Two-Hour Coffee Shop Cultural Tour
Walk the streets of the Red Light District
The Wallen is the oldest part of Amsterdam and is home to the Red Light District where brothels, peep shows, sex shops and prostitutes in windows are seen. It's a must-visit to experience the upbeat nightlife. A local guide can show you the best spots during an evening tour so you don't miss a thing.
Enjoy a Heineken experience
Amsterdam is the birth place of Heineken, so it's only right that you visit the factory that produced the beer until 1988. Enjoy a self-guided tour at your own pace and enjoy the interactive experience of learning about how the beer was produced, watch old TV advertisements. draft your own Heineken beer and enjoy a Heineken tasting session.
Visit Dutch windmills
Understand Dutch culture and history with a day trip that will transport you from Amsterdam to the Dutch countryside. See working windmills up close, explore traditional fishing villages including Volendam, taste pure Dutch-style cheese in Edam and watch a traditional clog-maker carve the famous Dutch wooden shoes.
- Pocket-friendly option: Volendam, Edam and Zaanse Schans Windmill Village Day Tour from Amsterdam
- The ultimate experience: Countryside and Windmills Tour from Amsterdam
Stroll through the streets of Amsterdam with a bike tour
Experience Amsterdam like a local with a guided bike tour around the city. Amsterdam is the most bike-friendly city in the world and bikes are the most popular mode of transport. Choose between a city or countryside bike tour and visit landmarks including Westerkerk Church and the Red Light District in the city or villages and pristine waterways in the countryside.
Catch a game at Amsterdam ArenA
Amsterdam ArenA is the home of Ajax Football Club and is where the Dutch National Team hosts international football games. The venue also holds concerts and dance festivals like AMF Amsterdam. Get behind-the-scenes access to the stadium with a guided tour that will take you into the dressing room of Ajax when it is not being used for training or game days.
- Pocket-friendly option: Johan Cruijff ArenaA Stadium Tour
- The ultimate experience: Johan Cruijff ArenaA Stadium Tour and Canal Cruise
Experience Amsterdam's nightlife
There's no shortage of entertainment in Amsterdam. Discover Amsterdam's bar scene or dance the night away at the electric nightclubs situated around the city including popular spaces like No. 129, Club Paradiso and Club Amsterdamned.
Step into the Amsterdam Dungeon
Prepare for a night of entertainment and history as you explore the Amsterdam Dungeon. With 11 shows and a live performance, you'll learn about the dark ages of torture and disease, plus the origin of the Grim Reaper. Enjoy the experience as live actors play out the events of history as you move through time.
- Pocket-friendly option: Amsterdam Dungeon Entrance Ticket
- The ultimate experience: Madame Tussauds and Amsterdam Dungeon Combo Ticket
Explore the city lights with a night tour
Discover Amsterdam after dark with a night tour that will explore the Golden Age of the city with a guide. You will pass popular landmarks illuminated by light including Oude Kerk and the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. A night walking tour is the perfect way to end the day if bars and clubs aren't your scene.
- Our top pick: Amsterdam Untold Guided Walking Tour
Stroll through Amsterdam with a free walking tour
Free walking tours depart at 11:15 am and 1:15 pm from the National Monument on Dam Square. It's the best way to get your bearings, explore the canals that fill the streets and find out interesting facts about Amsterdam.
Visit the fragrant floating flower market
For a unique experience, head to Amsterdam's floating flower market that is set up on houseboats. You will find a selection of seasonal flowers throughout the year including tulips and geraniums. If you're heading to Amsterdam in December, make sure to check out the Christmas trees that the markets display.
Experience a live concert
Every week outside of July and August, you can enjoy a free concert that takes places in the middle of the day in The Royal Concertgebouw. These concerts are a hit with both locals and tourists, so make sure you arrive with plenty of time spare to snap up tickets. The concerts go for approximately 30 minutes and you can expect to hear classical music with occasional modern repertoire.
Things to do in Amsterdam in summer
- Red Light Jazz Festival
- Milkshake Festival
- Amsterdam Gay Pride Festival
Things to do in Amsterdam in winter
- National Tulip Day
- Christmas Markets
- Amsterdam Light Festival
Things to do in Amsterdam in autumn
- King's Day
- Imagine Film Festival
- CinemAsia Film Festival
Things to do in Amsterdam in spring
- AMF Amsterdam
- Afrovibes Festival
- International Storytelling Festival
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