You are currently viewing The Best Things to do in Amsterdam, and which tourist traps to avoid

Pack your bags and buckle up for a thrilling ride through Amsterdam, the city where centuries-old canals rub shoulders with cutting-edge art, and where the aroma of freshly-baked stroopwafels dances through the air as cyclists whizz by. We’re about to venture beyond the usual tourist traps to unearth the real treasures of this enchanting Dutch capital. From cycling like a true Amsterdammer to discovering hidden gems in art and beer, we’ve got you covered. Oh, and don’t forget the two so-called ‘hotspots’ you’d be wiser to sidestep. Ready to delve into the heart of Amsterdam? Let’s go!

1. Embrace the Cycling Culture 🚲

Known as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, Amsterdam’s cycling culture is more than a means of transport—it’s a way of life. A staggering 77% of Amsterdam local prefer their bike over any other form of transportation in their city. Bikes rule the streets here, outnumbering even the people, and the city’s urban infrastructure is tailored to make cycling safe, convenient, and enjoyable.

Renting a bike is not just the quickest way to get around the city’s cobbled streets and along the canal rings, but it’s also a delightful experience in itself. Feel the breeze in your hair, the freedom of exploring at your own pace, and enjoy a sense of camaraderie with the locals.

  • 🎯 Why this is worth it:
    • 💡 Get an authentic Amsterdam experience: The city is built for biking, and it’s how most locals get around.
    • 🌉 Explore off-the-beaten-path spots and enjoy unique views of the city.
    • 🌿 Embrace the Dutch eco-friendly ethos and enjoy an activity that has a minimal environmental footprint.

2. Visit the Anne Frank House 🏛️

The Anne Frank House is a poignant piece of history tucked away in Amsterdam’s central canal district. It’s the very place where the young Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II, and where she penned her now-famous diary.

As you step into the secret annex, you’re immediately transported back to the harsh realities of the war years. The bare rooms, the original artifacts, and the powerful excerpts from Anne’s diary displayed throughout the house offer an intense, moving experience. Remember to book your tickets online well in advance to ensure your spot.

  • 🎯 Why this is worth it:
    • 📖 Immerse yourself in one of the most impactful narratives of history.
    • 🕰️ Experience a powerful testament to the realities of war, preserved in its authentic state.
    • 💫 Feel a personal connection with Anne Frank, whose courage and insight continue to inspire millions.

3. Explore the Van Gogh Museum 🎨

The Van Gogh Museum is a true celebration of one of the most influential figures in Western art. As the custodian of the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s work, the museum paints a vivid picture of the artist’s life, his evolving style, and the profound impact he’s had on the world of art.

Through the rich array of paintings, drawings, and letters, you can follow Van Gogh’s journey from his early sketches to his iconic sunflower series and his poignant final works. Each visit offers fresh insights, thanks to rotating exhibits and multimedia presentations that add depth to the permanent collection. Read all about Van Gogh Museum skip-the-line tickets in our dedicated blog.

  • 🎯 Why this is worth it:
    • 🎨 Enjoy unprecedented access to Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
    • 📜 Gain deep insights into the artist’s life and work through his personal letters.
    • 🖼️ Experience rotating exhibits that showcase the museum’s extensive collection in new lights.

4. Relax at the Vondelpark 🌳

Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest city park, is a leafy oasis perfect for a moment of relaxation in the middle of your urban adventures. Whether you’re looking to have a picnic, take a leisurely stroll, or simply soak up the laid-back Dutch lifestyle, this park is the place to be.

In the summer months, the open-air theatre hosts free concerts, dance performances, and stand-up comedy shows, offering the perfect blend of culture and leisure. No matter when you visit, Vondelpark always offers a welcome respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

  • 🎯 Why this is worth it:
    • 🏞️ Escape from the city’s hustle and bustle to a serene oasis.
    • 🕊️ Experience local life, as Amsterdam residents jog, picnic, and relax in the park.
    • 🎭 Enjoy free cultural performances during summer months.

5. Taste Craft Beers at Local Breweries 🍻

Amsterdam’s beer scene has exploded in recent years, with craft breweries popping up all around the city. These small-scale establishments offer a refreshing contrast to the more commercial beer brands, brewing their unique ales and lagers using traditional methods infused with a modern twist.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ and De Prael are two local favorites worth checking out. Both breweries offer insightful tours where you can learn about the brewing process, and of course, taste their delicious craft beers. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just enjoy a good pint, a visit to Amsterdam’s local breweries is a must.

  • 🎯 Why this is worth it:
    • 🍺 Try a wide range of artisanal beers, from hoppy IPAs to creamy stouts.
    • 🍴 Pair your beers with delicious Dutch bar snacks for a tasty experience.
    • 🏭 Learn about the art and science behind brewing.

REVIEW: Van Gogh Timed-Entry Worth it?

We investigated whether timed-entry, or skip-the-line at the museum is worth it.

The best time to visit Amsterdam

Read all about the best time to visit the capital of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam Tourist Traps to Avoid 🚫

1. The Diamond Factories 💎

While Amsterdam’s historical role in the diamond industry might seem intriguing, many of the city’s diamond factories have evolved into tourist traps. Visitors are often funneled through a quick tour, before being ushered into a showroom and pressured to purchase diamond jewelry.

These experiences offer limited educational value and can leave visitors feeling pressured and uncomfortable. For a more genuine experience of Amsterdam’s history, consider visiting one of the city’s many excellent museums or historical sites instead.

2. Van Wonderen Stroopwafels 🍪

Stroopwafels, two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup, are a Dutch delicacy. However, Van Wonderen Stroopwafels (and others) offers an experience that’s more tailored towards tourists than locals.

Although their store offers an array of stroopwafels with varied toppings, most Dutch people enjoy them plain, usually from a local market or supermarket. While Van Wonderen Stroopwafels may provide a tasty treat, it’s not necessarily an authentic Dutch stroopwafel experience.

By focusing on the authentic experiences and avoiding the common tourist traps, your journey through Amsterdam will be a truly unforgettable one. 

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