Oh Amsterdam, where do I even begin? Your canal-lined streets, smiling and insanely tall dutch residents, and highly assertive bikers can’t be beat. I’ve never visited a place for the first time while simultaneously feeling right at home.
While there are some touristy things to do in Amsterdam, most things on the list are things that locals enjoy everyday. Here are my top 10 recommendations of things to do in Amsterdam:
1. Anne Frank Huis
Visiting the Anne Frank house was unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. It was humbling, touching, and eye-opening. The Anne Frank house is filled with photographs, snippets of her real diary, and videos of people who knew Anne and her family. To walk in the secret annex among so many other visitors from around the world really put into perspective how powerful and influential Anne Frank really was and still is. It’s a must see while in Amsterdam, you won’t regret it!
2. Albert Cuyp Market
Located in the De Pijp District, this outdoor street market is a must see while visiting Amsterdam. The market contains vendors of all sorts. You can purchase souvenirs, clothing, and tons of local food. Make sure to try the poiffurtjes (mini pancakes), stroop waffles, and a freshly squeezed juice. Stay clear of hans! Just thinking of the texture of this raw fish makes me nauseous.
Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the entire world! This market is usually filled with plentiful tulips. Since it was December, it was filled with some flowers, a lot of tulip bulbs, and seasonal greenery, like wreaths. I was so tempted in buying all the flowers because they’re all so dang cheap – like 2.50 Euros for the whole bunch.
4. Winkel 43
A hidden gem right off of Noordermarkt, Winkel 43 is famous for their apple pie. A great place to take a quick break from bike riding and enjoy a sweet treat. Hands down the best apple pie I’ve ever had (and I’m not even an apple pie type person).
5. Light Festival Water Colors Canal Cruise
See Amsterdam in a whole new light (pun intended) by touring it on boat through all of the canals! The Light Festival Water Cruise only runs after Thanksgiving through mid January, so make sure to take advantage of the opportunity during this time if you are visiting in December.
Vondelpark is a public urban park packed with plenty of trees, ponds, and puppies. It’s a great place to bike through, have a picnic, or people watch. My favorite part of the park are the leashless dogs who willingly jump into the ponds whilst playing fetch.
7. Museum District
In the museum district you can find the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, and the famous “I am Amsterdam” sign. While I only made it to the Van Gogh museum, I hear both are incredible. Rijksmuseum is much larger than Van Gogh, so if you have the time go for it, or both – take advantage!
8. Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek Christmas Market
There are so many festive Christmas markets in the Netherlands. We enjoyed the Westergasfabariek Christmas market, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a great holiday activity for anyone, including families and children.
9. Red Light District
I wasn’t really planning on going through the red light district while visiting Amsterdam. When hanging out with a group of people on Saturday night on our way to an arcade bar, we kind of just stumbled upon it. Of course this is no place for children or families, however it was a very interest experience to say the least. While it was saddening to see women objectify themselves, it made me think about how the world really needs to change their views on sex and legal prostitution.
Foodhallen is an indoor food market filled with a variety of local food vendors. It feels similar to a mall’s food court, but obviously way nicer. I also loved all of the festive holiday decorations during this time of year.
Have any of you visited Amsterdam? If so, what are your must things to do and see?