Amazing Amsterdam – Bucket list for Visitors

I was starting to send my list of Amsterdam recommendations I compiled so often that I thought it may be time to post my list on the blog. We have had quite a few friends and visitors pass through in recent months so this list includes some of the things they have enjoyed most. I hope you find it useful for your future travels! Also, apologies for the lack of photos in this post, but I thought given how long it was, it was best to keep photos out ūüôā

While Amsterdam has a reputation of it’s party scene, there is so much more to see and do in the city. It’s¬†truly one of the most beautiful, cultural and historical places in the world. It has all the charm of a village but the benefits of being a large city. In comparison to other European cities,¬†Amsterdam¬†is actually quite small, so you can easily walk and bike throughout the city (although biking is a bit intense here so it’s not for the faint of heart). If you prefer public transportation and are staying for more than 2 days, I would recommend getting an OV chipkart when you arrive at the airport and load it up with some money. You’ll save a lot by doing that as opposed to buying individual tickets. You can also look at buying 2 or 3 day passes.

Things to do:

  • Free walking tour:
    • I think this is a great way for visitors to get acclimated to the city and learn some interesting facts. It starts from Dam Square every day¬†at 1:30pm – there are a few companies that offer this, but Sandeman’s is particularly good.
  • Canal cruise:
    • An absolute must if you are in Amsterdam is to see it from the beautiful canals. There’s nothing better than being out on the water and exploring the city from a whole different perspective. I highly recommend¬†avoiding¬†any of the large tourist boats and instead find a smaller boat that will give you a more authentic tour of the city.
    • Two of the companies I would recommend are Friendship Amsterdam¬†or Those Dam Boat guys – I promise I am not recommending the latter¬†soley based on their name ūüėČ
    • Depending on your sense of adventure, you can actually rent a small boat and captain it yourself. There are a few really good¬†options and it’s an amazing way to view¬†good price and it‚Äôs really fun. Our personal favorite is Mokum
    • A slightly different approach is trying G’s brunch cruise
  • Breweries:
    • Skip the Heineken Museum and check out¬†Brouwerij t‚ÄôIJ¬†instead, a local brewery that has a windmill connected to it and is one of my favourite spots.
    • Other great options are Oedipus¬†in the North or ¬†Troost¬†in Westerpark or De Pijp – ¬†all locally of crafted beers and great ambience.
    • If it‚Äôs nice out, you can check out one of the¬†outdoor beer garden ‚ÄstPlekk¬†in¬†Amsterdam¬†Noord,¬†Hannekes Boom,¬†Waterkant, or Roest
  • Museums:
    • Amsterdam has over 700 museums and home to a number of world famous ones. If you’re a museum go-er, then Amsterdam will win your heart over. Some of the more famous ones are:
      • Rijksmuseum: one of the largest museums in town. Even if you are not planning on visiting the museums, make sure you at least check out the the stunning building and explore the Museumplein area,¬†where the famous “Iamsterdam” sign is.
      • Anne Frank: visit the attic where Anne Frank and her family spent years in hiding. Make sure to buy the tickets in advance online, otherwise you will have to wait for hours to get in.
      • Van Gogh:¬†learn more about¬†the famous painter’s short but turbulent life.
  • Parks:
    • ¬†There‚Äôs a few nice parks in the city ‚ÄstVondelpark¬†(the main and largest park) although I really like¬†Westerpark¬†and¬†Sarphatipark,¬†which are a bit more local. There‚Äôs a number of¬†restaurants in Westerpark so you can check out the area and then grab some drinks or a bite to eat.
  • Other:
    • Visit the 9 streets¬†(Negen straatjes) for shopping. You will find mostly smaller boutique stores but also several of the larger stores. Best of all it’s located on these beautiful, quaint canal lined streets.
    • Cheese/Wine Tasting:¬†Head to¬†Reypaener¬†for a 1 hour cheese/wine tasting to learn more about the Dutch’s favorite food.
    • Biking:¬†If you‚Äôre up for a bike ride outside of the city ‚Äď I really enjoy¬†biking along the Amstel. Start near the InterContinental hotel and head south – you will even get a to pass¬†by a few windmills!
    • Markets:¬†Check out¬†Jordaan Noordermarkt on Saturday for some local artist crafts and food. Around the corner is Lindengracht market, where you can get a fresh stroopwaffel or profiteroles. Albert Cuyp is the most famous market, but I find it a bit too touristy. It’s open every day except Sunday though so may be your best option depending on your travel days.
    • Day Trips:¬†Depending on how many days you‚Äôre here, you could do a day trip to Zaanse Schans¬†to see the windmills. If you’re here in April or May, you must check out¬†the tulip fields outside of¬†Lisse or visit one of the world’s largest flower gardens,¬†Keukenhof.¬†
      • Keukenhof can be a bit like Disney World and very crowded, if you want a more relaxed experience and¬†take in the beauty of the vast tulip fields,¬†rent a bike and bike through the tulip fields surrounding the park. If you’re at Keukenhof, you can actually rent a bike for 10 euros right out front of the park. They will give you a map with a few different routes to choose from.

Restaurants/Drinks: 

There are so many good places to eat in town that it’s so difficult to¬†narrow down this list. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Brunch:¬†
    • Frederix:¬†my favourite coffee place in all of Amsterdam. Also, has a great breakfast and lunch menu.
    • Little Collins: great Australian restaurant that has an amazing brunch
    • Bakers & Roasters:¬†restaurant opened up by a couple of Kiwis and is delicious
    • Omlegg: as the name suggests,¬†has endless tasty omlettes on the menu
    • ¬†Scandanavian Embassy: minimalist restaurant that’s known for it’s fantastic coffee and breakfast (poached eggs).
    • CT Coffee & Coconuts: unique place to grab a coffee as it’s located in a converted movie theatre; it can get a little noisy though but I like the atmosphere
  • Lunch/Dinner
    • Grab dinner in picturesque neighborhood of Jordaan – La Perla¬†has some of the best pizza in town and a local vibe. Make a reservation here now if you plan on going as it’s small and gets extremely¬†crowded.
    • Foodhallen¬†– an indoor food market that is located in an old converted train depot. It has tons of food stalls and bars¬†so everyone can find something they like. Great atmosphere especially in the evenings although it can get very crowded.
    • Utretchsestraat – I may be biased since we live nearby, but this is one of my favourite streets in town and has so many great restaurants. Some of our go-tos:
      • Pata Negra – tapas restaurant with a great authentic Spanish vibe
      • Ali – Turkish restaurant. They only have two locations in the world – one in Istanbul and one in Amsterdam – so delicious.
      • Bar Moustache – great local vibe with scrumptious pizzas, breakfast and much more
    • Check out Gerard Douplein, a lively square in De Pijp that has a bunch of restaurants and a great atmosphere during the evenings and weekend. One of my favourites here is¬†De Wasserette, which has some great open faced sandwiches that the Dutch are famous for.
  • Cafe Piazza: This is our favourite Italian restaurant in town. This owners are this wonderful¬†Polish couple who moved to Amsterdam 5 years ago and bought an Italian restaurant but they’ve infused some great Polish dishes onto the menu – you must try the pierogies if you eat here!
  • Cannibale Royale great local place to grab a steak or burger. They have 3 different locations (Spui, De Pijp, and Red Light District) and all of them are great.
  • Restaurant¬†Blauw –¬†Amsterdam is known for its Indonesian food and Blauw is one of the best.
  • Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx –¬†The Dutch love their french fries and mayo – make sure you try some during your trip. This¬†stand will not disappoint.
  • Boca’s or Oresti’s Taverna: two different tapas places, can’t go wrong with either! Boca’s is a bit more trendy right off of Sarphatipark while Oresti’s is a bit more traditional
  • Stop by¬†Van Stapele¬†for the best cookie in the world, or at least Amsterdam. They only make one cookie here and it’s worth waiting in the line for it.
  • A‚Äôdam Tower: The newest attraction in town that is supposed to be cool but I haven‚Äôt checked out yet so I can‚Äôt vouch for it personally. It has a lookout over Amsterdam and a restaurant you can try to get reservations at (restaurant is called Madam).Tip: Since many of the restaurants are built into Canal houses and therefore small (but quaint), there are not many tables available. Combine that with the fact that the Dutch love to spend many hours at¬†restaurants¬†means that¬†reservations are required at many popular¬†places if you want to eat at a decent time. Make sure you plan ahead – If you are dying to go to a certain restaurant, call a few days ahead to secure a table.¬†
  • Drinks
    • Grab a cocktail at the iconic¬†Amstel InterContinental Hotel¬†at the A bar. Sit outside on their gorgeous waterfront terrace and watch the boats go by.
    • There’s quite a few hidden gem cocktail bars in the city also worth checking out –¬†Tales & Spirits and¬†Hiding in Plain Sight¬†to name a few.
    • On a nice day, you must go to¬†Plekk in Amsterdam Noord or¬†Roest in the East.¬†These are waterfront restaurants that have a fantastic vibe, especially when the weather cooperates.
    • Grab a rooftop drink at¬†Sky Lounge, which is located¬†on top of the Doubletree Hotel (weird, I know). It‚Äôs one of the few rooftop bars in the city.
    • You must check out an authentic brown bar while you’re here, one of our favourites is De¬†Zotte, which has endless¬†amount of¬†belgium beers.
    • Proeflokaal Wynand Focknick:¬†best place to taste¬†the famous Dutch jenever
    • For a local feel, I would recommend stopping by¬†Glou¬†Glou, an¬†awesome wine bar in De Pijp
  • Clubs:¬†

    • We are not huge club goers, but heard great things about¬†Club NL¬†and¬†Canvas¬†(although this one is a bit outside the city center)

Finally, if you didn’t quite get enough from my list above, check out one of my favorite local bloggers, Little Black Book of Amsterdam, who has endless lists of recommendations. She also put together a great video of¬† 10 Amsterdam Tourist traps and their much cooler and local alternatives.

I hope you love Amsterdam as much as we do!

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