A city steeped in history, architectural feats and rich in culture, there aren't many places that appeal to such a large audience as Amsterdam. Before I visited Amsterdam for the first time, I wrote my ultimate Amsterdam Bucketlist. Now, here is everything YOU should do: The Ultimate Amsterdam bucket list; where you can eat, drink and shop and All that you should see in the Venice from the North.
But first, here are a few fast and must-know facts about Amsterdam, Capital from the Netherlands:
Amsterdam is the capital of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
It is about 166 square miles.
The name ‘Amsterdam’ derives from ‘Amstelredamme’, meaning ‘dam over the river Amstel’.
During the 17th century, the city was the key trader in diamonds and finance.
The Stock market found in the city centre may be the oldest in the World.
Amsterdam hosts more nationalities than every other city in the World!
Amsterdam inhabitants would be the second biggest consumers of coffee in the World. A typical person consumes 3.2 cups a day; woah.
#1 Go to the Rijksmuseum
Even if you’re not really a huge fan of museums, the Rijksmuseum is not to be missed. Where easier to see old master paintings than in holland itself?! The Rijksmuseum is home to world-famous pieces like the Night Watch by Rembrandt and also the Milkmaid by Vermeer. Purchase your Rijksmuseum ticket here in advance.
Of particular note is when you need to see Girl having a Pearl Earring then this Vermeer painting can’t really be based in the Rijksmuseum. Instead, you’ll have to journey 30 minutes South of Amsterdam and also to the gorgeous city of The Hague. The place to find all sorts of museums, bike trails, and its own history, it’s well worth a trip as a day trip from Amsterdam!
#2 Eat a waffle
Paris may be known for its pastries, but Amsterdam is renowned for its waffles. Around every corner, there's a new opportunity to sample these delicious sweets. Dipped in chocolate, filled with fruit, there is a mass of varieties to select from.
#3 Go to the flower market
With more tulips than you can touch along with a bouquet for every occasion imaginable, the flower marketplace is really something you need to witness first hand. Everyone knows the Netherlands are famed for the tulip trade in the 16th Century. At the height from the trade, just one bulb could trade in excess of the price of a home!
#4 Go to the Amsterdam library
Free to visit, the feat of architecture that is the library is open from 10 am to 10 pm daily and welcomes over 2.5 million visitors each year! Then, you’ll find speedy WiFi, shelves upon shelves of books, and all of the quiet space you could ever wish for from the busy city.
#5 Visit our Lord within the Attic
One of the most unusual churches I’ve ever visited, Our Lord in the Attic is one of the only survivors from a generation of house churches that sprung up in the 1660s. When Amsterdam was a Protestant city, Catholic churches were forced to go underground and so the easiest solution ended up being to build churches in the top degree of townhouses.
This was one of my favourite museums as you really get a feel for a brief history; you even need to wear shoe protection since the floorboards are extremely old! There will also be plenty of other quirky museums within the city; here’s quick tips to the best of small museums in Amsterdam!
#6 Visit Begijnhof
Legend has it that the structure of Begijnhof this is actually the oldest house within the city; a pretty remarkable feat for a city founded in the 13th century! Built-in the 15th century by sisters of a Catholic sisterhood, the website has become the place to find old houses, a chapel and a ‘hidden’ catholic church.
#7 Visit the large I Amsterdam sign
The world as well as their Grandma appear to have taken a picture while watching I'm Amsterdam sign! However, it appears to become a requirement of visiting the city and no visit to the Dutch capital would now be complete without a quick snap or two!
As of December 2020, the I Amsterdam sign can't be found on Museumplein. Instead, as a result of over tourism crowding the area, the sign is on tour and can be found at various pop-up points all around the city. While you can continue to snap photos using the giant letters at Schipol Airport and Sloterplas lake in West, the group of letters that were previously away from Rijksmuseum are available touring the city.
#8 Go Clubbing
In a city famed because of its wild nightlife, you will find bars and clubs aplenty to choose from. Watch out though as even though the legal drinking age will be a lot lower, most clubs refuse admission to under 21s.
#9 Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Home to Van Gogh’s self-portrait which famous ‘Sunflowers’ painting, nothing quite compares with visiting a painting in real life.
#10 Go to the Anne Frank House
A must for everybody on a trip to Amsterdam along with a much-needed reminder that we must study from history.
#11 Go to the Fault within our Stars bench
The Fault in Our Stars book The Fault within our Stars book was written by John Green featuring scenes in Amsterdam, including several parks, trams, and museums. The film on the same name was also shot here. Even better than the usual simple visit to the Fault within our Stars Bench, make sure to see ALL of the sites which include in the film using the Fault within our Stars help guide to Amsterdam!
#12 Play giant chess
I love chess. Guess what happens I really like a lot more than playing chess? Playing chess in giant format… There are a number of giant boards round the city with giant pieces to complement! Of all the things to do on this ultimate Amsterdam bucketlist, this may well be one of the most quirky activities… but it’s also probably the most fun!
#13 Wander around Jordaan District
Easily my favourite district within the city, the historic houses that line the canals of Jordaan are prettier than the usual postcard! And thus, if you’re looking to get a bit more off-the-beaten-path and escape the crowds of the remaining city, then I recommend heading to this ever so picturesque neighbourhood. Some of the best locations to savor in Jordaan include the Instagrammable café of Polaberry and many of the hidden Amsterdam hofjes to become explored within the neighbourhood.
#14 Rent a bike
Amsterdam is a city of bikes. It’s easy to rent a bicycle and even simpler to spend a day riding along the hundreds of designated cycle paths the town has to offer.
#15 Wander through Dam Square
There is always something happening in the main square within the city (and it is the very best starting place for a walking tour too!!)
#16 Discover the smallest house front within the city
Houses in Amsterdam are long and narrow because within the 16th-century everyone was taxed on the frontage (width) of their houses. The wealthier you had been, the wider you could afford your house to be. While there is lots of debate as to which home is truly narrowest, the smallest houses within the city are barely a metre wide.
#17 Visit a windmill!!
I think a lot of us are guilty of imagining the stereotypical tulip fields filled with thatched windmills when we think of the Netherlands. Well, not to worry because there are genuinely many windmills to determine (and photograph, of course)!
#18 Have a picnic in a Vondelpark
Take advantage of one of the many green spaces the town provides and enjoy a lunch ‘al fresco‘. A few of the other best parks to go to in Amsterdam include Westerpark (on land once of a coal-fired power plant, now you can find one from the city’s newest parks) and Amstelpark (here you’ll find all kinds of horticultural specimens).
#19 See the Red Light District
If simply to just pass through…
#20 Go to a cheese shop
From pesto to paprika to goats cheese, there are other flavours than you could have ever imagined inside your wildest dreams. The good thing? You are able to sample as many as you want, ensuring that you are able to pick the best flavours to bring home with you!
#21 See Rembrandt’s House
With paint mixing and printing demonstrations, the house that the artist Rembrandt lived in for a large portion of his life is unlike every other museum that I’ve ever been to. It's a hands-on experience equipped with a guided audio tour. Purchase your Rembrandhuis ticket within advance.
#22 Visit a Dutch Bar and drink Heineken
The Netherlands is home to Heineken there are countless other speciality other beers available too. Whilst in the city, there’s also the chance to enjoy a visit to the Heineken Experience, an interactive tour of the world-famous brewery.
What you might not know, however, is that in a small Dutch city to the South of the Holland Province, that of Leiden, the Heineken Star sign actually originated. The story goes that the founders of Heineken loved the manifestation of the Café De Vergulde Kruik (The Gilded Jar Café) they purchased the star for the princely sum of 35 guldens.
#23 Buy a set of clogs
Finally, like a souvenir on your own or perhaps a family member, make sure to get a pair of clogs! If you are traveling to Amsterdam, here’s every one of your style guide and outfit inspiration suggestions for what to wear in Amsterdam!
#24 Take a day trip from Amsterdam
While lots of people opt to visit the Netherlands (or more specifically, Holland, the province in which Amsterdam is based) to be able to visit the Dutch capital, this is the first mistake. After all, there’s a whole side towards the Netherlands that many people miss out on.
While there’s an array of excursions from Amsterdam to match every budget and itinerary, here are a few of my favourites. Rotterdam is perfect for people who want to experience an architectural European city. Near flattened after the Blitzkrieg of WWII, the town has since been rebuilt in quirky and unique ways.
The cheese city of Gouda is really much more than the foodstuff that managed to get so famous! Once in this secret Dutch town, you’ll soon discover hidden house churches, endless canals, or even a windmill which still produces its own flour to be removed within the store nearby!
Finally, should you visit Amsterdam during the Holland tulip season, you’ll soon discover that there are plenty of amazing florally themed day trips to be taken from the town. For example, Keukenhof can also be known as ‘the Garden of Europe‘ and is one of the largest flower gardens on the planet. Buy your Keukenhof combi tickets within advance.