Updated: Jan 4
Amsterdam stands on 11 million wooden poles. You read correctly, the clay ground of this city is supported through the engineering of millions of wooden poles lifting the land above water.
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What is Amsterdam known for?
A 3-hour gratuity-based walking tour of Amsterdam led by locals and historians. We have found that starting our trip with one of these tours is a great way to learn about the history & culture of a new city. These tours provide a helpful understanding of the city layout by foot while you take note of attractions to visit throughout the remainder of your stay. Some of the highlights from our tour included the hidden canals, Jewish Quarter, Anne Frank House, and learning about the Dutch bike culture.
Ticket: Free with optional gratuity
Dedicated to the Jewish wartime diarist, Anne Frank, this museum is an eye-opening experience. This 17th century canal house preserves the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family during the holocaust. With an exhibition of the life of Anne Frank, as well as, information regarding persecution and discrimination during the holocaust, this popular Netherlands museum will certainly provide a thought-provoking experience.
Ticket: €14 / person
Located in the museum square of south Amsterdam, this is one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands. The museum takes you on a journey through the life of Vincent Van Gogh, displaying an extensive collection of his beautiful artwork and letters. It is recommended to buy tickets in advance in order to avoid crowds and secure entry for your desired travel dates. Be sure to plan for several hours to explore this museum, as there are many levels and exhibits dedicated to the great works of this talented artist.
Ticket: €19 / person (under 18 is free)
We found this tour to be a wonderful value if you plan to do a brew tour at Heineken. With the Heineken tour costing €18, the Rock the City Tour is a package deal that provides you admission to the Heineken Experience (1.5 hours), two beers at the Best 'Dam Bar, guided canal tour through Amsterdam, as well as, admission to the A'DAM lookout tower!
Starting with the Heineken Experience, we have truly never been on a more fun and exciting brew tour. This is not just a brew tour, it truly is an experience! We do not want to give away any spoilers, so you will just have to see for yourself. The tour concludes in the fun, vibrant Best 'Dam Bar where you are able to hang out and meet fellow tourists while enjoying a freshly poured Heineken.
Ticket: €35 Rock the City or €18 Heineken Brewery Tour
When signing up for the Rock the City Tour, you will be given a time for the canal tour to begin based off of the time chosen for the Heineken Experience. The boat will pick up right outside of the brewery, where you will board to be taken down the winding canals of Amsterdam. This was one of the highlights of our trip as we were able to explore Amsterdam from the canals that make this city so unique. Leading you out into the river IJ, the boat tour ends at the entrance to the A'DAM Lookout Tour.
The A'DAM lookout tour separately would be €12.50 for admission, however, comes included as part of the Rock the City Tour. It all starts with a fun elevator ride to the top of this 100 meter tower. At this point, you can choose to dine within their Madam panorama bar & restaurant, or continue to the rooftop patio views. This tower provides you with 360 degree views of Amsterdam and the beautiful IJ river.
Looking for some exhilaration on your trip? You can swing out over the edge of this tower on Europe's highest swing. We truly enjoyed ending our day at A'DAM lookout where we could take in breathtaking views of the city and enjoy some refreshing beverages at this rooftop hangout.
For additional Amsterdam canal tours, you may consider booking one of the below:
5. De Pijp
A very popular neighborhood in Amsterdam, home to ethnic restaurants, eclectic shops, the Latin Quarter, and Albert Cuyp Market. Named after a 17th century painter, Albert Cuyp Market is a remarkable open-air market with 300 stalls of vendors selling souvenirs, food, clothing, and even fresh produce.
Just around the corner from Albert Cuyp Market is the beautiful city park, Sarphatipark. Take a break from the day's adventures by stopping to relax, read a book, have a cup of coffee, or enjoy a picnic with food from the local street vendors of Albert Cuyp Market.
Don't Miss!: Albert Cuyp Market
Vondelpark is a large and beautiful park on the west side of Amsterdam. While dodging bikers throughout the winding paths, check out the open-air theater, rollerblade rental, and cafés throughout this park. Strolling through this beautiful park was one of the highlights of our trip to Amsterdam. The greenery, water, and interesting sights made for a perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the bustling city.
J&L Recommended: beautiful and relaxing park
7. De Negen Straatjes
Translated as "nine little streets" this neighborhood is a must for those looking to do some local shopping. With shops ranging within all budgets, there are many small boutiques with vintage and unique gifts that are local to Amsterdam. If not for the shopping, this is also a beautiful district to walk through (as is most of Amsterdam) and enjoy a local eatery or café.
8. Dam Square
The main square in Amsterdam and one of the most important parts of the city. Given its name for having been the first dam itself, connecting the two settlements on either side of the river. The dam grew large enough to consist of the town square, central to both commercial needs and government affairs. The Royal Palace is on one side of the square and the National WWII is on the other.
Tip: Today, there are many frequent events that occur within this square, as it is known to be the capital of the Netherlands.
5 Amsterdam restaurants you cannot miss
To try an authentic and tasty bitterballen, we recommend heading to Eetsalon van Dobben. This is a truly authentic Dutch restaurant, opened in 1945, and offers a full menu of affordably priced Dutch cuisines. They serve their croquettes on a brioche bun with a crisp outside and soft, creamy inside. Stop by for a quick snack, or a full meal!
Also Read: Must Try Foods of Amsterdam
The Pancake Bakery, serving traditional poffertjes, will delight your senses with their delectable fluffy battered treats! Served with melted butter and powdered sugar, these warm pancakes will melt in your mouth. Tucked away alongside an Amsterdam canal, this is one of the oldest pancake places in the city.
If you are looking for the real “Syrup Waffles”, look no further! These stroopwafels are as authentic as it gets, served to locals and tourists alike. Stroopwafels are two thin vanilla cinnamon wafer cookies filled with a delicious caramel syrup. Stroopwafels are said to have been originally invented when a baker added syrup to some leftover breadcrumbs. They soon became a sensation and have been enjoyed across the Netherlands ever since. Be sure to try one for yourself!
Don't Miss: Rudi's Original Stroopwaffels
A lovely brunch spot with amazing staff and mouthwatering dishes. With large portions and some of Amsterdam's most noteworthy coffee, stop by for a meal or simply to relax in their laid back environment. Be sure to make reservations as this place gets very busy on the weekends. You also cannot go wrong with one of their large and delicious pancakes!
Try: Eggs Benny with bacon or Navajo Eggs with mango salsa
This place is HEAVEN on earth for cheese lovers. This is an essential stop on your trip for free samples to taste unique flavors of Holland cheese, the chance to see the most expensive cheese slicer in the world on display, and the opportunity to dress up like a Dutch cheese farmer.
Try: the free samples!
5 Incredible Breweries of Amsterdam
1. IJ Brewery
Recommended Brew: IJwit (Wheat Beer-Witbier 6.5% ABV)
Brouwerij't IJ is a beautiful brewery in a quaint location alongside Holland's tallest wooden windmill, De Gooyer. There are short tours offered. Do not forgot to grab one of their tasty food platters and bar snacks with your brew of choice. We recommend the IJwit, which is a full-bodied Amsterdam wheat beer that is slightly cloudy with a golden color and a soft, foamy head. This has a slightly sweet aftertaste and will definitely delight the senses.
Unique Experience: Enjoy some brews alongside Holland's tallest wooden windmill
Recommended Brew: Honey Blonde (Honey Beer 7% ABV)
Troost is a local brewery that offers a large selection of brews with a terrace outside to enjoy good weather. Their honey beer is a nice and soft organic blonde that has lots of honey flavor without being too sweet. A delicious option to expand your beer palate.
Also Read: Best Craft Beers of Europe
Recommended Brew: Mannenliefde (Farmhouse Ale- Saison 6% ABV)
A hip and trendy atmosphere, amazing burgers, fantastic selection of beers, and nice music. What more could you need? We recommend their farmhouse ale which is a saison flavored with Szechuan pepper, lemon grass, and Sorachi Ace hops.
Recommended Brew: Tripel (Belgian Tripel 7.5% ABV)
De Prael is a great place to sample a flight and try one of their many options. It is hidden in an alley downtown, however, be sure not to miss this local watering hole. The tripel is De Prael's flagship beer. It is made according to the Belgian tradition with coriander as the main ingredient to make this slightly sweet and spicy drink.
Also Read: Brussels Belgium Complete Guide
5. Heineken Experience's Heineken (Euro Pale Lager 5% ABV)
Heineken is a highly recognized macro brew that is available all over the world. Heineken is a golden colored drink that is light and easy to consume. We recommend checking out the Heineken Experience!
Planning Your Trip
When is the best time to visit Amsterdam?
If you would like to see the famous Netherlands tulips, head to Amsterdam between April & May. For minimal crowds and pleasant weather, head to Amsterdam in either spring or fall.
J&L Recommended: Between April & May
What is the best area to stay in Amsterdam?
Our recommendation is to stay near the neighborhoods of Gratchtengordel or De Pijp. These locations will allow you to walk to most of the below attractions and restaurants within Amsterdam. For our top recommended hostels based on location and value, see Best Hostels of Europe.
For a great deal on hotels, search your travel dates below:
What is the best way to get around Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a very walkable city. We were able reach all of our attractions and restaurants during our stay by foot with no issue. However, if you would prefer public transportation, Amsterdam offers daily and multi-day metro tickets that can be purchased ahead of time here. This ticket will allow you unlimited daily (€8), 2-day (€13.5), 3-Day (€19) or 4-Day (€24.5) transportation on all GVB buses and metros within Amsterdam (including the airport). For more information regarding their public transportation system, click here.
How much time do you need in Amsterdam?
We recommend at least 2-3 days to complete this itinerary. However, if 2-3 days is not feasible for your travel plans, we recommend also reading our guide to One day in Amsterdam, Netherlands
J&L Recommended: 2-3 Days in Amsterdam
Affordable International Data
Want to avoid roaming charges and $10/day international data fees? Airalo allows you to download an e-SIM to your phone and activate while in Europe for a very affordable price. We bought 3 GB of data valid for 30 days from activation for only $7. It worked great throughout our entire Europe trip and was very easy to install. Airalo offers e-SIMs all around the world and we can validate that it works with ease in multiple European countries.