no alt text

Bucket list destination:

Last updated: 19 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Jennifer Ceaser

With 65 miles of Golden Age canals lined with handsome gabled houses and criss-crossed by photogenic bridges, the Dutch capital is perfect for lazy boat tours, romantic wanders or gentle bike rides.

For the culturally inclined, world-class art awaits in the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. For those of a less high-brow disposition, big draws are the many inviting cafés – some old-fashioned, others trendy – and a nightlife as lively and decadent as you want it to be.

The city is very digestible in a weekend; you can stroll from one side to the other in half an hour.

Orientation

South of Centraal Station lies Amsterdam’s medieval core, which includes the infamous Red Light District. A ring of stately Golden Age canals – known as the ‘Canal Ring’ – forms a semi-circle around the old city centre. This is the picturesque part of Amsterdam – with canals, crooked canal houses and charming bridges.

South of the canal ring, you come to the museum district (Museumplein) where you’ll find Amsterdam’s world-famous galleries and museums, and the main street of designer shops. To the east lie the hip, residential Eastern Docklands.

Tours, tickets & transfers

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Guided Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems

Amsterdam

Guided Bike Tour of Amsterdam's Highlights and Hidden Gems
We are proud to be Amsterdam's smallest bike tour company! We work with a maximum of 12 participants (usually less!) per tour group to ensure you a personal and high quality tour. This three hour bike tour focuses on Amsterdam's undiscovered area's and the city's hidden gems. We will meet each other at our office in Amsterdam's city centre to pick up our first class bikes. You will discover secret courtyards, hidden churches and off-the-beaten path neighborhoods. While crossing canals and cruising through parks you will learn about Amsterdam fascinating history as well as the current city life of Amsterdammers.  Hop on and we'll bike the extra mile!

Price: €38

Min age: 0

Rating 4.89 / 5 [1933 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

The Best Rated Walking Tour in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Best Rated Walking Tour in Amsterdam
Discover the fascinating history of the most liberal city in the world with FreeDam Tours. On this unique tip-based* storytelling tour, you will discover how freedom and tolerance shaped the city and its people throughout the ages. Your super-local guide will combine beautiful sightseeing with exciting storytelling, and with the clever use of pictures and maps, you will learn everything you need to know about Amsterdam in one tour: history, modern life, culture, art, fun facts, and personal stories for a unique insider’s perspective on life in Amsterdam. Be prepared to challenge all your preconceived ideas about this city because after this tour you will never look and think of Amsterdam the same way! * Tip-based means you only pay a small booking/marketing fee to the platform and then you can tip your guide directly what you think the tour was worth. That motivates us to give the best possible tour and you always get the best value for your money!

Price: €5

Min age: 1

Rating 4.91 / 5 [1813 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Amsterdam Highlights Small-Group Walking Tour

Amsterdam

Amsterdam Highlights Small-Group Walking Tour
Get an insider’s view of Amsterdam on this morning walking tour, the perfect way to experience the city’s must-see sights away from the crowds. Stroll along Amsterdam's enchanting canals, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, and see top Amsterdam attractions including West Market, the Royal Palace, Dam Square, the Rembrandt House Museum, and unique downtown areas. Numbers are limited to 6 people during the COVID restrictions always a small-group tour, ensuring you'll receive personalized attention from your expert local guide. Your health is our top priority, and we have put special measures in place to keep all guests safe both during and after your activity. Social Distancing - Guests will stay at a safe 6-foot distance during all points of the tour. We also ensure that all staff members will be wearing the necessary PPE. Wellness Checks - If you or anyone in your group is experiencing symptoms, we will work directly with you to cancel or reschedule your tour.

Price: €32

Min age: 0

Rating 4.76 / 5 [995 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Amsterdam 2.5-Hour City Highlights Guided Bike Tour

Amsterdam

Amsterdam 2.5-Hour City Highlights Guided Bike Tour
After introductions with your guide, set off to explore Amsterdam like the locals do: by bike! With around 250 miles (400 km) of bike lanes and paths traversing the flat urban terrain, Amsterdam is a cyclist's dream. But be careful, you need to be a skilled cyclist to survive the Amsterdam traffic! We will lead you to well-known local landmarks and lesser-known attractions. No one tour will be the same; each individual guide tailors the route to best show off their local knowledge. You might go over the Museum Square, home to three of the city’s major museums including the Van Gogh Museum, then cruise onward to the bustling Dam Square to admire views of the classical Royal Palace or get lost in the old Jordaan Neighbourhood. Hear about the liberal drug and prostitution laws that govern the city, and let your guide point out interesting venues and nightclubs. If you have some experience on the bike, this is the best way to get a feeling of Amsterdam's cycling culture.

Price: €37

Min age: 12

Rating 4.79 / 5 [758 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Amsterdam Red Light District and Coffee Shop Tour (TOP RATED)

Amsterdam

Amsterdam Red Light District and Coffee Shop Tour (TOP RATED)
Join this educational and amusing 2-hour private walking tour through Amsterdam and learn about the history of the city's famous Red Light District and coffee shops. Walk through the small alleys of the Red Light District with your local guide learning about the history of prostitution in Amsterdam. Then pass by a coffee shop as the guide explains the liberal marijuana laws. During this tour you'll walk through an old sailor neighborhood called the Zeedijk Street and Amsterdam’s famous Chinatown which used to be an unsafe area but has since completely changed into a safe and friendly environment. In this area you will see sights like the Waag, pub the Ape and The Buddhist Temple. Find out why prostitution was legalized and how the name “coffeeshop” was created. Walk through the famous prostitute streets and learn about its culture and about the current situation of the Red Light District.

Price: €85

Min age: 0

Rating 4.77 / 5 [402 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Travel advice

When to go

Amsterdam is least busy from November to March. Though it can be bitterly cold then, there are lots of cosy cafés to hole up in, and hotel rates are at their lowest. Cycling around is though miserable in the wet weather.

April and May is a peak time, as it’s the tulip season – trips to the famous Keukenhof Gardens and bulb fields are often combined with time in Amsterdam.

July and August are busy, but the city is lovely on warm summer evenings, with many an Amsterdammer chugging along the canals on their battered old boats. Cycling around the canals – especially early morning before the crowds awake – is special.

June and September are warm – with fewer crowds.

Getting there and away

The cheapest and quickest way to get from Schiphol Airport to the centre of Amsterdam is by rail. Very frequent trains leave from below Schiphol Plaza concourse, and the journey to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station takes 15-20 minutes.

Another option is the Connexxion Schiphol Airport Shuttle, which provides minibus transfers between Schiphol and most Amsterdam hotels. Taxis from the airport to Amsterdam centre are expensive (€40+), and the journey during rush hours can be slow.

Getting around

All main districts and sights are reachable on foot. If covering a lot of ground in a short period, rent a bike – there are bike rental shops on every corner. Like the Netherlands as a whole, bikes rule: most Amsterdammers use pedal power to get around on the city’s 250 miles of cycle lanes.

Though the public transport system includes a metro, buses and trams, you may well just use trams. The trams are efficient and enjoyable to ride, and connect all the stops you will ever need/want as a visitor.

Free ferries criss-cross the waterway behind Centraal Station – but there is little for the visitor north of it.

Where to stay

If the quintessential Amsterdam experience, make sure you stay in the scenic Canal Ring. Most hotels here occupy classic old gabled buildings with immense character, the streets along these canals are pretty quiet, and you’ll be within strolling distance of many of the city’s most enticing restaurants, bars, cafés and shops.

If you plan to spend time in the main art museums, also consider staying in the 19th-century streets near Museumplein, where rooms can be more spacious than in canal hotels.

Parts of the city centre within the canal belt (the central eastern part) can be a little seedy, noisy and tacky, so be wary there.

Where to eat or drink

Restaurants and eetcafés are scattered right across Amsterdam’s canal belt and central district. The Nine Streets have many small but quality cafes and restaurants, where you can sit on the street and watch the world go by. The same is true of the Jordaan district, home to the city’s most characterful brown cafés.

For a lively night out, head for Leidseplein, which has the biggest concentration of bars and nightclubs in Amsterdam – including famous, multi-purpose venues the Melkweg and Paradiso.

Where to shop

Amsterdam’s most delightful shopping area is the Nine Streets (within the Canal Ring), where one-of-a-kind, independent stores, specialising in everything from cheese to toothbrushes, line little lanes crossing the canals.

For antiques and art, browse the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. For designer boutiques and jewellery, make a beeline for PC Hoofstraat. The main (and rather unexciting) shopping street in the city centre is pedestrianised Kalverstraat.

What to buy

Bulbs (real and wooden) from the Flower Market on the Singel; Delftware ceramics, old and new; Dutch cheeses; reproductions of famous Dutch paintings – the main museums have good shops.