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33 Best things to see & do in Amsterdam

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Jennifer Ceaser
  • Amsterdam , North Holland, Netherlands

Exterior view of the museum during daytime

Bucket List Experience

The Rijksmuseum

One of the world’s great art collections, the Rijksmuseum is packed with Dutch Golden Age masterpieces, showcasing the finest works of Rembrandt, Hals and Vermeer alongside memorable dolls’ houses and Delftware.

A total of 8,000 exhibits are displayed in 80 rooms – including an Asia Pavilion – tracing 800 years of Dutch art and culture.

The Rijksmuseum is also one of the world’s oldest state museums. It first opened in 1800 before moving in 1885 to its current location in a grand neo-Renaissance building, designed by Pierre Cuypers.

Adult price: £16

Good for age: 18+

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Field full of red tulips and a traditional old wooden windmill

Bucket List Experience

Drive or cycle the Flower Route

Come springtime, western Holland explodes into colour, with blooming daffodils, narcissi, dahlias, lilies – and of course, tulips – blanketing the low-lying fields.

This 44-mile route, which starts in Haarlem and stretches south through Leiden to the village of Naaldwijk, takes you past vast fields dense with a glorious array of flowers – especially in and around Lisse, home to the famed Keukenhof Gardens.

Along the way, vendors set up stalls selling bunches of locally cultivated blooms. Drive or cycle all or part of the picturesque route, and give yourself plenty of time to stop and smell the flowers!

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 3 hours

  • Amsterdam, North, Netherlands

With its network of tranquil canals criss-crossing the city, an Amsterdam canal boat cruise is an excellent way to see it.

Many of the boat cruises are conducted on large, enclosed or semi-enclosed boats, with taped commentaries in several languages.

Canal Hopper run tours in open 12-seater boats with no commentary (though the skipper will chat). There are two routes: one focuses mostly on the scenic western Canal Ring, the other on the medieval centre.

The ‘Hidden Treasures’ tour, which starts at Damark near the Centraal Station, takes you through the Oudeschans, along a section of the Amstel, then back through the Red Light District.

The ‘World Heritage’ tour, starting at Leidseplein, wends its way through the Jordaan (bigger canal cruise boats don’t go this way), then along some of the most attractive stretches of the Canal Ring.

Adult price: £20

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 75 minutes

  • Amsterdam , North Holland, Netherlands

Close up of a painting with a man pointing to it in the background

Bucket List Experience

Van Gogh Museum

Follow the story of Van Gogh’s life through two hundred works of art, displayed chronologically to show the troubled artist’s development. The exhibition begins with gloomy Dutch scenes, before proceeding to classic, optimistic works painted in Arles (such as Sunflowers and The Bedroom).

The exhibition ends with the foreboding landscapes around Auvers-sur-Oise, painted just before his suicide. The top floor holds an extensive collection of art by other leading 19th-century painters, and a wing at the rear showcases major exhibitions.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

  • Amsterdam , North Holland, Netherlands

Group of people viewing a historical painting

Bucket List Experience

World-class art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a rich artistic heritage that stretches back centuries. In the 1600s, now known as the Dutch Golden Age, wealth flowed into the city, and prosperous merchants commissioned paintings and portraits, to decorate the walls of their gabled mansions. Artists set up workshops to meet the demand, including Rembrandt in the capital and Frans Hals in nearby Haarlem.

No surprise then that the city is now home to three of the world’s leading art museums – all within walking distance of one another.

Perhaps no Dutch artist is more revered than Van Gogh, and though he lived only briefly in Amsterdam, it’s here that you can see the largest collection of his works – some 200 paintings and 400 drawings – at his namesake museum. The nearby Rijksmuseum houses an unparalleled collection of Old Masters, including Rembrandt’s celebrated ‘The Night Watch’ and four paintings by Vermeer.

The 20th century saw important Dutch art movements such as De Stijl and CoBrA, whose influence spread far beyond the country’s borders. A stellar assortment of these works – including the precise, primary-colour-blocked paintings of De Stijl founder Piet Mondrian – can be seen at the Stedelijk Museum, which also holds a first-rate modern and contemporary collection by international artists.

Good for age: 18+

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Exterior view of the Anne Frank House Museum with long queues outside

Bucket List Experience

Anne Frank House

Just after Amsterdam resident Anne Frank’s 13th birthday in 1942, she and her family went into hiding to escape Jewish persecution under the Nazis. They lived hidden away in a cramped annexe for two years, until they were betrayed and transported to concentration camps. Only Anne’s father Otto survived.

During their period of hiding in Amsterdam, Anne Frank kept a remarkable diary, given to her as a 13th birthday present by her father. After the war, Otto Frank managed to retrieve his daughter’s diary and find a willing publisher. The book became an international sensation.

The house – with cramped annexe – is now Amsterdam’s most popular museum, with Anne’s original red-checked diary on display, alongside the notebooks in which she wrote short stories and quotations. A new exhibition, ‘A Room Full of Dreams’ displays the pictures and postcards she stuck on her bedroom walls.

The museum also offers a special 30-minute programme for those who want an introduction to the story of Anne Frank.

It’s a poignant, moving experience, and an Amsterdam must-see.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 13+

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

Exterior view during daytime

Bucket List Experience

Hermitage Amsterdam

A 17th-century old people’s home by the Amstel River has been cleverly converted into exhibition spaces to display exquisite treasures from the vast collections of St Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum.

Some of the collections focus on Russian history and culture, others on wider European art – recent and forthcoming exhibitions have included masterpiece Impressionist paintings. Usually, two blockbuster exhibitions take place each year.

It may seem odd that Amsterdam is home to such fine Russian art, but Amsterdam has a special relationship with Russia – Peter the Great once lived in the city, and it inspired him to build St Petersburg. He founded the original Hermitage Museum using exhibits collected while in Amsterdam.

Adult price: £22

Good for age: 18+

  • Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

view down a modern interior display room

Bucket List Experience

Heineken Experience

While Heineken is now brewed elsewhere in The Netherlands, this redbrick former brewery is where the brand started, back in 1867. A 1.5-hour self-guided tour here is a high-tech interactive experience, covering the history of Heineken, the heritage building, and the brewing process.

One of the highlights is visiting the original brewing room with its enormous vintage copper vats. Along the way you’ll see displays of antique Heineken signs, coasters, and other promotional materials.

At the end of the tour, you’ll learn how to pull the perfect draught at the Best ‘Dam Bar, located underground in the former fermentation cellar of the brewery, plus try two beers (included in the price of admission). And of course, you’ll exit through the gift shop — chock-full of Heineken-embossed items, from T-shirts to keychains to bottle openers.

If you’re really into beer, consider booking a pricier 2.5-hour VIP tour featuring a live guide, behind-the-scenes access (including a visit to the roof), and tastings of multiple beers from the Heineken portfolio.

Adult price: £18

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

  • Lisse, North Holland, Netherlands

Keukenhof Gardens

Bucket List Experience

Keukenhof Gardens

Each spring, more than 1.5 million tulip aficionados flock to Lisse, 25 miles outside Amsterdam, to see the iconic Dutch flower in its full glory. Across 79 acres of gardens – interspersed with paths, ponds, creeks, greenhouses, and even faux windmills – some seven million tulips (as well as other flowers) blossom in a vast array of colours and patterns.

This magnificent spectacle, which kicks off in March and lasts only eight weeks, is the most-visited attraction in the Netherlands.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

  • Amsterdam , North Holland, Netherlands

Parader on boats in the city

Bucket List Experience

Amsterdam’s Gay Pride

The largest Pride festival in The Netherlands kicks off on the first weekend of August, with nine days of celebration crammed with over 300 events.

Street parties, concerts, performances, open-air movies and sporting events take place across the city and beyond — including the beaches of Zandvoort, a 45-minute train ride from Amsterdam.

The high point is the Canal Parade, where 80 creatively-decorated boats carry the flamboyantly-dressed (and undressed) through the city’s waterways, as tens of thousands gather along the banks to cheer on the colourful procession. Events are free, including the eight-hour-long closing night concert in Dam Square.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 9 days

When: 1st weekend August

Freq: annually