The Best Amsterdam Weekend Bucketlist
If you're looking to spend a fantastic first-time visit weekend in Amsterdam, you will want to make sure you know all the key Amsterdam bucketlist things you want to do, while also maybe trying a few of the more non-touristy, off-the-beaten-track activities. Am I right? I hope so, because this list is going to help you figure out which are the most important landmarks, museums and activities you want to do during your Amsterdam weekend, while also giving you some inspiration for some other things you maybe didn't know you could do in Amsterdam.
In short, use this list to create your perfect Amsterdam bucketlist and plan an unforgettable first-time visit. The best part about all these things to do during an Amsterdam weekend, is that they are all tried and tested by me - an Amsterdam local for 6+ years - or by real travellers who have visited Amsterdam at least once (and many of them also live there or close by in the Netherlands).
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links for things I think you'd like to do on your Amsterdam weekend. If you purchase something via a link and I may make a small commission, but it doesn't cost you anything extra, and most of the time I do my best to find you the best deals and prices. Thanks! Your support of the work that goes into this site means a lot to me!
Everything You Need to (Try to!) Do in an Amsterdam Weekend
If you're still at the beginning stages of planning your weekend trip to Amsterdam you may want to also bookmark some other posts that will help you plan your visit. This page has a big list of all the Amsterdam travel blogs you can find here, but let me also just leave you a few really important links to help you plan your trip:
The Best Time to Visit Amsterdam / 100+ Free Things to do in Amsterdam / The Best Hotels in Amsterdam for All Budgets / Where to Stay in Amsterdam - A Guide to Amsterdam Neighbourhoods / Tips for Visiting Amsterdam on a Budget / Is the I amsterdam City Card Worth Getting? / Best Things to do at Night in Amsterdam / Guide to Visiting Amsterdam with Kids (of All Ages) / Guide to Visiting Amsterdam in Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter / Tips for Hiring Bikes and Cycling in Amsterdam / The Best City Centre Hotels in Amsterdam / Is Amsterdam Expensive? / Guide to Solo Travel in Amsterdam / The Best Amsterdam Souvenirs
You should also check out some Choose Your Own Itinerary style options for the best ways to spend one day in Amsterdam here. and you should also sign up to my newsletter to get my best 101+ travel tips and advice, and exclusive content sharing Amsterdam tips.
Similarly, in this post you'll find lots of different options depending on your budget for your Amsterdam weekend, as well as your likes and dislikes. Here are the groups of Amsterdam bucketlist activities listed below:
- Must-Do Amsterdam Weekend Activities - Picking the best of Amsterdam's most famous sights, landmarks and activities!
- Free Things to Do During an Amsterdam Weekend - If your budget is tight and you like finding the free gems the city has to offer!
- Best Museums for an Amsterdam Weekend - Amsterdam has tons of museums, but these are the best of the best!
- Unusual (Non-Touristy!) Things to do During Your Amsterdam Weekend - Go off beaten track with these fun bucketlist ideas!
- Best Places to Eat or Be a Foodie During an Amsterdam Weekend - If you love food (and drink!) these tips will help satisfy your appetite in Amsterdam!
Amsterdam Weekend Bucketlist - The Best 50+ Things to Do!
Yes, this list has over 50 different things you can do and while you may think that's too much to do in one weekend in Amsterdam, you'd actually be surprised just how much you can do in an Amsterdam weekend as the city is really quite small and easy to get around whether that's on foot, on public transport or on two wheels even! If you are planning on doing a lot of museums and using public transport (which is reliable, clean and affordable, by the way!) then I would strongly recommend getting an i amsterdam City Card for 48 hours. You can read my full review of the i amsterdam City Card here, and why 48 hours or more is worth it.
But now let's get cracking with the things you really must try and do during your Amsterdam weekend.
Must-Do Amsterdam Weekend Activities
Cruise Amsterdam's Canals by Suzanne Jones from The Travel Bunny
Amsterdam is well known for its beautiful concentric canal ring and a wonderful way to explore the city is through its iconic canal network on a cruise around the waterways. I loved seeing Amsterdam’s UNESCO listed 400-year old canals, bridges and Golden Age houses from the water. When you’ve walked your socks off it’s a very chilled way to see the city. We passed Amsterdam’s smallest house, saw the city’s architectural beauty close up and cruised under some of the city’s pretty medieval bridges.
A cruise also gives you some great photo opportunities - at one point we could see six bridges ahead of us. Depending on the cruise you choose you’ll have a recorded commentary, audio guide or your captain will regale you with fascinating and amusing snippets of Amsterdam’s history and daily life.
Some boats are covered whilst other are open which is perfect on a sunny day. We took an open boat cruise with around a dozen passengers. The smaller boat meant we could navigate some of the smaller and lesser visited canals. There are a range of cruises available from sunset cruises with dinner, evening pizza cruises, cocktail cruises, culinary cruises, daytime cruises, a cruise where you can also create-your-own-burger, cruises in an older more elegant classic saloon boat, and hop-on hop-off boats where the cruise becomes your transport for the day. And if you're coming in December or January be sure to go on an evening cruise that lets you see the fantastic Amsterdam Light Festival.
Go on a Private Boat Tour of the Canals by Chelsea Sipe from Pack More Into Life
Amsterdam is a wonderful city in the Netherlands to explore by foot, but also by boat cruise. During our visit to Amsterdam with some friends, we decided to splurge a bit on a private boat tour complete with wine, appetizers that are locally sourced from the area. The boat also came with a private tour guide. It was well worth the cost and highly recommended, especially for families. The adults dined on cheese, meats, olives, fresh bread and spreads while sipping local wines. The children munched, explored the boat, peered out the windows and helped the captain to steer through the canals. We all admired the historic buildings, museums, houseboats and listened to the stories of how the canals have changed over the years and where to find the best restaurants.
There are lots of different private canal tour boats to choose from like a private cruise with chef cooking a BBQ (maybe one for summer!), a private tour with free beer, a romantic tour with Prosecco, alternatively a hangover cruise, or a private tour with tapas to eat.
Visit Anne Frank House by Coni from Experiencing the Globe
Most people visit Amsterdam thinking about partying, and completely overlook the rich history the place has. Visiting Anne Frank’s House for sure will put a blue note on your trip, but it’s really important to gain perspective about the places we see. During high school we all read the story of this little girl, and seeing the walls where they were written in is a remarkable experience.
It recently became a requirement that you must book you ticket online. You can do this up to three months in advance and you'll be allocated a date and time slot, or if you don't get a chance to do this or they sell out for your chosen day then you can try to book a ticket online on the day as some tickets are reserved for then. In short, you can ONLY buy your tickets online so don't arrive and expect access without a ticket.
Once inside, it’s a heartbreaking story to learn or remind yourself of at times, but it's also truly inspiring to see how something beautiful came from such a tragedy. The house is located in Westermarkt 20, which is only a 20 minutes walk from the central station. It opens daily and with your entrance fee you get a free audio guide. Keep in mind that photography is not allowed in the museum, this way you’re focused on the experience and not on your camera.
Visit The Rijksmuseum by Diana from The Elusive Family
Located at the Museum Square, which is also worth visiting, and it's where there are several other museums are located, The Rijksmuseum is among the most famous attractions in Amsterdam and the largest museum in the Netherlands. Considered the country's national museum, masterpieces by famous artists including Rembrandt are located in the museum, and the historical span of artifacts and objects provide an impressive overview of the Netherlands'history and art through the centuries.
The museum is accessible by public transport from Centraal Station via trams 12 and 2, metro stop 52 mat Vijzelgracht. If you are only in Amsterdam for a day and plan on visiting the museum, bus 397 can take you straight from Schipol Airport to the museum. You can also drive and park, though finding parking is a bit more difficult. Alternatively, you can be a local, and take a bicycle to the museum for the day.
Tickets for the Rijksmuseum can be bought online in advance, and this is recommended because it's a popular sight and buying your ticket online allows you to queue jump. You can also buy tickets in advance that include a guided tour which is also recommended so you can get a full in-depth understanding of everything you are seeing. The Rijksmuseum is also free to visit when you have an I amsterdam City Card.
Eat (the Best!) Dutch Apple Pie at Winkel 43 by Sydney from A World in Reach
A trip to Amsterdam isn't complete without indulging in some delicious dutch apple pie. One of the best spots in the city to grab a slice is Winkel 43, a charming café in Amsterdam's Jordaan neighborhood. Make sure to get a slice with ice cream – this was one of my favorite desserts I tried during my visit! Winkel 43 is located at Noordermarkt 43 in Jordaan. It is just a six-minute walk from the Anne Frank House, and less than a 20 minute walk from the Red Light District. A slice of apple pie will cost you around €5. If you're hungry for more than just apple pie, the café also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Read more about Amsterdam's Best Apple Pie here!
Stroll or Cycle Around Vondelpark by Nellie Huang from Wild Junket and author of a brilliant book for mini-travellers, called Explorers! Do check it out if you have travel-obsessed kids.
When the sun's out, this is where you'll find many Amsterdammers basking under the sun. Vondelpark is the green lungs of Amsterdam, located within central Amsterdam and close to most attractions. It's an excellent spot for a picnic, a stroll with dogs, or a crazy fun time with kids. There are beautiful lakeside cafes, open-air beer gardens, and even an outdoor theater where concerts and comedy shows are held. One of the best way to get there is renting a bike so you can explore the park, the way locals do.
Wander around the 9 Streets (9 Straatjes)
If you like wandering around cute little shopping streets that have some of the coolest, quirkiest and cutest shops, cafes and restaurants located in some of the quaintest Amsterdam houses, then you must make strolling around the Nine Streets something you do. You can expect to find fashion boutiques, concept stores, cafes, restaurants and bars among the many nice shops found here, and in-between the streets you'll cross the main ring canals so plenty of photo opportunities too.
Visit the Bloemenmarkt Floating Flower Market by Dominika from Sunday in Wonderland
Go to a Coffee Shop by Nadeen White of The Sophisticated Life
If you are in Amsterdam, a visit to a “coffee shop” should be on your Amsterdam bucket list. AKA as Coffeeshop or "Koffieshop". But, the coffee shops in Amsterdam are not like the ones you think of elsewhere. Unlike places like Starbucks, you will not find caffé lattes on the menu, as Amsterdam's coffee shops famously offer cannabis products for sale and consumption.
In Amsterdam it is not illegal to use or carry cannabis. But contrary to popular belief, it is not technically legal to do so. Confusing, right? Basically, if the coffee shops and consumers follow some simple rules, it is tolerated. Coffee shops should not be confused with Coffee houses or "Koffie Huis" which are your typical coffee spots serving espressos, lattes etc.
Coffee shops in Amsterdam should have a green and white sign at the entrance and most will be noticeably places where cannabis products are sold and used, even if it's just by the smell! When visiting a coffee shop you can expect to find various kinds of cannabis. I was actually surprised at the extensive menu on the wall of the one we visited. You can also purchase marijuana “goodies” like brownies and muffins. Some coffee shops, like the one we visited, had a smoking area. If you are like me and don’t partake in cannabis activities, it is still cool to make a stop in an Amsterdam coffee shop on your first trip there. You will also find them to be a social place where you can meet and chat with locals.
Visit Dam Square by Denise van Rijswijk from In Het Vliegtuig
Dam Square is the most famous square in Amsterdam and it's only a 5-minute walk from the Central Station. It's a vibrant square with many tourists, living statues and other street artists. There are a couple of buildings that will definitely grab your attention here. The old Royal Palace can't be missed and although this 17th-century building is no longer home to the royals, it's still used for formal occasions. The rest of the year it's open to the public and quite often there are interesting exhibitions taking place.
Close by you can find the world-famous Madame Tussauds museum, that is filled with wax statues that look extremely realistic. Another famous place on Dam Square is Hotel Krasnapolsky, a beautiful hotel that was built in 1883 for the world exhibition. Although it's a very nice 5-star hotel, travelers that want to take it to the next level need to check-in at Hotel TwentySeven; the most expensive and first 6-star hotel in the Netherlands (with 5/5 star reviews on TripAdvisor too!). From their unique suites, you have an incredible view over Dam Square and the white memorial statue. This statue was built to honor those who died and fought for liberation during WWII. Every year on the 4th of May, there's a special memorial service with the royal family, followed by a festive Liberation Day.
Van Gogh Museum by Tea Gudek Snajdar from Culture Tourist
Visiting the Van Gogh Museum which is home to the biggest collection of Van Gogh’s work in the world is definitely something you have to do when visiting Amsterdam for the first time. Painter who created around 1,800 paintings and drawings in only ten years of his art career is one of the most famous Dutch artists today. His paintings are displayed in a chronological order at the museum, so you’ll get a wonderful overview of Vincent’s work. You can read some of his letters, explore the family photos and enjoy in some paintings that inspired him, as well. Entrance tickets could only be purchased on line, so be sure to do that before your trip. Because of the copyrights and the fact the museum was robbed twice since it was opened in 1973, taking photos is not allowed inside of the museum. Van Gogh Museum is located at the Museumplein, next to the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
Tickets for the Van Gogh Museum are available online and when you book you choose your date and the time. Even if you have a Museumkaart or I amsterdam City Card you will have to go online and register the date and time you want to visit.
Explore the Red Light District
Of course not everyone will have exploring the Red Light District on their Amsterdam bucketlist, and I will be the first to advise those of you looking for a relaxing weekend in Amsterdam that you probably shouldn't head to the De Wallen as the area is known in Dutch, but it is the oldest part of the city AND it's also quite rapidly changing as it undergoes a number of transformations due to a "clean up" initiative by the local council alongside the effects of gentrification, so there's one argument that you should see it before it changes completely.
Personally, I find the area fascinating and vibrant and educational. I learned so much on my tour of the Red Light District, but even that is now no longer possible as efforts are being made to stop walking tours of the area. But of course it is still free for visitors to wander around, and in amongst the red lit windows, sex show theatres, sex shops, coffee shops, head shops (where you can buy magic mushrooms and other drugs) there are also cosy cafes and "brown bars" (Dutch pubs), some of the city's best restaurants and other weird and wonderful sights like Oude Kerk (a beautiful old Cathedral), the Condomerie (a part museum/part shop celebration of the condom) and the Cannabis Museum. I would also recommend having a drink or two in De Prael, a craft brewery that is also a social enterprise. If you did want to know more about sex work in the Red Light please do a tour with or visit the Prostitute Information Center as they support those working in the industry. Also important, you are forbidden from taking any kind of photos or videos of the sex workers and in general, please be respectful of them as the streets you are "touring" are also where they work.
Get the Best Views of the City from A'dam Toren by Kristy from Tassie Devil Abroad
One of my favourite spots in Amsterdam, and where I usually take any friends who come over to visit, is A’DAM Toren, aka Amsterdam Tower. The reason is to show them the incredible views over the city of Amsterdam from the lookout on top! You go up to the lookout via a lift which features a cool sound and light show, then the 360-degree lookout also has a bar area during the summer and, of course, the ‘Over the Edge’ swing, which is touted as being the highest swing in Europe! I’ve never been game enough to brave the swing but I love looking over the river IJ to Amsterdam Centraal and then beyond to the city of Amsterdam itself. Bonus, there’s a cocktail bar directly under the viewing platform (Madam) which might be the most picturesque spot in Amsterdam for a drink.
Heineken Experience by Amanda Emmerling from Toddling Traveler
We love learning about local beer and wine any time we travel, and Amsterdam was no exception. Heineken is one of the most popular beers in the world, and the Heineken Experience allows you to tour the original factory where the beer was brewed until 1988. The Heineken Experience is located in the center of Amsterdam in the De Pijp neighborhood, making it easy to access from almost anywhere in Amsterdam.
The Heineken Experience is different from many brewery tours in that the entire self-guided tour is interactive from the moment you enter the building. The Experience starts out with information on the history of Heineken as well as insight into the brewing process.
Once you learn everything you can about one of the most famous beers in the world, you’ll find rooms with several interactive games and experiences that highlight Heineken’s presence in the world. At the time we were visiting, there was a large emphasis on Heineken’s new “soccer is here” campaign and we loved the interactive displays and games that were part of that. At the end of the Heineken tour, you also learn to pour a perfect glass of Heineken and enjoy a beer or two in the tasting room.
There are several options for purchasing tickets to the Heineken Experience. Individual tickets for the Heineken Experience cost €21 in person for adults and are discounted to €18 if you purchase them online. You can also purchase tickets to the Heineken Experience as part of a sightseeing package. We opted to do the Heineken Experience along with an Amsterdam canal cruise. I highly recommend this option for discounted pricing to two attractions that should be on every Amsterdam bucket list.
If you’re visiting the Heineken factory with kids, children are permitted at the Heineken Experience and receive discounted admission. Strollers, however, are not permitted in the tour area and must be left in the coat room.
Free Things to Do During an Amsterdam Weekend
See the Dancing Houses by Valentina from Valentina's Destinations
No weekend in Amsterdam is complete without spotting the so-called Dancing Houses. What exactly are Amsterdam's Dancing Houses? They’re canal homes that are "sinking" into the ground unevenly. Some are sinking so drastically that you can easily spot the awkwardly angled roofs. The most photographed Dancing Houses are located at Amstel 106, 1017 AD Amsterdam.
Dancing houses tell an interesting story about Dutch history. Amsterdam’s beautiful homes were built on top of wooden poles drilled into the swampy waters. Some of these poles were drilled in several hundred years ago, and some may have been to narrow or short. Over the years they sank, inconsistently, further into Amsterdam’s clay before hitting sand.
The homes appear to be dancing because of their unusual angles and the way in which they lean on one another. Interestingly, most of them are actually attached. Other unique characteristics of Amsterdam canal homes include their narrow design, large windows and forward leaning facades. The homes were built narrow but deep to maximize their space in a way that minimizes taxes for the building owner. The many windows cut down on weight (weight adds to foundation problems). Finally, the forward lean is a characteristic of many Medieval towns. It allowed the top of the home (equipped with a hook) to be used as a pulley for transporting furniture and goods without damaging the façade.
Beurspassage by Sarah from CosmopoliClan
What was once a neglected corridor between Nieuwendijk and Damrak has been transformed into a colorful and playful work of art. Over a million of emerald-hued glass mosaic tiles create the illusion of being underwater in one of the city’s canals. Forgotten treasures such as bikes, clogs, sailormen tattoos and a giant and even Van Gogh’s ear float by.
The artwork is called “Oersoep” which translates as “Primordial Soup” which symbolizes the importance of the Amsterdam canals. A giant bronze fish head even lets you tap some of that soup slash canal water. Mirrors, chandeliers and oddly-shaped light fixtures complement the theme. The Beurspassage is an ode to Amsterdam and a free touristic hotspot that’s not to be missed.
Stroll around the Jordaan by Sam from Sam Sees World
During your Amsterdam weekend, heading to the famous and beautiful area of Joordan is a must. The Jordaan (pronounced by the Dutch as "Your-Daan") is a trendy and upscale micro-neighborhood in Amsterdam that is full of grand canals, trendy shops, cute cafes, and unique restaurants. This neighborhood is the most picturesque area in the city with its stunning canals and unique Amsterdam houses around every corner.
The Jordaan is so lovely and full of things to do that you can easily spend an entire day here. It holds some of the top attractions, restaurants, and shops in all of Amsterdam. Such as the above-mentioned best apple pie in the city at Winkel 43, the street markets at Noordermarkt and Lindengracht, Anne Frank House, The 9 Streets and more!
Despite all the fantastic things to do in the neighborhood, nothing tops just walking around and exploring all the little streets and canals. More so, the neighbourhood is idyllic both during the day and at night. When the sun sets the Jordaan lights up with streetlights and small bulbs around the canal bridges. It truly is a magical sight. Be sure to put aside some time during your Amsterdam weekend adventures to explore the most beautiful area in the city, and you will not be disappointed!
Look out for the Street Art by Vianca from Nomadbiba
One of my favorite things to do when visiting any city is scouting its streets searching for beautiful murals. Amsterdam is no exception. However, the thing about the Dutch capital is that you kind of have to dig deeper to find its hidden gems. In the case of street art, if you stick to Amsterdam's core, you will only find a few small pieces (mostly paste-ups and stencil art) here and there.
If you want to see some large scale street art pieces, the best thing is to head to Amsterdam Nieuw-West, on the westernmost side of the city, an area rarely explored by visitors to Amsterdam. There you will find an impressive growing collection of murals by some amazing international artists. Most of the artwork in the area has been created in collaboration with the Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA), a local non-profit organization.
This is a great activity to do alone if you're travelling to Amsterdam solo. Here are more tips and things to do as a solo traveller in Amsterdam.
Explore the NDSM Werf Area by Hanna Thomas from SolarPoweredBlonde
NDSM Wharf is one of the coolest spots in Amsterdam and a must for your bucketlist if you like such up-coming trendy neighbourhoods. To get there, you can get a free ferry from Amsterdam Central station. I cycled here from the hostel I was staying at, and you can even take your bike on the ferry across. NDSM is a former shipyard that has been turned into a very interesting area with amazing restaurants and cafes. There is lots of street art to see here, with plenty of photography spots.
One of the most popular spots for photos is a huge sign saying ‘Sexyland’ above one of the buildings! Sexyland is actually a club with different events each night. NDSM is right along the water so a perfect spot in summer. In winter, it is also a great place to hide and warm up in one of the cafes. NDSM is also home to one of the craziest hotels, which is in a crane! What is even crazier is that you can bungee jump from this crane. Twice a month, NDSM is also home to a huge flea market and vintage clothing market. If that wasn’t enough, NDSM is also a venue for lots of festivals and even an outdoor cinema.
Enjoy a Free Lunchtime Concert at Concertgebouw (Royal Concert Hall) by Ellis from Backpack Adventures
I live close to Amsterdam and I don't need much to find a reason to visit the city. One of my favourite activities for a night out in Amsterdam is the Royal Concertgebouw. Not only is the neoclassical style building from 1886 a beauty, the main hall is also famous for having the best acoustics in the world.
A concert of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the main hall is guaranteed to give you goosebumps and should be on anyone's Amsterdam bucketlist. You can attend the free lunch concerts on Wednesday afternoon at 12:30, book tickets for an evening performance, or you can go on a fascinating behind the scenes tour - or all three!
Visit Foodhallen by Nellie from Wild Junket
One of my favorite places to go for international food in Amsterdam is Foodhallen, a covered food market that rivals Covent Garden in London and La Boqueria in Barcelona. There are over 20 food stalls here, serving everything from dim sum to jamon iberico. It’s got a very international vibe with each stall selling street food dishes from around the world. But don’t fret if you’re looking for Dutch food — there are several choices here for those interested in tasting home-grown dishes.
Foodhallen is actually located within De Hallen, a lively and multi-cultural complex located in Amsterdam Oud-West. It is housed within a former tram depot, a national monument built between 1902-1928. This is the place where the first electric trams in Amsterdam were maintained, and it has since been given a new lease of life. It's a popular spot with locals too so you can enjoy mixing with them grabbing lunch or relaxing after work as well as other visitors enjoying their Amsterdam weekend!
Best Museums for an Amsterdam Weekend
Rembrandt House Museum by Laura from Travelers Universe
Visiting the house where Rembrandt lived and worked for two decades, it’s not only educational but a delightful way to spend a couple of hours during a weekend in Amsterdam. The house, dating back to the beginning of the 17th century is situated in Jodenbreestraat, close to the Red Light District. Make no mistake though, this used to be a hipster area in Rembrandt’s time and many rich merchants and artists flocked here.
I loved Rembrandt’s house best for the atmosphere and fun workshops, especially the etching demonstrations. The reconstructed Golden Age atmosphere complete with gorgeous paintings and old furniture, makes this place a definite must visit. Admission is €14, but it’s worth every penny, and you can book online in advance to avoid the queues. Admission is also free with an I amsterdam City Card.
FOAM Photography Museum by Taylor Taverna from Taverna Travels
The FOAM Photography Museum is housed in an 18th-century house in the Grachtengordel area, just South of Amsterdam’s center. The museum houses a number of rotating photography exhibits, featuring work from artists from around the world. FOAM is an amazing place to see incredible photography exhibits, at a very reasonable price. Perfect for a cold or rainy day!
Tickets can be bought online in advance to speed up your visit, and if you are in possession of a Museumkaart or I Amsterdam City Card,admission is free. If you are paying on the day, please note that payment at the museum is cashless, so be sure to bring a debit or credit card for payment.
Moco Museum by Sarah from Borders and Bucketlists
The Moco Museum in Amsterdam showcases modern, contemporary, and street art from across the globe. Located on the famous Museumplein, the Moco Museum’s focus on the artists of today helps to separate it from other nearby museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum, which focus on artistic masters of the past.
The Moco Museum opened with a bang in April of 2016 by presenting the world’s first exhibition of the famous street artist, Banksy. The street artist’s most famous works, including Girl with a Balloon, are still on display. This unique experience alone made it one of my personal favorite parts of my trip to Amsterdam.
The museum’s ongoing displays include pieces by modern artistic masters, including Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. There are also revolving exhibits showcasing the works of world-renowned artists, such as Yayoi Kusama and Roy Lichtenstein. To have the best experience possible at this creativity-filled museum, head to Moco Museum right when it opens at 9 a.m. Considering how many amazing works are on the premises, the museum is quite small, so it is much more enjoyable to visit during non-peak hours. Tickets to visit the Moco Museum can be booked online so you can ensure you don't have to queue.
The Houseboat Museum by Dan from Layer Culture
If you’re in Amsterdam and curious about how people around the city manage to live on a boat, here is your chance. The Houseboat Museum on Prinsengracht, one of the main ring canals in the centre of the city, is a great way to be able to get on board a real-life houseboat. Here you’ll learn all about the history of living life on a boat in Amsterdam which is the perfect experience for anyone interested in life as a local in Amsterdam.
This is not like other museums in the city and you can expect a unique tour which lasts less than half an hour so you could easily just pop in to kill a little bit of time before visiting Anne Frank House or heading on to Museumplein. Not only is it a great way to get an insight in living on a houseboat, though, you’ll also encounter some interesting information including picture boards and a short video that explains all about how the houseboats work. (You don't need to buy tickets in advance and admission is free with an I amsterdam City Card.)
NEMO Science Museum by Jessy from Planet Pilgrims
I love doing educational stuff with my daughter when we're traveling. When we visited Amsterdam in 2018, we were experiencing a heatwave and I was looking for an air-conditioned, fun place to take here. NEMO Science Museum had been on my list so I figured THIS is the perfect day to go there and escape the heat for a bit
NEMO is situated in walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station so it is super easy to get there. It is a very distinct building which you will recognize from a far. The sunroof is open during Summer time with lots of water features for the kids to splash in. Besides the permanent activities there's a daily calendar of special activities so make sure to check it out to plan your day. In general the activities for the smallest visitors are on the ground floor and the higher you go the more advanced the activities are. The sunroof is a great place to relax and grab a bite to eat while your kids can run around outside.
We only spent one day at NEMO but it is a place where I would definitely go back a couple of times a year. Kids have so much fun and learn SO much and I did too!
Kids up to age 3 have free entrance with an adult. From 3 years up you pay EURO 17.50 per person and you can buy your tickets online in advance so you don't need to queue and can just walk straight in!
Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) by Leona from Wandermust Family
Het Scheepvaartmuseum, or in English the National Maritime Museum, is a must for your Amsterdam bucket list especially if you are travelling to Amsterdam with toddlers or kids. The museum was renovated in 2011 and has a beautiful new glass atrium. The Maritime Museum explores the maritime history of the Netherlands and is also a great hands on place.
Children in particular will love the whaling exhibition where you can actually walk through a model whale. But my favourite thing in the maritime museum is the replica 18th century ship that you can walk on and explore. This is a bit of an icon in Amsterdam and is one of my favourite sights to see especially from a canal boat tour.
Stedelijk Museum by Sarah from Travel Breathe Repeat
Art and architecture lovers alike should make sure to put the Stedelijk Museum on their Amsterdam Bucket list. Modern and contemporary art is housed in an enormous white building resembling a bathtub. Even if it’s not your cup of tea aesthetically it’s still worth visiting as it’s so unique. The collection is also fantastic - especially if you like 20th century and contemporary art (we prefer the former, but do enjoy Stedelijk’s collection of the latter).
Stedelijk Museum is located at Museumplein, near the other major museums in Amsterdam. It’s easy to spend a whole day in the area, although you might need a little art break!
Like most museums in the Netherlands, the Stedelijk isn’t cheap. As of writing, adult tickets cost 18.50 EUR. But if you want to visit a few museums in the city, something like the Iamsterdam City Card or the Museum Card would be a good value.
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder by Rachel Heller from Rachel's Ruminations
When Protestantism was the law of the land, Dutch Catholics had to go underground to practice their faith … or in this case, under the roof. Ons Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic) is an entire church housed in the upper stories of a typical 17th century row house. Still used for masses and weddings, the church is completely invisible from the street, yet it’s three stories tall inside, filled with light through windows on three sides.
Even at the time, its existence was an open secret in relatively tolerant Amsterdam. It has since been beautifully restored, and a visit includes an exhibit in the neighboring building focusing on the still-topical theme of religious tolerance.
The Cheese Museum by Kaisa Wayrynen from Glam Granola Travel
Amsterdam is well-known for its museums, and for good reason. There is something for everyone here, whether you're into art, history, or... dairy. Enter the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. Yes, I said Cheese Museum. And it's as excellent as it sounds, I promise. Not only do I recommend it to every first-time Amsterdam visitor, but I will 100% be returning no matter how many times I visit Amsterdam for a weekend again.
Let me set the delightful scene at the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. It is a small two-story building, filled with mouthwatering samples of every kind of cheese you can imagine. And it’s completely free. Amsterdam isn't cheap, so I feel this detail is particularly important. The Cheese Museum is tucked away across the canal from the Anne Frank House, which you will almost certainly visit on your first trip to Amsterdam.
So there’s no excuse not to pop in for a chunk of cheddar, or a bite of brie, except maybe lactose intolerance. Everyone can enjoy the museum’s ground level, a surprisingly interesting journey through the history of cheese and cheese-making tools and culture in the Netherlands. Every sort of cheese you sample is also for sale. Pro-tip: the smoked gouda is a perfect Amsterdam souvenir for friends and family back home!
And if you want to earn your cheese calories you can do a combined walking tour and cheese tasting session at the Cheese Museum.
Unusual (Non-Touristy!) Things to do During Your Amsterdam Weekend
Amsterdam-Noord Bike Tour by Sima from The Curious Pixie
Amsterdam is one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world and hopping on a bike is a really fun and easy way to see the city with their dedicated cycle lanes and flat landscape. A great place to explore a little further afield is Amsterdam-Noord with 'We Bike Amsterdam' on a four-hour countryside tour. Once paired with the right wheels, you'll cycle to a dock behind Centraal Station and board the free five minutes Buiksloterweg ferry.
The tour takes you through around 18.5 miles of glorious countryside full of picturesque villages,fields with roaming cows and horses and beautiful windmills. I'd highly recommend venturing out of the city centre you'll be rejuvenated and windswept by the sea breezes. Make sure you bring your sunscreen if it's sunny or wrap up warn if chilly.
There are lots of other bike tours you can do in and around Amsterdam, like this one that takes in all the key sights, and this one that takes you out into the beautiful countryside that surrounds Amsterdam.
Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art by Craig O'Brien from Vagabond Disposition
The Electric Ladyland Museum of Fluorescent Art had to be the most bizarre place I'd ever stepped foot into, even by Amsterdam's standards! This museum supposedly is the only one on Earth featuring solely fluorescent art. Upon arriving into the main sitting area, you'll be briefed on what you're about to see and experience downstairs. After, you will be led down step by step into the basement, and the home of the museum itself.
Before the black lights are turned on, the place looks like any other old basement. However, after the black light flickers on, suddenly the entire space becomes luminous with bright, trippy, totally fluorescent light, and a sort of cave-like area flashes before your eyes. This space is the main exhibit area, where visitors are invited to go inside the shallow structure, and become part of the exhibit itself, giving credit to the exhibit's genre of 'participatory art.'
Peeking around the exhibit, you'll find little figurines and other-worldly creatures hanging out inside, as well as the odd mirror or two to view how exactly you look among the zany environment. Also in the basement are several displays of rocks that emit an incredible glow when placed under the fluorescent light. Unsurprisingly, the museum itself is a bit tricky to find, but certainly not impossible. Located in the Jordaan neighborhood, the easiest way to find the museum is by using the Anne Frank House as a landmark. From there, simply walk north along the canal until the very first bridge on the left.
Take the bridge over the canal, turn left, and take the very first side-street away from the canal on your right. Walk straight through the first intersection, then take a right at the second intersection. The museum will be on your right hand side only 40-50 meters down the road. The entrance fee is only 5 euros and you can expect to spend about an hour there, as soon as the tour begins. Overall, this particularly unique, gem of an attraction is certainly not to be missed while visiting Amsterdam!
You can go on a foodie walking tour of Jordaan (I did one here and it was fab!) or you can even take part in a special Jordaan discovery game seeing out the hidden sights of the area.
The Sex Museum by Kenny from Knycx JourneyingThere are a lot of museums in the Amsterdam, but believe it or not, out of all of those museums I'm going to suggest you don’t miss The Sex Museum Amsterdam! It is one of the most visited museums in the city. Opened in 1985, the museum showcased artifacts, images, videos and documents about sex. Not in a gross or disgusting way, but to explore how people from all over the world view “sex” through time.
Although the topic is supposed to be a taboo, it is an interesting learning process when everything is on display out in the open. I was surprised to see some creative toys and images that was created few decades ago; and it was only in Amsterdam, a city that celebrates freedom and openness, that allows tourists to treat the exhibit with a good sense of humor, and a great respect to the human history.
Shop or Stroll at the Lindengracht Market by Meredith Fulford from The Longest WeekendAmsterdam is home to some of the world’s best outdoor markets, and the Lindengracht Market in Jordaan draws in locals and visitors alike every week. Located just around the corner from the equally charming Noordermarkt, the 120-year-old Lindengracht Market stretches an entire kilometer along a postcard-worthy stretch of the city.
Lindengracht Market’s 232-stalls are home to vendors offering an eclectic selection of everything from fresh cheese and stroopwafel to traditional Dutch crafts and vintage Burberry coats. If you’re looking to bring home a unique souvenir from Amsterdam, this iconic market is an amazing place to start. Lindengracht Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
ARTIS MICROPIA by Inma from A World To TravelBefore going through the door of this unique museum, I wondered how long it would take to hate ARTIS MICROPIA. I am in a stage of life where museums bore me soon and besides, I was not too attracted to the particular theme of this - microbes! It didn't take more than two minutes inside to discover how wrong I was.
Located in an annex of the Royal Artis Zoo in Amsterdam (which, fortunately, has changed its main activity and now is dedicated to many other things such as sustainability education instead of the classic zoo function), ARTIS MICROPIA will delight big and small ones. Only the curiosity that each one has matters. Tickets are available to buy in advance online or you can enter for free if you already have an I amsterdam City Card. Enjoy!
Visit House of Bols by Rosie Fluskey from Flying FluskeyIf you are over eighteen and want a boozy experience beyond the beer scene, then take a trip to the House of Bols. Located on the edge of Museumplein, it is ideally located to take up a slot in your Amsterdam itinerary. Bols is a uniquely Dutch drinks dynasty (one of the world's oldest) producing liqueurs using genever as a base. Genever is similar to gin and can be mixed to create a huge range of different flavoured cocktail ingredients. The House of Bols is a museum dedicated to this popular brand.
You will discover the history behind genever and the Bols family business. Check out the collection of miniature delft houses. These are filled with Bols genever and given to first-class passengers on the Dutch airline KLM. You will also learn all about the techniques used for blending the liquor into its many colourful variations. See if you can guess the flavours just by smell...it is surprisingly hard! After your education, it is time to try some of the Bols itself in the form of a cocktail. Use the machines to pick your perfect blend and try not to get too confused by the Mirror Bar's many shiny surfaces. The entry price includes a cocktail and you can buy your ticket online too.
House of Bols is one of the best museums to visit at night. To find out more about visiting museums at night, and other things to do in Amsterdam at night see this list.
Eat Herring like the Dutch by Alex from Swedish NomadHerring is one of the traditional foods of the Netherlands, and when visiting Amsterdam, you'll see plenty of these herring wagons around the city. It's a popular fast-food where you order a herring sandwich with various toppings. It costs 3-5 Euro, and it's definitely something every foodie should try while visiting Amsterdam. You can also order herring without bread, which is also nice and a bit healthier than a herring sandwich.
Some of the best places to get herring in Amsterdam are Volendammer Haringhandel, Frens Haringhandel, Stubbe Haring, and Haring & Zo. These are usually open for a few hours during the day time, usually around lunchtime
The Cat Museum Kattenkabinett, by Kieren from Got My Backpack
This bizarre attraction is a must for any cat fans visiting Amsterdam, especially if you also appreciate art and like looking in old canal houses. The Kattenkabinet museum is located at Herengracht 497, an old canal house near the 'Golden Bend' of the Herengracht canal, an area you may recognise from Oceans 12 fame.
Unlike many cat cafes and attractions like this around the world, this museum is focused on the art rather than the physical animals. Inside you'll find an array of cat memorabilia including photos, paintings, strange feline statues and even a small book where visitors can pay tribute to their own cats. Although five real life cats live at the museum although I only spotted one strolling around. The museum is €6 to enter with discounts for children and groups. It's quite small so allowing 45 minutes should be adequate.
Wander around Westerpark by Sarah from Travel Breathe Repeat
Most tourists have heard of Vondelpark, the large beautiful park close to Museumplein in Amsterdam. And it’s definitely nice. But if you’re looking for another place to relax that’s a little less touristy, we recommend heading over to Westerpark. It’s located in the northwest of the city, close to but not smack in the middle of the most touristic center. So it’s easy to get to but might feel a little quieter and calmer.
Westerpark has something for everyone: green expanses in which to relax or have a picnic; well-paved places to run and exercise; sculptures and playgrounds. It’s also home to Westergas, an old gas works building that has turned into a cultural center with events, restaurants, and markets. An outpost of Troost Brewery is there, a super local Amsterdam microbrewery. So taste some beer, play outside, and just enjoy your time in Westerpark and in Amsterdam.
Depending on where you’re coming from, you can easily get to Westerpark by foot, bike, or tram.
Waterland Bike Route by Eric from Once Upon a BackpackThe consequence of being one of the world’s most traveled to destinations means that the city tends to get overcrowded. Activities within Amsterdam seem endless as do the lines and throngs of tourists you will encounter while there. Instead of waiting in line among the endless center-city crowds, get out and into the nearby countryside.
Despite the Netherlands being one of the most densely populated regions in the world, it doesn’t take long for one to go from concrete jungle to endless fields, canals, and open space. The best way to experience the area outside is to use the most common transportation to be found in Amsterdam, the bicycle.
Of all the bike rentals available in the city, we recommend Black Bikes as they have many drop off points within the city and have no advertising on their bikes which helps you blend in a bit better. For an introduction into the Dutch countryside, the Waterland bike route is highly recommended. It’s a 30+ Kilometer loop that takes you along to little villages, flat as pancake farms, and bay side views (and canals of course!). You will be shocked out how a few hundred meter ferry ride out of central Amsterdam will transform how you view of the region. Buildings quickly give way to fields as life becomes simple, slower paced, and peaceful. The trail is well signposted, so it is difficult to get lost along the route.
To start, take the ferry across the canal directly behind the train station and follow signs (or maps.me) from there. In Broek in Waterland, there is an excellent Dutch pancake house with generous portions to help you refuel before the ride back into Amsterdam. If you are looking for the perfect bike ride around Amsterdam, this is it!
Best Places to Eat or Be a Foodie During an Amsterdam Weekend
Grab brunch, lunch and more in De Pijp by Carolin from Breathing Travel
If you are looking for a real trendy part of Amsterdam with cool boutiques, cute cafes and one of the largest open-air markets in the Europe, you cannot go past visiting the neighbourhood of De Pijp. I absolutely loved wandering Albert Cuyp Market in the morning, getting Poffertjes, traditional Dutch pancakes, marvelling at rows and rows of fresh flowers and oh, did I mention the many food-tasting opportunities? Don’t forget to savor some of the freshly baked stroopwafels!
De Pijp is also a paradise for brunch lovers, me included. Try the Aussie-owned café called Little Collins or Instagram favourite, The Avocado Show, I think the name in itself already sold me! But it doesn’t stop here! De Pijp is a great place to discover in the daytime, but come sunset, you will find the locals flocking into laid-back bars and various restaurants with cuisines serving dishes from Moroccan to Thai, Indian and Japanese, reflecting that this neighbourhood of Amsterdam is truly a melting pot of nationalities and cultures.
Albert Cuyp Market by Chloe from Chloe's Travelogue
When traveling a new place, visiting a local market is a fun way to glance at the lives of the residents. If you want to have that experience in Amsterdam, be sure to add Albert Cuyp Market to your Amsterdam weekend bucketlist. In the hip De Pijp neighborhood, Albert Cuyp Market is a quaint street market. It is not a massive find-all kind of place that you would spend hours to go scavenger-hunting. But it is a nice little neighborhood market with organized street vendors selling local foods, clothing, shoes, souvenirs, flowers, etc.
While window shopping and strolling the street, look out for food vendors as you will find some of the best Dutch snacks and food options at Albert Cuyp Market. Grab Dutch herring, Garnalenkroket (grey shrimp croquettes) and Kibbeling (deep-fried codfish) for a meal and Poffertjes (mini pancakes) for desserts. And don’t forget to stop by the famous stroopwafel truck to taste the crispy wafer with caramel syrup!
Reypenaer Cheese Tasting by Taiss Nowrouzi from Together to Wherever
On our travels, were always looking for getting the “flavor of the land.” There’s nothing tastier than food that is local to the place you are visiting, so when in Amsterdam, cheese is just one of those snacks you have to try! Anything dairy in Amsterdam is bound to be delicious (yes, you gotta taste the ice cream, too!).
Reypenaer is the place to get some good cheese tasting done according to great reviews so after visiting the actual store, we booked a reservation for their cheese tasting class. We made the reservation right inside the store, but you can book online. The cost is €17.50 per person and the tasting takes place (lasting about an hour) in their tasting room below the store.They are located about a 10 minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station.
The cheese they offer for tastings are paired with wine or port and you can even get non-alcoholic drinks if you want! The “class” is very informative but the “instructors” also make it very entertaining and fun! If you’re love food like us, you’ll probably end up buying a bunch of their cheese to take back home (mostly for yourself) for friends and family!
Eat Stroopwafel from Van Wonderen Stroopwafels by Erika from Erika's Travelentures
Stroopwafel, literally translated to “syrup waffle”, is a Dutch comfort food and snack that is adored around the world. It’s been around in the Netherlands for centuries, and is made from two thin, doughy wafers with melty caramel syrup between them. Arguably one of the best places to get a stroopwafel is van Wonderen Stroopwafels, located in the heart of Amsterdam. They’ve taken stroopwafels to the next level by dipping it in chocolate and adding different delicious toppings like mini marshmallows, cookie crumbles, nuts, and chewy caramel pieces.
You can even get them in two different sizes, so you can indulge on an XL size of your favorite stroopwafel, or try several different toppings. You can even buy a half-dozen or dozen at a discount to bring home to your friends… or eat by yourself. Because of van Wonderen Stroopwafels’ prime location, you can take your stroopwafels to go, and find a bench by Amsterdam’s many canals to enjoy your snack. Be sure to include van Wonderen Stroopwafels and this classic Dutch comfort food to your Amsterdam weekend bucket list!
Try Some Yummy Fries or "Pataat" by Alexa Meisler from 52 Perfect Days
You wont walk far in Amsterdam without coming across a stand selling fries. Traditional Dutch fries are hand-cut, twice-fried potatoes and made to order. In Amsterdam, fries are served in paper cones and are meant be eaten with a dipping sauce. If you are looking for the best fries in Amsterdam head to Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx.
They do one thing and only one thing; they make deliciously perfect Dutch fries. The shop is a tiny hole-in-the-wall near Spui and they have developed cult status with locals. The line might look long, but it moves fast and it is worth the wait. There is a long list of available toppings but my favorite and the most popular is the Zaanse mayonnaise.
You may hear them called patat or frites or fries, but no matter the name; you must indulge in at least one cone when you visit Amsterdam! The location is Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam, but you can find stalls and restaurants selling "pataat" all over the city.
Eat a Rijsttaffel (or Indonesian Rice Table) by Jamie Italiane of The Daily Adventures of Me
Indonesia was a Dutch colony, so it makes sense that you can get spectacular Indonesian food. Our favorite was a multi-course meal called a rijsttafel, or rice table. With the meal you get many small pots full of different dishes ranging from mild to spicy, meat to vegetable. The dishes are accompanied by rice and pickled vegetables and was among the best meals we had in Amsterdam. Be sure to make reservations, as the best restaurants book up early.
Eat Poffertjes (Mini-Pancakes) by Meredith Fulford from The Longest Weekend
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without sampling the Dutch delicacy, poffertjes. What are poffertjes, you might ask? Imagine tiny, fluffy pancakes topped with butter and powdered sugar – yes, they are as delicious as they sound! The baby pancakes are a time-honored tradition in Holland that date back to the 19th century.
To taste some of the best poffertjes in Amsterdam, head to De Caroussel near the Heineken Brewery or pick them up fresh off the griddle at one of the markets throughout the city. Insider tip: If you’re visiting Amsterdam during the month of August, head to the Parade Festival where you can make your own poffertjes at one of the booths.
You can also find Meredith on Instagram.
Eat Dutch Cheese Fondue by Derek Hartman from Robe Trotting
Every time I visit Amsterdam, I spend at least one meal eating Dutch cheese fondue. It's simply a must as far as I'm concerned and everyone I visit with seems to agree. Holland produces many kinds of cheeses, the most famous of which is Gouda. Some of their most famous cheese varieties come from Dutch towns, like Gouda and Edam.
They are so into their cheese-making heritage, that Amsterdam has a Cheese Museum. However, maybe the Dutch are just really good at marketing their every-day lives. Windmills, tulips, and cheese are quite ordinary, but the Dutch are masters at monetizing everything they touch. Whatever the reason, the Dutch are well-known for their semi-hard cheeses.
These cheeses are perfect for melting into a delicious fondue and the city is dotted with delicious fondue restaurants. My personal favorite is Het Karbeel, located in a 16th-century building in the busy Warmoesstraat. They have a full menu and a fondue selection consisting of 7 varieties. A pot of their tasty fondue can feed 2-3 guests for under 20€. Even though Dutch fondue is delicious, the best part is taking your time with the meal and enjoying good company.
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Read more Amsterdam travel advice on these posts:
and if you're curious - The Reasons We Live in Amsterdam
Frances M. Thompson
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