Amsterdam Travel: Guide to Solo Travel in Amsterdam
This is another post that tackles a topic I get many questions on: solo travel in Amsterdam. What's it like to travel to Amsterdam alone? Is Amsterdam a safe place for a solo traveller? How can solo travellers meet people in Amsterdam? (Or not!) What are the best things to do solo in Amsterdam?
Today's post is going to do its best to answer all these questions, and while I'm a resident of Amsterdam and actually do disappointingly little solo travel anywhere (#mumlife!) I do do a lot (or as much as I can!) alone in Amsterdam. And while I think it's a great city for spending time alone, it's also true that I don't really know what it's like to travel to Amsterdam solo.
So that's why I am really glad a guest writer is doing just that for you. Sam from Sam Sees World is another travel blogger based in Amsterdam and she is far more qualified than me to answer all the questions you may have about travelling alone to Amsterdam, so without further ado, here is her guide to solo travel to Amsterdam.
FURTHER READING: For more Amsterdam travel tips, you can find over 50 posts about things to do in Amsterdam here. and be sure to check out this Amsterdam bucket list, a list of over 100 free things to do in Amsterdam, the best luxury hotels in Amsterdam, and this list of the best hotels and hostels in Amsterdam (to suit all budgets!). And here are some more solo female travel tips for any destination!
DISCLOSURE:This post contains affiliate links. I make a small commission off any purchases made via these links, but they don't cost you anything extra, and often I do a lot of research to find you the best possible deal in the link - yay!
Solo Travel in Amsterdam: The Ultimate Guide
When you think of places to solo travel to in Europe, Amsterdam usually isn’t the first city that comes to mind. It can be hard to know what to expect as a solo traveller in Amsterdam, a city that is known for its lively party-scene, a city where cannabis is sold freely in coffeeshops and where there is legal prostitution in the infamous Red Light District.
However, there is so much more to Amsterdam for someone travelling alone to enjoy than these party stereotypes - much more! It's also true that Amsterdam is a great place to visit as a couple as there are plenty of romantic things to do, but why can't you take yourself on some of these dates solo?!
Amsterdam is a city full of history, beauty, and culture. Of course, you can go and enjoy a coffeeshop or take a stroll around the Red Light District, but while De Wallen (as it's called in Dutch) is the oldest part of the city, this area is really only a small fraction of what Amsterdam has to offer.
There is something for every type of traveller in Amsterdam - including solo travellers! - from museums to UNESCO Sites to winding little streets to explore, and you are sure to find a few things that fit your desires. Spending a weekend in Amsterdam is the perfect amount of time to get a taste for what the city has to offer.
The locals of the city only amplify the beauty and charm of Amsterdam. Most, if not all, speak English, and they are typically very friendly and always willing to help if you ask them questions. There are many, many things to do in Amsterdam for solo travellers, but before we get to that let's give you some advice and tips on how safe the city is for solo travellers, where you should stay in Amsterdam when travelling alone, and a few recommendations of places to eat alone in Amsterdam if you're travelling solo (or if you just like eating alone!).
Is Amsterdam Safe for Solo Travellers?
Yes! Amsterdam is an extremely safe city. In fact, it's considered one of the safest capitals in Europe. There is very little crime in Amsterdam, and it is made to feel even more safe and accessible by the virtually non-existent language barrier and plethora of people always out and about.
However, like any travel destination, you should always be diligent. There are still pick-pocketers in the city, and due to the city's party history, it does invite a lot of party people, and late at night, these people can get rowdy, drunk and err, clumsy, to put it politely.
At worst, this could make you feel a bit intimidated as a solo traveller and at best, it will be an annoyance! That said, I still feel very safe in Amsterdam at night when walking around because the main streets are well lit and have never felt threatened when out alone after dark.
(Photo by Mayuri from To Some Place New which has this great 2-day guide to Amsterdam.)
Also, if you did want to sample some of Amsterdam's nightlife while not wanting to spend a lot of money on club tickets if you don't find a place you really like, look into the Amsterdam Nightlife card which gets you free entrance to over 30 Amsterdam nightclubs for 2 nights for just €10 (yes, really!) so you can find a place, music and a crowd you want to stay in.
Amsterdam is also a very walkable city and its has reliable and safe public transport. This means you don't need to worry about spending a fortune in solo cab rides. In addition to walking or taking trams, the Metro, buses or trains, you can rent a bike and bike around the city.
A combination of walking and public transport is actually the best way to see the most of Amsterdam as a solo traveller (or not!) and will save you a lot of time and money. Here are some great tips for cycling in Amsterdam so you can feel confident and safe on two wheels.
Where to Stay When Travelling Solo in Amsterdam
The predictably obvious answer to where to stay when travelling alone to Amsterdam is a hostel. Whether it's because you want to meet other travellers, save money (because hotel rooms as a solo traveller in an expensive city like Amsterdam can blow your travel budget) or just be surrounded by other solo travellers, hostels are a great idea.
And in a popular city like Amsterdam, you don't have to "slum it" in a hostel and you can still have your own room AND bathroom. Hostels that offer lots of different accommodation options, evening entertainment and great food for breakfast (or other times) include three StayOkay Hostels, ClinkNOORD, Generator Hostel, EcoMama and CocoMama (the last two being boutique hostels with great eco-friendly credentials.
There are also some hotels in Amsterdam that offer a similar vibe to hostels - i.e. sociable public areas, affordable continental breakfast and different accommodation choices - that are worth thinking about too if you want a little more comfort and privacy perhaps.
Meininger has two locations that are just outside the main city centre but very well connected by public transport (Frankie reviewed her stay at the Meininger hotel in Hamburg here if you'd like to know a bit more about what this hotel brand offers). and Citizen M also has a few locations and the Amstel location and the Amsterdam Zuid one is definitely more convenient than the Schiphol one.
I've also heard really good things about Motel One near RAI Convention Centre and Metro stop, the Conscious Hotels in Vondelpark or Westerpark - both great locations - and also the Q-Factory Hotel in Oost which has a very lively atmosphere.
Of course, solo travellers can be luxury travellers too and if this is you then you'll want to know which are the most luxurious hotels for a solo traveller in Amsterdam.
Frankie has stayed in a number of Amsterdam's most luxurious hotels and she can personally recommend The Hoxton, Sofitel Legend The Grand, Waldorf Astoria, The Conservatorium Hotel, Banks Mansion Hotel, Hotel Okura, The Amstel Hotel, The Ambassade Hotel and the Bilderberg Garden Hotel.
Of course, a great way to meet someone as a solo traveller in Amsterdam is by staying in someone else's house. Once upon a time this was the original Airbnb concept - people rent out their spare rooms - and indeed it's still possible to do that on Airbnb.
These are some of the nicest looking Airbnb listings for those renting out their spare rooms in their own house (but of course you can also rent a whole apartment to yourself too, which is especially nice if you like to cook for yourself when travelling solo).
If you're looking for more advice on where to stay in Amsterdam, here is Frankie's Amsterdam neighbourhood guide, her list of the best central hotels in Amsterdam, and a list of the best hotels in all of Amsterdam as tried, tested and reviewed by real travellers.
Where to Eat When Travelling Alone in Amsterdam
One of the things I find honestly trickiest when travelling alone is eating out. I really want to sample as many different restaurants and cafes as I can when exploring a new destination but I am easily intimidated by eating out alone, or later on once I've adjusted to it, I can sometimes get a bit bored sitting at a table alone.
But these are some things I've learnt eating out solo, and I've combined these tips with some recommendations for places to eat alone in Amsterdam.
Even if you're not staying in a hotel, I find hotel restaurants and bars to be among the easiest places to eat as a solo diner. This is because you'll often find other solo travellers eating there, and also because sitting at a bar feels a bit more relaxed and also you will have bar staff to talk to for casual conversation but absolutely zero obligation for your interaction to be any more than that.
Hotels that have really great bars and restaurants where solo travellers will feel comfortable are The Hoxton, Sofitel Legend The Grand, Volks Hotel, W Hotel and QO Hotel, but I'm sure you could easily find many others.
Some eateries in Amsterdam are very popular with solo diners, maybe because they offer a canteen style eating or buffet. Many of these also happen to be quite healthy options so I hope that ticks two boxers for you.
SLA is a fantastic place to get salad. You can either make your own or choose from their seasonal menu and there are locations all over the city. Spirit is a vegetarian and vegan buffet that is very popular with solo diners taking a break from work, or indeed working there for a while. (If you are a vegan, you should definitely check out my very comprehensive vegan Amsterdam guide.) And at the top of the main public library - more about below! - is a canteen style restaurant where really great food at great value is on offer.
Other relaxed eateries I think would be great for a solo traveller are Dignita Hoftuin which is close to Hortus Botanicus (which is also a great spot to wander around if you like plants), Beter en Leuk for a vegan brunch, and CT Coffee & Coconuts in De Pijp is great for any meal of the day (but will be quieter in the evening than mornings as it's a popular brunch spot). Here are some other great brunch places in Amsterdam you may want to check out.
Another place you should think about going is the indoor food market at Foodhallen as there you can sample lots of different Dutch and international dishes. It's quite a popular spot so actually not being in a big group is a definite advantage if you want to sit down while eating!
Of course, all this isn't to say that you should avoid all other restaurants. I am a big believer in solo diners being welcome wherever they want to go! And if pizza is your favourite kind of food, be sure to check out my list of the best pizza restaurants in Amsterdam.
Now we've got sleeping and eating covered, let's dig deep into all the fun things there are to do in Amsterdam alone.
Best Things to do in Amsterdam Alone
Get Lost in one of Amsterdam's Best Museums
I don't know about you but visiting a museum is absolutely one activity I prefer to do solo. Just as well that Amsterdam has a LOT of hotels, and many are of world class standard. I think museums are often better explored alone because you can go at your own pace and avoid having to check if your travel companion is bored or ready to move along.
If you are a museum lover, you may have to do a bit of , from art museums to historic museums to science ones. Some of the top options include Van Gogh, Rijksmuseum, MOCO, Anne Frank House,NEMO Science Museum. But that is only to name a few! (It's always advisable to book your museum tickets online in advance and for Anne Frank House and Van Gogh you will need to choose a specific date and time to visit.)
Take advantage of your time alone and all these beautiful museums and spend some time exploring them during your solo adventures.
Seek Out Amsterdam's Best Photo Spots
Another activity I absolutely prefer to do alone when travelling solo is taking photographs, and it is no surprise to anyone that Amsterdam is one of the most photogenic cities in the world.
Seeking out Amsterdam's best photo spots is well worth doing before you set out on your photo walk, and be sure to check the weather and time your stroll (or bike ride if you're feeling brave!) so that you can enjoy magic hour and hopefully not rush hour at the same time!
Learn More About Amsterdam (and Maybe Meet Other Travellers) on a Walking or Cycling Tour...
I know walking tours are a little cliché - and a cycling tour in Amsterdam is perhaps the ultimate cliché - but they're often popular for a reason. City tours are actually very informative, interesting and a great way to get to know your destination better.
Walking tours are also good for solo travellers because you get to well, not be a solo traveller for a while. Whether you want to meet fellow travellers to talk to or you want to speak to a guide who is an expert on the destination you're exploring, doing a walking tour while visiting Amsterdam alone is a really great idea.
Here are some great walking tours you should check out: A two-hour walking tour of the Red Light District, a fascinating tour exploring Black history and heritage in Amsterdam, a special walking tour with focus on life of Anne Frank, and on the other end of the spectrum a walking tour finding out all about Amsterdam's history of cannabis use.
The same benefits are true of a bike tour although I would strongly advise you go on a private bike tour of Amsterdam or you join a small group one as large bike tours aren't exactly very popular in the city of Amsterdam, and I can imagine taking part in one can be a bit stressful, especially if you're not feeling confident on two wheels.
Here are some of the more interesting cycling tours in Amsterdam that I would recommend for solo travellers. I chose these because they are typically small groups, they focus on a particular area or topic in their tour, and they are great value for money. There's a 3-hour bike tour of historical Amsterdam, a cycling tour of the city's hidden gems, or escape the city and see the surrounding countryside by bike.
P.S. If you're travelling solo to Amsterdam on a budget, there are also free walking tours you can do, and Frankie also has the other list of over 100 free things you can do in Amsterdam.
Or on a Food Tour
Amsterdam isn't known as a foodie capital but it is a great place for solo travellers who love food. I also bet there's quite a lot about Amsterdam's food scene that you didn't know, namely about the influence and popularity of Surinamese and Indonesian food on what the average Dutch person eats.
Here are a selection of food tours you may like to join. These are specifically chosen because they keep the group size small so you have a better chance of meeting and talking with other people, if that's what you want to do, of course there is no obligation!
Find out about both Dutch food and history on this short tour, go on a foodie tour of the Jordaan area of Amsterdam like I did, or combine a walking food tour with cheese tasting!
Find Some Tulips (All Year Round!)
As the Netherlands national flower, people also associate it with Amsterdam and it's something people flock from all over the world to see in Amsterdam. While it's very possible to see tulips in Amsterdam all year round, it's obviously best to visit Amsterdam in spring if you want to guarantee you see plenty of them on your trip.
The best and most famous way to see them is making the short day trip from Amsterdam to Lisse to see the tulip fields and go to Keukenhof to see the Spring Gardens.
One of the other most popular places to see in Amsterdam - and to buy tulip bulbs to take home so you can have Amsterdam tulips growing in your own garden or window box! - is the floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt. This is the world's only floating flower market and is home to various flowers and is perfect for exploring on your own.
Wander Around Amsterdam's Markets
Amsterdam is a city of many daily markets, and while yes, some are distinctly more touristy than others, it's still fair to say that Amsterdam locals love their neighbourhood market for picking up fresh produce, fresh flowers and other treats. I used to live around the corner from Albert Cuyp Market and miss popping there to get fresh fruit and vegetables every other day.
One market that is essential browsing around is the flea market at Waterlooplein. Whether you love a vintage bargain (be prepared to rummage!) or antiques or quirky Amsterdam souvenirs, this market is a great place to explore alone, and it's handily close to a number of brilliant Amsterdam museums too in the Jewish Cultural Quarter.
Other markets I recommend for a solo traveller in Amsterdam are Noordermarkt (on Saturdays and Mondays), Kinkermarkt (on Saturdays), Lindengracht market (also on Saturdays) and the markets in Amstelveld and Nieuwmarkt.
Indulge Yourself at a Spa
This may seem a strange one to add in here but hear me out. Amsterdam has some of the best spas I've ever been to and while they are not cheap, they're not as ridiculously expensive as the spas I've been lucky enough to enjoy in other European cities.
My favourite spas are Sauna Deco (for the interior alone!), Koan Float (if you like the idea of floating!), and the spas in the Waldorf Astoria, Amstel and Conservatorium hotels, which all have swimming pools. I highly recommend doing this if you're visiting Amsterdam in winter as it's a perfect way to warm up after a cold few days sight-seeing. Be sure to bring a good book!
Enjoy Some Fantastic Coffee & Sweet Treats
It's fair to say that cafes and coffee houses are among the most socially acceptable places to sit on your own and enjoy a drink. This is also true in Amsterdam. Indeed, there are some cafes where groups are often scowled at as independent coffee drinkers enjoy their chosen brew. I've written a list of some great coffee spots in Amsterdam that a solo traveller should definitely look at to plan where they're going to get their hit of coffee!
Amsterdam has delicious foods and even better sweets. The most famous being Stroopwafels, which are two thin waffles with gooey caramel in the center. You can find these in shops around the city or get specialty ones from Van Wonderen. Pick one of these up and enjoy its deliciousness while you walk around the picturesque streets of Amsterdam.
Eat Local Cheese
The Dutch LOVE their cheese. There are a ton of cheese shops in the city that are open to the public to look around in and taste the cheeses. In the cheese shops, the workers are always accommodating and will give you a ton of information on the cheese options available. If you are looking for a nice snack and to taste some unique cheese flavors this is a must.
Alternatively, a great way to find out more about Dutch cheese making history and try some of the good stuff, while also meeting fellow other travellers, is to book some cheese tasting. You could also do a cheese and wine tasting session!
Watch a Film in a Beautiful Cinema
During the night hours in Amsterdam is when finding things to do alone can get more complicated. There is so much you can do in Amsterdam at night, but finding something suitable for a solo traveller may take a bit more effort. If you like to party, there are a ton of bars and clubs to choose from, but if you don't feel comfortable going out drinking when you are traveling alone, or if you want to do something more lowkey, I highly recommend heading to Theatre Tuschinski to see a film.
Tuschinski is an ornate movie theatre that dates back to 1921. The theatre itself is a work of art and looks like it should be hosting a ballet! However, various Hollywood movies are playing here at all times, and in English. This is the perfect evening adventure for the solo traveller.
Find out about some other solo women at Begijnhof
If you're visiting Amsterdam as a solo female traveller, you may be interested in knowing about some a place that is something of a homage to the single woman, albeit in quite a different way. Begijnhof is one of the oldest courtyard's in Amsterdam and for centuries it was lived in by a lay order of single women. Even today the houses are lived in by only women, although they aren't the beguines they once were.
It's a nice little "hofje" (square or courtyard) to pop your head into as it's an oasis of calm and quiet almost slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam, and is really close to Amsterdam Museum if you are already planning on visiting there.
Go on a Canal Cruise
Amsterdam is the city of canals, and one of the best ways to see the city is by exploring it via the canals. There are a ton of canal cruise companies in Amsterdam that offer one-hour rides around the whole city.
This will show you a ton of what Amsterdam has to offer and from a really unique perspective. Plus, if you are short on time or want to relax while seeing the beauty of Amsterdam, a canal cruise takes care of everything.
Take a Walk around Vondelpark
Vondelpark is the largest and most famous park in Amsterdam, it is much like central park in New York City, but in Amsterdam. The park is full of green space, large biking paths, a rose garden, and even a few cafes. It is one of the top locations to visit in the city year-round to admire its beauty and soak in the city.
If you are visiting Amsterdam in the summer, you can pack a blanket and some snacks and head here to sit on the green space and relax. There are so many people in the park when it is warm out and no shortage of things to observe. You can also bring a book and read here and feel like a real Amsterdam resident for a little while.
See a Dutch Windmill (or Two!)
One of the main things on everyone’s Amsterdam bucket list is to see a Dutch windmill. Luckily, there is one right in the city for your viewing pleasure, and even better, it is a brewery that makes its beers. To find the windmill, you will go to Brouwerij ‘t IJ, and there is no way you can miss the towering windmill.
While here, you should enjoy one of the craft beers as well. The workers are all very helpful and would love to give you some information on it. More so, if you are a real beer lover, they run short tours to the public!
Now if one windmill isn't enough for you then why not go on a mission to try and see all seven of the windmills in and close to Amsterdam. It's something you can only really do by bike so perfect if you like a challenge and were planning on riding a bike while in Amsterdam. ADD LINK
Go Shopping in the Nine Streets
If all that windmill chasing sounds too much like hard work then maybe a gentle stroll around Amsterdam's prettiest shopping area is a better version of exercise for you? The Nine Streets are a criss-cross network of streets traversing the main ring canals over in the west of Amsterdam, just on the edge of Jordaan.
You can read my full guide of the Nine Streets here, and it's not just boutiques you can enjoy popping in to, there are also great places to eat and drink coffee here.
Do a Cooking Class
If eating tours on foot or by boat aren't your bag, but you'd still like to learn a bit more about some of the food Amsterdammers love then why not take part in a cooking class. Yes, this is a bit of a random thing to do in Amsterdam but it's a great way to be a little bit social, to learn more about one important element of a destination and to also learn some new skills. When you look at it like that, it's possibly one of the best things to do solo in Amsterdam!
These are some cooking classes that I think sound really fun: ADD IN
Dine with Real Amsterdammers in Their Own Home
Another foodie activity you may want to consider doing is going to have a lavish dinner in a real Amsterdammer's home. Frankie's friend Simon offers exactly this opportunity to visitors (or even Amsterdam locals) in order to enjoy some excellent food and company. Frankie went to one of the first of Simon's dinner with friends, and you can book your place on the next meal he'll be cooking here.
Get Lost in a Library...
I think we'll move on from food, and really focus on some of the best places you can feel most comfortable when alone in Amsterdam: libraries! The library in the photo above is fast becoming one of Amsterdam's most popular photo (or Instagram!) spots, and for good reason. The Rijksmuseum Library really does have to be seen to be believed for it's grandeur, but it's not just a pretty bibliophile's heaven, it's also a lovely quiet spot to work in or just pop your head in from the viewing gallery that is accessed from inside the museum.
But you don't need to go to a museum in order to go to a library! Amsterdam's main library a short walk from Centraal Station is well worth visiting if you want a quiet place to sit and read. There are books in multiple languages, with a lot in English, and a vast selection of magazines. There are computers you can use, and there are a number of cafes and restaurants where you can get a coffee or something to eat. The top floor cafe is especially great for the views out across Amsterdam (when the weather is clear enough!).
Frankie also highly recommends the library as a great thing to do if you're visiting Amsterdam with kids.
Or a Book Shop
If a library visit didn't quite scratch your itch for books enough then maybe you need to spend some time in a book shop too. Amsterdam is home to a surprising number of English-language bookstores, including a Waterstones on Kalverstraat (the city's main shopping street), and my favourite the Amsterdam Book Center on Spui (just around the corner from the Begijnhof courtyard I was telling you about.)
If you're visiting on a Friday you will also find a book market taking place on the square outside, where stalls sell vintage and antique books as well second hand bargains. Another great place to buy second hand books is Oudemanhuispoort, a covered alleyway leading to buildings belonging to the University of Amsterdam. Wandering down there will make you feel a bit like you're in part of Hogwarts or somewhere!
Learn about Fashion for Good
If you're a solo traveller in Amsterdam and you love fashion, you should definitely make time to pop into Fashion for Good on Rokin. It's free entrance and inside is a museum-like permanent exhibit for an organisation that is determined to change the fast fashion industry, for good.
And if you really do love fashion I would highly recommend combining this with a visit to the Museum of Bags & Purses, which boasts one of the largest collections of handbags and purses dating back centuries.
Book a Solo Photo Shoot
Here's the problem with solo travel. If you want photos of yourself in a beautiful place like Amsterdam you either have to haul a tripod around with you all day, or you have to ask strangers and keep your fingers crossed they do a good job. It's my experience that sadly, you don't always get the shot you want.
So why not book a mini photo shoot for when you're in Amsterdam alone?
Leave Amsterdam on a Quick Day Trip
(Photo by Fearless Foreigner)
Another positive about travelling solo to Amsterdam is that you can easily escape the city on a day trip if that's what you want to do. Whether you choose to go to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills, nearby cities of Haarlem or Utrecht, or to the country's second city Rotterdam to see just how different it is, travelling by train is very easy and surprisingly relaxing, especially if you're travelling alone!
Frankie has a great list of Amsterdam day trips here, and there are more places to consider visiting in this list of the best cities in the Netherlands. And don't forget to check out over 50 more blog posts with Amsterdam travel advice here.
And that's my guide to solo travel in Amsterdam done and dusted! Below you can read more about me and my blog, and there are also some images you can pin to save and share this post.
About the Author
Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel blog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveler on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to provide valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and getting some good Instagram photos along the way. You can also find Samantha on Pinterest.
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Frances M. Thompson
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