Visiting Amsterdam for the first time? Are you looking for the best things to do in Amsterdam? There are so many things to do in this large city that a few days’ stays are not enough. It will therefore be wise to focus on the center of this bustling tourist destination especially if you are just staying over there for the weekend break.

Amsterdam is the commercial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. What started out as a fishing village is now a world-class city consequently regarded as one of the best locations to live and work. It is characterized by its numerous canals, historic establishments and bike-friendly roads.

View of 15 Bridges in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Go cycling around the city

There are a couple of things you need to know before your trip to Amsterdam, and while we cannot possibly exhaust every single item you have to keep in mind, you must know that (1) the weather is almost unpredictable; (2) cyclists are everywhere; and (3) there’s a HUGE difference between a cafe and a coffee shop.

Mistakes are inevitable, yes, especially when it’s your first. However, it doesn’t hurt to read well in advance to avoid being embarrassed or unprepared in public! Well – let’s save this for another post, shall we? Here are a couple of things that every new visitor must do when exploring Amsterdam central.


⛵️ Tour Inclusions:
✅ Skipper and Live Guide
✅ Unique experience on a luxury boat
✅ Friendly atmosphere
✅ Two different types of Dutch Cheese
✅ Unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks

Read More: A First Time Visitors Guide To The Best Amsterdam Neighbourhoods

Best Things to Do in Amsterdam for First-Time Visitors:

1. Experience the canal cruise 

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Flagship Canal Cruise in Classic Boat – Live guide with drinks & Dutch cheese
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without seeing the beauty of the city and cruising around the Amsterdam canals. It is one of the most popular Amsterdam tourist attractions and I would highly suggest it to anyone who is the first time visiting the city. 

Amsterdam Central Station
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Experience the canal cruise

You can typically catch the canal cruise at the docks right in front of the Amsterdam Centraal station. The cruise has an audio guide that prompts automatically in various points of interest and best places to see in Amsterdam along the canal routes.

The canal cruise will pass by the famous Bridges of 15 Bridges. This is the only spot in the city where you can see multiple bridges crossing the canals of Amsterdam. Definitely one of the Instagram worthy places in Amsterdam.

2. Visit various Dutch museums in Museumplein

Another best way to experience the beauty of Dutch culture is through their arts. A visit to the main hub of arts and culture in the city is the Rijksmuseum. You can find various Dutch artefacts and extraordinary art treasures from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jan Steen and many more.

📍Address: Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands
🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Small-Group Guided Tour
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

Museumplein in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Visit the Rijksmuseum

Just across on the other side of the Museumplein is the famous Van Gogh Museum. It is the home of the majority of the paintings and other life memorabilia of the world-famous and talented painter Vincent Van Gogh. I highly suggest that to pre-booked your museum tickets in advance even if you are getting a tourist city card.

📍Address: Van Gogh Museum, Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Van Gogh Museum – Exclusive Guided Museum Tour
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Photo: Jan Kees Steenman | Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Oh! A visit to the Anne Frank museum is also a must. See the life of a Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation in Amsterdam. 

📍Address: Anne Frank museum, Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Anne Frank Guided Walking Tour through Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter
🌟 Ratings: 4.5 / 5

3. Explore the Adult entertainment of the Red Light District

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Amsterdam Red Light District and Coffee Shop Private Tour
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

Every time someone will mention Amsterdam, the Red Light District is probably one of the top 3 things that will come to mind, next to cheese, cannabis and canals. 

I must say that there is more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District, however, it is a novelty Amsterdam attraction for adults. It is an interesting place to visit for a first-time visitor to the city. Amsterdam nightlife here is very busy! One of the most favourite destinations when it comes to Stag and Hen parties.

The Red Light District in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Have fun at the Red Light District

The history of the Red Light District began back in the 15th Century mainly for the sailors that normally dock at the busy maritime hub of the city. The district provides adult entertainment through various adult shows, museums ( the Prostitution Museum and the Sex Museum) and services from the working girls of Amsterdam.  

You can see hundreds of door size glass windows as you walk along the streets of the district. As a Code of conduct in the Red Light, it is prohibited to take any photos of the working girls to avoid a hefty fine.

4. Have an adrenaline rush at the A’dam Lookout swing

📍Address: Overhoeksplein 5, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands
🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: FREE ENTRY with Go City Explorer Pass – Choose 3 to 7 Attractions
🌟 Ratings: 4.3 / 5

Amsterdam Noord
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Swing at A’dam Look Out

Located at the back of Amsterdam Centraal Station is the Amsterdam tower where the highest swing in Europe is located.  

Swing away all your fears and enjoy the adrenaline rush! You can see the whole Amsterdam skyline from this vantage point. Oh boy! It’s breathtaking! If you have an IAmsterdam card, you can use it to visit the Adam tower.

Read More: IAmsterdam Review: Is The City Tourist Card Worth It?

5. Go on a Dutch food trip

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: The Grand Dutch Food Tour
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

Make your mouth water and try various gastronomical treats in Amsterdam. It is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam Cheese
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Go on a Dutch Food trip

Top of our list is the warm and freshly baked stroopwafel and Dutch pancake, a perfect match with your coffee.  Fries is a staple Dutch food! You can find all sorts of delicious potato-based snacks in any food shops dotted around Amsterdam Central.

6. Visit a coffee shop but not have coffee

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: Private Amsterdam Red Light District and Coffee Shop Tour with Expert Guide
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

Cafés and coffee shops are two different things in the Netherlands. Especially in Amsterdam, where coffee shops are extremely popular places to visit in Amsterdam.  

Bulldog Coffee shop in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Visit the Coffee shops

A coffee shop is one of the popular Amsterdam attractions. However, people go here not mainly to have their typical coffee catch-up but because it is a known place where you can try anything cannabis.  As it is legal in the Netherlands to use cannabis. Use it in moderation and with caution as always, it is advisable not to do this on your own. You have been warned!

7. Snap the insta-worthy shot on a canal bridge and Amsterdam Centraal Station

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: All-inclusive Canal Tour by Captain Jack (Traveller Choice Award 2022)
🌟 Ratings: 5 / 5

We’re all for the best Amsterdam experience, and activities and to visit as many tourist attractions in the city. Take Instagram-worthy photos around the city! Other than your typical slim and tall house by the canal here are some of my suggestions: 

While exploring the best places in Amsterdam, go ahead and snap a quintessentially Amsterdam photo on a canal bridge (any canal bridge!) or if you are up for a walk to visit the Skinny bridge! It is one of the oldest bridges in Amsterdam.

Skinny Bridge crossing river Amstel in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: See the Skinny bridge

A picture outside the Amsterdam Centraal station is another top Amsterdam activities that I would recommend. This iconic building that will welcome you to the city has an intricate design and definitely a landmark of the city.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Amsterdam Centraal Station

8. Visit other awesome Amsterdam Neighbourhoods

🎟️Find Tickets – Book in Advance: IAmsterdam City Card with Free Entrance & Public Transport
🌟 Ratings: 4.4 / 5

After you’ve exhausted our list of things to do in the city, are you still wondering what to see and do in Amsterdam?

You can try to visit other great Amsterdam neighbourhoods. They are less busier than Amsterdam Centraal and you get to experience more of the authentic Dutch way of living.

Artis Zoo in Amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam: Explore the Amsterdam neighbourhoods

Try to visit Amsterdam Noord, NSDM, De Pijp and Le Plantage. You will absolutely love the vibes and there are plenty of activities for couples, friends, and even family-friendly ones! I wrote another blog post about various Amsterdam neighbourhoods.

Map of Amsterdam, the Netherlands:


CLICK the YELLOW MARKER OR THE DROP DOWN MENU next to the title to see the various things to do and point of interest in this guide and CHOOSE your desired preview of the map, whether HOTELS & RENTALS, EXPERIENCES, RESTAURANTS OR OTHERS. Feel free to use the filters, number of guests, and your preferred dates. You can see more information about the different attractions (the GREEN MARKERS) when you click the icons, as well as finding your perfect accommodation that will suit your budget and location. You could also book your guided tours and restaurants using the map.

More posts about Amsterdam Central

If you are looking for Netherlands travel inspirations read more of these posts:
IAmsterdam Review: Is The City Tourist Card Worth It?
Best Things to do in the Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands
Best Attractions and Things to do in Maastricht, Netherlands

Amsterdam city vibes are truly filled with energy and fun!  Hence it is one of the most visited cities in Europe. No matter what season of the year it is, it is always the best time to visit Amsterdam! 

Have you been to Amsterdam?
Share with us your travel experience in the comment box below.

best things to do in amsterdam
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam, Netherlands


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history, and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas, and travel guides for travelers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.


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