Famous for its canals, beautiful houses, and ‘coffee shops,’ Amsterdam has so much to offer. The first time I went to Amsterdam, I fell in love. The city, the people, everything about it is a dream. You feel like you’re walking through a fairy-tale town.
Perhaps the most popular reasons people visit Amsterdam is the public use of marijuana and the Red Light District, but the city offers so much more.
Here are 13 things you can’t miss when visiting Amsterdam
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Explore Amsterdam’s Independent Shopping Streets
There are a lot of shopping options in Amsterdam, but while some go to the popular chain-stores on Kalverstraat, you should head to lesser-known independently owned shops to get your shopping fix. De Negen Straatjes, or more commonly known as ‘The Nine Streets,’ offers both vintage and designer boutiques along the canal. On top of this there are plenty of cozy cafes to grab lunch or a cup of Jo.
The Nine Streets
Price: Free to walk around, shops vary in price from $ to $$$$
Atmosphere: Family Friendly, Local
Address: Wolvenstraat 9, 1016 EM Amsterdam, Netherlands
There are a lot of food options in Amsterdam. If you are at The Nine Streets, there is this great little local restaurant known as Libertine. It’s a beautiful hidden gem with a great ambiance. They provide all-day breakfast, afternoon tea. On top of this, the coffee is wonderful.
Type of Food: Italian, Breakfast & Brunch
Directions: Wolvenstraat 22, 1016 EP
Go to a Coffee Shop
Of course, these aren’t your regular coffee shops. Here you can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee and have someone next to you smoking a joint. I actually don’t smoke, but I still tried a ‘brownie’ and had a great experience. These coffee shops are all over the city but the one I went to was the popular Easy Times. The atmosphere is great, cozy and intimate. I found the staff and patrons both to be very friendly and welcoming, I mean, it’s hard not to be in a great mood when here.
Type of Food: Cannabis, Coffee, & Pastries
Address: Prinsengracht 476, 1017 KG
The Anne Frank House
You really can’t go to Amsterdam and not visit the Anne Frank house. It’s such a chilling and humbling experience. Inside you can see documents, photos, and belongings of the people hidden here. Anne Frank’s original diary and notebooks are also displayed here.
I had read the book in high school and thought I knew what I was walking into, but just standing in those rooms.. being exactly where Anne and her family lived and hid for years, it’s just… wow. Bring tissues.
Price: 10 Euro per Adult
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV
Rent a Bike
In order to fully experience Amsterdam, you have to travel the city like a local! Rent a bike and start exploring! It might be a little intimidating because the city is so full, and I was nervous about falling into a canal, but it is the absolute best way to get around. Just make sure to lock them up, more than 50,000 bikes a year are stolen in Amsterdam.
Try a Stroopwafel
This popular Dutch food is made from two thin layers of baked dough—like very skinny waffles—stuck together with caramel syrup. You can find these in local stores, food trucks, and bakeries throughout Amsterdam. They come in mini versions or the size of your face. The one featured here is from a Stroopwafel bakery
Address: Kalverstraat 190, 1012 XH
Go to Bloemenmarkt
Open since 1862, Bloemenmarkt is the worlds only floating flower market and it is absolutely beautiful. Even if you aren’t a tulips girl, you’ll feel like you walked into a fairytale storybook here. The market is open Monday to Friday with fresh, beautiful flowers. You can take home some bulbs to plant in your own garden.
Address: Singel, 1012 XN
Get Cultured at the Van Gogh Museum
In this museum, you will find the largest collection in the world of the works of Van Gogh. It is regularly rated as the top museum in the country and the most visited. You can purchase tickets online to avoid the long lines at the ticket office. There are more than 200 paintings on display. This museum is very impressive, even if you know nothing about art, you will appreciate the paintings of Gogh.
Price: 18 Euro Per Adult
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ
Get Drunk at the Heineken Museum
Such a fun way to spend an afternoon. You will learn the history of the company, the recipe, the process behind it all, sample beers, purchase beers, make personalized gifts/ souvenirs, and take lots of photos.
And no, you actually won’t get drunk off the samples (unless you get drunk off two beers, no judgments here), but it’s still 100% worth the trip.
Price: 18-21 Euro per Adult for regular tickets; 55 euro for VIP (includes 5 beers and cheese!)
Address: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE
Try Patat Frites
More food! One of my favorite things about traveling is EATING. I know I’m not alone. Okay, so these are not just french fries. Well, technically they are, but they are perfectly fried and coated in over a dozen condiment options! Mayonnaise is the Dutch condiment of choice but I gotta pick the Curry sauce as my personal favorite.
Address: Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK
Walk through the Red Light District
Whether you go at day or night, this is a unique experience. You would think it would be uncomfortable or creepy, but it really wasn’t at all, at least for me. Everything is very clean and taken care of.
If you take a walking tour, you will learn a lot about the history. The government has tried to make it a safe place for the woman, free from pimps and abuse. It is regulated, follows rules, and pays taxes. The woman are working for their livelihood so leave your judgements at the door and just experience it for what it is, regardless of whether or not you agree.
Take a Picture at the IAmsterdam Sign
Did you even do Amsterdam if you didn’t take a cheesy pic with the IAmsterdam sign? Try and get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds and get your classic touristy pic in.
Beginhof is a hidden treasure inside Amsterdam. Dating back to the 14th century, it is a Medieval courtyard that once housed a Catholic sisterhood. It is actually hidden behind a door in the busy Spui, and although it is in the heard of the city, the courtyard feels incredibly peaceful