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Amsterdam is a city you must at least visit once in your life. After you have visited this charming place you will probably come again and again for more. For me it was love at first sight and I keep on falling in love with the ‘Venice of the North’ more and more every time I come back.
There is simply so much to see and do in this picturesque city and even when you have seen all the sights it is wonderful to just go for a stroll along the historic canals or take a seat on a bench and watch all the boats go by.
If you only have a couple of days in Amsterdam here is everything that you should do and see.
The newly renovated Rijksmuseum is a must on your visit to Amsterdam. It was first opened to the public in 1880 and exists now for more than 200 years. Inside you will find myna masterpiece paintings of Dutch and world art. Of course you shouldn’t miss the famous painting “Night Watch” by Rembrandt, but the museum also has a great collection of antique objects, prints, drawings and classic photography.
2. Rijksmuseum Research Library
If you are already in the Rijksmuseum, don’t skip this wonderful library. On my first visit to the Rijksmuseum I didn’t know about it and missed it, afterwards I have seen the photos of the library and returned just to have a look at this old library. It is one of the main art libraries in the world and some of the books and catalogues date back until 1885.
3. Anne Frank House
The history of World War II should never be forgotten. A young girl, Anne Frank, hid from the Nazis with her family and four other people in hidden rooms at the rear of the 17th century canal house. During that time Anne Frank wrote down her thoughts in a diary. She didn’t survive the war, but in 1957 her wartime diary was published.
The museum preserved the hiding place and also has a permanent exhibition on the life and times of Anne Frank and the discrimination of the Jews in that period.
4. Eat bitterballen
Bitterballen are a popular bar snack in Holland (the world best snack if you ask me), they are often ordered along with a beer. It is savory and has a meat filling inside.
5. Rent a bike
The best way to see Amsterdam is by bike. It is not only the nicest way but also the most economical. Bikes can be rented on various spots in the city, usually for the whole day or just a couple of hours.
6. Hang out in Vondelpark
Situated close to Museumsplein the Vondelpark is a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists alike. Bring a blanket and a picnic and relax here for a while on a nice day. There is a skate night every friday and in summer you will have the chance to see music and dance performances in the open-air theatre.
7. Go shopping in De 9 straatjes
As the name already tells, you can go shopping on 9 little streets located in the heart of Amsterda’s canal district. Here you will find many independent, small shops and a lot of nice cafés and bars. You can easily spend the whole day in this delightful shopping area looking around all the boutiques and art galleries and searching for the latest trends.
8. Museum Van Loon
Here you get the chance to enter a traditional Dutch canal house and wander around the rooms and the beautiful garden. The Museum Van Loon is an impressive patrician house on Keizergracht that has been bought by a family of merchants in the 18th century. It is still owned by the Van Loon family who decided to open it to visitors. Wandering through the rooms you really get a feeling how people lived at that time and you really get the feel as if the owners just left the house to go for a walk as everything is still in place.
9. A visit to the Foodhallen
This place must feel like heaven for all foodies out there. Come for lunch and choose between a variety of delicious and creative dishes from all over the world. Plus the atmosphere is cool and it’s a great place to meet up with friends and share food and good stories.
10. A boat cruise over the canals
A great way to see the city is by boat cruising over the beautiful canals, while I have done the canal cruises with big tourist boats and there is nothing negative to say about them, I recommend you to either hire a boat or even more comfortable get a small boat with a driver, bring some beers and go on your own private boat cruise. I wrote about that experience in this article.
11. Go on a free walking tour
I am a big fan of free walking tours when I visit a city for the first time as it gives you a good overview where all the main attractions are. Plus you get some good background information and can ask the local guide for his recommendations on where to go. SANDEMANs New Europe offers tours in most big European cities.
12. Go shopping at one of the cities many markets
One of my favorite markets in the city is the “Albert Cuyp” market in the district De Pijp. It is one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe and you will literally find everything here. It is open every day expect on Sundays.
Other great markets to visit: Flea market at Waterlooplein, Noordermarkt, Bazaar and Vrijmarkt.
13. Visit the bloemenmarkt and buy some flowers
A great to go shopping for flowers is the floating flower market “bloemenmarkt” in the city center. It was open for the first time in 1862 and has become the most popular flower market in Holland since then. They have a large choice of flowers there and chances are high you will find your favorite flower.
14. For fans of modern art: Stedelijk Museum
The Stedelijk museum strives to be one of the most innovative museums of modern art in the world. It has one of the richest collections of modern art and you will find all the big names here. Plus a great selection of Dutch Artists.
15. Have a drink at the Skylounge of the DoubleTree Hilton
Pay a visit to the restaurant and bar and enjoy a great view over the city and the waterfront from its rooftop.
Hope you enjoyed this list and you got some ideas what you can do during your visit to Amsterdam. If you have any recommendations to share please comment below.