Discover Amsterdam: A Guide to the Best Sights and Food
Food & Wine
Amsterdam, the must-see city of canals and unforgettable travel experiences. Explore the wonder of the city by bike like the locals or venture on foot or tram across the lively city center. It’s a great destination for history, art, culture and nightlife.
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Where to stay in Amsterdam
Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
Housed in what was once a public library, this luxury lifestyle hotel is a stylish choice in Amsterdam.
Overlooking the Prinsengracht and spanning 25 17th-century homes, this is a hotel lover’s hotel.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Split between two iconic historical buildings with mid-century interior, this edgy hotel sits in Dam Square with stunning views of the Royal Palace and Amsterdam's city lights.
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Things to do in Amsterdam
Museums of Amsterdam
Art and history lovers will find solace in Amsterdam's multitude of museums. The Rijksmuseum housing works by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, is a must-visit. Not far behind is the Van Gogh Museum, a dedication to the legendary post-impressionist painter's life and works. The Anne Frank House, a poignant reminder of World War II, is another must-see.
Rijksmuseum - Home to masterpieces from the likes of Rembrandt, right in the heart of the city. It's almost like stepping into a time machine and witnessing the Golden Age of Dutch art.
Van Gogh Museum - This grand repository of the post-impressionist painter's life is an experience in itself. You'll find yourself lost in his illustrious works, from his vibrant 'Sunflowers' to his evocative self-portraits.
Anne Frank House - Explore the secret annex where Anne Frank wrote her diary. Situated along the Prinsengracht canal, the building offers a sobering experience, reminding visitors of the past. Moreover, it's a mere 10-minute stroll along the canal to reach the Andaz Amsterdam. Due to its immense popularity, it is strongly recommended to purchase tickets for this museum in advance through their website. Ticket sales typically commence six weeks prior to the desired visit date.
Amsterdam Museum - Housed within a former orphanage, this museum provides an overview of Amsterdam's fascinating origin story. Through its curated collection of art, household items, books, ancient artifacts, and journals. As well as interactive displays and multimedia exhibits, visitors can delve into the narrative of this 1000-year-old trading city. The museum chronicles how Amsterdam has nurtured a culture of creativity and free-thinking over the centuries.
Activities and Tours
Canal Cruise - When in Amsterdam, if there's anything you must do, take a canal cruise. It gives you an opportunity to see the city's historical center from a unique perspective, a view that you wouldn't experience from the streets. We have enjoyed crusing with Flagship Amsterdam. They offer small, intimate-sized electric boats with friendly and knowledgeable captains and skippers. An added bonus is the presence of an onboard cash bar, allowing you to enjoy refreshments while cruising.
Red Light District - This historical neighborhood is as much a part of the city's rich history as its canals and windmills. As you wander the narrow, winding streets of this district, you'll find it's filled with a captivating blend of history, culture, and yes, a healthy dose of the risqué. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend opting for a private tour, as it offers valuable insights and historical context of the district. Through this personalized experience, you can gain a deeper understanding of the area's rich history.
A'DAM Lookout - An observation deck presents great panoramic views of Amsterdam. This is a large tourist attraction in itself with restaurants, bars, and other attractions. You can reach this destination by taking the free ferry from behind the Amsterdam Central station.
NEMO Science Museum - Renowned as a premier family attraction in the city, there are many activities to partake in. A hidden gem within the museum is the rooftop that provides visitors with awe-inspiring views of downtown Amsterdam, making it a must-visit spot. During the summer months, the rooftop terrace is open for free. Additionally, there is a spacious restaurant on the roof, offering panoramic views of the city center. Whether you're craving homemade lemonade or a delicious meal, the glass conservatory of the restaurant provides a delightful dining experience. Even if you don't have a ticket to the museum, the restaurant is accessible to all.
House of Bols - Experience the enchantment of this delightful adventure designed for adults. Discover the fascinating history of the world's oldest distilled spirit brand through interactive exhibits that immerse you in the realm of cocktails, liqueurs, bartending, and genever. The journey culminates in the Mirror Bar, where skilled bartenders craft Bols cocktails tailored to your unique flavor preferences. Additionally, indulge in the opportunity to partake in cocktail making classes, further enhancing your experience.
Places to eat & drink in Amsterdam
The Duchess: If you're in the mood for a blend of Southern French and Italian cuisine, The Duchess, housed in the former KAS Bank, is a perfect pick. The restaurant is located at the W Amsterdam.
Spectrum: An elegant double Michelin-starred restaurant, Spectrum is located in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Their tasting menu is a culinary journey you won't forget.
The Seafood Bar Amsterdam: This restaurant offers a wide selection of fresh and high-quality seafood options. Whether you're craving oysters, lobster, shrimp, or fish, you can expect a delightful dining experience with an emphasis on quality ingredients and expert preparation. We dine here every visit to Amsterdam. I recommend accompanying the meal with a wonderful white wine of which the restaurant has several options.
Dabka: This outstanding Lebanese restaurant offers an authentic dining experience. We had the pleasure of trying their mezze platter and mixed grill platter, which were both exceptional. One of the highlights was witnessing the skilled preparation of fresh pita bread right before our eyes. If the weather permits, I highly recommend requesting a seat outdoors, where you can enjoy a view of the canal.
Sampurna: Right in the center of town, just off the bustling flower market. They offer great and authentic Indonesian cuisine.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij: Indulge in the renowned Van Stapele cookie, crafted with a delectable dark chocolate dough and a mouthwatering white chocolate filling. Arrive early at the store as it often attracts substantial queues.
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx: This counter-service kiosk offers a delightful selection of Dutch-style fries, served in convenient cardboard cones. What’s best is there are 28 sauces to choose from.
Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels: Situated within the vibrant Albert Cuyp Market, this stroopwafel stand has a rich heritage. The founder of this establishment perfected his craft in Gouda, the birthplace of stroopwafels.
Door 74: This lounge has a Speakeasy style, with a hidden entrance needing a doorbell ring. The cocktail menu is creative and unique, featuring innovative drinks. The interior has an art-deco design, featuring dark wood and vintage barware. It is highly recommended to make a reservation prior to visiting.
Rocca: This trendy locale offers an extensive list of handcrafted cocktails and a mouthwatering selection of tapas. It's the perfect place to kick-start your evening adventures in Amsterdam.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out my guide, 4-Day Itinerary in Amsterdam and Beyond.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to the Netherlands.