Top Things to Do in Amsterdam: Canals, Museums and More

Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Europe. Known for its charming canals, cozy cafes, and liberal culture, Amsterdam never fails to impress visitors with its charm and easygoing atmosphere. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the top things to do in Amsterdam to help you plan your trip to this amazing Dutch city.

Cruise the Picture-Perfect Canals

One of the best things to do in Amsterdam is to cruise along its beautiful canals. Amsterdam has over 100 kilometers of canals that meander throughout the city center. Taking a canal cruise is a marvelous way to see Amsterdam from the water and admire its iconic narrow townhouses reflected in the calm waters. 

Some cruises offer commentary by knowledgeable guides to provide historical context along the way. You’ll pass by landmarks like the Anne Frank House, Royal Palace, Westerkerk church, and many charming bridges. It’s a must-do Amsterdam experience. Several companies operate canal cruises of various lengths starting from just 30 minutes.

Visit the Rijksmuseum

Home to works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals, the Rijksmuseum is a treasure trove of Dutch Golden Age art. Considered one of the world’s top 5 art museums, it houses over 1 million objects. 

Don’t miss Rembrandt’s iconic “Night Watch” painting and Vermeer’s famous “Milkmaid”. Other highlights include the Asian pavilion with Chinese and Japanese porcelains and armor, and the Gallery of Honour with incredible 17th century pieces. Plan for at least 2-3 hours to truly appreciate this massive collection.

Admire the Art at Van Gogh Museum

No trip to Amsterdam is complete without visiting the Van Gogh Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of artwork by Post-Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh. With over 200 of his paintings and 500 drawings, you’ll see famous pieces like “The Potato Eaters”, “Sunflowers” and “Starry Night”. 

Modern exhibits provide context on Van Gogh’s life and craft. Audioguides offer great insight into his works. During peak times, reserve tickets online to avoid long queues. Art lovers will find plenty to appreciate in this intimate museum dedicated to one of history’s most beloved artists.

Explore the Amsterdam Museum

For an engaging overview of Amsterdam’s fascinating history and culture, pay a visit to the Amsterdam Museum. Housed in a former orphanage building dating to the 16th century, its displays bring the city’s story alive through artifacts, paintings, photographs and multimedia interactives. Learn about Amsterdam’s founding in the late Middle Ages, its Golden Age as a trading empire, artists like Rembrandt who lived and worked here, and get unique perspectives across periods like wartime famine. Temporary exhibits shine new light on aspects of Amsterdam’s past. English information makes it accessible for international visitors.

Wander Through Ancient Neighborhoods

Amsterdam is filled with charming neighborhoods bursting with history and character. A highlight is the old Jewish quarter along Waterlooplein, where you can visit the touching Portuguese Synagogue and peaceful cemetery. Soak up the atmosphere in the Red Light District and take Guided tours in Amsterdam for behind-the-scenes insights. 

Jordaan is a picturesque former working class district with boutiques, cafes and street art. Admire the picturesque gabled houses and leafy canals of the upscale Canal Belt area designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Let your feet lead you through twisting lanes lined with cafes, shops and architecture frozen in time.

Shop Along Haarlemmerdijk & Nine Streets

When you need a retail therapy break, head to the bustling Haarlemmerdijk for flagship stores of Dutch brands like Gall & Gall, Hema and local shoe shops alongside world renowned boutiques. For top fashion, design and homeware, lose yourself amid the eclectic array of independents along shops along Nine Streets (Negen Straatjes in Dutch) in the hip Jordaan district. Pop into concept stores, indulgent chocolate shops and cafes along the way. Browse for high quality but affordable Dutch souvenirs on lively Kalverstraat too.

Experience Dutch Cuisine

Dutch cuisine is all about comfort food. Try local specialties like pea soup, pancakes, poffertjes (mini pancakes), bitterballen (meat croquettes) and stroopwafels (caramel waffles). For a filling lunch under historic wooden beams, cafes like De Laatste Kruimel serve tasty broodjes (sandwiches) and soup. Cozy cafes also offer the famed koffie verkeerd (milky coffee). 

Top Amsterdam restaurants offer innovative twists on classics alongside menus spotlighting local and seasonal ingredients. De Kas serves extraordinary farm-to-table meals.

Soak Up Culture at Concertgebouw

Classical music fans won’t want to miss catching an orchestra, chamber music or recital at the magnificent Concertgebouw concert hall. Its superb acoustics make this a treat for listeners. Alongside resident orchestra Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, international ensembles perform throughout the year. 

Even catching just one show here is a memorable cultural experience. Check schedules and buy tickets online in advance for best seats. Nearby Vondelpark offers a lovely setting for pre- or post-performance strolling.

Relax in Vondelpark

On sunny afternoons, local residents and visitors alike flock to the lush urban oasis of Vondelpark for some relaxation. Spread over 120 hectares, this picturesque park has wide lawns for picnics, rose gardens, ponds with ducks and swans, and winding wooded paths perfect for cycling or strolling. When you need a break from all the sightseeing, take your snacks or book to the park. Street performers and artists add to the lively atmosphere on weekends. Nearby you’ll also find the cultural avenue Museumplein.

I hope this blog post gave you some great ideas of top things to experience in beautiful and fascinating Amsterdam! Be sure to allow enough time to linger along the canals, wander neighbourhoods and take in world-class art and culture. With its relaxed vibe and abundance of attractions, Amsterdam is sure to charm you.