I absolutely loved my time in Amsterdam. It is a city I would like to spend months exploring.
There are so many things to see and do. So if you only have a short time in Amsterdam, take a look at my personal top 11 list (because I couldn’t stop at 10) to help you plan your visit.
My Top 11 Amsterdam
# 1 – Favorite historical site – Oude Kerk
The Old Church was built in early 1200 and is Amsterdam’s oldest building. There are beautiful details throughout, including the ornate organs and grave stones that make up the floor. There are 2500 graves under which 10,000 citizens are buried, including Rembrandt’s wife Saskia.
The other intriguing part of the Old Church is its location right in the middle of the Red Light District.
# 2 – Enjoy a beer at De Prael Brewery
What impressed me most about De Prael Brewery is the variety of beer styles they make. The owners keep up century-old traditions using organic grains and malts. If you love IPAs, you have to try theirs.
For the adventurous beer lover….
If you want to get a bit off-the-beaten path, check out Butcher’s Tears. Really cool space located in a quaint neighborhood at the end of a dead-end street. A local I chatted with was shocked that some tourists found out about this place and ventured to find it. Awesome beer and totally worth the short trek.
#3 – Explore a small contemporary art gallery
If you enjoy contemporary art, especially photography, you must experience some of the small art galleries in Amsterdam. My favorite exhibits were at Museum Van Loon, Fonds, and the Museum of Photography.
#4 – Visit the major exhibits at the Stedelijk Museum
For major exhibitions of contemporary art, you must visit the Stedelijk. I spent 1 1/2 hours inside and wish I had more time.
#5 – Anne Frank House
To be honest, I didn’t think I would want to visit the Anne Frank House. I appreciate the history and the story, but I’m not big on super-crowded tourist attractions with long lines. But I remembered the post that Dalene wrote about her experience, and I just couldn’t leave Amsterdam without seeing it for myself.
Totally worth it.
# 6 – Westerpark
If you want to get out of the busy part of the city and experience the place the locals go to play, ride a bike over to Westerpark. You’ll find the locals enjoying the park and strolling through the Westergasfabriek (the old gas works). The latter is a unique multi-functional space with galleries, trendy cafes, shops featuring handmade goods from up-and-coming local artisans, and bars.
Re-charge, enjoy a coffee, and use the wifi at Espresso Fabriek.
#7 – Ferry with the locals
Everyone told me the canal boat tours are overrated and only for tourists. The best way to experience the water in Amsterdam is to take one of the free ferries. There was a festival going on at the NDSM, so it was the perfect excuse to take the ferry and enjoy a local event.
#8 – Vondelpark
Vondelpark reminded me of the Bosques de Palermo in Buenos Aires. This huge green space is great for morning jogs or bike rides or just to take a break from the city.
#9 – A guided culinary adventure
Do both if you have the time.
#10 – Wander the canals and enjoy the picture-perfect setting
My favorite spots are the quiet, beautiful Jordaan and the trendy shops along The Nine Streets.
#11 – Experience the quirky
The Dutch are a little weird (in a good way). There is all sorts or quirky going on in Amsterdam. Keep an eye out as you wander around the city for interesting flyers. An easy way to experience the quirkiness is to visit the KattenKabinet, an art museum dedicated to work depicting cats.