Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam, Holland

amsterdam, bicycles, cycling, holland, bicycles & bridge
An active day in Amsterdam involves cycling. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is to the Anne Frank House.

When I crave Dutch cuisine, I turn to “Patat met majonaise” (French Fries with mayo) , “broodje kroket” with mustard (meat-croquette); or Indonesian Rijsttafel! The staple Dutch meal is meat, potato and vegetable, in winter combined to a “stamppot,” mixture of mashed potatoes, vegetable with meats on the side.

To escape work I go to Vondelpark in summer; or the coast for a walk in the dunes.

For complete quiet, I can hide away at the Begijnhof.

If you come to Amsterdam, get your picture taken on a Skinny Bridge with canal houses in the background.

If you have to order one thing off the menu at Restaurant Tempo Doeloe, get the rijsttafel.

Amsterdam is my one stop shop for a good dose of culture!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to a FEBO or a brown café.  They may not the best, but for sure are inexpensive!

At FEBO snack bars, after inserting some change, you can get your treat right out of the wall. Brown cafés and pubs normally serve up great sampling plates with bitterballen (mini meat-croquettes), or cubed Dutch cheese and liverwurst served with a strong mustard. All are best complimented with a pint of Dutch beer.

For a huge splurge, I go to La Rive at the Amstel Hotel for classic French or Restaurant Vinkeles at the Dylan Hotel.

anne frank statue, anne frank, anne frank museum, amsterdam, holland
When you visit Amsterdam, visit the Anne Frank statue and Anne Frank Museum. photo © Nancy D. Brown

Photo ops in Amsterdam include;  Skinny Bridge, Westerkerk (Westerchurch)

–         Homo Monument

–         Anne Frank Statue

–         Floating Flower Market

–         Museum Square with Rijksmuseum in the background

–         Near or in a boat or canal bike on a gracht (canal)

–         On any bridge over a canal

–         Dam Square

wester church, Westerkerk, clocktower, amsterdam, holland
The Wester Church – a photo opportunity in Amsterdam, Holland

The best vantage points are taken by climbing the Westerchurch tower or visit the Okura Hotel’s Ciel Bleu, their Michelin star French restaurant on the top floor.

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The most random thing in Amsterdam is the Grachten Festival. The Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) is an annual music festival based on classical music performances. Each performance is set amongst venues characterised by extraordinary or monumental architecture boasting culturally historical value. Inspired by the annual theme, renowned soloists and ensembles quite often compose concert programs especially for the festival. However, the festival also features advance performances and foretastes of programs that will be performed at venues elsewhere in the Netherlands later in the season.

hermitage, amsterdam, museum, holland
Hermitage Amsterdam photo © Nancy D. Brown

In Amsterdam, an active day outdoors involves walking and cycling. My favorite walking route is strolling through the Jordaan district.

Some of Amsterdam’ s best museums are the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh museum, Amsterdam Historical Museum, Jewish Historical Museum and Hermitage.

There are so many entertainment options for a night of dancing in Amsterdam. Depending on your age group try:

Jimmy Woo
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18
1017 RC Amsterdam

Jimmy Woo is a hot club where ancient Hong-Kong mixes with modern design. Black is the dominant color here, with a large lounge area with black leather sofa’s and a black bar, and of course the opium table isn’t missing. The dance floor is downstairs, with impressive 12,000 light bulbs ceiling. Famous for its selective door policy; either you’re on the guest list, or you join the endless queue.

Club Roses

Rozengracht 133
1016 LV A Rozengracht 133

One of the most trendy hot spots in Amsterdam is Club Roses. An award winning interior totally in style with today’s developments in architecture completes the success of the club. Roses is the place to be with a large variety of music styles on the different days of the week. The biggest names in the DJ world have worked the decks at Roses and many more will follow.

Most restaurants close their kitchen at 11p.m. There are some late night restaurants which serve dinner until 12:30a.m. Selection:


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Keizersgracht 594
1017 EN Amsterda


Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 203
1017 RB Amsterdam

Hard Rock Café Amsterdam
Max Euweplein 57-61
Opened on Friday and Saturday untill 00.30h for dinner. Rest of the week until 23.30h.

To find out what’s going on a night or on weekends use the on-line what’s on wizard and/or Time Out Amsterdam.

In the spring you should attend Queens Day (nationwide): one big party in Amsterdam as well on April 30 and the April Flower Parade.

In the summer you should attend Canal Parade – Gay Pride in August. Highlight of Amsterdam Gay Pride (1/8 – 8/8) is the Canal Parade with hundred thousands of participants and visitors. The boat parade starts at 2 PM at the end of the Prinsengracht, turns left onto the Amstel and continues towards Oosterdok, passing City Hall and the Music Theatre (Stopera).

The Canal Festival also puts an emphasis on giving young musicians an ideal opportunity to showcase their talents, with performances in lively busy public locations.

The event also includes a Children’s Canal Festival, featuring productions specially intended for children of all ages, from babies and infants up to teenagers.

Many of the concerts are accessible free of charge or at a low entrance fee.

In the fall you should visit: Museumnacht, the First Saturday in November.

One night a year 42 museums in Amsterdam open their doors from 7 pm to 2 am and organize special events: workshops, concerts, special tours, performances, with tasty food & drinks. This is your chance to see Amsterdam’s museums in a completely new light – after dark!

In the winter you should go to the ice skating rinks in the city. Dutch holiday traditions and events from late November into early January (e.g. special exhibits and museums; arrival of Sinterklaas – St. Nicolas)

A hidden gem in Amsterdam is The Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje) and the Museum Our Lord in the Attic.

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apple tart, espresso, cafe papeneiland, amsterdam, holland
Apple tart and espresso at Cafe Papeneiland, Amsterdam. Photo © Nancy D. Brown

For a great breakfast treat or espresso, go to Le Pain Quotidien, Cornelis Troostplein 4,1072 JK Amsterdam

Cafe Americain (brunch)Leidsekade 97, Amsterdam

Wintertuin (bfast, brunch)

Hotel Krasnapolsky
Dam 9, Amsterdam

Just outside of Amsterdam you can visit the Open Air museum The Zaansche Schans, have lunch at the pancake restaurant.

Also visit the Zuiderzee museum in Enkhuizen, a wonderful Open Air museum in a traditional fishing village on the Ijsselmeer.  One hour by train from Amsterdam.

The best way to see Amsterdam is to walk and take a canal boat tour, especially by night.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Jewish Historical Museum –  The Children’s Museum has matzo that raps and the brick wall that talks!

What are your favorite things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands?

Thanks to Brigitta Kroon-Fiorita and Visit Holland for assistance with this post. I was a guest of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions. Photos and YouTube video by Nancy D. Brown

6 thoughts on “Best Things to See and Do in Amsterdam, Holland”

  1. Hello Nancy

    I am enjoying, while reading your blog post about the Amsterdam, you posted such an informative post out here. The only thing is missing about a little bit for Red light areas of Amsterdam 🙂
    Amsterdam is a place of canals and museums and for coffee shops

    Keep posting and i can’t wait for your another post.

  2. Hi Nancy,
    Nice blog about Amsterdam….but you forgot to mention that you are just 30 minutes away from the beautiful beach.

  3. Temeka Gossman

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks Nancy for the info. I am looking for a good vantage point to photograph Dams Square, so I will give Wester Kerk a try.

  5. @Rob
    Happy to be of assistance. It’s been several years since I have traveled to Amsterdam and Holland. Please let me know if all of my insider tips are still current.

Comments are closed.