Believe or not, there are other things you can do besides eating in Amsterdam. Yet, in the three visits to this lively city since I began blogging, I’ve failed to talk about them. You, my friends, are about to get a glimpse of what a tourist I am. Sure, I love meeting, and particularly drinking, with locals, but sometimes you just gotta hit those stereotypical, yet iconic, spots. Sometimes they meet their expectations, sometimes they’re a let down, but no matter how many blogs or TripAdvisor review you read, I find it is best just to form your own opinion. My first trip to Amsterdam I was a first timer eager to hit the spots, and my next two trips, I was with Amsterdam virgins, so I rehit all the spots. Therefore, I’ve TOURISTED IT UP in Amsterdam. Heading to the “Venice of the North” anytime soon? Book a hotel in Amsterdam online before you go.
Visited the Anne Frank Haus
Amsterdam’s most famous resident’s WWII hideaway is now a museum and open for visitors. The Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam houses the original diary, as well as family photos, letters, original wallpaper, and more. Throughout the tour, there are videos recounting the history, as well as testimonies from those close to the family. In the high season, avoid the long ticket line by purchasing online.
Anne Frank Museum Amsterdam
Admission: 9 Euro for adults
Open Daily, 9 am – 9 or 10 pm
Explored the Marijuana Culture
One cannot simply visit Amsterdam without learning a little about the famed weed acceptance and coffee shops spattered throughout the city. Don’t know where to begin? Let me suggest Cannabis College. It is an information center filled with books, statistics, and helpful staff that can tell you all about the drug. Visitors can also make a small donation to go downstairs and view the “gardens”.
O.Z. Achterburgwal 124 I
Open Daily, 11 am – 7 pm
Road a Bicycle
Riding a bicycle, particular a Dutch style bicycle, is a huge part of the culture in Amsterdam. Riders throughout the city fly past without a care in the world. It is a wildly popular mode of transportation, so watch out for the clearly marked bike lanes. Locals will be very unhappy if you are blocking one. If you do not know where you are going, may I suggest a bike tour? You will get to ride around Amsterdam much more safely, while also learning some fun facts about the city. Not interested in a tour? They are also one of the many options for bike rentals available in the city.
Mike’s Bike Tours Amsterdam
Kerkstraat 134 H
Walked through the Red Light District
Ah yes, probably the most famous part of the city. The area is characterized by its red lights lining the windows and the women working inside of them. There are also many coffee shops, shows, and adult stores throughout the area. No photographing allowed. Would you like an official tour? Why not learn from those who know it best? The Amsterdam Prostitution Information Center provides walking tours of the area.
Red Light District Tour
Enge Kerksteeg 3
Admission: 15 Euro for adults
Saturdays at 5 pm
Heineken is definitely the most globally recognized Dutch beer. Although you can’t view the actual production of the brew, you can take a fun little tour of the museum and visitor center, called the Heineken Experience. During the “experience”, you can learn the history of the famous beer, take a virtual ride through the production process, and learn how to properly pour and taste a Heineken. At the end of the tour, enjoy two “free” beers from the ice cold bar.
Open Daily, 11 am to 7:30 or 8:30 pm
Admission: 18 Euro for adults, 16 Euro online
Cruised the Canals
Amsterdam has been called “Venice of the North” due to its intricate canal system. Over 1500 bridges cross the canals in the city! What better way to view the city than from the water? There are several canal cruise companies throughout the city, but the whole being piled on a boat with a bunch of other tourists is kind of lame. This was probably my least favorite “touristy” activity in Amsterdam.
Viewed the making of Dutch wooden clogs
These shoes are certainly a mega characteristic of the nation and are such a fun tradition! After venturing out on Mike’s Bike Tour – Countryside, we got to explore outside the limits, which included a stop at a little Dutch farm where we got to witness clogs being made out of a solid piece of wood.
Visited a Gouda cheese farm
Also part of the countryside Mike’s Bike Tour, we spent time with some cows and some serious amounts of Gouda cheese, a yellow cheese made from cow milk. Telling you, killing several birds with one stone, that bike tour did.
Saw a windmill
Telling you, several birds with one stone. On the tour, we got to see a traditional Dutch windmill. Many of the windmills left in the country remain purely for tourism and beauty’s sake and are no longer functioning for their original purposes.
Sat in a giant wooden clog in Damn Square
How many people’s Facebooks have you seen this exact shoe on? Probably one hundred. We definitely had to wait in a short cue to get this shot.
I AMsterdam Sign
The sign, which stands in Museumplein, is a newly iconic city of the city. The city’s tourism bureau’s mottoand brand is I AMsterdam, thus the source of the letters.. Don’t forget your obligatory photo. Which is near impossible to get during busy months without several other tourists in it as well.
The 120 Acre park is certainly not a sight to miss – escape the city with a little picnic, go for a jog, get in some quality people watching, you know the drill.
I did not even realize how many tourist attractions there are in Amsterdam until I wrote this post. Yet, there’s still more I want to do (and no, it’s not the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum, although maybe I should hit those next time, too…) My next Amsterdam “bucket list” items are:
Queen’s Day, or Koninginnedag is a Dutch national holiday, celebrated yearly on April 30. It is celebrated on the 30th because it is Queen Juliana’s birthday. The celebrations occur throughout the city with street festivals, concerts, and partying, all while wearing bright orange, the national color of Holland. Orange colored drinks are consumed, too. This holiday will change to King’s Day in 2014 and be celebrated a few days earlier.
Ice Skate the Canals
A few days per year, it can get cold enough for the canals to actually freeze over and get hard enough to actually ice skate on! I’m pretty sure there is no cooler natural ice skating rink in the world!
What are your must-see tourist attractions in Amsterdam?