After spending a short week in Amsterdam, I, like many tourists, have become completely captivated by the city. It is a can’t-miss stop on any Eurotrip with racy nightlife, beautiful canals, and world-renowned museums. While my experience was incredible, I might have liked a few tips before delving in to the bustling Netherlands capital. In light of this, I’ve decided to put together the highlights of my Amsterdam adventure along with a few dos and don’ts that I figured out along the way.
The Heineken Experience
An often overlooked attraction, The Heineken Experience is one of Amsterdam’s most entertaining activities. The Heineken distillery has been transformed into an interactive experience that takes the arduous process of beer brewing and makes it, well, fun. There are different rooms dedicated to each part of the process, each with their own twist of excitement (from receiving a customized beer bottle to churning barley). While the experience is both educational and amusing, the best part may be the complimentary pints of Heineken at the end!
Do: Participate in all of the silly games and activities. Remember to hop in the photo booth to get some great pics of your time at the distillery.
Don’t: Hesitate to visit the shire horses. Sometimes the handlers like to take them out of their pens and you can see them wheeling about wagons of beer.
Looking to sate your taste for real Dutch beer? Join a 3-Hour Amsterdam Beer Walking Tour to visit the city’s finest distilleries, bars, and beer halls!
The Red Light District
If you are spending any amount of time in Amsterdam it is a near given that you will stumble across the infamous Red Light District. While the area boasts live peep shows, prostitution, and cannabis cafes, it is no less wholesome than other parts of Amsterdam. The Red Light District is home to countless museums providing information on erotica, sex workers, and more. While at the Red Light District feel free to indulge in all things taboo but don’t forget to stop into some of the unique shops and museums that are available.
Do: Spend time learning about the culture of the area and the people that live and work in the district.
Don’t: leer at the sex-workers. The community works hard to educate tourists about the Red Light District and prevent disrespect towards the members of Amsterdam’s unique neighborhood.
Hoping to peak underneath Europe’s covers? Take a 2-Hour Red Light District walking tour to get acquainted with this temptuous and famous place.
The Anne Frank House
Visiting the Anne Frank House is a moving experience, which cannot be reduced to a simple paragraph. I recommend visiting the house if you are ever in Amsterdam. Because visitors from the world over line up each day to enter the museum, the wait time is often three or four hours in the morning and afternoon. However, if you do not mind visiting the house around closing time you will find there is little to no wait. I visited the house at about 8 pm and waited for about 5 minutes before entering the house. The Anne Frank House is also quite small, but visiting the house at an off-peak time will allow you to explore the exhibits much more thoroughly.
Do: Try to book tickets for the museum well in advance online.
Don’t: Visit the museum at a peak time!
Want a quick and cheap ride to all of Amsterdam’s great sites and more? Looking to hit the Heineken Experience and Anne Frank’s House in a day? Grab a 24-Hour Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Ticket to easily get around this bustling city with no stress!
The I amsterdam sign behind the Rijksmuseum museum is likely the most photographed place in Amsterdam. If you’ve never seen the sign before, it is simply a large installment of letters reading “I amsterdam.” The letters in “I am” are red and the rest of the letters are white, as if it is a compressed version of the phrase “I am Amsterdam.” Visiting the sign to grab a quick photo will never be an easy task because of the amount of tourists that flock to the sign each day looking to take their own picture. Regardless, you should still attempt to take your own iconic Amsterdam photo; its oddly fun trying to scale a letter while a friend manages to take a picture. If you aren’t in the mood to visit this popular set of letters, there is also a set at the airport, a small set in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum, and even a set that moves to different locations in the city.
Do: Have a plan for getting on top of your favorite letter. You’ll only have a few seconds to snap your perfect picture so be prepared!
Don’t: Forget to check out where the travelling letters are. You might like their location better.
While here don’t miss the chance to explore the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to see the Dutch Masters up close.
Amsterdam is well-known for its system of bridges and canals, with more waterways than Venice! At the center of the city there are plenty of companies that offer canal cruises of all sorts for anywhere from 11 to 50 euros. The most basic cruises come with multilingual commentary and a leisurely cruise for about an hour. The more expensive cruises often offer food and drinks and can last for a few hours. No matter which cruise you choose to take, you’ll have a great view of Amsterdam’s quaint houseboats and different neighborhoods throughout the city.
Do: Book a cruise at night time or sunset. The canals are beautifully lit up and make for a great atmosphere.
Don’t: Forget to bring a jacket. Depending on the season and the type of boat you are in, the cruise may get a bit chilly.
Looking for something unique? Take a canal pizza cruise to be see the city and enjoy a delicious meal.