Amsterdam: Things To Do and Places to Visit

When visiting Amsterdam things to do are not hard to find; the problem can be deciding which you most want to do with limited time. You can't be everywhere at once, and this means narrowing down the list of places to visit in Amsterdam when you either have one day, two, three or more at your disposal.

amsterdam canals in the center

When You Have One Day

Visiting Amsterdam for a day is quite common for those traveling through Europe or getting a connecting flight from Schiphol. As you have limited time, careful planning is a great help, and so a good idea is to call into the tourist information office by Central Station to pick up a ticket for your visit to the Anne Frank House, top of the list of popular Amsterdam things to do, in order to avoid spending half your day in a queue.

While waiting for your appointed time to visit the House, try a breakfast of Dutch pancakes at Sara's Pancake House, just across the street at Raadhuisstraat 45. You can also take the time while you're here to visit the Homomonument and admire the Westerkerk, both of which are to be found right beside the Anne Frank House.

After your visit, a walk around the city centre will let you pop into the Red Light District for a peek, have a beer and a tosti on a terrace overlooking de Waag on Nieuwmarkt (where Rembrandt painted The Anatomy Lesson) and check out the Begijnhof religious community courtyard just off Spui. All of these great Amsterdam things to do are unique and within easy walking distance of each other, as well as plenty of cafés, coffee shops and restaurants.

What better way to finish off an active day in Amsterdam than with a candlelit dinner on the canals? Amsterdam Jewel Cruises offers a canal cruise of Amsterdam in a classic saloon boat that serves dinner as you go. Wind down your Amsterdam day trip with good food, great wine and the romantic sights of Amsterdam's canals.

amsterdam sights: the canals

Two Days

If you have a couple of days in Amsterdam, things to do on the second day could also revolve around the canals. The Lovers canal cruise company runs a hop on, hop off museum line that covers most of the major museums and can be a great way to spend a day sight seeing. Decide which of Amsterdam's museums you wish to see and choose whichever of the two lines gets you to most of them. These lines can take you a little outside the city centre and open up some whole new sights to see, check the Lovers' website for details.

The evening of your second day could be spent getting to know Amsterdam's nightlife. One recommendation is to check out some classic Dutch brown cafés, such as Hoppe at Spui 18, or visit a Dutch tasting house (proeflokaal) like Wynand Fockink, behind the NH Krasnapolsky at Pijlsteeg 43. Get to the tasting house early though, as most close around 9pm.

Three Days

Those lucky enough to have a third day in the city might be wondering what's left on the list of Amsterdam things to do. The city has no shortage of museums, and if you're still in the mood to expand your mind, everything from the Museum of Bags and Purses at Herengracht 573 to the Sex Museum at Damrak 18 can be found in the city centre.

If the weather is nice, however, your third day in Amsterdam might be the time to go exploring the outskirts. Call into Star Bikes Rental at De Ruyterkade 127 and you suddenly have your own way of whizzing about the city and terrifying tourists on the bike lanes. From here you can take the trip to Amsterdam Noord with the free ferry behind Central Station and spend the day exploring forests and sleepy suburbs.

You could also choose to head east to the Brouwerij 't IJ windmill and brewery at Funenkade 7, where you can sip some beer on the sunny terrace before cycling a little further to Flevopark for a picnic beneath the parrot-filled trees.

Extra Days

For any extra days you may have, a good idea is to pick a particular part of Amsterdam you like and explore it. In every area of Amsterdam, things to do abound and it's just a matter of deciding which most appeals to you.

The city centre is made up of the Oude Zijde (Old Side) and Nieuwe Zijde (New Side), both of which contain many gorgeous old buildings and sights to see. Outside of this the various parts of the Canal Ring have their own attractions, such as the artistic, old-school Jordaan area to the west or the trendy de Pijp in the east. A bit further east, towards the Artis Zoo, you can find Plantage with its own selection of museums, cafes and other Amsterdam things to do.

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