Formerly known as a party town for stag-dos/bachelor parties and for their interesting take on a certain chocolate treat, Amsterdam is shaking off its stereotype, and coming into its own - emerging as a thriving cultural capital with a flair for all things individual. This cycling city fuses age-old history with contemporary urban chic flawlessly, with Amsterdam’s token dash of quirkiness breathing new life into the charming 17th century architecture of old. From the glorious Van Gogh Museum to the striking Vermeers and Rembrandt works hanging in the Rijksmuseum, treasure troves of Holland’s Golden Age find their home in the city, alongside more modern dedications too. Boasting rambling streets and slender townhouses, windy canals and curly bridges, and with local food markets and leafy green spaces aplenty; whatever your travel vice, you’ll find your fix in Amsterdam.
Let’s go ride a bike. Don’t be shy, Amsterdam is the city for cycling. Careful though, the brakes on these bikes are pedal rather than hand-brakes, and can cause confusion when you first saddle up.
Rock the boat. When considering things to do in Amsterdam, the city’s 165 canals has seen many make the leap from land to water. Make your trip extra-special and stay on a moored up houseboat, there’s plenty to choose from.
Feline fine. A houseboat-come-cat shelter, De Poezenboat one of the city’s more weird and wacky Amsterdam attractions that brings hundreds of tourists to it’s helms each year. Cat lovers, you’re welcome.
There is a big difference between ‘coffeeshop’ and café. One sells coffee, the other sells… brownies. Note the distinction.
Good to know
Best time to visit
Like most European cities, this city is most popular during the summer months, with Amsterdam sightseeing frenzy reaching its peak in late July to early August. Warmer weather aside, if you’re considering what to do in Amsterdam, the best time to visit would be during the tulip season when budding blooms take centre-stage and plenty of local festivities are underway. You can expect to catch the floral fever as early as March, with blossoming lasting all the way through to May.
Navigating Amsterdam’s mishmash of canals, bridges and laneways can be testing. Here’s our travel breakdown of the best ways to find your way through Holland’s capital.
Amsterdam is one of the world’s leading cycling cities, with most locals opting to ride on a daily basis. Designated cycle paths and easy pick-up and drop-off bike stations make hopping on this bandwagon easy as pie. Many Amsterdam day tours use bicycles as the main form of transport too.
Holland’s capital is relatively compact so if you’re staying in central Amsterdam, using your own two feet will be your best bet. If walking doesn’t appeal, a tourist pass on public transport systems including trams, metros and buses provide easy access to the city sights.
Cruising the canals is a must when visiting Amsterdam. Amsterdam tours often include a canal cruise, or you can board the free ferries behind Central station for a trip to remember.
Despite it’s party town reputation, Amsterdam is a relatively safe city. Keep these travel tips in tow so your trip can go off without a hitch…
On Amsterdam day trips, look out for pickpockets. Petty thieves are known for operating in the city’s touristy areas and on trams in particular, so keep your valuables close and carry small change where possible.
In any emergency situation, dial 112.
The primary transport in the city, bikes come thick and fast on the streets of Amsterdam. Keep an eye open for cyclists out when crossing, the flurry of two-wheelers can be potentially hazardous for those not used to it.