Updated 6 months ago

The city of Amsterdam is more than just canals and Rembrandt. Whether you love the beauty of the ballet or prefer a more hard-rock vibe, there is something for everybody in and around this lovely city.

Sightseeing and shopping

Within the city there are about two dozen art museums and a number of more esoteric ones, from the famed Rijksmuseum, which houses Rembrandt’s The Night’s Watch, to the intriguing Museum of Bags and Purses, which showcases the history and evolution of handbags over 500 years. If more modern history is your thing then be sure to check out the Resistance Museum, where the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis in World War II comes to life.

Amsterdam is full of stores and shops, selling everything from tourist buttons to fine china. Stores in the Netherlands tend to be more specialized than in the US, so if you’re looking for something exotic then you might have to find a specialty store for it. There are numerous buurtkmarkten as well, neighborhood markets where you can find exciting bargains and Dutch street food such as poffertjes (miniature pancakes) and kibbeling (fried fish). Be forewarned, though: these markets are typically cash-only, and they are typically one-day affairs, there one day and gone the next.

Culture and live entertainment

For those who prefer their entertainment live, never fear: Amsterdam is home to the Dutch National Ballet and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. If you prefer less grandiose settings, the Leidseplein is surrounded by numerous venues which host everything from stand-up comedy – some shows are even in English – to live theater. The Stadsschouwburg theater group even projects English subtitles onto the stage for some showings.

There are a number of festivities throughout the year in Amsterdam, most notably King’s Day (April 27, King Willem-Alexander’s birthday), Pride Week, and the arrival of Sinterklaas in November. Music festivals occur just outside of the city, there is a sand-sculpting contest in Zandvoort, and if it’s wooden shoes and white winged bonnets you want to see, Volendam is just a short train ride away.

If you want to do more than just look, there are numerous bike tours of the city and the lands surrounding it. Many of these tours include the bike, and a snack or a meal. The Amsterdamse Bos is a large wooded park in the southern part of the city that is easily reached by public transportation. There is a petting zoo on the premises for the kids, and bikes can be rented if you’d like to do a little exploring on your own. Amsterdam is also host to the Color Run and the Amsterdam Marathon every year.

I Amsterdam

Purchasing the I Amsterdam City Card includes a book listing far more venues, festivals, and things to do than can be adequately explained in a short blog post. It gives you free access to many of the museums within Amsterdam, and discounts of up to 25% at restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops. You also get unlimited access to the public transportation system to help you get around, and one free canal tour per card holder.

A note on cannabis and drug use

Drug use is not penalised, but disorderly behaviour is. Be sure to only buy drugs from established coffeeshops; street deals are illegal and dangerous. 

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.