10 Not-To-Be-Missed Amsterdam Adventures!

In April of 2019, I headed for my first time to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I went for a three-day trip to this country that was new to me. My head was spinning trying to narrow down my list to the best adventures in Amsterdam. To help me plan my trip to Amsterdam, I asked all my travel blogging friends for their recommendations for the best things to do in Amsterdam and the best day trips from Amsterdam. I wanted to share my findings with my readers too! Now that I am back, you can also read about what I did with my long weekend in Amsterdam.

Cool Things to See in Amsterdam: Points of Interest

The Jordaan from Shobha at Just Go Places

Amsterdam Points of Interest

The Jordaan is a trendy district near the city center of Amsterdam which is a fabulous area to explore. The Anne Frank House is on the border of the Jordaan so its actually very near the main tourist area.  A district originally created in the early 17th century for working class immigrants, the area went through a slow decline until the artists and creatives discovered it in the late 20th century. Now the Jordaan is home to young professionals and their families.
There are lots of historic houses, art galleries, restaurants and independent stores to browse. It’s very much an area that you want to walk through and check out its nooks and crannies. Make sure to check out inside the housing blocks which usually conceal inner courtyards with charming garden squares. My kids found play areas in these courtyards.
A giant weekly flea market called the Noordermarkt is great if you are looking for a non-typical souvenir. There is now a Jordaan Museum dedicated to the history of the area as well as a cool Houseboat Museum showing how people live in Amsterdam’s houseboats. Neither museum is very big and so great to visit with kids (and those with a limited attention span!).

Stay in a Houseboat from Euro Travel Coach

Where to stay in Amsterdam
The Bambooboat by Euro Travel Coach

For a unique stay in Amsterdam, you can’t beat a houseboat rental! Houseboats first became popular in Amsterdam following the second world war as an answer to the housing shortage – some people simply built a house on top of a pontoon raft, while others converted old metal ships. Today, you can still find nearly 2,500 houseboats dotting the canals, many of which have been completely refurbished and decked out with creature comforts. You’ll find several of them available for short-term rental via Airbnb, HomeAway, and other sites. One particularly nice option is The Bambooboat. This floating home has room for up to six guests, two full bathrooms, a compact but efficient kitchen, and a lovely outdoor space where you can enjoy views of the Old Harbor. Han, the proud owner, will make sure that you have everything you need for a great stay including slippers, coffee, guidebooks, fresh tulips, and instructions for all the appliances. If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s as distinctive as Amsterdam itself, The Bambooboat certainly fits the bill.

The Anne Frank House from Roxanna of Gypsy with a Day Job

Anne Frank Huis is one of the essential places that must be visited when in Amsterdam.  Yes, it is quite popular among tourists, and the lines get long. There are several other sites across Amsterdam that tell pieces of the Jewish story which do not have lines.  But we already relate to Anne, so visiting her home is very personal and real.

Upon entry there is a museum with detailed historical information about WWII and the Nazi regime terror through the Netherlands, and upon the Jewish community.  Then the tour moves into rooms that maintained business through the war, that enabled the secrecy, and the small annex. Visitors receive a headset tour guide that is available in many languages, to take the tour at their own pace.

Tickets to the Anne Frank Huis can only be purchased online, and within very specific parameters.  Groups are scheduled back to back, in 15 minute increments. We recommend scheduling an early morning tour.

Read more on Gypsy with a Day Job.

Anne Frank quote

The Heineken Experience from Christine at And the Story Goes

amsterdam attractions

If you have an interest in beer or how it’s made, make a stop by the Heineken Experience. The main experience consists of 3 parts: company history, brewery tour, and beer tasting. The tour itself is self-guided, but there are many knowledgeable employees along the way if you have any questions. If a museum setting isn’t your thing, you can keep walking and head straight to the interactive experience including ride experience which takes you through how Heineken is bottled and delivered. The tour ends with two free beers in a fun and lively bar. The gift shop offers specialty Heineken bottles and several items that can be personalized. In addition to the main experience, you can purchase combo ticket which includes a boat tour of the Amsterdam canals and a ticket to the top of the A’dam Tower giving you a view of all Amsterdam.
Read on for her Amsterdam City Guide.

Our Lord in the Attic Church From Kelly of Girl with a Passport

Amsterdam Highlights

I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not a huge church person. I mean yes, many of these buildings are adorned with amazing stained glass, but seeing one crucifix after another can get kind of dull. I start to get this glazed over look on my face and begin to think about my next meal and not the church I’m visiting.

ButOns’ Lieve Heer op Solder (aka Our Lord in the Attic) is completely different and one of the coolest churches I’ve ever seen.

See, believe it or not, this church is actually hidden away in the attic of a 17th-century canal house (As a result of the Protestant Reformation in the Netherlands, Catholics could only practice their faith within the privacy of their own home)! Pretty amazing huh?

Plus, the whole house has been restored and transformed into a living museum where you can seamlessly walk back in time. As you enter this museum, you see exactly what 17th-century homes were like, and can better understand how the wealthy citizens in Amsterdam lived.

So if you find yourself in Amsterdam and are looking for something a little different to do, then check out this secret church in the attic. I promise, you won;t be sorry that you added it to your Amsterdam itinerary.

The Westerkerk Tower from Alina at The Happy Kid Blog

unusual things to do in Amsterdam

Westerkerk tower, built in 1638, is one of Amsterdam’s symbols.  Belonging to the most important protestant church of the city, the 85m tower is the tallest building in Amsterdam and dominates the Old City.

Climb the Westerkerk tower to get the best Amsterdam panorama.  It can be visited from April to October, except for Sundays, when the church hosts the religious service. The access is just in small guided tours. Make sure you are reasonably fit to reach the 40m wooden platform. You will need to climb a spiral staircase and then a few ladders. The stairs seem to be more and more steeper and narrower as you climb up. But all this workout will totally worth the incredible views.

Read more about Alina’s adventures in Amsterdam with a Toddler.

interesting things to do in Amsterdam
The incredible view of Amsterdam from Westerkerk Tower

A Fall Visit to see the iAmsterdam Sign from Heather at Trimm Travels

A fall visit to Amsterdam

One of the top things to do in Amsterdam is also one of the most iconic. If visiting this Dutch city, one must get the obligatory photo of (and selfie with) the iAmsterdam sign!
Located behind the Rijksmuseum, the sign is estimated to be photographed around 6,000 times per day. While this marketing genius is difficult to get photos of sans other people, it is well worth it anyway! And, although it’s pretty any time of year, I found it especially beautiful when I was there in late fall.
TIP: If you’re looking for the perfect time to visit Amsterdam, skip the busy, hot summertime and visit when the leaves are turning gorgeous colors and falling into the canals.
Read my guide to 36 hours in Amsterdam to see more fall photos and recommendations for the top things to do in this amazing city!

Visit a coffee shop.

As part of my Your Best Adventures Yet series, Roman from Roman Roams, shares his favorite coffee shops in Amsterdam. Coffee shops are not where you go to not get coffee, but stronger concoctions.

Day Trips From Amsterdam

Clara Marie Farm from LeAnna of Well Traveled Nebraskan

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There are some things that are just so “Dutch” you can’t escape the stereotype! At the Clara Marie Farm, just outside of Amsterdam in the town of Amstelveen, you can experience two of them for yourself.
While you may not see people walking down the street in their clogs, that doesn’t mean that they actually aren’t still a very big national symbol, and at the farm, you can actually make your very own!  From picking out a log to shaping and molding it, whittling it and sanding it down, you’ll have your very own keepsake clog that YOU made yourself.
All that clog making is going to make you hungry.  So your next stop at the farm is going to be to actually make Dutch gouda cheese yourself.  You’ll help in every step from adding in the cultures, to molding and pressing the cheese rounds.  And yes….you get to eat it, too! Of course, you can’t take the cheese YOU made home with you (it still needs time to age), but you can still take some freshly made cheese straight from the farm.   There were SO many varieties and flavors to choose from, it was hard to decide which one (ok, or 3!) to take home with us!
Whether you are on a family trip in Amsterdam, a girls’ trip to Keukenhof or just love experiencing local culture, this was the perfect day trip to add to our Holland trip!

Volendam and Marken from Bruna of Maps ‘N Bags

The best day trips outside of Amsterdam

Tiny wooden houses, raw herring, and traditional outfits: it can’t get more Dutch than this. The fisherman’s villages of Volendam and Marken are the sweetest places to visit near Holland’s capital. These villages are actually divided by water but you can easily cross it by boat, which is usually included in a day trip tour from Amsterdam.

While there, stroll down the main street so you can get a little more feeling of the place.

In Volendam, don’t miss the cheese and clogs factory. Highly touristy but without a doubt a fun (and tasty) attraction. In Marken, look for the Marker Museum to learn about the story of the village. Also, rent a bike to explore the narrow streets of Marken and to reach the House of Marken, of better saying, the lighthouse. You can’t come very close to it because it’s private terrain, but I promise the ride will be very pleasant as well as the view.

And since you’re in a fisherman’s village, try raw herring with onions, a traditional Dutch snack that tastes better than it looks. This is a day trip you won’t want to miss!

Read on for Bruna’s Top 13 Things to do in Amsterdam.

Chasing Windmills in Kinderkijk from Constance of The Adventures of a Panda Bear

Amsterdam Day Trips

Kinderdijk was one of the most scenic places in the Netherlands to get a glimpse of some beautiful windmills. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and includes a total of 19 windmills. It’s location in the Dutch countryside makes it more unique and amazing, you get to see several of windmills in a row!

One of the most Dutch things you can do there is rent a bike and explore the cycling trails. If biking doesn’t strike your fancy, you can also walk along the paths and visit a couple of the windmills that are now museums. A boat tour is also offered to make it easier for pedestrians, there is a hop-on, hop-off boat tour that stops along the main row of Nederwaard windmills. There is also a longer boat tour that goes around the entire Kinderdijk area, this boat trip takes 30 minutes.

Kinderdijk is located a few hours away from Amsterdam by train and bus, but visiting Kinderdijk is the perfect day trip from Amsterdam. Its beauty is well worth the trek via public transportation!

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I am very excited to be planning my trip to Amsterdam for April 2019! I chose to go in April to get a chance to see some tulips. Now that I have all my friend’s advice, I am excited to put my plans on paper. I am deciding between staying on a houseboat or a canal-side hotel. (Here is one that looked interesting on Hotels.com) Stay tuned to see how my trip goes and good luck planning your trip to Amsterdam.

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2 thoughts on “10 Not-To-Be-Missed Amsterdam Adventures!”

  1. What an awesome list! I lived in Amsterdam for six months while I studied abroad in 2014 and just revisited this past October. It’s such a beautiful city! My favourite thing to do is just walk around the Nine Streets and admire the canals and houses. Anne Frank is a definite must. There’s an awesome pancake house right by there called The Pancake Bakery. You should also check out the Albert Cuyp Market and eat rijstafel, which is an Indonesian rice table. And if you need more day trip options, Utrecht is really cool! Have so much fun!

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