Feb 23rd, 2017, 01:17 PM

10 Things to Do in Amsterdam

By Marina Simiaut
Image credit: Shutterstock/S.Borisov
One of Europe's most popular cities, Amsterdam is a great getaway destination in springtime.

Amsterdam, one of the most popular cities in Europe, never fails to charm tourists with its rich history, human-scale architecture, bicycling culture, and of course the famous canals. Now that the spring is here, some practical advice if you visit the city. Here are 10 things you can do in Amsterdam:

1) Boat Trip on the Canals

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While strolling down Amsterdam's quaint streets along the canals, think about taking a boat tour. The price is usually around €15. It's a nice experience on a sunny day that lets you see the city from a different angle.  

2) Dam Square

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At the historical center of Amsterdam, Dam Square is always animated, you really can’t miss it. You will see the monument created by Jacob Oud in 1956 in memory of victims of the Second World War. Next to the square you will find restaurants, shops, and museums such as Madame Tussaud and the “Paleis op de Dam”, which is the royal palace.

3) Vondelpark

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Vondelpark is a beautiful park situated at 10 minutes via tramway from the city center. If the weather is good, you can rent a bike and ride about the park or find a quiet spot to sit and order a drink. Even in cold weather the park is beautiful, especially if the lake is frozen. 

4) Museums

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As everyone knows, Anne Franck’s house is in Amsterdam. The house is opened for visits and is a must-see for visitors, Be prepared to be overwhelmed with emotions. Make sure to buy tickets in advance (at least two or three weeks), because it is always crowded. Another museum  I loved is the Van Gogh Museum, you simply must visit this gallery dedicated to the famous Dutch artist. Not going here would be like visiting Paris and not going to the Louvre. Tickets are €17 for adults and free for under 18. I advise you to buy your tickets in advance.

5) I Amsterdam & Rijksmuseum

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If you like taking pictures, you definitely have to go to the I Amsterdam Letters on Museumplein. It has become Amsterdam’s slogan, and tourists love going there to take pictures in front of the huge red and white letters. It's a must-do in the city. Right next to the letters you will find the Rijksmuseum, a museum of Dutch art.

6) De Wallen

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De Wallen is the city's famous "red light" district where prostitution is visible to passersby. Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam and it is part of its culture. Don’t go during the day, and don’t go there after midnight. I would advise you to go have a look at 10 p.m. There is always a lot of people because it has become a tourist attraction, though mainly for coffee shops. 

7) Coffee Shops

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Coffee shops in Amsterdam are not exactly the same as Parisian cafés. Marijuana is legal in Amsterdam. And while it is not recommended to smoke weed in the streets, you are allowed to smoke it in coffee shops. There are some rules that you have to follow, however, such as not smoking tobacco and not drinking alcohol. Also, the minimum age is 18 years old. If you don’t smoke, you can still stop by just to see what it looks like and experience it as a cultural visit. I have seen a lot of locals go there at 10 a.m., drink their coffee, read their newspaper and smoke a joint before going to work. It's not taboo, it's part of Amsterdam’s culture.

8) Dutch Snacks

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If you feel that you need a snack, don’t go eat a cookie at Subway or a donut at McDonald's. Try some local snacks. For example, you could try poffertjees, mini pancakes that are very famous in Amsterdam. When I lived in Amsterdam, I remember eating them every day. Go to the market, buy a fresh juice for one euro and some poffertjees for €2.50. You can cover them with whatever topping you want. If poffertjees are not to your taste, try Dutch waffles, you can find them in any bakery. If you like salty food, try the local French fries, they are fabulous in Amsterdam. Don’t worry about where to go, you will see a lot of food trucks and small fast food outlets selling French fries with all kinds of sauces.

9) Markets

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Amsterdam is famous for its markets. I love markets because you can find anything — clothes, food, drinks, souvenirs, and of course tulips. It is usually way cheaper than the shops you can find in the city center and it's really fun to walk and discover the different stands. A few markets that I like: Noordermarkt market, Albert Cuyp market, Waterlooplein Flea Market, and the Flower Market.

10) Heineken Experience

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If you love beer like I do, the Heineken Experience is made for you. During the Heineken Experience, you will learn everything that you need to know about beer — who invented it, what is it made of, when and where did everything start, and so on. It's a really fun experience. Also, you have a beer tasting session at the end of the tour and they offer you a beer. How cool!
Price: €18.

Most of the activities that I propose in this article are not free, but of course you can find lots of ways to have fun in Amsterdam for free if you have a limited budget.