Responsible Tourism in Amsterdam – 12 eco-friendly Initiatives that comes naturally

Responsible Tourism in Amsterdam – A city where responsible tourism comes naturally

Visiting Amsterdam is a breath of fresh air – a haven for eco-tourists! There’s a lot more to the beautiful and whimsical city of Amsterdam than freedom, coffee shops and world renowned museums. With a deeply ingrained eco-conscious attitude amongst Amsterdammers, the never ending bike-paths, the array of sustainable hotels and quirky vintage shops, together with a comprehensive green transport system, responsible tourism in Amsterdam makes it a city where responsible tourism comes naturally.

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Ranked fifth as the most eco-friendly city in the world for workers following London, Frankfurt, Oslo and Cambridge in Massachusetts, Amsterdam boasts fascinating facts and sustainable eco-friendly activities as regards responsible tourism.

This article takes a look at what ‘responsible tourism’ means, and aims to give an overview of the 12 eco-friendly initiatives that comes naturally in the Dutch capital along with ways on how visitors can enjoy their visit whilst contributing to the green city.

responsible tourism in Amsterdam

What is Responsible tourism?

The widely accepted definition of Responsible Tourism (Cape Town Declaration) is about “making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable. Responsible tourism comes in a variety of forms and includes:

1 | Maintenance of the world’s diversity by making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage;

2 | Opportunities for tourists to enjoy more meaningful experiences, connections with local people, and understanding of local culture, social and environmental issues.

One’s behaviour can be more or less responsible and what is responsible depends upon environment and culture.


Responsible tourism in Amsterdam

With these being said, Amsterdam takes its responsibilities seriously. Amsterdam leads the way on responsible tourism on many fronts. From a complete commitment to achieving Zero CO2 emission by 2050 to actively exploring ways to lead in creating an eco-friendly environment for Amsterdammers to live in, and making Amsterdam a better place for visitors – a city for everyone to enjoy.

Amsterdam’s commitment to Zero CO2 emission – An overview

Amsterdam. responsible tourism

With our planet on a ‘climate emergency‘ and in line with the European Parliament’s resolution passed in November 2019, Amsterdam is committed to tackling the global warming situation. The Dutch capital aims to be the first European city to achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It has implemented a number of strategies focusing on sustainable mobility, in particular, eliminating CO2 emissions from public transportation.

A picture of the future Amsterdam is succinctly laid out in the city’s Roadmap to Climate Neutral in 2050, appended below. You could read the document in its entirety by clicking on the citation link.

By 2030, Amsterdam’s streets will be free of exhaust-emitting cars.
By around 2040, every home will have switched from natural gas to sustainable heating.
And by 2050, we will have ended our dependence on coal, gas and oil. We will instead
get all of our energy from the sun, wind, plants and the heat of the earth itself. For some,
this is future talk or even an alarming prospect; for others, it is already daily practice.
In any case, the transition to clean energy has begun and can no longer be stopped.

Roadmap Amsterdam Climate Neutral Roadmap 2050

12 best initiatives where Responsible Tourism in Amsterdam comes naturally

With a clear roadmap aimed at climate neutral, Amsterdam has pioneered several initiatives on the tourism front in support to achieve their goal. Among these are the following 12 initiatives where responsible tourism comes naturally:

1 | A ‘green’ Airport

The first ‘taste’ of eco-friendliness awaits a visitor at Schiphol Airport. Schiphol Airport has been making the airport more sustainable each year for years. It takes a lot of energy to keep Schiphol running 24-hours a day and measures are continually adapted to ensure energy is used as efficiently as possible.

As from January 1, 2018, Schiphol Airport has been running on 100% wind power generated by local Dutch company, Eneco. The airport had also installed solar panels, with some on the airport’s roofs, parking areas and along the runways. This means energy saving wherever possible and using the cleanest possible electricity. Thus, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol runs solely on renewable energy generated in the Netherlands.

Along with these initiatives on renewable energy usage at the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, the Dutch capital has so many cool things that contribute to the enjoyment of tourists as well as being one of the greenest and environmentally friendly cities in the world.

Recommended read: Cycling in Amsterdam – 19 Useful Tips

2 | Getting about Amsterdam by bike

The capital city of Netherlands boasts the never ending 500 kilometres of bike lanes, covering every corner and every canal of the city. Getting about Amsterdam on a two-wheeler is popular and a way of life for the Amsterdammers. As a visitor to the Dutch capital, you could get around Amsterdam by bike and keep your carbon footprint to the minimal as possible.

Bike rentals are dotted all over the city to encourage cycling. Hire one, and explore the main landmarks of the city or venture a little further along River Amstel onto the city’s outlaying cycle network to nearby quaint and picturesque villages.

The unmissable quaint 12th century village of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel is worth exploring and so is the picturesque Broek in Waterland, once a haven for the high-status city-dwellers.

Plan ahead, pre-book your ride – rent a bike in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam.responsible tourism

The generous bike paths around the city means you can explore Amsterdam very quickly. While some paths have specialised traffic lights with illuminated green cycle sign to support safety of cyclists, just be aware of some daring cyclists who weave in and out of bike paths. Some even run red lights! Always wear a cycle-helmet even if most Amsterdammers don’t.

However, if you are not confident to explore Amsterdam by bike independently, then perhaps joining a guided bike tour of Amsterdam is best. You will be led by an experienced tour guide and your fellow cyclists may not be as daring as Amsterdammers are!

Recommended read > Explore Amsterdam by bike in 2 best rewarding ways.

3 | Explore Amsterdam on foot

Amsterdam.responsible tourism

4 | Canals, boat cruises and paddleboats | Responsible tourism in Amsterdam

Amsterdam.canal.cruise.responsible.tourism

There is one bridge in the central canal belt that offers visitors the beautiful sight of fifteen bridges across its canals. This particular spot is viewed from the corner of Reguliersgracht and the Herengracht and best seen from the water level on a boat. Day time views are lovely but it is a spectacular sight in the evening/night when the bridges are lit up.

The are a number of sustainable ways to experience Amsterdam from the waters. You could do a canal cruise in one of the 200 electric boats offering canal tours, hire a kayak or a pedal boat (pedalos, water bikes). If you elect to hire a kayak or a boat, you can explore the city by waters at your own pace.

You could hire a pedal boat using your I Amsterdam City Card but you need to book a time-slot for your activity. Ensure that your City Card is valid at the time of your activity.

Recommended read > Fun Canal biking in Amsterdam | 7 reasons to explore Amsterdam’s sustainable highlight

5 | A comprehensive Green Transport system

Public transport in Amsterdam is already highly sustainable. Trains, buses, trams, metros and ferries make up the city’s comprehensive public transport network that transport lots of people at the same time. Use of public transport is much encouraged and this is evident from the frequent and timely services as well as the generous bicycle storage at stations. All electric passenger trains have been powered using green energy since 2017 and it is mandatory for all new buses to use renewable energy.

The public transport system in Amsterdam is easy to navigate although the ticketing system can be confusing. A comprehensive guide is available on the best tickets to purchase to navigate around the city, and a regional pass if venturing out to the surrounding areas of Amsterdam.

The I Amsterdam City Card is an all encompassing pass of great value as it includes public transportation operated by GVB in Amsterdam city only, along with free access to attractions. Take a look at what it includes and does not include before purchasing one to suit the duration of your visit.

6 | Extensive Green spaces in Amsterdam

Amsterdam.Bos.forest.responsible tourism

Amsterdam city is not all urban. It is surrounded by an abundance of lush and open green spaces – parks, gardens and a forest!

Amsterdam’s parks and gardens are beautiful, has its own charm and interesting history. These green spaces are all located within a stone’s throw of the city centre and offer a great space to relax, unwind with lots of activities for kids.

Walk to the east of the city to De Plantage in the Jewish Quarter, a district where history, nature and culture intertwine or take a short ride to Vondelpark to experience all genres of music. Whichever green spaces you decide to visit, Amsterdam Bos, should firmly top your ‘to visit’ list for timeless experience.

Check trains to/from Amsterdam to any destinations in and around Amsterdam

7 | Amsterdam’s Green places to eat

Green eating is quite a buzz in Amsterdam and you can easily find restaurants and cafés offering organic products. Walk along De Negen Straatjes (the Nine Little Streets) and the Jordaan district where cafes are aplenty serving organic food. Head to the farmers market at Noordermarkt Square to shop for some fresh, locally grown produce if you are planning a picnic in the park.

For a unique experience, head to De Kas, a prime example of Amsterdam’s sustainability culture. A high-end restaurant located inside of a former greenhouse, built in 1926. With vast magnificent windows and airy high ceilings, De Kas spoil their clients with ingredients tendered and cared for from their very own vegetable garden, with no-fuss Mediterranean cuisines that often changes to the seasons harvest.

De Kas, Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3 1097 DE Amsterdam | E: info@restaurantdekas.nl

For a traditional Dutch street-food experience, Natuurlijk Smullen serves up organic meat-based snacks such as chicken nuggets and frikandel. Vegetarian alternatives to traditional burgers are also available along with Dutch fries topped with a selection of tasty, organic sauces.

Natuurlijk Smullen, Jan van Galenstraat 78, 1056 CD Amsterdam

Noorderlicht Cafe is a simplistically beautiful dining destination housed inside a two-storey greenhouse with a large riverside terrace. The cafe hosts regular musical and cultural events which are often free of charge. It’s menu offers plenty of organic based dishes with a lean towards vegetarian and vegan dietary needs. This cultural and sustainable cafe is located on the NDSM yard along River IJ.

Noorderlicht Cafe, NDSM plein 102
1033 WB Amsterdam

8 | Meat-free restaurants in Amsterdam city

The Amsterdam restaurant scene these days certainly seems a world away from its once popular Brockwurst on mash potatoes smothered with rich gravy! Plant-based dining is the trendy option now with so many eateries popping up across the city.

Mr & Mrs Watson in Oost, Amsterdam is a “plant based food bar for vegan food lovers and cheese addicts”. Although there are some options on all vegan menu, the Watson Cheese Platter, featuring cashew fondue is the one to go for.

Besides enjoying the best comfort food, you would also be contributing towards Mr & Mrs Watson’s commitment to give back – a tree is planted for every dish they serve.

Mr & Mrs Watson, Linnaeuskade 3H, Amsterdam.

Dine in style at Restaurant Vermeer, the creative culinary lab of 1* Michelin Chef Chris Naylor who experiments on the daily fresh produce brought to him by the local farmers. Beetroot, and white asparagus feature liberally on his menu. A prettily laid out plate of robust, pure, and clean flavours awaits anyone on an evening of high-end fine dining.

Restaurant Vermeer | Prins Hendrikkade 59-72, 1021 AD Amsterdam


Recommended read – Best places to eat stroopwafels in Amsterdam


9 | Amsterdam’s initiative on food surplus | Responsible tourism in Amsterdam

With 1.3 billion tonnes of food wastage per year across the world, Amsterdam is no stranger to food surplus. Food waste has a high impact on the environment and Instock Restaurant in Amsterdam rescues food from being wasted. They collect food from growers/farmers, fishmongers, packaging companies and producers. Instock then runs a final quality check and prepares them for restaurants and caterers. These ingredients are turned into culinary delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner by their creative chefs. Instock is open seven days a week, serving-up anything from a cup of coffee to a four-course-meal.

Restaurant Instock | Czaar Peterstraat 21, Amsterdam.

Visit Persijn, on the ground floor of QO hotel for a hearty brunch. Fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs are sourced daily from their rooftop greenhouse and features in their innovative dishes of salads with blossoms and wholesome vegetable soups. Hence, with their ‘farm-to-table’ creative approach, there’s hardly any food wastage.

Persijn | Amstelvlietstraat 4, Amsterdam

10 | Amsterdam Eco-hotels | Responsible tourism in Amsterdam

Stylish, and sustainable accommodations with energy efficient amenities, organic towels, and recycled furniture are all part of the Dutch capital’s initiatives on responsible tourism in Amsterdam. Some of the environmentally-friendly accommodations throw in bike rental as part of their service as well.

Stay at the cozy eco-conscious hotel around the corner from Vondelpark. Conscious Hotel Vondelpark has 81 rooms and is completely sustainable – from furniture to green roof! Food is 100% organic and the building is powered by renewable energy.

For budget hostels that combines conscious living with simplicity, look no further than Ecomama although it may not be for everyone. Ecomama is designed with sustainability and “just enough” of the basic amenities while being committed to re-purposing everything it can.

More classic choice could be NH Amsterdam Schiller , a Green Key Certified accommodation.

Alternatively, grab yourself one of the following last minute best deals:

Booking.com

11 | Sustainable shopping in Amsterdam

Shopping in Amsterdam takes you to a whole new level! From excellent luxury shops, designer outlets, unique boutiques, and sustainable stores, the city is a shopper’s dream come true. However, more and more people are adopting a sustainable lifestyle and this is showcased in their eco-friendly fashion choices.

In Amsterdam, there are so many choices and varieties if you choose to shop green. De Negen Straatjes is a famous shopping district and you will find most of the shops here are vintage stores.

Episode is a popular store and pioneers a serious concept as a sustainable alternative to fast fashion. They take clothing that is donated to charity, washed them in their warehouse, repair if necessary and distribute to the vintage stores.

Episode, Waterlooplein 1, 1011 NV Amsterdam

LENA Fashion library is another interesting concept where it allows you to shop differently. You could borrow vintage styles to suit and you could return them at the end of the borrowed time.

Lena Library, Westerstraat 174h
1015 MP Amsterdam

12 | Alternative to traditional tourism – Explore Amsterdam with a difference

Amsterdam is a popular touristic city and it may present problems of sustainability. The Untourist Guide to Amsterdam suggests alternative ways for tourists to explore the city with a difference.

Among its suggestions are ways to explore the streets, the street markets, gardens, flea markets and spaces away from the usual tourist trails. You are also invited to plant vegetables, participate in cookery classes and have fun wedding ceremonies with the locals.

The Untourist Guide to Amsterdam, @IAmsterdam Store, De Ruijterkade 28 A t/m D (Behind Amsterdam CS), 1012 AA Amsterdam


A final note on responsible tourism in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is green to its very core! This is evident from the many initiatives highlighted above, which by no means is an exhaustive list. The city’s affinity with cycling, the array of pleasant green spaces, green eating, sustainable shopping and low waste dining are all reflective of a city that is so much more than the whimsical city of freedom, coffee shops and museums that Amsterdam is often associated with. The laid-back and progressive values of green culture showcases the Dutch capital as a natural ‘living’ hub of sustainability combined with social consciousness. Amsterdam really is a great green city to visit in Europe, a city where responsible tourism is taken seriously and comes naturally.


What do you think?

Was this article helpful to you in your search on sustainability and responsible tourism in relation to Amsterdam? Is there an initiative that should have made the list on this article but did not? If so, share your thoughts in comments below, we would love to hear from you.


Related articles on Amsterdam

You may like to read the following related articles on Amsterdam:

Ultimate Travel Guide to the Best of Amsterdam

10 Important practical travel information for Amsterdam

Beautiful places to stay in Amsterdam

Explore Amsterdam with the superb value I Amsterdam City Card

Best Food Walking Tour in Amsterdam

Rent a bike in Amsterdam green city

Best places to eat stroopwafels in Amsterdam

10 best typical Surinamese cuisine in Amsterdam

Best 29 inspiring travel quotes and sayings on Amsterdam

Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam in a nutshell – 18 experiences in 48 hours

Ouderkerk aan de Amstel – A picturesque village on the edge of Amsterdam

Amsterdam Bos – 10 things to do in this glorious forest of wonderland

Uithoorn – A serene haven where nature, wildlife and history comes together

Amsterdam City and Regional public transport travel pass

Best Value Public Transport ticket for Amsterdam

Return trip ticket on Amsterdam Airport Express Bus #397

Best Public Transport from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam City


Finally…

Sincerely wish that this article has been helpful to you in planning your visit to Amsterdam. Plan ahead and book your accommodations, buy your I Amsterdam City Card, sign-up to guided tours and activities using the links in this article and related articles on Amsterdam. TTS earns a commission on qualifying purchases, or you could support TTS in other ways also. As always your continued support is much appreciated.

Have a splendid time in Amsterdam 🙂

xoxo

Quick facts on Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam on world map
52° 22′ 40.6416” N and 4° 53′ 49.4520” E
Amsterdam flag
Amsterdam flag
Amsterdam Coat of Arms
Amsterdam Coat of Arms

City: Capital of Netherlands

Population: 1,149,000

Mayor: Femke Halsema (since 2018)

Zone: Central European Time Zone | Central European Summer Time

Elevation: -2m (-7ft) – Dam Square

Nearest Airport: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)

Train Station: Amsterdam Centraal Station

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Responsible Tourism in Amsterdam – 12 eco-friendly Initiatives that comes naturally first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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Amsterdam is beyond the whimsical city of freedom and avid cyclists! It really is a city where responsible tourism comes naturally with sustainability at the heart of everything they do. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Amsterdam is beyond the whimsical city of freedom and avid cyclists! It really is a city where responsible tourism comes naturally with sustainability at the heart of everything they do. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam

Unmissable 28 Best Things to do in AMSTERDAM

Whilst we work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information as possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

Amsterdam, capital of Netherlands brims with beauty, adventures and picturesque canals. Renowned for its quaint streets, art and liberal laws, Amsterdam is a unique city that will have you with no time to be bored. Whether you are planning a short weekend break or a few days in Amsterdam in beautiful places to stay, here is the ultimate guide on the unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam carefully selected for timeless experiences in this historic, elegant and compact city.

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Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam

How would you like to explore and discover this unique city – on foot, by bike or by boat? Independently or in a small group led by a knowledgeable guide? You can do any and/or all to suit your itinerary and interests. In this guide, you shall find 28 best things to do in Amsterdam listed by way of interests and “good to know” suggestions along with options for independent or small group tours.

Museums in Amsterdam

When it comes to museums, Amsterdam is the place to be. With its rich tradition and culture of art, museum visits are favourite things to do in Amsterdam. Home to about seventy five museums dotted around the city for you to explore, you are always close to one that would make the list on best things to do in Amsterdam. From Rembrandt , Van Gogh to fluorescents, and unusually quirky ones to steal your interests. The NEMO Museum for kids housed in a unique boat-shaped building which is a fabulous place for children to spend time at.

Amongst all, the following four iconic museums are highly recommended as things to do in Amsterdam. These four are the best, world renowned and reflect Amsterdam’s deep roots in art. Tours offer skip-the-line tickets which can be booked prior to maximise your no-hassle visit.

1. Rijksmuseum

things to do in Amsterdam
Militia Company of District VIII under the Command of Captain Roelof Bicker, Bartholomeus van der Helst, c. 1640 – c. 1643 | Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The largest and most visited museum in Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum is also one of the world’s finest. This magnificent Renaissance building is a jaw-dropping sight from the moment you step in! Home to some phenomenal 8000 pieces of collection of Dutch masterworks spread over eighty galleries, it tells 800 years of history from the Golden Age including The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn. Works by renowned Dutch painters, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen are also exhibited here.

Ways to experience the Rijksmuseum:

Explore independently or in a small group with a knowledgeable guide

Good to know before visiting Rijksmuseum

Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam

Best time to visit: Open all year round | Daily: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Rijksmuseum App: Access to multimedia tours and scroll through the collection.

There is a library, Michelin starred restaurant and a café.

Rijksmuseum

2 | Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh | things to do in Amsterdam

Dedicated to the famous artist who cut off his own ear, Vincent van Gogh was the most influential figure in western art. His choice of bold colours, expressive broad strokes is as captivating today as it was in the nineteenth century. Admire the largest art collection in the world created by this iconic painter, especially “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” which became renowned after his death. Learn about his life, what inspired him and read his letters. Located just around the corner from Rijksmuseum.

Ways to experience the Van Gogh Museum:

Good to know before visiting Van Gogh Museum

Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Accessibility: The museum is accessible for disabled people including people with an invisible disability such as sensitization, dementia or PTSD. Disabled people can bring a companion free of charge and can use various facilities such as walking aids.

Learn more about Vincent van Gogh before your visit:

Buy Online from Amazon UK

Buy Online from Amazon USA

Van Gogh Museum

3 | Stedelijk Museum

Home to one of the world’s richest collection of contemporary art, the Stedelijk Museum houses ninety thousand modern paintings, sculptures, photographs, and design objects. Located next to Van Gogh Museum – the three museums make up the trilogy of culture which should not be missed when visiting Amsterdam.

Ways to experience Stedelijk Museum

Book Online for immediate confirmation: Skip-the-line Entry Ticket to Stedelijk Museum

Good to know before visiting Stedelijk Museum

Address: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam

Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Stedelijk Museum

Pro-tip: If you use public transport to reach Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or Stedelijk Museum, the closest stops are Van Baerlestraat (tram 2, 5 or 12) or Museumplein (tram: 3, 5 or 12, bus: 347 or 357).

4 | Anne Frank House (Huis)

Things to do in Amsterdam | Anne Frank House
Things to do in Amsterdam | Entrance to Anne Frank House Museum Amsterdam

The house that was Frank family’s hiding place during the Nazi occupation in World War II survived the war and is now a moving museum. It was here, within the constraints of its walls that Anne Frank, kept a diary of events. She did not survive the Holocaust but her diary was eventually published in 1947 by the only surviving member of the Frank family, Otto Frank.

The best-selling book – Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl brings to life one of the greatest horrors of the twentieth century in a personal and compelling way.

Ways to Experience Anne Frank House

Buy Tickets to Anne Frank Huise directly from the authorised website > Anne Frank House

Good to know before visiting Anne Frank House

Address: Prinsengracht 263-267. The entrance to the museum is around the corner, at Westermarkt 20.

Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. | Saturday – Sunday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Accessibility: The stairs are steep and may not be suitable for people with difficulty walking.

Booking Tickets: Tickets must always be booked online for a specified date and time.

Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank House

Pro-tip: Visitors to Anne Frank House are limited in number and for this reason tickets sells out fast. Check the dedicated website and plan ahead so you do not miss out on this experience.

Canal Cruises | Things to do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canals - boat cruise
Amsterdam on canal cruise

Amsterdam is famous for its winding canals and pretty locks, earning itself the nickname, Venice of the North. River Amstel runs through the city with more than one hundred-sixty canals criss-crossing Amsterdam, totaling to about one hundred kilometres (sixty miles). The main canals, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht form the Canal Belt of Amsterdam and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well, there are ninety islands and one-thousand-five hundred bridges along these canals. To top it off, there are landmark buildings, mansions and colourful houseboats along these canals. Its unique architecture is rather enchanting and it is an experience best viewed from the water.

Canal cruises are a popular activity in Amsterdam and there are so many options for you to select from. These include small open boat tour, hire a boat and cruise the waters by yourself, be part of a larger group onboard a luxury boat, a hop-on hop-off canal cruise, and an evening candle-lit dinner cruise. Whichever way you choose to explore, the following two is recommended.

5 | Day-time canal cruise

Amsterdam canal boat tours

The day-time canal cruise is offered by various tour companies and these are good value for money option. The route covers major highlights of Amsterdam along the canals which makes it easy to plan your itinerary. They depart from various locations in the city at regular intervals.

For an out-of-the norm experience, go onboard a luxury salon boat for a day-time canal cruise and enjoy some drinks along with the famous Dutch Gouda cheese. Electrically powered and environmentally friendly, the boats are comfortable, with glass windows giving you the opportunity for a view of the architectural delights that sits along the canal. Moreover, it provides protection against the extreme heat in the summer, rain in the fall as well as the cold of the winter. The route covers the highlights of the city along the canals which gives a different perspective when seen from the water.

Alternatively, reserve a time slot and sail down the central canal and discover Amsterdam’s historical centre on a 75-minute day canal cruise.

Day time cruises make great photo opportunity.

Ways to experience Amsterdam by a day-time river cruise

Book Online for immediate confirmation: Luxury Salon Boat Cruise

Book Online for immediate confirmation: Day Canal Cruise

6 | An evening canal cruise

An evening boat cruise in Amsterdam
Views from an evening boat cruise in Amsterdam

A relaxing and romantic way to enjoy Amsterdam’s canals at night is by hopping onto an evening canal cruise. Amsterdam looks different in the evening warm glow. As the twinkling stars begin to appear and the temperature drops a touch, the lights on the bridges lit up, creating a magical and surreal atmosphere quite unimaginably different.

An evening cruise is perfect for special memories when with your special someone.

Ways to experience Amsterdam by an evening canal cruise

Good to know before going on a canal cruise:

Departure points are near public transport.

Most travellers can participate. However, some boats are not wheelchair accessible. Best to check individual provider’s T&C’s before booking.

Off-the beaten track in Amsterdam

7 | Vuurtoreneiland

Vuurtoreneiland | Things to do in Amsterdam

Vuurtoreneiland literally translates to “lighthouse island” and is an extraordinary destination located on the coast of Durgerdam, to the east of Amsterdam city. This remarkable island is a base to the island’s lighthouse that has been in operation since 1700 and an old fort, but visitors are treated to a timeless experience of a different kind.

A special boat take visitors to Vuurtoreneiland, a unique small rugged island that has a huge transparent greenhouse dining room. Guests are treated to a set five-course meal in sublime surroundings of rich flora, fauna and stray animals with beautiful coastlines. For an added touch of exquisiteness, freshest regional produce is used, cooked over open flames.

A visit to Vuurtoreneiland that can only be reached by boat truly is an exceptional experience and is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

Learn more about Vuurtoreneiland

Good to know before visiting Vuurtoreneiland

As one can imagine, this unique experience is a popular activity and requires prior booking.

A round trip to the island and dinner takes five hours.

In colder months, dinner is served in the winter room with a fireplace + blankets are offered.

8 | Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic)

Things to do in Amsterdam | Lord in the Attic
Our Lord in the Attic Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam

The Our Lord in the Attic is a hidden gem and was once Amsterdam’s best kept secret. A well-preserved seventeenth century canal house is home to a church in its attic!

The church spreads across the top of the canal house over three floors and was built in 1660s during the time when public Catholic worships were prohibited in 1578. A visit here offers insights into the persecution experienced by the Catholics and the religious life in the seventeenth century. The church has been beautifully preserved and houses some outstanding artworks. The church is used occasionally for worship and is popular for weddings.

Good to know before visiting “Our Lord in the Attic”

Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38
1012 GD Amsterdam

2 – minute walk from Oude Kerk, Amsterdam

Opening times: Tuesday – Friday > 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Saturday > 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Sunday > 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Café and shop located at the entrance building.

Best explored independently.

“Our Lord in the Attic”

9 | Begijnhof

Begijnhof in Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam
Begijnhof in Amsterdam

One of the most extraordinary places in the centre of Amsterdam is Begijnhof, a group of medieval dwellings in a secluded courtyard and a garden. These dwellings were modest homes belonging to a group of Beguines – a sisterhood of unmarried Catholic women who lived together as a community under vows of chastity.

Catholicism was banned in the sixteenth century but the Begijnhof continued to exist because it was privately owned by the women. They had to give up the church though. However, a secret chapel was built and this can be visited today. The panels in the chapel is said to feature the stories of Miracle of Amsterdam.

The last Beguine passed away in 1971 and one of the Beguine is buried in a grave in the gutter, which is often adorned with flowers.

The Begijnhof is one of the oldest buildings in Amsterdam, dating back to the 14th century. Most of its facades were replaced in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.

When visiting the Begijnhof, look out for Houten Huys, a timber house (before brick was introduced as building material) which has stood here unchanged since first built in 1425 – the oldest house in Amsterdam!

Good to know before visiting Begijnhof

Address: Begijnhof, Begijnhof 30,
1012 WT AMSTERDAM

Houten Huys > #34 Begijnhof

The easiest way to get to Begijnhof is via Spuiplein.

Opening times: Daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Note: As the property is now privately owned, there are dedicated paths around the garden for visitors which must be observed.

Best explored independently or with a tour guide on a private walking tour.

Ways to experience Begijnhof

Outdoor markets in Amsterdam

From food halls to fleas, Amsterdam boasts more than thirty colourful outdoor markets, each with its history, character and eccentrics. Most dates back a hundred years, with the first established in the Jewish Quarter. A quick stroll through the following three popular outdoor markets is an opportunity to pickup a bargain and some unusual souvenirs for your friends back home whilst immersing in the Dutch culture of steadfast bargaining.

10 | Albert Cuyp Market

Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam | Exceptional things to do in Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam | Image: Amsterdam Tourist.info

The “Cuyp” is one of the unmissable markets in Amsterdam. Reputed to be the largest outdoor market in Europe, it began trading in 1905 and basically has everything one would need – from fresh meat, fish, herbs and spices to stroopwaffles! A great place to soak up the atmosphere and to buy some homemade cheese or afterwards, visit one the many cafés at the intersection between Albert Cuypstraat and Eerste van der Helststraat.

Good to know before visiting Albert Cuyp Market

Address: Albert Cuypstraat, 1072 CN Amsterdam

Trading times: Monday – Saturday | 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Albert Cuyp Market

11 | Bloemenmarkt

The world’s only floating flower market was established in 1862 and is located along one of the longer canals in central Amsterdam. The stalls are strung together, and the Bloemenmarkt is one place (besides Keukenhof) to see tulips of all colours alongside other blooms.

Good to know before visiting Bloemenmarkt

Address:  Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam, Netherlands

Trading times: Monday – Saturday | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

12 | Waterlooplein

Waterlooplein is the oldest flea markets in Amsterdam as well as in Netherlands. Known also as the Jewish Market because of its location in the Jewish Quarter, Waterlooplein was established in 1885 and draws about three hundred traders who offer unique vintage cameras, used books, clothes and unusual bric-a-brac.

Good to know before visiting Waterlooplein

Address: Waterlooplein, 1011 PG Amsterdam

Trading times: Monday – Saturday | 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Waterlooplein

Ways to experience the Outdoor Markets in Amsterdam

Outdoor markets are best explored independently at your own pace or in a small group guided tour.

Pro-tip: Markets are usually busy and is popular amongst pick-pocketers, so always ensure you keep your wallets/handbags, handphone and cameras close.

Shopping | Things to do in Amsterdam

13 | De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets)

An intimate, quaint and quirky shopping strip in the heart of Amsterdam city centre between Singel and Prinsengracht is a haven for boutique lovers. This picturesque area boasts a lively atmosphere with some of the best and most trendy of shops. There are galleries, gift shops, fashion boutiques and vintage stores where you could shop till you drop! Cosy cafés and artisanal food shops beckons a visit as well. As the name implies, the area comprises of nine little streets – Reestraat, Hartenstraat, Gasthuismolensteeg, Berenstraat, Wolvenstraat, Oude Spiegelstraat, Runstraat, Huidenstraat and Wijde Heisteeg. The Singel forms the border to the East, while the Prinsengracht marks the western most point.

Best enjoyed at your own pace and take a break at Screaming Beans while you watch the world go by.

Good to know before visiting The Nine Streets

Address: Wolvenstraat 9, 1016 EM Amsterdam, Netherlands

There are some Instagram worthy spots which you may not want to miss.

De Negen Straatjes

14 | Magna Plaza

The Magna Plaza, a stunning neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance monumental building sits right across from the Royal Palace and Dam Square. It was formerly the city’s main post office, now home to three floors of magnificent shopping – from fashion, jewelry, souvenirs to skincare and cosmetics. The architecture is absolutely stunning and one not to be missed.

Good to know before visiting the Magna Plaza

Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 182I, 1012 SJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening times: Monday – Sunday | 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For coffee or quick lunch: Grand Café Ovidius (Inside Magna Plaza)

Magna Plaza

Immersive and rewarding food experiences | Things to do in Amsterdam

15 | REM Eiland

REM Eiland Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam
REM Eiland Amsterdam

REM Eiland offer an awesome experience dining at 22 feet above water at a former pirate radio station. There is a bar, restaurant and roof terrace with views across the city and Amsterdam harbour.

Good to know before visiting REM Eiland

Address: REM Eiland, Haparandadam 45,
1013 AK AMSTERDAM

Opening times: Monday – Sunday from 12 p.m.

Prior booking is highly recommended

REM Eiland

16 | Brouwerij ’t IJ

Brouwerij ’t IJ right next to De Gooyer  | Thingd to do in Amsterdam
Brouwerij ’t IJ standing right next to De Gooyer windmill Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam

Located next to De Gooyer windmill, Brouwerij ’t IJ is one of the original small breweries in Amsterdam that has been delighting its customers since 1985. It brews 8 standard beers, and 3 seasonal beers in addition to its limited edition – a complete beer heaven! Taste a selection in small glasses but be aware that some has high alcohol volume. It has an outdoor terrace and timely tours are also offered.

Located next to De Gooyer windmill, Brouwerij ’t IJ is one of the original small breweries in Amsterdam that has been delighting its customers since 1985. It brews 8 standard beers, and 3 seasonal beers in addition to its limited edition – a complete beer heaven! Taste a selection in small glasses but be aware that some has high alcohol volume. The ultimate experience comes with traditional Dutch bar snacks like raw sausages and boiled eggs. It has an outdoor terrace and timely tours are also offered.

Good to know before visiting Brouwerij ’t IJ

Address: Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opening hours: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Brouwerij ‘IJ

17| Taste the best bites of Amsterdam

Immerse in the food culture and traditions of Amsterdam – enjoy authentic stroopwaffles, local chesses, hip cafes, and the fusion of cultures in Dutch cuisine at a Surinamese restaurant.

Ways to experience the best bites of Amsterdam

18 | Foodhallen

Foodhallen is a classy indoor food market and bar located in the quintessential cultural corner of De Hallen in Oude West neighbourhood, Amsterdam. It serves a range of high-end street food, from woodfired pizzas, Vietnamese rolls to Greek Meze along with beverages in historic surroundings. An ideal spot to experience the Dutch culture and gastronomic delights.

Good to know before visiting Foodhallen

Address: Food Hallen, Bellamyplein 51,
1053 AT AMSTERDAM

Foodhallen

Best explored independently on foot. Close to Vondelpark (about 1 km/0.6 miles)

Parks in Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam

Parks in Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam

You do not have to wander too far for a respite from exploring the city of Amsterdam – there are about thirty parks in this compact city! Many of them are steeped in history and you will find sculptures adorning some of these green spaces. Some unique green spaces are ideal for families so kids can go wild while others are perfect for fitness or a stroll. Here are the best three parks in Amsterdam.

19 | Amstelpark

Amstelpark is a large green space covered in trees offering an orangery, rose garden and a Japanese garden. Perfectly manicured rhododendrons of 130+ varieties adorned the park as well. There’s a mini-golf, a labyrinth, a small train and a petting garden which makes a great spot for families. The Rieter Windmill is located at the southern end of the garden which should not be missed.

Amstelpark, Amsterdam

20 | Vondelpark

The most famous park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark is centrally located and brims with ancient trees, charming lakes and beautifully manicured rose gardens created in 1936. It’s easy to find a quiet corner to sit and relax while sipping something refreshing from the nearby cafés. There are open-air concerts throughout summer and ice-skating in winter. Don’t miss Picasso’s fish sculpture, towards the southern end of the park.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam

21 | Westerpark

A vibrant urban area offering ample green space and home to some of the city’s coolest bars and restaurants including a cinema. Westerpark hosts many food events, music festivals and exhibitions throughout the year. For special memories, you could hire a boat and cruise along the Harlemmerweg canal into the city centre.

Ways to experience the parks in Amsterdam

Neighbourhoods in Amsterdam

The neighbourhoods of Amsterdam is distinct and has a unique personality with a whole world of character to explore. The following two is selected for you to consider.

22 | Jordaan

Conveniently located, Jordaan is possibly the most popular neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Rooted in history, where it was once a popular working class neighbourhood, Jordaan has developed to become one of the most upscale neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Home to many art galleries particularly modern art, Jordaan is also sprinkled with patio restaurants, cafes and street musicians. Speciality shops are plentiful as are the daily open-air markets, notably Noordermarkt, Westerstraat and Lindengracht.

When in Jordaan, visit Anne Frank’s House, the Westerkerk where Rembrandt is buried, and take a trip to Woonbootmuseum, the only houseboat museum in the world.

Good to know before visiting Jordaan neighbourhood

The Jordaan neighbourhood begins at Brouwersgracht, west of Amsterdam Central Station and arches around the western side of the Canal Ring between Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht before ending at Leidsegracht.

23 | Red Light District

Red Light District Amsterdam
Red Light District Amsterdam

The Red Light district, also known as De Wallen is much talked about neighbourhood in Amsterdam because of its Prostitution Policy by the City of Amsterdam. It is also a centre for hen parties that goes on till the early hours of the morning.

De Wallen is one of the oldest neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Although not everyone may want to experience the ground zero for the city’s prostitution, there are monuments, churches and other sites of interest which are worth visiting.

Good to know before visiting the Red Light District

There is no age restriction to walk through the area but adult shops and entertainment do not allow persons under the age of 18.

Beware of pickpockets!

Ways to experience the neighbourhoods in Amsterdam

Unusual and quirky places to visit in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is well-known for its creativity, boasting a plethora of unusual and quirky attractions which never ceases to enthral its visitors.

24 | Amsterdam’s Coffee Shops

Coffee shops Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam
Coffee shops in Amsterdam

As a visitor to Amsterdam, you may want to make a difference between coffee shops and cafes. Amsterdam’s coffee shops are no ordinary coffee shops! One can purchase and consume cannabis in any one of these licensed coffee shops. There are about one hundred of them dotted all around the city which means you are never too far away from one. Many coffee shops are somewhat bland but some do try to make it fun and interesting. A couple of popular ones – Grey Area and Barney’s Coffeeshop.

25 | Electric Ladyland – The Museum of Fluorescent Art

Electric Ladyland Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam
Electric Ladyland Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam

Located in the Jordaan neighbourhood, Electric Ladyland prides itself as the world’s only museum dedicated to fluorescent art. Immersive and interactive, you’ll find minerals, stones and art that glows under the ultraviolet lights.

Good to know before visiting Electric Ladyland

Address: Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, 1015 TB Amsterdam, Holland

[In the Jordaan, just off the Prinsengracht, between the Bloemgracht and the Egelantiersgracht, “Electric Ladyland” is
just 5 minutes walk from the “Anne Frank House” and the Westerkerk (“Wester Church”)]

Visit is by appointment only.

26 | De Poezenboot (The Cat Boat)

Cat Boat Amsterdam | Things to do in Amsterdam
De Poezenboot (Cat Boat) Amsterdam

De Poezenboot is a cat sanctuary floating on a canal founded by Henriette van Weelde in 1966. Though cats may not like water, the cats in this Cat Boat appears quite at home! It began as a home for stray and sick cats but has grown into an official charity that looks out for all cats in Amsterdam. All donations are welcome.

Good to know before visiting De Poezenboot

Address: Singel 38 G Amsterdam
Netherlands

De Poezenboot

27 | Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam
Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

Founded in 1638, as means to find medicinal solutions to combat the Black Death plague, the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is now home to rare flora and fauna and a place of pilgrimage for plant enthusiasts from all over the world. One of the most captivating plants in the Palm House is a 2000 year old agave cactus that goes way back to Roman times and the lovely waterlily, Victoria Amazonica which is a little over 150 years old. During bloom season, Victoria is said to open up her white petals every day at dusk, decade after decade. Other features include curving paths and hexagonal pavilion which lends this botanical its unique beauty.

Good to know before visiting Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

Address: 2G Plantage Middenlaan Amsterdam, 1018
Netherlands

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

28 | NDSM Wharf

Located in the Noord neighbourhood, the NDSM Wharf was a former shipyard that has recently blossomed into a cultural hotspot and a creative haven. It provides a rich mix of art galleries, festivals, exhibitions, restaurants and bars along with a rooftop jacuzzi. If you are a street-art fan, NDSM is the place to see some amazing talent. With a free ferry ride from the back of Centraal, NDSM makes a welcome spot from the busy streets of Amsterdam.

Check NDSM website for detailed guide on the free ferry rides.

Practical information for Unmissable 28 best things to do in Amsterdam

1 | User-friendly map

Below is a map of all the sights written in this article about the best things to do in Amsterdam. Click on the coloured icons to learn more of the destination. Some sights are best explored at your own pace while some others are best explored with tour guide who knows the area and time saved.

How to use the above Google map: Click on the arrow in the top left corner to expand the layers of this map. Destinations mentioned in this article are colour-coded for ease of reference with corresponding reference on the map. Select the item you want to know more of and the corresponding icon will be highlighted on the map – this gives you an idea of its location so to support your travel planning to Amsterdam.

2 | Places to Stay

Looking for a beautiful place to stay when visiting Amsterdam? Look no further – Beautiful places to stay in Amsterdam is a carefully curated articles to meet your needs. Have a read, select and book.

3. Would you prefer a no hassle travel?

For a no hassle travel, you may want to book an All-in-One holiday which includes flights, hotel accommodation and transfers to your hotel – all for one price. Take a look at EasyJet Holidays, Jet2 Holidays and On the Beach who run regular best value promotions.

4 | Travelling to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is conveniently located for both air and train travel. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is served well by both international and domestic flights. You may want to check your routes and for cheap tickets on Opodo. Alternatively, if you are within Europe and UK and prefer to train travel, you may wish to take a look at Eurail who are currently running a promotion – book now, secure your price and travel later.

5 | Getting to Amsterdam City Centre

From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport – there are 3 ways to get to city centre. You could take either a taxi, train or a bus. Taxis take around 15-20 minutes and may cost €39.00. Train cost €5.40 for a 20-minute journey (arrives at Amsterdam Centraal ) and Bus cost €5.00 and takes 35 minutes.

Amsterdam Centraal Station – is the main hub of the city. Once here, there are clear sign for transportation – you could take a tram, bus, taxi or simply walk to your hotel (depending where it is) as Amsterdam is a very compact city.

6 | Getting around Amsterdam City during your stay

Well, it all depends how long you are visiting this amazing city – below are three options for you to consider. Peruse each one as they each offer great value for money especially the I Amsterdam Card.

On a final note…

There’s a lot of things to do in Amsterdam and one can easily spend a lot of money! So, plan ahead, take advantage of travel offers so you have more to enjoy with. As well, if you can’t see everything on your first visit, there’s always the next time. For a short visit to this amazing city, take a look at 18 experiences in 48 hours in Amsterdam for ideas.

Get in touch if you need further information via Contact form or Comments below.

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Have a splendid time in Amsterdam.

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28 best things to do in Amsterdam
28 best things to do in Amsterdam
best things to do in Amsterdam
28 best things to do in Amsterdam
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