You are finally booked for a much-deserved trip to Amsterdam, one of the most sought after cities in the world with tulips, canals, outdoor café and other notorious attractions. On top of it all, this Dutch city houses the elegance and rich history of Europe.
With plenty of things to do and see in Amsterdam, it can be tough for first-time visitors to decide. What should be on your list? How should you spend your first day? If you are on a DIY Amsterdam trip, check out these must-do activities in Amsterdam.
Follow the City Canals
If there is one thing attached to Amsterdam, it is the canals. In fact, the city was born from these structures and even today, these are not just tourist magnets but still play significant roles in Amsterdam’s society. The city’s canals are recognized as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The city has a total of 165 canals with quite a few major and popular ones specifically for visiting tourists. One of these is Prinsengracht, where you can see Dutch houseboats and Singel, forming the medieval moat city. Other popular canals are Keizersgracht and Herengracht.
Exploring the city canals doesn’t necessarily ask for much effort from tourists as major attractions and landmarks are often located close to the canals, saving your time in crossing out your list of things to do in Amsterdam.
How to enjoy the canals? You can sign up for a canal tour, there are cheap guided tours while others can enjoy luxurious sunset dinner cruise across the canals. You can also rent a bike or walk along the canals as you discover great picturesque scenes by the canals.
Explore the Infamous Things
Let’s be honest. One of the things that kept Amsterdam different from other European destinations is the rather prohibited things that people freely enjoy in this city. We are talking about cannabis and the Red Light District. While tourists can get into trouble for drugs and prostitution in other cities, it is somehow legal in Amsterdam.
Let’s start with weeds. This is a controversial topic with many people fighting for the legalization of marijuana but in Amsterdam, there are cafes for customers to smoke marijuana). To feed your curiosity, look for “Coffee shop’’, this is the place to go where on top of the usual menu, cannabis is also offered.
If you don’t like to smoke, taking a small nibble of the famous space cake won’t hurt. Space cake is a your usual cake, mixed with cannabis. Still, it is best to be cautious and never binge on cannabis and drug feast given those reports of tourists dying due to drug overdoes.
Another must-visit is Amsterdam Red Light District. Prostitution is highly frowned upon but it seems tourists have casually accepted visiting this famous area for the city’s legalized sex trade. Here, tourists are intrigued with those nearly naked on shop windows. Take note that you can look but taking photos can get you into trouble.
Museum and Gallery Spotting
At the other end of the spectrum from Amsterdam’s sleazy attractions are its cultural and intellectual spots. Amsterdam considering its total land area has the highest concentration of museums including art galleries in the world.
It doesn’t come as a surprise since like other European cities; Amsterdam was a depot for artistic and academic pursuits. There are many museums in the city that can cater to specific interests from jewelries, bags, and even stamps but you can start off with the must-visits.
Never leave Amsterdam without visiting its top three famous exhibitions – Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum.
Enjoy Public Art and City Space
The fact that you can leisurely walk around in Amsterdam makes this city, tourist-friendly. After a long day exploring the city, you can have some downtime yet still in the mood for traveling by observing the locals and the daily life of the city.
Take a break at Vondelpark, the city’s biggest park or enjoy seclusion at the 14th century convert turned courtyard, Begijnhof. Visit its markets and buy beautiful flowers.
Feast on Dutch flavors
Of course, a trip will be incomplete without savoring local dishes and treats. You don’t have to visit high-end restaurants or back-alley secret dining venues to enjoy the local flavors of Amsterdam- you can find them almost everywhere.
So what should you try while in Amsterdam? Nibble on raw herring called haring or enjoy all day breakfast with their local waffle called stroopwafel, munch on Dutch fries called patat and buy some local cheese called Kaas.
You see, Amsterdam is an easy city to explore on your own even on your first visit. With their laidback and easygoing culture, Amsterdam is truly the place to go to unwind and enjoy your much-awaited vacation.