Things to do Amsterdam, Netherlands

ultimate-walking-guide-of-amsterdam

Iamsterdam

The city of Amsterdam has gone through many transitions in its long history, but acceptance has always been a core value. Amsterdam was founded in 1300,

Acceptance of religions, new ideas, drugs, and even prostitution has kept Amsterdam and the whole country of the Netherlands an important player on a global stage throughout history. Amsterdam, now a top player in global finances and innovation

We traveled from Brugge, Belgium to Amsterdam, Netherlands on the afternoon of September 7, 2015. We took a Eurolines bus, as the tickets only cost €6/person. The bus ride took about three hours, so we arrived at night.

Our first and only stop that night was the hostel for a good night sleep.

Just a note about this travel guide: Many things in Amsterdam I would not consider appropriate for children, some of which are discussed in this post. This is your warning.

Walking Map to Amsterdam:

Top Attractions in Amsterdam:

SANDEMANs New Amsterdam free walking tour

The first morning, we took a free walking tour of the city. Our guide was Julian, an Australian who has lived in Amsterdam for several years. Side note: he has a nice beard.

We strongly recommend these free tours. Even though you can travel alone and see everything with the help of our travel guides, he told story behind many houses and buildings that were not on regular travel maps and guides. He let us know of new places to visit that are popular for locals, and less known to tourists.

While the tour is free, they do ask for tips at the end of the tour, where you can chose to pay if you feel comfortable. They also have other paid tours available if you are interested.

Heineken Experience

HEINEKEN Experience

The Heineken Experience is the recently renovated visitor center for the Heineken Brewery. This high-tech experience brings you through not only the history of the brewery itself, but the act of brewing. It has many things to offer for beer lovers, haters and children.

Included with the ticket is three free samples of Heineken beer, or soda for the kids. During the self paced tour your group is asked several questions by the staff, answer it first for an extra beer!

The center is open Monday to Thursday from 11AM to 7:30PM; and Friday to Sunday from 11AM to 8:30PM. Last entry into the experience is two hours before closing times, due to the length of the experience.

Tickets are €18/adults at the door, but only €16/adults if you preorder the tickets online.

Rijks Museum

amsterdam-1269462

The Rijks Museum is largest and most visited in the Netherlands. The museum is focused on the arts and history in Amsterdam. It is located in the middle of Museum Square, conveniently located near the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.

The museum is open daily from 9:00AM to 5:00PM. Tickets are €17.50/adults and free/children under 18.

In front of it is the iconic IAmsterdam sign, even if you don’t have time for the museum, make sure to get a photo with this.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is one of the most important stops in Amsterdam. young Jewish girl in hiding during holocaust. It is a very powerful experience on the hidden life of Jews during the Shoah. I would argue it is the most important thing to do in Amsterdam.

If you have never read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, I would make sure to add it to your reading list.

The museum is open with the following schedule:

April through October
Daily from 9:00AM to 9:00PM. (Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM).
In July and August the museum is daily open till 10:00PM.

November through March
Daily from 9:00AM to 7:00PM (Saturdays from 9:00AM to 9:00PM).

Tickets are €9/adults, €4.5/children aged 10-17, and free/children under 10.

A short ticket line is described by locals as anything less than an hour wait. So plan accordingly, or purchase tickets online if you have a set schedule.

Jordaan Neighborhood

amsterdam-1089646

In front of Anne Frank House is the Jordaan Neighborhood. This calm and quiet neighborhood is not full of tourists, as many of the other areas are. It is a perfect for photos of the classic Amsterdam architecture and homes.

Homomonument

Next to Westerkerk Church is the Homomonument. The monument depicts three pink granite triangles making up a larger triangle. The purpose of the monument is to “inspire and support lesbians and gays in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination.”

The monument is a wonderful representation of the accepting life in Amsterdam. The monument is located outside of a church and close to the Anne Frank House.

Begijnhof

The Begijnhof is an inner courtyard and hidden church. It used to be religious community of women who were not nuns when religion was frowned upon within the city.

This area is popular among locals as it is always a quite place to go for a moment of relaxation and calm in the middle of a bustling city. Remember to keep this quite atmosphere when you visit.

Dam Square:

Royal Palace Amsterdam

Royal Palace in Amsterdam

The Royal Palace is one of three palaces in the Netherlands. The palace is used by the monarch for entertainment and state functions. While the palace is open to the public, it is not actually a museum.  You can view the rich history and interior of the magnificent building.

The Royal Palace tends to be open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 5PM. However, there are many events and circumstances that keep it closed to the public. Make sure to check out their online calendar to confirm open dates.

Tickets are €10/adults, €9/students, and free/children. You can buy tickets online or on site.

De Nieuwe Kerk

The New Church of Amsterdam was built in the 15th-century. However the building is now used as an exhibition space and for organ concerts.

The exhibition is rotated every few months, so make sure to check out their website to see what is currently on display.

Nieuwe Kerk is open daily from 11AM to 5PM. Tickets cost €16/adults and free/children.

National Monument

The National Monument on Dam Square

The National Monument is a monument to those who suffered or perished in World War II. It is often used as the “center” point of the old city and the perfect meeting point for friends and groups. I would say the monument is literally a giant dildo, but that might be offensive for its true purpose.

Basilica of St Nicholas

The Basilica of St Nicholas is located near the central station. The Neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance styles are combined to create an impressive architecture. The church is conveniently located in the old center, making it an easy photo stop.

Vondelpark

The Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s most well known public park. Unfortunately, the weather during our visit was not conducive to visiting a park.

The park boasts 10 million visitors a year thanks to its open-air theatre, playgrounds, bike paths and more. If you are looking for some rest or relaxation on your trip to Amsterdam, or just want to soak up the sun, Vondelpark is the place to go. It also has a I amsterdam sign.

Nightlife and Museums:

Red Light District

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The Red Light District is arguably the one thing that everyone in the world knows about Amsterdam. It is the most lively part of the city during weekdays. At any time of day, you can experience the same type of atmosphere, just with fewer tourists. The legal prostitution and drug use in this area give a glimpse into another type of world.

Quick fact: Rates are standard at €50 for 15 min for prostitution, but most of that money ends up in rental fees and taxes.

Sex Museum

The Sex Museum covers the history of society’s fascination with sex and the human body. It is an extremely graphic and sometimes grotesque museum. If you not interested or offended by many nude photos and related materials, or have younger tourists, do not go!

The museum is open daily from 9.30AM to 11.30PM. Tickets cost €4/adults with a minimum entry age of 16.

Museum of Prostitution

The Museum of Prostitution covers the history of the business itself. You have the opportunity to delve deeper into the history and role it played and continued to play in the world. The museum opened this year as the first of its kind in the world to cover the life on the other side of the glass.

The Museum of Prostitution is open from noon to midnight. Ticket costs €7.50/adults.

Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum

The Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum covers the history of the cultivation, usage and culture surrounding the hemp plant. Hemp and marijuana have many uses beyond the often assumed consumption, and this museum shows its wider use.

The museum is open daily from 10:00AM to 10:00PM. Tickets are €9/adults (€8.50 online) and free/children.

Jewish Quarter

My favorite part of Amsterdam is its historic Jewish quarter. Jews have been actively living and accepted as part of the community for the last 400 years. Unfortunately 80% of the Jewish population perished in the Shoah. However, the contemporary community is vibrant and ever growing.

There are four main museums in the Jewish quarter, and all are accessible with one ticket! Tickets cost €15/adults, €7.50/students and youth, and €3.75/children under 12.

Jewish Historical Museum

Joods-Historisch-Museum

history of Jews of Netherlands and information on Judaism itself and its practices. It is a good place to not only learn about the local Jewish culture, but the religious practices as well.

The museum is open daily from 11:00AM to 5:00PM.

JHM Children’s Museum

JHM Children's Museum

The JHM Children’s Museum is the perfect way for children to learn about Judaism through a fun and exciting interactive journey. The activities are fun and informative for children of all religious backgrounds and knowledge.

The museum is open daily from 11:00AM to 5:00PM.

Portuguese Synagogue

The Portuguese Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Europe still in use today. The synagogue is open as a museum with the history and artifacts of the Jewish community in Amsterdam combined with the impact and implications of WWII.

The Portuguese Synagogue was protected during the Shoah, described as an important landmark by local museum affiliates to prevent the Nazis from destroying it.

The Portuguese Synagogue is open:

Sunday to Thursday:
February – November: 10:00AM to 5:00PM
December – January: 10:00AM to 4:00PM
Friday:
March – October: 10:00AM to 4:00PM
November – February: 10:00AM to 2:00PM

If you would like to attend religious services, contact the Jewish community.

National Shoah Museum for the Netherlands

The National Shoah Museum for the Netherlands is located at the historic Hollandsche Schouwburg theatre. In 1942 the theater became deportation center for the city’s Jews.

The Nazis found it perfect as the building had no windows, and at the front door was train tracks to deport Jews to the extermination camps. After the war it became a monument for Jewish victims and has since grown into the national Shoah memorial.

While we were told entrance to the Shoah memorial was included in the price of the ticket to the other museums, it is in fact free for all visitors!

The memorial is open daily from 11:00AM to 5:00PM.

Accommodations:

Aivengo Youth Hostel

The first hostel we stayed at is the Aivengo Youth Hostel. We not only chose this hostel because of its price, but also because of its self described atmosphere. They are a party, drinking and smoking free hostel. While the bathroom and kitchen facilities are lacking, it was much better than others in the area.

The bedroom was empty at 11PM, but by the time midnight hit, everyone was already back and asleep. It is the perfect place for young adults who are looking to enjoy Amsterdam during the day, and not just solely for its nightlife.

Aroza Hostel

Our last night in Amsterdam was a Friday night, which made rates triple in price, so we had to pick the cheapest one with availability. Our only option was the Aroza Hostel.

The only upside is they had breakfast included, although it was only bread and cheese from the grocery store next door.

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