Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most beautiful, magical cities to visit. It has many different sides to it so that every traveler can find something they like.

Despite its shady reputation, Amsterdam is a historic city full of culture that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. As a resident of Amsterdam for the last four years, I have been able to discover the best things to do see eat and discover in the city.

Here is my local guide to visiting Amsterdam!

Where to Stay 

Amsterdam is made up of many different areas and neighborhoods, each with its own unique offerings. Some areas offer a more authentic local experience than others.

Jordaan

The Jordaan is located in the heart of Amsterdam. This neighborhood is where one will find the most beautiful canals, trendy shops, and a plethora of restaurants and cafes.

The Jordaan is the best place to wake up in Amsterdam and look out your window to the streets and canals.

Where to Stay in The Jordaan:

  • Pulitzer Amsterdam: A beautiful hotel is located on the most expensive street in Amsterdam in an 18th-century canal house.
  • The Hoxton: A high-end hotel is located next to all the city’s most popular attractions.
  • The Dylan Amsterdam:A beautiful authentic hotel with a modern design that is centrally located.

De Pijp

De Pijp is a trendy and hip area of Amsterdam located near some of the cities hottest attractions. This area doesn’t have any canals, but it has authentic houses from Amsterdam and you can find a ton of restaurants and cafes to make this area your home.

Where to Stay in De Pijp:

  • Luxury Amsterdam City Center Apartments:Perfectly located in De Pijp within walking distance to restaurants and cafes, these rooms are good for longer stays.
  • Het Kabinet: Clean, cozy, and conveniently located.

Getting Around

Surprisingly, Amsterdam is a pretty small city that makes it super easy to get around! There are many ways to get around that make exploring fun and exciting.

By Bike

Biking is the most popular form of transportation in Amsterdam and renting a bike to cruise around is the best way to immerse yourself in the locals’ ways!

Renting a bike costs around €8–€10, and you can usually either rent a bike through your accommodation or find a bike rental shop in the city and go for a ride to all the most popular attractions.

Helpful Tip:

If you plan on staying in Amsterdam for a longer period of time, it is better to buy a used bicycle than renting. Go to the Waterlooplein Market and bargain with the bicycle dealers here; they sell used bikes that cost €60–€100.

It is important to know the rules of the road and only bike when you feel confident. If you are unable to follow the rules, be careful when renting a bike in Amsterdam. The bikers are relentless and are very impatient with tourists biking incorrectly.

By Foot

Getting around Amsterdam is easy on foot. You will get tired from walking all day, but if you don’t have enough money to pay for a taxi or public transportation, this is a good option!

By Public Transportation

Amsterdam has a really good public transportation system made up of buses, trams, and even an underground metro.

If you plan on traveling by public transportation, your best option is to get a GVB unlimited travel card. With this card, you can use all trams and buses and the metro for a set amount of money. Just note that the card does not allow you to use the train.

By Car

Getting around the city by car is one of the least popular ways to get around Amsterdam. If you rent a car, you’ll spend $25 or more just in parking. While Uber cars are available in Amsterdam, they tend to cost a lot.

Top Things To See and Do in Amsterdam

Visit a Museum

Amsterdam is a museum lover’s paradise. The city is packed with museums ranging from art to photography to history and more! Some of the top options that you must visit are The Anne Frank House Museum and Moco Museum.

*If you want to go to a museum early in the morning, go right when it opens. The museum will be less crowded then because it is not as popular as other times during the day.

Go to a Street Market

Going to a street market is something Amsterdam locals like to do. Street markets are the perfect place to find fresh local foods, handmade jewelry, flowers, art and more!

The market is a good place to buy fresh meat, cheese, and vegetables. It is also a good place to pick up fresh bouquets of flowers.

The most popular street market in Amsterdam is Albert Cupy Market. However, this one is super touristy.

A great local alternative for vegetables is Westerstraat Market.

Go on a Day Trip

If you have enough time, traveling to other Dutch cities is a great way to broaden your horizons and see more of the country than just Amsterdam.

The Netherlands is a stunning country, and since it is so small, you can go on one train ride and be in an entirely new city within 20 minutes.

You will likely find Amsterdam to be very touristy, so visiting another city will allow you to see the Dutch beauty without all the people.

Some of the best trips from Amsterdam are:

  • HaarlemUtrechtZaanse SchansMuiderslot

Walk Through the Red Light District

The Red Light District is one of Amsterdam’s most polarizing points of interest. This area is a place where women stand in windows surrounded by red lights, and people can walk by and enter for their services.

The Red Light District feels more like a tourist attraction than anything else. The area is all neon lights and bar areas where groups of men visit for parties and events.

Visiting the red light district before 11 PM is best. When it is after 11, the area becomes a little seedy, and it no longer is tourists wandering around.

There are many other great things you can do after six o’clock, so spend that time elsewhere.

Helpful Tip:

Take no photos of the windows in which you are standing. Do not take pictures of women in windows, because they will throw your phone into the canal.

Explore the 9 Streets

The 9 streets are a famous set of 9 streets in Amsterdam that are home to the cutest cafes trendiest shops and prettiest streets.

It is surely the most Instagram-worthy area of Amsterdam and a beautiful place to see some of the best offerings of the city.

9 streets are a great place to shop if you want to buy new clothes in Amsterdam. Get a new piece of jewelry or try some beautiful food you see on Instagram.

Visit a Local Park

Amsterdam locals love to spend a day in the park on a warm summer day. There are parks all over the city with nice paths for walking and lots of green space for sitting.

It is super popular to grab some drinks and food from a nearby grocery store and head to a park with a blanket for a little picnic! The best parks in Amsterdam are Vondelpark Westerpark and Oosterpark.

Go to the Tulip Fields

In the Netherlands in late March and early April, fields are full of vibrant tulips!

Tulips are the national flower of the Netherlands. Tulips are super magical, and if you are visiting the Netherlands in the springtime, you must visit a tulip field.

Avoid the Tourist Traps

Amsterdam is one of the most touristy cities in Europe. The city welcomes nearly 10 million tourists each year, which means that the most popular attractions are packed with people.

I recommend you avoid these places because the crowds of people often lead to an unpleasant experience. Some of the big tourist attractions I suggest you avoid (or just walk by to say you’ve seen it are): Dam Square Central Station Rembrandtplein and Kalverstraat.

Best Places to Eat in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is full of amazing restaurants. It truly is a food lover’s paradise! Here is a list of the top places you must eat in during your stay in Amsterdam.

Pluk

Pluk is a cute and girly cafe/restaurant on the 9 streets. Here you can get healthy eats in a beyond beautiful atmosphere.

Bam Boa

Bam Boa is a new restaurant located on the Amstel River. It has the perfect bohemian/coastal feeling and serves tasty luxurious feeling dishes.

Mr. Stacks

This is a vegan restaurant with the best pancakes you can get in the whole city.

Vegan Junk Food Bar

If you are a vegan and you want tasty junk food, this is the place for you.

Bulls and Dogs

Amsterdam is the best city in the world for delicious, unhealthy food. The FreakShake at Bulls & Dogs has flavors like Pistachio Marshmallow Stroopwafel and more.

Helpful Tips When Visiting Amsterdam

  • Watch out for pickpockets in the touristy areas. Pickpockets are common in these areas.If you are walking, keep your eye out for cyclists. If they ring a bell it means to watch out.If you take public transportation, you will need to check-in and check out.Some drugs are tolerated but they are not legal.Respect the locals. You may see a beautiful house and want to look inside or take a picture of it, but remember that people live here and respecting their privacy is important.