8 Best Things To Do In Amsterdam

best things to do in amsterdam
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My fiance and I just returned from Amsterdam and had a great time! It is a great place to visit to experience a blend of Europe and America. Here are 8 of the best things to do in Amsterdam.

Best things to do in Amsterdam

Whether you’re in Amsterdam for the history, the tourism, or for some of the more illicit adventures the city has to offer, you’ll find many exciting options.

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Heineken Experience

This is my personal #1 in things to do in Amsterdam is the Heineken Experience. Whether you are an avid beer drinker or not, this is an Amsterdam staple. For those that don’t know, Amsterdam was started in the 1800’s in Holland by the Heineken family. Fun fact, it was the first imported beer in America after prohibition ended!

The experience includes a full tour of the old factory, a virtual “bottling” ride as if you are a bottle of beer, and you get to end with 2 cold beers and a drink pouring contest!

It was roughly $25 for each of us, but absolutely worth it!

A’DAM Lookout

This is a very close second in things to do in Amsterdam. The A’DAM Lookout team was kind enough to sponsor the Bald Thoughts team and gave us a complimentary ride on the highest swing in Europe!

The swing itself is only about a 90-second ride, but the views are unbelievable.

8 things to do in amsterdam
On a sunny day, the views are incredible!

There is also a bar & restaurant inside the building. It is a quick ferry ride across the channel from Amsterdam.

The swing itself does have to be purchased with a “lookout” ticket. For more information on the swing, click here!

Red Light District

While us in America may feel a certain way about prostitution, it is perfectly legal in Amsterdam! Some 400 windows in Amsterdam are worked by prostitutes. It is definitely a sight worth seeing as it is something so different than anything in the US.

Women in risque clothing will stand in these windows, waiting for their next client to walk in for their “services”.

8 things to do in amsterdam
It’s a sight to see, to say the least…

Fair warning though, do not be a typical tourist and take pictures. You will be scolded heavily by the workers.

To add, the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution is a historical look into the taboo society and industry of prostitution. It is a fairly cheap attraction, roughly $13. I will say that it is pretty mind-boggling to hear the stories and understand what really goes on.

For an interesting perspective on the lives of the “working girls” of Amsterdam through the eyes of a young American who became their friend, check out the book Amsterdam Exposed by David Wiener.

Ride through the canals

There are various companies that host canal tours to see the most memorable portions of Amsterdam. They tend to not be too expensive and are family friendly! Here are a few companies that host rides!

Try the food

To our surprise, much of the food in Holland is American-based. McDonalds, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts are everywhere!

Bread, cheese, and coffee are staples in their diets, so I was absolutely in love the entire time! Here are a few recommendations that we found during our 6 days in Amsterdam!

Also, french fries are a tradition in Holland. Be sure to gorge in the “frites”!

Visit the suburbs via public transportation

The best part about Europe is the ease of public transportation. My fiance and I purchased a 7-day pass for both of us and it roughly cost $100 for both of us. It is much cheaper than calling a cab/Uber.

One day during our trip, we went and visited the quaint town of Haarlem and it was great! We visited the Corrie ten Boom house where more Jews were seeking asylum from the invading Nazis. The film The Hiding Place is based on the story of the people who hid in this exact home.

This attraction is free and highly recommend it.

Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is a staple for tourists in Amsterdam. This is where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary as she hid from the Nazis as they invaded Holland in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit inside as tickets are VERY difficult to get. I highly recommend making a reservation beforehand.

things to do in amsterdam
Courtesy: Bestplacesphoto.com

Coffee or Coffee-“shop”?

Many also know Amsterdam as a place where marijuana is completely legal and recreational. Throughout the streets, you will catch hints of the unique smell as people are casually smoking.

Before it was this way, many people who indulged in this were familiar with the difference between “hey, let’s get coffee” or “hey, let’s go to a coffeeshop”.

Coffeeshops before legalization was basically a “codeword” for somewhere to buy and smoke weed. The tradition has stuck, and there are coffeeshops all throughout Amsterdam. One of the most well-known is The Bulldog.

things to do in amsterdam
A typical coffeeshop order in Amsterdam. Courtesy: TripAdvisor

The Bald Thoughts

While in Europe, I highly recommend a stop in Amsterdam. It is a mix of all that is great with Europe – amazing history, delicious food, and unique attractions not found anywhere else. In my opinion, these are the 8 of the best things to do in Amsterdam. Did I miss anything? We are really looking forward to a return visit I’d love your suggestions for anything that I missed.


a row of buildings next to a body of water


  1. My wife and I found it massively amusing that right near a bunch of the coffee shops was the ultimate munchie palace. We’re talking everything from gyros to fried food to pizza to multiple flavors of Doritos to scrumptious desserts. The place was doing a thriving business.

    • Christian, this reminds me of the recent story of the Girl Scout who set up right outside a weed shop in California. They gave her grief about it, but she set all of the sales records and raised a bunch of money for the Girl Scouts. Successful business owners find a need and offer the right solutions!

  2. Delft is also a cool little town, about an hour south of Amsterdam via train. It has an “old church” and a “new church”, dating respectively to the 1200’s and the 1300’s.

    If you like to climb to the top of tall church spires be sure to arrive at the “new church” early, because there is only one narrow spiral staircase and it is shared by both climbing and descending visitors.

  3. You haven’t listed my 2 favorites! I spent 3 months there as a digital nomad, admittedly it was almost 10 years ago, but these are still offered and amazing!

    1- Cannabis tours. At the time I’d never even tried it, and didn’t even then. But it was like getting a slightly racy history tour of the city through the lens of drug legalization. If you’re not familiar with recreational options and dosages, this will also keep you from getting ripped off by buying a muffin with so little in it that you’ll feel nothing.

    2- Reypenaer Cheese Tasting. In a basement room set up like a farmhouse classroom, nice lighting, wine pairing for each cheese. You get your own board, slicer, and hunks of good stuff that you would not have otherwise tried easily. A little history lesson through the lens of…cheese. AND you get about 2oz wine with each one, maybe 6 total? We were all pretty merry.


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