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.
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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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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!
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.
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”.
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”!
- The Butcher – Incredible burgers and fries
- The Pancake Bakery – You MUST try original Dutch Pancakes, otherwise known as “poffertjes”.
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.
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.
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.