If Amsterdam isn’t already on your bucket list, you’re making a huge mistake. This European city is often ranked behind cities like Paris and Rome, but it possesses an amount of uniqueness like no other. It is home to over 150 canals (yes, more than Venice), the only floating flower market, crooked homes that date back to the 17th century, coffee-shops that don’t sell coffee, and the most diverse groups of locals in the world. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. It might be difficult to know where to start when visiting a city that has so much to offer. So, Here are five things you must do during your first visit to Amsterdam:
Explore by bike
There is something you’ll notice as soon as you arrive into Amsterdam – bikes, bikes, and more bikes! Amsterdam is known to be the bicycle capital of the world. Even in a city with a population over 1 million, there are more bikes than there are people. With such narrow streets and limited parking options, this is one of the best methods of transportation for tourists. In a city where bikes rule the road, there is no better way to explore like a local! Average bike hire prices are 7-10 euros per day.
Get lost on the iconic canals
Allowing yourself time to ‘get lost’ is often the best thing to do once you arrive in a new city. You’re bound to stumble upon a quirky shop, cafe, or museum that interests you somewhere between Amsterdam’s maze like canals. You can head to the 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) to discover the best shopping and most picturesque street. As you wander along, be sure to take note of the leaning houses, the boats drifting under the bridges, and the locals biking at record speeds.
Visit a museum
You’ll be in heaven if you can appreciate a masterpiece, because Amsterdam is a city with one of the highest number of museums in the world. The streets alone are reminiscent of a museum, with many of the homes dating back to the 17th century. Visit the Van Gogh Museum for the greatest collection of the Dutch painter’s works, the Rijksmuseum for a collection of Dutch art from the middle ages, or the Museum of Prostitution for an insider’s look at the Red Light District.
Visiting the Anne Frank Museum should be at the top of your list. You’ll have the chance to visit the annex where Anne Frank wrote her world-famous diary and hid during a Nazi occupied Holland.
Tip: Purchase tickets online ahead of time to skip the long queue.
Picnic at the park
Escape the crowded city streets and visit one of Amsterdam’s peaceful parks. There are over 30 different parks where you can unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Grab some fresh bread, Dutch cheese, and a craft beer before heading over to people-watch. The 120 acre Vondelpark is a city favorite, where you’ll find beautiful bridges, fountains, and sculptures. If you visit in the summer, be sure to check out a free concert at the park’s open air theatre!
Get a ‘gram in front of the ‘IAMSTERDAM’ sign
The symbolic letters are meant to represent the diverse people of Amsterdam, no matter who they are or where they come from. Different sets of the letters travel and can be found in various locations throughout the city. Arrive early to beat the crowds and get pictures in, around, and on top of these giant letters. The surrounding park is the perfect area to chill out after spending a day admiring the works of art throughout the Museumplein. Sure, it’s super touristy, but how else will we know that you actually went to Amsterdam?