On our 3-week trip to Europe, my husband and I did many amazing things. While traveling around between 5 countries, we prosted at Oktoberfest, drank wine in Paris, and explored historic Stockholm.
In Amsterdam, we indulged in local fare, boated through the canals at sunset, lost ourselves at the Van Gogh Museum, toured the Heineken factory, and walked everywhere we went. While I have no regrets from that trip, there are always things that you wish you made time for. For me, there were a few things in Amsterdam that we didn’t do, and in hindsight, I’d love to prioritize next time.
See if you can make time for these fun activities when you get a chance to explore this amazing city.
I’m upset that we didn’t visit the Anne Frank house, as an important piece of our world’s history. It wasn’t a matter of time or interest—it simply slipped our mind as we planned each day over a morning espresso. Those who do go, however, have nothing but amazing experiences to share about: “Absolutely amazing 100 times better than I imagined it would be, the group we took loved it; well worth getting the audio, makes it much easier,” said one Tripadvisor reviewer.
Plan your trip: Buy tickets online, in advance, for just 9 Euro and check out their current exhibitions to get an idea of what you’ll be learning about. Most reviews cite waiting (not buying in advance) as the biggest headache, so plan ahead. The museum is handicap– and kid-friendly, allowing everyone to experience the immense history of this spot.
We strolled through many parks on our European tour, especially in Paris. In Amsterdam, however, we never got a chance to visit the most famous park in the city: Vondelpark. The magically green urban park is perfect for walking, biking, relaxing and picnicking and comes to life with concerts and lush gardens. It’s also home to a number of statues depicting important historical figures and famous works from Amsterdam’s finest:
“The imposing bronze statue of Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel, after whom the park is named, can be found on the premises. Other notable statues include The Fish by Pablo Picasso and Mama Baranka by Nelson Carrilho,” according to NH Bellboy’s Tips.
Plan your trip: Pack a lunch and a good book and head to Vondelpark for an afternoon of relaxing near one of their sprawling gardens. Better yet, leave your lunch a home and indulge in a snack and espresso from one of the many vendors. If visiting during the summer, plan to head to the park for a free open-air concert.
Amsterdam is known for their nightlife, and while we enjoyed bouncing from one bar to the next each night of our stay, we never went to one of their famous nightclubs. We even had a last-minute opportunity to check out a music festival on the outskirts of the city but opted for an evening drinking along the canals instead. As someone who loves dancing, this is definitely something I wish I had done.
Plan your trip: Amsterdam is known for their concert-hall clubs and famous DJs, within the city centre and on the outskirts of the city. Check out some of the top clubbing opportunities at iamsterdam.com. Choose at least one night to really see what nightlife in Amsterdam is made of. Buy tickets ahead of time, especially if it’s a special event, and look for opportunities to see European DJs that you can’t catch anywhere else.
Amsterdam is known for their most popular mode of transportation: bike riding. As the seventh most popular bike-friendly city in Europe, there are:
The craziest part: 58 percent of “Amsterdammers” cycle at least one mile each day. It seems shocking that we didn’t try this local mode of transportation, but the reason is simple: we were nervous! With so many bikers are on the road, we didn’t feel confident biking alongside everyone else—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, a good friend of mine recently visited Amsterdam and had a blast on her biking tour.
Plan your trip: If you’re nervous as well, take your bike to Vondelpark, where there’s much less traffic. If you want to ride through the city, join a biking tour, which will provide guidance and safety to newbies. If going solo, check out this list of bike routes and don’t miss Amsterdam’s safety guidelines.
The festival we were invited to, but didn’t attend, was in Amsterdam Noord (North), one of the top places Amsterdam’s locals recommend visiting: “Many visitors to Amsterdam never manage to venture north of Amsterdam Central Station- which is a shame, considering the vibrant food, drink and cultural scene that’s burgeoned across the water, along the banks of the IJ.” Not only is the ferry free to ride, but it stops in a variety of places, allowing you to make the trip your own.
Plan your trip: Learn about every stop along with the ferry schedule to decide where you can go and when to be ready to hop back on. Go at night for drinks and music at NSDM or look for a themed market day at Pekmarkt for a true Amsterdam experience.
Amsterdam is full of beautiful scenery, bustling nightlife, and unforgettable culture. Don’t miss a chance to experience this city from every angle; add these stops to your must-do list so you’ll leave feeling like you truly experienced all that Amsterdam has to offer.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time writer and content marketing consultant. She loves traveling and has been lucky enough to spend time in Europe, Hawaii and the Southwest. Being self-employed, she and her husband plan to spend 6 months traveling in the very near future, to truly live the nomadic life. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connected on LinkedIn.