Recommendations

Here is a summary of things I like to do that aren’t so touristy or on the beaten path. Also see my pages listing all things FREE to do in Amsterdam and this roundup of its annual events.

  1. Get lost. Explore the grachtengordel (canal girdle) Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht and their many shops, cafes and architectural details as they sway in concentric semicircles. No artificial city could be so phenomenal yet so elegant.
  2. Amsterdam North. It’s that part of town across the water behind Centraal Station (the main train station) and there are a lot of cool things locals enjoy over there: A) take the (free) ferry in the very middle (among three) called Buiksloterweg across the IJ three minutes to Amsterdam Noord and visit the splendid Eye film archive with its view of the city skyline. B) Take the longer (also free) NDSM ferry to the Noorderlicht cafe for a very special evening or lunch.
  3. Quainter Museums. Amsterdam may be known for the Rijksmuseum, van Gogh Museum, Anne Frankhuis, and the Hermitage, but if you want specialised museums with a certain twist, check out: The Grachtenhuis for an interactive look at how they made those gorgeous canal houses stay relatively upright on top of a swamp the last 400 years; Museum van Loon is the home of a Dutch East India Company co-founder offering a glimpse into the wealth and lifestyle of the merchant class.
  4. Jewish heritage. Buy the affordable group ticket for entrance to the Portuguese Synagogue, Joods Historish Museum (Jewish History Museum) and Verzetsmuseum (Resistance Museum).#
  5. Cycle in the parks. Rent a bike and explore the popular Vondelpark, the regal Beatrixpark, the hip Westerpark, or head into man-made nature into the vast Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam forest).
  6. Get high. See panoramic viewpoints, I mean. There are great views all over the city centre from special rooftops and lofty cafes:
  • get to the 7th floor La Place restaurant of the truly special Openbare Bibliotheek (public library) for a view of the old city skyline; near Centraal Station; free
  • climb the stairs to the roof of NEMO science museum for a similar old city view; near Centraal Station; free
  • take a guided walk up the tower of the Westerkerk (Western church); adjacent to Anne Frankhuis; $
  • eat at Blue atop the Kalvertoren shopping centre; adjacent to flower market
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