Amsterdam Travel Guide

Amsterdam one of the most popular destinations in Europe - this is a city also synonymous with connotations of debauchery. The name itself conjures images of mystery and the unknown; Amsterdam is a place where almost anything goes. View our guide which includes top rated sightseeing tours, packages, recommendations for cheap and free things do, tips for where to stay and how you can save money and visit Amsterdam on a budget.

 
 

Activities, Tours & Things to Do in Amsterdam

 

Travel to Amsterdam

Amsterdam tours

The only city in Europe to legalise cannabis and prostitution, Amsterdam draws tourists from across the globe wanting to experience the hedonistic mix of drugs and promiscuity. However there is much more to the city than its reputation suggests and when interning here you can experience the highlights. Here are some things you might want to do in your spare time.

 

How to Get to Amsterdam

Due to Amsterdam's central European location getting there is easy, regular flights depart from Europe and other international destinations. For the best deals and cheapest prices we recommend searching flights on Skyscanner, the earlier the flight is booked the cheaper it will be. 

You can also book coaches which can be joined in destinations throughout Europe and generally have the cheap prices, depending on where your travelling from. Journeys can be long and not the most comfortable though so we do recommend flying. Another option is to arrive in Amsterdam by train.

 

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

If you are looking for somewhere cheap to stay, use Hostelbookers or Booking.com to search for budget accommodation and book well in advance to get the best prices. We recommend staying central close to all the main sights. If you are looking to travel on the cheap view our guide to the best cheap hostels in Amsterdam.

 

Cultural & Historical Sights

Amsterdam has numerous cultural and historical venues for visitors to experience. Take the tram to the city’s cultural quarter, where the majority of art galleries and museums are situated. This is the home of the Van Gogh Museum, an impressive building housing the works of the famous painter over three floors and is well worth visiting. For a more sobering experience, visit the Anne Frank Haus. This is the house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War, and the ground floor has been extended and turned into a museum documenting their experience.

The original house is on the upper floors, and the rooms contain photographs and extracts from Anne’s diary. It is a surreal feeling standing in the rooms and imagining what the family went through; the last room of the museum explains the fate of each family member, and this stays with you long after you have left. For a light-hearted attraction, check out the Heineken Experience. This is the factory where the beer is produced, and visitors are able to see how the process transforms grain into alcohol. While the whole thing can be perceived as thinly disguised advertising, it is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours and the entrance fee includes two free drinks. 

Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops and strip bars. Whilst the coffee shops do sell coffee, they are more notable as venues where cannabis can be bought and smoked. They are usually café style places that can be found across the city; it is rare that a coffee shop will have an alcohol license.

The notorious Red Light Districts are worth a visit, if only for the unusual and unique experience. Shops sell anything and everything, and expect the unexpected in the winding streets. The area won’t be to all tastes due to the prominent ‘advertising’ in the brothel windows, but it’s a destination to tick off the proverbial bucket list. Amsterdam is a city of surprises, and shouldn’t be dismissed by its reputation.

It contains culture, history and entertainment within a beautiful setting, all of which can be appreciated by a scenic boat ride on the 17th century canals. And for those who enjoy a different type of indulgence… Amsterdam boasts some of the best patisseries around.

 

Amsterdam Sightseeing Tours

There are lots of tours available to join daily in Amsterdam on foot, bike, boat, bus or segway! Thousands of people join tours in Amsterdam every year and on our guide you can find recommended tour companies, popular places to visit, itineraries and also recommended tours. So whether you are interested to learn more about the city, explore the Red Light District or experience Amsterdam on two wheels you will find a tour to match your interests.

There are various different tours available where you will get to see the highlights of the city, places you will probably visit include:

  • The Old Church
  • The Red Light District
  • The Jewish Quarter
  • Royal Palace
  • The Jordaan District
  • The Anne Frank House
  • The Dutch East India Company
  • The Begijnhof Convent
  • Masterpieces of Dutch Art
  • The Widest Bridge and Narrowest House

 

Red Light District Tours

Fancy visting the world famous red light distict but don't feel safe to do so? Or would you like more information on this area? Explore one of the Netherlands most controvserial neighbourgoods, see coffeeshops, sex theatres and clubs. Most tours last a couple of hours but shorter and longer tours can be arranged.

  • Elite Streets
  • Newmarket
  • S&M Specialist
  • Sex Shop
  • The Condomerie
  • The Old Church
  • The Prostitution Information Center
  • Video Cabins
  • Warmoestraat

 

Amsterdam Bike Tours

  • De Gooyer Windmill
  • de Melkweg
  • Heineken Brewery
  • Magere Brug
  • Rijksmuseum
  • NEMO – Science Center
  • VOC Ship
  • Artis Zoo
  • Oosterpark
  • The House of Bols
  • Leidseplein
  • The East Harbor
  • de Pijp – Trendy Nightlife Area
  • West Indies Trading Compnay
  • Theo van Gogh Memorial
  • House of Peter the Great
  • De Muiderpoort Arch
  • Van Gogh Museum

 

Alternative Amsterdam City Tours

If you would like to see a different side of Amsterdam then there are various alternative city tours which are perfect if you have already seen the main sights, or would just like to get off the tourist trail

 

Amsterdam Boat Tours

A popular option which you might not have thought about is booking a boat tour of Amsterdam, you can see a lot by a river boat including:

 

Private Tours of Amsterdam

There are various companies and individuals offering private tours of Amsterdam. Joining a tours with a personal tour guide is a great way to learn more about Amsterdam and also get all your questions answered. Usually you can choose where to start, finish and places to visit inbetween, or you can also be flexible and leave this up to the guide. Some companies have set itineraries or if you have a specific interest then this can be incorportated into a tour too. 

 

Free Tours in Amsterdam

Some companies and also tour guides offer free tours of Amsterdam which usually last around 2-3 hours. Shorter and longer tours are also available. Don't be put off the by the free part of the title, these tours can be really good and they are very popular. The only catch is they are not usually totally free, usually you will be required (or suggested) to give a donation at the end of the tour to support the local guide. If you are not happy with the tour, or you are really on a budget then you can just walk away without paying though. If you are not planning to book ahead on the internet be sure to get to the meeting point early, we recommend around 10-15 minutes in advance so you can find your guide and group.

Recommended Companies to Book a Free Amsterdam Day Tour Include:

  • Sandemans New England Tours one of the biggest walking tour companies in the world.

 

Amsterdam Tour Reviews

Have you every joined a tour in Amsterdam? Would you like to review a tour operator, tour guide or tour? Get in touch with us.