Amsterdam for the first timers: 7 must-do things!

Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Dina

The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful travel destinations. I have visited it 3 times and every time I discover new places, new museums and new places for coffee and food. Let’s discover together the 7 best things to do in Amsterdam.



Why visit this city? Is it the ideal destination for your trip or is it better to opt for Barcelona, Vatican, or Zurich?

  • Amsterdam may be famous for its Red Light District and the coffee shops where you can buy and use cannabis but it has so much more to offer to the traveler.
  • It is a city with beautiful architecture: the canals and the colorful houses will leave you speechless.
  • The Dutch love bicycles and it is their favorite means of transportation. Of course, you can take the bus, the tram or the subway but don’t even think of renting a car to go around the center of Amsterdam!
  • The weather in Amsterdam is unpredictable but very … rainy. The Dutch are used to it and of course, it does not stop them from going out and riding their bicycles
  • Besides the numerous multinational restaurants, the city is also famous for its excellent beers!
  • There are so many things to do if you visit Amsterdam for the first time. In addition to the famous Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum there are more than 51 museums to expand your horizons!



amsterdam bikes

Amsterdam is not called Venice of the North for nothing: It has 165 canals and 1281 bridges!

The three most famous canals are the Herengracht, the Prinsengracht, and the Keizersgracht which stand since the 17th century and are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

One of the things you need to do in Amsterdam is a canal cruise. I did it and I can say that it was a very nice experience. The cruise that I did last 1 hour, cost only 13 €, took us around various channels and there was an audio guide. You can book tickets for this simple cruise from here. There are many canal cruises that you can do that include also food, drink, and music.  Take a look also at these 3 canal cruises here.



The Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands, is one of the best art museums in the world. It took me about 3 hours to explore it and I loved the artworks of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and the dollhouses! It has 3 floors and an excellent Michelin restaurant. The museum’s top attraction is Rembrandt’s Night Watch.  The painting is amazing but equally amazing is the robot that uses artificial intelligence and “paints” pieces that are missing from the painting. If you are interested, you can read more about this story here.

Also, do not forget to visit the museum’s stunning library!

***Rijksmuseum tickets are being sold only online*** 

For safety reasons, entrance is allowed only to visitors that have already bought their tickets online! You can purchase tickets for Rijksmuseum from here.


If Anne Frank’s Diary is one of your favorite books do not forget to visit Anne Frank’s original house when you are in Amsterdam. The house has been turned into a museum dedicated to her life and everything that had happened to her family during the time they were hiding from the Nazis. Although a lot of furniture is missing, the feeling of wandering around the rooms where one of the most read books in the world was written is unique.

The audio tour, along with photos, videos, and various exhibitions will help you understand a lot not only what the 13-year-old girl went through during the period she was hiding from the Nazis but also what the other Jews who were persecuted went through. I consider it one of the pieces of our modern history that we must not forget.

The tickets cost 14€ and you need to buy them online. Since it is a very popular attraction, do not be surprised if they are sold out! Be smart and book them at least 2 weeks in advance.

If tickets for Anne’s Frank House are sold out, you can have a nice walking tour. This walking tour is dedicated to Anne Frank’s life: it is an excellent idea also if you don’t like to be stuck inside a museum and you enjoy being outside. You can discover Amsterdam, learn some history, and visit the Jewish neighborhood.


park amsterdam girls

If the weather is good (I know it is a bit rare!) do not miss the chance and get some sunlight, have a nice picnic in one of the many beautiful, green parks of this city. The most famous and largest park is Vondelpark. I visited Westerpark and I really liked it!


Jordan is not only one of Amsterdam’s must-see attractions, but it is also one of the most beautiful districts to stay in. In addition to students from all over the world, professionals, and artists, you will find small cafes and private galleries.

The best stroopwafel that I had! No -it is not in Joordan!


north amsterdam

If you are staying more than 2 days, you can take the ferry and move away from the center. Leave behind the crowds and hordes of tourists and head to northern Amsterdam, Amsterdam Noord. If you have rented a bicycle, you can take it with you on the ferry!

You will see the city from another perspective. Amsterdam Noord is more chilled, more original, super calm and you will be able to rent a bike and cycle around. If you are visiting the Dutch capital for the first time avoid cycling in the center: it is too chaotic and even the locals are afraid to take their bikes in the city center! On the other hand, Amsterdam Noord is the perfect place to cycle.

if you are looking for a restaurant in that district: Claproos has an excellent pizza late and the place is very pretty.


Bierfabriek food

What else to do in Amsterdam? Get a beer! Seriously, Amsterdam has some excellent local beers and Bierfabriek has many options to choose from. Do not be surprised that peanuts are thrown on the floor! Schuim was also another place where I had some great beers.

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