With its multi-cultural diaspora, rich historical gems and scenic landscape, Amsterdam is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It boasts a fantastic nightlife, is home to some of the finest collections of art and music and has a truly remarkable canal system that has earned it the colloquial title of ‘Venice of the North’.
Planning to spend a week in this vibrant city? This Amsterdam travel blog is everything you need! Our detailed itinerary comprises a fun-filled schedule for each day, travel and stay suggestions, and of course, only the best recommendations to satisfy your interest in local cuisine.
One Week in Amsterdam: The Highlights
One Week in Amsterdam: A Detailed Overview
After a long travel journey, you can take the first half of the day to unwind and bask in the sunlight amidst nature. Head to Vondelpark, one of Amsterdam’s oldest and most famous parks. You can rest on the freshly-cut grass or stroll around the pond. If you’re lucky, you can attend an open-air festival too. Vondelpark has several eateries to stop by like Adam, the Uptown Meat Club or Dikke Graaf. Entry to Vondelpark is free!
The next stop on your list is the national museum of Netherlands: Rijksmuseum. Take a slow, detailed tour through this museum, savouring all the art work. The Rijksmuseum is home to more than 600,000 pieces of art, including Rembrandt and Vermeer. It is open daily between 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, including holidays like Christmas. Visitors above the age of 18 are charged €20, while those under 18 get free admission. Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in lines.
Walk up to the canals after Rijkmuseum. The relaxing sounds of water, soft lighting and hustle and bustle of the city is sure to give you a wholehearted Amsterdam experience. You can drop by Cafe de Dokter -- a bar designed to represent Amsterdam’ city -- and enjoy a drink from their selection of beer and whiskey.
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Van Gogh Museum
Start Day 2 in Amsterdam with a healthy dose of art. The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh -- one of Europe’s most famed artists, also well known for having cut his ear off. This museum features van Gogh’s largest collection of artwork, including Sunflowers and Self Portrait with Straw Hat from the late 1800s. Owing to its popularity, the Van Gogh Museum is always crowded. Consider booking tickets online to avoid waiting in a line. It is generally open between 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and an adult ticket costs €19. For more information, check here.
Always wondered about the behind-the-scenes workings of a brewery? Head to Heineken! An 80 to 90 minute tour takes you through the Heineken journey, covering its history, production, distribution process and the story behind the legendary beer. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a delicious beer or (two) on the rooftop. This Heineken Amsterdam tour costs €18 and is available between 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM (last admission is at 5:00 PM) from Monday to Thursday and between 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM (last admission is at 7:30 PM) between Friday to Sunday. Book your tickets online to get discounts and avoid lines.
Your next stop is Foam, an internationally-renowned exhibition of contemporary photography. They feature not just veterans in the field, but also provide a platform to emerging newcomers from across the world. Foam is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM between Monday to Wednesday and Saturday/Sunday, and from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Thursday and Friday. An adult ticket costs €15, while students pay €12. Children under the age of 12 get free admission.
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Unwind after your day with a tourist favourite activity: an Amsterdam city canal cruise. Most tours take about an hour to take guests around the canals. Travelers often say Amsterdam is best seen from a boat; depending on the tour you opt for, you can witness landmarks in the city like Anne Frank House Museum, Rijksmuseum, the red light area, tulip garden and many others. After the Amsterdam cruise, you can have dinner at some quirky restaurants and bars like Moeders, Cannibale Royal or the Michelin-starred Bridges.
Anne Frank Museum
Anne Frank Museum
Your first stop on Day 3 in Amsterdam will be the Anne Frank House. This museum is dedicated to Anne, her family and the million others who were forced to go into hiding during the Nazis’ persecution of Jews during World War 2. The location where this museum currently stands is exactly where the Frank family hid, fearing for their life. It contains memorabilia like original photographs, facts and trivia and even the original diary in which she journalled her harrowing experience. This museum is open from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM between April to November and 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM between November to April. Tickets are only available for purchase online.
From the Anne Frank museum, hop on a bike and ride to Jordaan, one of Amsterdam’s most interesting and lively neighbourhoods. Not only is Jordaan lined with quaint cafes, vibrant artwork and stretches of beautiful tulips, but it also houses hidden pubs that often feature underground musicians and art galleries that represent the spirit of the youth. Just cycle around and discover something new!
From Jordaan, you can cycle to Spuistraat, a street filled with some of the best graffiti and murals in Amsterdam.
Between Jordaan and Spuistraat, there are numerous eateries offering cuisines ranging from traditional Dutch to classic Italian and everything in between. You can try Chez Lorraine, The Good Companion, Daalder, La Maschera Lillotatini amongst others.
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
House of Bols
Royal Palace of Amsterdam
Begin your day with a visit to a historic gem, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. Going back to the early 17th Century, this palace best represents Dutch resplendence. It is adorned with age-old sculptures and paintings, including one of the rarest collections of European furniture in the world. The Royal Palace is used as King Willem Alexander’s official location to host state functions and ceremonies. It’s open to visitors almost all year round between 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tickets are available online and cost €10 for adults and free admission for those under 18.
House of Bols
Mixology is quite the art! At the House of Bols, learn the nitty gritties that go into creating signature Amsterdam cocktails. Witness how carefully selected exotic herbs, spices and fruits are blended together to create delicious cocktails, some of whose recipes date back about 400 years. This experience also takes you through the history of Genever, a traditional liqueur of Netherlands. It is open between 1:30 PM to 6:30 PM from Sunday to Thursday and till 9:00 PM on Friday and Saturday. Buy a ticket online for €16.
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the De Wallen, better known as the world famous red light district. Home to the world’s oldest profession -- prostitution -- De Wallen is the grittier, darker side of Amsterdam, with semi-clad women seductively dancing in glass windows of brothels, erotic theatres and strip clubs, all engulfed in bright neon lights that are symbolic to this street. You can also visit the Hash, Marihuana and Hemp museum in De Wallen. Don’t leave the red light district without trying popular eateries and bars like Blauw aan de Wal, Stach, Little Saigon, The Tailor, Martine of Martine’s Table and Mister Meatball.
Day trips from Amsterdam
Day Trips from Amsterdam
Take a quick detour from exploring Amsterdam city by taking a day trip to other scenic towns in the Netherlands, like The Hague and Rotterdam.
Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands after Amsterdam, perhaps best known for having been completely destroyed by the Nazis during World War 2. It was reconstructed from scratch after the war and today, this port city is known for its modern, tourist-friendly atmosphere. You can visit museums that showcase war memorabilia, beautiful churches, take in the artistic architecture and walk along the harbours to enjoy a fine Dutch experience. Rotterdam is located roughly 80km from Amsterdam and takes about 1.5 hours to reach by car. A faster journey would be to take an intercity train, which takes less than an hour of travel time.
The Hague is the Netherlands’ political seat, home to its government, the King’s office palace and the International Court of Justice. Like Rotterdam, The Hague suffered under the Nazi regime during World War 2 and has since risen to invite students, academics and tourists from around the world. For travelers looking for some sun and sand, The Hague boasts pristine beaches and resorts, and unique museums and monuments. It is located roughly 70km from Amsterdam and can be reached in an hour by car or under an hour by taking a direct intercity train.
If you’re planning a day trip, the best option would be to opt for a guided tour. All your travel arrangements are taken care of, while you explore important landmarks and cover both cities in just a day.
Kick off Day 6 in the city with an unparalleled view: aboard the A’dam Lookout, an observation deck that offers visitors a splendid panoramic view of Amsterdam. You can opt to go aboard the Sky Deck, or thrill seekers can also hop onto Over the Edge -- the highest swing in Europe -- and enjoy a jaw-dropping sight of Amsterdam. Visitors can also indulge in a delicious meal on A’dam Lookout, complete with salads, main course and dessert. A regular ticket costs €13.50 for adults and €7.50 for children and is open daily between 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. For more ticketing options or to book your experience online, visit the A’dam Lookout website.
Next, head to NEMO museum, that attempts to impart knowledge about science and technology through interactive exhibits and entertainment. Learn about Earth’s elements wind, sun and water, nature’s shapes and constructions, space and time and much more. NEMO museum is open between 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM on a daily basis, with the exception of some holidays. Tickets cost €17.50 for visitors above the age of 4, while those under get free admission. You can find out more about tickets and other essential info on the NEMO website.
Looking to unwind with some flavorful food and magical views? Sign up for a food and drinks tour! Try authentic Dutch cuisine and cocktails and catch a glimpse of the city’s popular icons on these tours. The food and drinks are prepared with only the best ingredients by gourmet chefs. Moreover, it’s a great opportunity to connect with fellow travelers and friendly locals.
Street Shopping in Amsterdam
On your last day in the city, take a few hours just to walk through old neighbourhoods and street markets. Areas like the Albert Cuyp market, The 9 Streets and Leidsestraat offer more than just shopping options; inhabited by traders and merchants from different parts of Europe and the Middle East, they are quite multicultural in nature. You’ll find authentic Dutch clogs, cheese, licorice and classic crockery, and local chocolate delicacies, not to mention Turkish and Moroccan food, Iranian carpets and handmade wallets, bags, belts and jewelry.
Other interesting attractions
It’s impossible to cover just about all Amsterdam tourist attractions. If you find the time, here’s a list of additional unusual attractions you can try out in the city:
- Sex Museum: If you’re interested in the human body and its various senses like touch, smell and taste, the Venustempel Sex Museum is just for you. It houses an impressive collection of sex- and erotica-related art, books, photographs, sculptures and more.
- Torture Museum: Like it’s name suggests, this unconventional museum displays a variety of painful torture devices used on prisoners. Each device comes with a handy guide to let you know about their origin and uses.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Be prepared to witness stories, images and artefacts of human and natural oddities at this museum. This is a fun activity for when you’re looking for an unusual experience!
- Keukenhof: Since tulips are the official flowers of the Netherlands, a whole garden has been dedicated to cultivating, grooming and displaying them. Be prepared to walk through a rainbow of vibrant colours and bask in the pleasant wafts of the tulips.
- The Catboat: Calling all animal lovers! The Catboat is a one-of-a-kind floating animal shelter run by locals. Spend a few hours in the presence of adorable cats and other small animals.
Getting around Amsterdam
Travelling from the airport
You can either take a bus, train or taxi from the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to the city’s center.
- By bus: A bus journey from Amsterdam airport to the city center takes between 30 to 40 minutes and costs €5. The bus stop is conveniently located outside the arrival and departures sections. You can buy a ticket or a transport card from the closest ticket machine for your journey.
- By train: Travelling from the airport to the city center by train is the most economical option. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs €5.40. You can board a train from Platforms 1 or 2 and travel directly to the central railway station. A train arrives every 15 minutes between 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM.
- By taxi: Taking a taxi is ideal if you’re living far from the city center, are travelling during odd hours and/or are with a group to split the expense. A flat rate of €39 applies while traveling from the airport to the city center; anything further and standard charges apply.
Travelling within the city
- By bike: Exploring the city on bike is essential for those who want to experience Amsterdam in its truest form. Like cars, bikes have their own lanes, parking spots and traffic rules to follow. You can rent a bike from the rental shop closest to you and use Google Maps to navigate your way around the city.
- On foot: Like most popular tourist destinations, a city is best explored on foot. Amsterdam is well-planned with footpaths, sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly routes. By commuting on foot, you can explore little streets, stop by and smell the tulips, pick up snacks at little cafes and more.
- By public transport: The fastest and most economical option to travel within Amsterdam is via its well-connected public transport system. Purchase an OV chipkaart, a multi-purpose transport card that allows you to use the metro, tram and bus services, at the closest supermarket or metro/bus station. You can customize this card based on your travel duration and preferences. For more information on how to navigate your way around the city, you can download the GVB app, 92920v app or the citymapper app.
- Guided tours: If you’re looking for an easy way out of planning your trip from scratch, opting for an organized tour is the best way to go. Skip the lines, get a pre-planned itinerary and great combo deals that will help you enjoy your holiday to the fullest without burning a hole through your pocket.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to a variety of housing options since it sees millions of tourists every year. Depending on your budget, you can choose to stay in either quirky, comfortable hostels, welcoming homestays or luxurious hotels. Here’s a list of options to choose from:
For budget travelers
- ClinkNOORD: Backpackers from across the world vouch for ClinkNOORD as one of the best hostels to stay in Amsterdam. Not only does it have both mixed and girls-only dormitories, it also has a bar, a gallery room where artists collaborate, free Wi-Fi and a laundry room.
- St. Christopher’s at the Winston: Located close to Dam Square and the red light area, St. Christopher’s is ideal for any backpacker. Its outdoor terrace and nightclub -- the property’s own -- is perfect for those looking to party in Amsterdam. An added plus: the nightclub offers discounts on drinks and food!
- Bob’s youth hostel: Apart from being one of the most economical hostels in Amsterdam, Bob’s is also one of those with no curfew and boasts cheap beer. This hostel also offers travelers free Wi-Fi, lockers and a luggage room. Just check in, kick back with a beer and enjoy the comfortable vibe at Bob’s.
- Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark: The prime location of Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark hostel makes it ideal for travelers. It is located just a short distance from famous landmarks like Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. If you’re looking to experience the best of Amsterdam’s nightlife, this hostel is just a stone’s throw away from Leidseplein, an area that is home to some of the city’s most popular bars and clubs.
For those looking for unique stays
- Hotel not Hotel: The Hotel not Hotel features an unusual ambience, like living in a quirky art exhibit. The lobby is designed like a modern living room, while guest suites represent everyday objects like bookcases, cars, skyscrapers, etc., promising comfort and a good time. Their in-house bar, Kevin Bacon, caters to every mood: whether you’re looking for a wake-up call morning coffee, some Thai food or just to dance your heart out.
- Max Brown Canal District: Looking for a home away from home? Step right into the Max Brown Canal District hotel. Its laidback, relaxing atmosphere pours into the rooms as well; hardwood flooring, plush bedding, large french windows that overlook the canals and not to forget the wholesome breakfast. An added bonus? It’s charming wall of books is perfect to add to your Instagram travel diaries.
- Hotel Arena: Take a step back into history at Hotel Arena. With its marble staircase, wooden flooring, glass-stained windows in the chapel and soft lighting, this hotel is ideal for those looking to experience olden Amsterdam. The rooms have a mixed touch -- classical as well as contemporary.
- Morgan and Mees: Just a short distance from Amsterdam’s most vibrant streets and attractions, Morgan and Mees is a highly-preferred hotel in the city. With it’s contemporary interiors, designer bedding and bath products and scrumptious meals, this boutique hotel is frequented by visitors from all over the world.
For luxury seekers
- Waldorf Astoria: The Waldorf Astoria personifies elegance. Located right along the canals in Amsterdam, this hotel offers some of the best views of the city and boasts a variety of activities to provide guests with a relaxing, luxurious experience. A confluence of historic and contemporary art, the Waldorf Astoria represents grandeur like no other.
- Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam: What started out as a convent for nuns and reformed into a property only frequented by the elite, the Sofitel Legend The Grand hotel today is adorned keeping opulence in mind. Guests are in for a treat with the inviting spa facilities, luxury suites and delectable cuisine.
- Pulitzer Hotel: Charming and chic, the aristocratic Pulitzer Hotel in Amsterdam is a traveler favourite. Art lovers are in for a treat; each room is lit up with inspiring artwork from the hotel’s private collection. Located right along the canals, guests wake up to a stunning view of sunlight glimmering on water.
- Conservatorium Amsterdam: It’s not surprising that the Conservatorium Hotel is the winner of several #1 hotel in Amsterdam award. Featuring ornate Art Nouveau-inspired interiors, this hotel is ideal for those looking to soak in luxury. Each suite is carefully-designed to give guests a pampered stay. It’s conveniently located on Museumplein, just a heartbeat away from the Van Gogh museum.
You can also check out comfortable homestays on Airbnb.
Tips for your trip
- The Amsterdam public transport system is almost entirely cashless. You will not be able to pay for a bus, metro or tram ticket by cash. Make sure to top up your transport pass before traveling at any nearby convenience store.
- Don’t drink alcohol on the streets of De Wallen. The fine is extensive, more than €100 for each individual. Goes without saying: do not attempt to communicate, harass or get involved with women in the red light district. Photography is also not allowed unless specified otherwise.
- Carry a universal adaptor to charge your devices
- Avoid walking in lanes dedicated to bicycles. And if you’re on a bicycle, make sure to stick to your lane and not stop in the middle so as to avoid obstructing the path of fellow bikers.
- Cannabis is available for recreational use in dedicated Coffeeshops. Avoid consuming it in any form in public places as it is a legal offence.
- Ask for tap water in restaurants and not ‘still’ or ‘sparkling’. Amsterdam’s tap water is fresh, clean and completely healthy for consumption.
- Always carry cash in hand, particularly when in street markets. ATMs are available in most street corners and accept all major credit and debit cards.
- Clothing essentials: Always carry an umbrella and a light sweater or jacket in hand since evenings in Amsterdam are prone to rainfall and cool breeze. Also remember to wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Make reservations as far as possible in restaurants and bars to avoid waiting in long lines
- To discourage the use of plastic, most stores charge for a carry bag. You can always carry a foldable cloth bag on your way out.
- Buy an I Amsterdam Card for easy and free access to public transport and major museums.
- Carry your photo ID at all times