Unique things to do in Amsterdam
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Travel like a local
When you think of Amsterdam there’s probably one of two visuals that come to mind: 19th-century brick homes lining the canals with bicycles parked along the bank — or that one that depicts the Red Light District and coffee shops. However there are more things to do in Amsterdam than what meets the eye: a bike ride through the Westzijderveld nature reserve, food tours in the Jordaan district, and plenty of activities along the canal that don’t require two wheels. Explore more in this Dutch metropolis with locals on Airbnb Experiences.
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Your guide to Amsterdam
Where do locals hang out in Amsterdam?
Also called Old West, it’s conveniently located near the city center, on the eastern edge of Vondelpark, but far enough away to attract laid-back locals as a shopping and dining destination. The De Wallen bustles with activity in its food hall, as well as its art deco–inspired cinema where you can catch independent films. There are three thoroughfares to explore — Overtoom, Kinkerstraat and De Clercqstraat — for food that goes beyond herring as well as artisanal coffee shops.
This neighborhood is a ferry ride from Centraal Station that takes only minutes. Situated along the northern shoreline, it puts a spotlight on a more modern Amsterdam with one development in particular: Buiksloterham. The district contains mixed-use buildings that house cinemas, restaurants, and even an underground club. Head toward the water to find NDSM Wharf, a hotspot for live music, street art, and other cultural events in the former shipyard.
What are the best ways to explore Amsterdam by bike?
Explore Zaanse Schans
Meet in the city center for a 4-mile round-trip ride to the Dutch countryside. You’ll pedal through meadows, admiring the villages and pastoral landscapes as you go, before you arrive in Zaanse Schans. Here you can meet villagers, see how clogs are made, and sample cheeses before heading back into Amsterdam.
Pair a bike tour with a canal cruise
For a more quintessential Dutch experience, head out for an afternoon bike tour to ride past the windmills, museums, and parks with a local guide who points out hidden gems and must-see places such as the Royal Palace Amsterdam. Afterward, hop on a boat to enjoy an early evening cruise along the canal for an hour.
What are the most unique museums in Amsterdam?
While it may not immediately seem unique given its a major attraction, its story of reinvention is. For some 10 years, the Netherlands national museum was closed for renovations, reopening in 2013. Today, it hosts some of the most impressive exhibits of Europe, rivaling the Louvre and other major art institutions. Here you can find some of Holland’s most prolific artworks by Rembrandt and Vermeer. For a more curated visit, join an art historian on a walking tour of the museum and its surroundings.
Amsterdam Cheese Museum
Within walking distance to the Anne Frank House, you’ll find this homage to fromage which feels more like a storefront than a museum. Still, you’ll learn plenty of lesser-known facts about the Dutch people’s love of this food, as well as have the chance to try samples.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
If you really want to know what you’re admiring on your day trip to Keukenhof, visit this small museum along the Prinsengracht canal to learn about the different types of tulips, the botany, and even the breeding process. One of the best reasons to go: You can buy bulbs to take home and plant in your own garden.