So, you think you’ve heard all there is to know about Amsterdam?
All the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll? Not to mention what David’s cousin’s friend’s sister got up to ‘that time in Amsterdam’ (ooooooh shock horror. But it is probably true…with a cherry on top). Nothing about what you’ve heard makes it an appropriate break for the kids or maybe hedonism just isn’t your cup of tea. But fear not, there is SO much more to see and do in this fascinating city while avoiding all that shizzle. So, if you’ve chosen not to visit for those reasons, let me tell you: you’re missing out BIG TIME.
Amsterdam can be whatever you want her to be; this stunning city offers something for everyone so here are just a few things to do aside from the madness:
The Cat Boat – De Poezenboot
As a cat lover, this is a favourite of mine. The only one of its kind in the world; this kitty haven is based in a houseboat on Singel and is a lovely little sanctuary caring for stray cats while they await their forever homes. In the meantime cuddles and donations from the public are highly appreciated. Back in 1966 Henriette van Weelde spotted a mother and her kittens under a tree near her home. She took them in and over time, more and more strays graced her with their presence. Before she knew it, her house was full to the brim with cats. The solution: if people lived on boats, why couldn’t cats? And the rest is history. It is only open 1pm-3pm Mon-Tues & Thurs-Sat to make sure the cats are fully cared for and not overwhelmed by prying visitors. You’ll be given the heads up of which ones you can touch and please don’t use your flash as it may startle them.
There is also Kattenkabinet – a museum related to everything feline. If you like the weird and wonderful you should definitely head here.
Albert Cuyp Market
Based in the trendy 19th century quarter De Pijp, Amsterdam’s “Quartier Latin” is the biggest street market in the Netherlands and one of the biggest in Europe. It’s all going on here; about 260 stalls line the street with clothes, gifts, fresh produce, cosmetics and whatever other random little finds you may spot with an exciting & buzzing vibe to boot. Here you will find freshly made stroopwafels and waffles with all the toppings you can imagine to feed your sugar cravings as well as many more savoury culinary delights to take off to the nearby Sarphati park and relax with a picnic. Open 9am-5pm Mon-Sat (closed Sunday)
NEMO Science Center
It had been a long time since I entered somewhere and truly felt like a little kid again, I couldn’t contain the excitement and if I had the time I would have probably stayed there all day! There are 12 different exhibitions across 5 floors and split into age categories, and is mainly aimed at children but I saw plenty of adults having the time of their lives! Most of the installations are interactive making it fun and entertaining as well as educational and exhibits vary including laboratory experiments, learn how to build a dam, see pieces from the Museum Vrolik Anatomical Museum and for the moody teenager there is a ‘teen facts’ section, helping them get to grips with their hormones with a few hilarious installations to bring a smile to their faces! Open 10am-5.30pm, free with an I amsterdam City Card.
If you like this place, head across to Het Scheepvaartmuseum (National Maritime Museum) where hours of fun awaits.
This is probably an obvious one but the best way to see Amsterdam is from the water. There are plenty of options to choose from including private hire, hop-on/hop-off tickets, 1 hour long tours (included on the I amsterdam City Card), private dining, pedalo hire and various other options. There is something for all budgets and needs and you can buy tickets at various outlets across the city, the main one being in front of Centraal Station.
Wander aimlessly and explore Jordaan & the UNESCO World Heritage 17th century canal ring
This is a place I love getting lost in frequently and there is never a wasted moment. Wander the cobbled streets, look up, look down, look around and take in all the beauty this area has to offer. For the shopper there are various interesting little boutique shops and quirky art galleries or if you would rather rest your weary feet, sit at one of the canal side café’s and sip some of the best beer or coffee you’ve ever tasted while watching the world go by. It has an easy bohemian vibe and there is plenty to explore. Head along the canals Keizergracht, Herengracht and Prinsengracht to explore the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage 17th century canal ring and admire the fascinating tall and often wonky architecture and bridges.
Get an I amsterdam City Card
This is a great buy that gives you free GVB public transport, a free 1 hour canal cruise, entry into many museums and discounts on other attractions, restaurants and bars. If you plan on going to at least a handful of places with free or discounted entry, it is definitely worth it although consider it further if you only planning on going to one or two museums and don’t intend on using transport. Without this card, many places allow children in for free but adult tickets can be quite pricey so have a look and see what suits your needs and budget.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on all day; there are plenty more things to do in Amsterdam while avoiding the stereotypical activities – so what are you waiting for – start planning!
Disclaimer: I amsterdam kindly gave me an I amsterdam City Card on a recent work research trip to Amsterdam – I have not been asked nor am I being compensated for any opinion or review I give. As always, opinions are totally my own.
Have you got any suggestions of things to do in Amsterdam? I’d love to hear them!