How to Tackle Amsterdam as a First Timer
With cultural landmarks, vast canals, and liberal coffeeshops to explore, it can be tricky to know where to start in Amsterdam. From money-saving cruises to must-try cuisine, here are our top tips for checking off the Dutch capital’s highlights—especially for first-timers.
Skip the Line at Must-See Museums
Amsterdam’s top museums are known for both their cultural content and long lines. Book skip-the-line entry in advance to spend less time queueing and more time admiring the work of Dutch masters in the Rijksmuseum or masterpieces by the Netherlands’ favorite son at the Van Gogh Museum.
Cruise on Canals
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a ride on its canals, which comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop-on hop-off boats save you money on city transport and provide prime views of the Skinny Bridge, Old Church, and more, while lunch or dinner cruises offer a more intimate experience on the romantic waterways.
Bike Like a Local
Saddle up and set off on a bike excursion to experience one of the world’s most cycling-crazy cities like a local. Follow a safe network of bike-friendly paths to cruise along canals, glide through Vondelpark, or head deeper into the suburban countryside, gaining an intimate glimpse of Dutch life along the way.
Discover Dutch Delicacies
While visiting the home of raw herring and decriminalized cannabis, every first-timer should immerse themselves in the city’s culture and cuisine. Join a tasting tour to sample a range of specialities, or opt to visit coffee shops with a guide for deeper insight into the country’s liberal legislation.
Sightsee in the Zaanse Schans
If you only have time for one day trip, the Zaanse Schans is a must. Near enough to the city to be ticked off in half a day, the historic neighborhood is known for its centuries-old windmills, traditional workshops, and tulip-filled fields.
Visit the Jewish Quarter and Anne Frank House
Learn about Jewish culture in Amsterdam and the city’s tragic wartime history on a tour of must-see monuments including the Jewish Historical Museum and National Holocaust Memorial, or vist the Anne Frank House, the canalside lodging where the teenage diarist spent her last years in hiding under Nazi occupation.