Bikes, coffee shops, and tulips are what first come to mind whenever Amsterdam pops into conversation. A beautiful and cosy city, the Dutch capital is a postcard dream: its colours, its canals, its fascinating mix of modern and traditional. It also happens to be one of the most touristic cities in western Europe, and some of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam are pretty crowded. That’s why I’ve prepared this travel guide to Amsterdam off the beaten path!
This beautiful city has so much to offer, but as with everywhere else, it’s all better when you make your way. I always step off the spots everyone visits to get a glimpse of locals’ everyday lives. Amsterdam is a relatively small city, so you can smoothly go from place to place on foot or on a bike as Amsterdammers do. As soon as you see Amsterdam off the beaten path, you’ll fall in love with it!
For more on this dreamy city, check out my other posts on the most fun things in Amsterdam: My Favorite 11 Boutique & Design Hotels in Town, Top 6 Trendy Restaurants, The 12 Most Cozy Breakfast Places. For more practical information about how to get here, how to book hotels and activities, you will find it all in the end of this post!
The 11 Most Fun Things to do in Amsterdam Off the Beaten Path
1. Enjoy that Jordaan Vibe
Jordaan is my favourite Amsterdam area, and since it’s barely outside of the city centre, it’s super easy to get there. Some of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam are here: a social area, it’s full of cafés, bars, and restaurants. Within the canal belt, it’s a lovely spot to spend lazy afternoons and evenings. This is where you find the true Amsterdam vibe and beauty with the canals liked by the cutest gingerbread houses but a step or two away from the most touristic areas.
Head to the area around Tweede Tuindwarsstraat for lots of small hip eateries where locals hang out. The best plan? Enjoying the sun at one of the many cafés by the canals. Café de Prins is a great choice. Or check out this incredible 3.5-Hour Food Tasting Tour of Jordaan from Get Your Guide!
2. Get Lost in the Canals at Grachtengordel West
While the canal belt is relatively popular with tourists, it’s not super crowded and still among the prettiest in town. For an authentic Amsterdam off the beaten path feel, head to the western side – and have your camera ready! The gingerbread houses-lookalikes along the canal are picture-perfect, and since it looks the same from block to block, it’s easy to get lost taking pics. Walk along the Prinsengracht street along the canal and take it all in!
Some of my favourite boutique hotels and shops are around this area, and so is De 9 Straatjes. It’ll be captivating wherever you look! For hotels check out the Canal House, The Dylan Hotel, or the Pulitzer Hotel.
For a romantic evening, check out this lovely 1.5-Hour Evening Canal Cruise!
3. Ride the Canals on a Private Boat
One of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam is surely riding on a boat – particularly when you have it all to yourself! Get away from crowds and get lost within the canals, seeing a wholly new and gorgeous perspective of town. Everything is prettier from this side, and seeing the houseboats from here is terrific. A popular alternative accommodation for Amsterdam, they can be very creative!
If you don’t dare to drive your boat, I highly recommend @boatamsterdam. They have smaller boats and excellent guides, all for a lovely experience. For an upscale cruise, why not book this 4-Course Dinner Cruise?
4. Bike Around Vondelpark & Rembrandtpark
If you would like to see Amsterdam off the beaten path, biking around is a must. They say there are more bicycles than people in the city! The perfect medium of transportation in town, most hotels rent out bikes, but there’s also a free alternative. Pedal away across town – but, most importantly, head to the parks!
Vondelpark is the biggest green area in town, and it’s a lovely place to explore by bike, particularly in the hotter months. Locals spend weekends and sunny days here, so it’s a beautiful place for people watching. There’s always something going on at Vondelpark, with lots of activities within the grounds and small lakes. There are also a few cafés, like darling little De Vondeltui, right inside the park.
Rembrandtpark isn’t very far, and while it doesn’t have quite as much going on, it’s a breath of fresh air from the city life.
See Vondelpark and many beautiful Amsterdam hidden corners like a local on this 3-Hour Bike Tour: Backstreets and Hidden Gems!
5. Hang Out with Trendy Locals at De Pijp
You’ll find some of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam in De Pijp, an up-and-coming area with hardly a tourist to see. With a hip and trendy vibe, there’s a flea market here that can easily be the start of a De Pjijp tour. What I enjoy most here is merely exploring the hoods – and then taking a break at the pretty Sarphati park!
Some of my fave local restaurants are here, like The Avocado Show, Omelegg and Massimo Gelato. You can read all about them in my Amsterdam Breakfast & Insta Cafe Post or taste the neighbourhood by yourself on this Private Food Tour with a Local!
For a great stay in De Pijp, check out Sir Albert Hotel, a creativity hotspot.
6. Have Coffee & Apple Pie at Insta-Ready Cafés
Truly enjoy Amsterdam off the beaten path by taking in one of the prime local activities: café life! This city is filled with beautiful cafés with delicious flavours, where you can enjoy a hot beverage and pie. Just be aware of the difference between a coffe shop and coffee house. The latter serve coffee while in the first one you can also order cannabis cakes etc!
Pluk is one of my favourite Amsterdam cafés, from its pastel-coloured and highly Instagrammable venue to its delicious food and drinks. SLA has several locations around the city, but the Rembrandt one is my fave – healthy food while surrounded by green. Blond might be the prettiest café in town: a pink gem that makes you feel like you’re invited to Barbie’s Sunday brunch. Schuurmanoomkensgrassotti, in front of The Tire Station, has some of the best apple pie I’ve ever tried. Piqniq is an attractive option for vegetarians and lovers of healthy food – plus, it’s just so cute!
Coffee shop culture is an essential part of Amsterdam’s life, and the city is oozing with incredible cafés. See it for yourself on this 2-Hour Coffee Shop Culture Tour!
7. Take the Boat to NDSM
One of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam is undoubtedly getting to know the spots that feel like local secrets – like NDSM. A former shipyard, this is now a cultural hotspot with lots of activities, including weekend festivals. This area holds a cool industrial vibe and have lots of amazing street art!
My favorite insta couple @tylerandtodd that I met during the Pride Festival took some truly cool photos when there. Check them out below and do not miss to follow their journey on Instagram and Youtube!
8. Visit Eclectic Foodhallen
For foodies, Foodhallen might be the coolest bit of Amsterdam off the beaten path. Once an old train station, it’s now a large food hall full of food stands from all over the world. Locals love it here, and with good reason – experience street food in an incredibly modern setting!
To stay near this foodie paradise, I highly recommend Hotel De Hallen!
9. Wine and Dine at Hip Eateries
One of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam is undoubtedly eating. Here are my 6 favourite trendy restaurants in town:
Every Flavour, All Over Town
Black & Blue. A steak place with incredible meat, the servings are simple and to the point. There’s a lot of care in keeping things uncomplicated here: just tasty meat and a great atmosphere!
La Olivia. A Basque bistro serving great tapas, it’s a fun and vibrant place to spend an evening. Here, you’ll be surrounded by cool people who know their way around food.
MaMa Kelly. A beautifully designed restaurant, this is like The Pink Panther meets art deco. Diner vibes, the upscale way – perfect for a girls’ night out!
Moer. A truly unique place, this is a place specializing in fully organic white dining. The venue was once an auto repair shop, and they’re now one of the Amsterdam leaders in serving organic, local products. A treat to the taste buds!
Lion Noir. A rustic spot serving French cuisine, the inside look of this place is kind of like an 18th-century Parisian palace. Meanwhile, the inner garden is like a little hidden haven that you wouldn’t imagine is even there. The food is delicious, including traditional French high-cuisine classics like oysters, caviar and tartar.
Foodhallen. As mentioned above, it’s quite the culinary experience: instead of a restaurant, a large food hall with flavours of the world. Incredible food stands and a hip, young crowd!
10. Find Your Cosy Boutique Hotel
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I have a big weakness: boutique hotels. Happily, seeing Amsterdam off the beaten path allowed me to get to know some of its amazing hotels. Some of my favourites are traditional with a twist Canal House, hidden gem The Dylan Hotel and local chain Conscious Hotels, particularly The Tire Station.
For my full list of 11 Incredible Luxury Boutique Hotels In Amsterdam, click here!
11. Walk the Steps of LGBTQI+ History
Amsterdam is not only one of the most gay-friendly cities on Earth; it’s also an essential part of LGBTQI+ history. You’ll find signs everywhere, from rainbow flags to the world’s first Homomonument memorial.
For those who want to see an Amsterdam event, I can wholeheartedly recommend the LGBT History Tour Amsterdam. I did it during my collaboration with KLM, and it was fascinating – and my tour guide was particularly fantastic!
If you like Pride Festivals, then Amsterdam is one that you can not miss. Truly unique one as it is a canal pride tour. The way they decorate the boats are just beyond any creativity you can imagine and the streets around the canals are the place for party all day long!
Unmissable Tourist Attractions
Here’s the thing – if a place is a popular tourist attraction, there’s a chance it’s worth seeing. Some of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam are pretty popular, so mentally prepare for crowds.
12. The Story of Anne Frank
A visit to Anne Frank House is on top of most of the lists of Amsterdam tourist attractions. A story that leaves no one without tears. Given the popularity, make sure you book your tickets in advance as the line is far out on the street and the tickets are sold out weeks in advance.
13. Get to Know the City Centre
Not part of Amsterdam off the beaten path at all, this area is where most tourists end up. It’s adorable and much nicer than many overcrowded city centres in western Europe. It’s a pretty small area, and you should be able to walk through it in just a few hours. Unmissable places include the Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, and the National Monument. To me, the coolest thing to do here, however, is seeing gingerbread houses just by the central station and taking beautiful snaps.
If you’re in town to shop, de Bijenkorf is the place to be!
14. Visit the Red Light District
As a woman, I’m not crazy comfortable writing about this area, but it is still easily the most crowded place in town. If you’re looking to tick this off the bucket list, just make sure you honor the girls and refrain from taking pictures!
The area in itself is surprisingly pretty cute, as it’s just around the canal. For a more in-depth look into this controversial side of town, check out this Amsterdam Red Light District & Coffee Shop Tour.
15. Smell the Flowers at Bloomenmarket
An iconic floating flower market, to me, it’s hardly one of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam. However, it’s the place with the highest concentration of flowers in town and lots of tourist shops to get souvenirs.
Get away from crowds and really experience the beautiful Dutch tulips with this Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Tour from Amsterdam!
16. Look Around Museum Square
Even if you’re not entering the actual museums, visiting the square is one of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam. The park is beautiful and, along with the Rijksmuseum, offers great photo ops. If you’re into art, the Van Gogh Museum is also around here, and it’s pretty cool. You can get an immersive look into this iconic Dutch artist with this tour of Footsteps of Van Gogh Tour and Van Gogh Museum!
If you’re passing through the area, it’s a pretty cool stop between Vondelpark and De Pijp.
Somewhat small for such a metropolitan city, cosy, and with a million things going on, Amsterdam is always close to my heart. Colorful, fun, and with something for everyone, I never get tired of how cute this city is. I hope you feel inspired to visit and love it as much as I do!
Travel with a Silver Lining Beyond the Most Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam
- For more on the lovely Dutch capital do not miss my posts on
- Looking for more off the beaten paths guides? Then do not miss my Moscow Hipster Guide, My Madrid Guide & my Melbourne Beyond the Crowd Guide.
- Read my top 3 posts: My Lisbon Instagram Guide, My Favorite Trendy Restaurants in Moscow, and my Amalfi Coast Photography Guide.
Booking Support & Input After Amsterdam off the Beaten Path
- Airline. KLM is The Netherlands’ national airline, and it’s always a joy to fly with them. Book your flight HERE!
- Flights. For great flight rates to Amsterdam and all over the world, try MOMONDO. Download their incredible travel app!
- Transfer. Skip lines and save time by booking your airport transfer in advance!
- Hotels. Find the Amsterdam hotel of your dreams through BOOKING.COM!
- Getting Around. As a relatively small city, it’s very easy to go from place to place by foot or bicycle. For longer distances, the Amsterdam metro is very modern and easy to understand.
- Guide. Get to know Amsterdam off the beaten path even better by hiring an actual local to be your guide around town through fun new service HI, HI!
- Tour. Find incredible Amsterdam experiences for all tastes through GET YOUR GUIDE. Check out their city guide below!
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