I love making daytrips to Amsterdam as it is only a one hour train ride away from where I live. Amsterdam internationally unfortunately has a rowdy reputation, which I understand but you can do so many cultural activities as well. These are some of my favorite activities in Amsterdam.  

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is my favorite museum in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh usually has a special exhibition going on. I love the special exhibitions as they give you a reason to visit the museum again (having already been many times). I visited the exhibition of David Hockney and how he was inspired by Van Gogh, which was super colorful and impressive. A ticket costs € 19 and a timeslot can be booked online. This does require some planning of your day, but you will be able to skip the line completely which saves a lot of time. The Van Gogh Museum also has a good restaurant, with views of the Museumplein, which is perfect for lunch.

Other museums at the Museumplein are Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk museum (modern art) and the MOCO museum (refer to below).

In spring you will find tulips at the Museumplein.

Moco Museum

The Moco museum is just a small museum, but it features great works by famous artists such as Banksy, Yayoi Kusama, Rothko, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. You can book tickets online from € 15,50, but I have to tell you that you can see the whole museum in an hour. When we visited they had a special exhibition with infinity rooms, which was super interesting. Read the full blog post on my visit here.

Canal views

I love strolling around the canals of Amsterdam. The canals are lovely in each season, so you can never go wrong with this. You will find the canals really close to the Museumplein, so it is perfect to combine a visit to the canals with a museum. If you like to do some shopping near the canals you could go to the Negen Straatjes (nine streets), where you will find a combination of boutique shops and popular brands. On a Saturday it gets really crowded here, so if you can I would suggest going on another day. There are some possibilities to rent a boat in Amsterdam, which I prefer to the sit down tour boats. During King’s day in the Netherlands (27 April) everybody gets dressed up in orange and takes their boat on the canals and there is a big party on the canals! This is a fun experience, but not if you like quietness and picturesque photo opps. If you are looking for a cool hotel with a canal view I would recommend staying at the Hoxton, you can find my blogpost about our stay here.

Hortus Botanicus

The Hortus Botanicus is the botanical garden of Amsterdam. The Hortus hosts a wide variety of plants and flowers, but I especially loved the glasshouses. They have two large glasshouses, one with palms inside and the other with cactei and some sort of tropical rainforest inside. You can walk over the rainforest on a footbridge, which creates some cool photo-opps. While I visited it was still a little cold outside, but in the Hortus glasshouses it was really hot (so don’t overdress like I did). The Hortus also has a cute café & terrace. Around Christmas time the Hortus lights up the glasshouses and you can visit in the evening. Check their facebook for the actual times. Tickets for the Hortus Botanicus cost € 9,75.

Jeu de Boules

In the Netherlands a lot of Jeu de Boules bars are rising up from the ground. I visited “Mooie Boules” (pretty balls) in Amsterdam, where you can hire a Jeu de Boule-lane, which is also a good spot for drinks. Make sure you make a reservation ahead in time as this is a really popular spot. Mooie Boules is located next to the Brewery ‘t IJ, where you can taste local craft beer in a Dutch windmill.

Drinks at the Amstel hotel

If you like a fancy experience you could go for drinks at the Amstel Hotel. I recently visited this beautiful hotel in combination with a dinnercruise. It was really cool to experience the hospitality of this beautiful historic hotel, without having to spend the night there (I mean having to pay for a room😊). Near the Amstel hotel you will have some of the best canal views (refer to below).

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival yearly takes place in December-January. With many cities having a light festival, Amsterdam couldn’t stay behind. It is very unfair to the other cities with a light festival, because the Amsterdam canals and the mansion houses offer the perfect backdrop for all the light installations which makes the sights even more spectacular and charming. I loved walking the Amsterdam lights route, but you can also see many installations while going on a boat tour. The walking route is for free, while the boat tour will set you back at least € 20 per person. Read my full blog post on Amsterdam lights here.

Ice Skating

From half of November – beginning of February the Museumplein hosts an ice skating rink. I rented ice skates and went for a little skate with Hielke. It is a very romantic sight with the Rijksmuseum in the background. There are lots of kids having fun in this very vibrant setting. I wasn’t disappointed as it actually was not too crowded to be able to skate. An afternoon of Ice Skating is the perfect activity to combine with the Amsterdam Light Festival.


The NDSM site is a former shipping wharf which is now being developed with street art and cool restaurants. It is very unlike the romantic Amsterdam that you usually see in pictures, but I loved the rawness and creativity in this place. As you can see in the pictures below there is an enormous artwork of Kobra with Anne Frank on the site, which was super impressive. We visited at the end of lockdown, while it was still pretty quiet at the wharf, but I heard it is very lively on the weekends. In the IJhallen you will find the largest flea market of Europe (check website for actual opening times). If you fancy staying in this area you can stay at the incredibly expensive Crane hotel, definitely original but not cheap at € 1.000 per night. NDSM is easily connected to the city center, as you can take the free ferry every 15 minutes.


Damrak is located in one of the most touristy areas of Amsterdam. To be honest I never gave it much attention as I don’t like the walk from the Central Station to Dam Square, but when I visited during lockdown I was finally able to appreciate these lovely canal houses. During tulip season this part of the city center is decorated with tulips. Will go back for a twirling shot next time.

Day trips

From Amsterdam you can easily do some day trips in the area. Bloemendaal is great if you want to visit the beach, read my blog about Bloemendaal and things to do in this area here. Broek in Waterland is one of the loveliest villages in The Netherlands, I highly recommend visiting, you can read my blogpost here. When you are visiting during tulip season a visit to the tulip fields in Lisse and the Keukenhof is a must. I have been many times and you can find my blogs here and here.

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