Who rocks the house? Amsterdam rocks the house, that’s who. But, if you’ve ever been to this beyond magical city before, then you might actually want to get off the well-trodden, tourist trail and see some of the most fabulous, Amsterdam hidden gems that you ever did see.
So, you uber-cool kids you, feel free to leave those selfie sticks at home because we’re about to get down and dirty with one hella epic list of the most unusual things to do in Amsterdam.
Okay. Truth be told, we’re probably not going to get THAT dirty since this isn’t THAT type of blog. Yeah, all of the activities listed here are pretty PG.
However, they are all most definitely non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam. And trust me, that means a whole heck of a lot coming from someone who has been to Amsterdam dozens of times.
So, if my vibrant descriptions and wickedly wonderful wordage have piqued your interest even a little bit (and I pray to God that it has because if it hasn’t then I suck at my job), then come with me. Because we’re about to hardcore, cannonball into this alternative Amsterdam guide.
A guide brimming over expert tips and tricks that are designed to help you make the most out of your trip to Amsterdam. You know, so that you can avoid all too common mistakes, like the ones listed in this post right here (Hint, hint, Stop whatever you’re doing right now and read this beyond useful post. Yes dear reader, we more commonly refer to this as shameless, self-promotion in “the biz”).
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Looking for one of the best hotels in Amsterdam? Then definitely check out Hotel Okura or Citizen M Amsterdam (if you’re looking for luxury), Hotel Van Gogh (I stayed here and it was nice. It was located right near the Van Gogh Museum, had single occupancy rooms, included a nice breakfast spread, and was pretty reasonably priced. At least for Amsterdam. LOL.) if you’re looking for a mid-range hotel), or the Pulitzer Hotel (A fly AF, lovely beyond belief boutique hotel that I wish I could afford to stay at). But hotels in Amsterdam tend to be pricy and fill up fast so book your hotel room WAY in advance!***
Before We Dive into this List of Amazing Amsterdam Hidden Gems, I Bet You’re Wondering, Should I get the I Amsterdam City Card?
Yeah, this is something that everyone always asks me about any time I even utter the word “Amsterdam”. And although other people may have an entirely different experience, I personally loved and used the “you know what” out of my I Amsterdam City Card.
So, if this is your first time in Amsterdam, then I would highly recommend purchasing an I Amsterdam City Card right now!
I mean, not only does the I Amsterdam City Card give you free, unlimited access to the city’s extensive public transportation system (Not that I used it a lot since Amsterdam is a super walkable city. But, hey, it’s still a nice option to have just in case you don’t feel like walking) but it also includes a free canal cruise (hell to the yeah), as well as access to over 60, world-class museums.
And no, I’m not talking about lame AF, Amsterdam attractions that you’d never actually really want to see. I’m referring to super cool, uber-iconic attractions that everyone wants to add to their Amsterdam itinerary.
You know, incredibly famous places like Foam (Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam), Museum Het Rembrandthuis (Rembrandt House Museum), Rijksmuseum, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje (Museum of Bags and Purses. Trust me, it’s really cool.), the Van Gogh Museum,
Museum Van Loon, and so much more.
Actually, come to think of it, the I Amsterdam City Card is still worth getting even if it’s not your first time in Amsterdam. Because in addition to enjoying free access to all of the places mentioned above, you’ll also get either a 25% discount or free food/drinks from a verity of partners (For the full list, click here right now).
So yeah, there’s really no downside to purchasing the I Amsterdam City Card. Especially since you can select different cards based on the amount of time that you plan on spending in the city.
Therefore, all you need to do is choose between 24, 48, 72, 96, and 120-hour cards that range in price from $76.43 to $152.83 each.
Okay yeah, I know that sounds like a lot of money, But, when you consider the fact that admission to many of these attractions costs at least €20.00 per person, you can quickly see how the I Amsterdam City Card will save you a ton of money. Especially if you plan on spending multiple days in the city.
That’s why, if you only listen to one thing I have to say in this entire post, then let this be it. Because I bought an I Amsterdam City Card, absolutely loved it, and would happily purchase another one the next time I’m in the Netherlands.
Okay, enough about the dang card. Let’s quickly move on to some of the coolest Amsterdam hidden gems in existence.
Free Amsterdam Hidden Gems
1. Tony’s Chocolonely Superstore
By: Samantha of Sam Sees World
Amsterdam is an amazing city full of quirky and unusual things to do. And because many tourists gravitate towards the popular and famous attractions, they miss out on all of the wonderful other amazing things to do in the city.
One of these amazing, Amsterdam hidden gems is none other than the iconic, Tony Chocolonely Superstore – a brand of chocolate bars that was developed and produced in the Netherlands.
This brand also fights for ethical chocolate and works as a 100% slave-free chocolate company.
However, beyond their inspiring story and admirable brand ethics, the chocolate they produce is amazing! And even though you can get it in stores around the world, there really is nothing quite like sampling it at the Tony Chocolonely Superstore.
Because walking inside the Tony Chocolonely Superstore makes you feel as though you’re walking into a variation of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The store is full of chocolate in every flavor imaginable and even features a chocolate-making machine!
However, the real appeal of one of the best Amsterdam hidden gems out there are the walls full of free chocolate samples! Here you will find huge chunks of chocolate in every flavor imaginable. So, taste as much free chocolate as you please and enjoy flavors like salted caramel, pretzel, pecan coconut, and more.
Because while you’re here, you have the freedom to eat as much chocolate as you want. That’s why this is one of the best places to visit during winter in Amsterdam. You can escape the cold and satiate your sweet tooth at the same time!
However, the best thing about this superstore is that it is hidden in plain sight and is just a short, 2-minute walk from Central Station. It’s also a great place to sample some of the best desserts in Amsterdam.
Address: Oudebrugsteeg 15, 1012 JN Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take almost any tram in the city to Central Station and walk to the store from there.
Price: Free (Unless you want to buy something)
2. Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
By: Kat of Wandering Bird
Looking for unusual things to do in Amsterdam? If so then head to Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, a gorgeous little street that runs through the southern quadrant of the city, right along Prinsengracht and Herengracht canals.
This street is lined with quaint antique shops and cute traditional townhouses – both of which make this a pretty street to visit and a great place to take some photos, But, the charming shops are what really make this place special.
Some of favorites of which include:
- Thom & Lenny Neils Antique – Home to a vast collection of medical instruments, dissection kits, dental tools, and apothecary jars that date back hundreds of years. It’s interesting (and a bit terrifying!) to see how medicine and medical equipment have changed.
- Staetshuys Antiquairs – This store is brimming over with globes, telescopes, planetariums, telluriums, and lots of other nautical and scientific instruments.
- Toussaint Bonnet – Known for their assortment of stunning, antique furniture that dates back hundreds of years.
- Kramer Art & Antiques – Sells a wide variety of gorgeous, ceramic tiles that make the perfect Amsterdam souvenir.
- KattenKabinet – Brimming over with cat-inspired art.
Additionally, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is also home to several amazing, contemporary art galleries that feature exclusive collections from iconic artists like Banksy and Picasso.
Along with its reputation for exquisite antique shops and art galleries, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is also known for having one of the largest second-hand clothing stores in Amsterdam, a shop that sells everything from military jackets to Ralph Lauren button-down shirts!
After all this shopping though, you’ll obviously want to sit down. And this is the perfect place to do so since there are plenty of lovely cafes and lunch spots in the area, including Stach, which is known for its delicious homemade sandwiches and delicious coffee.
***And if you don’t have an excessive amount of confidence in your personal, navigational capabilities, then you can always join this nifty little, 2-hour guided walking tour through central Amsterdam. I mean, for a mere $11.76 per person, this tour will introduce you to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, show you how locals live, and even explain the fascinating history behind one of the most liberal cities in Europe. So, strap on your walking shoes, you insanely cool travelers you, because this walking tour will take you to Dam Square, the New Church, the National Monument, the Old Jewish Quarter, Central Staton, the world-famous Red Light District, and more.***
3. Visit Begijnhof
By: Cloe of Chloe’s Travelogue
Amsterdam is one of the most liberal and wonderfully tolerant cities in the world.
So, when you envision Amsterdam, you might think of people smoking weed or throwing a rowdy bachelor party in the red light district.
But, did you know that there is a secluded, religious community that sits within close proximity to some of these less than savory activities?
Locally known as Begijnhof, it was traditionally a Catholic women’s community that dates all the way back to the 14th century. And although there are no Beguine (AKA women of the Catholic sisterhood) living here today, it is still one of the oldest and most traditional communities in the city.
And luckily for you, this private community is open to the public. So, meander through this enchanting courtyard and discover a small private garden that is surrounded by historic homes and two churches, where visitors are invited to attend Mass.
So, as you stroll along some of Amsterdam’s famed canal streets, be sure to swing by Begijnhof, a peaceful historic community that is one of the many nontouristy things to do in Amsterdam.
Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 373, 1012 RM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take tram number 2 or 12 to Spui station and walk to the courtyard from there. Or, you could take the metro line 52 to Rokin station and walk from there.
4. Take a Dip in the Hot Tubs on the Roof of the Volkshotel
By: Lara of Both Feet on the Road
Are you looking for one of the more unusual things to do in Amsterdam? If so, then why not admire a gorgeous, panoramic view of the city from a plush, uber-relaxing jacuzzi?
And did I mention? It’s totally free and one of the first things I did when I visited Amsterdam. See, my friends took me to the rooftop of the Volkshotel and told me to bring my bathing suit and a towel.
Now, I was a bit mystified at first but was delighted to find a hidden oasis filled with hot tubs and one, slightly tiny sauna. The Badplaats (as it’s called in Dutch) is open to non-guests of the hotel every Sunday between 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm and is completely free of charge.
However, as you probably already guessed, the Badplaats can get quite crowded. So, I would try and arrive as early as possible. Or, just embrace the fact that you’ll be sharing these hot tubs and incredible views with a ton of other people.
Also, because these hot tubs are located on the roof, there is no ceiling or roof to protect you from less than stellar weather. So, be sure to check the weather before you head up to the Badplaats.
And if you feel a bit hungry after chilling in a hot tub and admiring all of those incredible views, then head over to Canvas. It’s the rooftop bar of the hotel and is a great place to try some traditional Dutch food like bitterballen, kaassouflees, and stamppot.
***FYI, If you have the budget for it, the Volkshotel makes a really nice place to stay. Not only is it centrally located and swank AF, with the aforementioned panoramic views and rooftop hot tubs, but the rooms here start at just $100 per night. They are also well-appointed with flat-screen TVs, cozy beds, and beautiful, ultra-modern bathrooms.***
Address: Wibautstraat 150, 1091 GR Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: The Badplaats is open to the public every Sunday between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: From Central Station, you can take tram number 54 to Wibautstraat Station and walk to the hotel from there.
Price: Free (Otherwise, rooms here start at around $100 per night)
5. Visit Happy Bookleman
By: Laura of What’s Hot?
A visit to Happy Bookieman is easily one of the most fun and unusual things to do in Amsterdam. Because even though this quirky little shop appears on some lists of Amsterdam bookshops, it is no ordinary bookstore.
Because believe it or not, Happy Bookleman actually sits inside a man’s private home. See Steve, AKA the Happy Bookieman, is kind enough to open his doors to any fellow book lovers out there who want to come in for a chat and maybe even buy something from his shelves – which are typically overflowing with books.
That’s probably because Steve is one of the friendliest and most outgoing men that I have ever met. That’s why it’s fun to while away the hours by chatting with him about his past adventures and yours. He seems to truly love talking to new people and learning about them.
There are also no “opening hours” as such. So, if you stop by and Steve happens to be home, he will be more than willing to invite you in to see his vast collection of books. And throughout the summer months, you’ll often find the doors left open and a table outside that is brimming over with books.
Additionally, you’ll love the fact that his home is conveniently located within some of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals. So, if you’re exploring this part fo the city, try knocking on his door to see if he’s at home. This way, you can have a nice little chat and browse through his vast collection of English and Dutch books.
***Please note that this isn’t really a typical “shop”. Therefore, you will need some cash if you’d like to buy something and you will also need to be incredibly respectful since this is a man’s personal home.***
Address: Herengracht 267A, 1016 BJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Vary based on whether the owner is home or not.
How to Get There: The shop is just a 13-minute walk away from Amsterdam Central Station.
Price: Free (Unless you buy something. In which case, you will need cash)
6. Visit Albert Cuyp Market
By: Anca of Dream, Book, and Travel
Albert Cuyp Market is not only the city’s most well known and beloved market, where locals, students, and tourists alike come for a taste of authentic Amsterdam culture, but it is also one of the biggest in Europe.
Located in a residential neighborhood that is a bit off the beaten path, Albert Cuyp market features more than 260 vendors who sell fresh vegetables, fruits, cheeses, meats, bread, accessories, clothes, flowers, and fabrics.
Traditional treats such as fresh herring and stroopwafel are also available and at affordable prices that will make even the most hard-to-please shoppers want to stop and search for a bargain or two.
Historically, the market has been in operation since 1905 and is located inside the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam. Over time though, the “de Pijp” neighborhood has evolved into a popular, lively, and altogether “happening” part of the city. That’s why this iconic market fits in well with the atmosphere of creativity and youthfulness that proliferates here.
So, if you have some extra time on your hands, then explore many of the artisan shops and cozy cafés that typify this part of the city. And if you decide to spend a beautiful spring weekend in Amsterdam, then you can actually walk the 2 km from the city center to Albert Cuyp and pass by Amsterdam landmarks, like the Rijksmuseum, as you experience one of our favorite Amsterdam hidden gems.
Address: Albert Cuypstraat, 1073 BD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take tram number 4 to Amsterdam, Frederiksplein and walk to the market from there. Or, you could take Metro 52 to De Pijp station and walk to the market from there.
Price: Free (Unless you want to buy something)
7. Swimming in the Amstel River
By: Laura of Laura No Esta
Last year, the Netherlands experienced a record high temperature: of 39.2 °C (or 102°F). Something that is a bit unusual for such a rainy and grey country. So, the people in Amsterdam did what they could with what they had and went to the Amstel River for a nice, relaxing swim.
So, if you’re looking for some non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam and are here during the summer, then take a swim in the picturesque, Amstel river.
And while there are many designated swimming areas along the river, one of my favorite places to go is in Weesperzijde. This spot is close to the rowing club, the water is clean, it’s not super crowded, and you’ll typically find mostly locals here. Plus, swimming here is completely legal and absolutely allowed.
But, if you’re at all concerned, feel free to visit the Waternet website and see exactly where you can and cannot go “wild” swimming along the river.
So, bring your swimsuit and enjoy one of the most relaxing and unforgettable Amsterdam hidden gems out there.
Amsterdam Hidden Gems Up to €10.00
8. Try Space Brownies at an Amsterdam CoffeeShop
By: Valentina of Valentina’s Destinations
Dutch CoffeeShops are a unique feature of Amsterdam culture. They also provide you with the perfect opportunity to taste and experience something new while traveling.
Because believe it or not, Dutch Coffeeshops actually first sprung up in the 1970s. Scandalous, right? At this time, the Netherlands hoped to decriminalize marijuana and other “soft drugs” so that they could focus more time on policing “hard drugs”, like heroin.
Interestingly enough, the sale of marijuana is still illegal in the Netherlands. It’s just not punishable. As a result, Dutch CoffeeShops can’t advertise, sell above a certain quantity of marijuana, or sell to anyone under 18. An attitude towards CoffeeShops that reflects the overall practicality and high level of tolerance that most locals possess.
However, the only way you can really understand local CoffeeShop culture is to visit one for yourself! And while you’re there, definitely try a Space Brownie or an edible treat that contains marijuana. It’s a popular way to experience a marijuana high without actually smoking it. Plus, each CoffeeShop makes its own unique version of the Space Brownie. So, you can try a few and see which one you like the best.
That being said though, edibles are sneaky (meaning they take a while to kick in) and they’re strong (meaning the high can hit you hard). So, do be careful.
But, luckily for you, there are plenty of coffee shops all over Amsterdam where you can sample some, like Boerejongens. It’s a highly respected CoffeeShop that has a few different locations all across the city. They’re known for serving much more than a traditional Space Brownie since all of their edibles are artfully crafted and totally delicious.
Although, no matter which coffee shop you choose, you’re sure to have a truly unique experience in Amsterdam.
Address: Utrechtsestraat 21, 1017 VH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 7:00 am to 12:45 am. Except on Saturday and Sunday when the shop opens at 9:00 am.
How to Get There: Take Metro line 52 to Rokin station and walk from there. Or, you can take bus number 54, get off at Waterlooplein, and walk to the sop from there.
9. Visit the Pipe Museum
By: Mikkel of Sometimes Home
There are always some new and exciting Amsterdam hidden gems to visit whenever we return to the city.
But the more times you visit, the more you seek out unusual things to do in Amsterdam. Which is not a problem since this Dutch city is full of wonderful surprises.
On our third trip to The Netherlands, we decided to get one card that would save us money – the I Amsterdam City Card. It proved to be a helpful resource that opened our eyes to attractions that we didn’t even know existed, like the Pipe Museum.
The museum is housed inside a centuries-old home that sits along the Prinsengracht canal, in the heart of the city. The tall brownstone alone is worth seeing with its gorgeous chandeliers and priceless ornate, wooden furniture.
But, step inside and you’ll discover an impressive collection of hand-carved, clay, and even beaded pipes. Historic artifacts that are all part of the home owner’s private collection. There’s even a smoke shop downstairs, near the museum entrance, where you can stop and relax after touring the museum.
The people who work here are also avid, pipe enthusiasts who are incredibly knowledgeable about the pieces in the museum.
So, take some time (maybe between 30 and 60 minutes) to explore one of our favorite Amsterdam hidden gems. You’ll see case after case filled with hundreds of interesting pipes. Specimens that you’ll enjoy even if you’re not a smoker but merely someone who appreciates art and history.
Address: Prinsengracht 488, 1017 KH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There:Take tram number 12 to Amsterdam Prinsengracht station and walk to the museum from there.
10. Visit Electric Ladyland
By: Emma of The World by Emstagram
Without a doubt, one of the most unusual things to do in Amsterdam is to visit ‘Electric Ladyland’ – the first and only museum in the world that is dedicated entirely to fluorescent art.
This small, but unique attraction is found in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam and is just a 5-minute walk from the Anne Frank house.
Founded in 1999, Electric Ladyland is owned and operated by Nick Padalino, who leads guided tours of the museum and enthusiastically welcomes visitors to share his love of fluorescent art.
Upon entering the museum, you’ll find yourself inside Nick’s shop, where you can purchase his art and various information booklets.
Afterward, you can go downstairs and take a guided tour of the building, which features a ‘participatory art’ area where you can interact with the displays and take tons of amazing photos.
Throughout the tour, you’ll also learn about the presence of fluorescence in the natural world and how basic minerals that look grey and ‘boring’ to the naked eye can actually reveal a dazzling array of colors when placed under ultraviolet light.
Yes, Nick’s enthusiasm for fluorescent art is so ever-present throughout the Electric Ladyland experience that it is almost contagious. That’s why this is one of many Amsterdam hidden gems that are well worth your time.
Address: Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, 1015 TB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take tram number 13 to Westermerkt station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: €5.00 per ticket.
11. Stop by the TonTon Club
By: Tom and Zi of Craving Adventure
Do you like going retro? If so, then hit up the TonTon Club, a bar in Amsterdam that is known for its awesome selection of craft beers and delicious, fusion, Japanese/American dishes.
So, just imagine a plate of sushi served to you with a giant milkshake on the side. Or, enjoy a delicious, ramen burger with a Japanese whiskey as a chaser. And if all these eclectic combinations are a bit too weird for you, then don’t worry. The TonTon Club also has plenty of conventional dishes for you to choose from.
However, the real reason that tourists and locals both flock to this veritable playground for adults is to check out their game hall full of vintage Japanese and American arcade games. It’s a veritable playground for adults where you can try your hand at Street Fighter, play a bit of Air Hockey, set a high score on the pinball machines, or show off your dance skills while playing Dance Dance Revolution.
They even have some weird Japanese button-bashing games that no one really understands, and that you win by smashing the buttons really hard? Or the most? Yeah, we haven’t quite figured that part out yet.
But, what we have figured out is that the TonTon Club is incredibly fun and one of the best Amsterdam hidden gems out there.
There are also three different TonTon Club locations in Amsterdam, one in the Red Light District, one in Westerpark, just north-west of the city center, and one in the western part of the city (this is also their biggest location).
And while you can easily walk right in, especially if you just want to try out some of their arcade games, I’d recommend making a reservation, via their website, if you’d like to sit down for either lunch or dinner.
Address: Polonceau-kade 27, 1014 DA AMSTERDAM
Hours: Open Monday through Thursday, and Sunday, from 1:00 pm to 1:00 am and Friday and Saturday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 am.
How to Get There: Take bus number 21 from Amsterdam Central Station to the Van Hallstraat stop and walk to the club from there.
Price: You can buy game tokens for €1.00 each or buy 6 for €5.00.
12. Explore the Royal Palace at Dam Square
By: Maartje of The Orange Backpack
In fact, this attraction is so unique, that many Dutch people don’t even know that the King’s official reception palace is actually open to visitors! It’s also centrally located in the heart of the Dutch capital, right near Central Station and within close proximity to the famous Anne Frank Museum.
Additionally, this alternative Amsterdam attraction is hidden in plain sight since there is no monumental entrance, and the building’s façade, although beautiful, is somewhat somber and unassuming when compared to many of the other grand palaces in Europe.
A fact that makes infinitely more sense once you realize that the Palace wasn’t originally designed as a royal residence. In fact, it was initially a Town Hall that was created to reflect Dutch grandeur, opulence, and wealth during the Golden Age. Motifs that become obvious when you step inside the impressive central hall, which is decorated with marble, sculptures, and exquisite chandeliers. These are all attributes of the building that symbolize the great wealth and power of Amsterdam during the Golden Age when the city became an epicenter for European trade.
Later, it was transformed into a palace when the French emperor Napoleon occupied the present-day Netherlands. Even today, the Royal Palace is still used by the royal family. The former queen even signed her abdication documents here and King Willem-Alexander still routinely welcomes royal guests and foreign leaders at the Palace.
And the rest of the year? Well, the Royal Palace is open to visitors and is one of the many amazing Amsterdam hidden gems that you must visit during your next trip to the city.
Be forewarned that because of the pandemic. you must buy your tickets in advance, online if you want to experience the Royal Palace at Dam Square for yourself. I’d also opt for this ticket right here, which includes a free audio guide that will provide you with detailed information about the building itself – allowing you to better appreciate everything that you’re looking at.
Otherwise, under normal circumstances, you can easily get a ticket to the Palace upon arrival,
Address: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147, 1012 RJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
How to Get There: The palace is a short 15-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station. Otherwise, you could take tram 13 or 7 to Dam station and walk to the palace from there.
Price: You MUST book tickets in advance, which are €10.00 per adult, right now because of the pandemic. Otherwise, you can easily get tickets at the Palace ticket counter.
13. Stop by San Marco Pizzeria: The World’s Only, Boat Through Pizza Place
By: Kelli of The Vanabond Tales
Having lived in Amsterdam for over three years, I can honestly say that there is no better way to experience the beauty of the canals and the charm of the old city than from the water.
And one of my favorite things to do while on the water is to grab a hot, crispy, and delicious pizza along Amstel Canal.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. How can devouring pizza along Amstel Canal possibly be one of the most unusual things to do in Amsterdam?
Well, leave it to The Netherlands to transform a standard drive-through into a canal-friendly, boat-through. So, if you only take one boat ride in the Netherlands, then let it be through the world’s only boat-through pizza place!
Plus, you’ll be delighted to know that San Marco Pizzeria also serves up some wonderfully delicious, reasonably priced pizzas. All of which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your very own boat.
Yes, life really doesn’t get any better than sitting on a boat, enjoying tasty pizza, admiring picturesque canals, and watching awe-inspiring sunsets. Seriously, what more could you want out of your trip to Amsterdam?
And don’t let the fact that you don’t have a boat deter you from eating here. Because renting a boat in Amsterdam is fairly easy to do. Especially at Mokumboot, which offers visitors either two or four-hour boating experiences that give you plenty of time to cruise along the canals and enjoy a slice of pie at one of the many hidden gems of Amsterdam.
Address: Amstelkade 148 A, 1078 AW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 4:00 pm to 10:30 pm, except on Sundays when the pizzeria is open until 12:00 am.
How to Get There: You can commandeer a boat here or take the metro (52) to De Pijp Station and walk to the pizza place from there.
Price: A Margherita pizza is €8.50 while a Vegetarian or American pizza is €10.00.
***Looking to experience even more foodie-related fun? Then why not try this 3-hour secret food tour through Amsterdam? I haven’t done it myself but it’s definitely high on my alternative Amsterdam bucket list since it has gotten great reviews and is a fun and exciting way to try all sorts of local, Dutch foods. Tasty treats that are created by small, family-run businesses that you can actually feel good about supporting. Along the way, you’ll also learn about the history behind all of the foods you taste, including Poffertjes (traditional Dutch pancakes), Dutch cheese, herring, and kibbling. Sure, this tour ain’t exactly cheap at $92.36, but whatevs. You’re on vacation, so why not splurge a little? I mean, how many times are really going to visit Amsterdam? Exactly, glad we agree on the important things in life.***
Amsterdam Hidden Gems Between €10.00 and €20.00
By: Vaibhav of The Wandering Vegetable
Ever imagined what the world would look like if it was 25 times smaller? If so, then your dreams have just become a reality at Madurodam, a miniature park that is often referred to as a “mini-Holland” of sorts.
Located in the Hague, this park is one of the hidden gems in Amsterdam that features miniature replicas of famous Dutch landmarks and cities that are made at a scale of 1:25. It truly is one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam and is the perfect addition to any Europe itinerary.
The park, built by Mrs. B. Boon-van der Starp, is named after George Maduro, a Dutch war hero who fought valiantly against the Nazis during the Second World War. The park’s design was inspired by a miniature park in England and was implemented by architect S.J. Bouma.
One inside the park, you’ll see a mini Dutch town that features impressive miniature replicas of airports, tulip fields, iconic monuments, windmills, government buildings, the famous Dutch canal network, etc. Pieces that have been exquisitely designed and that are awe-inspiring to behold since there is such close attention to detail.
Additionally, while walking through this fascinating town, you’ll learn about the history of Holland in a fun and interactive way. Because the way in which the streets, people, and trees have all been scaled down makes you feel a bit like a dinosaur.
There is also a separate play area for children, as well as various food stalls, restrooms, a souvenir shop, and an on-site cafe, and restrooms. Whatever you do though, do not leave without enjoying a beer and sitting in the site’s miniature shoe model.
Because although this place may be unusual, it’s definitely worth a visit and one of the more alternative Amsterdam things to do. Also, do yourself a favor and book your tickets in advance. This way, you can avoid long wait times at the ticket counter.
Address: George Maduroplein 1, 2584 RZ Den Haag, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: You can take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to Den Haag Central Station. Once there, board the number 9 tram, ride it for 6 stops, and get off at the Den Haag, Madurodam station. You can then walk to the park from here. In total, it will take about an hour and a half to get there.
Price: €17.50 per adult. However, groups of four can get discounted tickets for €14.50 each, while children under 2 are free.
15. Visit Micropia
By: Rob of Roam Yonder
When you plan a trip to Amsterdam, learning all about microbes is probably at the very bottom of your to-do-list.
But, that is exactly what you can, and should, do at Micropia.
Situated inside Artis, the zoological in the center of Amsterdam, this museum all about microbes is extremely accessible and is actually the only museum of its kind in the entire world.
Something that really isn’t all that surprising since humans can’t even see microbes with the naked eye.
However, that doesn’t mean that Micropia isn’t a fantastically interesting museum. Because in 2016, it was actually crowned the most innovative and ground-breaking museum in all of Europe.
So, step inside Micropia and learn about all of the fascinating things that microbes can do, like move extremely quickly, lift incredibly heavy things (at least for microbes), and survive under some of the most extreme conditions on the planet,.
Plus, there is a wealth of fun and interactive exhibits here that include the ‘Kiss-o-meter’ (it counts the number of microbes transferred during a kiss), the body scanner (it shows you the type of microbe that live on your body) and even a real, working laboratory (complete with white lab coats).
Sure, it might not be the first museum that you think of when visiting the Netherlands, but it is a fun and interesting place to spend an afternoon. A fact that easily makes this one of the best Amsterdam hidden gems out there.
Address: Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take tram number 14 to Amsterdam Artis and walk to the museum from here.
Price: Tickets are €16.00 for adults and €14.00 for children under 10.
16. Visit a Secret Church Hidden in an Attic
By: Nicholas of Rambling Feet
Not everyone who visits Amsterdam’s famous red-light district realizes that there is another church in the area, other than Oude Kerk.
Locally known as Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, or the Church of Our Lord in the Attic in English, this quaint little church is hidden away in the attic of a picturesque canal house.
See, it was built in the days when Catholics could worship only in secret in the Netherlands. That’s why there are no outward markings to indicate that this building is actually a church.
So, when you walk inside this modern museum, you’ll find a series of lower floors that are furnished to reflect the former owner’s incredible wealth.
Next, continue upstairs and you’ll discover a secret staircase–the same one that worshippers used centuries ago– that takes you into an upstairs church. A small but charming, medieval church that features a high altar, painted altarpieces, various confessionals, and even a proper pipe organ!
However, do try and avoid long wait times by purchasing your tickets in advance, which include access to fabulous audio guides that are available in multiple languages.
Trust me, there is plenty to learn here. And an audio guide will provide you with invaluable information while allowing you to explore the museum at your own pace.
Also, do come prepared to climb steep narrow stairs (unfortunately, the upper floors are not wheelchair-accessible).
And if you feel so inclined, you can attend mass in the hidden church in the attic on the first Sunday of every month.
Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: It’s about a 10-minute walk to the museum from Amsterdam Central Station.
Price: Adult tickets are €12.50 each (get your tickets here now).
17. Enjoy Beer tasting at Arendsnest
By: Bruna of Maps ‘N Bags
Are you into beer?
No, I mean good beer. Like real, authentic, Dutch beer. Because if so then Arendsnest will be right up your alley. See, at Arendsnest they serve some of the best and most authentic Dutch alcohol that you’ll find while staying in Amsterdam.
But, “what is so special about this place”, you might wonder. Well, this beer cafe specializes in serving only the finest of Dutch alcohols. So, imagine a wide array of gin, cider, liquor, and real craft beer (no Heineken) as far as the eye can see – all of which is made right here in the Netherlands.
Therefore, it’s one of the many fantastic Amsterdam hidden gems where you can stop and learn more about the Netherlands and the fine assortment of liquors that they produce here.
Friendly staff members are also happy to help perhaps not-so-knowledgeable customers choose between the over fifty, local Dutch beers that are on tap here. Beers that pair perfectly with all of the delicious snacks that are found on the restaurant’s extensive food menu, like sausage and cheese. After all, this is the Netherlands and you can’t really leave the country without tasting some delicious, local cheese.
And if you can, do try and stop by on Monday ar 6:00 pm (they also host one at 4:00 pm on Fridays and at 2:00 pm on Saturdays), when Arendsnest holds its weekly, Dutch beer tasting event. However, this event is quite popular among locals, so be sure to make online reservations before attending.
***If you’re a real beer enthusiast, then you could also try this fantastic, 3-hour, Amsterdam beer walking tour with a local. Tickets are $66 per person, which, I’ll admit, is a bit steep. However, during this one-of-a-kind walk through Amsterdam’s historic brewing industry, you’ll get to see where Amsterdam’s original Heineken building was, learn exactly how local beer flavors have been made, stop by some of the city’s most famous boutique bars and breweries, and stop by some local beer halls that have upwards of 200 beers for you to choose from.***
Address: Herengracht 90, 1015 BS
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am, except on Fridays and Saturdays when the bar is open until 2:00 am.
How to Get There: Take tram number 2 to Nieuwezijds Kolk station and walk to the bar from here.
Price: Most beers here cost between €7.50 and €15.00 each.
18. Grab a Bite to Eat at Pilek
By: Darek of DarekandGosia.com
Without a doubt, Amsterdam is one of the best cities to visit in Europe. Because between famous museums and vibrant tulip fields, this museum really does have something for everyone.
And one of my favorite Amsterdam hidden gems is Pllek, a unique, beachside bar, and restaurant that was built out of recycled shipping containers.
I know! Super crazy but the unique decor here gives this place an almost cozy, albeit rustic, atmosphere, So, if you have to be in Amsterdam, then this place is an absolute must-see!
However, to get here, you will need to endure a short, 15-minute ferry ride since Pilek is tucked away in the NDSM and sits just across the water from the Amstel industrial area.
And if you visit during the summer then you can take advantage of their amazing, outdoor seating area where you can watch the sunset and enjoy fantastic dishes like summer vegetable tajine with apricot and couscous or Korean mungbean kimchi falafel with two kinds of tahini and an Asian salad.
Pllek is also not well known among tourists, which is why it is a nice place to sit, relax, have a drink, and enjoy some food among the eatery’s unique surroundings.
Address: T.T. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 9:30 am to 1:00 am, except on Friday and Saturday when the restaurant is open until 3:00 am.
How to Get There: Take bus 391 or 394 to Amsterdam, Klaprozenweg, and walk to the restaurant from there.
Price: If you stop by for dinner, most dishes will cost between €10.00 and €20.00 each.
19. Visit the Red Light Secrets – Museum of Prostitution
By: Sydney of A World in Reach
When you ask someone about Amsterdam, the first thing that typically comes to mind is the city’s Red Light District. A place that is home to coffee shops (for marijuana, not coffee), sex shows, and windows bathed in red light, where prostitutes stand offering their services to tourists and locals alike.
The whole area is fascinating, and if you’d like to learn more about Amsterdam’s industry for sex workers, then you must pay a visit to Red Light Secrets, the world’s first museum dedicated to prostitution.
Located in the heart of the Red Light District, the museum actually sits inside a building that was once a famous brothel. And as you make your way through the museum, you’ll learn about the history of prostitution in Amsterdam and about the stories of the women themselves.
The audio guide, included with the price of admission, is also narrated by Inga, a famous Amsterdam sex worker who knows all about the industry from her first-hand experience.
So, as you explore the museum, she will regale you with some of her most shocking stories about the sex industry. You’ll also get answers to some of your most burning questions, like how much money window prostitutes make and what actually happens when the curtains close.
That’s why, if you’re searching for some of the best Amsterdam hidden gems out there, then look no further than the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution. One of the most unusual things to do in the city and something that should be added to everyone’s Amsterdam bucket list.
Address: Oudezijds Achterburgwal 60h, 1012 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take Metro 54 to Nieuwmarkt Station and walk to the museum from there.
Price: Tickets are €12.50 per person (Save time and skip the line by getting your ticket now)
20. Enjoy the “This is Holland” Expereince
By: Umang of Travel Max
Amsterdam is full of fantastic experiences. But, if you want to plan out a truly memorable itinerary for Amsterdam, then you may want to visit a few Amsterdam hidden gems in additon to some of the city’s most famous museums, cafes, and canal crusies.
And one of the most unusual things to do in Amsterdam, something that I personally loved, was the ‘This is Holland’ experience. Think of it as a virtual tour of the Netherlands. So, this amazing, 5D experience will take you on a virtual flight across the Netherlands as you listen to an engaging commentary in the background. To make the flight as real as possible, the auditorim will even spinkle water on you in an effort to simulate flying over water.
Overall, the flight works as an hour-long introduction to the Netherlands and is an unusual Amsterdam attraction that is worth including in your itinerary. It is also located on the Noord side of the city. Therefiore, you may want to visit the swing at Adam’s lookout, while you’re in the area, for some spectaculiar views of the city,
To aovid long lines, you may also want to purchase your ticket online, in advance. You can even save yourself a bit of money by purchasing a fantastic combination ticket that includes a ticket to the “This is Holland” Experience and admission to a scenic, canal cruise through Amsterdam.
Address: Overhoeksplein 51, 1031 KS Amsterdam
Hours: Open daily from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: The “This is Holland” Experience is just a 11-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station.
Amsterdam Hidden Gems Over €20.00
21. Visit Texel Island
By: Bhushavali of My Travelogue by Bhushavali
Texel Island is so beautiful that ideally, you would need at least a week or more there! However, it is possible to explore the island as part of a day-trip from Amsterdam.
So, if you’d like to visit one of the many hidden gems in Amsterdam, then look no further than Texel Island. It is one of the Wadden islands and is located off the northern coast of the Netherlands.
To reach the island, you’ll first need to board a ferry at Den Helder. Then, once you’re on the island itself, I’d recommend exploring the area’s dynamic, natural landscape by bike. Especially since there are plenty of bike rental shops sitting right at the ferry drop off point.
However, it is also possible to navigate the area via car or bus.
But, regardless of how you choose to get around the island, you could easily spend an entire day lounging at the beach or exploring the multitude of quaint sheep farms that are found here. You could also taste some local cheeses or go skydiving if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous.
Therefore, I’d recommend starting your day at one of the local sheep farms, where you can see how farmers handlle the sheep, watch the sheep-dogs in action, and more.
Next, visit the island’s Cheese Factory, where you can take a tour of the facility, see how cheese is made, and even take some sheep’s milk cheese home with you!
Afterward, stop by the idyllic, picturesque beach of Strand Pavilion, and visit Cocksdorp. This place is known for being the northernmost point of the island and is home to a majestic lighthouse that visitors are welcome to climb.
If you have time, you can also explore the southernmost village of Den Hoorn, which looks like a charming, long-forgotten relic from decades gone by. It’s also the perfect place to end your day before boarding the ferry back to Amsterdam.
Address: Havenplein 3, 1781 AB Den Helder, Netherlands
Hours: Ferries depart every half an hour between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm (schedules do change so check their website for more information).
How to Get There: Take the train from Amsterdam Central to Den Hedler Railway Station, Once there, take bus 33 from Den Hedler Railway Station.
Price: The cost of a ferry ticket is €2.50, round trip, per pedestrian. Plus, you will need to pay around €31 for a round trip ticket from Amsterdam Central Station to Den Hedler Railway Station.
22. WONDR Experience
By: Hanna of Solar Powered Blonde
WONDR Experience is an incredibly fun, interactive attraction that you’ll find on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
So, if you happen to encounter a rainy day in Amsterdam, then this is the perfect place to go to escape the bad weather and have the best time possible
Because this is one of those hidden gems in Amsterdam that is essentially an ‘instagrammable’ playground for adults.
However, children are welcome but only at certain times. So, be sure to book your time slot well in advance, online, so that you can avoid long lines and the possibility of not being able to get in.
You’ll also want to take a limited number of belongings with you since everything will need to be placed inside a secure locker before you enter WONDR experience.
And don’t forget to bring your camera, or cell phone, since you’ll definitely want to take some photos.
Also, just an FYI, the interactive rooms here change from time to time and have themes that are seasonally relevant. However, one room that never changes features a huge ball pit that is filled with foam objects that come in the shape of sweets.
There are also other rooms that are brimming over with fun props for photos, like flamingos and swings. And during Christmas, there is even a huge snow globe here that you can step inside of and take pictures. Just be prepared to get covered in confetti!
In total, around two hours are needed to walk through all of the rooms in the WONDR experience. it also operates on a one-way system, so once you leave a room, you can’t go back inside.
And at the end of the experience, you’ll discover a charming little cafe that sells amazing flamingo cupcakes and treats.
***While you’re here, you can scan a QR code to get all of your photos sent straight to an email address of your choice. Also, be sure to book your tickets well in advance (like right now would be good) since this experience is quite popular. As a result, lines are long and tickets tend to sell out quickly.***
Address: Meeuwenlaan 88, 1021 JK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, except Saturday and Sunday when they open at 10:00 am.
How to Get There; From Amsterdam Central Station, take metro line number 52 to Noorderpak and walk to WONDR Experience from there.
Price: €25.00 per adult.
23. Go Plastic Fishing in the Canals
By: Nadine of Curls en Route
Amsterdam might be best known for its Red Light District and cannabis coffeehouses. However, this idyllic, Dutch capital is also famous for its marvelous canals, which easily make it one of the most exquisite cities in Europe.
Yes, the city’s almost neverending labyrinth of 165,17th-century canals are not just a thing of beauty but are something that holds great cultural and historical significance for the people of the Netherlands.
In total, these iconic waterways are more than 100 km long and are connected by over 1200 bridges. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a boat ride through these famous canals is an essential part of any trip to Amsterdam.
Sadly though, these canals become inundated with trash as irresponsible people continually throw single-use plastic into the water!
But thankfully, the people over at the Plastic Whale are here to help! See, Plastic Whale is the very first plastic fishing company in the entire world. So, think of it as a fun fishing trip where you get to support a great cause and do your part as a socially responsible traveler.
And all of the plastic collected during your fishing trip is then recycled and turned into furniture and boats. In fact, the boats that you use during your journey are actually created from recycled plastic!
So, check one of the many weird things to do in Amsterdam by going on a unique fishing trip with Plastic Whale. Because this beyond unusual activity really is the perfect addition to any Amsterdam itinerary.
***If you want, you could always opt for a slightly less expensive but equally fun and aesthetically pleasing, Amsterdam City Canal Cruise. I mean, I know I’ve said it before but I swear, there really is nothing quite like seeing Amsterdam from the water. Plus, this cruise costs just $16.05 per person, is an hour and fifteen minutes long and will take you through the historical city center, past the skinny bridge, and along the Golden Bend. So, if you don’t think you’ll purchase the I Amsterdam City Card (because remember, you’ll get a free cruise included with the price of your card). then definitely consider this fantastic cruise instead.***
Address: Le Mairekade 33A, 1013 CB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.
How to Get There: You can take bus number 22, 21, 48, or 18. If you take bus 22, get off at Houtmankade and walk to Plastic Whale from there.
Price: Trips start at €39.50 per person (that’s for a group. They really only do group bookings or rent out boats for €200 for two-hours of fishing.
A Free, Interactive Map of all the Amsterdam Hidden Gems You See in this Post!
So, tell me, you incredibly amazing reader you. Have you experienced any of these non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam?
If so, then tell me, what did you think? I mean, did I miss anything incredibly important that NEEDS to be on this list of unusual things to do in Amsterdam right now?
If so, then leave me a message in the comments below because I always want to hear from you.
Oh, and if you found this post even a little helpful, then feel free to pin this post now so that you can read it again later.