Solo Travel Amsterdam and How to Make the Most of It
I’ll be the first one to admit that I didn’t really what expect from my solo travel Amsterdam trip.
People kept telling about cafes selling weed and legalized prostitution in the Red Light District.
And to be Honest, I’m not really into that kind of stuff.
I’m an honorary Golden Girl after all.
I got a little nervous. I began to wonder if I could do Netherlands solo travel and actually have fun, without smoking a doobie and fist-pumping the night away, or eating an entire pie by myself (which seems more likely if I’m smoking a doobie).
I knew there had to be more to Amsterdam than the party stereotype. And I’m delighted to say that I was right.
Amidst the Coffee Houses selling weed and the infamous Red Light District:
There is a beautiful city of exquisite beauty; an urban oasis of canals that are dotted with historic, architecturally stunning homes that are only enhanced in beauty by the warm, accepting, and friendly people who call Amsterdam home.
Can you tell I had a good time?
So if you’re contemplating Amsterdam solo travel, then like Nike says, just do it!
But I Also Usually Get the Question:
Is Amsterdam Safe for Solo Female Travelers?
Yes, a thousand times yes! Not only is Amsterdam an extremely safe city, but it is quite walkable. Therefore, no debts will be incurred while cabbing around the city alone.
Cabs are pretty useless when looking for things to do alone in Amsterdam.
And Believe It Or Not:
Amsterdam also has a ton of top Amsterdam sights and attractions that are actually better suited for someone traveling solo in Amsterdam.
Don’t Believe Me?
Read on and see what I LOVE Amsterdam solo travel.
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10 Fantastic Things to do Alone in Amsterdam
Disclaimer: There are WAY more than ten amazing things to do alone in Amsterdam. I just didn’t want this post to turn into War and Peace and become a total snooze fest.
1. Visit Museumplein
I am a firm believer that museums are ALWAYS better alone.
Not only can you explore the museum at your own pace ( I go to some of New York City’s best museums alone all the time), without worrying about your travel com[panion getting bored (sorry, just dozed off there for a minute), but you also won’t get yelled at for talking too loudly because, well, there’s no one to talk to!
Unless you have imaginary friends.
If you do, you might want to see a professional about that.
Doing solo female travel Amsterdam in museums means that you won’t be THAT person. You know, the one who speaks like they have a megaphone lodged in their vocal chords. The person who is always being shushed because they are so loud and annoying?
Yeah, you won’t be that guy and publicly shunned when you meet travellers in Amsterdam.
And you’re in luck.
Amsterdam has a ton of museums, hence the whole Museumplein name.
Between the Van Gogh Museum (must book tickets ahead of time online), the Rijksmuseum (skip the line and buy your tickets in advance) and the Stedelijk Museum, your only problem will be deciding where to go first.
All of these museums are included in the Amsterdam Card (you can get your I Amsterdam Card in advance online) and are absolutely amazing, must-see museums.
So How to Pick and Choose?
Well, if you like Danish History and enjoy seeing paintings a la the Dutch Golden age, then the Rijksmuseum is your jam.
If you love Van Gogh and enjoy Impressionist paintings then the Van Gogh Museum will be a blast.
No? Looking for something a bit more modern?
Then check out the Stedelijk Museum, which displays the latest and most innovative pieces of modern and contemporary art.
All are Amazing.
It just depends on what you like do as you solo travel through Amsterdam.
Before You Leave Though:
Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. I know, totally cliched but you’ve got to do it.
***If you want a photo with the I Amsterdam sign without ten million people, then just get up a little early and head on over. Trust me, Amsterdam isn’t one of those cities with residents that are early risers. Therefore, even if you get here by like 8 am, it still shouldn’t be too crowded, Just bring your tripod and you’ll be good to go.
2. Take the Ferry To NDSM
Before I get into how awesome this trip is for solo Amsterdam travelers:
You should know that when you use google maps to find the location of the ferry to NDSM, Google is wrong.
Sorry Google, it had to happen eventually.
Yes, Google directs you to the old ferry location. And if you travel there, you’ll see a very closed ferry port. Like caution tape closed.
To find the new ferry terminal and avoid my Amsterdam travel mistakes, just follow your google map directions until the last turn.
Instead of going right, you’ll go left and walk straight for about 300 meters. Once here, you’ll see the ferry dock on your right.
The hordes of locals with bikes and signs with scrolling departure times will be a dead giveaway that you’re in the right place.
And trust me, this solo Amsterdam trip is worth it.
Not only is the ferry free, but the ride is short. Like 15 minutes short.
This part of Amsterdam is unlike any other area in the city. No historic canal houses here. Instead, you’ll find converted warehouses that are adorned with mesmerizing street art and some quirky, hipster decor.
It’s really hard to describe so you just kind of have to see it to believe it.
But just think of this place as way cooler than I can ever hope to be.
Between the amazing restaurants (Pilek is a really great place), the vibrant music, the beautiful street art, this waterside cultural hotspot will totally make you forget that you’re traveling alone in Amsterdam.
All the locals go here so you know it’s good.
3. Reserve a Ticket to the Anne Frank House
***You CANNOT buy tickets there and MUST show up at the EXACT time of your visit. I suggest booking your tickets at least two months in advance if you plan on visiting during the summer.
Okay. Glad we got that gross, practical info out of the way.
So I have a conundrum here:
The Anne Frank House is a touching tribute to a beautiful, thirteen-year-old girl, whose poignant diary changed the way generations of people see the world.
She unknowingly reminds use of her past so that we can enjoy a better future.
A story that will forever haunt our souls and make our hearts cry out at the sheer agony and torment of this devastating period in history.
But my Problem is:
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you to visit this eye-opening museum.
There is no way that my words can do justice to a museum about such a hauntingly beautiful life, whose vivacious spirit, light and shine were all heartlessly extinguished much too quickly.
So instead of trying to describe this museum poorly:
All I’ll say is that yes, this museum really is as sadly amazing as everyone says. A true Amsterdam must see.
***Can’t get tickets to the Anne Frank Museum? No worries, there are a ton of other sights and Jewish Cultural tours of Amsterdam that pay homage to this beautiful human. Try visiting the Jewish Historical Museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum, the National Holocaust Memorial, the Portuguese Synagogue, and the Children’s Jewish Historical Museum.
4. See a Windmill Near Westerpark
Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that Westerpark is amazing, and seeing a windmill is not the ONLY reason why you should visit this lovely oasis of greenery.
You know this place is epic because this is where all the locals go to escape the summer tourists, or so I’ve been told.
You should flock here too and walk or bike along one of the many trails that meander through this expansive park.
Just Kep Your Eyes Open.
I almost totally missed this windmill because well yeah, it’s not in the park. So if you are headed towards the park from the Jordaan area, then the windmill will be to your left and about halfway through the park, literally just across the street.
When I Saw It:
I got super excited because I feel like windmills are almost as synonymous with the Netherlands as clogs are. Only I find windmills to be WAY cooler.
That’s why Obviously:
I squealed with delight, at this stage of my Netherlands solo travel journey, when I saw this romantic icon of ye olde Dutch history.
I was so Obsessed with Getting the Perfect Shot of this Windmill:
That I fell, scratched the crap out of my leg, and actually almost landed in the river.
River, score 1. Kelly, score 0.
***To get the perfect picture of this iconic windmill, I suggest walking along the path that runs the perimeter of the park. From here, you can get a much better view of the windmill than if you were actually in the park itself (the park is surrounded by a river so it’s hard to get a good shot of the windmill from within the park.
5. Try Some of Amsterdam’s Best Desserts
After reading this, you may have the uncontrollable urge to inhale sugary food items. Don’t be alarmed. This is a natural reaction to the divine decadence that I am about to share with you.
So I was Shocked by the Number of Amazing Amsterdam Desserts.
I mean, when I think of amazing desserts I think London, Paris, Rome, New York City, But Amsterdam?
There is a deliciously delightful assortment of amazing desserts that may require you to pack an entire suitcase full of elastic waist pants.
My Picks for the best Amsterdam desserts?
Wel, there are a ton of amazing ones but I suggest stopping by Sweet Bob’s for some amazing Brazilian chocolate. I don’t even like candy and I inhaled the creme brulee chocolate like it was my job.
Grab a seriously delicious but totally unique ice cream cone from Banketbakkerij Van Der Linde, snag a cookie from Melly’s Cookie Bar, eat a piece of dutch apple pie from Winkel 43 (with extra whipped cream), head to Van Stapele Koekmakerij for the best chocolate cookie of your life, and make room for Stroopwafels at the Original Stroopwafels stand in Albert Cuyp market.
These desserts are the stuff that food crack is made of.
And while there are a ton more, I’m saving my other picks since, well, I smell another post coming up.
So clearly now you have to stick around my blogosphere.
Yup. It’s all part of my evil genius plan to take over the world, one Stroopwafel at a time.
6. Visit the Begijnhof
Time for the tiniest smidge of real talk.
Before I extoll the many virtues of the Begijnhof for you, we’re gonna have to discuss basically the only word I know in Dutch, hofje.
And even that one I had to look up. So sad, but true.
A hofje is important because well, that’s exactly what Begijonhof is; a courtyard surrounded by almshouses.
Or in Girl with the Passport Speak:
A hidden garden that is surrounding by a private housing area that is typically made up of elderly women.
See, the Dutch are the best. Always thinking of their elders.
But Begijnhof is actually one of the oldest hofjes in Amsterdam and well worth a visit.
Between the beautiful courtyard greenery, the charming historic architecture, and the religious icons associated with the two churches on site, you’ll have a hard time vacating the premises before taking about 10,000 photos, because well, we all need that perfect Instagram shot.
If you’re rocking the Begjijnhof alone during your solo trip Amsterdam, that’s even better because this is a private residence.
Please remember to be quiet and respectful when visiting this place. And please refrain from screaming at your homie about some mysterious rash that some one night stand gave you last night.
No one wants to hear that. People actually live here and are allowing you to enter, as a guest, into their not so secret garden (this place is pretty well known so you’ll find a bunch of tourists snapping selfies. And nope, I wasn’t a selfie-snapping tourist…this time).
So Be Nice and Remeber to Thank These Ladies for their Kindness by Being Respectful!
7. Visit Kattencafe Kopjes Cat Cafe
What activity could be better suited for solo travel in Amsterdam than embracing your inner crazy cat lady (Or man. No gender bias against any alone Amsterdam male) at a local cat cafe?
And Trust Me:
I’ve been to my fair share of cat cafes, but Kettencafe Kopjes is better than most.
The cats are adorable, the staff are super friendly, the cafe makes great iced lattes, and all you need to do is donate € 3 to help care for the cats as they hang out in the cafe, waiting to be adopted.
So what are you waiting for?
Go get some kitty therapy and feel ten times better about life in general.
Just one downside:
This cat cafe is a bit out of the way so be prepared for a trek out of the city center to visit this cattastic place.
***I’m not sure if the cat is the spirit animal of Amsterdam, but Amsterdam has a ton of cat-related places for you to enjoy. So if you’re a cat fanatic then definitely check out the Depoezenboot (A giant boat that cares for some kitties that are in need of a good home. And yes, you are welcome to visit) and the Kattebkabinet (A museum designed by a cat lover for cat lovers. I wasn’t super impressed because it’s basically a random amalgamation of cat posters, but it’s pretty cheap so if you have time and like cats then go for it).
8. Visit Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder Museum
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not s huge church person.
Many of these religious buildings are pretty, but seeing one crucifix after another can get kind of dull.
I start to get this glazed over look on my face.
And my mind starts going, “Crucifix, altar, organ, next!”
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (aka Our Lord in the Attic) is way cooler than a NORMAL church.
Just think of this place as the James Bond of churches.
See, believe it or not, this church is actually hidden away in the attic of a 17th-century canal house (As a result of the Protestant Reformation in the Netherlands, Catholics could only practice their faith within the privacy of their own home)!
Pretty cool right?
Plus, the whole house has been refurbished and transformed into a museum where you can step back in time and experience what 17th-century homes really looked like.
So Go Forth and Get Your Cultural Learning on.
Trust me, you really have nothing to lose since this museum is light on tourists and is free for anyone with the Amsterdam Pass.
***If you are into museums and love homes that are decorated in the style of the 18th and 19th century, then check out this small but lovely museum. The decor of this three-story house is absolutely charming and is only accentuated by a picturesque garden that you can stroll through, at the back of the house.
9. Theatre Tuschinski
“I wanna to go to the movies!” said no one ever while on vacation.
Unless it’s a downpour outside and you have nothing else to do.
How much of a city can you see from a movie theater?
Glad we agree.
But Theatre Tuchinski is TOTALLY different.
This exquisite theater was completed in 1921 and is jaw-droppingly beautiful on the inside. Between the stunning lamps, luxurious furniture, and colorful carpets, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is a movie (Although you might get whiplash from looking around too quickly).
But How Do You see this Gorgeous, Art Deco Style Theater?
Great question! Love how in sync we are with these things.
To visit Theatre Tuschinski, you can either attend a movie, since this building is still a working movie theater, or you can visit the theater between 9:30 am and 11:00 am and tour the theater with a personal audioguide.
Sure it costs €10, but it’s totally worth it.
10. Museum Van Loon
How Museum Van Loon isn’t swamped with tourists I’ll never know.
I’m glad because we all know how I feel about crowds and people in general (translation, not a fan).
First of All:
The garden is gorgeous and truly any Instagram lovers dream. I mean, this garden is so photogenic that it actually made me look like a sort of an okay photographer.
So be sure to stroll through this immaculately kept and beautifully designed garden, which can be found at the back of this charming, canalside home.
All the rich and super cool families had their homes along Amsterdam’s many canals. so don’t leave before touring the inside of this house as well.
It’s a must-see since this home was owned by the family Van Loon. Okay, that probably means nothing to you but let me just say that they were the co-founders of a little company known as the East India Tea Company. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Lol.
As you can probably guess, they were super rich and had a beautifully decorated home to prove it.
So Before You Leave:
Make sure that you walk through this historic home, on the Keizersgracht, and marvel at this family’s collection of home furnishings and priceless art pieces.
*** Open daily between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. Tickets cost € 9 for adults, € 7 for students, € 5 for children between 6 and 16, and are included with the I Amsterdam Card.
So, What Do You Think of My Amsterdam Solo Travel Guide?
As you can guess:
This concludes my list of amazing places to visit as a solo female traveler in Amsterdam (or solo male traveler).
Amsterdam is probably one of my favorite cities to travel alone in. Not only do you feel safe, but the people are super nice, and there are a ton of things to do in Amsterdam.
So what more could you possibly hope for?
Well, if you are yearning for something more, then hit me up in the comments and let me know if something is missing or if you have any questions.