41 Non-Touristy Things to do in Amsterdam: Top Hidden Gems

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Best Hidden Gems of Amsterdam to Explore

Amsterdam is a city rich in history and culture, and there are plenty of things to see and do that don’t involve tourist traps. If you’re looking to explore Amsterdam beyond the usual attractions, here are my favorite non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam that will give you a more authentic city experience.

I recently traveled to Amsterdam for the fourth time in my life. It’s one of my personal favorites. I love the culture, oddities, and all the experiences that the capital of Holland has to offer. These are some of the less-known, hidden gems of Amsterdam that you need to know.

In my opinion, Amsterdam is one of those cities that everyone needs to explore at some point in their lifetime. If you plan your time wisely, you can see and do it all in just a few days.

That isn’t all, though. This city has a certain level of mystique that will always keep you asking for more. I was fortunate to have an amazing experience in Amsterdam, thanks to travel hacking. I was able to spend seven days in the Netherlands with a limited cost for lodging and my flights!

Consider getting one of these best travel credit cards to get to your destination and book lodging. I’ll highlight a few locations and underrated things to do that the locals like to experience. There are several things that you can do that are relatively secret and unknown, including:

  • Hidden restaurants
  • Underrated experiences
  • Hidden gem day trips
  • Things to do to act like a local

Rather than using a site to book tours, you can use this list of hidden gems to create your mini-tour of experiences. Find the experiences in Amsterdam that will complete your experiences and open your mind to Dutch culture and history.

Amsterdam Illustration

What We Cover

Best Off-the-Beaten-Path & Hidden Gems in Amsterdam

Here are some of my favorite underrated, unknown experiences to consider during your stay in Amsterdam.

1. Go “Antiek-ing” in Amsterdam

Delft Tile - Dutch Amsterdam Tile
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Holland has some of the best antiques in the world. The old history of Holland, dating back to the 1600s, is a gem for any person looking to bring back precious jewelry, art, Dutch tiles, and more. The collection of antiques and fine art dates back to the Dutch’s early economic boom from shipping and trade worldwide.

Additionally, Delft-style Dutch tiles are prized collections for Dutch homes. In Amsterdam, I’m always amazed by the citizens’ overall interior design, passion for art, and style. You can buy Delft-style Dutch tiling from pre-1700.

Buying anything like that in America is tough to come by. I’m amazed by this level of history. Check out the Antiek district just north of the Rijksmuseum on Nieuw Spigelstraat. I picked up this Dutch tile from 1650. I’m in love with it. Simple things like owning a piece of tiling from the pre-17th century are definitely lesser-known treasures.

See Related: Top Hotels in the Netherlands

2. Visit the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

Hortus Botanicus - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hortus Botanicus – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Address: Plantage Middenlaan 2a, 1018 DD Amsterdam, Netherlands

You may think that all botanical gardens are created equal. That’s not true. The Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam is a true gem and one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Netherlands. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but it’s a worthy stopover if you are going to the windmill of De Gooyer.

The Hortus Botanicus is less than 10 euros to explore and see. A canal alongside the garden makes for a great walk and stroll on a calm morning. The Hortus Botanicus is a great option for extremely rainy days as well.

See Related: Travel Tips for Amsterdam (+ Top Do’s & Dont’s)

3. Spend a Day in Naarden

Naarden, The Netherlands Aerial View
Naarden, The Netherlands Aerial View

Address: Naarden, Netherlands

Naarden is a city in North Holland that offers a very interesting landscape for aerial photography. Naarden is a star-shaped town that is filled with history. It used to be a stopover for British bomber brigades heading toward Germany.

Naarden is a bit harder to get to by train than a car. If you want to take the train, it’s about a 35-minute ride from Centraal Station, and you’ll likely need to transfer.

Then, there isn’t much of a bus system when you get there, so you will have to walk quite a bit to get into the central town. A better alternative might be to rent a car, which makes the trip only a 25-minute drive from Amsterdam’s city center.

Go out and spend a day exploring this amazing star-shaped city. See our list of the Weekend Trips from Amsterdam for other ideas on road trips.

See Related: Best Beers in Amsterdam

4. Go Market Hopping Around the City

IJ-Hallen Flea Market in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I never knew how many markets Amsterdam offered until my most recent visit. I was amazed. Like antiques, you can find some amazing modern and old art as well as great produce and cheese.

This is a great way to avoid falling into tourist traps to get some goods. Market hopping will always be one of my favorite hidden gems of Amsterdam.

It’s a great way to meet the locals while bringing back some unique, prized possessions with a story. These are some of the best markets in Amsterdam, including Albert Cuyp Market, Nieuwmarkt, Waterlooplein Market, and Westerstraat Market.

See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in the Netherlands

5. Unwind at the Beach – Take a Trip to Bloemendaal or Zandvoort aan Zee

Aerial view of the Zandvoort Beach Coastline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This is weather contingent. The Netherlands has some of the most unpredictable weather, so you will likely need to make a judgment call during your trip there. If you get some certainty that the weather will be sunny and pleasant, then Bloemendaal can be a nice getaway to see a new perspective on Holland.

If you like to unwind during the day and experience nightlife at night, Bloemendaal has both. A handful of restaurants and bars offer live concerts or sunset sessions that can provide picturesque views while dancing the night away.

See Related: Best Travel Totes

6. Dine at Historic, Charming Dutch Restaurants

Plate of Food at Moeder's in Amsterdam

Dutch dining is a hidden gem in itself. Who doesn’t love cheese, fries, or traditional comfort food? While the food is great, there are plenty of locations to enjoy Dutch cuisine in an old, historic building to improve the experience.

Here are a few charming, historic restaurants that offer great dining options for traditional Dutch fare (read the full list of our favorite restaurants in Amsterdam if you want more ideas):

  1. Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen: Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen is called “The Five Flies’ in English. The restaurant sets in an old canal house and features several Rembrandt paintings hung on the wall. You will want to get a tour of the entire house to get the full experience.
  2. de Silveren Spiegel
  3. Haesje Claes Restaurant
  4. Restaurant Moeders: This gem is called Restaurant “Mothers” in English and features homestyle Dutch cooking, some of the best in the city.

Any of these restaurants makes for an excellent opportunity for a date night and is one of the more romantic things to do in Amsterdam.

See Related: Best Travel Backpacks

7. Find These Secret Speakeasy Bars and Distilleries

Exterior of Wynand Fockink
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

I love finding a good cocktail speakeasy. Nothing is more comfortable than having a cocktail in an awesome setting, particularly after a long day of exploring and adventuring. Here are several secret bars to consider in Amsterdam:

  1. Wynand Fockink: This is a genuine jenever bar and distillery near the red light district. Jenever is a Dutch gin and is considered the Netherlands’ national liquor. Tying some jenever should be on everyone’s list while visiting Holland, not just Amsterdam.
  2. Bar Oldenhof
  3. The Butcher: The Butcher Amsterdam is a well-known burger joint with a modern secret bar to get into. They have multiple locations, so you should be able to find one nearby your hotel. Grab one of these amazing Amsterdam beers while you are there.

See Related: How to Find Cheap Vacations to Amsterdam

8. Explore The Many Boutique, Unique Hotel Experiences

Lobby - Pulitzer Hotel Amsterdam, Netherlands
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Amsterdam has some of the most unique hotels in the world. There are many different landscapes and perspectives that you can see.

Most hotels offer outstanding eating and drinking options with a great view, architecture, and design. Here are a few hotels that have some awesome designs, food, and drinks:

The list goes on. You can get lost in these hotels just by walking and exploring the design.

See Related: Where Should You Travel for Your Birthday?

9. Climb the Top of Westerkerk

Top of Westerkerk Amsterdam
By Zairon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: Prinsengracht 279, 1016 GW Amsterdam, Netherlands

Westerkerk is the tall church located right next to Anne Frank’s house. She wrote about the church in her diary, and there is a lot of history associated with this church. It’s also a piece of beautiful architecture.

The church has one of the tallest towers in all of Amsterdam. Many people suggest you go to the SkyLounge or the A’Dam Lookout. That’s too easy to take an elevator.

Why not climb the inside of a church through history? The cost is only 9 euros and will give you some of the city’s best views in the center of the iconic Prinsengracht. This is one of the best-kept secrets to seeing a panoramic shot of Amsterdam.

See Related: Best Travel Apps for Europe

10. Ice Skate on a Canal

Ice Skating on the Canals in Amsterdam

Ice skating on a canal is a true experience filled with photographic moments. Cold winter nights don’t seem pleasing to everyone, but there is something about ice skating that keeps you warm and alive.

This is an experience you won’t want to miss while traveling to Amsterdam in winter.

See Related: Things Amsterdam is Famous For

11. Drink a Beer at ‘t Blauw Theehuis in Vondelpark

T Blauw Theehuis Amsterdam
Theehuis in Vondelpark, Amsterdam

Address: Vondelpark 5, 1071 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands

I ended up twice at ‘t Blauw Theehuis in Vondelpark because I liked it so much. It’s a nice terrace in the direct center of Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. The ‘t Blauw Theehuis is similar to a tea house, but they don’t serve tea. Brouwerij ‘t Ij, a phenomenal local Dutch brewery, now runs it.

I’m a bit of a beer snob, and I was very impressed by the beer. I’d recommend the Session IPA. It’s light enough that you won’t feel too “surly” from having a couple in the afternoon.

With it being lighter, you won’t lose any flavor that a typical IPA offers. Enjoy this experience on a nice summer afternoon.

See Related: Best Amsterdam Tours

12. Snap a Photo with Van Gogh Street Art on the Prinsengracht

Coffeeshop La Tertulia Mural of Vincent Van Gogh

There is a pre-made Van Gogh on the street of Prinsengracht. Go shake hands with Van Gogh himself and immerse yourself.

This painting is a street art self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. You’ll certainly see a variety of other street art murals in the Jordaan district, including a large mural by The London Police.

13. Drink a Beer at Cafe Hoppe

Front of Cafe Hoppe in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Spui 18-20, 1012 XA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cafe Hoppe is a staple and pretty well-known. I loved the architecture so much that it stood out to me as an iconic memory of Amsterdam. I’d never actually gone in there. It was always too busy on the outside, with people sprawling into the street enjoying the weather and some Dutch beer.

I finally leaped and went into Cafe Hoppe. The inside is just as beautiful as the facade. The place is rich in history and uniqueness. After looking around, I realized I was one of the only non-locals in the bar.

Cafe Hoppe is located in the somewhat touristy area of Spui, but it seems that it scares off tourists with the vast amount of locals overtaking the bar. Soak in a beer with the locals at this secret gem.

See Related: Best Amsterdam Tours

14. Visit the Embassy of the Free Mind

Inside the Embassy of the Free Mind in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Keizersgracht 123, 1015 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Embassy of the Free Mind isn’t for everyone. It’s more of a library than a museum. I love the concept, however. The museum was founded in 2017 by Worldheart Foundation.

Dan Brown performed at the museum’s opening. Yes, the famous Dan Brown, writer of The Da Vinci Code, Inferno, and many others. The concept is amazing it touches on the history of the Amsterdam and Dutch mindset of free-thinking and includes over 2,000 years of accumulated wisdom.

Beyond this, they explore the text of various books to find out the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I from?
  • Where am I going?

Be prepared to spend an extended period here as there is a lot of dense reading.

16. VOC / Dutch East India Company Headquarters

Typical canal side cityscape of Amsterdam, opposite from the 17th century HQ of the Dutch East India Company
mandritoiu / Adobe Stock

Address: Oude Hoogstraat 24, 1012 CE Amsterdam, Netherlands

The VOC (Dutch East India Company) headquarters is one of the most important buildings in Amsterdam. Here, you can see where this major Dutch trading company was headquartered.

The VOC was founded in 1602 and is considered the world’s oldest stock exchange. If you’re interested in history or want to see some amazing architecture, check out this national monument that is open to the public!

The headquarters was built between 1618 and 1619, but it wasn’t until 1637 that they moved into their new headquarters on Dam Square (which makes sense because it took five years after construction started).

This building has been used for many things over its lifetime, including housing government offices and serving as an art gallery for several years during World War II before becoming a museum dedicated specifically to explaining what happened inside these walls during those tumultuous times under occupation by German forces during WWII.

See Related: Best Travel Gifts for Backpackers

17. Go to the Rijksmuseum for free on Monday evening.

Front of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

Address: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Rijksmuseum is one of the city’s most famous Amsterdam attractions and landmarks that needs to be on your list of things to do in Amsterdam. But did you know it’s also free Monday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 pm?

If you’re looking for an even more affordable option, consider visiting the Van Gogh Museum at Museumplein. While admission costs 15 euros daily, they have a special evening ticket that will only set you back 5 euros.

The Van Gogh Museum offers a wide variety of temporary exhibitions as well as permanent collections spanning works by Vincent van Gogh himself, as well as other artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. If you purchase an I Amsterdam city card, you may not need to visit the museum on free or discount days.

18. Ons Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic)

Inside of the Our Lord in the Attic Museum

Address: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38-40, 1012 GD Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ons Lieve Heer op Solder is a hidden gem in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. This secret catholic church was built in the 13th century and is worth a visit for its rich history and interesting architecture. A Catholic businessman originally built the church during a period when Catholics were not allowed to practice their religion publically.

However, the Ons Lieve Heer op Solder remained secret for many years, only to be discovered in the 19th century. Today, the church is open to the public as a museum. Beyond the two-level church, the furniture and artwork reflect the Dutch Golden Age.

As a result, visiting Ons Lieve Heer op Solder is an opportunity to learn about the Dutch capital and Amsterdam’s religious, architectural, and historical traditions.

19. Visit Wallon Church

Amsterdam Walloon Church Organ Close Up
Monica / Adobe Stock

Address: Walenpleintje 159, 1012 JZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

This Amsterdam hidden gem is located on Oudezijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam’s red light district; this church is named after Bishop Charles-Maurice de Wallon. It was built in the 17th century and was consecrated by Bishop Pierre Bourgoing on December 10, 1667.

The church has a lot of history behind it, as well as incredible architecture that makes it worth visiting, even if you’re not religious. The church is known for its beautiful stained glass windows, designed by Willem Thibaut. The church also has a bell tower that reaches high up into the sky and can be seen anywhere in Amsterdam. 

20. Cross over to Amsterdam-Noord.

Street Art in Amsterdam in NDSM
Street Art in Amsterdam-Noord (Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers)

Address: Amsterdam-Noord, Amsterdam, Netherlands

While the city is full of tourist attractions and museums, there’s much more to Amsterdam than that. A great way to explore another side of the city is by going outside its center, where you can find a vibrant community with plenty of hidden gems.

Traveling across town from Amsterdam Centraal Station (the main train station), you’ll discover Amsterdam-Noord. This neighborhood has quickly become popular with locals as well as tourists looking for something new and exciting in the city.

The best part about traveling here is that it’s easy to do on foot or by bike. Whether you’re exploring during the summer or winter, there are plenty of ways for everyone to enjoy themselves. I’ve fallen in love with this neighborhood after visiting several times. Learn more about this neighborhood’s history with a walking tour of Noord.

21. Walk around Oosterpark.

Pond At The Oosterpark Park In Spring At Amsterdam
Robertvt / Adobe Stock

Address: Oosterpark, 1012 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oosterpark is one of the few parks in Amsterdam that is located outside the city center. It’s a great place to run, people-watch, or picnic. The park has many bike paths, making it a great place to bring your bike or relax and read a book.

Oosterpark is also close to several museums and cultural institutions, including the Dutch Resistance Museum, Royal Artis Zoo, and the Tropenmuseum. If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, Oosterpark is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

22. Visit Begijnhof, a medieval courtyard in the city center.

Outside of the Begijnhof, Amsterdam

Address: Begijnhof 1, 1012 WS Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Begijnhof is a beautiful medieval courtyard in the city center. The area was originally built to accommodate beguines—female members of religious communities who did not take vows of celibacy—and later became home to women who couldn’t afford to live elsewhere. Today, it’s a great place to relax and learn about the history of the Middle Ages.

23. Be amazed by the Muizenhuis (Mouse Mansion).

Exterior of Het Muizenhuis (Mouse Mansion) in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Muntplein 8, 1012 WR Amsterdam, Netherlands

This small and charming museum is located in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. The Muizenhuis is a former warehouse converted into a museum with all sorts of great activities for kids – and adults!

It’s free to visit, so it’s an easy way to spend an hour or two exploring Dutch histories while learning about this unique culture…and it’s free! The kids will love playing with the interactive exhibits, which include old-fashioned toys like wooden tops and marbles and games like chess.

See Related: Top Views in Amsterdam

24. Make an Appointment for the Secret Library in the Rijksmuseum (Cuypers Library)

Interior of Cuypers Library at Rijksmuseum

Address: Museumpromenade 1, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you love beautiful architecture, this is the perfect tour. Not only is Cuypers Library one of the most beautiful libraries in Amsterdam, but it’s also located inside the Rijksmuseum!

The library was designed by famous Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers and completed in 1883. It’s named after him because he was the one who donated all his books to be housed there for everyone else to enjoy. The library has over 130 thousand titles from different genres, such as literature, history, philosophy, and art.

The best part about Cuypers Library? It’s open to the public from 10 am-4 pm on Tuesdays. Otherwise, it remains closed to visitors unless arrangements have been made beforehand with staff members at the Rijksmuseum.

25. Indulge in some sweet treats at Café de Jaren.

Customers on the top deck of Café de Jaren
Café de Jaren / Facebook

Address: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-20, 1012 CP Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you’re looking for somewhere to rest your feet and indulge in sweet treats, Café de Jaren is just the place. It’s located in a renovated building once used as a warehouse.

The canal views are stunning, and it’s sure to be a relaxing environment no matter what time of year it is. If you go during the summer months, definitely try the apple pie with ice cream—it’ll make you feel like you’re floating on air.

26. Check out Westergasfabriek and its surroundings.

Buildings of the former Western Gas Factory or Westergasfabriek
Rudmer Zwerver / Shutterstock

Address: Pazzanistraat 37, 1014 DB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Westergasfabriek is a former gasworks factory that has been converted into a cultural center. It’s located in the eastern part of Amsterdam, on the banks of the river IJ.

It’s home to several alternatives and underground music, theatre, and dance events—and it also hosts film screenings and art exhibitions. The venue was recently voted “Best Event Venue” by readers of the Dutch newspaper Het Parool.

This place is perfect if you’re looking for something more low-key than dancing at a superclub or going clubbing till dawn. You might even get lost among the labyrinthine hallways surrounding this venue as you try to find your way out after an event, but don’t worry: follow people who look like they know where they’re going.

27. Go shopping on Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat.

Haarlemmerdijk, Amsterdam

If you’re looking for an alternative to the typical Amsterdam shopping experience, head to Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat. These two streets are packed full of shops and boutiques, mostly run by local designers.

You’ll also find plenty of places to get authentic Dutch snacks, like stroopwafels (syrup waffles) and cheese! A lot of stores sell products that have been made in-house at the store itself.

28. Shop at De Hallen, an indoor market in an old tram depot.

Shops at De Hallen, Amsterdam
De Hallen / Facebook

Address: Hannie Dankbaarpassage 47, 1053 RT Amsterdam, Netherlands

The De Hallen is a great place to shop for food, gifts, and art. It’s also a great place to enjoy a coffee or a drink. Better yet? You can eat at De Hallen.

If you’re looking for something more low-key, check out the outdoor food court, where you can find everything from vegan shawarma to Italian gelato. While you’re there, enjoy some people-watching—and bring your picnic blanket!

29. Explore Java Island

Aerial View of Java Island in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 1019 RX Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you are looking for a true Amsterdam off-the-beaten-path place to visit, you’ll want to visit this island. Java Island is a former industrial area in Amsterdam that has been converted into a residential area with restaurants, bars, and cafes.

The island offers beautiful views of the surrounding areas, including Amsterdam Centraal Station (Amsterdam Central Station) and the IJ River. You can walk along Java Island to see these sights or visit one of several small shops or flea markets held there every week.

Java Island’s tallest building is the Jaffa Theater (formerly known as Dynamo). It’s an Art Deco structure built in 1928 by architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage. It also houses offices, apartments, and shops on its first-floor area when it was first constructed but now houses offices only while providing space for events on its second floor.

The theater was closed down in 1968 due to a lack of funds but reopened after renovations were completed in 1994 with help from Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck, who combined modern style with traditional materials such as wood paneling from Indonesian colonial buildings.

30. Visit a Dutch canal house mansion at Museum Willet-Holthuysen or Museum Van Loon

Garden Of The Willet-Holthuysen Museum At Amsterdam
Dutchmen Photography / Shutterstock.com

Address: Herengracht 605, 1017 CE Amsterdam, Netherlands

Address: Keizersgracht 672, 1017 ET Amsterdam, Netherlands

Museum Willet-Holthuysen is a private museum dedicated to the art of the Dutch Golden Age. It’s a small but beautiful museum located in a 17th-century canal house, and it’s open to visitors on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The museum has been lovingly restored by its owner, who has done an excellent job of giving visitors an authentic experience of what it would have been like to live in Amsterdam during this period. The furniture and decor are original pieces from that period, which gives you an interesting glimpse into how people lived back then, right in the heart of the Dutch capital.

Meanwhile, Museum van Loon is one of my favorite “secret gardens in Amsterdam.” The museum is a great place to spend an afternoon, especially if you are looking for a quiet place to relax. The Museum has a beautiful garden with many different flowers and plants. There are also some benches where you can sit and enjoy the view.

If you are interested in Dutch history, the Museum van Loon is worth a visit. The Museum is located in a beautiful old canal house mansion, and the interior is just as impressive as the exterior. If you purchase an I Amsterdam City Card, you can visit this museum completely all-inclusive.

31. Read a book at one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful libraries, De Liefde van Boeken (Love of Books).

De Liefde van Boeken is a beautiful library in the Jordaan. It is a bookstore, library, and museum all in one. You can read books here or rent them for free if you have time to return them before they close.

The museum has books on display donated by famous writers like Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway, as well as art exhibits. If you are looking for inspiration while reading your book at De Liefde van Boeken, paintings from Vincent Van Gogh will get you thinking about life and love.

32. Get stimulated at AMAZE Amsterdam

Visual Experience at AMAZE Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Elementenstraat 25, 1014 AR Amsterdam, Netherlands

AMAZE Amsterdam is a new way to experience the city. It’s a sensory experience that uses light and sound installations, art, music, and architecture to create an interactive map of Amsterdam. There are five different routes to explore one or all of them!

You can also download their app for free on your smartphone or tablet. This way, you won’t miss out on anything fun happening in the city. If you want a unique way to get to know Amsterdam better, AMAZE is perfect.

They have routes through some of the most beautiful parts of the city where you will discover hidden gems that would otherwise be missed if not for this tour. You might even find yourself humming with an indie band playing in one of their tunnels at night!

33. Prinseneiland & Realeneiland

Red shutters scattered on the facade of traditional brick building in Prinseneiland quarter
Inu / Shutterstock

Address: 1013 LR Amsterdam, Netherlands

Address: Westelijke Eilanden Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you are looking for secret spots to grab a drink or avoid tourist crowds, you must check out the islands on the IJ River. Prinseneiland is a residential area with many restaurants, cozy cafés, and a nice river view. Realeneiland is a smaller island with several restaurants, a small beach, and a few bars.

Both islands are connected to Amsterdam by a bridge, which makes them ideal for day trips from the city center (or just going there for dinner!)

34. Oudemanhuispoort Bookmarkt

Empty Oudemanhuispoort in Amsterdam

Address: Spui, 1012 WX Amsterdam, Netherlands

Oudemanhuispoort Book Market is the perfect place if you’re a book lover. This market is in Amsterdam and features vintage books, comics, music, and film. The event occurs every Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm at the Oudemanhuispoort building on the Singel Canal.

The market has been open since 2014 and offers many available products. The books are categorized according to their genre: history, literature, and non-fiction, as well as children’s books. Other items like postcards and posters are also available at reasonable prices (ranging from €1–5).

35. Grab a drink at In ‘t Aepjen

Inside 't Aepjen Bar in Amsterdam (Cafe in the Monkeys)
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Zeedijk 1, 1012 AN Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you’re looking for an interesting bar with a long history, In ‘t Aepjen is a semi-secret place that is worth a visit. Located in the Red Light District, this bar was once popular with sailors returning from abroad.

They would often trade their exotic animals for drinks and sometimes even sleep here if they didn’t have enough money for a proper room. These days, it’s a popular spot for travelers looking to grab a drink and learn about Amsterdam’s unique history.

36. KattenKabinet (Cat Cabinet)

Black bench and bicycle at the windows and sign of the KattenKabinet
Lena Maximova / Shutterstock.com

Address: Herengracht 497, 1017 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you are looking for unusual things to do in Amsterdam, look no further than the first museum dedicated to cat art. KattenKabinet is a wonderful Amsterdam hidden gem that is the perfect place for cat lovers, as it is home to more than 50 paintings and statues of cats. The museum also has a shop where you can purchase cat-themed souvenirs.

This unique gallery filled with cat art was created in memory of that dear friend. Currently, the founder lives on the higher level of the building and possesses an amazing cat collection in the swanking Baroque style.

37. Visit Electric Ladyland

Electric Ladyland Interior and Exhibit
Electric Ladyland / TripAdvisor

Address: Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, 1015 TB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Electric Ladyland is a must-see for anyone interested in fluorescent art. Located in Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighborhood, the museum is just a 5-minute walk from the Anne Frank House. Electric Ladyland is owned by Nick Padalino, who offers guided tours of the museum and welcomes guests to share his passion for fluorescents.

The collection includes traditional and contemporary fluorescent artwork, from paintings and sculptures to installations and videos. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or a curious traveler, Electric Ladyland will illuminate your understanding of this unique medium.

38. Tony’s Chocolonely Super Store

Chocolates at Tony's Chocolonely Super Store
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: Oudebrugsteeg 15, 1012 JN Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tony’s Chocolonely Super Store is a delightful place you’ll want to visit on your trip to Amsterdam. It’s a haven for chocolate lovers, with walls lined with every flavor of Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars. Tony’s is also known for its ethical chocolate production practices.

The company works hard to ensure that its chocolate products are sourced from cocoa beans that are ethically harvested. While Tony’s may not be as well-known as some of Amsterdam’s other attractions, it’s worth a visit. You’ll leave with a sweet taste and a smile on your face.

39. Try the Best Cookies of Your Life at Van Stapeles

Holding Van Stapeles Cookies in Amsterdam
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: Heisteeg 4, 1012 WC Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat when you visit Amsterdam, Van Stapeles is the place to go. This little old-school bakery is known for its delicious chocolate cookies, which are freshly baked and irresistible.

Van Stapeles is located on a small cobblestone street off Spui, and it’s definitely worth seeking out if you’re looking for something unique to do in Amsterdam.

Just be warned that the cookies are so popular that they tend to sell out quickly (and the line gets incredibly long), so it’s best to get there early. Trust us, and they’re worth the effort. To give you a sense of the line length when we were there, the line extended into the canal bridge twice!

40. Visit Happy Bookieman

Happy Bookiema Interior and Customers
Happy Bookieman / Facebook

Address: Herengracht 267A, 1016 BJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is one of our favorite off-the-beaten-path places to visit, as you won’t even know it exists unless you have flagged it on your map. This hidden bookstore features cheerful interiors and a lively atmosphere, thanks to its owner, the Happy Bookieman.

A visit to Happy Bookieman is certainly a great, fun, and unique experience for travelers in Amsterdam. Although this quirky little shop appears in some lists to find the best books in Amsterdam, it’s not as common as you’d think.

Happy Bookieman is the home of the owner, so it’s technically a private residence, and this also makes it open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Steve, aka Happy Bookieman, is happy enough to offer a chance to talk or just buy books. The shelves are usually filled with books.

41. Kinderboerderij ‘De Dierencapel’

Kinderboerderij Westerpark

Address: Overbrakerpad 10, 1014 AZ Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s no secret that children love animals, and a visit to the Kinderboerderij is a great way to get up close and personal with some of their favorites. This petting zoo is located in Amsterdam’s Westerpark, and it’s home to all sorts of animals, including rabbits, ducks, goats, pigs, and more.

The Dutch have a big interest in establishing places for children in cities, so many Dutch cities have these farms located near their centers.

This non-touristy thing to do in Amsterdam is a great option to add to your bucket list, especially if you are traveling with kids or as a family. It is also available for donations and is conducted by volunteers.

What do the locals do in Amsterdam, Netherlands?

Towers of Amsterdam Along with Canal Houses
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you’re looking to get a sense of what the locals in Amsterdam are all about, there are a few key places you should check out. First, the city’s many parks are popular hangouts – on a sunny day, you’ll find people picnicking, playing sports, and enjoying some time outdoors.

If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite or drink, one of the many historical cafes and bars are always popular with local Amsterdammers.

And finally, Amsterdam is home to tons of small museums, which are perfect for exploring if you’re interested in the city’s history and culture. So whether you’re looking to relax in a park or learn more about Amsterdam’s past, spending time like a local is a great way to get to know this unique city.

Final Thoughts

There is no shortage of things to do in Amsterdam. On my fourth stopover in this majestic city, I had to spend an entire week here to explore and immerse myself in the Dutch metropolitan capital of Amsterdam. It was a wonderful experience where I didn’t need to spend much time in tourist areas to enjoy my experience.

There is truly an option for any weather condition. Start exploring Amsterdam differently by visiting one of these underrated things to do. Enjoy your trip to Amsterdam. Now go out and visit Amsterdam.

FAQs

What are some non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam?

There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam that aren’t tourist traps. For starters, wander through Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest), visit one of the many hofjes (secret gardens), or tour one of the many art galleries or small museums. If you’re looking for something a little more off-the-beaten-path, you can explore one of Amsterdam’s many hidden streets, kayaking on a canal, or visit a local craft brewery.

What are some unusual things to do in Amsterdam?

The most unusual things to do in Amsterdam include visiting the cat art museum of KattenKabinet, IJ-Hallen, the largest flea market in Europe, and the De Poezenboot, a non-profit cat adoption center on a boat.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.

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