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What to see and do in Amsterdam

An older woman and a younger woman sit together in one of the green parks in Amsterdam

Best time to fly to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a fantastic place to visit all year round. However, the most popular season for tourism is in the summer months of June to August, when the weather is relatively warm, and visitors can enjoy plenty of open-air activities and events.

A quieter period to visit Amsterdam is between November and February. Airline tickets to Amsterdam are typically cheaper during this period, but the temperature will be lower, and we recommend travelers pack an umbrella as rainfall is more frequent than at other times of year.

With this in mind, the best time to book flights to Amsterdam, Netherlands, is probably in either April or September. In those months, it is warm enough to enjoy outdoor exploring, but the high season hasn't quite kicked off yet, so travelers can still enjoy relatively crowd-free exploring.

Getting around Amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam by bike is one of the most popular ways to get around the city. Travelers can rent a bike for around 10 euros a day. Walking is another great option to discover the city for yourself.

The public transport system in Amsterdam is also very convenient. You can purchase a public transport chipcard (called an OV-chipkaart). Once topped up, you can use this card for travel on trams, buses, metros, and ferries. The card is valid for up to 5 years – just in case you need another excuse to visit Amsterdam again.

Finding good car parking in the city center can be tricky, so we suggest skipping the car rental in favor of cycling or using the Dutch public transport system.

A bike is parked against a handrail in Amsterdam, with a view of one of the canals in the background
A woman holds flowers, walking across one of the canal bridges in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Things to do in Amsterdam

The chameleon city of Amsterdam has many faces. It does highbrow with ease, giving you blockbuster art from homegrown icons like Rembrandt and Van Gogh – with the Van Gogh Museum being a favorite among locals and travelers alike.

But the city also has a colorful culture, from its brown cafés (the name for traditional pubs) to the renowned red-light district.

If you're looking to learn about the city's history, visit Anne Frank's House for a somber glimpse into the past.

Take a wander through the city center to see Golden Age architecture and traditional canals that will make you wish you had time to explore every cobbled street in the city.

The best markets in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is also a paradise for anyone who likes mooching in outdoor markets.

Waterlooplein Markt is the flea market to top all flea markets, but there are also other local markets if you are looking for antiques, art, and old books.

Albert Cuypmarkt, the largest and most popular outdoor market in Amsterdam, is a multicultural melting pot of spice and color.

Up for a bit of sensory overload? The fabulously fragrant flower market Bloemenmarkt is the place to go! You didn't really think we'd talk about Amsterdam without mentioning tulips, did you?

A woman browses the fresh food markets in Amsterdam, Netherlands
The colourful houses of Amsterdam with the canal in the front, pictured from the other side of the water

What to eat in Amsterdam

Vlaamse frites might just be the best thing about Amsterdam. These hot, crunchy French fries are smothered in mayonnaise, and you can find them in the wide range of cafes and frituur's (fast food restaurants that serve fried food) around the city.

And if there's one thing that we know to be true, it's that the Dutch know good cheese when they see it. There are several towns in the Netherlands famed for their cheese (hello Gouda and Edam!).

Raw herring is another local flavor that's love-it-or-leave-it. But perhaps the biggest 'homegrown' surprise on the food front is the rijsttafel. This is an Indonesian banquet - literally meaning “rice table” - and is a dish influenced by Dutch colonial history.

Places to eat and drink in Amsterdam

Enjoy your Dutch frites with a local beer at any of the countless outdoor cafes, where you can enjoy breathtaking canal views and endless people-watching.

We also recommend dropping by the Foodhallen for some tasty touring and to sample another Dutch delicacy: bitterballen.

Bitterballen are delicious, meat-filled croquettes that are often served alongside beer in bars and eateries.

That said, there is seemingly no end to restaurants and bars in Amsterdam, Netherlands. You’ll find excellent food and drink options at almost every corner.

A woman is standing at a restaurant bar in Amsterdam, ready to make an order

FAQs about travel to Amsterdam

Helpful information for travelers to Amsterdam

When is the cheapest time to fly to Amsterdam?

Airline tickets to Amsterdam are cheapest outside of the peak season (between May and August), and you can expect low fares to Amsterdam in the colder months. For example, November and February tend to be the months when travelers can find cheap flights to Amsterdam.

How long is the flight from the US to Amsterdam?

Typically, direct flights to Amsterdam airport take between 7-11 hours depending on where in the US you're traveling from.

You can break up longer flights with a stopover in Iceland, which can provide some much-needed rest and relaxation for long-haul passengers. Stopover passengers can spend up to 7 days in Iceland at no additional airfare and enjoy everything Iceland has to offer on their way to Amsterdam.

What US cities fly direct to Amsterdam?

With Icelandair, you can book tickets to Amsterdam from 12 major US cities. Major airports include New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Denver (DEN), and Seattle (SEA). View our full list of US departure cities to find your nearest airport.

How far is it from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam city center?

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is approximately 14 miles (22km) from the center of Amsterdam. You can reach the city center from the airport by taxi, bus, or train. Some hotels or other accommodation options may even offer a hotel shuttle service from Amsterdam Schiphol to the city center.