This time I’m sharing my list of unusual things to do in Amsterdam! Whether you’re visiting Amsterdam for the first time or returning to explore the gorgeous canals yet again, you’ll find something to suit your tastes. If you’re ready to seek adventures beyond the Damrak, these 15 unique things to do will make your getaway truly magical.
Here are the contents of today's post:
- 1 Top 15 Unique Things To Do In Amsterdam
- 1.1 Eat fresh oysters at the Noorderkerk local market
- 1.2 Take an audio tour through Tuschinski Theater
- 1.3 Go on an Escape Room adventure in Rijksmuseum
- 1.4 Experience The Netherlands in 5D flight with This Is Holland
- 1.5 Enjoy High Tea in the smallest house in Amsterdam
- 1.6 Chill at the W Hotel Pool with a Royal Palace view
- 1.7 Go plastic fishing during a unique tour of Amsterdam’s canals
- 1.8 Shop vintage clothes, antiques & art on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
- 1.9 Take a backstage tour of the Concertgebouw
- 1.10 Visit the House Boat Museum
- 1.11 Rent a bike or canoe at Amsterdam Forest
- 1.12 Relax at Spa Zuiver
- 1.13 Discover a secret speakeasy cocktail bar Door74
- 1.14 Grab a beer at the cafe in historical Sluyswacht
- 1.15 Take a chocolate tour in a vintage Fiat 500
Top 15 Unique Things To Do In Amsterdam
Eat fresh oysters at the Noorderkerk local market
There’s nothing better than wandering around a true local market, searching for finds. Noorderkerk market is a market loved by locals and it is held on several different days. On Saturday, from 9:00 to 16:00, you will find an amazing organic food market with fresh produce including cheese, vegetables, fruit, spices, honey, bread and more.
Come in the early morning to get the best pick of the things, such as extremely delicious and fresh oysters (2,5 EUR per piece). You can also sit down and have your fill accompanied by a glass of bubbly. By the time I got there, the biggest shells were all emptied but even the left-overs were so delicious. So come in the morning and thank me later!
Oysters aside, this is the perfect place to buy organic food, tasty cheese, bread, and fresh vegetables. If you are staying in an apartment, why not take advantage of your surroundings and cook a splendid meal with herbs straight from the market?
Bonus: If you come on Monday from 09:00 to 13:00, you will discover a flea market. There are many flea market stalls open on Saturday as well. If you have to choose, come on Saturday to enjoy the food and rummage about.
Take an audio tour through Tuschinski Theater
Discover the history behind the stunning Tuschinski Theater. Now a functioning cinema, the Theater on Reguliersbreestraat is part of the Pathe group. The unique facade is a mix of art deco and art nouveau, created on Tuschinski’s commission by the architect Hijman Luis de Jong. But as pretty as the facade is, the cinema’s biggest hall is a real theatre and there’s nothing quite as charming as watching a favorite movie in a red velvet chair.
The theater offers daily audio tours that start between 09:30 and 11:30. The tour is available in both English and Dutch, lasts 45 minutes and costs 10 EUR which includes a cup of tea or coffee. A guided tour is also available for big groups starting from 15 people. To book, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to enjoy the theater’s ambiance, you can take a look at the planned movie screenings and other performances on the Pathe website. To enjoy a showing in the beautiful theatre space, look for movies in the Grote Zaal. Occasionally, there can be live concerts as well.
Go on an Escape Room adventure in Rijksmuseum
In summer of 2018 Rijksmuseum launched what was meant to be a limited summertime special – a unique Escape game experience that takes place in Amsterdam’s most famous museum. However, it seems that after the initial success, the quest is here to stay. The experience lasts a generous 1.5 hours and really pulls you into the atmosphere. You’re tasked with recovering a formula stolen from an 18th-century book by the Italian sorcerer and alchemist Alessandro Cagliostro.
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This is me, busy unlocking the mysteries of @Rijksmuseum during their fantastic escape game!❤️ (more in stories) We were tasked with recovering the magic spell of Cagliostro on #rijksmuseumescapegame 🤓The game was super fun and a test of team work if you play with family or friends!! ⭐️Fun facts⭐️ – You get to explore across the whole museum 🙃 – There’s no time limit so you can combine with a relaxed visit 🤤 – You can choose regular or Expert level (we did a mini-expert version and you can totally do it 💪🏻) – It only costs €17.77 per group + ticket to the museum – There’s clues all around so you have to pay attention 🧐!! Would you take a crack at the game? Do you like escape rooms and quests?🤓 P.S.: thanks for the invite @senns_less and photo @niscovery 🙏🏻
The game is not actually an escape room in the classic sense. It requires you to explore all around the museum, searching for clues among the objects and artifacts. There are two different routes you can take, an advanced one or a more family-friendly one. Depending on your time and team, you can choose a harder level to really challenge yourself. Once you solve the mystery you get to unlock the mysterious door leading you to the quest’s conclusion…
I did the advanced route with our group of 4 people and we did really well. Teamwork is crucial, as all gamers know! Since we were doing the experience during the opening night, we didn’t explore the museum and were running from place to place. But I believe that taking your time and mixing the quest together with museum exploration will be your best reward. The question costs €17.77 per group of 2 to 5 players in addition to the regular admission ticket.
If you’re looking for a real escape room in Amsterdam with locked doors and a time limit, check out Sherlocked in Beurs van Berlage.
Experience The Netherlands in 5D flight with This Is Holland
The Netherlands is so much more than just Amsterdam. That is the idea behind the flight experience by This Is Holland. During the 9-minute flight, you will discover many must-see locations that you didn’t even know existed! I say this with full confidence: I saw impressed Dutchies exit This Is Holland as well. The flight experience is very well thought out: it feels like a great adventure, you get to feel the seawater spray, you get to breathe in the sweet smell of the flower fields, and you get to discover so many locations that will make you want to go beyond Amsterdam!
To be honest, I kind of even got emotional at one point. I can’t in all honesty state that it would have the same effect on you: after all, 5 minutes ago I just had a lump in my throat during the “Lion King” opening sequence. But regardless of your sensitivity, visiting This Is Holland will give you a much better idea of the country and will also give you some amazing ideas for day trips. This is why I would recommend visiting it at the beginning of your stay so that you can adjust your agenda, should you want to. For example, one of the fantastic locations you will visit during the flight is the heaths of De Hoge Veluwe national park, which I have a detailed guide on.
This Is Holland is across the IJ waterfront from Central Station. It’s easy to get there with a free ferry. The adult tickets are 16,50 EUR (and kids are pretty much guaranteed to love it too). You can combine the visit with a trip to the A’DAM Lookout, for example. For more ideas of what to do during your first visit, check out my 3 day Amsterdam itinerary.
Enjoy High Tea in the smallest house in Amsterdam
What could be cuter than having Afternoon Tea in Amsterdam’s Smallest House? Yes, this definitely fits the ‘unique things to do in Amsterdam’ bill! This little house in one of Amsterdam’s oldest neighborhoods is only 2 meters wide. The owner really breathed in new life into the old property: the house once accommodated a family of five! Unbelievable as that was, that is only one of the stories that await you in this lovely tearoom.
The first floor is a cozy little tea store, while the second and third floors are ready to welcome you to a tea-infused fairytale. There are many options for breakfast, brunch, high tea, and even lunch. I’ve been in The Smallest House twice: once for a delightful breakfast to which I was an hour late (that wasn’t my finest day), and another very recently for an Afternoon Tea with finger sandwiches, three different pies, and scones so tasty that when our gracious host offered to take something away with us, we didn’t hesitate. The Afternoon Tea we chose was priced at 25 EUR per person, while the High Tea is 35 EUR.
This spot is well-loved by the locals and deserves only the kindest visitors which I’m sure you are 🙂 So if you want to get a feel for historical Amsterdam, book in advance and enjoy the experience!
Chill at the W Hotel Pool with a Royal Palace view
If you’re spending summer in the city it doesn’t mean that you have to give up those epic poolside views. To combine an amazing view of the Royal Palace with refreshments and an awesome pool, head over to the W Hotel.
The hotel’s terrace will definitely impress you. The W lounge offers views to both sides of the building, which gives a great perspective over the rooftops as well as the busy streets below. There’s not much else to be said: this one is all about the views.
Go plastic fishing during a unique tour of Amsterdam’s canals
Going plastic fishing on the Amsterdam canals is one of the most unusual things to do in Amsterdam for sure! And let me tell you, it’s exactly like it sounds. An environmentally-friendly initiative paired with a touristic activity by Plastic Whale, the 2-hour boat trip really delivers on both fun and picturesque locations. Once you step into the boat, you get your own fishing net, and off you go!
The best part is probably that while other boat tours sail past according to a pre-determined route, you get to go anywhere you spot a piece of plastic. It turns into a competitive “I spy” game where everyone is super invested in finding even the smallest bits of plastic bags. A real celebration occurs when someone spots a bottle near the side of the canal. As the captain maneuvers the vessel to fit in between the moored boats, you angle your arms and triumphantly fish the troublemaker out! Be prepared to discuss the weirdest catch of the day as well as laugh and bond with the other passengers.
I think that this experience is definitely worth your while, and offers an unusual way to experience the Amsterdam canals. You will move plenty without getting tired, and once the tour is over, you will step out of the boat with a sense of achievement as well. All that for just 25 EUR.
Shop vintage clothes, antiques & art on Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is the ultimate destination for art lovers, antique seekers, and vintage bargain hunters. From Delft ceramics to pocket watches: you will find the most beautiful items. The street is hosting expensive shops with exclusive items that will make a true connoisseur want to stay quite a while.
You will easily find the beautiful antiquities store that marks the beginning of the street. Just head up the Spiegelgracht away from the Rijksmuseum and you will stumble upon a Delft-filled facade of Kramer Kunst & Antiek. Happy hunting!
Take a backstage tour of the Concertgebouw
It’s time to take exploring one step further and discover the wonderful backstage of The Royal Concert Gebouw – Amsterdam’s great Concert Hall.
The Concert Gebouw is in the Top Best Concert Halls in the whole world. It is among the most famous halls and has unparalleled acoustics. And a 75-minute long tour of its premises will only cost you 10 EUR per person.
I joined a tour myself and it was a real pleasure: you will get a thorough understanding of the building’s history, will learn many interesting facts about the design and the life of the Concert Gebouw during the World War II, but what’s even more important is that you will get a peek at the hall’s day-to-day life: from the stage, to the ceiling, peeking into changing rooms, basements, piano lifts and so much more.
Don’t forget to combine your visit with a concert: after all, it’s all about the acoustics and the brilliant performers. If you are short on time, consider the Free Lunchtime Concerts. Otherwise, stay for an evening performance. Either way, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!
P.S.: Before heading over please check the tour schedule and availability on the Concertgebouw website.
Visit the House Boat Museum
The Houseboat Museum on Prinsengracht can be easily overlooked when your itinerary is filled with such well-known musea as Van Gogh, Anne Frank, and the Rijksmuseum. However, in case you ever wondered how Dutchies live on boats, this museum will give you some insight on the matter! If you’ve already hit the cultural quota on your trip to Amsterdam, check out the cozy Houseboat museum. The museum is literally the size of a boat and a ticket is only 4,50 EUR or free for IAmsterdam card holders.
The concept of living in a boat on the water is something that may seem unusual to a lot of people. There are surely a lot of practical issues to consider! For exactly that reason the 100-year old Hendrika Maria has been open to visitors. Now you can find out what it’s like to live on a boat in the heart of the city. Take in the interiors and imagine yourself in the surroundings… While owning a boathouse in Amsterdam is certainly not cheap, who knows, perhaps this lifestyle will be just what you were looking for! I was surprised at how unrestricted I felt walking through the boat’s living room. While you will have to sacrifice space, the appeal of lounging on your own deck in good weather is strong.
Rent a bike or canoe at Amsterdam Forest
The Amsterdamse Bos merits at least half a day of exploration. It’s a huge area with so many things to explore both for solo travelers, friends or families. If you head over to the Forest, I recommend renting a bike as the area is quite vast. But what can be better than spend an hour rowing on the lake or exploring the surroundings on a pedal boat?
Some of the many activities offered in the park include excursions, a climbing park and goat yoga. Yes, that is actual yoga with goats on a real Goat Farm, and optional breakfast, thanks for asking! If you are resisting the idea, how about getting to the Amsterdam Forest by a Museum Tram from Haarlemmermeer station? Once you arrive, you will easily spend a day getting lost in the beautiful area and having the time of your life.
Relax at Spa Zuiver
Give yourself a pampering at Spa Zuiver which is very conveniently located next to the Amsterdamse Bos. The Spa often runs specials that make visiting it a bargain. Keep in mind that the Spa has ‘badkledingdagen’ (bathing suit days). On the other days, you have to come without. This is something you have to decide for yourself 🙂 The spa is also a hotel so if you are looking for a relaxing weekend in Amsterdam, this might be the perfect choice. Discover the accommodation and the spa for yourself.
Discover a secret speakeasy cocktail bar Door74
If you love cocktails and thrive in an atmosphere of exclusivity, do yourself a favor and book a table at Door74. Hidden behind an unassuming door and welcoming by prior appointment only, Door74 is the perfect place for the sophisticated guest. The address is kept a secret, however same day reservations are taken. So visiting the bar can be a spur of the moment decision after all. The bar is done in a classic bootlegger style with an atmospheric decor and an extensive selection of cocktails.
Grab a beer at the cafe in historical Sluyswacht
This historical building was built in 1695 to house the sluice master of the canal. Now Sluyswacht is a local characterful pub and cafe that celebrates its rich history. This is the perfect place to try the local beer and eat some classic Dutch snacks. Try the bitterballen, vlammertjes and simple tostis. Enjoy the bar’s simple interior or stay outside on the terrace if the weather favors you. Whatever you choose to do, you will definitely feel the spirit of the city in this historical location. Sluyswacht usually opens at 12:00 PM, and on 2:00 PM on Sundays.
Take a chocolate tour in a vintage Fiat 500
Those chocolate lovers among you will appreciate the final attraction on my unusual things to do in Amsterdam list. Get ready to hop into a vintage Fiat 500 as your tour guide whisks you away on a chocolate-filled journey through Amsterdam. Admittedly, the chocolate tour from Dam Lekker is still on my to-do list. But I couldn’t bear to deprive you of the chance to discover this experience for yourself!