1. Visit the Amsterdam History Museum
This museum features a comprehensive history of Amsterdam. It’s big, and you’ll need 3–4 hours to really go through it in detail. There are a lot of relics, maps, paintings, and audio-visual displays throughout the museum. My favorite is the computer graphic at the entrance showing the growth and construction of the city over time. I can’t recommend this museum enough. It’s one of the best history museums I’ve ever visited. Admission is €15 ($17 USD), and it’s open daily from 10am-5pm.
2. The Tulip Museum
Located in a room inside a tulip shop, this little place does an interesting job of telling the history of tulips in Holland and the infamous tulip craze. Best of all: you’ll never find a crowd. It’s pretty off the beaten path! And at €5 ($5.55 USD), it’s the cheapest museum in town.
3. See the Jewish History Museum
Located near Waterlooplein and often overlooked for the Anne Frank House, the Jewish Historical Museum tells the history of the Jews’ prominent and influential position in Amsterdam. It also has an excellent section on World War 2, the Holocaust, and how the Dutch dealt with the guilt of mass deportations after the war. Admission is €17 ($19 USD), and it’s open daily from 10am-5pm.
4. See photography at FOAM
The photography museum houses wonderful pictures and sees few crowds despite being in the main part of the city. I really enjoyed all the black and white photographs and the outdoor garden. They change the exhibits all the time, so you never know what is exactly going to be there (but it’s guaranteed to be good). I visit each time I’m in the city. Admission is €15.50 ($17.20 USD), and it’s open daily from 10am-6pm, except Thursdays and Fridays when it’s open until 9pm.
5. Squeeze into the Houseboat Museum
Not much of a museum, but this decorated houseboat gives you an interesting glimpse into what living on the canals is like. I walked away with one impression of life on the canals: a bit cramped. Admission is €4.50 ($5 USD), and it’s open daily from 10am-5pm.
6. Explore Oost
The area east of the city has an amazing park, a zoo, and lots of good Muslim eateries. Wandering around here, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of tourists, most of whom are probably lost. It’s an off-the-beaten-path and underrated part of the city. Also, spend some time hanging out in Oosterpark — I enjoy coming here because it’s far quieter and more peaceful than Vondelpark.
7. Relax in Rembrandt Park
Not to be confused with Rembrandtplein in the city center, this park west of the city is a leisurely place to wander. The area around it is built for the working class and is more modern than elsewhere in Amsterdam – a good contrast to the historic center. You’ll know you are there when signs suddenly stop being printed in English and are only Dutch.
8. Take in the Heineken Experience
I find it to be overpriced and commercial, but the Heineken Experience will give you an overview of the company, a few drinks, and some silly games to play. Note that this isn’t an actual working brewery. Admission is €18 ($20 USD), and it’s open daily from 11am-7:30pm with an extended hour on the weekends (last entry is 2 hours before close).
9. See the windmills
Setting out on an adventure to visit the windmills surrounding the city is another great way to tour. There are eight in total – most of which are in Amsterdam West. De Gooyer is the closest to the city center and also happens to be a brewery, making it the perfect place to start (and maybe never leave). It’s just a quick 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal!
10. Stroll through the plantage
The is an entire district in Amsterdam, comprised of green neighborhoods, tree-lined boulevards, quintessential canal scenes, several gardens and parks, and the Artis Royal Zoo. Beyond the main zoo area, Artis is also host to a Zoological Museum, a Planetarium, and an Aquarium. Tickets start from €20 ($22 USD).