Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is full of exciting things to see and experience. It is full of tourists year-round who are longing to see the sights that make the city so unique.
From the Anne Frank House to Rijksmuseum to Dam Square, these attractions are always full of people admiring their beauty and significance. However, there is more to Amsterdam than these attractions.
The city of Amsterdam is extremely old and holds many secret places and hidden gems to see that very few know about. Although the main attractions of the city are excellent, seeing the non-touristy side of Amsterdam is even more exciting.
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There is more to the city than being crammed in the city centre with thousands of other tourists. There are other different areas around the city that aren’t all jam-packed with tourists and are actually enjoyable to hang around at.
Amsterdam actually has some exceptional local secrets that are off the beaten path, and here we are spilling some of the best-kept secrets of Amsterdam!
Without further ado, here is a list of some hidden things to do in Amsterdam!
Non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam, Netherlands
1. Brunch on the Canal
We start of the hidden gems of Amsterdam starting with the food!
If you are a brunch-lover, then you are in for a treat while visiting Amsterdam! Brunch in Amsterdam is fantastic. This city offers some of the best options in the world.
There are a ton of different restaurants to choose from located all around the city, each with amazing dishes and picture-perfect interiors. If you don’t have a lot of time in the city, you should plan your brunch restaurants wisely to make it to the best ones!
There are two brunch restaurants in Amsterdam in particular that very few know about that offer an amazing off-the-beaten-track experience – The Pancake boat and G’s Really Nice Place.
The Pancake Boat sails around the IJ River for 75 minutes and all those on board get unlimited Dutch pancakes. Further, G’s Really Nice Place sails around the inner canals of the city on a canal boat and offers a full bunch menu complete with drinks, coffee, a meal, and dessert!
Both of these options are very cool and unique brunch experiences that will give you a new perspective of the city and a different brunch experience than other travellers.
2. Sky lounge
Night time in Amsterdam is when the city comes alive. When the sun is gone, the street lamps turn on, and the city is alight with signs and bars and late-night events. There is a plethora of options for things to do at night.
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam at night is to go to a rooftop bar. The most enjoyable and beautiful rooftop bar in Amsterdam is the Sky lounge. This bar is located beside the central station and has a vast rooftop terrace for people to sit on at night. The terrace overlooks the city of Amsterdam and offers an in-house DJ.
This is a magical location in Amsterdam that very few know about.
3. Electric Ladyland
Amsterdam is absolutely packed with museums of all kinds; you can find a museum with art exhibits of animals, bacteria, bodies and more! However, there is one museum in Amsterdam that is extraordinarily secret and differs from all other museums on one fundamental level.
This museum is the Electric Ladyland.
If you love art and want to experience an art museum unlike any other than the Electric Ladyland museum is the one for you. This museum is the world’s first and only fluorescent light museum that is located a few blocks from the Anne Frank museum, right in the heart of the city. It focuses on minerals, art and other items that create a fluorescent glow.
This museum is very different from all others, mainly because it is a participatory art museum, where visitors become part of the artwork during their visit. It is not a traditional museum where visitors view the art; they are a part of the creative process!
More so, this museum is educational in showing how regular rocks emit different colours and fluorescent lights under different wavelengths. It is a brilliant show of the wonders of nature.
The museum costs 5€ to enter.
4. Explore Amsterdam Oost
Amsterdam, like most cities, has a bunch of different neighbourhoods that all have diverse offerings. From the Joordan to the city center to De Pijp, Amsterdam is a playground of areas just waiting to be explored.
However, the neighbourhoods listed above are relatively well-known and visited by tourists and locals alike. Therefore, it is time to explore the less-known but beautiful Oost neighbourhood!
This neighbourhood is one of the most exciting ones in Amsterdam, yet few tourists venture out to it for explorations.
This stops now! In Oost, you will find great restaurants, lovely streets, a park, and even the Amsterdam zoo. It is a trendy and hip area that is full of surprises and beauty.
If you are an aspiring photographer, this is the best area to capture some photos. The streets are not even close to busy, and you can get the beautiful Amsterdam houses and surroundings with absolutely zero people getting in the way.
5. Museum of Bags and Purses
As previously mentioned, Amsterdam is a museum gold mine. There is one for everything and adding to this list is the Museum of Bags and Purses.
This museum is completely dedicated to bags that date back to the 1600s. The bags walk you through fashion history, and it is quite impressive, whether you are interested in fashion or not.
The Museum of Bags and Purses is located inside a traditional Amsterdam house, so this is the perfect opportunity to snoop inside one and see what it is really like behind the brick walls.
More so, very few people know about this museum, so it is never jam-packed, and you can look around without hordes of people around you.
6. De Poezenboot
De Poezenboot is an offbeat attraction that is mainly for cat or animal lovers. It is a cat sanctuary that is home to the homeless cats of Amsterdam. So, if you are a cat lover and want to see some cute kitties while on your Amsterdam adventure, take a pit stop here.
There is another significant aspect to this attraction – the whole sanctuary is located on an authentic, Amsterdam houseboat!
If you are not a huge cat lover but are dying to step foot on one of these iconic houseboats, this is a great opportunity. However, do not abuse this privilege, if you go onboard, pet some cats – they will be irresistible!
Do note that the boat is only open a couple of hours a day, so be sure to check online before visiting.
7. Hortus Botanicas
Hortus Botanicas is a vast botanical garden inside a greenhouse located in the Plantage district of Amsterdam.
The construction of this garden dates back to 1638, making it one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens. It was created in the 1600s to grow medicines that doctors would use to treat illnesses such as the plague.
These botanical gardens are not only filled with beautiful flora and fauna, but also full of significant history.
Despite the story and importance behind Hortus botanicas, it remains an Amsterdam secret that brings in few visitors. This is a good thing though; exploring the gardens is quite relaxing and made even better when there are fewer people around.
The botanical gardens are one of those off the beaten track attractions that surprises all visitors with its beauty and charm.
Amsterdam restaurants are all so unique and delicious that sometimes it can be hard to pick an option.
Foodhallen is one that I highly recommend. The FoodHallen is a very unique ‘restaurant’ concept that involves multiple restaurants in permanent food trucks all in one great hall. The options range from alcoholic drink stands, specialty hot dogs, pizza to dim sum, ice-cream, and more!
This restaurant is the perfect place to go if you’re with a group of picky eaters or you can’t agree on where to go. There is sure to be something for everyone that will make the whole group happy.
9. Theatre Tuschinski
The Netherlands has notoriously lousy weather; rainy days are the norm here. Therefore, planning some indoor activities for a wet-weather plan is a must. One activity that is sure to wow you is watching a film at Theatre Tuschinisk.
Although it may seem odd to see a movie while travelling, this theatre is unlike any other. It was built in 1921 and offers a cinema experience beyond the film on the screen. The interior of the theatre is stunning, complete with ornate details, and the seats are plush and huge.
If the weather is not optimal or you would like to see a movie in a new and unique environment, this theatre is the stop for you!
In case you were wondering, they do play English movies in Amsterdam.