An Honest Review of Amsterdam: The Best and Worst (and Weirdest!) Things to Do

Whenever I’m travelling somewhere new, the first thing I do once I’ve booked is read travel guides and I’m not going to lie, I often find travel blogger’s perspectives on places a lot more useful than larger sites . I’ve been to Amsterdam five times now and I have to say, I’ve ticked off a lot of bits that are on the ‘best things to do’ lists. I thought I would share with you my opinion on the best things to do, and the places/things to avoid on your stay!

amsterdam main



Museum Vrolik
If you like the cool and the creepy, head to Museum Vrolik. Famed for it’s oddities and deformities, I originally found the small museum on a site about quirky things to do in the Dutch city. Oddly, this little exhibit is within a medical school but it’s completely free and omg SO fascinating. An anatomical collection dedicated to mutations of the human form, it’s not for the faint of heart but a completely unique experience!

amsterdam vrolik museum

Where you can find it: J0-130, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Netherlands
Nearest to: Holendrect Metro station

The Nine Streets 
Love shopping and looking to take home something unique? Try the Nine Streets, or ‘De 9 Straatjes’. Surrounded by canals are quaint shops filled with all manner of things and the best part? It’s all ridiculously Instagrammable (because that’s your priority, obvs).
Where you can find it: Amsterdam Centrum
Nearest to: Take the 13, 14 or 17 Tram to Westermarkt

Swap out traditional museums in favour of a scientific wonder- Bodyworlds! An interactive exhibition that shows you what the inside of our bodies look like- and you guessed it, it’s all real…

amsterdam bodyworlds

It’s more preferable to NEMO Science Museum which is often very busy and more suited to younger children, and it’s also a little far out if you’re just looking to visit the centre of Amsterdam.

Where you can find it: Damrak 66, 1012 LM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nearest to: Amsterdam Centraal

Even if you’re not a museum person, I couldn’t recommend Museumplein enough. It’s a stunning area in the Amsterdam-Zuid borough that sees 19th century buildings that houses everything from the art of Van Gogh to more modern aesthetics.

amsterdam museumplein

Where you can find it: Damrak 66, 1012 LM Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nearest to: Amsterdam Centraal

Zaanse Schans
If you have a lot of time in Amsterdam, considering venturing out of the city for the day- one of my favourite places is Zaanse Schans. A cute neighbourhood in Zaandam, the area preserves it’s 18th and 19th century heritage with traditional windmills and beautiful surroundings.


Step into the cheese factory and sample endless tasty flavours, visit the bakery museum, head inside the windmills and also paint your own clogs- all interactively experienced with staff in authentic 19th century attire. This is also the perfect place to go for a boat ride or hire a bike and saunter around the village, taking in everything there is to offer.

Where you can find it: Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Netherlands
Nearest to: Zaandijk Zaanse Schans station

One thing there isn’t a shortage of in Amsterdam is museums. There’s hundreds. I’m always on the lookout for the quirky ones and that’s where I stumbled upon Kattenkabinet, an art museum completely dedicated to feline works. From Pablo Piccasso to Rembrandt, the glorious building is covered with paintings of cats!

Where you can find it: Herengracht 497, 1017 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nearest to: Tram lines 1,2 and 5- stop Keizersgracht

The Sex Museum
Due to the fact that it’s really such a touristy thing to go to, I hadn’t been to the Sex Museum until the last time I visited (last May) and I kind of loved it! Okay so there are MANY weird phallic symbols and some rather dodgy animatronics going on, but I found the old Victorian photography really interesting and was a fan of the building itself- it’s worth a visit IMO.

amsterdam sex museum

Where to Eat and Drink
A majority of people want to try the local delicacies when they visit a new place, and I’m not going to lie, Amsterdam and The Netherlands in general has some of my favourite foods! When you’re there, you must try:

  • Kroket– traditionally containing veal or beef, croquettes are meaty bites covered in breadcrumbs and deep-fried (yum!). They can be served alone or on the side with your burger.
  • Patat– Seen as the Dutch version of the classic French fries, Patat are thick chips served with a variety of sauces, most famously a blend of mayo, peanut sauce and raw onions- it’s amazing!
  • Bitterballen– Meat flavoured balls deep fried and served with mustard, you’ll find bitterballen pretty much everywhere (even McDonalds!)food
    and for those with a sweet tooth:
  • Poffertjes– What’s better than pancakes? MINI PANCAKES OFC. Poffertjes are cute and fluffy pancakes made from yeast and buckwheat flour and my God they’re glorious.
  • Hagelslag– *giggle* Looking for something a little different to put on your bread? Try Hagelslag *tee hee*, it’s essentially sweet sprinkles, mainly chocolate flavoured.
  • Stroopwafel– Probably the most famous sweet treat to be exported from The Netherlands, stroopwafels date back from the 18th and 19th centuries, created by bakers south of Amsterdam. You can buy them everywhere and they’re best enjoyed by balancing them over your teacup to soften, before eating.

Top tip from a local: if you love sushi, head to Ku on Utrechtsestraat, you won’t be disappointed!


Hiring a Bike
I’ve seen a number of tourist websites recommend hiring a bike to take in the city and although it’s a quaint idea, I’m not sure it’s best for everyone. Although bicycles come top in the hierarchy of transportation vehicles (and they do have their own dedicated lanes) I don’t think it’s the romanticised experience y’all think it is. Bikes are ridden at high speeds around the city, so if you’re looking to hire one, it’s best enjoyed on the outskirts of the city- perhaps take a day trip to one of the surrounding towns where the pace is a little slower.

amsterdam bike hire

Anne Frank’s House
I can’t really believe I’m putting this as one of the worst places, but bear with me here. Many say Anne Frank’s House is essential when you’re visiting Amsterdam but it’s honestly the most busy location in the city. Queues around the corner daily and no guaranteed entry, if you’re determined to visit I would think about booking tickets in advance.

Electric Ladyland
Another location I found on a website of unique places to visit, I was intrigued by this art installation underground. I visited with a friend last year and have to say it was hands down the weirdest/scariest experience! Obviously I’m just going off my personal time there, but I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Hailed as a museum for fluorescent art (and with fab reviews on Trip Advisor- which I’ve since learnt not to trust!) I headed down some narrow stairs inside a small artist’s shop to find the TINY display which was very deceptive on website’s pictures. After snapping a few images, there really wasn’t much else to see and a man in the corner made my friend and I feel increasingly uncomfortable so we decided to assent the stairs. As we did, the man (we found out was the owner) shouted and swore at us for not appreciating the art!

amsterdam electric ladylandLOOK HOW SCARED I AM

If you don’t believe me, check out his impatient responses to reviews of his exhibition on Trip Advisor, it’s shocking.

The Red Light District 
I mean guys, we’re all adults now, aren’t we? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve visited the Red Light District 3 of the 5 times I’ve been to Amsterdam but I don’t think I would ever recommend it to people for their first visit. I mean, it is what it is. Ladies in windows, glaring neon lights and plenty of ‘coffee’ shops. You won’t find anything authentically Dutch here- I would visit in passing, but it’s not the best place to spend time in.

amsterdam red lightPhoto on right by Cunning Stunt on Flickr via Pinterest

Madam Tussauds
Gurrrrl you be tripping! Do I even have to explain this one? If you’ve been to one Madam Tussauds, you’ve been to them all basically. Amsterdam’s wax museum may seem appealing but honestly there are better things to do in the area!

Where NOT to Eat and Drink
Largely eating in Amsterdam is decent, but the number one places to avoid? the main squares. Leidseplein, Rembrandtplein and Spui are among these. Look for quaint cafes down side streets, and also ask people who’ve just been to the city if they found anywhere nice!

Have you been to any of these places, do you agree, or perhaps disagree? Comment below!

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  1. August 21, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Great review! I think you did really well on your tourist visit to Amsterdam! Great that you don’t recommend the Anne Frank House and bike riding. If more tourists would follow your advice, that would be great. Cheersss from Holland.

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 23, 2017 / 9:22 am

      Haha yes I’ve been many a time and each time I’ve been to Anne Frank’s House it’s always been chocca! Thanks for reading 🙂 x

  2. August 21, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    I’ve been to Amsterdam two times now and have yet to check off a lot on your list of places to visit. Overall though I love the little city and think it’s great for a weekend break! In terms of what not to do I was also agree with hiring a bike – seeing as bikes are such a thing in Amsterdam I can imagine if you’re hoping to just go for a relaxing ride around the city it’d actually get pretty stressful. As for the Anne Frank museum I had a similar issue when I visited Dam back in May – queues for days! Definitely want to go back with pre booked tickets one day. Lastly, the Red Light district is definitely interesting. A tourist hotspot and an interesting thing if anything. I’d say I would recommend people check it out – just because it’s likely you’ve never seen anything quite like it. However if you’re looking for something authentic and Dutch, I agree.. maybe not the best option!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 23, 2017 / 9:24 am

      Completely agree with you Kemi and thanks so much for reading 🙂 Yes I think a lot of people think a typical Dutch person hangs around the red light district smoking weed which just isnt the case but it’s interesting to see that area for sure! I always take a wander through there each time hehe. x

  3. August 22, 2017 / 2:17 pm

    This was so incredibly interesting to read Maria, especially as Matt and I are visiting Amsterdam at New Year! I’ve already saved and bookmarked this post so I can refer back to it! xx

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 23, 2017 / 9:26 am

      Awe awesome, I’m so glad- if you like the weird and the wonderful, these are defo places to go- but Amsterdam has literally HUNDREDS of museums so you will find something suited to you 🙂 Make sure you eat all the Dutch snacks too- I crave kroket all the time now, thankfully the bf’s family are part Dutch so I get my fill every now and again hehe x

  4. September 1, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    What a fab post, this has helped me so much with planning what to prioritise on our first visit! Although I think I will still have to see the Anne Frank museum haha! Me and my partner have chosen a little house boat on the outskirts to stay in with free bikes which I’m now a bit nervous about though, is it really that bad!? Also I’ve been told about a prostitution museum that’s apparently meant to be really good, have you visited?
    Alice Xx

    • lifewithmariaeva
      September 2, 2017 / 10:07 am

      Hey Alice thank you so much for reading 🙂 if you’re on the outskirts I think you will be fine- I mean I’m not saying dont cycle but honestly it’s bloody chaos at times and people are very unforgiving- but give it a bash 🙂 x

  5. September 11, 2017 / 12:37 pm

    I loved reading this! It’s always so interesting to read what other people think of Amsterdam, as someone who lives in the Netherlands and visits Amsterdam a few times per year. Also, beautiful photography! xo Larice

  6. September 11, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I haven’t been to Amsterdam in years but I’ll definitely put Museum Vrolik and Zaanse Schanse on my list for next time!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      September 15, 2017 / 7:44 am

      Hi Kel!omg awesome, do let me know if you end up going, would love to know what you thought of them!

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