Amsterdam has more than its fair share of culture, art and history. The Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum are filled with 800 years of dutch art and history whereas Anne Frank’s House tells a dark, more recent story. The city has a risque reputation with its Red Light District, coffee shops and a faint waft of cannabis hanging in the air.
A UNESCO ancient canal system lined with leafy trees and pretty gabled houses is perfect for a wander with plenty of cafes and bars to stop at along the way. But what if you’re cultured out, coffee shop weary and can’t face another Stroopwafel? I’ve put together an alternative list of six cool and quirky things to do in Amsterdam.
Take a Selfie at the I Amsterdam Sign
I know this is a bit passé but if you go to Amsterdam this has to be done! The sign is located behind the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein. It’s brightly coloured and the perfect selfie backdrop. You can climb on it to pose, look through it or lean on it.
While you’re there get a drink in the park’s café and use the loos. You may not be too sure at first when you realise you can see right through the glass doors. Luckily, as soon as you lock the door the glass magically turns misty preserving your modesty. It’s free to enter the grounds but museum entry is extra. Look out for the best places to take photos in Amsterdam for other selfie opps.
Take a Pedalo Cruise
Amsterdam’s canals are a must-see and what better way to do that by getting up close and personal. But why take a boat tour when you can take sustainable travel in Amsterdam? Get out on the the water on a pedalo, have some fun burn off some of those stroopwafels.
You’ll see Amsterdam’s UNESCO listed 400-year old canals, bridges and Golden Age houses closer than close and you can go at your own pedalo pace. Sunshine is perfect for pedalos but the boats come with quirky little waterproof hoods to keep you dry if it rains. The little crafts are moored in three city locations and come with a map of four suggested routes marked with the top Amsterdam sights.
Check rates and availability at Canal Boats. If pedalos aren’t quite your thing take a canal cruise. If you want to combine a boat tour with getting around the city a Hop on Hop Off Boat might work for you. Some of these tours also combine entry to A’DAM Lookout Tower as the boat stops right outside.
Electric Ladyland, or Museum of Fluorescent Art
Get your flower power on and visit a psychedelic 60s inspired museum. Electric Lady Land, named after the 1968 Jimmy Hendrix album, is the only museum in the world that displays fluorescent art. American artist Nick Padalino has transformed a dark and dingy cellar in the Jordaan district into a gallery of kaleidoscopic colour. Thousands of rocks and minerals change into vibrant glowing exhibits under a specific wavelength of light.
Where: Museum of Fluorescent Art in Amsterdam, Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, 1015 TB, Amsterdam
When: Tuesday – Saturday: 1 pm – 6 pm Cost: €5 with children of 12 or under free. Admission includes an Electric Lady Land brochure.
If you’re into glow in the dark then you could play a game of neon golf in the dark. Check rates and availability for glow in the dark golf.
Explore the Nine Streets (De 9 Straatjes)
Quaint and quirky the Nine Streets, linked by pretty little bridges, is one of Amsterdam’s most photogenic neighbourhoods. Sitting in the middle of the canal belt the area is packed with local gems. Vintage and designer boutiques abound along with galleries, cafes, bars and restaurants. It’s one of my favourite areas in Amsterdam and is popular with local people too.
Check out the cheese shop, De Kaaskamer, which has got to be the best in the city and stocks over 200 cheeses. More info here.
Xtra Cold Ice bar
Chill out in the coolest bar in Amsterdam. Everything in Xtracold is made from ice; 60 tonnes of it form the walls, bar and sofas. There’s even a fireplace filled with logs to keep you warm – but it’s made completely from ice. At -10 degrees Celsius you’ll need the thermal coats and gloves that are provided. Entrance fee includes three drinks which, of course, are served in glasses made from ice.
Where: Xtra Cold Ice Bar – Amstel 194-196, 1017 AG Amsterdam, Netherlands. When: Friday to Saturday 12:00pm–2:40am. Sunday 12:00 – 01:00am and Monday to Thursday 12:30pm–1am. Check rates and availability.
Alternatively head to the Heineken Experience.
Stay on a Houseboat in Amsterdam
Immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s canal scene and get a different perspective on the city by staying on a houseboat. Now that is really quirky. Floating B&Bs can be found in some of the prettiest spots on the canal ring or you could rent a boat for up to six months to really explore the city in depth.
If that’s not your scene and you like your home comforts then the city has more than enough different types of hotel from boutique, design and traditional.
So there are a few of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam that are less mainstream. What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve done in Amsterdam – or shouldn’t I ask….! Read on for more quirky and weird destinations.
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Suzanne Jones is creator, writer and photographer at The Travelbunny. When she’s not indulging her wanderlust you’ll most likely find her enjoying coastal walks in her home county of East Sussex, UK.
Suzanne co-writes Sussex Bloggers which showcases the best of East & West Sussex.