Is Amsterdam worth visiting? If you’re planning a trip to the Netherlands, you may be asking yourself this very question. As a country with so much to offer, is hitting up the capital worthwhile or should you discover other cities instead?
If you dream of a European adventure filled with picturesque canals, historic charm and interesting culture, the Dutch capital has got you covered.
As someone who’s explored the city many times, I assure you that despite the crowds, Amsterdam is one of the best places to visit in Europe. In fact, there’s a reason why it’s so popular.
However, no city comes without drawbacks. There are a number of cons to visiting Amsterdam that I’ll also share in this post to help you make an informed decision.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting? In Short!
- Pros of Visiting Amsterdam
- Cons of Visiting Amsterdam
- Is Amsterdam Safe?
- Conclusion: Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting?
- FAQ: Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting?
- About the Author
Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting? In Short!
Simply put, Amsterdam is 100% worth visiting. Although it can get crowded (especially during peak season), it’s one of those cities with much to offer. I absolutely loved my visits and always had a good time.
Not only will the locals welcome you with open arms, but it’s a city that embraces all cultures, religions and sexualities. In a nutshell, you can truly be yourself in Amsterdam and that’s the true beauty of the city.
Of course, that is also one of the major downsides of Amsterdam. Many people are on drugs, loud, noisy, or even bothersome to others. If loads of (sometimes rowdy) people are not your cup of tea, you might want to opt for a different European city. But as this is one of the only true downsides of Amsterdam, it is still very much worth visiting in my opinion.
So, if you’re yet to explore this well-loved European gem, I highly recommend jumping on a plane, bus or train to experience the city for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Pros of Visiting Amsterdam
Amsterdam has friendly locals and a great nightlife – and some super cool and unique attractions. There are museums for all interests and beautiful flowers to be seen in Amsterdam. Read here about my five biggest reasons to visit the Dutch capital!
1. Big Variety of Museums – for All Interests
When it comes to museums, Amsterdam truly has them all. If you’re an art lover, you won’t want to miss the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum. One of my favorites is the Moco Museum.
Of course, you need to book your slot early, as the museums are always super busy and in-demand. We booked too late and didn’t get a spot sadly.
You could also head to the ever-popular Stedelijk Museum. It is quite modern and presents mostly contemporary art.
If you love history, you should check out the Amsterdam Museum, Anne Franks House or the Jewish Museum. Amsterdam has a super interesting history, and especially the heritage of the Jews during the second world war should be mindfully remembered.
The Anne Frank House was my favorite museum in Amsterdam, but make sure to book your slot early on as well. You can combine it with a walking tour through the Jewish quarters in Amsterdam, which is also super interesting.
If you want something a little more different, you can pop into the Katten Kabinet. It is a museum solely dedicated to cats. Alongside cat-focused art, photography, and ornaments, you’ll also see cute cats roaming around the building. Cat lovers will be in their element here (not me tho, I don’t like cats).
For those a little more adventurous, check out the Museum of Prostitution. It shows the history of a different part of Amsterdam, the famous Red Light District.
2. Unique and Cool Attractions
Are you on the hunt for unique attractions in the Dutch capital? Then you’re in luck! Aside from interesting museums, Amsterdam offers a whole lot of funky attractions.
Here are my favorite spots you need to check out:
🌸 NSDM Wharf: Located in Amsterdam Noord, NDSM is a quirky area where you’ll find street art, museums, and artist studios. If you’re a creative soul, you’ll love this place as much as I do!
🌸 Straat Museum: It is situated in NDSM Wharf. This museum is dedicated solely to impressive street art. Expect to find large colourful murals that will blow your mind.
🌸 A’DAM Lookout: Feeling daring? Then head to A’DAM Lookout to swing over the edge on Europe’s highest swing. I absolutely loved the thrill.
🌸 Houseboat Museum: This one is a bit more quirky. The houseboat museum is the perfect spot to discover how many residents live on the canals of Amsterdam. This unusual museum shows an intriguing history dating back to 1914.
🌸 Roller Dreams: For a super fun activity in the Dutch capital, head to Roller Dreams to rollerskate to the beat of 80s classics.
🌸 Amaze: Over the course of an hour, you’ll venture through seven rooms all with their own theme and feel in Amaze. They have vibrant light shows throughout each room and you’re sure to have a good time!
🌸 The Smallest Cheese Store: You can find a miniature cheese store in Amsterdam. Barely two people can fit inside of it. It is so cute and definitely worth a visit.
Aside from the spots listed above, there’s so much more to see and do in Amsterdam. In fact, you could easily fill a whole week (or longer) exploring lesser-known activities. I have been going back to Amsterdam for a couple of times now, and have never gotten bored so far.
3. A Great Nightlife
Amsterdam is known for its amazing nightlife. After experiencing it myself on a number of occasions, I can definitely see why.
I spent my 21st birthday partying in this amazing city. After recently hitting up many of the city’s top cocktail bars, I can confirm that not much has changed. It is still as fun as ever.
Amsterdam has long been a haven for party lovers and is internationally famous for it. With sophisticated cocktail bars, cozy pubs, impressive clubs, and karaoke spots, there’s something for everyone in Amsterdam!
Even if you’re looking to paint the town red on a Monday, you can find a spot. The same can’t be said about any other spot in Europe!
4. Incredible Day (or Weekend) Trip Options
If you want to explore more of the local culture in the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a great place to base yourself.
From the capital, you can head off on lots of adventures. If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend getaway from the Dutch capital, there are lots of options to choose from!
For example, popular choices include Zaanse Schans, Zaandam, Haarlem, Giethoorn and many more. However, one of the top options has got to be The Hague. It has an awesome beach and some impressive museums.
Located around 45 minutes from Amsterdam via the speedy train, you can also admire the impressive cube houses in Rotterdam. Afterward, hit up the Markethal for a bite to eat and stop by the harbor before heading towards Museum Park.
For something a bit more off the beaten path, consider hitting up the fairytale castles and flower gardens of the Netherlands. By renting a car, you can explore lesser-known spots in this beautiful country while wandering enchanting grounds and admiring stunning architectural gems.
If this sounds appealing, add the following castles to your road trip itinerary; De Haar Castle, Muiderslot and Loenersloot Castle. You may also want to squeeze in visits to quaint towns and villages such as Breuleken and Vreeland.
Lastly, if you crave some beach time you can hit up the stunning Wadden Islands of Ameland, Texel or Terschelling.
5. Amazing Food-Spots
Amsterdam is a great place for foodies! I have never found more cute food spots than in Amsterdam.
I totally love Dutch street food. Bitterballen – these are like crispy meatballs – are a must-try. Then there’s Stroopwafel, super yummy caramel-filled waffles. They are amazing with afternoon coffee.
If you’re into cheese, (sadly, I’m not), you’re in for a treat. You can find cheese shops everywhere with free samples. Surprisingly, you can even find cheese near the Amsterdam flower market.
Don’t miss out on the Indonesian food too. Because of the Dutch colonial history, Amsterdam has amazing Indonesian restaurants. Rijsttafel (rice table) is this spread of tons of small dishes. It is a great way to try a bunch of flavors. Nasi is another Dutch-Indonesian favourite for me.
And lastly, cafes and brunch spots. Amsterdam’s café culture is top-notch and you’ll find many cute cafés in the city. My favorites are Dignita Hoftuin or Corner Bakery. These alone make Amsterdam worth visiting for me.
6. Beautiful City Center
Amsterdam’s city center is gorgeous. It has lots of charming canals, cute little bridges, and those iconic narrow houses lined up along the water. It’s like walking through a postcard – and you’ll get so many Instagram-worthy shots in. Especially in Spring, Amsterdam is breathtaking and definitely worth visiting.
Don’t miss the Dam Square – it’s the heart of the city. The Royal Palace is right there, and it’s pretty impressive. Check out the Bijenkorf for some shopping if you are in the area.
And the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes) area is one of my favorite areas in Amsterdam. Super cute boutiques, cozy cafes, and vintage shops. Perfect for wandering around and enjoying the view.
You can take a river cruise or even just walk along the canals, you’ll find so many picture-perfect spots. Every turn has something new and beautiful. You’re gonna love exploring it all – I surely did.
Cons of Visiting Amsterdam
No destination is perfect – and neither is Amsterdam. While I have always enjoyed my time there, there are quite some drawbacks that you should consider before planning your visit.
Despite the downsides, Amsterdam is worth visiting. But it is always nice to know what to expect.
7. Over-Tourism Is a Big Problem
As one of the most visited cities in the world, over-tourism is a big issue in the Dutch capital Amsterdam.
This means that during peak times, tourist attractions are often crowded and you may need to wait in long queues. I have visited Amsterdam throughout the year, and besides winter it is always peak time.
Many travelers and nature lovers head to Amsterdam during spring to experience the tulip season. Come summer, people flock to the city in their millions to attend music festivals, pride, and other key events across the city. Also fall is quite busy because it is so charming.
Amsterdam attracts many youngsters across the globe thanks to its legalization of certain things. The city’s coffee shops and famous Red Light District have become one of the main reasons for heading to the city. Honestly, I don’t like these kinds of drug tourists and they really annoyed me.
Ultimately, this makes Amsterdam one of the most crowded places to visit in Europe. And sadly, the crowd is not always a good one. As mentioned before, the drug culture kinda ruins the vibe for me a bit.
Don’t get me started on all the cyclists that will try to run you over at every corner.
If you’re not a fan of crowds, you should consider going elsewhere. Visiting in winter could also giving you a better experience.
8. Amsterdam is Expensive
If you’re heading on a summer getaway to Amsterdam, be prepared to spend some serious money.
In the height of summer, accommodation is not cheap. In fact, you can expect to spend at least € 60 (typically more) per night for a bed in a shared dorm. Compared to other European cities, that’s seriously expensive.
Hotel prices are pretty insane year-round, but especially in spring you’ll pay a lot.
Also, food prices are not cheap. A typical Dutch dinner for two people will be around EUR 100.
Although accommodation is expensive in Amsterdam, it’s worth noting that the city has a lot of free activities. If you’re visiting on a budget, don’t fret! You could easily take advantage of free attractions and have an amazing time without spending a small fortune.
9. The Weather is Unpredictable
Another thing about Amsterdam is its unpredictable weather. Even in the summer, rainfall can be common.
One minute the sun is shining, the next, it starts pouring with rain. If you’re looking to sunbathe, you may want to head to Italy or Greece instead. This is sadly very typical for the Netherlands (I’ve lived there for three years now, and it is insane how quickly the weather changes).
The best time to visit weather-wise is probably summer or late spring. You’ll get cold and rained upon pretty much during most months in fall and winter. Very rarely, the city even sees a bit of snow.
Is your heart still set on the Dutch capital? Not to worry! Just come prepared with layers, waterproof shoes and an umbrella.
All in all, the weather shouldn’t stop you. I have enjoyed Amsterdam even in the coldest of winter months and on some rainy spring days. Amsterdam is still worth visiting – despite the crazy climate.
10. Lots of Tourist Traps
Tourist traps in Amsterdam are kinda like those in any big city – they look exciting but can be overpriced and not always the real deal.
Souvenir Shops are the perfect example of a tourist trap. You’ll see loads of these, especially around the city center and major tourist spots. They sell stuff like wooden tulips, cheesy t-shirts, and miniature windmills. Cute, but sometimes pricey and not always authentic and usually not from local production.
Attraction Queues are another example of a tourist trap. Big-name attractions like the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Heineken Experience are awesome, but the queues can be crazy! And sometimes once you are in, they’re just too packed to enjoy fully.
If you are a bit mindful of what you consume, you can luckily avoid getting taken advantage of. So while Amsterdam’s merchants love ripping off some tourists, you can do a good job avoiding them.
Is Amsterdam Safe?
Amsterdam is generally safe, especially compared to other big cities. Like any city, it has its less charming parts, but overall, it’s pretty secure.
You’ve got the usual stuff – pickpocketing, especially in crowded places like the Red Light District and around major tourist spots. It’s smart to watch your bag and pockets there.
Bike theft is a big thing too. Seriously, bikes might as well have legs! If you rent one, make sure you lock it up well.
Regarding neighborhoods, most of Amsterdam is chill, but it’s wise to be a bit more cautious at night in areas like Bijlmer, though it’s been improving a lot. Still, it’s not the same vibe as the city center or the museum quarter, you know?
Stick to well-lit, busy streets and trust your gut. Avoid provoking drunk people and drug addicts, which are sadly pretty common in the Netherlands.
Do you need travel insurance in Amsterdam? Yes, travel insurance in Amsterdam is highly recommended. Bike theft, road accidents, and food poisoning are only a few examples of when travel insurance could come in handy. EKTA offers worldwide travel insurance with 24/7 service and no hidden fees or restrictions.
Conclusion: Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting?
To conclude, Amsterdam is 100% worth visiting for its picture-perfect vibes, unique activities and unique atmosphere.
Even if you’re not a fan of crowds or you’re travelling on a budget, there are many ways to get around the cons of Amsterdam and have a fab time in this incredible city!
There are not too many downsides to visiting Amsterdam, and the upsides make up for it in my opinion. The city is beautiful and worth seeing at least once, despite the crowds and drug culture in the city.
FAQ: Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting?
Although you can see the highlights in a day, it doesn’t give you enough time to delve deeper into Dutch culture and explore some of the lesser-known attractions. If you can, I highly recommend spending a week in Amsterdam. This gives you the chance to discover hidden gems and explore nearby destinations.
Yes, Amsterdam can get pricey. However, if you’re visiting outside of peak months, it’s much easier to visit the city on a budget. Avoid tulip season as best as you can, as it is the most expensive season of the year in Amsterdam.
Absolutely! There’s a reason why Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in the world. The city is super instagram-worthy, the cafés and cocktail bars are a dream and there is so much history to be explored in the Dutch capital. It is also a great hub for weekend trips around the Netherlands.
About the Author
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends about half of the year traveling to various destinations together with her husband.
She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.