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Updated: 2 December 2022
If you read past the title of this blog post, then you’re probably shaking your head in surprise and confused. I mean, is Amsterdam worth visiting? Wait. Seriously, Rachel? Amsterdam?
Haha, yup, that’s a real question that I’ll aim to answer in this post. I already know some of you are probably thinking, “Huh? What a weird question, though. Amsterdam is one of the most famous cities in the world. Of course Amsterdam is worth it!”
However, you’d be surprised how many questions I’ve gotten about Amsterdam’s high prices (compared to other parts of the Netherlands) and massive summer crowds.
Furthermore, I’ve also been asked whether or not the city was too mobbed with, not only tourists, but shamelessly high and annoying tourists to even consider visiting.
Determining whether or not Amsterdam is a good place to visit tends to be on the minds of families looking for a more wholesome experience, or solo female travelers in Amsterdam wondering if it is sketchy due to the Red Light District.
Is Amsterdam Worth It (Re: Overtourism)?
I will admit that overtourism is a problem in Amsterdam, and while the COVID-19 pandemic brought a brief break, a lot is still at stake.
Housing is in short supply, and rents are rising for locals. This trend has happened in a lot of other cities where Airbnbs and other apartment rentals start squeezing the local real estate market.
Overtourism is a legit concern, and I always advocate for visiting smaller shops and staying at independently owned hostels and hotels to off set some of the pain from this.
Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting Even With So Many Tourists?
So … I have a lot of opinions on the tourist versus traveler debate.
Without a doubt, there’s an annoying trend happening in the travel industry. Actually, this trend has been going on for years, even back when I first started this travel blog in 2015. The sentiments aren’t new.
In this space, a pervasive message encourages “real travelers” to get as far away from the traditional tourist trail as possible. According to these people, big cities like Amsterdam are “overrated” and “not worth” a true adventurer’s time. You’re not a true traveler for going to European capitals.
Now don’t get me wrong. Over-tourism is a problem that we need to seriously tackle. As visitors, we need to respect the environment around us and realize our collective actions have big consequences, especially when it comes to protecting fragile historical buildings and natural wonders.
Not to mention, I’m all for restricting travelers in very delicate spaces such as the Cinque Terre in Italy. Too many tourists leads to destruction. I’d be hard-pressed and wrong to argue against reality.
Howeverr, in my humble opinion, the most visited cities in the world are popular for good reasons, and shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of being one of the “cool travel kids.”
“Is Amsterdam worth visiting?” isn’t a question you should ask yourself, because you read bad information online.
And, if your heart is set on Amsterdam, don’t skip it, because a couple of naysayers say the city’s too packed with drugged out and obnoxious tourists on their stag parties.
Dig deeper to find the true magic of Amsterdam. I already know I want to come back to this city one day. This capital can even be a – gasp – peaceful experience depending on how you plan your trip.
Is Amsterdam Worth Visiting? “Yes!”
Amsterdam is absolutely worth visiting for new and experienced travelers. I had a lot more fun in Amsterdam than I had originally expected (which is why you don’t believe everything you read in travel forums), and at this point, I would recommend the city to anyone coming to Europe.
Amsterdam has a thriving food scene and several cool neighborhoods, and smaller museums that are still hidden from the vast majority of tourists.
And like most major European cities, if you move away from the main streets and squares, you’re relatively left alone and unburdened by crowds and tacky souvenir stores. Even at the heigh of summer, I found some quiet places to simply enjoy my own company like a cool Berlin-style cafe with comfortable sofas.
But what abut solo travelers? Are you alone and want to go to Amsterdam, but have some tingling nerves prickling under your skin? No worries! Solo travel in Amsterdam is easy, safe, and fun. The city is worth visiting with a group of friends or completely on your own.
Again, planning is key.
5 Reasons Amsterdam is Worth It!
Okay, let’s get into five specific reasons why Amsterdam is worth visiting!
For the sake of brevity, I’ve only listed five reasons in this post, but I’m sure there are fifty million more reasons why travelers should come to Amsterdam.
Hopefully, by the end of this post, you’re convinced to book the next flight to Amsterdam!
Of course, you can always plan your own trip if you bring a guidebook to Amsterdam with the most up to date information. This post is to inspire the wheels in your head to start turning.
An Outstanding Food Scene
My stomach was very, very, very happy in Amsterdam.
Seriously, folks, I was full for a week after I came back home to New Jersey. The food was that amazing.
I’ll admit it. Dutch cuisine isn’t something that immediately comes to mind when asked about the best food experiences.
However, without a doubt, Amsterdam is home to incredible restaurants.
Want something quirky? Check out Moeders with its walls covered in pictures of mothers. Want something extra fancy? Go to Restaurant de Silveren Spiegel and eat several courses in a historically warm atmosphere. Want to try exquisite cocktails? Go to Bar Twentyseven at the hotel of the same name.
If you’re traveling solo and don’t want to eat alone, then it’s definitely worth booking a spot on a food tour of Amsterdam. You’ll enjoy both culinary enrichment and new friends. Win/win situation if you ask me!
Count calories at home. Diets have no place in the Dutch capital, although I suppose you can rent a bike and burn all those meals off.
World-Class Art Museums
As readers of this blog know, I’m a huge fans of wandering aimlessly through art museums. And Amsterdam? Is home to some of the best art museums in the world.
For example, the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of the famous artist’s paintings and drawings. Tickets are timed which cuts down on the crowds. And seeing his most well-known pieces, such as Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters, is a thought-provoking experience.
For travelers wanting a “quieter” experience, modern museums such as Moco Museum and Stedelijk Museum offer great alternatives to the bigger places such as the Rijksmuseum.
Don’t overdo it with museum. Rushing through attractions won’t make your trip to Amsterdam fun. Instead do your research and tailor museums based on your own personal interests rather than only what’s most popular on TripAdvisor.
A Fascinating & Inspiring History
In addition to museums, Amsterdam has a rich history that’s made clear on every street.
As a visitor, I’d highly recommending going on a free walking tour to get an overview of Amsterdam’s history before setting out on your own.
Strolling down any street gives you a cool slice of the past. For example, most of Amsterdam’s stunning row homes have the date of construction displayed above the doors. A lot of these homes date all the way back to the late 1600s. It’s easy to imagine the merchants’ families climbing the steep stairs.
In addition, some of my favorite historical places include a hidden Catholic church in an attic. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder is a gorgeous museum without the same large crowds that go to the Anne Frank House (which is still worth it, in my opinion).
A Brilliant Location for Taking Day Trips
Amsterdam is one of the best bases for day trips. I’m not kidding.
Off the top of my head, I can think of seven day trips to take from Amsterdam, although I’m sure plenty more options exist for tourists and locals alike.
My favorite day trips include places like Zaanse Schans where you’ll see iconic windmills, sample chocolates, and chill at a nearby brewery. I also fell in love with more “off the beaten path” cities such as Hoorn which was a significant port during the Dutch Golden Age.
Don’t feel nervous about exploring outside of Amsterdam without a tour either.
The Netherlands has a great public transportation system that even new travelers will find easy to navigate. Buses and trains run to the popular villages 24/7. So get out and have fun!
You’ll Still Find Quiet Corners of the City
Last but not least, Amsterdam isn’t just a big tourist attraction. If you’re asking yourself, “is Amsterdam worth visiting?,” because it’s too touristy, then don’t hang out in Dam Square or the Red Light District all freakin’ day. Simple.
You guys, I gotta say it. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about big European capitals in the sense that they’re viewed as tourist amusement parks rather than cities where real people actually live and work.
Amsterdam is no different.
But this is a lie. All big cities, including Amsterdam, have special places that aren’t overrun with bustling crowds, even during the busiest tourist seasons.
So I challenge you to leave the most crowded parts of the city to find establishments where the locals go to eat, drink, and unwind. You’ll never know what discoveries you’ll make when you close your guidebook and branch outside your comfort zone.
Is Amsterdam Worth Seeing? — My Final Words
Sooo. Is Amsterdam worth visiting? I hoped that I convinced you that the answer is a firm and unwavering “yes.”
Yet, like everywhere else, Amsterdam is what you make of it.
Amsterdam is a very unique city as far as design goes. I can’t think of another city with Amsterdam’s canals and row homes, nor can I quite explain the energy that pulsates through the neighborhoods.
Plan your adventure to Amsterdam around your likes and dislikes. See what you want to see and eat what you want to eat. Ignore anyone who discourages you to go to Amsterdam for subjective reasons. Explore this city for yourself.
If you’re still asking yourself, “Hmmmm, is Amsterdam worth visiting?”, I hope that I convinced you to book that ticket to the Dutch capital! Happy travels to the Netherlands!