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Amsterdam is one of the most famous and popular cities in all of Europe, as well as a destination that’s especially beloved by solo travelers. When I first started traveling alone, Amsterdam was at the very top of my own bucket list and when I finally visited here, Amsterdam didn’t disappoint me.
If anything, the Netherlands as a whole exceeded my expectations.
After my trip, it was obvious why Amsterdam is such a hit destination with visitors. Sure, while plenty of young travelers are intrigued by Amsterdam’s party atmosphere and liberal societal attitudes, the Dutch capital offers way more than just “coffee” shops and wild hostels.
Amsterdam is also a cultural and historical gem that lives up to the hype, thanks to its abundance of cool neighborhoods, fascinating museums, unique day trips, and so much more. You can visit Amsterdam as a solo traveler, and still have a beautiful trip without indulging in the party atmosphere (although I promise I won’t judge you).
Ultimately, Amsterdam is worth a visit, without a doubt, especially if you’re keen on visiting the Netherlands.
12 Fun Things to Do in Amsterdam Alone
Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands. Like any other big city, sometimes it’s hard to narrow down the best things to do alone, especially if you’re traveling with a limited amount of time and money. Amsterdam isn’t exactly the cheapest city in Europe (I wish).
For example, if you’re only spending a week in the Netherlands and want to explore the countryside, then you may have to compromise what to see and do in Amsterdam. I know I always have a hard time making decisions when I have no one else to bounce ideas off of.
So, below, I’ve listed some of the best things to do in Amsterdam alone. You won’t stand out as a solo traveler doing these activities, and will enjoy Amsterdam on a deep level.
Act Silly at the Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam. Not going to lie, this attraction is a little cheesy and overly touristy, but I can’t deny that it’s a lot of fun!
This interactive journey is a self-guided tour, which is nice as a solo traveler, because you’re able to spend as much (or as little) time as you want in any given area. It truly felt like a Disney World ride all about beer.
My advice is to purchase tickets for the Heineken Experience in advance. This attraction is always super busy, and I’m never impressed having to wait in long lines. You can even join canal tours paired with the Heineken Experience to combine two of the best things to do alone in Amsterdam. Win/win.
Admire the Canals
Amsterdam’s canals are iconic. Believe it or not, Amsterdam is home to three main canals: Herengracht, Prinsengracht and Keizersgracht. These canals were dug in the Dutch Golden Age. Today Amsterdam’s Canal Ring is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Undoubtedly, exploring the canals is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam alone. Plenty of canal tours welcome solo travelers with open arms and provide great opportunities to make new friends.
Personally, I loved “getting lost” in Amsterdam and discovering quaint little canals tucked away from the busy streets.
As a side note, Amsterdam is a perfectly safe place to “get lost” during the day. At night, exercise usual city precautions as a solo traveler, but still go out and enjoy the canals illuminated in the evening.
Appreciate the Van Gogh Museum
The city’s diverse museums are among the best things to do in Amsterdam alone. One of my favorite museums is the Van Gogh Museum. I loved, loved, loved the Van Gogh Museum.
Despite being one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, this collection of Van Gogh pieces still felt “manageable” and therefore, easy for a solo traveler to enjoy. You’ll be able to see all the art if you pace yourself well.
Furthermore, as one of the most famous artists in the world, Van Gogh’s works are quite accessible to all travelers even those who don’t have a background in art. You’re bound to recognize a lot of works here.
However, even as an independent traveler, it’s important to keep in mind that the Van Gogh Museum sells out, so it’s wise to book your tickets in advance.
Do Your Own Cocktail Crawl
Amsterdam is home to some fabulous cocktail bars. Creating your own cocktail crawl is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam alone. TimeOut has a great list of Amsterdam’s best bars to jumpstart your planning process.
Not keen on sitting at a bar alone? No worries. I still got you covered. For a really fun experience, don’t miss out on a visit to the House of Bols.
The House of Bols is an awarding winning cocktail journey where you will learn all about Lucas Bols, the oldest distilled spirit brand in the world since 1575. What could be better than combining history and delicious cocktails? The Bols liqueurs and genevers are unique to Amsterdam, and shouldn’t be missed.
As a museum, it’s easy for a single person to blend into the crowd.
Discover Our Lord in the Attic Museum
Amsterdam’s most popular museums will dazzle you, but I have a soft spot for Our Lord in the Attic. This is a special and small museum that isn’t nearly as crowded as the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and others.
Our Lord in the Attic is located inside a fancy historic house (which is in the oldest part of the city) that conceals a secret Catholic church. Why secret? In Protestant Amsterdam, it was illegal to practice Catholicism in public spaces, so Catholics had to come up with alternatives, such as this hidden church.
The museum is very well done, and a nice place to discover some peace and quiet in this otherwise bustling city.
Explore Nearby Dutch Cities
Okay, perhaps I’m cheating a little bit with this one, but the Netherlands has so much to offer that it would be a shame to stay in Amsterdam for your whole visit.
For those of you staying longer, please read my 5 Days in the Netherlands Itinerary to see some additional ideas for your Dutch vacation.
Some easy cities to visit for a day trip include Rotterdam, the Hague, and Hoorn. All of them have frequent trains that are ideal for a quick visit.
However, if you want to stay super close to Amsterdam, then check out Haarlem. This small city used to be a trading port, and the beautiful medieval cobblestone characteristics exist til this day.
Fall in Love with Windmills at Zaanse Schans
Zaanse Schans is one of my favorite day trips to take from Amsterdam. The windmills are precisely what spring to mind whenever I think of Amsterdam. They are totally worth the hype. You can even see more than just windmills in Zaanse Schans if you’re so inclined.
Visiting Zaanse Schans is super easy if you take either the bus or train. Both types of transportation are efficient and run frequently enough, with the train only taking 17 minutes.
However, you can also sign up for plenty of guided tours to Zaanse Schans, which I recommend if you don’t want to think too much about the planning process. For example, this countryside e-bike tour of Zaanse Schans allows you plenty of time to see and do everything.
Without a doubt, a day trip to Zaanse Schans is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam alone.
Indulge on a Food Tour
Amsterdam has lots and lots of Dutch treats that you don’t want to miss, even when visiting all by yourself. At the same time, I understand that dining alone is overwhelming and sometimes super scary. However, Amsterdam has such an incredible food scene that it would be a shame to miss out over anxiety.
An easy way to feel comfortable is going on a food tour. For example, this highly rated small group tour through Jordaan will introduce you to new food while simultaneously meeting other people. Not only will you learn about Jordaan, but you’ll also sample a wide variety of Dutch foods, such as herring, Gouda cheese, stroopwafel, and so much more!
Without a doubt, enjoying food either alone or in good company on a tour is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Amsterdam alone.
Practice Photography in the Jordaan District
Jordaan is one of the best neighborhoods in Amsterdam. No doubt, it’s the most popular for tourists. You’ll find so many cool art galleries, upscale boutiques, secret canals, patio restaurants, and so much more.
I think Jordaan is one of the best places in the city to switch off your phone’s maps and just “get lost” with a good camera. Photos are seriously among the best souvenirs. I especially love taking pictures alone, because I know my travel buddies aren’t judging me if they aren’t there at all, haha.
Reflect at the Anne Frank House
It’s impossible to talk about Amsterdam without mentioning the Anne Frank House. Honestly, going to the Anne Frank House is an emotional experience. I cried on the street after my tour.
However, even though it’s not the easiest place to visit, a trip to the Anne Frank House is important. As a solo traveler, you’re able to take your time, and truly absorb all the facts and lessons imparted by the museum, and have a chance to seriously think about how you can create a better world.
Like the Van Gogh Museum, you should buy Anne Frank House tickets in advance. You will not be permitted inside without a prior reservation.
Solo Lunch and Shopping in De Pijp
De Pijp is Amsterdam’s fun-loving Latin Quarter. This trendy neighborhood is located in the south of Amsterdam, and is easy to walk to if you’re staying in a central location. You won’t find a better place for a solo lunch than in De Pijp!
You’ll discover (and taste) a wide diversity of ethnic foods in this neighborhood. Spanish, Moroccan, Japanese, seriously, any and all food cravings can be indulged here.
Furthermore, De Pijp is home to Amsterdam’s largest open air market: Albert Cuypmarkt. In addition to food, you’ll be able to shop for fun clothing and accessories from local vendors.
Take a Free Walking Tour
Last but not least free walking tours are excellent ways to make connections with travelers. In particular, a lot of backpackers flock to free walking tours because they provide history and insight around the city, as well as encourage camaraderie among the group. I’ve made countless friends on free walking tours all over Europe.
In particular, I recommend SANDEMANs Free Tour of Amsterdam. SANDEMANs is a high quality company with entertaining and knowledgeable guides. At the end of the tour, you will tip whatever amount you feel the tour was worth, so guides try their hardest to educate their guests about a city while also having fun.
Lastly, a free walking tour is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam alone on the first day of your trip. You’ll learn new stories and gain a sense of direction.
Tips for Visiting Amsterdam Alone
Last but not least, I wanted to include some practical tips for visiting Amsterdam alone.
These ideas will help you pack for your trip, as well as decide the best accommodation for your solo trip to Amsterdam.
What to Pack for Amsterdam
Below, I’ve listed a few items to bring to Amsterdam any time of the year. Don’t leave these things at home! It’s easiest to just have them rather than shop for them later.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Amsterdam’s gorgeous cobblestones may look pretty, but they can feel rough on your feet! And you’ll walk a lot on a solo trip to Amsterdam. Bring cozy walking shoes to better enjoy your trip.
- EU Plug Adapter: The EU has different plugs. Although a lot of hotels and hostels have USB adapters, you can’t always count on it. Bring an EU plug adapter so your devices don’t die.
- Guide Book to Amsterdam: Guidebooks are always helpful for finding amazing attractions and other things to do. Lonely Planet Guides are my favorite — definitely bring a copy on a solo trip to Amsterdam!
- Mirrorless Camera: Although phone cameras are wonderful, you want to bring a Sony Mirrorless Camera to truly camera Amsterdam’s beautiful! The photo quality is unreal!
- Pacsafe Crossbody Bag: Amsterdam is a popular party destination, so you want to be aware of pickpockets. With a Pacsafe crossbody bag, your belongings will be super secure.
- Travel Insurance: Don’t ever forget travel insurance! If you get sick in Amsterdam, you don’t want to pay full price for medical help. I use World Nomads for my trips and never had a problem!
- Travel Umbrella: The Netherlands is quite rainy at times. Have a small travel umbrella so you’re not caught in bad weather!
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
- Ecomama Hostel: This green and quirky hostel is perfect for the sustainable solo traveler! It’s highly rated and provides a quieter hostel experience compared to some of the raging party hostels in this city. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com
- The Flying Pig Downtown: If you want to party and meet people in Amsterdam, this hostel is a classic choice! You can’t go wrong! See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com
- The Highland House: Despite being more of a hotel, the staff here are so wonderful that you never feel lonely. I adored this place and highly recommend it to all solo travelers. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com
I hope all these amazing things to do in Amsterdam alone will inspire you to take a solo trip there. It’s truly a wonderful destination for independent travelers. If you’re interested in additional help, don’t forget to reach out to me for some travel coaching. Have a great vacation!