Canals, tulips in abundance, and a friendly vibe: there’s something about visiting Amsterdam as a solo traveller that makes it so appealing, even if you’ve not solo travelled much on your own before. Home to museums, galleries, and plenty of great cafés, here’s your guide to being solo in Amsterdam, including the best things to do in Amsterdam alone.
Wander along the canals of Amsterdam
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam, as with many a European capital city, is to simply stroll along the canals, seeing where your feet lead you. Pretty to explore in every season, whereas in the spring you can expect to enjoy the delights of cherry blossoms, summer allows for long and lazy walks around the city.
Come autumn and the leaves turn a golden shade, making for the perfect time to snap plenty of beautiful travel photos (here’s how to avoid travel photography mistakes!) Winter, of course, is the off-season, meaning fewer tourists and often cheaper hotel or hostel rates.
Whatever the case, be sure to wander along the canals during your time in the city. Some of the best districts to explore include the neighbourhood of Jordaan (which is now a UNESCO world heritage site) and The Negen Straatjes (the nine streets), which is home to plenty of boutiques and eateries.
Make your way to a small museum
If you want to escape the crowds of the city, then I would highly recommend skipping out on the typical tourist must-sees and instead head to one of the smaller museums the city has to offer. From 17th-century canal houses to artists ateliers, here are the best small museums in Amsterdam.
One of the best things to do in Amsterdam on your own is to check out Rembrandt’s House Museum (Rembradthuis). Situated close to the very heart of the city, this is the house where the iconic Dutch master lived and worked for some twenty years. Check here to buy your ticket in advance.
Another of my personal favourites is Our Lord in the Attic (Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder). Situated on the fringes of the Red Light District and located at the top of a four-story canal house, this clandestine church once operated during the persecution of Catholocism in the 17th-century. Today, you can wander around the 400-year old building and soak up the history. Check here to buy your tickets in advance.
Seek out Filming locations
From The Fault in Our Stars to scenes from the James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever, Amsterdam has been used as a backdrop for many a movie location over the years. As such, if you’re a movie buff then one of the best things to do in the city is to scout out some of the more iconic movie locations from various films over the years.
Visit some hidden gems of Amsterdam
Grand canals aside, Amsterdam is well-known around the world for its typical brick façades and narrow canalside houses. One of the top well-known secret spots is the Begijnhof Amsterdam. One of the oldest hofjes in the city, the historic brick buildings originally operated as a Béguinage. Today, the area is free to visit and is ever-so-pretty.
Though you may think that there are no more secret spots in Amsterdam to discover, you would be wrong! For example, another of the best unusual and quirky sites in the city is an old prison under a bridge. Torensluis (tower lock) is one of Amsterdam’s widest bridges and the remains of the prison there are now used to host art and culture events.
Elsewhere in the Dutch capital, another secret spot is Hortus Botanicus. This garden can be visited and was established in the 17th-century! Finally, for one of the best hidden cafés in the city, be sure to head to Café Chris, a bar that dates back well over three hundred and fifty years! Otherwise, shop for second-hand books head to Oudemanhuispoort and for more secluded courtyards, check out the best hofjes in Amsterdam.
Visit the floating flower market
Canal houses aside, Amsterdam is probably most synonymous with tulips. Head to Amsterdam during the right time of the year, and you can even take a day trip from the city to enjoy the Keukenhof Gardens. Nevertheless, should you opt to visit during a different time of the year, you can still expect to enjoy plenty of beautiful flower markets in the city centre itself.
For those who are true botanical lovers, be sure to head to the Floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt). Founded during the 19th-century, this is the world’s only market of its kind and can be found Muntplein and Koningsplein. If you want to capture some stunning photos, be sure to head to the Bloemenmarkt as the place can, understandably, become pretty busy later on in the day!
Take a day trip from Amsterdam
Some of the best of the Netherlands can be found outside this flat country’s capital city. Don’t believe me? Plan an excursion from Amsterdam to one of the smaller (and yet just as lovely cities) the country has to offer. Within an hour of Amsterdam, you can easily visit the political city of The Hague, the ceramic city of Delft, the university city of Leiden, and the architectural city of Rotterdam.
Planning a solo visit to Amsterdam? Tips & Practical advice
Safety as a solo female traveller in Amsterdam first: I personally felt very safe in Amsterdam and have spoken with plenty of other solo female travellers who feel the same way. My sister recently took her very first solo trip and chose Amsterdam thanks to its easy-to-get-to location and wealth of activities.
Amsterdam is easy to navigate by foot and plenty of people speak English. With this being said, be sure to keep an eye on your personal belongings at all times and only rent a bicycle (make sure it’s from a reputable place) if you’re comfortable with cycling!
If you’re planning a solo trip to the Dutch capital, then there are several things you’ll want to know before you go. While you’ll be able to find English speakers pretty much anywhere you go in the Netherlands, you may well want to be prepared for situations where you need to know a little Dutch by taking a simple Dutch phrasebook with you.
Secondly, I recommend planning your accommodation well in advance. With an increasing number of tourists visiting the city each year, the best hotels and guesthouses tend to sell out fast and so you’ll want to book your place to stay in Amsterdam ahead of time. Check the best accommodation prices in Amsterdam here. For a more unique Dutch experience during your stay in the city, consider booking a houseboat.
If you’re looking to visit many of the museums and cultural institutions in Amsterdam, then you might want to consider investing in an I Amsterdam card. This pass allows you entry to over forty museums and free public transport while exploring the city. Highlights of the card also include a free canal cruise and discounts on plenty of other city attractions. Check I Amsterdam card prices here
Finally, here are my very best Amsterdam travel tips, including all of the things you should know before visiting for the first time. For example, did you know that you should be prepared for all weathers? Amsterdam has plenty of rain throughout the year, and there’s even the chance of snow in the winter.