Indulge your inner art critic
There’s an art critic in every one of us, and if you haven’t found yours yet then a quick trip to the Stedelijk's modern art exhibitions will sort that out. If you want to go more contemporary then head to the Moco Museum for works by ‘rock star’ artists like Banksy. Of course, no visit to the aptly named Museum Quarter can be complete without a stop at the Van Gogh Museum, which tells the story of the artist himself alongside more than 200 paintings and 500 sketches. Check out our culture guide to Oud-Zuid for more info on these museums and more.
Window shop from the world’s biggest fashion houses
There are many reasons why Oud-Zuid is the city’s swankiest neighbourhood and the PC Hooftstraat shopping district is certainly one of them. PC Hooftstraat is the best place to stare at beautiful things we might never buy: Chanel, Gucci, Hermés, Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Cartier, Mont Blanc and Armani all have a presence there. And after not-buying that €2000 bag to carry your imaginary €500 pen, further inspiration can be found at one of the many clothing, wine or chocolate stores on Beethovenstraat. Thankfully, Beethovenstraat also has many cafes and restaurants that will not break the bank, so you could always treat yourself to something sweet instead!
Get pampered at a day spa
All of us could do with a few hours at Akasha, The Conservatorium Hotel’s wellbeing centre. Their selection of luxury treatments extends to a signature facial using 24-carat gold, diamonds and pearls that are guaranteed to put you on top of the world again. Next to the Conservatorium Hotel, you’ll be lured in by the niche beauty brands and exclusive perfumes at Skins Cosmetics Amsterdam. And if you prefer a more accessible experience, book in for a manicure or massage at Soap Treatment Store on Van Baerlestraat.
Cycle, yes cycle, through a museum
OK so maybe not through the exhibits themselves, but the Rijksmuseum is the only museum we know of that has a bike tunnel running right through it; often full of incredibly talented (and sometimes not so talented) musicians and performers. The building is a masterpiece of architecture designed in 1885 by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers – the same man who designed Amsterdam’s Central Station – and reopened in 2013 after a ten-year renovation. It beautifully blends the old with the new, and staring at it you’ll often have a hard time noticing where one ends and the other begins. Understandably, it has been a designated national heritage monument since 1970.
Do as the locals do in Vondelpark
The iconic Vondelpark occupies a special place in the heart of almost every Amsterdammer and visitor. On a sunny day, the paths are packed with skaters, joggers, dog-walkers and commuters taking the scenic cycle route home, whilst groups of friends chill on the lawns by the pond and parents catch up outside the playgrounds. Inside the park, you’ll find several great restaurants and cafes including the Blauwe Theehuis or Vondeltuin, an open-air theatre, fitness areas, and a beautiful rose garden.
Catch a classical concert, sometimes for free!
The Royal Concertgebouw is one of the world’s finest concert halls. It has exceptional acoustics, meaning it was purpose-built with meticulous care so that when the first string in Schubert's Symphony No. 8 vibrates, every spine in the room tingles with it – and all this achieved before modern recording equipment had even been invented. The Concertgebouw has an ongoing schedule that includes nearly year-round, free lunchtime concerts, as well as regular 75-minute guided tours that are well worth the low fee. If you’re a fan of classical music but have never listened to it live, you'll soon discover that your high-end speakers have nothing on the building’s sound quality.
Discover the Rijksmuseum’s secrets
With its infinite paintings by the Dutch masters and international reputation, the Rijksmuseum doesn’t need much of an introduction. There are a few hidden spots in the building that many visitors don’t know about. Cuypers Reading Room is the oldest and most extensive collection of art history texts in the Netherlands, where sunlight streams through the glass ceiling to illuminate seemingly endless rows of tomes. When you’ve finished burying your nose in a good book, head down to the museum’s gardens. Here you can escape the hustle and bustle of the galleries for a while as you admire the various flowers and plants, fountain and a sculpture exhibition.
Be dazzled by diamonds
Amsterdam has a long history with diamonds that dates back to the 16th century, and is even known as the “City of Diamonds”. It is not for nothing that world-famous stones such as the Koh-I-Noor and the Cullinan were cut by Amsterdam diamond dealers. Find out all about this at Europe’s only Diamond Museum, as you follow the journey of the diamond, which starts 3 billion years ago, 200 km below your feet and ends up in the ring on your finger. Be dazzled by the collections of films, photos, jewellery, historical documents and of course, real diamonds.
Get your skates on at Museumplein
Every winter, ICE*Amsterdam offers the unique opportunity to ice skate surrounded by the impressive architecture of Amsterdam's Museumplein. With the Rijksmuseum as a phenomenal backdrop, get set to bring some seasonal sparkle back to Amsterdam as you pull your ice skates on or simply watch the action and take in the festive atmosphere. There are also skating lessons on offer to help you hone your skills as well as sessions of ice hockey and curling.