Things to do on a solo trip to Amsterdam
As one of the world’s safest cities and with cultural inspiration everywhere you look, Amsterdam is the perfect destination to enjoy at your own pace. Here’s some inspiration for where to go and what to see if you’re rolling solo in the Dutch capital.
Find accommodation to suit your style
The best thing about accommodation in Amsterdam is there is something for everyone and even a lone wolf needs a spot to rest their head. If you want to meet friendly faces while you’re flying solo – a vibrant hostel might be for you. Some of the most popular include Ecomama, Stayokay Amsterdam Vondelpark and Clink Noord. Alternatively, seek out a hotel with special quirks, such as the Conscious hotel group with sustainable, stylish furnishings that is powered entirely by renewable energy. The vibrancy of Hotel de Hallen might also appeal, where you’ll also find Amsterdam’s high-end food court, exhibition spaces, quirky shops and a cinema - all housed in a former tram depot.
Discover art at every turn
Museums and galleries are a sanctuary to the solo traveller – and there are countless options to discover in Amsterdam. Take the opportunity to explore at your own pace, lingering over your favourite artworks for as long as you like. The big-name galleries are in Museumplein – the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. Try the immersive new art experience in Amsterdam Noord – Nxt Museum, or check out some of the citys independent galleries and contemporary art spaces. Keep an eye on our seasonal exhibition guide and what's on pages for up-to-date arty tips. You can also seek out all manner of unusual museums dedicated to cats, fluorescent colours or microorganisms – it’s your trip!
Work in a laptop-friendly café
Amsterdam is a creative city that attracts large numbers of entrepreneurs and freelancers. If your idea of solo travel involves a leisurely morning working on that passion project, there are many laptop-friendly cafés that provide the perfect ambiance. The Hoxton on the canal ring and De Kanarie Club welcome flex workers to their well-equipped workspaces, while cosy local favourites like Volkshotel, Public Space and Benji's Toko are perfect for people watching and sipping a flat white while you finish your masterpiece.
Browse the markets
Another essential activity on any trip to Amsterdam involves browsing for hidden treasure at the local markets. Find antiques and collectibles, locally grown fruit and vegetables and must-try Dutch food like poffertjes (mini pancakes) and cones of fries slathered in mayo. The Albert Cuypmarkt in De Pijp is the biggest, while the Dappermarkt in Oost, Noordermarkt in De Jordaan and Waterlooplein market in the city centre also offer a glimpse of Amsterdam’s authentic charm. Solo shoppers will enjoy the lively atmosphere and the chance to practise your Dutch phrases with friendly locals.
Discover the city’s foodie scene
Just because you’re flying solo doesn’t mean you can’t tuck into the incredible cuisine the city has to offer. For a cheap and cheerful lunch about town, we’ve written an expert guide to the best sandwich in Amsterdam – whether you’re looking for a bagel, bánh mì or broodje haring. We’ve also got guides to everything from vegan restaurants and veggie hotspots to swanky seafood bars, dim sum and the city’s best tacos. Have a read of our food and drink pages for more flavour inspiration, and keep an eye on the weekend guide for new openings and culinary fairs.
Take in a movie at an art-house cinema
Amsterdam’s independent cinema scene is strong, with English-language screenings taking place every night across the city. Lab111 in Oud-West is the place to go for art-house flicks as well as art exhibitions, lectures and concerts. Housed in one of the city’s most unusual converted spaces, a former pathological anatomy lab, and with its own dedicated Stanley Kubrick-inspired bar, it is about as quirky as cinemas get. FC-Hyena in Noord and the stunning art deco interiors of Pathé Tuschinski are also well worth checking out.
Catch a gig or concert
Amsterdam boasts some of the world’s most iconic concert halls and gig venues the agendas of which are jam-packed any night of the week. Paradiso, located in a former church that was squatted in the 1960s, has grown into a renowned performance space with various stages hosting some of the biggest names in pop, rock and electronic. Smaller venues like Tolhuistuin, Bitterzoet and Cinetol showcase a range of bands on a more intimate stage. Alternatively, here’s our roundup of the best vinyl bars, jazz clubs and classical music venues.
Shop for quirky gifts
Missing your loved ones at home? Show them you’re thinking of them by shopping for unique made-in-Amsterdam gifts as a souvenir. Once a month, De Hallen invites local artisans to the Maker Market to present their wares. Browse the stands and displays of clothing and accessories, books and other knick-knacks and trinkets to gift or keep for yourself. Alternatively have a read of this round-up of quirky shops including the Pindakaaswinkel which sells various varieties of peanut butter (sea salt, chilli pepper or lemongrass anyone?) or Gastronomie Nostalgie for antique cutlery and dinnerware.
People watch from a cosy brown bar
There’s no place better to meet people than on the barstools and terraces of the city’s bruine cafes (brown bars). These historic drinking holes are dotted throughout Amsterdam – offering unpretentious beer prices and an authentic atmosphere. Pubs like Café de Oranjerie and Café de Tuin in the Jordaan or Café Kuijper in Oost are great spots to peruse the paper or people-watch passing locals with a coffee. Then you can soak up the neighbourhood buzz as they liven up throughout the evening.
Cruise the canals
The absolute best way to get a city overview when you touch down is to hop on one of Amsterdam’s world-famous canal cruises. Most include a free audio tour, so you can jam a headset on and not speak to anybody (if you don’t want to) as you take in the unique views of the iconic buildings and picturesque waterways. This dedicated page includes the most popular tour companies to book with, or why not check out a more alternative comedy tour courtesy of Those Dam Boat Guys.
Read a book in the park
After a busy day of sightseeing, there’s nothing finer than having some time to yourself to sit down with a good book. Fortunately, in Amsterdam, there is no shortage of parks, green spaces and waterside chill-out zones in the city to locate the perfect reading nook. By the rose garden in Vondelpark or under a shady tree in the sprawling Rembrandtpark are both excellent secluded spots to delve into a literary escape. And if you’re looking for your next good read, read this guide to Amsterdam for book-lovers which lists the best English-language bookstores and markets to be found.