Admire the architecture
There’s no denying it: Amsterdam is a looker. Spend a day admiring the architecture when you need a change of pace. The historic centre canal ring is a must-see and it’s easy to spend hours taking photos of the grand 16th century buildings nestled together along the narrow streets. Other neighbourhoods have plenty to offer as well, including De Pijp, with its cosy, funky vibe, and Amsterdam Noord, which has loads of post-industrial charm.
Visit the museums from your sofa
Some of the world’s best museums are in Amsterdam and it’s possible to experience them while sitting on your sofa with a cup of tea or a cheeky glass of wine. Best of all, there’s no need to get dressed up for a virtual experience, so put on your slippers and explore the Van Gogh Museum or go on a VR tour of the Anne Frank House. If you’re an aspiring artist, the Rijksmuseum has video tutorials to help you learn to paint like the masters.
Cycle through the countryside
A bike ride can perk up your mood instantly, so explore the countryside surrounding Amsterdam on two wheels. Pedal your way along the Amstel or zip through the green and leafy Amsterdamse Bos, a sprawling forest that almost feels like a different world. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic, so bring some nibbles, too. If you feel like a boat ride, take the free ferry to Noord and go to Landelijk, where you’ll find a village-like atmosphere.
Drop the beat with Dutch DJs
As a world capital for techno, electronica and dance music, Amsterdam is home to amazing DJs and clubs that keep the beats pounding all night long. Though you might not be able to visit them right now, you can take the party anywhere you go by checking out this compilation of DJ performances. Shot in and around the capital, they offer an enticing mix of fantastic views and pulsing tunes. ADE, also known as Amsterdam Dance Event, is taking place online this year and has a full schedule of performances, workshops, talks and more.
Indulge your inner gourmand
Though this isn’t the best time to visit a restaurant, it doesn’t mean that Amsterdam’s finest food is out of reach! Many of the city’s top eateries are offering takeaway and delivery versions of their most famous dishes, including Michelin-starred establishments – check out some delicious recommendations from local food writer Monique van Loon. All you need to set the scene is a bottle of wine and a few candles.
Head to the Dutch dunes
Fall and winter are good times to explore the Dutch dunes or Amsterdam Beach. On a brisk day, take in the rugged coastal landscape and watch the waves crashing on the shore – you might event spot a brave swimmer. If you like wildlife, head to Zuid-Kennemerland National Park where you’ll spot birds, deer, rabbits and even bison. History buffs should check out the WIII bunkers at Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen.
See the windmills
Along with wooden clogs and tulips, windmills are probably the most famous Dutch icon – and there are plenty to see around the Amsterdam Area. If you’re a beer fan, head to the east side of town and enjoy a cold one on the terrace at the Brouwerij ‘t IJ, which sits beneath the 18th century De Gooyer Windmill. Want to get back in shape? Cycle all the way to Zaanse Schans, a free outdoor park where you can see a collection of quaint windmills along the riverfront.
Savour the season
Crisp weather, changing leaves and pumpkin spice everything – who doesn’t love autumn? It’s a magical time in Amsterdam, so slow down and enjoy the foliage during a stroll through one of the city’s many parks. This time of year also means the Amsterdam Light Festival comes to life along the canals after dark – follow it up with a cup of hot cocoa at an outdoor terrace. If the weather gets really cold, the canals will freeze over and transform into an ice skating rink, so keep your fingers crossed for freezing temperatures!
Explore the parks
Amsterdam is filled with parks and they’re perfect for stretching your legs while social distancing. Vondelpark is the most famous of the bunch and is big enough to keep you wandering for hours. Over in De Pijp, Sarphatipark offers views of magnificent homes if you walk around its periphery. And don’t forget Flevopark, where you’ll find the Nieuwe Diep distillery overlooking a pond. It has a charming terrace where you can linger for hours.
Immerse yourself in the city
Sometimes, the best way to explore Amsterdam is through books and movies set in the city. Whether you’re on the other side of the world or distancing in your place in De Baarsjes, you can curl up with a copy of The Goldfinch or The Fault in Our Stars and feel like you’re walking along the canals. On Saturday night, make popcorn and watch Diamonds are Forever, the Hitman’s Bodyguard or even Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo if you really need an escape. We won’t tell.
Lend a helping hand
Helping others can really lift your spirits and there are safe ways to support those in need during the outbreak. If you have a few euros to spare, worthy organisations always appreciate donations. Consider giving blood if you’re able or make some face masks for friends and family using a free pattern. Many organisations also offer safe opportunities to volunteer that can make the hours race by.
Discover outdoor art
Fresh air, exercise and art – you can have it all! Amsterdam is filled with masterpieces that live outdoors, so go see them for yourself. Check out some street art in NDSM or see a recently unearthed Keith Haring mural on the side of a building on the west side of town. Vondelpark even has a Picasso of its very own, so don’t forget your camera.
Plan some day trips
Though vacations to far-off lands might be on hold for the moment, there are plenty of day trips you can enjoy around the Amsterdam Area. Grab your bike and cycle to Muiderslot to visit one of the most beautiful castles in the Netherlands or ride through Waterland and see the rolling farmlands and quaint villages – a little adventure to somewhere new can really brighten your day.
Dress for the weather
Spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to preserve your mental and physical wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak, but Dutch weather can be…intense. If you dress for the climate though, life will be much more pleasant. Treat yourself to a quality raincoat created by a local designer and you’ll stay comfy, dry and stylish even when it’s pouring.
Treat yourself to a hotel stay
If your place is starting to feel a little small, escape for a night or two and stay in one of Amsterdam’s unusual hotels. The change of scenery is good for the soul and it will feel like you’re a million miles away. For stunning views, try the Faralda NDSM Crane Hotel – which, as its name suggests – is located in a real construction crane. You can also sleep in a houseboat along the Amstel or book an old bridge house that’s part of the SWEETS hotel.
Soak up some (safe) culture
Hopefully, Amsterdam’s famed concert halls and clubs will be jam-packed again soon. Until then, many places are offering intimate, socially distanced performances and they’re a great way to treat yourself to a night out. For instance, Carre has added plush sofas to its main floor, so you can take in a classical concert, a rock show or whatever else is on the schedule. Other venues are following suit, but things can change quickly, so always check twice before making plans.
Learn something new
Online classes and workshops are an excellent way to keep busy while quarantining – try one based in the city. Amsterdam Writing Workshops will teach you about creating flash fiction, memoirs and short stories, and IN Amsterdam’s partners offer tutorials and courses that can enhance your CV and get your career on track. For something really special, try an online cheese tasting with Reypenaer – they’ll send tasty samples straight to your door.
Wear a mask that makes a difference
To help minimise the spread of coronavirus, it’s important to wear a mask when visiting indoor public places, like the grocery store. Keep yourself safe, look stylish and support a worthy cause by getting a mask made by an organisation that’s helping make the world a better place. Many are also created using recycled and sustainable materials, minimising waste.
Relax at an outdoor terrace
In the summer, Amsterdammers love nothing more than relaxing over a beer at an outdoor terrace, but this year, the fun doesn’t stop when the cool weather arrives. Many terraces are adding heaters and awnings to keep guests warm and dry, so you can still enjoy a drink – and perhaps some traditional Dutch snacks like bitterballen – like a local.
Tour some grand estates
Sometimes, it’s not what’s on the inside that matters. Amsterdam – and the surrounding area – is filled with grand estates that you experience while staying outside. Frankendael Estate is located in Watergraafsmeer and dates from the 17th century; wander through the historic gardens for and take in the grand Huize Frankendael while you’re there. At De Olmenhorst, you can pick apples with the kids while enjoying the lovely country setting. If you’re up to the task, try turning them into a pie once you get home.