9 Offbeat and Unusual Things to Do in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is both the capital and largest city in The Netherlands, a city that grew from a 12th-century fishing port to one of the most important ports in the 17th century. Today it is a modern city with a great deal of heritage that offers a wide range of offbeat and unusual things to do when visiting. Here’s a sample of some of the best tours of Amsterdam that allows you to see exactly the sights that you are interested in and omit the ones you aren’t.
There are lots of ways to book the unusual things to do in Amsterdam. For some, you can simply buy entrance tickets when you arrive or book ahead online. There is one service in particular that stands out most. It’s something that connects local residents from the destination you are going with travelers for completely unique experiences from local insiders. Not just the usual tours. It’s the Withlocals app where you can access a range of special experiences that involve working with the real residents of Amsterdam and seeing the city as only someone living there can do. Working with a local guide you can select the sights you want to see or have suggestions from your tour guide and enjoy a journey around the most unusual spots the Amsterdam has to offer.
Museums and Street Art
As you would expect from a city of this stature, there is no shortage of museums around the city. And while there are the classic history museums and art galleries, there are more than a few unusual ones. If the historic ways of torture are your thing the The Torture Museum is one example, looking at a time where justice involves spiked objects and sticks. The museum has a range of torture devices from different ages and gives a glimpse into what life was like for law-breakers in the past.
Art is often seen in a gallery but if you want to see something more modern and on location, you can go on a bike tour to see Amsterdam street art with a guide. The tour takes place over four hours and allows you to see the best of the street art around the city alongside a knowledgeable insider – someone who actually lives in the city. It is a fun way to combine bike riding (a passion in the city) with real-world art.
Micropia is the world’s first dedicated museum to microbes and documents all those microscopic organisms that we share the world (and our bodies) with unknowingly. The museum allows you to view things that are normally unseen and even has a scanner to allow you to see what is growing on your body at the time! There is a microbiology lab on site and this means that the ‘zookeepers’ in this zoo are lab technicians, on hand to explain more about the exhibits.
The idea of mixing cats and water is something most cat owners will say is a bad idea but it works perfectly on De Poezenboot – The Cat Boat. This is a floating animal sanctuary based on a canal that was founded back in 1966 as a home for sick, stray and abandoned cats. It can accommodate up to 50 cats at a time and welcomes visitors.
In’t Aepen isn’t the oldest bar in Amsterdam but it is one of the oldest and definitely boasts one of the most unusual stories. The name means ‘in the monkeys’ and it gained the name because when sailors were returning from exotic lands with pet animals such as monkeys, they were able to put the pets down as a form of payment – and in this bar, monkeys were the going currency! Unfortunately, there are side effects to having monkeys on the premises including fleas and they were moved to Artis Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in Europe.
For photography fans, one of the best ways to see the city from up high is a visit to the A’DAM tower. While it may look like a new addition, the tower was built in the 1970s for Royal Dutch Shell but had a refit in 2016 to create a nightlife and creative center that also boasts one of the best views across the city. It is 22 storeys high and is the perfect place for a 360-degree view across Amsterdam.
Shopping and food
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is a street that is filled with one thing – antique shops. And what makes it a little different to the usual street of antique shops? Each one is dedicated to a different historical period or theme. For example, one is filled with medical instruments from dissection kits to apothecary jars. Another is filled with globes, telescopes, planetariums and all manner of scientific equipment.
Amsterdam is famous for many things and one of them is the food so a tour around the city that is focused around shopping at the markets and food tasting is a perfect way to get the best of these two experiences. A tour of Amsterdam food markets allow you to book a tour through a dedicated app and pairs you with a local Amsterdam resident who you can chat with and have them take you to the best of the markets as well as trying a number of different foods – including local cheeses.