Erik in Amsterdam: A First-Timer's Guide

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Viator's team of travel insiders is obsessed with finding the best things to do everywhere we travel (and live). From traditional tours to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, we scour the options and find the coolest activities—which is fun for us, and helpful for you! See below for tips, insights, and hand-selected things to do from one of our travel experts.

The Traveler: Erik Carlson, Junior Merchandising Analyst

Describe your time in Amsterdam.
I visited a few years ago with some of my college buddies. We were studying in Europe at the time, and we got really good at packing a lot of sights and activities into a short trip.

What was your favorite attraction?
The Heineken Experience—and not just because I like beer. Heineken is such a big part of Dutch culture, and it’s all over Amsterdam, even on signs and clothes. Heineken Experience is a great place to learn about the brewing process, watch all the old TV ads from over the years, and of course, have a few beers.

What are three things a first-time visitor can't miss?
  • See the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum. I studied art history in high school and college, so it was really cool to see the paintings in real life. The Dutch take great pride in their artists, and it shows at these museums. My friends and I had to wait in line for a while, so I'd definitely recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket.
  • Rent bikes to get around. They say there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam, and I believe it. To explore like a local, rent a bike, or even take a bike tour. There are so many places you can go, and we spent a lot of time at Vondelpark, which is like the Central Park of Amsterdam.
  • Experience the canals. Of course you'll see Amsterdam's famous canals while walking or biking around town, but I recommend getting out on the water on a canal cruise to see the city from a unique perspective.
  • What's the best Insider Tip you can offer future visitors to this destination?
    Eat and drink with locals, no matter your budget. Everyone we talked to was really friendly and gave us great recommendations. We especially loved Febo, a popular Dutch fast food chain. I know, I know, it’s fast food. But it was really good, and it’s an interesting setup—almost like a wall of vending machines with hot food. Check it out for a taste of modern local culture and cuisine.
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