The Bloemenmarkt is the world's only floating flower market.
What to Do in Amsterdam Before or After Your River Cruise
If you have a Rhine River cruise on your horizon (you should!), I highly advise staying a few extra days in Amsterdam before or after your sailing. I recently cruised from Amsterdam to Basel and those couple extra days were like the cherry on top of my vacation. From a canal cruise to the Rembrandt House, the Red Light District to the Amsterdam Museum, there is so much to love about this historic, yet cosmopolitan city. Here’s what to do with your bonus vacation days in Amsterdam!
The city’s namesake museum provides a fantastic and interactive way to learn about Amsterdam’s history from ancient times to today. The exhibits encompass artwork, artifacts, clothing, videos, graphics and more - and they’re constantly changing, so even if you happen to have been here before, you’ll find something new and illuminating on display.
Imagine life as a royal at the Royal Palace on Dam Square, one of the three palaces still used by the Dutch Royal family. Today, the Royal Palace is used for award ceremonies and important receptions, including royal marriages, and abdication and succession of the throne. Head inside to see the beautiful Empire furniture of former resident Louis Napoleon.
Rembrandtplein is a popular square that houses this impressive statue.
Visit the long-time home of famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn - he lived and painted here from 1639 to 1658. The interior has been fashioned in such a way to look like it would have looked when Rembrandt lived here. A rotating exhibit of Rembrandt’s etchings is on display - and you can even learn the tricks of the etching technique yourself.
Red Light District
Explore the infamous Red Light District (also known as De Wallen or Rosse Buurt), dating back to the 14th century, when sailors would arrive here seeking female companionship. The area is demarcated by short pillars with red lights - within those boundaries, you’ll find cannabis-selling coffee shops, sex shops and various museums. It’s definitely not a family-friendly sightseeing destination, but for those interested in the authentic history of Amsterdam, it’s a great visit.
For a different perspective on the Red Light District, stop by De Oude Kerk, which dates back to the year 1300. It is said to be the oldest building in Amsterdam and was frequented by sailors praying for a safe journey. There are many notable people buried here, including Rembrandt’s wife. The ringing of the church bells is particularly lovely - the bridge by the Oudekerkplein is the best place to listen to them.
This replica of the three masted “Amsterdam” is a canal cruise highlight.
Marvel at tulip bulbs the size of your hand at the world’s only floating flower market. The year-round Bloemenmarkt sits on several houseboats in the Singel canal and is a cacophony of colors and scents. You can also visit the famous Keukenhof for more flower power, open March through May.
Don’t miss the chance to experience Amsterdam from its iconic canals. Take a seat as your boat winds its way along the city’s waterways, giving you a new perspective on its attractions. If you’d like, you can buy a hop-on/hop-off ticket so you can work some more sightseeing into your day.
Don’t miss the chance to really experience Amsterdam before or after your Rhine River cruise. Let’s chat about where to stay and what to do.
Share the knowledge
Travel Advisor Specializing in River Cruising