18 Things to Do in Amsterdam in Your Twenties

Rent a bike in Amsterdam for a true taste of city life
Rent a bike in Amsterdam for a true taste of city life | Photo by Ugur Arpaci on Unsplash
Tom Coggins

From world-class sports teams to unbeatable nightlife, Amsterdam is one of the planet’s most youthful capitals.

Amsterdam easily ranks among the best cities in the world for young people and has plenty to offer anyone in their twenties. So whether you’re looking to party, eager to discover new experiences, or just want to chill out with some friends, Amsterdam has it all.

1. Smoke pot

Coffee Shop, European

An obvious, yet fitting choice as a significant margin of 20-somethings head to Amsterdam to enjoy the city’s cannabis culture. Due to the large number of licensed coffeeshops spread throughout the city finding a decent place to smoke pot is usually pretty easy.

2. Explore the canals onboard a pedal boat

Bridge

Chart your own course through Amsterdam’s historic canal belt by renting out a pedal boat. It is possible to hire these four-seated vessels from tour companies based in Amsterdam’s centre.

3. Drink a Kopstoot

Bar, Dutch

Ever heard of jenever? It’s a delicious juniper-based spirit that predates gin and has been popular in the Netherlands for over 400 years. Pair this tasty, aromatic liquor with a beer and you get a kopstoot (English translation: headbutt). The place to drink it is De Drie Fleschjes, the oldest tasting room in Amsterdam that’s on Dam square and dates back to 1650. Order some classic Dutch snacks soakage or enjoy the fact you’re too young for killer hangovers.

4. Take a picnic to Vondelpark

Park, Theater

You might only be visiting but if the sun is shining follow the cool kids and take a picnic to Vondelpark. It’s Amsterdam’s most famous park designed and built in 1850; a beautiful green meeting space in the city. Pack sandwiches from a local deli, a bottle or two of wine and make a day of it by cycling around the park before settling down on a patch of grass.

5. Gorge on the local delicacies

Cafe, Pub, Coffee, Dessert

Close up of traditional Dutch stroopwafels
Grooveland Designs / Unsplash
Amsterdam is not short of foodie staples, so you can make sure you’r eating authentically at every stage of the day. Indulge in some stroopwafel for breakfast, tuck into a hunky slice of apple pie at the excellent Cafe Winkel in Jordaan, and always order a tasty bowl of bitterballen with your first beer of the evening. Oh, and always remember, fries here are to be covered in mayonnaise – none of that ketchup nonsense. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

6. Visit a sex shop

Shop

Aside from the kitschy tourist-orientated sex shops scattered throughout Amsterdam, there are many other more tasteful establishments that cater to a wide range of preferences, orientations and kinks. There’s even a condom specialist store in the Red Light District, called Condomerie, which also acts as an information centre for safe, fun sex and several businesses that focus specifically on female eroticism.

7. Explore the city on two wheels

Architectural Landmark

Young couple cycling in Amsterdam, Netherlands
sabina fratila / Unsplash

The most iconic way to see Amsterdam – without getting on a boat, anyway – is without doubt by joining the hordes of local residents by hopping on a bike and getting around on two wheels. The city is extremely cyclist friendly, and there is something extra romantic about taking in the tiny bridges, canal-side houses and little town squares with a gentle breeze flowing through your hair. A word of warning though – the cycle lanes can get pretty hectic at peak times, so prepare to abide by the etiquette of the roads – your best bet might be to book a tour with an expert local cyclist. Recommended by Gethin Morgan.

8. Watch an Ajax Game

Stadium

Johan Cruijff ArenA, Johan Cruijff Boulevard, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Winston Tjia / Unsplash

While a considerable number of bars in Amsterdam screen Ajax matches whenever the team is playing, nothing beats watching the club duke it out on their home turf in Johan Cruijff Arena. The stadium is located in Amsterdam’s Zuidoost district and seats over 50,000 supporters.

9. Check out the largest flea market in Europe

Market

Amsterdam’s IJhallen flea market takes place on the first weekend of every month inside two industrial-sized shipping containers on NDSM-Werf. There’s always a massive selection of secondhand treasures on offer at the market, including preloved shoes, furniture, vinyl and clothing.

10. Go vintage shopping

Store

The vintage shopping potential in Amsterdam is limitless and largely underrated. The place to go for a good rummage? Episode. There are five stores dotted around the city. They are known for their rigorous style and quality checks and repair, recycle and often redesign second-hand clothes before garments hit the shop floor. Expect everything from 80s ski jackets to hip Hawaiian shirts and plenty of retro denim, plus vinyl and all the accessories.

11. Become a coffee connoisseur

Cafe, Continental

It’s official – this small city has reached peak coffee snobbery. Dozens of high-end espresso bars and craft roasters are popping up making it a great place to go full coffee connoisseur in time to impress at future dinner parties and work meetings. Begin your bean-based education with White Label Coffee, who source beans in Brazil and Rwanda and showcases natural diversity and quality. They have three coffee bars in the city also serving breakfast, lunch and pastries.

12. Set sail on the Pancake Boat

Creperie, European

That’s right! There’s a boat cruise in Amsterdam that revolves around endless supplies of mouthwatering Dutch-style pancakes. There are several cruises available onboard the Pancake Boat, including a nighttime adventure that trails along the river IJ.

13. Spend four days partying during ADE

Music Venue

Literally thousands of EDM musicians perform at venues throughout Amsterdam during ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event). The festival’s program is spread over four days in mid-October and always includes some of the best parties, concerts and club nights of the year. Obviously, it is impossible to attend all of these events, but trying to cram as many into four days as possible is something everyone in their twenties should attempt at least once.

14. Geek out at TonTon Club

Restaurant, Ramen, Japanese

Both TonTon Clubs in Amsterdam feature around 20 classic coin-op video game machines that date back to the golden era of arcades. There are some real gems inside either location including Time Crisis II, Bishi Bashi Special and several 1990s fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. There’s also booze.

15. Play glow in the dark mini golf

Sports Center, Amusement Park

Everything at this indoor miniature golf course on Prinshendrikade glows with a florescent gleam befitting a 1980s science fiction movie. There are 15 neon holes to conquer inside which are surrounded by tripped-out obstacles.

16. Ride the Over the Edge Swing

Amusement Park

ADAM tower, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Frans Ruiter / Unsplash

Ever noticed the red, metal contraption jutting off the top of A’DAM Toren? That’s the Over the Edge Swing, a suspended swingset that dangles above Amsterdam’s northern dockland. While the ride certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, it does offer one of the best panoramas over Amsterdam.

17. Read de Avonden by Gerrit Reve

Shop

This classic Dutch novel follows 23-year-old office clerk Fritz as he desperately tries to avoid boredom by discussing increasingly bizarre topics with friends and relatives over the course of nine nights in Amsterdam. The book was recently translated for the first time into English and is regularly cited as the most important Dutch novel from the second half of the 20th century.

18. Attend a film festival

Cinema

Amsterdam hosts a number of globally acclaimed festivals, but the one for twenty-somethings to head to is Pluk de Nacht, an open-air film festival that takes place every summer. Go for a selection of unreleased indie arthouse films, docs, animations and shorts. It attracts film nerds and hipsters from far and wide to watch movies from the comfort of bean bags and striped deck chairs. The bars sell wine and Belgian beers as well as delicious burgers.

Judy Cogan contributed additional reporting to this article.

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