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
Photo of Tom Coggins
20 August 2021

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.

Smoke pot

Coffee Shop, European
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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.

Watch an Ajax Game

Stadium
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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.

Visit a sex shop

Shop
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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.

Become a coffee connoisseur

Cafe, Continental, $$$
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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.

Drink a Kopstoot

Bar, Dutch, $$$
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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.

Take a picnic to Vondelpark

Park, Theater
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Vondelpark, Vondel park, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
© Alvaro Leiva / agefotostock / Alamy

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.

Check out the largest flea market in Europe

Market
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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.

Go vintage shopping

Store
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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.

Set sail on the Pancake Boat

Creperie, European, $$$
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East view of the hotel, the Music Hall (Muziekgebouw) is in the front of the building. The Pancake Boat (De Pannenkoekenboot) is on the Ij river
© Adam Szuly Photography / Alamy

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.

Spend four days partying during ADE

Music Venue
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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.

Geek out at TonTon Club

Restaurant, Ramen, Japanese, $$$
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Arcade games TonTon club, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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.

Ride the Over the Edge Swing

Amusement Park
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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.

Read de Avonden by Gerrit Reve

Shop
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Scheltema store in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Scheltema is one of the largest bookshops in the Netherlands with an area of 3200 square meters.
© Björn Wylezich / Alamy
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.

Attend a film festival

Cinema
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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.

These recommendations were updated on August 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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