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After living and studying in the Netherlands for five months back in 2017, Amsterdam remains one of my favorite cities in the world. Filled with picturesque canals and architecture, art museums of international fame, and more bikes than people, “The Venice of the North” has something great for everyone. Check out my ultimate solo female travel guide to Amsterdam below!
Related: First time going solo? Check out my complete guide to traveling alone for the first time!
Canals of the city center
I am most often a solo traveler whose primary activity is simply walking around. Amsterdam is a dream-come-true for travelers like me. Whether it’s snowing or sunny and warm, Amsterdam always looks beautiful. In my opinion, walking around and just enjoying the view is the best free activity the city has to offer.
There are so many cafes all over the center of Amsterdam where you can have an experience that is truly gezellig. Gezellig is an essential Dutch adjective whose closest English translation is cozy (but more closely related to the Danish concept of hygge). Especially in the colder months, there’s nothing like getting a hot cup of espresso at one of the many cafes lining Amsterdam’s streets and cozying up with a good book.
Related: Discover the home of hygge with my ultimate local guide to Copenhagen!
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
Did you know the tulip actually originated from Central Asia and Turkey? Tucked away in the center of Amsterdam, this tiny museum is packed with information about how tulips came to be a symbol for the Netherlands. Somehow, it’s never crowded with people, either. I’m not a huge fan of museums but felt this was a must-see.
Anne Frank House
Going on a tour through the Anne Frank house was an amazing opportunity filled with sobering history and an inspiring message. As this is one of the most popular international attractions in Amsterdam, make sure to book your tour ticket in advance.
Related: Hop on over to Berlin from Amsterdam with domestic flights starting at just $25 with Omio Travel!
Van Gogh Museum
Having grown up in a town founded by the Dutch, I learned so much about Van Gogh throughout elementary and middle school art class. Again, I’m not a huge fan of museums, but if you appreciate art or Van Gogh at all, this museum is worth it. It’s also a nice place to get inspired while indulging in some of the local green…
A history lesson and haunted house mixed into one. I was really pleasantly surprised by how fun this was. In the Amsterdam Dungeon, you get to learn about the history of Amsterdam while experiencing an incredibly arranged and interactive “haunted house” walkthrough.
Related: Interested in more amazing places to solo travel in Europe? Check out these top 12 solo travel destinations!
Dutch street food
Patat (French fries) are a typical Dutch and Belgian street food, and once you try them, you’ll see why. Make sure to try all the delicious sauces they offer – my favorite is garlic! The pancake restaurants dotted throughout Amsterdam are also great for those with a sweet tooth. Also make sure to try poffertjes, little pancake dough balls served with powdered sugar or jam! And of COURSE, stroopwafels.
In de Waag
If you’re looking for a classy and one-of-a-kind dining experience inside of what used to be a grand city gate, In de Waag is the spot to be. The food is Dutch-inspired deliciousness and the drinks are great, too.
More so on the outskirts of the city center, this is an industrial-style indoor street food corridor.
Dante Kitchen & Bar
This restaurant has excellent food, cocktails, and wine, and has an amazing location in the center to boot.
Reypenaer cheese shop
Are you a fan of cheese? So am I! So much so that I did a cheese-tasting workshop at Reypenaer where they teach you how to taste the different cheeses and to tell how long they’ve been aged, and it was so fun! Whether or not you choose to actually get a certificate in cheese-tasting, it’s worth swinging by Reypenaer to taste their international award-winning cheeses.
Located very close to Amsterdam Central Station but not in the direction most tourists go, Hannekes Boom is filled with locals. It’s a great spot for a beer on the waterfront looking out towards the NEMO science museum, complete with a fun outdoor patio in the sand and lots of string lights. I loved going to Hannekes Boom with locals for a drink at night.
Yes, it’s located among some warehouses seemingly out-there, but I promise Amsterdam Roest is worth it. This industrial-style bar serves up some great drinks, and even has a double-decker red bus you would see in London inside that you can go sit in! This is also an authentic bar you will probably only meet locals at.
Waterkant is super popular with local students, especially in the summer. You can get pretty much anything to eat or drink here, and the entire establishment is located on a canal with large indoor and outdoor spaces.
PARCK aka Ping Pong Bar
I was brought to PARCK by locals and it was a super gezellig cafe-bar with great bar food and drinks. And yes, you can play ping pong here, too! The indoor and outdoor seating is great on this little street corner lining one of the inner canals of Amsterdam. And if you visit when it’s cold, don’t let that keep you away – they have outdoor heating and blankets!
In Amsterdam, I only ever stayed with locals, and it was by far the best way to experience the city authentically. Though I’ve had no problems in the past, if you’re concerned about safety, only stay with a female Couchsurfer. Regardless of gender, always stay with a host with lots of positive reviews.
Hostel dorm rooms in Amsterdam usually run for about €20/night. I personally haven’t stayed at a hostel in Amsterdam (yet), but these few were highly recommended by fellow travelers:
Great in the middle of everything, very social with a bar, cheap rates
Described as fun with a great setup for solo travelers to meet other travelers, great location
Very close to Amsterdam Central Station, great setup for solo travelers to meet other travelers with cool hangout areas, very clean
Looking for more ideas on where to stay in Amsterdam? Check out my complete guide on where to stay in Amsterdam for every budget!
Especially if you’ll be spending more time elsewhere in the Netherlands and/or Europe, renting a car might be a good option. Click here for this exclusive deal and save up to 30% on car rentals with Auto Europe!
Related: Need to book flights, trains, or buses to or from Berlin? Check out the super cool European-based Omio Travel (formerly GoEuro) website! They have all the best deals on all things European travel.
Like I said, I’m a huge walker when I travel, and Amsterdam is an incredibly walkable city. And since Amsterdam is formed in a series of concentric circles, it’s pretty hard to get lost. Go wander without a map and find those cute, hidden alleyways only the locals know about!
There is something truly magical about seeing the city by bike. You couldn’t experience Amsterdam like a true local without one. Rent a bike from the many bike shops in town – just be aware of the local cycling rules and don’t get in the way of others on the bike path!
If you’re staying a little farther outside the city center or are planning on traveling some larger distances on the fringes of Amsterdam without a bike, the metro might be a good option for you. If you’re staying for multiple days, a multi-day metro pass is often a good value.
Related: Click below to get exclusive deals on train travel across Europe with RailEurope!
The Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to Amsterdam: Authentic Experiences
Drink… Caffe Verkeerd (Dutch equivalent of caffe latte), Verse Munt Thee (fresh mint tea), Chocomel, Amstel, Heineken, Jenever (precursor to English gin)
Eat… Haring ‘Hollandse Nieuwe’ (Dutch new herring), stroopwafel (crispy thin waffle cookies with sweet syrup in between), patat (french fries), poffertjes (small, round doughy pancakes), kroket (deep-fried breadcrumb-covered roll filled with meat ragout), bitterballen (crunchy breadcrumb-coated ball with meat filling), drop (black licorice), kaas (cheese), chocolade hagelslag (choclate sprinkles) on buttered bread for breakfast (seriously!)
Ride… A bike
Or… Ride on the back of someone else’s bike!
Visit… A street market (and try those herrings) at Albert Cuyp Market
Go… To a bakery in the morning to get fresh bread and pastries for breakfast
Enjoy… A cup of coffee or a beer at an outdoor cafe along a canal (yes, even in the winter – there are often outdoor heaters and blankets!)
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