All-time Top 10 Things to do in Amsterdam for Teenagers: a critical look

When in Amsterdam has realised that every website associated with Amsterdam travel has a top list of things to do in this city. However, there are very few for teenagers. To be honest most of the list of things and activities for teenagers in Amsterdam were just adapted from generic Top 10 or 5 Lists.

When in Amsterdam could provide our own list but honestly there is no Top 10 list. Teenagers are a difficult bracket. We all know because we have all been there. No longer children, yet not adults. Young adults but not the rights to all activities. There are dramatic differences between 13 and 17, male and female. We have done our best to balance the analysis listed below with the cool factor listed in the Alternatives section. Updated November 2015.

So we are going to give you the All-time Top 10 list of things to do in Amsterdam for Teenagers: a critical approach

Our approach is simple: 

  • Collation
  • 100 web pages were analysed.
  • Search Terms were “top things to do in Amsterdam for teens”, ‘Amsterdam activities for teenagers", " top 10 things in Amsterdam for young adults’
  • To qualify the page needed to have in its title teens, teenagers, young adults, activities, Amsterdam top things to do in Amsterdam. For Example: Top 5, Top 10, Top 20 things to do in Amsterdam.
  • We have also disqualified activities for 18 and 19 year olds because they are adults. They are allowed to drink alcohol and visit Cannabis Coffeeshops and sex workers.

We collated the results then ran a critical look at the list to provide you with an alternative.
Counting down from 10 to 1.

Paradiso live music venue
(Source: IAmsterdam facebook)

10. Go to a Concert
Amsterdam is the heart of the country for cultural events. There is always someone of substance playing in the city. A wide range of tastes are catered for, you have to determine if it is for you. There is nothing cooler than a teenager saying they saw their music hero in Amsterdam. 

Check out Amsterdam's main live music institutions to see if they appeal:
  • Understanding Teenager music tastes is always hard for the older generation.
  • Be pro-active and look up on YouTube and show the clips of what is playing to your teenager.
  • You can also look up the IAmsterdam website for other events and festivals going on in Amsterdam

  • Look for street performers on the main squares of Amsterdam such as Dam Square, Leidseplein and also Vondel Park underneath the bridge.

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum
(source: wikicommons)

9. Museums
Most Amsterdam Museums have a program for youngsters. The museums that came out as being interactive for children and teenagers were:
Critical look:
  • Museums might not have the cool factor that hormonal teens are craving.
  • Many of the programs are more aimed at children under the age of 13.
Street Art at Wijdsteeg, Amsterdam
(Source Eliran Totham G+)

  • See if the museum has an app or audio tour. Teenagers love and know technology.
  • Do a walking tour before the museums so they have more context to connect to what they are experience in the Museums.
  • As a compromise visit Wijdsteeg in conjunction with museums for some amazing street art. Those teenage selfies and social media postings needs will be met and you can educated them as well. Update 2015, there is still some art despite construction.

Amsterdam largest street market: Albert Cuyp
   8. Shopping
Amsterdam is a cool place to shop for all agers not just teens. There is a wide range of places, something for all:

Patta: Amsterdam streetware
(source: Patta facebook)

Critical look:
  • Not all teenagers want to shop.
  • What parent who has paid for their teenager to come to Europe wants to spend money on shopping?

  • Find that niche Amsterdam/Dutch specific item that screams cool back home. Patta for street wear (very trendy with older Amsterdam teenagers). Miffy is dutch and there is a dedicated store at Scheldestraat along with other cool stores.

7. Go to the Park 
Amsterdam is a bit short on green space with 1/5 of the city's surface area being water. The large green spaces are an oasis for all, including our teenagers. 

Amsterdam's main parks:
  • Vondel Park - for people watching
  • Amstel Park - for younger teens
Critical look:
  • Most of these top 10 lists for teenagers are written by parents or people that don't have teenagers. What teenager wants to go sit in a park with their parents?
  • The weather is not always good for a park visit.

De TonTon Club from voordekunst on Vimeo.

  • Go to the Movies at Tuschinski Cinemaan old Art Deco period cinema. All movies are subtitled
  • Go rock climbing and make a fool of yourself in front of your teenagers.
  • There is new skate park on Museumplein in front of the Rijksmuseum. If they don't have their gear they can just watch.
  • If the weather is bad there is a 80s style old school arcade in the middle of the Red Light District. It is called the Ton Ton Club. This defiantly has the cool factor that all teens want to talk about when they get home.This place is appropriate for all ages and is a non-smoking environment. Or try the Ton Ton Club second location away from the Red Light at the Westerpark. 

Hot Tug in front of Hotel d'Europe

6. Canal Cruise
The iconic Amsterdam canals are suitable for all ages not just teenagers. The beauty, buildings and canals will overpower any teen.

Critical look:
  • The recorded messages will put most to sleep.
  • Few boats have toilets. Make sure you go before you go, if you know what I mean.
  • A lot of the boats are covered, which is not great for the selfie mad teenagers.


sightseeing Amsterdam bike
Amsterdam bike
5. Bicycling 
Amsterdam is famous for a number of icons and bicycles are one of them. There are more bikes in this city than people. Some call Amsterdam the bicycling capital of the world.

Critical look:
  • Most anger from locals towards visitors is about biking or walking in bike paths. 
  • Many Amsterdammers believe that visitors should take a test before being allowed to rent or ride a bike in Amsterdam.
  • Riding a bike in Amsterdam City Centre traffic is not for beginners.
  • Parents never ending quest for their child's safety results in this activity being so far down the list.


  • Walk smaller areas and take Amsterdam trams in between – bike riders don’t mess with trams.
  • Take a guided walking tour of Amsterdam's Old City Centre  with a small tour group company so the teenagers can engage instead of being bored.
  • Take a countryside bike tour or a neighbourhood bike tour and enjoy Amsterdam where the bike paths are good and the traffic relaxed. Dutch biking the way it is supposed to be, enjoyable.

Amsterdam was the centre of the Maritime world for 100 years. The replica 17th Century ship is a magnet for families wanting to play pirate and privateers. The museum is large with a treasure trove of maritime artefacts.

Critical look:
  • This is on the list because it is close to another attraction highly rated from our analysis, Nemo Science Museum.
  • Unless they are into shipping, maps and geography this will not be a hit.


  • Take them to the Red Light District and show your teenagers what sailors past and present are really like. They will have to learn about it sooner or latter. It might be best to do it under parental supervision and from an historical point of view. Their friends are going to ask about this neighbourhood when they get home whether you like it or not.
  • Take a guided walking tour of Amsterdam's Red Light District with a small tour group company so the teenagers can engage instead of being bored. The company listed takes a maximum of 4 people.
  • Take the free ferry to North-west Amsterdam and catch a glimpse of the real port and see some cool buildings along the way. This ferry departs from behind Amsterdam Centraal Station.

3. Dutch Pancakes 
Dutch pancakes are thin like crepes but the size of a large plate. Toppings are sweet, savoury or both. You can have them for breakfast, lunch, or all three.

Local's enjoy the mixture of bacon, cheese and topped with syrup on one pancake.

Critical look:
  • Pancakes are very simple to make so there is no great or bad place to visit.


Amsterdam's Nemo Science Centre
(Source: Nemo Museum)

Nemo is Amsterdam penultimate premiere activity for young people. The mixture of hands experiments and learning makes it a list topping activity, almost. Teenagers can learn about hormones in a fun and interactive manner. Understanding why they sometimes give their parents problems. Centrally, located and close to other attractions this is a must on all lists.

Critical look:
  • Not to much to say against Nemo. It knows its market, children and young adults and hits the mark. 
  • Allocate enough time to this attraction as it is fun and even the adults are entertained in this learning environment.


  • Amsterdam Dungeon would be a good alternative if your teenager likes vampires, blood and guts. A modern form of a Haunted House. Live actors in Medieval costume jumping out at you while trying to teach you Amsterdam history.
  • If you active sporty teenage boys a trip to Amsterdam Ajax Museum and Stadium Tour would be a good alternative. We are talking football (aka. soccer). The club and city are world famous(except in the US and Canada) for their youth program and once world powerful club.

1. Anne Frank Museum
Of course one the the 20th Century's most famous teenagers tops the list. The location of the Jewish Frank family hiding place during WWII. Teenage Anne documented her experience from the annex of this Amsterdam house during Nazi occupation. The book has become one of the world's most widely read. This popularity accounts for approximately 1 million visitors a year to this museum.

anne frank house sightseeing
Anne Frank House Museum, Amsterdam.

Critical Look:

  • For a small museum there are a lot of people at certain times. 
  • The museum has a difficult job balancing the broader context of the period.
  • It is more of a pilgrimage than a museum.

  • Avoid the long lines and buy on lineGo late in the evening or arrive early before it opens and the school groups arrive. 
  • Resistance museum provides you with a greater snap shot of World War II in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Rated one of the best museums in the Netherlands don't expect long lines here maybe just a school group now and then.
  • The Jewish Historical Museum provides detail on the Jewish community's influence on Amsterdam through the centuries. Ticket to this museum includes entrance to the Portuguese Synagoge and nearby Deportation centre.  
  • If your teenage daughter knows of Anne Frank she probably knows of TFiOS. That is teenage speak for the book (later adapted to movie), The Fault in Our Stars. A best selling book for young adults over the last 3 years. Combine the activities of Anne Frank House and visit locations from the book and movie. More information can be found at our blog; Amsterdam The Fault in Our Stars.

Not a bad list for a city of almost 800 000 people?

Live music, museums, shopping, 10, 9, 8. Outdoor activities of Park, Canal Cruise and bicycling at 7, 6, 5. 

At 4 and 3 we have shipping and pancakes, which make sense for a maritime city that is flat. 

Science and learning is at number 2. This also makes sense for a country that invented the microscope and has one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the world. 

Of course the top ten list for teenagers could have no other number 1 than the most famous teenager of the 20th century, Anne Frank.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

What is going on this month?

November in Amsterdam

Similar Posts

10 things to do with Under 13s in Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

No comments:

Post a Comment