We all know that central Amsterdam is a magically beautiful place. Historic canals, unending rows of picturesque houses, and quaint little shops selling thousands of different cheeses. But hold on a minute, that’s not all that Amsterdam has to offer! A neighbourhoods like Amsterdam-Zuid, which borders the historic center, can’t be ignored. The older and newer parts of Amsterdam-Zuid are full of fascinating museums, amazing urban parks, and plenty of trendy hotspots. Do you feel like exploring more of this stunning city, but aren’t sure of where to start? Well, look no further; these are the very best things to do in Amsterdam-Zuid!
The Best Things to do in Amsterdam-Zuid
Are you planning on hanging out in Amsterdam-Zuid and wondering about the coolest things to do? Well, if you want to visit every single hotspot, you will have to spread them out over a few days. Five days to a full week should give you enough time to check all of the things to do in Amsterdam-Zuid off your to-do list. Have a look at my list of favourite activities below to decide which ones you don’t want to miss out on.
1. Go to Museumplein (Museum Square) to visit the Major Art Museums of Amsterdam
The absolute highlight in Amsterdam-Zuid is arguably Museumplein (Museum Square). It’s a green, open space that’s perfect for a picnic, surrounded by fabulous historic architecture. Museumplein is also the place where you can find almost all of the major art museums in Amsterdam. Go here to visit the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum or the new Moco museum (Modern Contemporary Museum Amsterdam).
2. Relax in the Rijksmuseum Garden
I personally love visiting the Rijksmuseum Garden as well, especially in spring and summer. You can just pick any of the benches near the fountains and flowers and read a book while absorbing the sunshine. That’ll be pure bliss, especially in summer! The garden grounds circle the Rijksmuseum and aren’t very large, but their landscape design is quite impressive. Definitely check them out if you were planning on heading to Museumplein anyway.
3. Explore Vondelpark and Amstelpark
There are several amazing parks in the Zuid neighbourhood. The Vondelpark and Amstelpark are especially noteworthy, although the smaller Sarphatipark is also quite pleasant. The Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s best-known public park and an official national heritage site. It’s a great place for a crisp winter or autumn stroll, to see the tulips in spring, or to have a summer picnic.
The Amstelpark is often overlooked by first-time visitors, but just as wonderful. The park has a large playground, multiple landscape gardens with colourful flowers, and includes a petting zoo with goats, rabbits, ostriches, donkeys and pigs. In the warmer months, you can also admire llamas in a separate enclosure or play the public piano. Keep in mind; there is no entry fee for this park at all. What more could you ask for?
4. Chill on the Banks of the Amstel River
Since you’ll be further away from all the busy (cycling) traffic and tourist crowds, Amsterdam-Zuid is actually the perfect neighbourhood to admire the Amstel river. Oud-Zuid (‘Old South’) may still be a bit touristy, but the newer part of Zuid is very laid-back. You can just chill by the river bank or rent a little boat to explore the city from the water. There’s nothing better to do on a warm and sunny day, even in winter!
The best place to enjoy the river while having a picnic is definitely the little park in the modern-looking Amstelkwartier. You will find this area right beside the Spaklerweg metro station (within walking distance). You can relax in the green grass or sit down on one of the many comfortable benches to take a break. During the summer months, you could even take a dip in the water, but make sure to check if the water quality is OK (there will be a sign near the water if that’s not the case).
5. Taste Delicious Dutch Snacks at the Albert Cuyp Market
If you’re a real foodie at heart, then you won’t want to skip out on the Albert Cuyp Market. Sure, it’s super touristy, but I can confirm: the traditional snacks are still the authentic thing. Ignore the cheap souvenirs, but definitely head to Albert Cuyp to try a warm stroopwafel and/or a serving of poffertjes (mini pancakes). If you’re not into sweet snacks, buy some fresh herring or go for a good old paper cone full of fries and mayo.
6. Go on a Cycling Trip to the Amsterdam Forest
If you’re not just looking for the classic urban vibes in Amsterdam and also identify as a serious nature lover, I seriously recommend a trip to the Amsterdam Forest (Amsterdamse Bos). We call it a forest, but it is basically a huge urban park that is three times the size of New York’s central park. Crazy, right? The best thing to do is to rent a bicycle and just cycle around to enjoy the green landscape. In summer, you can also rent canoes and swim in the refreshing Grote Vijver (Big Pond).
Enjoy the Cherry Blossoms in the Amsterdam Forest
In spring, you won’t want to miss out on the cherry blossoms in the Amsterdam Forest. There is a special little park inside the forest, called the ‘Kersenbloesempark’. Read this article to find out when the cherry trees usually blossom in the Amsterdam Forest.
7. Discover the Hidden Zuidas Botanical Garden
Many tourists will visit the historic Hortus Botanicus in central Amsterdam, but very few know about the Botanical Garden Zuidas. You would never expect it in the Zuidas area, which is known for its modern skyscrapers and fast-paced business vibe. Still, hidden between the tall buildings is a little botanical garden with beautiful cactus and succulent greenhouses. Inside, you will be able to admire rare plants that are sometimes over 100 years old, since the garden is historically linked to the (VU) university. Conveniently, entrance is free and the nearest metro stop is Amstelveenseweg (line 50). The garden is closed on the weekends.
To round things off, here is a little map I made with an overview of all the places I mentioned in this city guide for Amterdam-Zuid:
What are some great places to have lunch or dinner in Amsterdam-Zuid?
All those activities will probably make your stomach growl (except for eating snacks at the Albert Cuyp market). Don’t worry, I’ve tried and tested a few great foodie favourites in the neighbourhood already. Here are a few trustworthy suggestions:
- Coffee & Coconuts (very trendy so can get quite busy)
- Bulls and Dogs (for yummy hot dogs and amazing fries)
- SOTTO (for tasty and affordable pizzas)