You're visiting the Netherlands and Amsterdam? You're looking for something different, exceptional, weird, unusual? This list of unique things to do will help!
Aside from the red light district and the coffeeshops, the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum, you have plenty to do in the Netherlands. As we are always looking for unusual and unique activities, this list is not exhaustive, but represents our top. We almost tried everything and loved everything!
Eat pancakes in a train converted into a restaurant
After having purchased your ticket, you can board the train where you will taste very delicious pancakes (there are vegetarian options but no vegan ones!). Be careful to hold on to your ticket that will get checked during your train ride! It’s no joke – this train from 1914 has been converted into a “pancake house” and is located in Marrum. De Pannenkoekentrein – a truly original concept with a matching décor!
Since we’re on the topic of pancakes (which happens to be a staple Dutch dish), why not take a pancake cruise on the Ij river in Amsterdam? For 75 min and approximately 17 euros you can enjoy the lovely boat ride while filling up on yummy apple & bacon pancakes, or other creations that your mind might come up with during this down to earth culinary experience.
Swing in the highest swing in Europe
A’dam Lookout is becoming more and more renowned – this attraction launched in 2016 is definitely worth a look! For 12,5 eur entrance fee plus 5 euros for access to the swing you can take a memorable photo of yourself about to swing at 100m altitude! Head there early as this attraction is quite popular and you might end up waiting in line for an hour for just 2 minutes of action!
Cross the sea on foot
This particular activity is to be done from June till end September and depending on favorable weather conditions. You can opt for a day walk and remain on the island after the crossing or you can take a ferry back. You can find more information in this article.
Swim in a lake that used to be a children’s kindergarden
The Vinkeveense Plassen lakes are very deep (up to 53 m) and are powered by the river Amstel. You can swim, dive or just take in the charming landscape; everything is done for the pure pleasure of being in this green, calm spot. Be careful though that during the weekend it’s full of divers and if you enjoy diving you could end up seeing a bus, a boat, children’s games since certain parts of the lake are inundated areas.
Jump with a parachute in Texel, one of the 5 islands in the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage
Texel is known as the largest island in the Wadden Sea. But did you know that you can jump with a parachute there? When the sky is clear, you could see the whole Netherlands. For more information you could check out the following Texel skydiving website.
Unusual & unique hotels: Sleep inside the highest container in Europe
You can do that in a hotel that popped up in 2014 – Faralda Crane hotel situated in the North of Amsterdam. There are luxurious containers with a Jacuzzi on top, dominating the view over the city and harbor of Amsterdam.
Have a drink in a café where the all the furniture comes from garbage: Café de Ceuvel
It’s a 100% sustainable café just like the Dutchies like it. This café is energy self sufficient, grows its own vegetables and cleans up the soil of its impurities as this spot is situated in a former rubbish dump for house-boats. Basically an industrial landfill! Nowadays this café is a real sustainable project and it has on offer organic food and drinks! (including alcohol!).
Sleep in a windmill in Amsterdam or a castle
A truly unique and unforgettable experience – sleeping in a real windmill! On Airbnb this owner is renting out his mill for a night or more situated by a canal in the East side of the city. It’s very pretty and authentic!Or if you prefer castles, there is a list of the most beautiful castle in the Netherlands turned into hotels or B&B.
Bike in the caves close to Maastricht
Ok, truth be told, biking in Amsterdam is already an adventure, but this is about visiting the caves in Valkenburg, close to Maastricht! Thrills guaranteed! An agency proposes these unique biking tours. Make sure you wear a good sweater and warm shoes!
Visit the crazy… sorry cubic houses in Rotterdam
You’ve maybe already heard of these houses and their crazy design. Well, you could visit one as the others are inhabited. The Kijk Cubus Museum is open from 11h to 17h every day.
Eat insects in a restaurant
The Dutchies are pioneers in everything related to sustainability and innovation, including gastronomy! This doesn’t exist in France but in The Netherlands – you can eat in restaurants that serve you insects in full shape or integrated in dishes such as hamburgers etc.
Eat in a temporary restaurant on a secluded island
The summer restaurant Vuurtoreneiland is a gourmet restaurant opened from May to September. However this year it was such a great success that you can now try out the “winter” version as well and reserve. Take into account though that it will set you back 90 euros per person but this includes the ferry ride as well as the 4 course menu, drinks and coffee.
Go ice skating or walk on the frozen canals (only in the winter and after several days of below 0 temperatures)
In 2012 Denis and I had the opportunity to walk on the frozen canals, enjoying the mulled wine sold by small merchants and the children ice skating around us. Fingers crossed that global warming won’t prevent the canals from freezing this year!
Climb on the highest wall in Europe – Excalibur Wall
Dutch people rarely do things halfway. In the absence of tall mountains, they have built he highest climbing wall in the world. It is 45 m high and curved! Crazy Dutchies. Denis has made it his personal challenge to climb it next year! I’ll keep you posted on the developments!
See the GLOW Lights Festival in Eindhoven (LED)
The GLOW Festival is a festival of lights and art as Eindhoven is the capital of electric bulbs. When Philips invented the first light bulb its factory was in Eindhoven. Today the light bulbs are low energy consumption LEDs. Not to be missed if you are there in November!
Cycle in the Hoge Veluwe Park and make friends with the deers and buffaloes
Maybe this doesn’t sound too crazy to you, but trust me the buffaloes are impressive and fully free to roam the park! You will pedal in the middles of the herds and if one of them decides to sleep on the road do not attempt to move it!
Visit one of the most renowned hipsters markets in Amsterdam, the Pure Markt
A final, totally original activity to experience in Amsterdam is the 100% organic, sustainable, hipster markets. You can taste coconut balls made on the spot, vegetarian tortillas or Dutch croquettes with goat cheese. You can purchase sweaters made with “sustainable” wool and socks made from bamboo fabric! More info on the website.
Go to church but not for Sunday mass
Amsterdam is a city filled with churches that have been repurposed: parties, concerts, performances, exhibitions, museum nights, special events are organized on a regular basis in churches such as De PosthoornKerk, Oude Kerk and the legendary music venue that is now Paradiso. Furthermore, if you dare venturing out to Ruighoord, a small peculiar village near Amsterdam, you can attend Sunday afternoon jazz sessions, local markets, or take your shoes off (literally) for various festivals organized in this hippie heaven. Unique, right?
Attend a (mostly) naked sauna festival
Whether it’s a full on sauna/yoga/live music combo at the Wellness festival taking place in August or lower key events such as the sauna gatherings organized by Saunakaravaan, there are plenty of opportunities to get blissfully relaxed in Amsterdam.
Take the StroomTram from Hoorn (Steam Tram)
For those who love antiques, this is the StroomTram ! You can buy tickets (21 € for adults) only in Hoorn Museumstoomtram and other specific places. More information on their website in English. A trip more unusual! One of the most unusual mean of transportation in the Netherlands!
Take a water taxi in Rotterdam
Tap into your inner 1920s classiness and board a small, yet lovely boat that will take you on some predetermined routes in Rotterdam. It’s a charming way to explore the town in the warm summer afternoons and you might even discover a more approachable side to Rotterdam, a city mostly known for its cold and scattered architecture rather than for its subtle aesthetic appeal.
Translation & Copy Editing by Liana Marinoiu