Amsterdam doesn’t know a low season. There’s the perpetual high season, and then there are two highest seasons: April (tulips!) and July (summer!). Despite the city pulling out all the stops in recent years to limit the number of tourists, the Dutch capital continues to lure visitors by the millions. And understandably so — you’re meandering along the canals one minute, mingling with a van Gogh the next. It’s all fun and games, until you’re elbowing your way through Dam Square.
Looking for a little latitude in Amsterdam is far from impossible — it just takes a bit of strategy. Here are six ways to start.
Be your own captain
The best way to enjoy Amsterdam is, quite undeniably, from the water. More often than not, a canal tour makes for the first stop on the itinerary. But instead of embarking on a tour boat that fits close to a hundred people, why not be your own captain instead? All over the city, there are stations where you can rent small electric boats that suit the size of your group. Take Sloepdelen (70 euros per hour, or about $77), whose boats fit up to 12 people, or Mokumboot (€95 for two hours), with boats for up to six people. No license needed, as long as you’re over 18 and stay sober. Not only is it just you, the canals and the Amstel River, but a small boat allows you to explore the tinier, more quaint canals big tour boats cannot reach. Or, alternatively, hop in at night right when the sun sets, as the bridges and streetlights light up the dark city.
Really want the water all to yourself? Motor a little outside the city, to, say, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel — a small town on the Amstel River, about six miles south of Amsterdam — where it’s wonderfully serene.
Explore the Jewish quarter
It’s not unusual for people to travel to Amsterdam for one reason, and one reason only: the Anne Frank House. As impressive as the experience is, it books up months in advance.
There are ways well beyond the Anne Frank House to explore Amsterdam’s incredibly rich World War II history. Explore the Jewish Quarter, which remains filled with Jewish history and culture. The organization Joods Cultureel Kwartier creates custom walking tours (€90 per guide, with a maximum of 15 people) through the district to suit your interests.
Alternatively, be your own tour guide. Explore sights like the Portuguese Synagogue (adult entry: €18), the Resistance Museum (adult entry: €14), or the National Holocaust Names Memorial, unveiled in 2021 (free…